One of the main perks of having a nanny is that your child is able to get out and do things. Your child can go on play dates, go to the zoo, story time, music class, etc. Nannies are the most expensive form of childcare and this is one of the luxuries you are paying for when you hire a nanny. If you have a nanny and don't allow them to go anywhere, I honestly have to ask why you have a nanny at all? You would be better off putting your child in daycare. That way, at least your child is getting the socialization that is so vital for early childhood development and you're also saving yourself a lot of money.
Parents, I understand that leaving your children in someone else’s care is very difficult. For some, it even causes anxiety. The hermit situation is where nannies get stuck at home with the kids without the ability to go anywhere. I’m sure there are a variety of reasons parents do this, but usually it stems from worry and fear. What if your nanny gets into a car accident? What if something horrible happens while they are out? I get it. I also get that there are unique situations where a child really can't leave the house due to illness, etc. so that's not what this post is referring to. But here’s the thing, not only is it unhealthy for your nanny to be cooped up all day with your children (imagine if you had to do that 8+ hours/day 5 days a week), but it's unhealthy for your kids too! A nanny is more than just an employee -- they are a partner in helping to raise your children. You should want them to do what you would do if you were at home all day with your kids, which I'm sure would involve getting out of the house.
Kids learn so much from exploring and socializing. It's imperative they learn this early and get to experience the world around them. I’m not saying you need to let your nanny go wherever they want, but come up with a list of acceptable places you feel comfortable with, and allow them to get out and explore. Let them experience life outside the confines of four walls. To be clear, allowing your nanny to go for a walk around the neighborhood or walk across the street to the park does not count as getting out of the house and exploring. Let them get in the car (or subway) and actually go somewhere.
Spending all day alone with kids and no adult interaction can be very trying on a nanny. I encounter far too many nannies who desperately want to be allowed to leave the house, but even after a year with the family, the parents aren't comfortable with it. You will lose a good nanny by doing this. A nanny can only put up with working in solitude for so long and eventually, they will quit. In fact, care.com lists cabin fever as #4 on Reasons Nannies Quit. You will have a much happier nanny if they are able to interact with other adults, especially other nannies, throughout their workweek. Plus, let's not forget that your nanny's happiness directly affects your children. There are definitely some unicorn nannies out there who are cool with never leaving the house, but they are hard to come by.
If you are absolutely insistent on having a nanny and not allowing them to take your child anywhere, you need to very explicitly state this during the interview process. And nannies, if you interview for a job like this, no matter how desperately you need a job, do not accept a position that has this rule if it's not something you can deal with long term. Some nannies might think it won't be so bad and they can put up with it, especially if the pay is good. Nannies, you need to think long and hard about what the reality of this situation is like. Your work days go by incredibly slowly and it's exhausting to have to plan activity after activity for 8+ hours. I once had a job like this and it quickly became achingly boring and I was more drained at the end of my workday than I would have been if I had taken the kids to the zoo all day (which we all know is incredibly exhausting). Being able to get out of the house is fun, reduces cabin fever, and helps break up the day so it goes by faster.
So nannies, how can you avoid this situation, and how can you handle it if you are already in it? First and foremost is when you are interviewing for a nanny job, ask the parents how they feel about you taking the children out of the house each day. Be very specific and ask if you will be allowed to take them in the car, how often, and where you will be allowed to go. Next, if you are already with a family and are struggling with not being allowed to go anywhere, the best thing you can do is communicate this to the parents. Request to have a sit down and explain to them how it feels for you to be cooped up all day. Next, offer information on why it's beneficial for their children to get out of the house. Offer for them to check your driving record, drive with you a couple times, speak with references, and show them proof of insurance. Finally, be flexible. Suggest starting slow with one outing per week and then working your way up to more. Offer to text them when you arrive safely. If you try all of this and the parents still won't budge, it may be time to think about looking for a new position. That might not be the solution you want, but in the long run it's important you are happy, and mesh well with the family you are working for. In the meantime, you can check out these cures for cabin fever until you find your next position.