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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Read parenting and child development books
Find local child development conferences/classes/seminars
Become a certified NCS (Check out Newborn Care Solutions)
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!
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.