Coping with Long Work Hours

How Many Hours Do You Work Each Day?

Most nannies work long hours — certainly longer than the typical 40-hour work week. Although labor laws require workers be paid overtime and lunch and rest breaks during the work day it is impossible for nannies, au pairs, and sitters to leave children alone so they can leave and have a lunch or rest break.

The problem with working long hours is research shows long work hours are associated with more stress and depression. Here are some suggestions for coping with long work hours.

Go to Bed Earlier:
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” says the old proverb. Turn off the computer, turn off the ringer on the cell phone, turn off the television, and save late night partying for the weekend. If you start work early in the morning start going to bed 15-minutes earlier for a week and keep doing so until a decent bedtime is reached.

Sit Down to Eat:
I never allow the kids to stand up and eat their meals but I’ve noticed I typically scarf down a little food while standing up during the work day. I typically have so much to do during the work day I usually feed the kids their food at the table but I never sit down to eat with them. While they eat I typically am putting away clean dishes, washing pans, returning calls, or organizing while they eat.

Plan Healthy Meals and Snacks:
Instead of just scarfing down the left overs I make for the kids I have to bring my meals and snacks to work.

Rest While Kids Nap:
Nannies often forget to sit down because they have a long list of duties to accomplish while the children are napping. But, all workers at any job can burn-out. Allowing 10-minutes to return personal phone calls and emails, use the rest room, clean up, or read the newspaper while the kids nap is perfectly appropriate time well spent. Reading also has been proven to help reduce stress, improve analytical thinking, sharpen memory, increase vocabulary, enhance writing skills, and as a great distraction.

Exercise and Get Some Fresh Air:
 We all know exercise reduces stress and more energy. Don’t just send the kids outside to play, get outside and play with them. We all can use some sun and fresh air. Take walks by pushing the baby stroller. Walk older kids to school and activities as much as possible. Take bike rides with older kids. Be sure to take walks, jog, or join a gym before and after work.

Balance is the key to life. Socializing reduces stress. During work hours plan to meet other nannies, au pairs, and parents for playdates, activities, and lunch. After work, join activities that you love like a book club, volunteering at a pet shelter, work out at the YMCA, a college course or adult school, or a house of worship.


  1. Too many hours!! Or maybe the to-do list is just too long to cram into one day of work!! I used to be part of a gym but was too tired after work to go. Thank goodness I have my weekends off.

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