Often, when speaking with parents, I will hear the following: “I have a GREAT nanny! She is kind, attentive, polite, punctual, tidy, etc etc etc. We just love her!”. While these qualities are wonderful for *any* employee, they don’t always translate to “great” in the nanny world. So let’s talk about what actually makes a great nanny. What qualities, quirks, and practices make a nanny stand out above others in her field? Even if you already consider yourself a stellar nanny, there are always ways to improve and better yourself!
I recently asked some online mommy-group members to tell me what a great nanny looks like to them. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of women who truly seem to adore and respect their nannies.
Stephanie S. had this to say:
“I loooove our nanny. She just constantly goes above and beyond. I really feel like she wants to help us and make our lives easier. As a working mom, my nanny is a true partner in raising my kids but also in making this house run. She does an amazing job with my kids – teaching them Spanish, colors, counting, and is constantly engaging them – always talking, reading to them, and is teaching them manners. She is building their confidence and teaching them to be good little people. And they absolutely adore her – they ask for her on the weekend and are thrilled when she arrives in the morning.”
Here’s what else these moms had to say about what makes a great nanny:
THEY KNOW HOW TO CREATE PARTNERSHIP: Creating a partnership with your “nanny family” is vitally important to ensure that you can do your job to the best of your ability. Things are just easier when everyone is on the same page! There are many ways to do this, but the first (and easiest) way is to make sure that you have a contract. There are many different contracts out there that range from bare-bones basic to extremely detailed. Find the one that makes sense and insist your nanny family make time to discuss it with you.
Another way to create a partnership is to make sure that your values and discipline methods line up with the family’s. They don’t have to be exact (we are all unique human beings, after all), but they should be pretty close. Make sure that before you accept a position, you ask questions like “What is your preferred discipline method?”, “Do you have any spiritual or religious considerations that I should be aware of?”, and “What is your daily routine“?
THEY HAVE A HEART FOR SERVICE: Another thing that great nannies have in common is that they have a true heart for service. They find joy in helping others and make it their mission to make the lives of their nanny families easier. There are several ways that a nanny can pitch in to make life easier for their bosses. Let’s list a few:
- They anticipate needs. A great nanny will notice when her “work house” is running low on things like toilet paper, milk, or detergent, and will either ask if she should run to the store (or put in an Amazon Now order), or just do it (note: ideally, this is something that is discussed ahead of time. If you are not sure- ask!). If they notice that a child is struggling with a particular task or having a difficult time in school, they will communicate with their bosses ASAP to try and stay on top of things. A great nanny is a “noticer” and is proactive.
- They pitch in when needed (even if it’s not part of their regular duties). A great nanny knows that sometimes things happen that need tended to immediately, and she will take care of these issues as they arise, even if she is not required to. For example, it’s Monday and your nanny family just got back from vacation. Usually, you do the kids’ laundry once a week on Thursdays, but your boss has asked you to get it started today since there is so much extra. As long as this is an occasional request, you should absolutely help out. That way, your bosses can spend their downtime with their child(ren) instead of trying to catch up on laundry.
THEY HAVE A TRUE LOVE FOR CHILDREN: It should go without saying that all nannies should love children (why would you want to spend your time with children if you didn’t find joy in spending time with children??). A great nanny doesn’t just love children- she has dedicated her life to them! Often, great nannies do not start off as nannies. They start as babysitters, daycare workers, teachers, doulas, etc. They come to the nanny profession in a variety of ways, but their love of children is what pushes them to be the best they can be. Great nannies ADORE the children they care for. They worry about them and miss them when they’re not together. They work hard to cultivate meaningful, long-lasting bonds with the children in their care, and they do not take their responsibility lightly.
Kelsey C says: “I love that my nanny seems to genuinely love my kiddo and misses him when she is gone. She is like a 2nd parent to him, and I trust her completely. She treats him like one of her own children. One day, I came home and my son was sitting in her lap, literally vomiting into her hands and she didn’t even flinch! Every day before she leaves she gives big hugs and kisses and tells them how much she loves them and they profess their love back. Warms my heart!”
THEY DO THEIR RESEARCH: Great nannies don’t “clock out” at the end of the day- they go home and think up new, fun activities to do with their favorite little people. Great nannies plan ahead. Some create themed, age-appropriate lesson plans (just as a teacher would). Some spend hours researching new toys, baby carriers, strollers, etc. because they want the children they care for to have the best of the best. Others spend their free time reading books about child development, searching for kid-friendly recipes on Pinterest, or chatting with other nannies in Facebook groups to get advice from other “experts”.
Great nannies join great organizations like the INA (International Nanny Association), PNA (Professional Nanny Association), and the IAPSP (International Association for Private Service Professionals). They attend training sessions and earn certifications such as “Newborn Care Specialist”, “Certified Babywearing Educator”, and “Certified Car Seat Technician”. They know about Baby Led Weaning, Infant Sign Language, best sleep practices, and keep up with the ever-changing APA guidelines for medications and illnesses.
Gretchen B had this to say: “(My nanny and son) go to the library every week and always bring home new books. Yesterday she brought over vinegar and cornstarch to make volcanoes! And then they made Oobleck with the corn starch [and] he was entertained for two hours. It’s the new experiences she gives him that I can’t while working that make me feel less guilty.”
While every answer I received was different, they all had one common theme:
The key to being a GREAT nanny is to do everything within your power to make it easier for your bosses to leave their children during the day.
Whatever you can do to help alleviate “Mom/Dad guilt”, do it! Of course, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t be compensated accordingly. By all means, if you feel that your nanny family is asking too much for you, it’s time to ask for a sit-down and review your contract. Your first priority, always, should be the children, their happiness, and their well-being. Beyond that, ask yourself what you can do to make your nanny family’s lives easier. Then…do that!
What makes you a great nanny? Tell us below J
(Next article: “So You Want To Bring Your Child To Work With You: A Guide for Nannies Who Are Moms”)