Written by Brooke Strickland for Nannies Plus

Life gets busy, and having a nanny or family assistant means that you don’t have built-in backup coverage for their days off, so when your nanny or family assistant gets sick, your plans might need to come to a screeching halt–but there are ways to mitigate the stress this could cause for you, your employee, and your children. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when your nanny or family assistant calls in sick or is faced with an unexpected personal emergency.

1. Build a backup plan.

While you can’t predict when your nanny or family assistant will need unplanned time off, you can come up with a backup childcare plan. Do you have family members or neighbors who may be able to help in a pinch? Is there another nanny nearby that could provide temporary assistance? Is there a local daycare with a drop-in policy?

Because missed work can translate to lost revenue and productivity, large companies often offer a backup care program for their employees as part of the benefits package. Usually paid for by employers, this ‘Backup Care’ is available when an employee’s regular childcare falls through, and provides a reasonably-priced and trustworthy alternative option for childcare so there is no major work disruption. Typically, an employee with backup care benefits will request care from a vetted network through an online portal. Do some research on your company’s benefits to see if any type of backup care is provided so you know how it works before you need it.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind that with any of these options, you will want to communicate the change to your child at an age-appropriate level. This is important so that your child knows what to expect and can maintain their sense of routine and comfort as much as possible.

2. Figure out the parts of the day that are non-essential.

Once you are informed that your nanny or family assistant can’t come to work, review the plans for the day and determine which activities are crucial and which are not. Cancel or reschedule non-essential activities in order to keep the routine simple and relieve pressure that your backup caregiver might feel if thrust into an unfamiliar environment with an unfamiliar and heavily packed schedule.

3. Write down important details for the temporary caregiver.

To make things easier for the backup caregiver, and to keep a sense of normalcy for your child, write down the most important ‘must-knows’ for the day. Include things like meal times (and favorite/least favorite foods), allergies and medical needs, nap times, and any specific instructions relating to your child or home that a new caregiver should be aware of. The more specific information you can provide, the smoother things will go for everyone involved.

4. Do your best to be understanding.

Your nanny or family assistant knows that their services are important and relied upon. Please don’t make them feel guilty for needing a day to rest and recoup. Many nannies and family assistants struggle with the decision to take time off and only do so if absolutely necessary, so be respectful and understanding of their decision. Treating your employee differently for needing a day off causes feelings of frustration and may make them feel like they’re not truly valued. Having a thorough backup plan in place will allow you to encourage your employee to take the time off that they need so that they know that their health and well-being is important to your family, and will allow you to quickly make alternative childcare arrangements with minimal stress. Just remember that things might look a little different in your regular employee’s absence and it’s important to stay flexible.

If you’re ready to hire a nanny or a family assistant to work in your home, we can help! At Nannies Plus, we specialize in placing professional, vetted nannies and family assistants in Marin, San Francisco, the East Bay and Sonoma County. Let our experience and expertise guide you in creating your thriving family team! Contact us today to get started.