HOW TO FIND YOUR UNICORN NANNY FAMILY

Unicorns.

Though you maybe accustomed to seeing these magical blue-eyed horses with pearly spiraled horns on nearly every hipster mug, 3rd grade backpack, baby onesie, and novelty pillow you pass by… they are actually quite rare. Ironic isn’t it?

I mean, if we actually took a look back at their history… Unicorns are elusive. Although they are stunningly beautiful, they are also fantastic at blending into their surroundings. Who knows… maybe you’ve passed one today and didn’t even know it. They are believed to have healing powers and one weakness: purity. They too are pure hearted and are always in search of someone who can match them in the spotless department. A sweet, innocent maiden can almost always lure a unicorn out of hiding. And when it comes finding a nanny family, I have found that the principles can be the same. Stay with me.

If you have spent a hot minute hanging out in the nanny social media sphere, you have seen mention of them. The elusive “Unicorn Families”.

“Found my UNICORN FAMILY!”

“WHAT IS A UNICORN FAMILY?”

“Where is MY Unicorn Family?”

“Where did you guys find your Unicorn Families?”

“Is there an agency that’s only for Unicorn Families?”

“Don’t lose heart. YOUR Unicorn Family is out there waiting for you!”

Aside from carseat safety and vaccination debates, never has a subject invoked so many nanny emotions (I kid… kinda. *wink). Some argue that they don’t exist and putting this label on families is holding them to unattainable standards. Some think they know they’ve come across a unicorn in an interview- while others argue it’s impossible to know that soon. I mean, I get the emotions. I have had those seasons where I’ve enter into a working relationship with the complete opposite of a unicorn. Let’s call them donkeys. (Note: there is nothing wrong with sweet little donkeys. I am sure you understand the illustration for symbolism sake.) Working for donkeys is incredibly challenging. Burnout is so real… and I am a total advocate of boundaries and caring for your nanny heart. It is a little sad when someone gets to the place where they believe they will never find their nanny/family match. I mean as nannies, aren’t we supposed to believe in a little magic?

A unicorn family is a nanny family who is hard to find “and catch”. They are almost too good to be true- your perfect working match. And while finding them maybe a mission, there is one way to attract exactly what you are looking for: BE a Unicorn Nanny! One who is hard to catch and find. I have a secret for you… they are looking for YOU too. When a Unicorn Family and a Unicorn Nanny sign a contract together I am sure something magic happens somewhere on a planet made of candy. But more importantly, it creates a healthy and safe environment for children to grow, families to thrive, and nannies to succeed at their jobs.

So let’s get to it. Here are some ways to become a Unicorn Nanny and to find that awesome match!

1. Professional Nanny Resume

I am shocked at how many nannies I have come across recently that claim to be professionals and do not have a professional nanny resume. I am not sure of any other profession where you apply for a job and are not expected to present your resume. If you want the unicorns… you’re going to have to first be one. It’s best to keep this baby as streamlined as possible so it is easy for any future employer’s or nanny agencies to navigate. Make sure you are including the musts! Your contact details, qualifications, past experience/positions you’ve held, educational background, and certifications should all be listed in this bad boy. Some nannies also choose to include a head shot at the top of their resume for a bit of a personal touch. Totally up to you.

2. Nanny Portfolio

Now, all nannies should 100% have at least a resume. The unicorn nannies go a step above that. We show up to interviews with a nanny portfolio in hand. A nanny portfolio will help your unique nanny magic sparkle above the rest. And if you have been a nanny for a hot minute, I am sure you’ve seen that finding employment is not always the easiest of feats. Ok, let’s get that portfolio poppin’! Here are some great things to include should you choose to put together your own…

Cover Letter



First impressions are important! This is many times your first introduction with a potential (unicorn) family. Make sure to highlight why you chose nannying as your profession, a little about your background, maybe a bit about your childhood, and anything else you think will make you more eye catching to future employers. Let yourself shine through! Nannying is such an intimate job. Finding a family that you genuinely mesh with will go a very long way.

Resume

We have already touched on this a bit, but every nanny portfolio must include your professional nanny resume. It’s best to keep that baby as streamlined as possible so it is easy for any future employer’s or nanny agencies to read. Make sure you are including the musts! Your resume is one of the most important pieces in that magical portfolio.

References

You should get a written letter of reference from each family that you work for. I do suggest that you get letters from your nanny families while you are still working for them. This will ensure you are set up to win in your next job search, should things not end ideally. Most families are happy to provide them after you have ended your position with them. It is completely up to the family whether they include their personal contact details in your letter of reference. Some families will prefer that you provide their contact details separately to a family if they are really interested in hiring you. That way your information is not circulating all over that place. Totally understandable.

Sample Nanny Contract

Ok, let’s talk briefly about contracts! As a professional nanny, I can tell you with full confidence: nanny contracts are your friend. I personally will not go forward with a new family if they won’t agree to having a contract in place. Not because they aren’t incredible people, but because contracts provide a level of security and layout boundaries from the get go. Nannying is definitely both a professional AND personal job. Sometimes emotions can get involved. I find it’s best to have a hard copy of your agreement rather than relying on how each party remembers the agreements when conflicts arise. A contract will help you and your employer’s set the tone for your working relationship, clearly outline the expectations of both parties, and provide written documentation of what you all have agreed to. It honestly helps resolve potential conflict or tension just by existing. I am not sure about you, but I don't love conflict. Anything I can do to keep things running smoothly and happily, I will do.

Do your research. There are contract out there to download, purchase, or you can always write your own. Here is a great FREE contract template by our friends at Nanny Counsel.

Photos

A picture says a 1,000 words. It’s always a little more personal to add some photos of you and your nanny kiddos out about about. Use photos that show your special bond, activities that you love to do together, crafts/sensory play projects you have created for them, etc. Always make sure you ask for permission from your Mom and Dad Bosses before using or posting any photos of their children.

