This post originally published on August 3, 2009 but it has been slightly modified and updated.
Growing as a Professional by:Glenda Propst
How do you feel about what you do?
Do you see yourself as a professional?
How do your employers treat you?
How do your employers’ friends and family treat you?
Many of our feelings of self worth come from our employers. How you see yourself has a lot to do with how others treat you. Whether you realize it or not, people do see you, and they watch you. It may be a friend of your employer who recognizes the children, or it may just be someone who knows you are a nanny. Everywhere you go — the grocery store, the mall, the dry cleaner, the park — you never know where you’re going to meet someone whom you know or someone who knows you.
You may be the only nanny someone knows. You are a representative of nannies everywhere. We owe it to each other to always conduct ourselves as professionals, no matter where we are.
I know it’s hard to feel professional when you have no office, wear casual clothes to work, and get paid to read books, play peek-a-boo, and go to the zoo. We have no lunch hour except naptime (which our charges eventually outgrow). There is no one in the next room to whom we can run over and tell a joke, and our real bosses are usually under the age of five! As important as our work is, it’s extremely isolating and lonely at times. A nanny who is not happy is not going to do a very good job. It’s important for you to take care of yourself and to make sure your needs are met.
Nannies need to have a life outside of their job. Nannies also need to find other nannies with whom they can network. No one understands your frustrations like a nanny does; not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t do what you do. Nannies can offer support to each other and help each other work out solutions to problems but is one on one nanny support enough?
A very wise woman once said that nannies are the Cadillac of child care but unfortunately, many of us care for children the same way that our mothers cared for us.
We all came to this road on a different path. No matter what brought you to this profession, whether you went to nanny school or just had childcare experience, finding a job was only the beginning of being a nanny. If you want to learn and grow as a professional, you must work on your professional development. You can’t operate on the assumption that once you land your first job you are done.All professionals are required to seek out ongoing education. They are required to attend seminars and workshops to update themselves on the latest technology and research in their chosen field.
If we want to be treated as professionals by our employers, and we want the world to realize the importance of what we do, we must continue to educate ourselves, improve ourselves, stay abreast of what is happening in our field, and the current trends that relate to the ages of the children in our care.
The internet has opened up a whole new plethora of ways to educate ourselves. There are websites and blogs galore about child care, parenting, how to find a nanny job, how to interview, what to ask, and what to expect, but beyond landing the job, you have to keep growing yourself professionally. We are never done!
Joining a chat group and talking to other nannies is a great way to find support and solutions to problems we face on the job but is that really enough?
After all, chat groups are simply other nannies sharing their experience, often dealing with children the best way they can, and experience is important and valuable but it can never replace education and training.
To really expand your professional horizons, you have to reach a little bit further than your computer keyboard or the dial pad on your phone.
As nannies you should also be seeking out educational opportunities in your community. It could be a class at the local community college on child development, or a workshop for new parents on Baby 101 at the local hospital. Opportunities to educate ourselves are everywhere if we just look for them.
The greatest professional motivator for me has always been other professionals in the field of child care. I am not talking about just other nannies, but also about agency owners, other parents who employ nannies, early childhood educators and parenting professionals as well.
I have attended a professional conference for 20 of the almost 30 years I have been in the nanny profession. I am convinced that I could have never lasted in this field if I hadn’t been able to create a professional network of resources.
I hear nannies complain that they don’t get anything from professional organizations.
I hear nannies complain that traveling to conferences is too expensive.
At last years INA conference, the wise Dr. Lynne Keeney said that you don’t get anything back if you don’t give something away.
It sounds like a simple concept but I don’t see many nannies doing that.
In fact, I don’t even see nannies taking advantage of things that are given to them for free.
Over the next few months there will be opportunities to win conference scholarships, registrations and memberships. The qualification process is not hard it simply requires a little effort. I am hopeful that this blog has encouraged each of you to reach out and strive to widen your horizons this coming year.
Sometimes it is hard for me to understand what it takes to motivate others in my profession. We say we want professional respect, we say we want professional benefits, we say we want professional pay, we say we want professional recognition but oftentimes we don’t want to put forth any effort to either give back or expand our professional horizons.
Nominations for INA Nanny of the Year are open right now. This is one of the most rewarding ways to not just give back to your profession but also receive the validation you do for the job you do so well. Do you know a great nanny that deserves that honor? Is there one in your support group? Nominate her! Giving back is the best way to get something back.
The one thing that I have learned in my nanny experience is that you can not quit. You can not stop working to improve the profession, you can not stop trying to educate the public and you can not let those who do not understand, keep you from working to achieve your goals. My life is richer, my world is bigger and my vision is clearer because of the connections I have made beyond the safe haven of my job and my home. Being a nanny does not define me, but being a nanny has helped me define what matters most to me in this life. It has taken me to places I never knew I would go, it has allowed me experiences I would have never had and to make friends I would never have met. It has changed me in ways that I could not have imagined and grown me beyond what I ever thought I could be.
I have learned that you get out of something, as much as you put into it.
So today, you may think that Monday Moxie is a lot of moxie, but for those of you who know me, you know that every once in a while, I wake up at 3 A.M. with a burning question on my mind and have to write about it before I can go back to sleep.
My question for you today is what has the nanny profession done for you?
And more importantly what are you giving back?