Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How My Professional Nanny Connections Helped Me through a Difficult Time In My Career

by Cynthia Augustine 

The nanny agency that I currently work with (Family Helpers) has helped me through many hard times over the years that I have worked with them.  Before I began working with my current agency, I was working for a family in the state where I grew up.  All of my friends and family lived there too.  The family I was working for got transferred to the other side of the US and asked me to go with them to continue working as their nanny.  I found myself in a state far from home, where I knew no one.  I continued to work for them for the next three years.  Three years later, the wife got transferred again, so I decided not to move with them to yet another new state and so, my job ended.  I had a very small circle of friends because as a nanny, I had worked many hours every week, which left me very little time to socialize.

I found myself looking for a new job, but because I was in an area I was still not too familiar with, I needed help.  I investigated several agencies, some of which I applied to.  When I met the people at the agency I currently use, I knew it was a good fit.  Finding Family Helpers has become a life line for me.  I could tell that they would be honest with me and help me to find the right job.  I got a job through them quickly, and soon I was back on my feet.  They have been there for me ever since.

The jobs I have gotten through them over the last few years have been very different from one another.  But, each job has been great and I have been challenged and have become a better nanny.  A good example is the first job they placed me in.  It was with a family where the mother had terminal cancer.  I had to go into work being happy and not let my emotional stress show.  Whenever I needed help, advice or support, I would call Family Helpers  and they always helped me figure out the best way to approach the situation.

The agency I work with is more than a name, they really are like family.  I have been working with them for the last five years.  It takes the stress away, knowing I have a good group of people standing behind me, ready to help me find a new job, or just listen to what’s going on.  They are always there when I have a question.  I call them family because they don’t just place me, collect their fee and move on.  They check on me to make sure everything is going well.  They help me if there is a problem and share in my accomplishments.  I know that if I ever need them, they are just a phone call away!

Advice to a New Live-in Nanny

INA Scholarship Essay Submission

Advice to a New Live-in Nanny by Rachel Massengil

When looking for a position it can be very helpful to find a good agency that is going to work with you to find a family whom you best fit.  If you are going to look on your own make sure to know what you want to do in a position.  You will run into families that will load you down with “light housekeeping”, make sure to have everything defined.  Having your hours defined is very important when you live-in.  The norm is to be salaried for X amount of hours per week and then a certain hourly pay for anything over that.  I accepted a position once where the hours were not defined and I ended up working 60+ hours per week, which ended up being below minimum wage per hour.  I trusted the family when they said the hours would fluctuate and even out in the end, especially because I had just finished a position with a wonderful family.
Have a trial period with a family where you both have the chance to see how you fit together.  With a live-out job you can leave at the end of the day and not have to spend much time with the parents, vs. when you live-in you may feel confined to your space if you are not comfortable with the family.  Personalities will play a big role.
Speak with a family in advance to see if they would include paid time off for professional development through wonderful associations like INA (International Nanny Association) and NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).  They are great resources and very helpful for networking.
Finding other nannies in your area to connect with is very helpful.  You can contact INA to see if there are any Nanny Groups in your area, or nannies.  This helped me so much when I started my first position.  I found an online nanny support group where I could bring up different work related questions.  The family also worked to get me connected with another great live-in nanny, who worked with a family they knew.  I was in a new area and this nanny did a great job helping me learn the area and provide support when issues came up.
Lastly, enjoy being a nanny!  It is wonderful.  You get to work personally with these children and watch them grow.  Give your best each day.  Have a great adventure!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Practical Advice for a New Nanny

INA Essay Submission 

Practical Advice for a New Nanny : by Amy Marie

I have been a nanny for about four years, so in a way I am still a new nanny, but I have learned quite a bit in those four years and am looking forward to continuing my career and growing as a professional nanny. When I think back to when I was looking for my first nanny job, I made a lot of mistakes professionally.  If I could offer advice to a new nanny just starting out, it would be practical advice. I would say get a contract, get as much training as you can, and pay your taxes.
A contract sets you apart from a “babysitter” and helps you and your new employers come to the same page about every detail of your position. A contract should include your hours, rate of pay, and a list of your exact responsibilities. It should also include emergency procedures, rules on driving, television, etc.  Some nannies have paid time off, insurance payments, a minimum pay, or extras, such as your employers covering some of all of your expenses for attending the INA conference.  Anything that you agree to verbally should be in the contract.
When you are just starting out, you may not have much experience. I learned that if you don’t have years of experience, you can often make up for it in training. Taking different childcare related classes not only teaches important skills that you will need for work as a nanny, but it shows potential employers that you are putting forth an effort to be the best that you can be. All nannies should be CPR and First aid certified for infants and children. Other courses you can take are water safety, parenting classes, and Early Childhood Education classes from a local college. It’s also a good idea to take the INA skills exam. It will give you a chance to test your knowledge, and it is a way for you to show parents that you are educated in the health and safety of children.
It is extremely important to pay your taxes. Yes, it means smaller paychecks, but there are many benefits to getting paid the legal way. The IRS can audit you and the family, and you will both be hit with back taxes and penalties. Paying taxes also enables you to prove income, so when you are applying for a car loan, or an apartment, you will have paystubs and W-2s to provide. Lastly, paying your taxes makes you eligible for unemployment if you are laid off. All nanny positions eventually come to an end, and having unemployment as a safety net until you can find your next long term position is incredibly valuable. You can figure out the taxes on your own, but many nannies, including myself, use a payroll service, which makes the process easy and less stressful for you and your employers.
Most importantly, congratulations on your wonderful career choice and good luck!

INA ESSAY :My Advice to a New Nanny

INA Essay Submission: By Deirdre Bellows

My Advice to a New Nanny

I think the most important thing for anyone thinking of becoming a nanny is that you know yourself and that you stay true to yourself.  You don’t become a nanny to make money or to gain fame.  If you come into this career thinking that you’ll make a lot of money being a “babysitter” or that you’ll become friends with famous people,  you will burn out fast.  You become a nanny because you have a natural love for children and because you know the value of raising a compassionate and confident child.  You have to be able to give selflessly for the best of the child.  You need to be alright with small achievements and, possibly, no recognition.  Smiles, hugs and a child’s success have to be enough of a reward for you.

The other aspect of knowing yourself and staying true to yourself is that this will be of immense help to you in finding the right job.  For me, I need to work for a family who sees me as an integral part of their family.  We need to work together as a team and they need to respect and appreciate my experience and expertise.  I can be a live-out or a live-in nanny, but I need my own space.  I could have accepted higher paying jobs, but I wasn’t willing to compromise my basic needs in order to make more money.  I know that I can’t share a bedroom with my charge(s).  And, I know that I’m not very good at being seen and not heard.  You need to know yourself well enough to know what you can and cannot compromise on to be the best nanny that you can be.

Being a career, professional nanny has definitely helped me to know myself better.  I take this self-knowledge into every interview to insure that I don’t compromise in areas that are important to me.  This has made finding the perfect fitting job much easier.  In many ways finding the perfect job for you is like finding the perfect person to share your life with.  There are things that you are and are not willing to compromise on in a relationship.  You don’t want to lose yourself in a relationship and  you don’t want to lose yourself in your job.  Being in a bad job is like being in a bad marriage.  Both are very difficult to get out of and both can eat away at your confidence and your sense of self. 

Know yourself so that you never lose yourself and so that you can be your best for a child who deserves nothing less.