Local Activities

Gathering a little list of activities to do in your area shows potential unicorn families that you have researched the area and your stuff. Some great things to include are parks/playgrounds in the area, educational spots, age appropriate classes such as music, gymnastics, etc., This is especially great if you are a new transplant to a city. Parents like the ease of mind knowing that there caregiver knows the lay of the land. I added this to my portfolio when moving to Los Angeles and my mom boss later told me that the local activities list was part of the reason she and her husband chose to hire me over another gal. Do not under estimate the power of the local activities section of our portfolio, ha!

Certificates + Certifications

You should always include copies of certificates from classes and conferences that you’ve attended as well as copies of any saftey certifications that you have (CPR/first aid, lifeguarding, carseat technician, etc.). Make sure those CPR/first aids are current! Most CPR and first aid certifications are only valid for 2 years. Showing up to an interview with “I took is back in 2007” isn’t the best look, nor is it safe! Keeping those precious charges safe is number one.

These are the staples that I include in my own personal portfolio. If you feel like spicing it up a even more, some nannies will include:

  • Recipes that showcases cooking for picky eats or children with dietary restrictions

  • Age appropriate actives and craft samples

  • Templates for things such as emergency contacts, daily schedule samples, etc.

  • Proof of identity/address

  • Background checks

  • Driving records or copy of current diver’s license


Now that your portfolio looks well organized, be sure to make and bring along copies of any pages you want to leave behind for parents to reference later after your interview. Your portfolio won’t be staying with them. Families will often than not have several candidates to review during the hiring process. If your information is easy to reference and stands out, you are more likely to secure a second interview and hopefully land that unicorn nanny job you’ve been dreaming of!

3. Continued Education

Staying current with parenting trends, new research in the child development world, and continuing your learning to be the best nanny you can be is super valuable. While there are a plethora of ways to continue your nanny education and stay sharp, here are a few resources for you to check out:

Become an INA Member (International Nanny Association)

Attend an INA Conference

Attend a Nannypalooza Conference

Attend (Inter)National Nanny Training Day

Read parenting and child development books

Find local child development conferences/classes/seminars

Become a certified NCS (Check out Newborn Care Solutions)

4. Skills

Do you speak another language or sign? Are you a carseat technician? Can you teach your charges to play an instrument? Are you educated in the art of deep sea basket weaving? Ok, I don’t think that last one isn’t really a thing. The point is, many families love it when their nanny can impart a new skill to their littles ones. Having a fun or useful skill can definitely up your unicorn factor.

5. Your Gut + Screening

This one comes with experience and intuition. The more you are in this profession, the more you will get better at reading the red flags. Your nanny intuition will grow. You will know instinctively if you are sitting in front of a donkey or potential unicorn magic. If you are a newer nanny, don’t lose heart! You will become better and better at learning red flags, trusting your gut, and advocating for yourself. I won’t lie, it can hurt sometimes. But you can do it!

6. Be a Little Extra

If you are a little extra, families will write about it in your letters of reference. They will rave about you to potential employers. An Extra Nanny goes a little bit above and beyond. She is confident in her job, has great boundaries in place with her nanny family, and knows that lending a helping hand from time to time outside of her job profile can go a long way. She loves her nanny family as a whole and loves to create a space for them to thrive when she’s there and when she is off. We are kind of passionate about this subject here at The Nannyhood. Here’s a whole blog post about being an Extra Nanny, check it out!

The truth is, nanny… you won’t really know 100% that you’ve landed yourself a unicorn until down the road. When life has been lived and shared. After things have gotten messy and bonds have been formed. It’s one thing to know it’s a good fit… it’s another to label them a unicorn. And remember, just because there may be conflict from time to time doesn't mean it isn't a magical match. I am not aware of a family on this planet that hasn’t butted heads from time to time- but that doesn’t mean they lack any love for each other.

So here’s to you finding your very own Unicorn Family. Magic attracts magic. Be the magic you are longing to capture first- it’s attractive!

Happy nannying.

Nickey Andree is a professional career nanny with 14+ years experience working with children from all over the globe. She is the founder of The Nannyhood. The Nannyhood creates community and fosters friendships for nannies in their cities. It advocates for, resources, and places value on Nannyhood. She is passionate about helping nannies find their squad and assisting them in eliminating burnout. When she is not nannying, you can find Nickey singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs, leaving out gifts for strangers, or exploring new places. 

ADDING TO YOUR NANNY CREW

“I’m pregnant!”

Most nannies get excited to hear those two words. After all, it usually means a little job security. It also means adding a new personality into your perfect little nanny pack. How do you navigate this new territory? Is your heart big enough to love another nanny kid? Will things be the same? Different? How so? So many thoughts and emotions!

Time to be real. Change is hard for me. Once in get in my groove, I struggle to adapt to new changes long term. The thought of adding a new tiny human permanently was so exciting, but also incredibly scary. I immediately started making lists of everything that needed to be done and imagining how my relationship with my singleton would change.

Welcoming a second (or third or fourth) nanny kid can be tricky. You don’t want to step on toes when it comes to nesting and maternity leave is on the horizon. Yikes! But, the best advice anyone will give you is to schedule a sit down with both parents periodically throughout the pregnancy.

Things that may be helpful to discuss:

  • Pay Raise
  • Parental leave – how will it affect your hours and pay; when will pay increase take place; how often will you have older siblings, baby, or all children, etc.
  • Baby prep – open a line of communication with the parents on what they want/need help with. Volunteer to jump in with baby laundry, washing bottles, etc.
  • How they want to work with older siblings on welcoming the new baby. Offer to help with research and different books to read. Offer advice if they seemed overwhelmed.
  • Flu season (if born during the late fall through spring)
  • Vaccinations – whether you will be required to get the T-Dap and/or flu vaccine

Once you get that all laid out, it’s time to prep for the new tiny human! There’s a learning curve and adjustment period when adding another baby to your crew, so don’t be afraid to ask other nannies for help and advice. It’s important to remember that each child is different, every situation is different, and we can’t know how to handle every situation perfectly. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to baby wear, but you don’t know how. Maybe you have an older sibling who is truly struggling with accepting baby. Maybe you suspect Mom Boss is dealing with postpartum. Maybe you’re stuck on what double stroller is the best. Ask! Ask for advice and different strategies. Many nannies have already been in your position and can offer some help!

