by Risa Ontiveros
Have you ever wondered if you are on the right “career path”? What is even considered a good career? The definition of a career is simply an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life. People seldom consider a nanny as a career choice. And more often wonder why it is even considered a good career path.
What is the definition of a nanny? A nanny is an in-home childcare provider that has a one-on-one professional connection with the children and with the families. Nannies can be either live-in or live-out but always provide lots of at home assistance and are given lists of tasks and responsibilities. It is a position that requires wearing many hats where you are generally responsible for are the child nutrition, housekeeping, behavioral advising, counseling, teaching as well as being a physically demanding career.
With our expertise we have come to find every family will have different expectations and different responsibilities assigned for their nanny. Many nannies will also have expectations and limitations or responsibilities that they offer in return. This article is written in a generalized format, not specified to any certain family or nanny experience but as a compilation of many different experiences.
What are a Nannies Responsibilities?
In many cases nannies will have the responsibility to meal prep for families. In some instances, kids or parents may have food allergies that will need special accommodation. Nannies will therefore have to adapt to food allergies or food preferences of the family. For example, lactose intolerance and celiac disease is not uncommon, and nannies will need to be cautious with what ingredients they use when preparing meals. Nannies responsible for newborn care may also help with the transition from breast milk to solids or will support with non-choking solids for toddlers or even picky food eaters.
The housekeeping responsibility of nannies are commonly mistaken or abused depending on what is agreed upon in the contract. In general, a nanny is not supposed to be a full-time housekeeper as well. It is acceptable to have the responsibility to clean the children’s space or any mess caused by the children. This includes cleaning their dishes, doing laundry, cleaning the playroom or bedroom, cleaning the kitchen after meal preparation, and occasional errands related to the child.
Nannies may be responsible for accommodating to children’s developmental and behavioral characteristics. Part of their responsibility may include finding resources to assist with their needs. Nannies should provide a safe environment of which they can practice safe behaviors. It is essential to have communication with parents about behavioral expectations and progress, and to assist whenever they may be unsure.
Given that you will be spending most of you time with the child or children, counseling is another important role that a nanny is responsible for. Although not usually recognized as a counselor, nannies are critical in providing guidance in many different subjects. A nanny may be responsible for regulation of emotional responses, offering advice in certain circumstances, recognizing, and reinforcing positive behavior, and inspiring individual growth and self-regulation. Most importantly, a nanny must not overstep their responsibility as the parent and communicate with the parents as needed to cooperatively work together guiding the child as they develop.
The expectations for the nanny and the children vary greatly, and teaching may be a larger role in some families than other. However, depending on the age(s) of the child or children there will always be some teaching involved. Whether it be developmental milestones or sports or music, a nanny will be responsible for teaching.
How Does a Nanny Career Progress?
Now that we have established a general understanding of what being a nanny is like, we can discuss how a nanny can begin and progress throughout their career. The initial introduction to becoming a nanny usually begins in a type of childcare profession such as a babysitter, daycare worker, youth camp worker, or a paraeducator. These professions can later evolve into becoming a full-time nanny.
Babysitters are usually short-term caretakers with minimal responsibilities. However, they are also usually required to be First Aid/ CPR certified and take the basic babysitting certifications. Many babysitters start babysitting through close friends and families, although that is not always the case. In general, babysitters are mostly responsible for watching the child or children while the parents are away, they are not held to as high of standards as a nanny.
Daycare workers work at an in-home daycare or a traditional daycare, usually working with ten or more children. They generally have less responsibilities as compared to a nanny, but usually watch more children. Most of what they do is provide activities for the children and clean the classroom. In most cases they do not have to provide meals for the children, parents are usually required to provide food and the daycare worker will make sure they have the opportunity to eat. The activities vary greatly depending on the daycare and the number of children. They are usually operated on a set daily schedule ranging from five to ten hours a day. Lastly, they are responsible for the children’s hygiene and cleanliness while they attend the daycare.
Youth camp worker generally work during the summers and oversee creating activities for kids attending the camp. They are usually responsible for running different activities as wells as setting and cleaning up activities. They usually do not have to feed children or have any hygiene responsibilities. Most of the job includes supervising children’s behavior and keeping them entertained.
