Hey there, readers. We’ve planned a fun interview series called Spotlight Sunday, where we highlight a different person in the nanny industry every week. We created this series to celebrate all the unique and diverse individuals that populate the nanny community. We’re starting with ourselves, because we think you deserve to know the faces behind the posts you read here. We hope you enjoy reading along!
Tell us about yourself!
I’m a southern gal and a professional nanny currently caring for a two-and-a-half (going on 30) year old girl and a five month old boy in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m pretty darn enthusiastic about good books, good coffee, and Amy Schumer videos. I have a perpetual case of the travel bug – my favorite travel experience so far has been the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, especially the toboggan ride that takes you back down. When I’m not working, you can probably find me at a local coffee shop devouring a chai latte.
The Great Wall, and the aforementioned chai latte.
What led you to becoming a nanny?
Oh man. I suppose it all began with your classic, college-student existential crisis; the “what shall I do with my life?” variety. The summer of my sophomore year, I took a position in the infant room of a daycare on a whim, and boy was I hooked. Children were my people. I went on to major in Human Development and taught for a year in the toddler room at my college’s Early Learning Center. I enjoyed it, but my students were constantly moving on to the next class. So, ultimately the desire for long-term connections with children is what led me to a career in nannying. It’s a decision I’m so glad I made. I haven’t looked back since!
Describe yourself as a nanny in 5 words.
Artsy, goofy, firm, coffee-dependent.
Describe your nannying approach. What is your childcare philosophy?
I think it’s my job as a nanny to help families create routines, boundaries, and consistent expectations, but my charges’ only job is to PLAY. I will admit I’m not very overtly “teacher-like,” but that’s a deliberate decision I made. Between swim class, piano, preschool, soccer practice, and so on, it seems like children these days are so hyper-scheduled, there’s barely any opportunities for them to take in the world around them. I really try to let the children I care for be kids; to play house and dress up, have tea parties, run outdoors, climb trees, jump in puddles, skin their knees, finger paint, use their senses, get messy, test their environments. If I can facilitate these kinds of activities, I think they’ll learn a lot all by themselves. So I’d say my approach is: I set the expectations, then step back and watch what they learn.
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
I love the freedom and spontaneity in my workday. No two days look exactly the same. On any given day we might end up going to the zoo, the library, an art museum, or the playground down the street. We might stay indoors baking and crafting one day, and spend the entire day outdoors the next. I’m able to structure my charges’ activities and learning environments around their moods and interests – it’s completely tailored to them. Of course, I’m fortunate to have employers that allow me this kind of freedom, but I’d say nannying is one of the few professions out there where this much autonomy is even possible. I love it!
What part of nannying do you find the most challenging?
The exhaustion at the end of the day has been the hardest part for me. Caring for children requires so much strategic thinking, planning, orchestrating. You have to think creatively about how to handle every situation. On top of that, there’s so much physical activity and heavy lifting. When I first became a nanny, I couldn’t believe how tired I was! I’ve learned to prioritize getting a good night’s sleep and finding little moments to rest while on duty.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her nannying career?
Have a solid contract in place! Contracts are life savers and really help streamline the communication process. Ask for yearly evaluations. Keep communicating regularly with your employers about their needs and yours. It will feel awkward at first, but you’ll both get the hang of it! Remember that you won’t always have a magical solution to every challenge you face. Children are all unique and each one of them will do something that stumps you. Just take it in stride. It’s part of what makes this job so great.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Arrive at work, sit with my older charge while she eats breakfast, get baby and older charge dressed and ready for the day. If it’s a school day, drop off older charge. If not, do a learning activity at home until baby wakes from morning nap, then a mid-day outing, and then back home for lunch and naps. Snacktime, then afternoon free play or a walk to the park if the weather’s nice. Bathe older charge if she got messy, start on dinner and wait for mom and dad to arrive. It keeps me on my toes!
What is your go-to nanny outfit?
Dark jeans, comfy hoodies or t-shirts, leggings, cotton dresses I can move in. Dry shampoo, a messy bun, and a coffee cup. Also, I live in saltwater sandals in the summer.
How do you wind down after a long day at work?
A cup of tea, Netflix, and an early bedtime usually does the trick.
What are your favorite children’s books?
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans is my all-time favorite. For my two year old charge, anything by Mo Willems and Sandra Boynton gets us both giggling – I especially love Boynton’s But Not the Hippopotamus. I love reading Karen Katz books like Where is Baby’s Belly Button? to my infant charge, the illustrations are just so sweet and colorful. Peepo by Janet & Allen Ahlberg is another favorite for my tiniest reader. And of course, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is the ultimate bedtime story!