Working as a nanny is a very unique job. It’s unlike working in a family care center, a day care, a preschool or any other childcare setting. To be a successful nanny, you have to have a certain education and experience level, as well as a certain temperament. Not all nannies are the same, of course. You’ll find a wide variety of personality types in the nanny world. However, successful nannies share certain traits that help them effectively navigate the unique challenges of the job. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to see if you have what it takes to be a successful nanny.
Am I comfortable spending much of my day without other adults? Unlike working in group care setting, nannies work solo most of the time. Even those nannies who work for a stay-at-home parent don’t have the usual benefits of working with a colleague. They’re working side by side with their boss. Successful nannies truly enjoy working without adult company for a good part of the day.
Do I have good time management skills? While every nanny job description is different, most have one thing in common: the nanny has to juggle and complete many different tasks throughout the day. Besides the hands-on childcare required, many nannies are responsible for doing the children’s or family’s laundry, preparing meals, light housekeeping, running errands and completing other household tasks. Because they work alone, there’s not dedicated time to do any of those tasks. Effective time management skills are necessary to get everything done without taking away from providing quality care for the child. Nannies who don’t manage their time well get overwhelmed with what needs to get done and often leave important things unfinished.
Am I able to set professional boundaries? When you work as a nanny, there isn’t a center director or school principal to act as a middle man between you and the parent. You have to be able to be your own advocate and maintain professional boundaries on your own in a very informal setting. This is often the biggest challenge for nannies and one of the most common reasons nannies fail on the job. It can be very difficult to talk about money, disciplinary challenges, problems in the employment relationship and other touchy subjects without any support or industry standards to rely on. Successful nannies have effective communication skills and are comfortable setting and maintaining professional boundaries.
Can I create a well-rounded day? Nannies are fully responsible for planning a well-rounded day for their charge. They have to create an environment that is fun, engaging and addresses the child’s physical, cognitive, social, emotional and educational development and needs. In addition, all of this has to be accomplished within the boundaries outlined by the parents. Nannies who are resourceful, creative, organized, and comfortable taking the initiative in planning daily activities will thrive under this challenge. They see the job of planning a diverse day as a fun and enjoyable task.
Do I want to work in a private home? Working in a family’s home is one of the unique challenges a nanny faces. Nannies don’t have the typical workplace environment. They have to adjust to the lifestyle choices and styles of the family they work for. The nanny may be a natural neat freak, but work for a family that is disorganized and messy. Or the nanny may not be a fan of dogs, but work for a family that decides to get a puppy. Working in someone’s home means giving up the normal control most have over their work environment. It means letting go of many personal preferences and meshing with the family’s preferences. Successful nannies adapt easily to a variety of situations and don’t have a hard time letting go of control over their daily environment.
Do I mind being viewed as a household employee? Nanny care is still seen by many as unskilled work that can be performed by most people. Few outside the industry recognize the education, experience and skill needed to do the job well. Career nannies are often questioned by well-meaning friends and family members about their choice in profession. Successful nannies are happy with their career choice regardless of what others think. They take pride in their work, even if it isn’t generally recognized or valued by others in society.
Being a nanny isn’t for everyone. In fact, it is very different than working in other types of childcare jobs, and those who excel in other childcare jobs may not excel as nannies. For those caregivers who have the personality and temperament to be successful, it can be a rewarding and fun career choice.