Now let’s talk matters of the heart. Many of us get attached to our nanny kids to the point where we can’t imagine adding one more person (or sometimes multiples) in. But there’s good news. Your heart is big enough and you will always have room to add more love! The love may look a little different because every child is different, but the amount will be the same.

My oldest nanny kid loves cars, trucks and trains. He would much rather play by himself and he keeps to himself at home. At the most we’ll read a couple Thomas books and sing the theme song about 20 times. The rest of the time he’s off on his own playing with his giant train set up. However his baby sister is a diva. She loves being the center of attention and rough-housing. If I sit down to catch my breath, she’s right there climbing up on me and throwing herself back for flips. If I’m prepping lunch in the kitchen, she’s right there trying to climb my leg. They are two very opposite kids, but they each hold half of my heart. It’s taken me 10 months of having baby sister around, but I’ve finally realized that even though things are so very different, I wouldn’t change them for the world.

Stephanie Crabill is a former preschool teacher turned nanny. With an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education, 9+ years of teaching experience, and nearly 5 years of nanny full time experience; Stephanie is passionate about children and care givers. When she isn't wrangling her nanny kiddos you can find her curled up with a book (most likely Harry Potter), going on adventures with her Husband, Jason and their dog, Gary. You can follow along with Nanny Steph on her blog www.thenannyjournals.com

Extra Nanny > Basic Nanny

Alright all my millennials…. I have a confession.

I am super EXTRA

It’s true. I am an over the top, love hard, talk loud, feel everything, sprinkle glitter on whatever I can type of gal…. and I am fully embracing it. I used to think it was a negative thing... like I was "too much". But being happy in your own skin and embracing the core of who you are is actually really beautiful...so call me extra. I am owning it. 

For all my friends out there who aren’t down with all the millennial slang- let me and the Urban Dictionary break it down for you:

Extra

  1. Over the top
  2. Doing the absolute damn most. For no reason.
  3. When you have to be better and overly go up and beyond for unnecessary reasons.
  4. Someone who is over the top for completely unnecessary reasons. They will go out of their way to prove this.

(See… I gave you multiple definitions just to really drive this point home.) #extra

Basic

  1. Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.
  2. Only interested in things mainstream, popular, and trending.

So let me ask you this, Nanny... when was the last time you did something for your nanny family out the kindness of your heart? Something that wasn’t listed in your contract? Maybe you took the trash out because it was literally over flowing. Washed a window because the baby kept smacking it with those sticky little strawberry jam fingers? Pulled in the boxes off the front porch that were delivered? Filled the dog's water dish up simply because you noticed that it was empty? Folded that load of Mom and Dad Boss's towels because you saw they were down and you had a moment. They may seem like such tiny things, but in a nanny/employer relationship these little things can go a long way. 

Okay, let’s get a few things straight before we delve into the heart of it all. As a nanny advocate I do 100% believe in the power of a great nanny contract (if you are need of a contract, here is fabulous one by my friend Brooke at Nanny Counsel). I also believe in healthy communication with the families that I work for and that boundaries are oh so important. But I also believe that when these three things are being exercised in a healthy way on both ends, there isn’t a need to constantly worry that you are going to be taken advantage of. There are just some things that I am going to do from time to time even though they aren’t in my contract… and I am going to do them with a happy nanny heart. In a healthy nanny/employer relationship there is a natural ebb and flow of give and take. Look out for each other- you're on the same team! 

And before I address the basic nannies I would like to clear something up. There is a difference between being legitimately basic and being basic because you are wounded. When you are wounded, being basic doesn't always come from a bad place, it comes from self preservation. I definitely went through a season of being a wounded/basic nanny. I had been so battered and beat up emotionally by an employer that I was terrified to go that extra mile for quite some time after finding a new family. Maybe that's your experience. It's incredibly hard to be an Extra Nanny for a family who is late every night, doesn't pay you on time, or asks you to do things outside of your job profile on a daily basis for next to no pay. I get it. The natural response is to stick to the contract or to create a callus of "just business". I understand. 

It's the being basic just for basic sake that has been riling me up lately. Watching young nannies who have less than a year experience complaining that they should be making just as much as a seasoned career nanny of 10+ years. Having "nanny rants" because there was a note asking you if you could be so kind as to do the sink full of dishes as Mom Boss would be getting home right at 5pm and has company coming soon after. Charging top dollar but not being willing to ever go the extra mile when a family needs a little extra help with something. Sometimes in nannying entitlement needs to take a backseat to helpfulness and considering what is actually fair. Being a nanny is a professional position, but it's also very intimate. You are caring for people's children and often times their homes... if you don't genuinely love serving or caring for others, may I be so bold as to ask you to take a look at the career path you've chosen? What's your heart position? Living generously and being kind will never be something to look back on with regret. 

I dare you...  try to be a little more of an #ExtraNanny

ExtraBasicDECAL.PNG

Nickey Andree is a professional career nanny with 14+ years experience working with children from all over the globe. She is the founder of The Nannyhood. The Nannyhood creates community and fosters friendships for nannies in their cities. It advocates for, resources, and places value on Nannyhood. She is passionate about helping nannies find their squad and assisting them in eliminating burnout. When she is not nannying, you can find Nickey singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs, leaving out gifts for strangers, or exploring new places. 

