Whether you’re lucky enough to have daycare providers, babysitters, or family members who care for your children—or you’ve been missing out on their services during the pandemic—you know just how valuable caregivers are. Especially under all the extra restrictions and risks of the Covid-19 pandemic, families have witnessed the incredible dedication that caregivers bring to the job.
Caregivers give so much of themselves every day. So how can you celebrate and support kids’ caregivers, even if you’re not currently using their in-person services? Here are some ideas that are appropriate for these emotionally, physically, and logistically challenging times.
Health is a priority for everyone this year, so keep that in mind as you brainstorm year-end gifts or acts of gratitude. Put together a “stay safe and healthy” gift basket with items such as hand sanitizer, soap, moisturizer, vitamin C drink packets, herbal teas, a stress ball, and spare masks. You could also consider a gift card for a food delivery service (groceries, meal kits, fruit or snack subscriptions, etc.) so your caregivers don’t have to go out as much for essentials.
Another smart gifting approach would be to provide something to do at home during this long, tough winter that everyone is gearing up for. Think: at-home spa treatments, bread/muffin mixes, a sudoku/crossword book, a Netflix subscription, or a puzzle. For a personalized touch, kids can draw a picture on a blank jigsaw puzzle, or you can order a custom puzzle with a picture of your kids.
Often childcare workers have their own kids to care for once they get home, so consider small presents for their kids if you know their ages—or gift cards that would help your provider pick out the perfect items for the children in their family.
Have kids help write a card or make a video saying thank you for all the ways childcare providers help keep your family safe and cared for during these difficult times. Get specific to make them feel extra appreciated and valued. See this list of homemade thank you card ideas that even toddlers and preschoolers can help with.
Other forms of support
Ask caregivers if they have plans to visit family for the holidays and consider giving them extra time off and/or keeping your kids home with you for a few extra days, if possible. That can make it more likely they’ll be able to visit with family safely by having time to quarantine or wait for Covid-19 test results before/after holiday gatherings, or whatever other hoops they may have to jump through to make the holidays work this year. If you can’t manage that, see if you can help with anything else: Do they need to know where to get a rapid Covid-19 test or flu shot? Could they use help with any errands or “internet errands” before the holidays?
If you’re enlisting a babysitter, relative, or other childcare provider’s help with keeping kids on task during your child’s remote schooling this year, make sure you have fair and realistic expectations for these extra tasks. Use this guide from Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network and the National Domestic Workers Alliance to understand more about the range of responsibilities that virtual-learning supervisors should be acknowledged and compensated for.
Let caregivers know about resources that already exist to support nannies, babysitters, and other care providers. There’s the NDWA’s Coronavirus Resource Center, which includes a text line for caregivers who need emotional support and webinars with information about how to work safely during the pandemic. Zero to Three offers mindfulness workshops for childcare providers. And the CDC has advice for caregivers under stress during Covid-19.
You can also show your support by simply asking after caregivers and their families regularly. Sometimes dropping kids off at daycare becomes so routine that we forget to get to know the providers, but the more you keep the lines of communication open, the more you are likely to be aware of needs that may arise and ways you can support them. If providers don’t have time to talk or if the safety protocols don’t allow for in-person chatting right now, see if you can text, email, or find another preferred way to check in.
And in these times, one of the best things you can do for your kids’ caregivers is to create the safest work environment you can for them. That may mean wearing a mask more often in your day-to-day life, making sure your child is well trained in washing their hands, keeping your child home if anyone is even mildly ill in your household or pod, mixing with fewer friends, and staying away from indoor gatherings to make it less likely that your family will pass the virus (or other germs) to your caregivers.