Two sides: Nanny cams in the home

Every story has two sides. Nowhere is that truer than when you’re dealing with working in your home, with your children. There are so many topics that, from one point of view are so clear but taken from the other view immediately become complicated.

At Poppy we’re privileged and perhaps put in the tricky spot of having to see and empathize with both sides. There is no judgment, only an attempt to help one side appreciate the experience of the other.

Today we explore the topic of security cameras in the home, often called “nanny cams”.

Laura (parent):
“There is so much that is hard about being a parent but the worst for me is how to know you can trust someone with your kids. The best way for me to do this is to have cameras in our home that I can choose to use if and when I want.

We first got the NestCams when Ethan was a baby so that it could double as a baby monitor and a security camera. It was pretty cool that I could even check in from work because they’re wifi-enabled. As he’s grown and now that he’s 4, we’ve moved that one to the playroom but we still have multiple cameras around the house.

Because both my husband and I work, we have had to use a lot of different nannies and sitters over the years. Most of them have been amazing. But there have been a few that definitely made me nervous and glad I had the cameras to check in. I get that maybe that makes me sound neurotic or like a control freak but when it comes to my baby, I figured it’s my job to do whatever I need to to make sure he’s safe and happy.

For our nanny now, I rarely, if ever, use the cameras. If anything it’ll be to take a quick peek in during the day if I’m missing him, just to see him playing or laughing. It makes being away a little bit easier.

But for new sitters, I definitely will use it to check in and make sure my instructions are being followed, that they’re not on their phones but really playing with Ethan and that he goes to bed when he’s supposed to.

Cameras help me be okay with the fact that I cant be with my kids all day every day and that I still need a way to make sure he’s good.”

Stacy (caregiver)
“I’m a full-time nanny and I will also pick up other jobs to babysit on the side. My regular nanny family doesn’t use cameras in their home so when I got to Laura’s house and as I did the walk-through, I was surprised to see the cameras in the playroom and the main rooms. I asked her about them and she mentioned they used them for security and to keep an eye on Ethan while he was playing. She did say she mostly used them to just check in periodically but it kinda threw me off a bit.

Later, while Ethan and I were playing “restaurant” in the playroom, I just found it hard to ignore the camera. It’s ironic because I felt really self-conscious about all of my actions and it made me second guess everything. I couldn’t tell if they were on or not and I kept telling myself it didn’t matter but ask anyone – it’s hard to do your job if you feel like someone is constantly watching you and especially if it’s with something like a camera.

I totally get the security and the playtime monitoring thing. I’m always happy to share updates whenever the parents need it. And when it comes to their kids, I think parents have every right to protect them in the way they need to. But I’m not sure that I want to work in homes where the trust isn’t there.

I really loved caring for this family and Ethan is so much fun, but I don’t think I want to return.”

Poppy’s Take:
Cameras are a tough one. As parents, we believe it’s your right and responsibly to ultimately make sure your kids are safe and happy. However, as pointed out, it would be hard for any of us to do our jobs normally and happily if we were under constant or even sporadic surveillance.

Our suggestions are:
1) Always disclose there are cameras in the home. For Poppy families, you’re able to share that information in your Family Profile but also mention it as you’re walking the caregiver through your home.

2) Be clear about their use. It’s tricky and awkward but be upfront about whether you intend to use the camera while you’re away. Even if you say “I usually like to take a peek in once or twice but don’t want to bother you for an update” it’s better than being vague.

3) Choose not to use the camera. This is personal preference but consider putting the cameras away or turning them to the wall while the caregiver is there. That goes a long way in building trust with the people that you want to working as a team with in caring for your kids.

There are no right or wrong answers – but here at Poppy we think hearing from and understanding the opposing point of view is most important. Cameras ultimately are a matter of trust and privacy so our recommendation always is to address those underlying topics first as we work to build strong relationships based on respect.

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