Paid to Play

I am a professional nanny- and yes, I do get paid to play. I am not negating that in the slightest. The playing is definitely one of the greatest perks of my job. Not once have I thought to myself, ”Gee…. I wish I were in a cubicle somewhere instead of pretending I am a fairy princess at this tea party.” I enjoy playing with bubbles, making sand castles at the beach, hugging sticky toddlers covered in strawberry jam sandwiches, and finger painting rainbow animals. I love that stuff. I don’t, however, enjoy it when people (who usually mean well) inform me that I have an easy job and merely play picturesquely all day long. I also do not appreciate it when they say, “Oh, Nickey… are you STILL babysitting? Are you planning on ever getting a real job?” as if coming alongside a family and helping them co-raise their children is not a real job, but merely an after school pocket money venture. False! Nannying is real job.... and it's a super important one too. 

Ok, let's clear up what the differences are between and a babysitter and a professional nanny. A nanny is someone who is hired to provide private childcare on a regular basis in a family’s home. She is an extension of the parents. She may have a degree or certificates/training to help with her expertise in her nanny career. As a nanny I think “big picture”. I communicate with my charge’s parents on a regular basis and discuss how to best make sure that their household is running smoothly. I make sure that I am meeting each one of my charge's physical, emotional, and intellectual needs. I will plan and host playdates, take the children on educational outings, assist with potty training, organize kid's rooms and clothes, run errands, help with bottle and pacifier weening, care for sick kiddos, monitor all those exciting developmental milestones, help with sleep training, provide light housekeeping pertaining to the kids, and follow through with discipline as implemented by the parents... just to name a few. Nannying is unlike any other job on the planet. It's intimate. It's messy. It fills up your whole heart. 

Before I breakdown what a babysitter is, I would like to say I am in no way saying that babysitting isn't important. It totally is. Heck, I sit for a little extra cash on the regular! I just want to set the record straight about the differences between a nanny and a sitter because I know how big of a pet peeve it is not only for me but probably about 90% of the nanny community. A babysitter is someone a parent will hire occasionally, usually for shorter periods of time... such as a date night. Parents will most likely leave detailed instruction and the sitter will make sure that the children are fed, safe, and entertained. Is it valuable? Absolutely. Is it the same as being a professional nanny? No

And while I have you may I say, hats off to single moms & dads everywhere (and parents in general). It’s no easy task packing lunches, making meals, dressing babies, bathing children, driving them to sports, doing homework, cleaning, sewing, doing laundry, kissing boo boos, checking for head lice, comforting scared little ones, settling fights between siblings, disciplining, spending quality time with each child, cuddling, checking for monsters under the bed, cutting nails, braiding little girl’s hair, checking teeth brushed, making school projects, helping floss, parent teacher conferences, teaching how to tie shoe laces, wiping boogies, learning to be a juggler and jack or jill of all trades… oh, and the list goes on– All by yourself. You are doing amazing. I honor you. Your job may be overwhelming at times- but you are making a difference. 

Children are precious. I cannot even imagine how it must feel to go through the process of looking for a nanny to help you care for your children… the most precious things entrusted to you on this planet. Only the best will do. As much as I know that I am a great nanny, sometimes I actually don’t feel good enough for the task, purely because of the weight of value a child holds. My favorite thing to do as a nanny is to kindle that warm and special feeling of a magical childhood. Imagining, creating, exploring, reading, and making memories that children can cherish forever. I love creating a safe and nurturing environment in the home, coming alongside parents to help their family succeed. Sometimes being a nanny is incredibly challenging. Sometimes it’s a blast. Sometimes it’s stressful. But when it’s all said and done…. loving, believing in, and caring for a child is always worth it.

So, yes… I do get paid to play. Thanks for asking.

 

Nickey Andree is a professional career nanny with 13+ years experience working with children from all over the globe. She is the founder of The Nannyhood. The Nannyhood creates community and fosters friendships for nannies in their cities. It advocates for, resources, and places value on Nannyhood. She is passionate about helping nannies find their squad and assisting them in eliminating burnout. When she is not nannying, you can find Nickey singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs, leaving out gifts for strangers, or exploring new places. 

Vivian

Vivian.

I will never forget the first time I saw her. I had moved to LA 9 months prior and had been to countless interviews. I couldn’t seem to find the right fit. I had one temp job on location for a couple of months and was abused by my employer and developed some anxiety issues. I was exhausted. I was burnt out. Then there she was, less than a month old, curled up like a little bug in her Pack-n-Play. She was perfect. I am not sure what your beliefs are, but I believe with all of my heart that Vivian was an answer to my prayers for God to heal my broken and burnt out nanny heart. She brought a peace to me. As a newborn she would sleep on my chest.. it was so therapeutic. I would sit in that rocking chair listening to her little breaths and everything would seem right in the world.

I started affectionately referring to her as, "my little gumdrop". Gummy for short. Her little toothless gummy smile and chubby baby thighs were the inspiration. It stuck. Watching her grow up was like watching an artist paint a colorful and vibrant picture on a blank canvas. Everything was new and exciting— full of firsts. First steps, first words, first likes, dislikes, eating solids, catching a cold, seeing a dog, crunching leafs, squishing Play Doh, licking ice cream, going to Disneyland, laughing, potty training, getting lost in a pile of storybooks, skinning her knee, making friends, going to her first movie, walking on the sandy beach. With every new moment, a new colorful brush stroke on her life’s canvas. There was always an ease in rejoicing in her big moments as her mother was super hands on and empowered me as a caregiver. I consider her not only as a past employer, but as a current friend.

Vivian and I just got each other. It was effortless. Any day I had that I had enough and felt over whelmed, she would get sympathetic tears and wrap her little arms around me. Her hugs were like magic. I would feel instantly better. We had the same sense humor— and we laughed a lot. She was always interested in my artwork and made beautiful pieces of her own. Colors were a language between us.

Disneyland was our place. We spent many late mornings and afternoons chasing magic and traveling to enchanted lands together before the bell rang at her brothers’ school. There is something beautiful about watching a little child talk to Mary Poppins and leaving the conversation believing that she truly IS a princess.

School pick ups consisted of tutus, butterfly wings, and stuffed animals in tow. Penelope the Penguin was a part of our possy. She got us. Many evenings were spent wiping dirt and food off of our little pink furry friend. Her stitched smile never seemed to fade or frown. If she could speak… I am sure she would tell you that she wouldn’t change a thing. During the day we were the Three Musketeers.

