Being a nanny can be a dream job, but unexpected stress may lead to nanny burnout. How do you know if you have nanny burnout? Nanny burnout occurs when childcare stress creates physical or emotional exhaustion that reduces job satisfaction and performance. Medical issues such as depression and anxiety can contribute to burnout.
There are many causes for Nanny burnout. Lack of control or unclear job expectations are often responsible for added stress that can lead to burnout. Conflicting views on autonomy, decision-making, and workload can reduce alignment, creating uncertainty or friction in the workplace. Social support systems and work-life balance play key roles in burnout. Nannies who can engage with others and have regular time off are better able to manage the stress of childcare. This is especially important for nannies who identify strongly with their work.
Signs and Symptoms of Nanny Burnout
To assess nanny burnout, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you lack energy or need extra coffee at the start of your workday?
- Are the children excited to see you or are they less responsive to you?
- Are you late to work when you used to show up a few minutes early?
- Are you having trouble sleeping or choosing to stay up late and binge-watch a show when you should be sleeping?
- Are you experiencing unexplained mood swings or irritability?
- Have you been stress eating or have a loss of appetite?
- Do you feel anxious or nervous?
Managing Nanny Burnout
If you are experiencing these symptoms and suspect you may have nanny burnout, it’s important to take action. Ignoring burnout can have significant consequences including excessive stress, fatigue, alcohol or substance abuse, depression, and vulnerability to illness. To manage nanny burnout, get started with these actions:
- Prioritize your physical health. Review your schedule and dedicate time to get at least 8 hours of sleep, complete 30 minutes of exercise, and prepare healthy meals. Taking care of your physical needs an important step in stress reduction. Take a break from alcohol and caffeine as these can be damaging coping mechanisms.
- Focus on your mental health. Be intentional about how you choose to react to stressful situations and what you say to yourself. It’s easy to focus your mental energy on your frustration but you can choose to not think about it and focus on different thoughts that can help you gain perspective. When negative thoughts creep in, replace them with positive ones.
- Update the work agreement. Whenever possible, clarify with your employer the job expectations, responsibilities, and hours. If the job has changed, it may be helpful to update the work agreement together to ensure alignment, reset expectations, and reduce stress.
- Do something fun. Whether it’s a girl’s night out or saving for a new outfit, set goals for yourself and earn rewards when you reach them. Connecting with friends, meeting new people, and planning an outing can help you reconnect with others and yourself. If you are interested in exploring new activities, you can try yoga or meditation.
- Ask for help. Despite increasing acceptance, it can be hard to admit you need help. We ask for help if we fall and break a bone, so it’s okay to ask for help managing stress. You can see a counselor, join a support group, or call anonymous helplines.
Caring for children is often a demanding job, especially when a nanny is working overtime. Although we feel we can do it all, it’s not realistic to keep going when your physical and mental health is suffering. In a 24-hour social media world, it can be hard to slow down but it’s the first step to rebounding from burnout.
The Nanny Institute provides online childcare classes and nanny certification programs based on a curriculum specifically designed to advance the skills of Nannies and Sitters. The Nanny Institute has over 30 college faculty with a passion for education and childcare, bringing them together to help childcare providers gain practical skills and qualifications that benefit their careers and the children in their care.