Each career path has it’s own personality and characteristics – some not so easy to face. The career as a nanny is such a rewarding one. We are lucky to get to spend hours, days, years watching children learn about the world. A new nanny should also recognize that the nanny career can be an isolating one. While we enjoy so many moments with precious children, we can often see a void in adult interaction. Isolation can lead to frustration and even depression, both of which do not produce a healthy environment for the children in our care. Just a new stay-at-home mom may have some adjusting to do, a new nanny will need to take some precautionary steps to prevent isolation.
Lesson 1: Recognize Your Value
Sometimes society hints that what we do is not valuable. While most nannies do feel important to the lives of children, it is easy to let those negative perceptions take root. It is important to keep your purpose at the front of your mind. Think about writing a mission statement for your job. A mission statement answers 3 questions: What do we do? For whom do we do it? What is the benefit? Keep this mission where you will see it daily. Post it on your mirror or with your email signature.
“To the world you might be one person,
but to one person you might be the world.”
Lesson 2: Stay Intellectually Stimulated
If a nanny is working with preschoolers, she may be surrounded by ABC’s, Dr. Seuss, and Duck, Duck, Goose. These tools may help the children grow, it is not offer the same challenge for us, personally. Make sure that you are taking time to engage your mind and stay current with the things in the adult world! Though I am not a big fan of the news, I do make myself tune in a few times a week – so that I am not out of touch. Think about picking up a library book for yourself each time you take the children and spend 15 minutes of nap time reading BIG words.
Lesson 3: Keep a Balanced Routine
Many nannies face long work days. However, when those days are lived out with a purpose they not only provide a comfortable environment for kids, but also provide balance for the nanny. Plan out times daily to get outside with the children, to eat healthy meals, and to take a break. Nannies that stay inside all day can become very disconnected. When I first started with the triplets, they were nine months old. It was pretty pointless for me to load them up in a car and take them some place. However, even on the briskest of days we would take our neighborhood walk with the beastly triple-decker stroller. As they got older, could walk, and now manageable, we began to do “field trips”. This for me was extremely liberating. As I talk with nannies who are not allowed to leave the house or drive the children, I am taken back to that first season with the boys. I can see how difficult it would be without any connection to the busy world outside a house.
“10. ISOLATION: Occasionally a family outright forbids the nanny to leave the home with the child. Nannies look forward to taking a walk with the baby on a nice day, perhaps walking with another neighborhood nanny or at-home mom, chatting, enjoying the interaction. Toddlers look forward to spending an hour exploring the local playground. Webb observes, “Criminals get sentenced to house arrest – please don’t do this to your child’s caregiver!
A live in nanny, especially one who has relocated for the job, must have the opportunity and means (transportation) to establish a social life outside the home. Generally a live in nanny who does not have reliable access to a vehicle in the evenings and weekends will not stay long.”
It is important for a nanny to communicate with her employer hopes for a balanced routine for both the children and herself. A nanny should seek out avenues to be active and social in their community during the workday.
Lesson 4: Nurture Adult Relationships
It is in a nanny’s best interest to reach out to friends and make sure her off-time is spent in adult conversation and activity; shopping days out or dinners in. Fill yourself up in the areas that you are passionate about, and meet new people that love those same things. I love to take cooking classes and volunteering at my church. Though the kids may come up in conversation, I try to expand my conversation to ‘adult’ subjects and connect on a mature level. If you are married or dating, schedule date nights ahead of time – “Friday night pizza and movie” is one of our favorites.
One word of advice, schedule your weekend fun long before 6:30 p.m. on a Friday evening. I have found that if I wait, I will excuse myself simply out of exhaustion. However, if I have something planned I will be more likely go out of accountability and end up having a great time.
Lesson 5: Network With Other Nannies
Nannies get nannies. We understand the struggles and joys each other face. We share the love of children and often have many more things in common. CincyNanny is celebrating it’s official 1 year birthday, and I can tell you that the relationships that I have made in this community seem more mature than only a year. There are play dates where I am so busy with my kids that I don’t even get to chat with other nannies, but something about being there with them… strength, appreciation, and respect are mutually shared. Our community like so many across the country have been resource, support, connector and foundation for professional nannies.
Here is just one nanny’s experience:
Before getting connected to the Northwest Nanny Association (NWNA), I was the nanny to 3 amazing kids. I loved my job but was also very lonely. I met a new friend who told me about the NWNA, an association specifically for nannies in the greater Seattle area. I was in shock that there was such a thing. Getting involved with the NWNA changed my life! Eventually, I became and is currently the President of the organization. This opened my eyes to a bigger world of the “professional career nanny.” I have made many professional connections within the industry and the community, had many positive role models and friends for all of my kiddos and have made some amazing friends for myself. I strongly advise and encourage everyone to join your local and national associations. The support and comraderie is invaluable. ~Jenny Brown (2005 INA Nanny of the Year and President of Northwest Nanny Association )
There are support groups all across the country, listed here. If there is not one in your city, think about starting one! It is likely that there are many nannies to be found, seeking the same type of organization.
Social networking has also been a tool many nannies are using. Sites like Nanny Island and Nanny Network are available. I enjoy spending a few minutes of nap time connecting with nannies on Facebook. There is definitely a 2:00 p.m. rush! This week we will see many nannies encouraging each other during National Nanny Recognition Week!
National organizations like NANC and INA are great ways to meet other nannies. I, personally have acquired many instant friendships that have now grown into regular communication with the aid of technology.
Take some time to reach out to other nannies. You will not be sorry!
1. Write a mission statement for your current position.
2. Try something intellectually stimulating or challenging this week.
3. Add something to your daily routine, to balance your time.
4. Plan a fun night with a friend that you miss.
5. Take a step to connect with nannies – online or locally.