Dear Nannies, We See You

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Dear Nannies,

We wanted to take a moment to address YOU, the community of caregivers we have met so far on our blogging journey. We are grateful for you. We’ve grown through being inspired by you. We laugh at the instagram posts we follow and jot down notes at the awesome crafts we see. We have read the thoughtful answers to your Sunday Spotlights and said, “Yeah, us too!” Every time we meet someone new, we feel a part of something bigger.

Writing for a nanny blog has made us reflect a lot on the nature of nannying. Gosh, it is so rewarding, but it can be hard and sometimes lonely work. We work at breakneck speed to cook dinner, make bottles, do laundry, tidy up, stay afloat – and pray that naps will be long enough to accomplish our tasks. We champion our charges. We champion their parents. We work towards the greater good of the family who employs us. And we shoulder all of that largely by ourselves.

Our message to you wonderful nannies is simple: we see you. If you felt like the perfect nanny today, we see you. If you felt like the worst nanny today, we see you. If you started a new job and feel out of sorts, we see you. If you are feeling the heartbreak of saying goodbye to your charges, we see you. If someone downplayed or misunderstood your profession today, we see you. If you have wondered how you will ever be able to maintain a life outside of your work, we see you. If you wish you were acknowledged a bit more for your efforts, we see you. Oh, dear nanny friends. You are visible. You are remarkable. We marvel at the responsibility you undertake. And while you champion others, we hope that we can champion you.

Thank you. For reading. For reaching out to us. For being brave enough to share your stories. For being brave enough to love little ones each day AND seek to encourage other caregivers even when your shift is over. Thank you.

Sending out all our love.

Best,

Mackenzie and Kathryn

26 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned As a Nanny

Nannying is an interesting profession. It’s unique in the fact that many of the job tasks are just part of ordinary life – dishes, laundry, cooking, childcare. As a nanny, I’m living life right along with the family I work for. I have discovered more about myself by working intimately with children than I could have in any other field of employment. The lessons I’ve learned in my career far exceed what I can cover in one post, but on the eve of my 26th birthday (woohoo!), I’m sharing 26 of the lessons that have been the most valuable to me on my professional nannying journey. Here goes!


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  1. Ultimately, nannying is about trust.
  2. When it comes to children, always expect the unexpected.
  3. I won’t immediately be able to fix every problem I encounter on the job. Sometimes I won’t even know where to begin. And that’s ok.
  4. Nannying will bring all of your flaws to the surface. I may not want to admit that I can be a control-freak who hates a change of plans, but working with children has forced me to acknowledge that.
  5. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to childcare. All they really need is safety, respect, and a familiar routine. The smaller details are not worth sweating over.
  6. Kids aren’t motivated by empty phrases like, “good job!” When giving praise, be specific.
  7. Kids are natural experimenters. They’re hard-wired to test the limits. It’s why they are so inclined to play! Keep this in mind when setting expectations.
  8. Transition phases (moving from one activity to another) are usually the toughest part of a child’s day. Focus on making those go smoothly, and half the battle is already won.
  9. I don’t have to go to great lengths to give my charges a magical childhood, I just have to live in the moment with them. Chances are, they won’t remember when I planned elaborate learning activities for them, but they’ll remember when we baked cupcakes and I let them lick the frosting off the spoon.
  10. I don’t have to put on a brave face for my charges when I’m sad. Kids are not frightened by honest emotions. In fact, they are usually the first to catch on and provide comfort.
  11. When a child is upset, the best thing I can do for him is to get down on his level and look him in eye. Children respond better when they feel respected.
  12. My charges will face harsh realities. They will experience failing at something, they will lose someone they care about, a classmate will bully them on the playground. I can’t shelter them from that, but I show them I believe in their resilience.
  13. Kids need to make a mess every now and then. They take in the world through their senses. Messes are how they learn. Processed with VSCO with tk preset
  14. Kids always tell the truth. When my charge says, “I love you,” she means it. When she says my hair looks crazy and points out a “boo boo” (codeword for pimple) on my chin, she means that, too.
  15. Convincing a toddler learning her numbers that there is no “eleventeen” is an uphill battle.
  16. People will always have a variety of opinions on my choice of career. The only opinion I need to entertain is my own.
  17. When interviewing with a family, consider whether you could handle being in a stressful situation with them.
  18. Negotiating rates and benefits on my own is a challenging process, but it can always be handled with tact and grace.
  19. Experience and credentials can come in handy on the job hunt, but authenticity is far more important. My nanny family isn’t going to form a connection with my experience. They are going to form a connection with me.
  20. Good nanny and employer communication takes practice. It takes at least a year to really get to know each other’s preferences and quirks. Give each other grace in the meantime.
  21. When I see my bosses rocking at parenting, I need to tell them! Parenting is hard, and a little affirmation can go a very long way.
  22. Taking care of myself is not self-indulgent, it is necessary. The family I work for deserves a nanny who is rested and energized.
  23. Develop friendships with other nannies. Facebook groups, local meet-ups, and even a trip to the playground will bring you in contact with nannies. Approach them! Be intentional. There are times I’ve needed a listening ear that only another nanny could provide.
  24. Make friends outside of nannying, too. It’s too easy for me to get hung up on the challenges specific to my profession, but every job has its own setbacks. Having friends in other career fields helps me keep perspective.
  25. That parent I see squeezing a stroller through a crowded coffee shop? They aren’t trying to get on my nerves, they just need a well-deserved coffee. I will never know how much they’ve sacrificed to keep the little person in that stroller happy.
  26. Laughter really is the best medicine. Children provide it in abundance.

