Being a nanny is one of the most rewarding careers a person can have….. These are often the words we hear from nannies who register with nanny agencies. People who choose to be a Nanny do so as their professional career choice because they want to be able to provide that 1-1 care and interaction with the children, they have a natural instinct to nurture, support, guide, help and encourage children to learn new things and develop their skills and reach specific milestones, they also play a big part in being an exemplary role model for the children to learn from in developing social skills, manners, respect, preparing the children for nursery and school environment. Nannies take great pride in their work, looking after the children as though they were their own.
Nannies love the opportunity to provide that one to one care and attention they are able to provide for the children in their care, attending to their daily needs, planning the day of age appropriate fun filled activities and outings to encourage learning and development whilst at the same time having the opportunity to guide, encourage and support these small people to be the best person they can ever be! Quite an honour really, to have been selected by a family who are happy and comfortable to put trust in you to manage such a responsibility don’t you think??
Choosing to be a nanny is not a decision to be taken lightly. Whilst this can be very rewarding, it can be a very demanding role. Being a nanny is not like being a babysitter, and they certainly do not sit in the home all day, watching TV, drinking tea and letting the children play…..that is so very far from the responsibility of a nanny!
Whilst we most certainly appreciate a family may have a difficult decision to make when choosing what kind of arrangement to put in place for their children, however once a family has chosen to follow the route of having a nanny, the fun begins in finding that perfect person.
For those who have chosen to be a Nanny, one thing we have to remember is that it is equally important for the nanny to choose the right family too! Nannies work very closely in the family home, therefore it is vital that the connection is right in terms of BOTH the family and the nanny being able to approach each other comfortably about any aspect of the role, especially when it involves care of the children. After all…. A nanny wants the best for the children in their care, just like the parents do! Being a nanny is not just about building a fantastic bond with the children, but also with the parents too – working together, showing mutual respect for one another and allowing great two- way communication – this is what makes a nanny placement work successfully.
So where can nannies find families like this….. what happens if it goes wrong? Who can a nanny turn to for support?
Today, with the ever changing world of modern technology, there are an increasing number of websites posting childcare related jobs available and whilst some nannies have been very fortunate to gain great jobs from this method, there are an increasing number of times when things go wrong, not just a little bit wrong either! Then what??? Who can a nanny turn to for advice and support if things go wrong? If choosing a nanny job via an internet site where nothing is monitored, and no advice given to the families about essential elements of employing a nanny, if it goes wrong, the internet site will accept no responsibility and there is sadly no support available for either party.
So what do we do…… If you are a Nanny, it is always recommended that you join a local nanny agency. I know….. I hear you…..but which agency to choose and actually my friend had a bad experience with such and such? Trust your instincts! Ask around for recommendations. Call a few agencies in your area? Do you feel they listened? Do you feel confident with their level of knowledge and support? What support is given if things go wrong? There are so many other questions you may have also. I do understand that the nanny world is a small world and it doesn’t take much for one nanny to have a bad experience and then several other nannies will avoid that agency. The truth is there are so many agencies out there, some are more helpful than others, and some are not offering the impartial advice that they should between a nanny and family.
Something which makes me really sad is to hear of numerous nannies who have decided to set up their own agencies – why?? – being because they have not felt supported by their agency!
As an agency owner myself, I absolutely value the support nannies give to me and the work of our agency, the recommending that other nannies and families should come to us for support. Remember – Without great nannies we would not be able to help the clients that we do have! Therefore it is in the agencies best interests to be as supportive of nannies as much as they are supportive to their clients! Nannies need to know what is involved in finding a family from an agencies point of view and what kind of support you should be expecting.
Nannies – Trust your instincts! A good nanny agency should always meet you in person, they should also listen to what you are hoping for in terms of a new position, taking care to listen to elements of a job you don’t want. Be honest with your agency, they should be there to help you. However do be aware that agencies are dealing with numerous nannies and families at the same time, as well as the vetting and checking processes involved with each nanny. I recently took the time to list all the elements an agency goes through to match ONE nanny with ONE family – this task itself covered 3 full A4 pages of bullet points – so please do understand that if we cannot speak to you immediately, a good agency will always respond when they can.
A nanny should never be encouraged to accept a position for the sake of taking a position – yes….. I get that we all need to earn money and we all have bills to pay….. however, as a nanny if you take a job which you do not feel comfortable in, you don’t feel the connection between parents as well as the children, the environment you would be working in, or if the job is really not enough hours, or the parents don’t understand the implications and costs of having a nanny, then things will go wrong. Children become attached quickly, parents rely on you as their childcare support and if you are not happy and decide to walk away or the family asks you to leave then this causes a major impact on all concerned. And it can actually have an impact on whether a family will have a nanny again!
By the same token, if a nanny is placed in the wrong position, or is not appreciated or treated respectfully by a family, this can have a detrimental effect on a nannies health, wellbeing as well as a great loss of self-confidence sometimes resulting in the nanny moving away from the role of nanny altogether for fear that something will go wrong again.
Whilst word of mouth recommendations speak volumes and everyone’s experiences of finding a new family may differ, a very good starting place would be to have a look for a nanny agency who is a member of The Association of Nanny Agencies (ANA), the only Trade Association specifically for the nanny agency industry. All agencies who are members of ANA are accountable for their actions, these agencies sign up and agree to always work to the highest of standards of care and good practise for all families AND nannies who choose to use their services. An ANA member agency takes responsibility for checking everything they possibly can to ensure that every person who wants to register as a nanny is who they say they are, has the right to work in the UK, is met in person by the agency, with checks on their training, skills and experience, as well as checking their DBS status (previously CRB) in addition to following up of their previous employment references.
Agencies who are members of The Association of Nanny Agencies should provide support throughout the whole process of finding suitable work for the nanny, taking care to match skills, experience and personality with the right family. Support should not just end on acceptance of a new position, ANA agencies will be there for ongoing after care advice and support if either party needs it.
For nannies – using an agency is FREE, and wherever possible an Agency will visit the family in their home setting to ensure a safe working environment for the nanny, and often to gain a better understanding of what kind of personality would fit into this household. However, this is not always possible, if the family have very hectic schedules, or for instances of short notice.
In any instance, Nannies do have a choice too – does the job sound like a good match for you? Could you see yourself looking after these children? Would you feel comfortable to discuss issues with the parents – if the answer is no THEN DO NOT DO IT!
Trust your instincts! To find an ANA Nanny Agency near you please visit www.anauk.org or give us a call on 0203 1500 365.
Post written by Sarah Parkin of Kids Deserve the Best, Newcastle upon Tyne