She refreshed me and made me see the importance and beauty in being a nanny in a season that I thought I was not making a difference. Although I am not currently her nanny- she is still my “family" and trips to California will continue to ensue. If you are a nanny who is in a season of feeling like what you are doing isn’t making a difference, let me assure you, you are. It is. You are doing great. You are sowing seeds that will grow into fruit that remains. You are nurturing the beginnings of big dreams. Keep going.

xoxo

Nickey Andree is a professional career nanny with 13+ years experience working with children from all over the globe. She is the founder of The Nannyhood. The Nannyhood creates community and fosters friendships for nannies in their cities. It advocates for, resources, and places value on Nannyhood. She is passionate about helping nannies find their squad and assisting them in eliminating burnout. When she is not nannying, you can find Nickey singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs, leaving out gifts for strangers, or exploring new places. 

Dear Mom Boss...

Dear Mom Boss,

When I accepted the position to be your full time nanny I had no idea all that it would encompass. I was ready to dive right in with your kiddos. To love them, protect them, teach them, guide them. What I didn’t realize was, that you were actually going to teach just as much about motherhood, as your kids were going to refine me as a nanny. And for that, I want to say thank you

Thank you for allowing me to love your children with my whole heart. No reservations. The fact that you entrusted me to care for your most precious treasures was one of my greatest honors. You empowered me as a caregiver to give all I had by not being threatened by my bond with your babies. Thanks so much for sharing them with me. 

Thank you for showing me what it means to be super. Showing me how to “do it all”.  I admire you for doing your job so well and still coming home to correct 6th grade homework, read books in bed, listen to your 5 year old recount the day over and over again, work out, eat dinner, answer those work emails. You have real life magical powers. I hope that I have managed to acquire some of them too. 

Thank you for not getting offended when I offered my advice and for asking my opinion often. Me teaching YOU was an honor. 

Thank you for all always letting me share in the firsts. Whether that was while I was on the clock, texting me a video of those first wobbly steps, or a picture of that first tooth cutting through. They were always a highlight for me. I loved that we could always celebrate together. 

Thank you for all of those afternoons you came home from work at nap time with ice cream and red wine to watch DVRed episodes of The Bachelor. It may sound silly, but those moments that you connected with me as “Nickey” and not “the nanny” really did my soul well. It made me want to do my job better. 

Thank you for being a safe place to learn boundaries. I have had a few jobs in the past where I was taken advantage of and put in incredibly awkward situations. Thank you for always being willing to communicate with me and remember that I am person with a life outside of work. 

Thank you for inviting me to the kid’s birthday parties, baseball games, ballet recitals, musicals, and family days at Disneyland. In those moments I knew I wasn’t just the hired help- but also an honorary family member. I thrive in family… thank you for identifying that. 

Thank you for the Christmas bonuses, paid days off to recharge, plane tickets to visit my family, helping me fix my broken down car. Those gestures were not just incredibly generous… but also made me feel so valuable. 

Thank you for introducing me to The Container Store. My little borderline OCD nanny heart was so elated. It’s amazing what organizing a kid’s craft cupboard can do for a nanny. 

Thank you for demonstrating healthy marriage to me. Being a nanny is such an intimate job. We see more than anyone realizes. Thanks for demonstrating the communication, humor, love, and respect you have for one another. I took mental notes. 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn how to be a mother. Everyday I sent working with your kids was the best “practice” I could ask for. It was so fun to watch them pick up both of our mannerisms and quirks. They’re basically the coolest kids on the block. 

A nanny always knows how hard it is going to be to eventually leave her charges when a job comes to an end- but I never realized how hard it was going to be for me to leave my employer as well. 

Thank you for everything. I admire you. I honor you. 

Love, 

Your Nanny

 

Nickey Andree is a professional career nanny with 13+ years experience working with children from all over the globe. She is the founder of The Nannyhood. The Nannyhood creates community and fosters friendships for nannies in their cities. It advocates for, resources, and places value on Nannyhood. She is passionate about helping nannies find their squad and assisting them in eliminating burnout. When she is not nannying, you can find Nickey singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs, leaving out gifts for strangers, or exploring new places. 

The Value of Your Nanny Heart

Oh, Nanny. I see you.

I hope you know just how valuable that nanny heart beating on the inside of your chest truly is. Nannying can be such a beautiful and rewarding job… it can also be incredibly difficult. I get it. There’s really not another job quite like it on this planet- it’s strangely intimate. If you have been blessed with amazing nanny families every single time who treat you like gold, that’s amazing! I am so so glad- you deserve it. Unfortunately, that’s not everyone’s story. For many of us, burnout has been a real struggle.

I remember sitting on the floor of my room during an abusive live-in gig. Knees pulled to my chest and tears falling down my face. I wanted to throw in the towel with nannying altogether. I was tired of being yelled at, begging to be paid, not clocking off because my MB wouldn’t come home, being put in very uncomfortable & awkward situations… the list goes on. My nanny heart was definitely bleeding and I was most definitely feeling the pressure. But I loved working with children, so I made a decision to channel that pressure into growth. For me that looked like quitting that particular job (I am by no means telling you to quit your job. If that's whats best for you, go for it!) I had to. I believe there are 3 things over the past 14 years that I have despised in the moment, but in hindsight have made me into a better nanny today. They are messy. They don't feel good. But if you lean in and decide to grow from them… they can be worth it.

The first is pressure.

I am definitely not a scientist- but I do assist little ones with science projects (that’s basically the same thing, right? Ha!)…so, here’s a little science lesson for all of us about diamonds. In order for diamonds to form, a temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit and a very high pressure is required (The equivalent of the weight of over 4 thousand grown men standing on your foot). In the natural environment, these conditions are only found deep beneath the Earth’s surface in the layer called the mantel. When these conditions are present- carbon turns to diamonds. I don't know about you, but I don't think the pressure of 4 thousand grown men standing my foot would feel the greatest. I mean sometimes just having one of my nanny kids accidentally step on my foot hurts! But it got me thinking.

