In college, and even later in graduate school, one thing I never anticipated was that I might feel even more lost in my career path than when I had started school. As a little girl, you hear so many off hand comments and advice about who you are and what you’re like that you eventually start to believe them. “Helen”, my Dad once said, “you talk well and you love to argue, you’ll make a great lawyer!” However, by my senior year of college, I was definitely sure that this wasn’t the path for me. Instead, I realized that I loved children, and I knew that if it weren’t for my parents and the committed adults in my life I wouldn’t have graduated from college to begin with. Despite the suggestions and well wishes, as a nanny it took a bit of time to find my current path where I bring together all of the things that I learned in college and my passion for serving children.
I know that I am not alone in my experience going from grad to nanny. Every year, I meet nannies that at one point or another realized that the path that other people expected them to take was not the course actually meant for them. Perhaps there are many fellow nannies out there who crossed stages with their diplomas in hand, or thought, “you know school just isn’t for me.” If you have a passion for children and you want to work one-on-one with children providing them with love and growth, then then the world of being a nanny may be right for you. Here are a some of the most important things I learned through my experience as a nanny:
Being a nanny is NOT just your job, but it is also your brand.
As a nanny, you’re a mix of many worlds and roles, and unfortunately you’re entering a field that is only in the last decade is starting to gain clarity on what it really means to be a nanny. You’re part freelancer, part teacher, and part everything else.It helps to go in with the mindset of knowing what makes you special or different from the very beginning. Is it your interest and knowledge of special needs childcare? Do you have language experience? Neglect this, and you risk falling behind.
Managing relationships is just as important as your skills and experience.
Unfortunately I think colleges and universities don’t do a great job of showing even the smartest students that their interpersonal skills matter. Even veteran nannies who come from an academic background struggle with this.To be a great nanny, you need to learn how to communicate and build a relationship with parents as well as with their children.
Practice and (patience) make perfect
This means total patience – for everyone and everything. There’s so much learning to do and, unlike your friends working as professionals, there’s a lot of learning/challenges that school didn’t prepare you for as a nanny and you have to be willing to ‘go with it’ and reflect on your wins and challenges.
Sharing is not always caring, respect the boundaries
There will be great moments that you want to share with the world while you’re a nanny. Your charges’ first steps, that cute picture with the family dog, or a fun day with bubbles. Adorable! However, before you share on Facebook, you need to make sure that you ask parents first and obtain their consent. Social media and those special moments make it hard not to share, but you and your employers should decide what works and what you’re both comfortable with before you post any adorable pictures.
Dressing for success but it looks different
Can I call myself out right now? In my first nanny job, on the first day I wore a black structured dress and slightly raised flats and thought to myself, now this is professional! Eight hours later, after a day spent in the playground in 90 degrees, dripping in sweat, I had learned my lesson. Professional dress means dressing for your profession as a nanny. You should also be ready for play and the little bit of spitup that might end up on you by the day’s end.
Don’t have co-workers? Make them!
Lastly, unlike your classmates who are going to work with their peers in offices or classrooms, you might feel that being a nanny is a solitary role. It’s great and fun being with your charges, but you will still need adult contact. If you don’t know other nannies, find some quickly because you’ll learn a lot of the lessons needed to thrive as a nanny and gain a listening ear of another fellow nanny.
Are you a newbie nanny what questions do you have for nannies that you want to know? Have advice for new nannies? Write your comments below!
About the Author: Helen Adeosun is passionate about children. As a former high school 9th grade English teacher, she was excited about ways to drive learning in her classroom and how to better serve her students. CareAcademy was born out of her own experience as a nanny and she hopes that careacademy.co is a place to continuously learn and share with current and future nannies. The year before starting CareAcademy she was hired by a wonderful family that had two children with special needs who taught her so much. Helen holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an EdM. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.