Tell us about yourself!
Hi! My name is Martha Reddick and I’m a Chicago based nanny and teaching artist. Born and raised in Knoxville, TN, I graduated from the University of Tennessee with my Masters in Secondary English Education. I then landed in Chicago and began to nanny almost immediately. I also love working with kids through theater and have worked with a Chicago based children’s theater, Compass Creative Dramatics, for four years. In my free time (I know, what free time…we’re nannies) I enjoy reading, performing with my sketch group or in a play, and listening to podcasts! My love of nannying and podcasts led me to create my own nanny resource podcast called Chronicles of Nannya!
What led you to becoming a nanny?
I have always been an educator at heart. My mom is a wonderful second grade teacher and, as a middle schooler, I would visit her class and enjoyed working with her kids so much! I started babysitting around that same time. I then got my teaching certificate in secondary education but knew that I couldn’t teach full time and pursue my passion for acting at the same time. It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago, however, that I realized that nannying was even an option as a career. When I first moved to Chicago, I took on 4 different jobs (part time nanny, waitress, receptionist and tutor) to help make ends meet but it was quickly apparent to me that my heart was only in the jobs where I got to work with kids. I then built a patchwork schedule of families to nanny which allowed me to quit my other jobs and I’ve never looked back! I now nanny full time and tutor some evenings. When I am nannying, I feel at home. I can’t wait to go to work and see what adventures we can find that day!
Describe yourself as a nanny in 5 words.
Kind, engaged, silly, intuitive, and curious.
Describe your nannying approach. What is your childcare philosophy?
I am a HUGE believer in fostering autonomy. Of course, this depends on the age of the child, but I consistently try to find ways to encourage my kids to speak up for themselves and learn to do tasks on their own. When we’re walking to the park or school or any place we’ve visited frequently, I ask the kids to tell me which direction we should turn. If we get a little lost, that’s part of the adventure! I also use a lot of “I do, we do, you do”. So if we’re learning to put on our own shoes or write letters or find a book at the library, I will do it for them a few times, talking through the steps. Then I will encourage them to do it with me only helping when I can see them get a little stuck. Finally, I take a step back and let them do it all by themselves! I also constantly offer choices to my kiddos! From do you want a red or blue cup to which bathroom in the house they want to use, I try to let them make choices as much as possible!
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
The laughter. I find my abs hurt at the end of the day sometimes. And that’s not only because I need to workout more! My kids (all of them) are so smart and funny and kindhearted! They genuinely make my laugh throughout the day. I also love that everyday is different. There’s no autopilot in nannying and I love that!
What part of nannying do you find the most challenging?
I struggle with the “getting to know you” phase with a new family. Everyone is getting used to one another and you have no idea what “normal” looks like for a kid. You’re figuring out how to tailor your nannying style to meet the kids where they are. I come home more drained from those few weeks than any other job. But I do love the moment when it first “clicks” with a new child. When you make them belly laugh for the first time or when they grab a book and crawl into your lap or they get scared and run to you for comfort.
What is your advice to someone just beginning his or her nanny career?
Know your worth. Talk to other nannies. Speak up in a respectful way when your gut tells you something isn’t right. I see so many nannies put up with things they shouldn’t because they think it’s part of the job. If it feels wrong or like you’re being taken advantage of, pay attention to that feeling. Also, you should never feel stuck in your job. We love the kids and so we stay longer than we should sometimes. But you are worth being treated fairly and with respect. Always.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I arrive at the house around 10am and do any lunch prep, cleaning or laundry that is easier without kids running around. Then I go pick up my B3 from preschool and we come home and eat lunch. Then we do some quiet time. He’s transitioned out of naps, but we still do some quiet play or read books or watch one TV show. Then it’s playtime! We try to get outside as often as possible but we also go to the library or play in the basement until 3:15 when we pick up B5! I bring both boys home or take them to an afternoon activity with a snack in hand! Their dad arrives home around 5pm and we do 15-30 minutes of transition time and then I head home! My kiddos are super social so I try to schedule as many playdates as we can!
What is your go-to nanny outfit?
Dresses WITH POCKETS and leggings. Last year for summer I bought 5 sun dresses with pockets from Target, 5 pairs of bike shorts to go underneath and those were my “uniform” for the summer. In the winter, I do mostly dresses with leggings. I also rock tunics and leggings sometimes. Leggings with pockets are becoming more prevalent and that is a game changer for me!
How do you wind down after a long day on the job?
Don’t you mean wine down? I sometimes have a glass of wine with dinner and watch a fun show on Netflix. I also meet up with other nannies to record episodes of Chronicles of Nannya episodes. You wouldn’t think that talking more about nannying would be a good way to wind down, but it is! I also do theater, so sometimes going to a rehearsal where I can totally become immersed in another world is helpful to put an end to a long day. Honestly though, I usually fall asleep by 9pm after a long day.
Any childcare books, websites, or resources you recommend?
I would recommend my podcast, Chronicles of Nannya as an awesome resource! My guests are such wonderful nannies and have great ideas to share! We tackle so many aspects of nannying and I pour a lot of work into making it a useful resource for the nanny community! I also take suggestions for topics, so if you’re ever struggling with something that has to do with nannying, please reach out by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to do an episode about any subject a nanny wants more help with!
I also highly recommend the Love & Logic books by Jim Fay. I have read the Teaching with Love and Logic book many times and use those tools often as a nanny!
The gals behind Not Quite Mary Poppins are always looking to grow our bookshelves! What are your favorite children’s books?
I love The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch and Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson. For older kids, I also love A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Wonder by Raquel J. Palacio, and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I also adore reading Harry Potter with kids who are old enough! But my favorite place to take my kids is the library and we read at least one new book a week!
Disclaimer: Not Quite Mary Poppins obtains legal permission from a parent or guardian though a signed media release form for any photos that display children’s faces. All identifiable photos are posted with express permission.