Life As An Aussie Nanny: Supporting a Grieving Family
**For confidentiality reasons the Authors of our Life As An Aussie Nanny blog remain private and will not be disclosed publicly.
Stepping into a new Nanny role can always be challenging, this Aussie Nanny not only started a new role with a new family, she stepped into a support role caring for a grieving family.
Please note: this article contains sensitive content that may be triggering for some readers.
When I began the hunt for a new nannying position, I knew I was looking for a different kind of family. A family that would force me to think in new and exciting ways about what we do as nannies, and how we can best serve the little people in our lives. I did not expect half of what I got. When I met the father, he explained that one of the conditions of taking on this job was a commitment to take the position for no less than 12 months. His wife, and the mother of his children, had died and he was determined that there wouldn’t be a revolving door of women passing in and out of his daughters’ lives. The job came with a two week trial period to determine whether or not I was prepared to take on the often emotionally draining role of supporting two young girls who were still grieving. At first it was difficult. I was dealing with a 5 year old and an 8 year old who had already experienced far more tragedy than I could possibly imagine. I searched every nanny blog for Ten Top Tips on working with children who have suffered grievous losses, but that didn’t seem to feature as a common problem. Instead, I read articles in child development research journals and psychological studies on the best ways to support grieving children. In each of these resources, the overwhelming finding was that the best way to support the child is to support the surviving parent in practical ways. It was comforting to know that even if I felt completely out of my depth, science said that I was doing the right thing. Behaviour management was a priority as the girls had previously had two nannies working alternate days so it was difficult to establish effective strategies. My two key focuses became emotional self-regulation and co-regulation and providing stability through a consistent routine. The girls had worked on these strategies with a psychologist so the main goal was encouraging the girls to draw on these skills when they noticed that they were becoming frustrated and upset. Routine was the bread and butter of the household. We still follow a near identical meal plan from week to week to ensure that everyone is always on the same page about what is going on. The concept of professional distance is a difficult one for many nannies to bridge. We know that as much love and energy as we put into these children, they will one day outgrow us and it will be time to say goodbye. In this case, it was near impossible. I have accepted and decided that these girls will probably be a part of my life forever. They have made themselves flower girls at my hypothetical wedding and named themselves godmothers of my hypothetical children. But I really hope they let me be a part of their joys and heartbreaks and all of their silly teenage mistakes. As much as we love our Nanny Kids, I don’t think any of us would claim to be able to replace a parent, nor would we want to. Our role is to support parents, not to usurp them. My girls will always yearn for a deeper connection with their mother and it is one of the greatest injustices that she was taken from them so soon. But I think that if she is watching, she would be proud of the beautiful, strong, intelligent and kind girls that they are, and the amazing women they will become.
"A mother's love is always with her children. Losing a mother is one of the deepest sorrows a heart can know. But her goodness, her caring, and her wisdom live on-like a legacy of love that will always be with you. May that love surround you now and bring you peace."
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