I love New Years. I am totally “that girl”. I love the fireworks, the glitter, the countdown, watching The Ball drop, dressing up and going to parties. But most of all… I love the new beginnings.
It’s like waking up to a brand new book with blank pages just waiting to be written on. Like you’re handed a brand new pen (the kind that writes smooth like butter) and given permission to create epic stories. Adventures yet to be had, lessons yet to be learned, and goals yet to be met. Yes… I am totally that girl. I can already hear some of you thinking “Gag me. New Year’s resolutions are bogus and so is the thought that ANYTHING changes because a date on my calendar does.” I hear you, I do… but hear me out too.
I love self improvement, goal setting, journaling on the regular, and dreaming big expansive dreams. Truly. That being said I believe that doing little things well is just as important as going after the big things. Sadly, I have seen far too many “I am so burnt out and don’t know what to do about my job anymore” posts popping up in the nannysphere. Do I get it? 100%! I have been on the burn out wagon more than a few times. It truly is awful and does take time and making some changes. But it also makes me sad, because your nanny heart is so valuable. Your job truly does matter... even if you don’t feel like you are seeing the fruit of your labor.
So it got me thinking. Let’s talk about some New Years “Nannylutions” if you will. Let’s head into 2019 strong, and not just trying to stay afloat. You deserve it and so do your precious little nanny kiddos.
Ok sweet Nanny…. New year, new you.
1. FIND COMMUNITY WITH OTHER NANNIES
The Nannyhood was literally created for this very purpose. While nannying can be such a fulfilling career, it can also be incredibly lonely at times. Yes, you have your sweet nanny kiddos all day, but 99% of the time you don’t have any co-workers. I don’t know about you, but I can only take talking in third person to an 18 month old for so long before I need a little adult interaction! Meeting other nannies for support, friendship, or playdates is incredibly important.
The nanny world can be such a bizarre place… but when it’s done properly, it can be oh so beautiful. There is really no other job quite like it. You are working in people’s homes and caring for their children- it’s pretty intimate. I have been embraced by some families as an honorary family member, and flourished; and I have been treated like “the help” and been abused. If you are tired and burnt out may I give you a New Year’s challenge? Be active in seeking out a nanny friend or even a whole nanny squad. Having someone who fully understands what you are going through, can cheer you on, give you a shoulder to cry on, let you vent, provide some solid advice— they are worth it’s weight in gold.
If you don’t know where to begin, you can always start on our website. Click “Join The Hood” and find out if there is a local group near you or apply to start your own! Here are a few other ways you may find you new nanny BFF:
Join a Facebook group (you can join ours riiiight herrrreee)
Take your kiddos to classes and activities where other nannies will be hanging out
Be proactive in meeting other adults at the park
Look for local nanny groups on Meetup
2. POLISH UP THOSE CONTRACTS AND PORTFOLIOS
Have the “winds changed”? Are you pretty sure it’s time for you to have a full blown Mary Poppins moment and fly away with that umbrella to help a new family? Sometimes a nanny position can be less than “practically perfect.” It takes wisdom and courage to know if a working relationship is irreparable or if fairness is able to be reasoned. Maybe you are new to the nanny profession and didn’t realize that writing a nanny contract was even a thing. Maybe you were unaware of nanny tax laws and have found yourself in a bind at tax time and not sure what to do. Maybe you employers just aren’t the right fit- plain and simple. I am by no means telling you all to quit your jobs. I am however asking you to reflect a little. If you are having completely burnout, feeling anxiety, and not thriving in any way at your job… it maybe time to start thinking about putting the feelers out for a new one.
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.
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. If you don’t already have a nanny portfolio but would love to make this one of you "2019 Nannylutions” here is another article about how to find your own Unicorn Family. You will find portfolio guidance right there.
3. FINE TUNE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Strong communication is one of the biggest keys to having a healthy and happy work environment in the nanny profession. Being able to communicate about how your charge’s day was, to gently bring up your contract if boundaries are being crossed, checking in on a yearly or 6 month basis to review and discuss all the wins and what may need to be improved, these are all great examples of how communication skills will help you thrive at work.
Becoming a great communicator will take practice. It may not feel comfortable all the time and it requires being a great listener. Don’t be that nanny who says yes to absolutely everything if it’s at the detriment of your own health and well being. If you are already working 50 hour weeks and you are not up for doing weekends as well, let your bosses know that you do appreciate them coming to you first, but that you need and value your time off to recharge, take care yourself (and your family).
4. GET YOUR SELF CARE ON
I don’t know about you, but this can be hard for me sometimes. We are nannies, and our job is literally to care for others needs first. But you can’t pour into others from an empty cup, Nanny. Making sure that you are well taken of care of is just as important and as taking care of those charges. It maybe a little tricky at first, but with intentionality and practice it will become second nature to you. Here are some ways you can fill yourself back up and be a recharged nanny:
Nap time soul time
Make time for friends and family
Go get a massage, mani/pedi, facial
Use the vacation days you have in your contract
Read a good book
There are all sorts of ways to take care of yourself, but we could be here all day. Do things that will keep your body/mind healthy and your should happy. You are so worth it and everyone will reap the benefits.
5. PRACTICE THE ART OF GRATITUDE
Practicing the art of gratitude is one that will pay back 100 fold. Did you know that being grateful actually has an impact on our overall health and well being? Studies show that people who practice the art of gratitude on the regular actually sleep better, have less headaches and overall pain in the body, improved immune function, stronger/more relationships, better self esteem and mental health, and a stronger sense of purpose. Umm… sign me up! Over the years as a nanny I have found that keeping myself anchored in gratitude has made a world of difference to the way I show up to work, interact with my littles, think about and treat my employers, and so much more. Here are a few ideas to get those thankful juices pumping:
Keep a gratitude journal
Make a Joy Jar
Write a thank you note
6. BE PRESENT IN THE NANNY MOMENTS
Being present. It’s easier said than done on most days. I don’t know about you Nanny, but I can easily fall into routine and then realize I am serving it, instead of it serving me. Over the years I have found that sometimes making memories is more important than worrying about making messes. Washing the mud out of little jeans, mopping the floor of rainbow colored glitter, bathing a toddler and leaving a green ring in the tub after a finger painting session— those things are so worth it. Watching your nanny babies create new masterpieces, seeing them get lost in their imaginations, laughing together until it hurts…those moments will always trump the messes. A mess can be cleaned up in a matter of moments, but memories last in your nanny heart forever.
There’s also nothing like a toddler to make you slowdown and actually be present in the nanny moments. I have to admit, sometimes when I am nannying a toddler, there have been times that I have gotten frustrated at the time it would take for us to walk from one end of the street to the other. They take 3 steps, pick up a leaf, and marvel at it as if it were the only leaf on the face of the planet. It was as if their little minds are convinced that you had just made a life changing discovery. The truth was, they have. It was the first time they had seen a leaf. Let their wonder in the little things always challenge you, Nanny. Slow down and be present.
7. CONTINUE YOUR NANNY EDUCATION
Knowledge is power. Maybe you are newer to the nanny profession and you feel like you are drowning in a sea of child related vocal words, brands, and trends. 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. It can also help boost your self confidence as a care giver, empower you, and take away some the nanny fear you maybe experiencing. 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
Read parenting and child development books
Find local child development conferences/classes/seminars
Become a certified NCS (Check out Newborn Care Solutions)
8. LET YOURSELF BE A LITTLE EXTRA
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, if you’d like to check it out!
I hope that you are having a great start 2019 so far. If it has been a struggle I pray that these words are like a cold drink to your soul and a compass for your new year. Keep going Nanny, you’re doing amazing!
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.