Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Although it’s been quite some time since I’ve been a nanny, I still remember the infamous question that made my skin crawl: “So you get paid to play outside all day?” Are you kidding me? Little did they know I spent many days on the job up to my ears in messy diapers and laundry while trying to figure out just what can be constructed with a can of glitter and a few popsicle sticks after school today.
Let’s face it: Mary Poppins has given nannies across the globe something to work towards. Although we can’t all be “practically perfect in every way,” we certainly try our best to mirror her rosy-cheeked disposition while tackling the terrible two’s and potty training. Being a nanny is not easy; it takes buckets of patience, armfuls of creativity for a rainy day, super powered multitasking skills, and a whole lot of affection, among other things. Not only are the parents trusting us with the lives of their children, nannies build life-long relationships with their families that ultimately come very close to the bond between a parent and child.
It’s important that you build a great name for yourself by being the best nanny that you can possibly be. Here are a just a few worthwhile suggestions about how to keep it professional while on the job.
Timing really is everything. We’ve heard it a thousand times before but it should never grow old! I used to think that my mother’s obsession with arriving early for everything was something I couldn’t wait to get away from. Thankfully, this trait has stuck with me.
It is extremely important to parents to know that they have a punctual, dependable person there for their children. If you’re asked to meet them at 8 am, show up ten minutes early. There is nothing wrong with being early, but everything wrong with being late! Not only are you on time when you show up early, you’re proving to the parents that you’re someone that genuinely cares about your job. If you’re going to be late, let the family know as soon as possible, and don’t make a habit out of it. Punctuality is key!
Since the families agree to respect your time with a paycheck, the very least you can do is respect their wishes. If the parents have guidelines for things like naps, time-outs, after school snacks, bedtime routines, etc., it is your job to respect these guidelines. Routines are not easy to set in place, and the last thing a parent wants is to pay someone to mess it all up! Remember, as much as you love those little ones as though they were your very own, you are an employee for the family, and need to show your willingness to adapt on a daily basis. Think about it; if you were working as a waitress and were constantly messing up the orders, you’d be fired in no time. Be a professional!
Look Who’s Talking!
I will never forget the first family I worked for, as I’m sure you won’t either. They absolutely insisted on letting their kids splurge on whatever sugary snack they wanted after a long day at school, resulting in two hyperactive explosions refusing to do any homework! I wanted so badly to say something to the parents, but was too afraid they’d think I was being disrespectful; after all, I was the nanny, not the mom. One day I mustered up the courage to sit down with the parents and asked if it was possible to provide a healthy snack instead. The family was open to suggestions after I explained my reasoning and the kids absolutely loved my idea of helping me whip up some homemade trail mix.
All I’m trying to say is that communication is key. If something is bothering you, let the family know. Since you are spending so much time with their children, it’s important to keep them up to date. As children grow, their needs and wants can change. Instead of taking it upon yourself or resenting the family for not understanding, give them a chance to listen. I strongly recommend a chat at least once a month with the parents to air out any concerns you may have. Sitting down with the parents provides a great opportunity to stay connected and is often much-needed adult time!
Those are just a few suggestions, but there are so many other ways to prove that you’re taking your job seriously. With so many directions to be pulled, it’s no wonder being a nanny is far from the easiest job on the planet. The children are depending on you to be a best friend, a replacement parent, and a partner in crime among other things. At the same time, the parents are expecting you to love, protect and care for their children while they’re away, and to respect their wishes. Although we can’t all be lucky enough to sport around a bottomless carpetbag of tricks, being a nanny is more than just a random gig to score for some extra cash. Being a true professional is paramount to your success!
If you would like more helpful information on subjects like the difference between nannies and au pairs or tips on what to expect as a first time au pair, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions on GreatAuPair.com.
If you are a family currently working with a nanny or looking to hire a nanny, you may want to read our helpful tips on how to create a great relationship with your nanny.
~ Fallon, GreatAuPair.com Customer Support Team Leader