What is the Job Description of a Nanny?
The job description of a nanny can mean a lot of different things. I think it all depends on the needs of the family that you’re working for. Some families want their nannies to focus all of their attention on their kids, and not worry about housework or anything else. Others prefer more of a mother’s helper that not only helps with the kids, but also does laundry, dishes, and maybe even shops for groceries. I’ve even had nanny jobs where it was part of my duties to walk and feed the family dog. (This isn’t for everyone, but sometimes they’re the easiest members of the family to deal with!)
In my current nanny position I mostly take care of the family’s three children. However, I also help with housework such as making dinner, doing dishes, and folding laundry. Taking care of the children entails picking them up from school, driving them to their activities, making sure they are eating healthy food all day, helping them with homework, and playing games with them in their downtime.
My job encompasses the role of a counselor, dietitian, teacher, friend, parent, role model, and coach. The responsibilities of a nanny job are really endless and spending time with kids is the best training for becoming a child-care provider.
PayScale: What experience led to you becoming a child-care provider?
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Mary Anne: When someone asks me, “What training is needed to be a nanny?” I always tell them that a love of children and time spent with them is the best experience you can gain in order to become a nanny. I have always loved kids, and gained the experience by default.
When I was in eighth grade I began babysitting for my younger brother when my parents couldn’t watch him. I eventually found more babysitting opportunities in high school. Becoming a child care provider was my preference over working as a waitress, like a lot of my friends did, because I enjoyed it and the schedule was a lot more flexible.
When I went to college I thought I’d study child psychology since I wanted to learn more about kids. I think my psychology classes have really helped me in becoming a child care provider.
PayScale: What do you love about your job as a nanny?
Mary Anne: What I love best about my nanny job is that the work is flexible, relational, and it pays well. If the family needs to go somewhere for a long weekend and vice-versa, it’s not like we have to have our vacation approved by a bigger organization. We just have to communicate with each other, and that makes it a lot easier to take time off when you need it.
Kids are such a joy to be around, and I often go home in a good mood after being around them. I think kids tend to be more creative than adults, and this brings out my creative side. What other job allows you to play with sidewalk chalk, jump rope, and build block castles? I love that this job allows me to be a kid again myself.
I also love feeling like I have a second family with the family I’m working for. I guess I’m lucky in that I’ve always had families treat me like I’m part of their family, as opposed to just an “employee.” I know they genuinely care for my well being, just like I genuinely care for theirs.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as a nanny?
Mary Anne: The biggest challenge I face as a nanny is trying to apply consistent rules to kids that all respond differently. So if one technique works on one kid to get him to go to bed, it may not necessarily work on his sister. It’s a challenge to figure out which technique works best for which kid. It’s the same thing with parents in that some parents have different forms of discipline that they prefer to use, different boundaries, different rules, etc. It’s a challenge to learn how to deal with each child and parent in the best way possible for their individual personality, and still get the job done.
PayScale: What advice can you offer to someone in your field?
Mary Anne: I advise anyone in this field to maintain as much patience as possible because you will definitely need it. You have to remember that kids are not going to learn things as fast as adults, and they are also way more rebellious than most adults. This can be really frustrating, and require consistency and patience on your part.
As far as finding families to nanny for I know a lot of people use nanny agencies, which are great because they’re very professional and you can often receive health care benefits. I decided to work independently because I met families on my own, who then recommended me to their friends. Once you find a good fit that’s usually what happens, and then all of the sudden you’ll have way more nanny positions than you can handle.
PayScale: Could you name a few interesting moments in your career as a nanny?
Mary Anne: Where to start? There are so many. One time I was playing a game with a four year-old boy where we were pretending we were different scary things like a monster, a tiger, etc. I was pretending I was a monster, and all of the sudden the kid said, “Now I’m a …a…FEMALE!” I was laughing for a good five minutes on that one, because I’m sure he didn’t actually know that a female was just another word for girl.
One of the sweetest things that has happened in my career was this note I received from a little girl I had been watching for years. I was leaving for three months to study abroad, and she wrote me a goodbye letter. At the end of the letter she signed it, “I’ll miss you as much as missing means.”