Paraeducators are under supervision of the school team special education teachers, applied behavior analyst therapist (ABA), speech therapists, physical therapists, and classroom teachers. Schools usually require more schooling and certificates to become a paraeducator. For example, the candidate must pass the paraeducator state test even if they have a degree. After that they usually must take courses in CPI and First Aid/ CPR. In many cases there are college courses that are provided by the schools to progress into a lead paraeducator. Paraeducators are responsibilities include the children’s education, implementing the Individual’s Education Plan (IEP), and following the ABA plan therapists provide. They generally do not have to worry about meal prep, drop off, or any after school activities.
All these types of work experiences could assist with determining if being a nanny is the right direction. Taking nanny courses or certificates could also increase. There are so many professions that introduce people to become a nanny, many of which were not discussed. Initially becoming a nanny may be one of the toughest obstacles you will face, luckily, once you become a nanny it is much easier to progress. Similarly, to becoming a nanny there are many different routes you can take once you become a nanny. Many nannies take classes and continue to gain certifications to progress through their career, some solely rely on experience, most utilize a combination of both educations and experience.
There are several certifications you can take to enhance your knowledge and that would build up your nanny resume. To be in childcare its mandatory you take or update your American Red Cross Child, Pediatrician First Aid CPR/AED, and water safety certifications. There are many places to earn certificates online such as Infant and Childcare Academy, Newborn Care Solutions, International Nanny Association, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, etc. Each of these sources offer many different certificate options, all of which will educate you and increase your value as a nanny. You can take college courses and earn certificates at US Nanny Institute and Nanny U, which are both trade schools with a specialized curriculum and online classes taught by college faculty. An associate degree and/or specialized certifications in early childcare development is very beneficial and valuable.
Many nannies will only earn the required certifications and rely on previous work experience to progress through their careers. Educations and certifications generally add to your value as a nanny; however, experience is very important and can be viewed as more valuable. Nanny experience does not only entitle duration of working as a nanny, but also the different types of experience with different families with different scenarios. It is very valuable to have experience with all ages from newborns to teenagers. It is important to have experience with families with multiple children, twins, or children with special needs. Having a variety of experience adds to your value as a nanny and allows you to be eligible for a wider range of positions.
Most nannies will utilize a combination of education/certifications and experience through their careers. As nannies gain experience with families, they usually take some courses of earn certificates related to their experience. This method is very valuable because nannies will have both experience and educations/certificates which may put them to a higher advantage for possible positions then a nanny with only experience or only education/certification.
What Makes Being a Nanny a Good Career?
Every nanny will take their own path of progression through their career, usually related to their individual circumstances and families they work for. Asking for advice is always welcome, just remember their path will be different than yours. The variability and everchanging work environment of being a nanny is part of what make being a nanny so enjoyable.
As an African tribe proverb stated, “it takes a tribe to raise a child”, and it does a take a tribe to take care of a child. Being a nanny usually means you become part of the family’s “tribe” and share a special relationship with them. A nanny can have a positive effect on a child’s growth and development including cognitive and social development. Children are known to be less stressed when they have a consistent person to take care of them. Being a part of a family and being instrumental to the child’s development and growth is a privilege. When a caregiver is nurturing, sensitive, and positively engaged the children will benefit from them and build a bond that is memorable. Not only will you bond with the child but with the parents as well. Creating many friendships that can last a lifetime.
A career as a nanny can allow for a very flexible lifestyle. Many families want to work with their nanny and make sure they are accommodated for, which means they may be willing to adjust their schedule to accommodate for the nanny’s personal life. This allows you to participate in activities such as sports, clubs, or other personal hobbies without affecting your work life. Being a nanny also allows for flexibility to find work almost anywhere desired. With some exceptions, nannies are needed almost everywhere people live, this allows you to travel and live-in different places while being able to find work when needed. Another great benefit is being included on family vacations, many families will bring their nanny on their vacations which means you will travel and get to partake in their trips and get paid all at the same time.
Lastly one of the most sought-after benefits of being a nanny is the pay and benefits. In some cases, health benefits, transportation, groceries, housing, and paid time off are all benefits families are willing to provide. Depending on your experience/qualifications and location the pay can also be very appealing. Most nannies make enough to live comfortably, and continuing raises are not uncommon allowing for continual growth.
Back to our main question, why is nannying considered a good career? Well, the actual job description and work involved with being a nanny is enjoyable to many. Becoming a nanny is also fairly easy and there are many of different routes you can take. Once you become a nanny, there are again many different routes you can take to continually progress as a nanny in your career. The rewarding nature, the flexibility, and the pay and benefits of being a nanny are what most people find appealing. Combine everything discussed as well as others not mentions the overall career choice to become a nanny sounds amazing.