What You Need to Know to Become a Nanny
It's More Than Just Babysitting Children
Raising children is a huge responsibility, whether you are the parent or the caretaker who assists the parent. By taking on such a duty, you agree to do the best job you are able with the tools you have. Tools include your knowledge base, patience, love, nurturing abilities, imagination, etc.
These are all necessary tools to become a competent nanny or babysitter. There are also a lot of things that you need to keep in mind before taking a career as a nanny; being prepared before your employment is critical.
- First off, realize that these children are not yours. The parents make all the decisions of the children's care.
- What you do have a say in is your expected income and benefits. Make sure you get the agreed amount on paper; therefore, there is no dispute later on.
- Also, make sure you are aware of age-appropriate activities and tools that are out there to help each child grow the best based on their age and maturity level.
What Is a Nanny? You Are Not the Parent—They Are Not Your Children
You need to raise these children with their parents' morals and values. If you are unwilling, then you need to find a different job, because how the children are raised is not determined by you. No matter how long you are with these children, no matter how much the parents love you, the bottom line is, they are the parents.
Early on, before you find yourself in a compromised position, assess whether you have similar values and beliefs as the family. If you do not, you may want to see a different family, before either of you get too invested in the other. Also, recognize what you can compromise on and make sure you abide by the parents' rules. By not following the parents' rules, you will not only confuse the child, but the parents will eventually find out and possibly get upset and may compromise your working relationship. For instance, if you let their child climb a jungle gym, you know the parents would not feel it is safe, but you think it is perfectly harmless. The child will repeat what they did, or they could fall and get a cut. No matter how minor the wound is, if you went against the parents' wishes, they might begin to feel they cannot trust you to watch their child with the level of care they require.
Another biggie is spiritual. Make sure you are on the same page as the parents. For instance, don't sing "Jesus Loves Me" to a child whose parents are atheists unless they are okay with that. Even if you are both the same religion, there are going to be things that you may find you disagree and be careful teaching children truths you believe that may stray from the parents' beliefs. The bottom line is these are not your children. You may want the best for them, but it doesn't matter what you think is best, it matters what the parents think is best.
Let me reiterate a point I stated earlier. You are not the parent. They are not your children.
First of all, never use any form of physical punishment like spanking, even if the parents do. You are not the parent. (There are some great ideas of practical non-spanking disciplines out there. Be creative!)
Also, you need to be on the same page of disciplining as their mom or dad does. Make sure you discuss with them what kind of punishments they use, as well as what they consider right and wrong. You may disagree with this, which will allow the children to know that regardless of whether their parents are there or not, the discipline will be the same. Model the parents' tactics to the degree that you feel comfortable. If you want to try something new that you aren't sure you should, make sure you discuss this with them. Be careful about how you phrase your questions, especially if you have just started the job, and you have not built trust, because they may feel you are criticizing their parenting.
You Will Disagree With Your Employers
Now, do not be naïve. No matter how similar in background, beliefs, or whatnot, you are going to disagree with your employers on some aspect of their raising of the children. As long as you do not feel your integrity or beliefs are compromised, then you need to make sure that you are following the parents' wishes. If you do feel your views are compromised, then maybe this is not the job for you.
Nanny Employment: Know What You Want and Get It on Paper
One fundamental question to ask before you even interview for the job is:
Do You Want To Be Self-Employed or an Employee
The difference between being self-employed and an employee is that a self-employed nanny has to take out their taxes, as an employee, the people you nanny for will do it for you. I have done it both ways, and it has been fine both ways.
- Caution to the self-employed nanny, you need to make sure that you are setting aside a portion of your paycheck. I have found setting aside 30 percent has been more than sufficient. You also want to keep track of your mileage and expenses incurred that involve your job. You will be able to use these as tax-deductions at the end of the year.
- Caution to the employed nanny, you need to make sure you are compensated at a level that you feel comfortable.
Other questions include:
What Do You Expect As Far As Wage, Overtime, Vacation, and Benefits?
There are things to think about aside from just your salary.
- Do you expect paid vacation time?
- Do you expect to be paid for overtime?
- Do you want to get benefits?
- Do you expect yearly raises?
Take a moment before interviewing and think about what you expect, and make sure to discuss these things during your interview so that way. There are not any surprises once you are employed. But the most critical part of this decision-making is to GET IT ON PAPER!
Get It on Paper
There are many reasons to get it on paper. Getting it on paper doesn't mean either they don't trust you or you don't trust them, it is a sure way to make sure you are both on the same page as far as these issues go. It should be a written contract that you both sign detailing each of these items, which will ensure that if they refuse to give you a raise or pay you for your vacation time, that you have proof that you had agreed on such things. If you do not get it on paper, there is no sure way you are guaranteed these benefits.
Know Child Development Skills
Learn What Is Appropriate, Physically, Emotionally, Socially, etc.
Now here is my favorite part of being a nanny - the fun stuff. For it to be enjoyable, be very aware of expectations at different ages of maturity. You can find this on many sites that discuss child development. Try to make sure that the children are stretching themselves to meet the age expectations for their developmental level. If not, learn new ways to make sure that they are maturing. Also, by being aware, you will know whether the children are falling behind in an area.
Find New Games That Boost Age-Appropriate Learning
There are so many educational fun games out there for children. Just google the age group and type in games, and you will come up with loads. For instance, "preschool games," "toddler games," or yes, even "baby games." Choose the games that benefit the children the most. Choose Educational Tools That Are Grade or Age-Appropriate
Now I love helping with homework, and I love putting together pretend school-time. Through research, I have been able to teach the children to read by age four and much much more. It's one of the most rewarding aspects because you see visual proof that you are making a difference in their lives. If you want to buy workbooks or art craft supplies, ask the parents if they are willing to pitch in the money for it. They may be willing, especially if they don't have to do the shopping for it. You do want to make sure that you are on the same page as far as how much to spend and what you are buying. So there are no upset feelings or confusion.
Not every person who has desired to be a nanny is capable of the job. Make sure that you think through several things thoroughly. It is one of the most rewarding and hardest jobs out there. You will also discover that it is possible to love children so deeply that they are not your own. You will find a bond that you can't find in any other job. It is a life-changing, rewarding job!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz