Avoid Saying These Eight Things to a Nanny

I often get asked questions about my job — what I actually do, if I like it, and how I got into it — but occasionally, someone will ask me something that just isn’t very tactful. People make all kinds of assumptions about nannies, and often those expectations are incorrect. The following list should hopefully shed some light on the reality of a nanny’s work and why many of us see ourselves as professionals.

1. What do you want to do in the future? OR What else could you do?

Usually people who are unfamiliar with nannying will ask me what I want to do in the future, implying that nannying isn’t a real job. Nannying is often perceived as a temporary or intermittent job until a person finds what they really want to do. Whenever I have a family that no longer needs me, someone asks me what other job I could start, using my experience and education. People often suggest teaching or working at a daycare as a viable option for someone who likes working with kids. Nannying is a growing career that still hasn’t reached the same level of acceptance as more popular jobs. It’s hard for people to understand that I’m not looking for another type of job every time I have to move on; I am simply looking to work for another family who needs a nanny with my skillset. Hopefully as nannying continues to gain momentum, it too, will be seen as a respectable career. For now, it is important to recognize that professional nannies are deeply invested in their jobs and would like to continue caring for children and families for as long as they can.

2. Do you plan on going to college? OR Have you thought about taking ECE classes?

Contrary to popular belief, a lot of nannies are college educated and carry a degree in a child-related field. Like I previously mentioned, because people seem to think nannying is a job for people trying to find their way, it’s assumed that nannies are babysitters who got promoted after high school. That just isn’t the case. We have the education and the experience to appeal to potential employers that high school and college students just don’t have…yet. It’s one of the reasons we are able to call ourselves professionals. Quite often, you’ll find that nannies have a degree in Education, Psychology, Child Development, and Sociology, to name a few. It’s important to have practical experience with kids and in running a home, but a formal education can add numerous benefits to the type and quality of care a nanny provides. It offers the “why” to the parenting strategies and activities through out the day. Educated nannies are just a notch above the rest.

3. Why don’t you become a teacher?

As a nanny with an Education degree, I am passionate about learning and child development. Even though I’m not in a classroom, I still get to be a teacher to the kids I care for. I teach them letter sounds and counting, but I also get to teach them about kindness and respect. At one point, I even homeschooled preschool. I love nannying because I get to have lasting personal relationships with people I eventually consider family. I get to be a part of a child’s life as they learn and grow.

Although the paycheck isn’t the reason I became a nanny, I don’t want to work more hours as a teacher for less money. I’m not saying nannies don’t work a lot. In fact, we probably work more hours than most professionals, but teachers never stop. I know this firsthand and from watching my mom growing up. Teachers work ridiculously hard for minimal financial return. (Shout out to all you teachers!) I basically get the best of both worlds as a nanny.

4. I always see a lot of postings online of people looking for a nanny. OR You should post something on a church bulletin.

I realize that people are just trying to be helpful when they know I’m looking for a new family, but a common misunderstanding about a nanny’s job is how she connects with families. There are nannies who find jobs through Craigslist and bulletin boards, but rarely does a nanny find a family needing a professional via those means. A lot of times families using websites and advertisements to find care are seeking a college student or someone who they can pay under-the-table. Most career nannies are linked with an agency that pairs nannies and employers. Even though the search can take a few weeks, or even months, it’s always worth the wait.

5. That sounds like so much fun! OR I wish I could play with kids all day!

I can understand why people might think all I do during the day is play, but I would guess that playing with my nanny kids accounts for a total of an eighth of my day. Although I wouldn’t disagree that I have fun at my job, I think it’s important to understand that I am co-raising someone else’s kids. That means that tantrums, poor attitudes, and misbehavior are not unusual. My nanny kids aren’t any different with me than they would be with their parents. They’re very used to me.

On top of dealing with behavior issues, I also manage the household, run errands, and taxi the kids around. I am responsible for drop-offs and pick-ups, as well as making sure they have a lunch for school, clean underwear, and sufficient educational activities through out the day.

My job is exhausting, even the playing part, but there is nothing else I would rather do.

6. How much do you make?

Would you ask this question to anyone else? Probably not. A nanny is a professional with professional pay. If you wouldn’t ask a doctor or an accountant what they make, why would a nanny be any exception?

7. Are you still babysitting? (In reference to nannying)

It’s important to recognize the different between a nanny and a babysitter. Although they are very similar, they are not the same thing. If you are asking a nanny if she is still working as a nanny, please use the correct term. Another thing to consider is that nannying is a career for many people; most professional nannies don’t just leave the field. A more appropriate question might be to ask how she’s enjoying her job, or how many kids she cares for now.

8. Anything that implies you know more about a nanny’s job than she does…

I’ve had people tell me how I should do my job. I know this is also a reality for teachers and quite a few other professions. It goes along with the idea that if you went to school, you know what a teacher’s job entails, but that just isn’t the case. Please understand that unless you have been a nanny (and I’m talking strictly professionals here), you don’t know what a nanny really does or how to manage her career.

Essentially, refrain from saying anything to a nanny that you wouldn’t say to someone in a more normalized career. Nannies work really hard and deserve respect for what they do. If you know a nanny or employ a nanny, show her how much you appreciate her investment and the work she does.

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