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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

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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. 

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.