Welcome back to another ‘Meet Nanny’, where we get a chance to meet a fabulous nanny and learn what makes her special, unique and an asset to the families she has cared for!
1. What is your daily Nanny life like?
I just started a new position and (at the time of writing) I have only worked two days thus far. I work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’m a mother’s helper for 12-14 hours those days. The little girl is 6 months and the happiest little baby. We are currently working on getting her onto a better nap schedule. It seems like a time of transition for her as she is moving to the next level of infant-baby. The two year-old boy has a diagnosed swallowing problem. It seems most of the day is spent around trying to get him to eat or drink. The mother does the feedings at this point though. I am there to help her with the baby while she tries to get the toddler to eat, sometimes takes up to an hour and a half for him to eat a meal. I am also there to teach the two year old some basic preschool lessons. We have started with shapes and colors. He is a fast learner. He is fascinated with circles this week and we have been finding circles in everything around us.
2. What are 3 unique characteristics about you that you strive to live for the children in your care?
I would have to say affectionate, creative, and a teacher. I am an affectionate person. I feel all children need to know that they are loved, and strive to provide that loving and caring environment for any child in my care. I love to do arts and craft projects with kids, even infants. I come up with creative themes for each week depending on the age kids I’m working for. I also try to take their everyday toys and make it into something fun, like buying and selling sister-brother’s toys at the store in the playroom. I love to teach children new skills and help them reach each milestone along the way. I try to come up with creative ideas to teach them the things they need to learn at each age.
3. What is the most rewarding thing about your career as a nanny?
The most rewarding thing about my career is watching the children learn and grow. Sometimes it can feel like forever that I have been trying to get a kid to do or understand a concept or new skill and that day that they finally get it is so rewarding to both the child and to me. I love those moments when the child finally can do the new skill. I will always remember helping one of my elementary-aged charges with fractions. He was not getting it at all. He wanted to help me cook supper one night and I made him use the fractions in the recipe, and we had to double the recipe. It finally clicked and he started to get what we had been working on for weeks. Those “aha” moments make it worth all the struggles whether it’s with an infant or older child.
It’s also rewarding knowing that I’m providing a loving and caring environment for them to learn and grow in. I also volunteer at an elementary school and I see and hear some of the stories of the kids, and wish I could help them all, as many do not live in a very loving and caring environment.
4. What is one thing that you with you would have known your first day as a nanny?
I have learned a lot about myself and the nanny industry in the five years I have been a nanny. One thing I wish I would have known is that there are so many other nannies out there that once you reach out you have friends and support that understand you and the unique struggles and challenges we go through as nannies. They can also share in the all the rewards this career has to offer too. I didn’t know there was this big “nanny world” out here. I would have also liked to know how to better communicate with the parents. I have learned this through out the years, but that first job was a learning experience. Also I’ve learned, how crazy working 13-hour days, 4 days a week with two sets of twins (newborns and 2 year olds) really is.
5. What is something that others maybe surprised to know about you?
I got married two months ago, January 8th. I moved to Michigan after we got married in my hometown of Oshkosh, WI. Life seems full of new stuff right now as I’m starting to get settled into married life, a new job, new city, new state, and new everything it seems. I’m starting to get involved in the church Kevin and I attend. I volunteer at the daycare center at church on Tuesdays while the teachers have meetings and classes. I go to an elementary school during their lunch hour on Thursdays and help the kids with some craft projects. Many of the children live in environments that are not the best. They love coming down and talking to adults that care and being able to put together crafts together. Many will comment that they do not have crayons or glue in their homes to finish a project that they didn’t get done. We gladly let them “borrow” a glue stick or a few crayons.
Debra Vander Silk is newly married, but is known to most of her nanny friends as Deb or Debbie Mathwig. Through her 5-year career as nanny she has cared for kids from hours old up through 10 years old. Debra graduated from Winona State University with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. Debra has traveled to INA and Nannypalooza conferences, as well as, attended local conferences in Wisconsin. Recently she moved to Michigan, but lived most of my life her life Wisconsin. She truly misses her Milwaukee nanny friends.