If the pressure has taught me anything… it’s taught me this: in the nanny industry I have to be my own best advocate, and to be my own best advocate I need to constantly educate myself and know the industry standards. Knowing your value and worth is imperative. Learn a lesson every single time you feel that uncomfortable pressure. Getting taken advantage of, or settling for a pay rate that you really weren’t actually comfortable with, telling your bosses that you really can’t stay an extra 45 minutes every single night. The pressure can hurt… but if decided to learn from it, it will make you into more of a diamond nanny. Let those moments refine you. Let them fuel you to be your own advocate. Becoming a great advocate unfortunately comes by experience through learning to navigate tough situations. Those scars are actually increasing your nanny value because you learned how to better handle confrontation in a healthy way. You become aware of your worth.

The second is irritation.

These are the things that just seem to chip away at you. In the moment you think, “I’ll just ignore it this time and bring it up later if it happens again”. It happens again… and again. It irritates you and you go back and forth about whether you’ve waited too long to address it- maybe it’s too late? Like coming to work and finding a whole sink and counter top full of dirty dishes from the weekend… every single Monday.

Irritations are another example of something that can sharpen you into an even better nanny. Take a pearl for example. That beautiful little ball we make into jewelry to adorn ourselves with; it’s literally produced from an irritation. When a parasite or a grain of sand works its way into an oyster, it exerts a defense mechanism. A fluid is used to coat that tiny little irritant (that feels like a giant boulder). Layer upon layer of this coating (called ‘nacre’) is deposited until a beautiful pearl is formed.

Let those irritations make you a better communicator. In those situations you can learn. You will learn where to set boundaries. You'll learn your worth. You’ll learn about grace and where to apply it. You’ll learn empathy and how to be kind when you don’t feel like it. You will learn how to see the red flags before taking a job rather than after- and in this industry, those lessons are invaluable.

The third is collision.

Ok, let’s talk about gold. I love it. I love how it sparkles. I love the symbolism of its value. And when I learned how it originally got to earth… I began to love it even more.

Again, being a nanny who assists 3rd graders in their science fair projects, I am clearly a trove of scientific knowledge (just kidding of course- Ha!). Gold is actually formed inside of massive stars when they explode into a supernova. Of course, after a star supernovas and forms gold, the gold had to travel to Earth in some way. Scientists have found evidence that gold arrived via asteroids when they collided with earth, while it was still quite young.

Allow yourself to love your nanny kids with all of your heart… without fear or reservation. Allow their little hearts to collide with yours like those gold covered asteroids collided with earth.  Knowing that you could indeed get hurt when a job ends. Allow yourself to fully invest into their lives and to learn from them. That can be difficult… but that’s were the gold lies, Nanny. It’s what makes everything else in this job worth it.

The Nannyhood Heart symbolizes Y-O-U. Worth far more than diamonds…pearls… or even gold. Produced under pressure- refined by irritation. Every geometric line etched in the heart symbolizes the value added to your nanny heart through lessons you’ve gathered along the way.  You are shaping young lives. You are championing families to thrive. You are oh so valuable.

I see you.

 
 

Nickey Andree is a professional career nanny with 14+ years experience working with children from all over the globe. She is the founder of The Nannyhood. The Nannyhood creates community and fosters friendships for nannies in their cities. It advocates for, resources, and places value on Nannyhood. She is passionate about helping nannies find their squad and assisting them in eliminating burnout. When she is not nannying, you can find Nickey singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs, leaving out gifts for strangers, or exploring new places. 

How to be your own Advocate

 

 

The nanny profession is unlike any other. There are laws and standards that apply specifically to the nanny profession, and because of that, things can get really confusing. Unlike other professions, nannies do not have an HR Department. This means, for the most part, nannies are solely responsible for being their own HR Department. This can be incredibly intimidating and oftentimes nannies simply do not prioritize nor put in the effort, to be their own advocate. But here’s the thing, being your own advocate can literally make the difference between you being paid illegally and getting taken advantage of and you working for a family who pays you completely legally and treats you the way you deserve. So, let’s dive right in and talk about the 3 steps you can take to become your own advocate:

1. LEARN THE NANNY LAWS/INDUSTRY STANDARDS. The first step in becoming your own adovacate, is to learn what it is you are advocating for. If you don’t know your own profession like the back of your hand, it’s going to be really hard to fight for what you deserve. This step takes a lot of work, but it’s really something every nanny should do. There are many resources out there to help you learn the nanny laws and industry standards, it’s just a matter of reading through article after article to ensure you know what you’re talking about! There isn’t enough time to delve into all these laws and industry standards in this article, but here is a brief summary (including links for more info) of the topics you NEED to be well versed on if you’re in the nanny profession:

  • Nannies cannot be paid salary. Per the FLSA, nannies are non-exempt hourly employees. This means, legally nannies must be paid hourly for every hour worked and cannot be paid a weekly/yearly salary.

  • Legally nannies must be issued a W-2, not a 1099. Many parents think that their nanny is an independent contractor and can be issued a 1099, but they can’t. When nannies receive a 1099, they pay double taxes — they pay their portion of taxes (employee taxes) and their nanny family’s portion of taxes (employer taxes) as well. Never ever ever, under any circumstances, accept a 1099 from a family.

  • Because nannies are hourly employees, they are entitled to overtime on anything over 40 hours in a 7 day period. So, if you work 50 hours per week, 10 of those hours should be at a rate of time and a half.

  • Banking hours is illegal. Banking hours is when parents have their nanny “make up” hours without pay. For example, if a family goes out of town for a long weekend and the nanny gets Friday off and is still paid because they have guaranteed hours, the family cannot save those hours from Friday and have the nanny make them up at a later time. As mentioned above, legally nannies must be paid for every hour worked.

