Oh, the it's-hard-at-home education woes. With the pandemic lingering on, many local parents are struggling to balance work, child care and education. Help for kids either with tutoring or full-time caregiving is in high demand. 

Enter the new nanny, er, teacher.

Traditonally, a woman or man, i.e. a "manny," hired to take care of a baby or young child's needs because mom and dad work out of the home, today one or even both parents are working remotely. The challenge of doing your job during the day while taking care of your kids is tough enough. Add a child 5 years old or above who requires formal education and it's practically impossible for work-at-home parents to make it happen. So nannies are morphing from caregivers to teachers or a combo of both depending on the ages of your kids.
    "Parents are opting to hire a full-time nanny — or educator — to provide a stable routine and consistency for their children this year since so much is unknown," says Laura Frank, owner of Southern Standard Nannies located in Nashville. "In addition to our typical nanny requests, we're getting an overwhelming amount of inquiries from parents who are opting to hire a qualified educator or teacher to supervise virtual learning or a learning pod," Frank adds.

PODS R US
The learning pod, aka pandemic pod or just pod. Christa Robinson, a working mom of Zoe, a kindergartener, knew that her daughter couldn't possibly handle her internet-based curriculum on her own. So Robinson reached out to the parents of Zoe's preschool friends to see if anyone wanted to form a pod.
    "I knew I wanted something small, like three or four kids in the pod," Robinson says. "We wanted to know that all of our kids knew each other and that we'd all be safe. So the first thing I asked was, well, 'how are you?'" Robinson laughs. When she found two other families also wanting to try a pod they talked about COVID-19.
    Rachel Adkins, president and founder of Nashville Nanny Agency says parents continue to be concerned for their family's well-being even while they adapt to new learning enviornments.
   "I speak to parents every day that are worried about their family's health and safety and it's a little bit like the Wild West out there with very little guidance, but no one knows what's best for your family better than you do," Adkins says.
    Robinson knows that's true. 
    "We figured we could keep each other safe in our homes and that we'd find someone to work with our kids to provide them structure and to help them with their curriculum," Robinson says.
    All three families reached out on their own in search of a nanny/educator to assist the three children while they themselves worked. The adults agreed that they would form and sign a contract that stipulated rules for safety, hours and conduct so that everyone stayed in the loop throughout the day and continued to be safe. Everyone in the pod — which would include all family members and the nanny — would know where each other went and how they followed protocols and also be kept in the loop on what the kids were working on during the day so the parents could reinforce their learning in the evenings if need be.
    It took awhile to locate a nanny/teacher but eventually it was Robinson who struck gold. A young education graduate answered Robinson's Facebook request via messaging saying she was local and interested in working with the newly formed pod. 
    "Of course, the first thing I asked her was, 'Are you negative?'" And yes, she was. Next, Robinson worked to fully vet the potential teacher and then each family met her. Finally, she cleared a background check and the pod became official. 
    "We totally lucked out because our 'edunanny' gives the kids structure but she's fun, too," says Robinson. "She knows when it's time to just run around a little bit and the kids have a great connection with her, but also respect. On top of that, the kids and nanny feel safe going to each other's homes," she adds.
    Some parents are sharing the teaching of kids among themselves, but when the parents work it can become overwhelming. If this is your case, aside from reaching out on Facebook or Instagram or through your own contacts, you can try a local nanny agency.    
    "We're adapting to families' needs as they come in," Frank says. "We have always been very open to meeting the needs of each individual family and the pandemic doesn't change that. We are offering more services, expanding internally in our recruiting division, and getting creative in placing nannies in hybrid roles that meet the educational, childcare, and household needs of a family," she adds.
    One local company has even taken the Nanny + Pod even further. Nannypod is a nationwide franchise that provides babysitters, nanny placement and more, literally streamlining every aspect of carrying for children of all ages. The local Nannypod is managed by Dionna Wilburn who is available for family consult and more at 615-351-8231 or nashvilletn@nannypod.com.
    So if you've discovered that your home educating situation isn't ideal or has even become intolerable, forming a pod or finding a nanny who can work with your children is possible. Either reach out to a local agency or go it alone. Like Robinson, you just may strike gold.