Reduce Stress — Don’t Overreact

To Respect Parents, Nannies Must Reduce Stress and Not Overreact

On Sunday, we began discussing nannies that gossip about their employers. It is not respectful to gossip about others.

Another common obstacle for nannies when they need to communicate with their employer’s in a respectful manner is the tendency of some caregivers to overreact. Anne Merchant Geissler says in her book The Child Care Textbook, “When issues are blown out of proportion communication is blocked.”

“This occurs when nannies focus on the negative aspects of an issue, compounding them, rather than dealing with them directly, honestly, and in a timely manner,” says the author.

Ms. Merchant Geissler continues, “Some people can work themselves up to a negative, non-productive state of mind when the issues are exaggerated. It is far better to focus on a solution to an issue right from the start.”

She explains “A good example of blocked communication is the nanny who feels that her boss doesn’t appreciate her. She can easily escalate her anxiety about a situation.”

“Directing your attention towards a solution right away requires much less energy. By doing so you will feel better psychologically since you will be positive and feel better,” says Merchant Geissler.

Another tip to keep from overreacting is to reduce stress.

To help reduce nanny workplace stress:

1. Make sure your basic needs are being met. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. Nannies spend hours bottle-feeding newborns and preparing healthy snacks and meals for children, yet often neglect sitting down themselves to eat with the children. If your basic needs are not being met and you feel tired, hungry, and cranky you are less likely to deal with problems at work effectively.

2. Focus on one task at a time.
Multi-tasking is good. All in-home childcare providers juggle many responsibilities. Nannies wear many different hats simultaneously. But beware of burn-out from too much multitasking over an extended period. Work at maintaining a balanced schedule and don’t over commit yourself. It is perfectly okay to say, “No,” to a playdate if you feel you cannot handle the extra work of having the visitor at the house.

3. Take short breaks. While babies nap, nannies use the time to wash and fold laundry and tidy kitchens, children’s bedrooms, and playrooms. But, sometimes nannies need to rest too. There is nothing wrong with closing your eyes for 15-minutes, reading a book, having a healthy snack, writing in a journal, or even emailing friends back home (but check the clock or set a timer so you do not spend too much time on computer during working hours), to give yourself a chance to recharge on a long, busy day, caring for children.

4. Resist negative thinking. If you see the downside of every situation and interaction, you’ll find yourself frequently irritated and this will eventually drain you of energy. Consciously try to be positive and find humor where you can. It works.

5. Take care of yourself on time-off. Get out of the house and socialize with friends (especially important for live-in caregivers). The better you feel, the better you will be able to manage work stress without becoming overwhelmed. The better you feel the better you will communicate with your employer’s when problems pop-up.


  1. So true, nannies making mountains out of mole hills. Nannies are so tired from long hours and difficult, and unapprecieated work, that they get cranky. The advice for reducing stress is awesome. If we feel good and feel good about ourselves than it is less likely we will over react. I think it is important for live in nannies to get out of the house and have a social life. Just shutting the door to your room doesn't give you a break.Awesome advice, as always!Felicia, Nanny of 3, 6 yrs experience, Melorse MA

  2. I really have found this is the biggest problem for nannies and au pairs. Too many judge everything a parent does. Putting all the parents' child rearing under a microscope. I don't think kids should sleep in parents' bed but not my judgement to make. I don't think mothers should breast feed 2 yr olds but not my decision. I don't think babies should be forced to cry it out to fall asleep but be rocked to sleep, but not my decision to make about someone else's kids. I really think this is the hardest thing for au pairs and nannies to do, be nonjudgemental.

  3. I think we should combine yesterday and todays discsussions and admit that many nannies overreact and gossip. As they gossip they exaggerate and that creates more stress.Thanks for good advice,Maria LopezMiami FL

  4. I could not agree more that nannies gossip and make issues bigger than they should and that is due to them being tired and overworked. When a nanny feels stuck in a house with chidlren 10 hours a day and too tired to socialize or exercise enough they get lonely and every little pet-peeve becomes irritating. So true comments from above that parenting styles of parents should not affect nannies personally and many nannies go way overboard in getting personally involved in ways parents choose to raise the kids. Best advice is to reduce stress as mentioned. But also remember these aren't your children. Care for them the best you can, but it is the parents' choices on how to raise the chidlren and try not to take it personally. It is hard when you invest so much time and energy and love into caring for children and doing the best job you can.Kimberly H., Hilton Head SC

  5. Hanging at the library today my nanny friend showed me this blog because she thinks I need to stop stressing about things like parents not doing their dishes. She feels I should load the dishwasher and wash the dishes when it isn't my job. I am a childcare giver. Things that seem not important to some people are important to me and to other nannies because we do it all day everyday. Wives get mad and divorce husbands over the same issues we have. I understand that loading the dishwasher with adult dishes may seem part of the job to some, but not to me. To me I care for the kids. Some may say I overreact. I think it's a big deal.

  6. A messy house is a big pet peeve of many nannies.I stressed about that for years at my job. I knew the parents were never going clean up after themselves or the children. Because they would come up with reasons why the house was so messy.. Oh we had a busy day/rough night…etc.So I realized havig to tidy up for about an hour each day was just one small pc. of my job. So I delt with it…put on some great music and popped in a pc. of yummy candy. Got it done, went on with my day, and enjoyed being in a neat workplace- until the next day.However, there was one day that sent me over the edge. It was after the holidays and the entire house was a HUGE wreak! Normally I would just go around and tidy up. But I swore my New Years Resoultion would be to not let anyone take advantage of me.I forced myself to stay in the bathroom until the parents came down. Usually I got there a hour before they came downstairs- just enough time for me to tidy up after their night messes.The parents were shocked to see I did not touch one thing. They apologized and said- We had a busy night..etc.I said- I understand,but I've been dealing with this on Monday mornings for years and years. I understand it's your home, but it's my work place. I am sure you would be upset if you walked into your office each morning to find that your bosses created a mess,and that you had to spend at least an hour or two cleaning up, just so you could start your work day and feel comfortable in your enviornment for the next 10 hours.They said- you are right- and went about cleaning up for over an hour, while I played with the children.For a while they really tried hard to have the house fairly neat each morning, but that was not their nature, and I had to live with that part- because otherwise they were great employers. Changing the housekeepers day to first thing Monday morning helped a lot too.

  7. Taking care of yourself is really the best advice for nannies. Just like stay at home mothers, nannying can be lonely. I personally overeat when frustrated and I'm sure the huge number of over weight nannies is proof of others doing the same. It is just a very demanding job and very hard to take care of yourself when caring for young children.Patty from Livingston New Jersey

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