Cited in enannysource – Finding Work Life Balance
Finding Work/Life balance can be elusive for all of us, and can be particularly challenging in jobs that require selflessness, and 100% attention. One such job is childcare. Anyone who has taken care of children, either their own or someone else’s, knows how rewarding and utterly exhausting care-taking can be. Keeping a healthy work/life balance is critical to avoid burnout, and maintain the energy needed to thrive at work. I was asked by Shannon Philpott to weigh in on how nannies can strike a healthier work/life balance, and avoid overextending themselves to the point of burnout.
“Nannies are often hired to provide families more work/life balance and securing a job will have a lot to do with a nanny’s positive attitude, her flexibility and her willingness to help the family however needed,” says Dr. Alicia Clark, Washington, D.C.-based clinical psychologist. “Often, the best nannies are caretakers through and through, and daily think of others’ needs ahead of their own.”
Although this is an important quality to have when caring for children, as their needs are immediate and meeting them is fully consuming, Clark warns that full-time nannies can face burnout if they do not devote time to themselves. “Days are long and needs keep coming, and the opportunity to stretch in caretaking is ever present,” she says. “The same people who easily think of others first can sometimes struggle to think about themselves enough, not remembering to care for themselves in their off time.”
This ultimately can lead to an imbalance between work and life, leaving you feeling overly fatigued, irritable and even burned out. Avoid the negative effects to your emotional and physical health by scheduling some “me” time that you deserve.
Time is of the Essence
Structuring time is probably the most important element of protecting balance, says Clark. “Full-time nannies can be expected to be available at all times, but this is a recipe for burnout,” she says. “Having a schedule that you can count on is key to being able to take care of yourself in your off time.”
Clarify a schedule with your employer and ask that they abide by it unless notice is given in special circumstances. “A nanny needs to know when she can make plans for herself and needs to be vigilant about negotiating a schedule that allows for ‘me’ time,” says Clark. “Like with any job, look to have a portion of every day’s waking time free for yourself and ideally two full days per week off.”
If this is not possible, Clark suggests negotiating for paid vacation time or blocks of time you can claim for yourself. “Once a schedule is negotiated, a nanny needs to work hard to maintain time boundaries,” she says. “She needs to be on time, if not early to work, and be finished with her tasks at the end of work so she can leave on time. Maintaining a schedule is the cornerstone of finding balance between work and leisure.”