Meet Amanda, our featured nanny of the week! She has been a nanny in 3 different countries and currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. She loves incorporating music into her jobs and is a Disney aficionado. Thanks so much for filling out this interview, Amanda :)
1. How long have you been a nanny and what type of nanny are you (part-time, full-time, live-in, etc.)? My nanny career started just over 12 years ago, with my first full-time nanny position. I am a full-time, live-out nanny. I had two live-in positions at the start of my career, and have had a couple of part-time jobs as well, so I’ve had many experiences.
2. Why did you choose to be a nanny? I always loved working with children as a babysitter, and worked with many families throughout high school and university, but I didn’t want to be a childcare worker or teacher. Nannying never really crossed my mind as a career option until a job (at a teenage entertainment magazine!) in the field I was studying fell through. I decided to move overseas and work as a live-in nanny to experience a new place, and fell in love with providing one-on-one care in families’ homes.
3. What has been your favorite moment as a nanny? With 12+ years on the job, and 10+ nanny families, it’s impossible to name a favorite moment. There have been so many! Just recently I went back to visit my previous charge and his new baby sister, so right now that is my favorite moment!! He’s incredible.
4. What has been your worst experience as a nanny? Watching children struggle with emotional and behavioral issues when I can’t ‘fix’ it for them. I’ve worked with many children who have special needs, where it comes up a lot, but it’s also happened with typical children. I’m constantly trying to learn new techniques and approaches, because it’s really hard to stand by and feel like I’m not able to help when they are unhappy.
5. What’s the best thing a parent has done to make you feel appreciated? I generally haven’t worked for families who do grand gestures, which can get me down sometimes when I hear about things other families do for their nannies, but I try to remember that everyone shows appreciation in different ways and notice even the small things. I feel appreciated when parents take the time to say thank you for things I do above and beyond my duties. I feel valued when families make it clear that they trust me - with their children, their belongings, and when they trust that I will make decisions they are comfortable with.
6. What’s the worst thing a parent has done to take advantage of you? I’m not really sure I can think of a time when a parent I’ve worked for took advantage of me. I’ve been lucky, and also careful in choosing my jobs. I’ve learned a lot from stories of situations other nannies have been in. There have been many jobs I’ve pulled out of during the interview process due to things like household duties, legal employment, and other mismatched expectations.
7. What do you find most rewarding about being a nanny? Being a part of the children’s daily lives. Sharing in their excitement and milestones, and knowing that I am playing a huge part in facilitating their exploration of the world and development of their minds!
8. What do you find most difficult about being a nanny? Leaving the families has been the most difficult part of most of my nanny jobs. It’s hard to go from spending the majority of my week with the kids and then hardly see them. When I’ve moved overseas after finishing jobs it’s been especially hard, and I miss them all.
9. Most embarrassing moment as a nanny? I've probably blocked many of them out! One of my earliest ones is when I had to get a sleepy and grouchy 3 year old dressed out of pyjamas at the airport. My go-to nanny technique involved sitting on the floor (of the public bathroom) and singing “It’s A Sunshine Day” by The Brady Bunch over and over again. But it worked! A happy 3 year old and I marched hand in hand through the airport, singing, until we got back to the parents.
10. The funniest thing your nanny kid has said/done? There are so many hilarious things that I’ve heard from my nanny kids over the years! A short but sweet one from a wonderful charge at barely 2 years old was:
Me: "Mummy says the museum sounds like a fantastic outing, and that she hopes you are super happy this morning."
2yo: *huge smile*
Me: "Are you super happy?"
2yo: “No" *huge smile*
Me: "What are you?"
11. Craziest thing a parent has ever done/asked of you? The one that sticks in my mind is a mother who gave me a strict rule (at the interview, so at least she was upfront) not to say ‘I love you’ to her child. There were a few other rules she had, all of which were her way of trying to maintain a boundary between the nanny and her child, and make sure her child got more affection and fun times with his mother - not the nanny. Even though it was a temp role of 5 months, it was really difficult.
12. Favorite activity/game/outing/etc with your nanny kids? My favorite outing spot here in Melbourne is definitely the zoo! It’s like this magical place where the kids and I can get outside, relax while moving in the fresh air, and of course see the animals.
13. What do you wish parents would understand about being a nanny and the nanny field in general? For me (along with many other nannies), this is my career, my passion, and the way I support myself financially. Each time I job search I wish more parents understood why I need to be paid correctly, and have a contract in place. I also wish more parents were aware of the benefits of having a nanny. I see the nanny role as such a flexible one, where families and nannies can tailor childcare and other responsibilities to suit what works best in each situation.
14. Best advice for new nannies? Be open to new ideas, and then do what feels best for you and the children in your care. I have found that my way of caring for children has changed over the years, as I learn more. One of the best ways to learn and work out your nannying style is by observing caregivers around you, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and hearing other nannies’ and parents’ perspectives.
15. How do you practice self care? I try to have a good balance between social time and solo time when I’m not working. I need a bit of both, and not too much of either! I also choose nanny positions where I can get out and do activities with the kids, which is so important to me, and interact with friends and our local community.
16. Extra hobbies/interests? I love going to see live music and other shows, and love to travel. Singing keeps me sane (thankfully my nanny kids have all tolerated it well!), and I enjoy meeting up with friends for brunch, drinking iced lattes, and listening to podcasts!
17. Anything additional you’d like to share? Just a few weekends ago I was able to attend Nannypalooza Oz. (Yes, that Nannypalooza! First time in Australia after 10 years in the US.) I love attending conferences and other professional development events not only for the education, but for the networking. Being a nanny can be more isolating than a lot of other jobs, and it’s wonderful to have chances to connect with like-minded people and expand my circle of ‘coworkers’. I encourage all nannies to seek out chances to attend nanny events and find a community within the industry.