Tell us about yourself!
Hi! I’m McKenzie. I’m 24 and have been a nanny for about 7 years, with a break at a childcare center right in the middle. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life, and in Portland, Oregon for the last 7 years. When I’m not working I’m usually reading, exploring new coffee shops, and taking pictures. I love politics, cities, traveling, coffee, and the color black. I’m currently the full time nanny (and have been for 2.5 years!) to 3.5 year old twin boys and loving (just about) every minute with them!
What led you to becoming a nanny?
I’ve been involved in childcare for as long as I can remember. I worked in the nurseries at church, I started babysitting at the age of 11 and consistently throughout high school, started working at a childcare center as soon as I turned 16, and have just always been around kids. My family was a foster family and I grew up knowing how important it is to help people (and especially kids) whenever possible. Living in a small town that didn’t really have any nannies, I always sort of idolized the idea of moving to a city and becoming one. I always dreamed of all the different places you could explore with the children and experiences you could give them and the way you sort of become like family, and I just though it seemed like the best job ever. And I was right.
Describe yourself as a nanny in 5 words.
Adventurous. Kind. Practical. Weird. Creative.
Describe your nannying approach. What is your childcare philosophy?
One of my goals is to give the children in my care the very best childhood I possibly can. But while I want them to have the most amazing memories and adventures, I also want to equip them with the tools they’ll need to succeed as they grow and develop. In my opinion, fostering independence in children is so important! Teaching them that they are able to play on their own, solve problems on their own, and think on their own is huge! Showing them techniques to use and then stepping back and letting them start to figure things out on their own (and of course, stepping in when help is needed) is so beneficial and something they’ll be able to use for life. It’s not always the easiest thing to teach, but I think it’s worth it.
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
Oh my gosh, all of it! Okay, maybe not all, but definitely most. The best part for me is just the everyday stuff. The snuggles, exploring the city, hearing their tiny voices in the back seat singing along to your favorite songs, the blanket forts, the giggles, the moment when something you’ve been trying to teach them really clicks, the adventures, the way that they become your little best friends, the dance parties, the jokes, everything.
What part of nannying do you find the most challenging?
Of course, the leaving. Leaving a family is the absolute hardest thing and I can’t even begin to imagine leaving my current little buddies. But besides that, I think the most challenging thing is the lack of co-workers. It’s really just you and the kids, all day every day. No one to vent to, or ask for opinions, or laugh with about something funny the kids did. But thank God for playdates! Nanny friends are life savers.
Wait, wait, wait no… The why stage. The most challenging part of nannying is the why stage. Final answer.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her nannying career?
Communication is crucial. Talk to the parents about their parenting approach so that you are on the same page, and then always keep the line of communication open in case anything changes. A major part of the job is working in partnership with the parents so that the children always have consistency from whoever is with them that day. Also – goals and organization. It’s easy to get swept up in the fun and the games, which is definitely important. But it’s also important to remember that your job is to help the children learn and grow. Set goals and be organized enough to follow through with them. Have a schedule and plan out your weeks in advance. You don’t always have to follow the schedule, and you should be prepared for the schedule to go out the window some days, but it’s good to at least have an idea of what you want to accomplish that week!
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
When I arrive in the morning I usually play with the boys, ask them about their night, and if there’s anything specific they want to try to fit into the day. Then we clean up the playroom, pack a snack and head out on an outing (park, coffee shop, music hour, play date, zoo, museum, etc). Once we get back I make us all lunch, they each pick out a book for us to read, and then they go down for a nap. While they’re napping I do dishes, laundry, sweep, organize, and either work on the meal plan, the schedule or the afternoons activity. In the afternoon we try to fit in something fun like an art project, a learning activity, or free/imaginative play.
What is your go-to nanny outfit?
Jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. But really… maybe the best part of being a nanny is getting to wear your normal clothes.
How do you wind down after a long day on the job?
I’d like to say that I go to the gym to wind down, but in reality that actually happens maybe once or twice a week. My favorite way to wind down lately is listening to podcasts! My commute just got a bit longer after a move, but I actually find it relaxing to have the extra time in the car with just me and the podcasts.
Any childcare books, websites, or resources you recommend?
Oh, I JUST finished reading The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. It’s amazing and so helpful! And of course Pinterest. What kind of nanny would I be if I didn’t give a little credit to Pinterest? I’ve also found so much support just by finding other nannies on Instagram and Facebook. It’s such a fun community and I’ve met some amazing people!
The gals behind Not Quite Mary Poppins are always looking to grow our bookshelves. What are your favorite children’s books?
I mean, my #1 favorite children book of all time is Silly Sally by Audrey Wood. I read that all the time as a kid (and sometimes still read it to my best friends……). Other favorites are The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio, If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen, Press Here by Herve Tullet, and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Gotta throw in the legend!