The Story Behind Our Blog Title: Embracing Our Imperfections

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Blog titles are important. They are sort of like an elevator pitch, reflecting the voice of the bloggers and the vision they intend to create.

What qualities come to mind when you think of the perfect nanny? Mary Poppins – a woman who flew into a family’s life by umbrella and offered a song and a magical fix for every problem – is often considered the cultural icon for modern nannies, but that comparison falls terribly short.

The reality is that nannying is a complex and challenging profession, and those who take it on face tremendous responsibilities. Our employers entrust their own flesh and blood to our care, and give us a place of importance in their lives. We know we are a substantial investment; we know how much faith our employers have put in us. Naturally, we want to go above and beyond to prove ourselves worthy of it. So we strive to be nothing short of perfect, to be supernanny – Mary Poppins herself – and when we fall short, we often feel guilt and frustration.

We (Mackenzie and Kathryn) are both professionals in this industry, and we know those feelings first hand. We have both had many an evening where we rolled into bed (covered in spit up and craft glitter, mind you!) thinking of all the small interactions and potential teaching moments we could have handled better. This kind of self-criticism can easily be taken as just another part of the job, but we are actively pushing back against that. Here’s the deal: there’s no such thing as a supernanny, and Mary Poppins is a fictional character. Nannies are just regular people with a many, many tasks to juggle, and even the most skilled of us will have days where everything just goes wrong.

We decided to call our blog Not Quite Mary Poppins because we are trying to stop striving for “Mary Poppins-esque” perfection. We believe nannies are extraordinary; not because we are perfect, but because we have gifted the families who employ us with a level of commitment, devotion, and attention to detail that is more personalized than one can find in any other profession. We have made it our mission to embrace our imperfections in our professional careers, and to give our charges and employers the freedom to do the same. We hope you’ll join us in that endeavor. Imperfect caregivers everywhere, you are our heroes.

Besides, Mary Poppins had some odd ideas about childcare anyway. (But *don’t ask her to explain them to you).

Love,

Mackenzie and Kathryn


*Link via youtube

Who We Are, Why We Started Our Blog, and Who We Are Blogging For

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Hello there, reader! However you may have found our blog, we are so very happy to have you here. We’d like to give you a little picture of what our mission is over here. Since you’re probably reading this after a long day at work or on a thirty minute lunch break during naptime, we’ll keep things brief.

We are unashamed childcare nerds! We geek out over children’s books, baby clothes, craft ideas, and child development articles, and we want to share our excitement with you. To that end, consider Not Quite Mary Poppins a lifestyle blog for nannies.

Who are we writing for, you ask? We are writing for the people who take care of tiny humans every day. For the grace givers, the boo boo kissers, the “meanies” who set boundaries, and the every-moment educators who give their all to making each moment a teachable one.

We are writing for the people who teach little ones to find joy in the wildflowers and look for beauty in the mundane. We are writing because what nannies, governesses, and au pairs do is every bit as professional as what a doctor or teacher does, and we want to make that known.

We are writing to empower professionals to be their best and recognize that raising humans isn’t about competition, but community.

And finally, we are writing because we have been there. We have cried, laughed, bitten our tongues, and been an inch away from insanity all in the day. We are writing because we believe that playing with children isn’t a distraction from work, but a work worth doing, and we’re willing to bet you feel the same way.

So, readers, we at Not Quite Mary Poppins want to offer you the warmest of welcomes. In the weeks ahead, look for weekend article roundups, Sunday spotlights, “How To” articles, craft ideas, and a fun series on cities with kids. Nannies, come geek out with us! We’re so excited to have you here!

Happy Thursday!

Mackenzie and Kathryn


Disclaimer: This is not a blog about righting the wrongs of ill-intended employers or fighting for the professional and legal rights of nannies. We respect those types of blogs, but that is not what we created this space for. We are not legal experts, we are just two nannies who want to create a space of fun, creativity, and encouragement. We hope you’ll join us in that!