As more families gain a dual-income, they need care for their kids while they work. The individualized care of a nanny is quite attractive, but not all nannies provide the same quality of care. Of course you want a good nanny, even a great nanny — someone who is responsible, trustworthy, and genuinely enjoys kids, but what about an exceptional nanny? What characteristics make a good nanny exceptional? Find out which traits make particular nannies a notch above the rest.
1. They are knowledgeable.
Whether formally educated in child development or experienced with childcare, an exceptional nanny can offer suggestions about reaching milestones and handling behavioral issues. They can even recommend certain products and toys to make the parents’ lives easier or aid in a child’s safety and development. Beyond their childcare knowledge, an exceptional nanny has an understanding of basic household management. For example, they might have basic cooking skills and be able to occasionally assist in that area, or recommend tricks for removing stubborn clothing stains.
To be clear, I am not talking about nannies who are also household managers. That’s a different area of expertise.
2. They are servant-minded.
An exceptional nanny cares about their job and the family that employs them. They want to serve their nanny family by supporting their relationships and time together. They don’t mind doing extra work, try to say ‘yes’ when possible, and always put forth their best effort, regardless of whether anyone notices. They truly just want to help. That doesn’t, however, mean they are without boundaries and self-care. See #9.
3. Their character is unparalleled.
Regardless of a nanny’s experience and competence in her job, she should always have a high level of character. She’s taking care of your most precious people! Honesty and reliability are important in a caretaker. You want a nanny who has proven themself to be honest, authentic and trustworthy. A nanny of high character has both a superior conscience and work ethic. People with that level of character and professionalism are few and far between.
4. They are proactive, forward-thinking and a self-starter.
An exceptional nanny completes tasks that need finishing, even if they’re outside if their typical nanny duties. They can anticipate the needs of their nanny family and tackle those tasks without being asked, like packing the kids for an upcoming vacation. They consider the schedule for the day, or week, and plan out their household responsibilities accordingly.
Again, I want to emphasize I am not talking about a household manager. I am also not advocating for a lack of boundaries. A nanny should never feel obligated to do more than they’re required, but an exceptional nanny is willing to help out with extras within their comfort zone.
5. They are invested in your child’s development and education.
An exceptional nanny will provide your child with opportunities to grow and learn. They’ll plan out age-appropriate crafts and activities to expand the child’s creativity, critical thinking, and sensory development. With older kids, an exceptional nanny may go beyond assisting with homework, and become invested by supplementing with games, play and other means. They want to see your child succeed!
6. They have solid common sense, sound judgement and problem-solving ability.
There are instances when a nanny needs to make a decision on a whim without parental consent or approval. It may not happen often, but it does happen. Trusting that your nanny will make the most sound decision is a huge relief as a parent. An exceptional nanny has common sense and sound judgement that goes beyond the norm. They can stay calm in chaotic situations, consider what the parents would want, and act accordingly. Even if their decision-making isn’t directly related to the children, it could still mean the difference between a completed task and extra work for the employer. Maybe the vacuum stopped working or the dryer is leaving clothes damp. If a nanny knows how to troubleshoot a problem and feels comfortable doing so, they can handle a situation without having to unnecessarily involve the parents.
7. Your kids respect them.
It’s not enough that your kids like their nanny. Kids like most any adult who plays with them. But if your kids like AND respect their nanny, that’s when you know she has mastered the balance of fun and boundaries. She can get down on their level, play pretend and get messy, while also having full control of the situation. Most kids who respect their nannies do so because they know their nanny can be trusted and genuinely cares about them.
8. They have a unique aptitude for childcare.
Have you ever witnessed someone who seems like a natural with children? They know exactly what to say, how to say it, and what to do to make them laugh or smile? Those are great qualities to have in a nanny, but an exceptional nanny has a talent for knowing, not just how to interact with a child, but also how to care for them. They somehow know just what to do when a child gets hurt or acts out. They seem to know what a child is thinking, how to calm them, and why it works. It appears effortless.
9. They advocate for themself.
As an employer of a nanny, you may like having a childcare provider who goes along with everything you say, accepts your lowball offers and doesn’t say anything about working late with no extra pay. The reality of that situation is that it won’t end well. A nanny who knows her worth and advocates for herself and her rights is actually a strong indication of an exceptional nanny. They won’t be a doormat or address concerns passive-aggressively. It’s proof they have self-respect and set healthy boundaries. It seems counterintuitive to hire someone who is knowledgeable about their rights, but when you compensate your nanny fairly, you are setting yourselves up for a good situation. They will be less likely to harbor resentment, experience burn-out or leave without warning. What’s best for your nanny is what’s best for your family. Period.
A nanny doesn’t need to have all of these traits to be great at caring for your family. These nine qualities, however, are a testament to those nannies that go above and beyond, who do their jobs with the utmost care and professionalism. It’s likely as an employer you don’t even know the extent of what your nanny does for your family. If you’ve been lucky enough to find an exceptional nanny like this, cherish them!