Nanny

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

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.