  • Guaranteed hours. This is not a law, but an industry standard that just about every nanny receives. Guaranteed hours means in exchange for guaranteeing your availability to a family, they will in return guarantee your pay. So in the banking hours example above where the nanny has Friday off because the family goes out of town and doesn’t need them to work, because the nanny has guaranteed hours, the family still pays the nanny for the day.

  • It is industry standard for professional nannies to receive 1-2 weeks paid vacation per year as well as some sick days (less for newer or part-time nannies and more for experienced/full-time nannies).

  • If you use your personal car for work, you should be getting reimbursed at the IRS reimbursement rate (53.5 cents/mile as of January 1, 2017). It is completely unreasonable for parents to expect their nanny to drive their kids all around, and not reimburse them mileage. It’s not recommended to agree to a flat gas stipend, because it’s not just gas that needs to be accounted for, but also the wear and tear on the vehicle.

2. Once you’ve thoroughly learned all about the topics listed in step 1, it’s time to make sure you’ve got a solid contract in place that addresses all these items. This step is actually pretty easy because there is an amazing free nanny contract out there to help you. Nannies refer to it as “the learning contract”, because you literally learn the laws and industry standards as you fill it out. It’s a great option for nannies who are nervous to speak up and ask for what they deserve, because the contract does the talking for you. This contract covers everything mentioned above, plus more. Click HERE to download your free copy.

3. Now that you’ve learned the laws and industry standards and have a comprehensive contract in place, the only thing left to do is gain the confidence to clearly communicate with your employers. Even with steps 1 and 2 in place, it is still possible to get taken advantage of! Oftentimes parents start adding more responsibilities to a nanny’s plate that are not listed in the contract, and suddenly the nanny is doing significantly more work without a pay raise. Another common problem is parents habitually arriving home late and not respecting that their nanny has a life outside of caring for their kids. Because of issues like this, it is imperative nannies learn how to communicate. It can be really intimidating to confront your boss when you feel you are being mistreated, but if you don’t, you’re only going to get resentful and start to dislike your job. A great way to reduce the anxiety of having to confront your employers, is to practice what you’re going to say with a friend. For these types of role plays, practicing with a nanny friend who “gets it”, is the best option. In fact, connecting with other nannies in general, is a great way to hold yourself accountable and ensure you are properly advocating for yourself.

As a nanny, having to advocate for ourselves can be exhausting. It’s a huge responsibility and if I’m being completely honest, takes a lot of practice. It will take a while to become truly well versed on the nanny laws and industry standards. It will also take while to learn how to effectively and professionally communicate. But, if you’re passionate about being a nanny and this is your career choice, it’s worth putting in the time to make sure you are taking care of YOU.

Brooke Weglarz is a professional nanny of 10+ years with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. She is a passionate nanny advocate and the creator of nannycounsel.com, an advice blog for nannies and parents. Her goal is to help foster fair and harmonious relationships between families and nannies. She resides in Nashville and in her spare time is a lifestyle portrait photographer. You can also find her on instagram @nannycounsel.



 

Nanny Shares Aren't For the Faint of Heart

Ok. Picture it. It’s a gorgeous winter Wednesday. I am a nanny share nanny, so at the time, I’ve got a 16 month old and a 13 month old. Normally, both are happy and content to play independently. But not today. Not this morning.

Both toddlers are a bit clingy on this day. It’s housekeeper day, and I’m trying to get all the toys picked up before they arrive. I’m also expecting a repairman to arrive before our departure. We’ve got to get out the door to pick Grandma up on our way to gymnastics, so I’m gathering snacks and sippy cups; I’m tossing toys in baskets; getting shoes buckled on tiny feet; doing last minute diaper checks; and waiting for the cleaning crew and repairman. Then I realize I need to go to the bathroom myself…. So I haul both crying kids to the upstairs bathroom. Now, I don't normally bring my kids in to the bathroom with me, I'm a closed-door type of gal; however, like I said, the kids were both off kilter and I didn't feel like torturing us further (ironic, I know). I sit and do my business, with screaming, grabbing, runny-nosed children literally clawing at me, begging to be held. I grab the youngest and lay him at my feet on the rug, which seems to help settle him; meanwhile, my 16 month old is losing her mind. I mean, she’s seriously unhappy, for reasons unbeknownst to me. This wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, just unfortunate timing for her. I finish, well, uh pooping, flush the toilet, and immediately dread overcomes me. You see, the toilets at my nanny family’s house are all sensitive. They require you to flush before you wipe, and I just failed to do so. So….brown, dirty water begins to rise in the toilet bowl, while panic is rising within me. Remember, we’re literally on our way out the door. Grandma is waiting for us at the other house. And this can’t be happening. A million thoughts run thru my head “I can’t leave this for the housecleaner. I can’t. I’d die. But what am I to do?” I happen to know, from experience, there is NO plunger to be found in this house. Like I said, I had already learned the hard way about the toilet situation. The kids are standing at my feet, still screaming. I need to get us all out the door. I’m freaking out over the toilet about to overflow….when finally the water recedes! I send up a silent and very sincere prayer to God to “please, please let the toilet flush”. I take a risk, flush the toilet, and glory be, it all went down! I quickly wash my hands, grab both kids, head downstairs. We’re now sitting on the entry floor as I put on my shoes, when the cleaning crew walks in the door. Followed closely by the repairman. I don’t mention a thing to either of them, I shoot MB a quick text asking her to grab a plunger on her way home, grab the backpack, the kids, and we’re gone.

Dear blessed Grandma could tell something was up when we pulled in the driveway. I laughed as I recounted to both MB and Grandma the entire situation. Kids crying at your feet, while you sit on the toilet is the epitome of a Wednesday-hump day, amiright?

Nanny sharing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s real. It can be dark, it can be crappy (pun 100% intended), but it is so rewarding. My little’s are each other’s best friends. It’s so beautiful to watch them share and empathize with each other. And it’s precious to hear one walking around the house calling for the other, Marco Polo-Style. Do I think everyone should nanny share? No. Not everyone can handle it. But for those who can, I encourage you to jump into the deep side of the pool and let’s kick ass together!

