Make it easier for you and your little ones to accept a new helper by taking these simple steps.
You’ve finally found a great domestic helper and you can’t wait for her to arrive. You’ve mapped out every step possible, but how do you really ensure it’s a smooth transition for your family, and especially, for your child? Many parents find it difficult to prepare their children for the arrival of a new helper, but never fear! You can avoid disaster with these tricks and tips…
Let your children know early
Every family will encounter different problems and difficulties. Your four-year-old son may have been very close with your current helper and he could already be declaring war on the new one. Or your 8-going-on-18 daughter may decide she doesn’t need a nanny, she just wants mummy to stay at home. The arrival of your new helper will not be without some small hiccups here and there.
What’s most important is that your children’s lives are not turned upside down. Don’t tell them an hour before the new helper arrives that they’ll be sharing their apartment with a stranger. Instead, turn the time before the arrival into a period of learning and fun. Involve the children in an entertaining way so that they can get excited about the new helper, rather than seeing her as a threat.
If your children are unfamiliar with the concept of live-in help, watch some movies to ease them into the concept. Luckily, there are quite a few movies about nannies (think Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and The Pacifier). Let your children choose what they want to watch. After the movie, you can ask them what they think about the nanny. What did they love about her? What did they think of the children’s attitudes? If your kids are younger, you could even ask them what kind of nanny they want!
Involve them in the preparation process
Another trick to get your children excited about the new helper is to tell them about her background. You can turn it into a small project where they create a collage with photos and information about her country, or about domestic helpers abroad. Cut, glue and explore together with your toddler or let your older children surprise you with their creations. It’ll be a nice bonding moment and your children will learn something at the same time.
You can also ask your children to help decorate your new helper’s room. Make it a fun morning outing – take them to furniture stores where every child can pick an item like bedsheets, rugs or curtains. If your children are younger, ask them to make a drawing of their favourite cartoon character that you can hang in the helper’s room together.
Children thrive when their routine remains the same. Your children may know very well what the house rules are, but they could want to take advantage of a helper who doesn’t know their routines. Together with your children, create a weekly calendar with all their daily activities, meal plans and whatever else you may want to include. This way, you let your children know that they shouldn’t expect their weekly patterns to change (or that they can trick anyone into introducing a secret weekly McDonald’s lunch). Making your children part of the preparation process will help them – and you – ease into the idea of having a new helper.
Reassure your children
A final important step is to reassure your children that you love them and that this won’t change. Let your children know you’re around and there for them, even if someone else is helping them out. Ask your children to come up with an activity that they want to do with you alone. This could range from reading their favourite bedtime story to making morning pancakes, or to walking the dog at the weekend. You may be surprised by their choices!
Employing a new helper does not need to be screams, tantrums and slamming doors. It will take time for everyone to adjust. Listen to your children and take things one step at a time. Before you know it, life will be back to normal and the worries about your child and the new helper will be a memory of the distant past.
Editor’s note: This post was originally written by Laurence Fauchon on 14 January, 2016 and was updated on 5 June, 2019.