Here are a few tips from a pro, to help you find a lasting nanny share:

  • Compatibility! Find families that match your style, not necessarily each other. YOU are the caregiver, so you need to make sure you are comfortable caring for each child in the manner in which their parents desire.

  • Grace! Be gracious to your families, and they will *hopefully* show it back to you. Chaos happens. Shoes get lost. Tires go flat. Being understanding when one of your nanny families has family in town, or needs you to pick up an extra task or two for a few days, or any number of possibilities. These are busy families; just remember everyone needs grace from time to time.

  • Speak up! Don’t be afraid to voice concern over a safety issue. Or a scheduling conflict. I have had to tell families “I understand your child doesn’t care about stairs, but our share friend does; and therefore I can not work without the stairs/chemicals/dog/fill-in-the-blank being properly taken care of.” In a nanny share, having the kids on a similar schedule means more time to get out of the house, some down time for you, and is just all around the ideal way to go. This doesn’t occur to first time parents, so talk to them about it! Nothing ever changes if you don’t bring the issue up to discuss.

For more on nanny shares, you can check out my blog pieces on the Pareday.com website!

Britney Fredrickson started out as an infant and toddler teacher in a Montessori center, while pursuing her B.A. in Child Development. After several years teaching, she transitioned in to the nanny sector, and now specializes in infant and toddler nanny shares. She also serves as the Community Manager on the Pareday team, a nanny share website devoted to helping families and nannies connect to form successful nanny shares. A California native, Britney and her husband recently relocated to Colorado with their dog and cat. You can follow Britney at www.itsfinallynaptime.com, @itsfinallynaptime on Facebook and Instagram, or on Twitter @finallynaptime, for real-life anecdotes, nanny tips, and creative learning activities

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The Heart Behind your Nanny Box

Hi! 

I’m Jada, owner and operator of The Nanny Box, a seasonal appreciation box that aims to celebrates nannies for all of their hard work (which is where our fun hashtag #celebratenannylife came from) and acknowledges their worth!  When Nickey asked me to share about the heart behind the Nanny Box to The Nannyhood, I was so excited to do so because that’s what I want to be displayed in everything we do here at TNB. From the bright, colorful, and confetti filled photos, to the messages and products we send in every package. I want everyone that comes across The Nanny Box (especially nannies) to know and see our heart. We aren’t here to be the next big “try before you buy” box, and I didn’t start a business to quit my wonderful nanny job. I did this because I believe every nanny deserves to be celebrated, and appreciated all year roun’ (in my Texas voice)!

Two years ago, I had an idea that was inspired by my nanny family at the time, and the ever so popular rise of surprise boxes showing up at your door. I have been blessed with some of the most amazing employers throughout most of my nannying career, and this family in particular made me feel so appreciated. From tangible gifts, to random “we are so grateful for you!” texts, knowing that my worth was being recognized, and what I was doing was being appreciated just fueled me to work even harder. I believe every nanny wants that; every employee wants to feel appreciated. It gives us a sense of purpose, and meaning to know that what we are doing is being recognized and making a difference in some way. But after joining several facebook groups, and connecting with other nannies in my area, I realized that wasn’t the case. Some nannies rarely heard the two simple, yet powerful words  “thank you.” Others had employers who viewed their work as nothing more than a glorified babysitter. I wanted to create a way for employers to be able to send a thoughtful gift to their nanny without having to put it together, and I wanted nannies. 

Now, back to the popular surprise boxes that were popping up around the time of my initial idea of TNB. I couldn’t believe how out of all the subscription boxes that were popping up, there wasn’t anything popping up for nannies! Even dogs had a subscription box. I wanted to change that. But I didn’t want to just create another subscription box, I wanted to create a way to send the gift of appreciation to nannies. 

You may wonder why there’s so much confetti all over our social media or our packaged boxes. It’s because we are having a party that we don’t plan on ending! We are celebrating something and more specifically, someone. Nannies are so valuable, and I have been blessed to have been able to meet some of the sweetest, creative, fun, and loving nannies out there! There are hundreds of nannies sharing their nanny adventures as their online nanny diary. 

I envisioned nannies coming home after a long day with the littles, to a box with their name on it waiting for them at their doorstep, and finding gifts that were picked out with them in mind. Gifts like a face mask saying “pamper yourself, you deserve it” or a book related to this field because it’s so nice being able to read another nanny’s perspective and to relate, laugh, and sometimes even cry at their experiences. You may receive a necklace as our way of saying, “get out of your nanny gear, and have some fun on your day off!” Or even a power bar because we know how useful one can be while out and about with your nanny babes. 

The heart behind The Nanny Box isn’t a subscription…it’s an appreciation for all that nannies do. If you’re a nanny and you’re reading this, I want you to know that as a nanny myself, I know what it’s like to struggle with saying no when your bosses ask for you to work late. I know what it’s like to feel bad when you finally get the courage to ask for a day off. I know the battle of settling for less than what you’re worth when it comes to pay. I know what it feels like to love a child who isn’t your own. I know what it’s like to think and talk about your nanny family twenty…four…seven!! When you get a boyfriend or girlfriend, you can’t wait to introduce them to your charge. You spend half your paycheck on your nanny babes because you know them so well and just want to see them smile. 

The heart behind The Nanny Box wants to reveal the heart of the actual nanny we are celebrating in the first place. Confetti is a big deal for us, and for many it means different things. But for us, we want you to see confetti as a symbol of the celebration we are having for you, because you’re worth it!

TheNannyBox - logo.design. White   background 900x900.jpg

Jada Pickett is a professional Nanny/Advocate, Media Personality and Founder of The Nanny Box! The Nanny Box is a seasonal gift box created for families and nanny agencies to have a unique and meaningful way to show their nanny appreciation. Jada is passionate about celebrating nanny life and placing value on the nanny profession. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and sprinkles a little confetti wherever she goes.