Hello everyone! Today, we’re going to start doing something a little different. We’ve decided to produce the next few articles as a podcast first. Then, we have transcribed podcast notes down below for those who prefer to read. We’re going to be testing out the waters this way for a little while to see if it improves our content, and makes our workflow a bit easier. You can listen to the podcast up above, or continue reading down below.
Today, we’re going to be talking about the top three things that I wish I knew before becoming a Nanny.
Ok, let’s get started!
The first and biggest thing I wish I knew before becoming a nanny was boundaries. Knowing the boundaries between being a part of the family and also the professionalism that comes with having any job.
For example, being a nanny, you want to be able to fall into the role of being a part of the family, and being close and intimate, and being a friend and a confidant. This means that first, one of the biggest things I wish I would have known is how important it is to have a detailed contract. A contract that you discussed with the family and signed before starting the job.
What specifically is important about a detailed contract? Having clear responsibilities listed out. For example, listing every little specific detail of the job that you’ll be doing. Things like:
- “Will I be feeding the baby?”
- “Will I be changing the baby?”
- “Will I be teaching the baby?”
- “Does the baby need to go anywhere?”
Having a specific list of things will make it clear for you and the family what your job responsibilities are. This knowledge will let you easily feel like a member of the family as everyone knows what to expect. You won’t feel like you’re being taken advantage of, and they won’t have the ability to take advantage of you.
If ever they just ask you to do something else beyond what’s stipulated in the contract, you can just point back to the contract. That’s what a contract’s for – to protect your relationship with them.
You don’t have to feel uncomfortable about pointing back to the contract, and you’ll be able to feel confident in that contract.
Contracts help you set and keep proper boundaries. That’ll save your nanny/family relationship and prevent arguments.
Another aspect of boundaries that I wish I knew before becoming a nanny, one that I think is super important, is that the kids will be on your mind 24/7. Nannying is not a job that you can punch in and out of at the beginning and end of your workday.
You will always be thinking of them. You’ll be thinking of fun things that you can do with the kids. You’ll be thinking of the things they like or don’t like. If you’re walking past a yard sale, you’re going to look at a toy and say, “oh, I bet my little one would just love that!” You’ll probably end up buying it for them even if it’s not in your contract. (There’s a clause covering that reimbursement in our Nanny Contract.)
Most likely, you’ll end up spending your own money because of how heavily invested you get in your kids.
Something that you need to discuss during the first interview is parenting styles. I’ve heard nannies say:
“I can’t live with these people’s parenting styles, but it’s no big deal. The parents won’t even be home!”
What these nannies are not realizing is that parenting styles and disciplinary styles will literally determine your day-to-day work life. You should want to implement the same parenting style that the children already know. A nanny shouldn’t be bringing something new to the table.
It’s already hard enough to discipline kids that aren’t your own, so it’s important parents talk about disciplinary and parenting styles with you upfront.
I’ve experienced this myself. I had been with one family for close to two years. The little things started to become an issue. I was there five days a week. I was with these kids all the time, and I loved them, I really did. We did everything together. I taught the youngest how to brush her teeth. I taught her how to be potty trained. I taught her how to pick up her messes. Little by little, I was asked to do things that had nothing to do with the kids. The parents thought, “of course she can do it. She’s already at the house, of course, she can stay at the house all day to wait for the refrigerator repairman to come over.”
Then, the requests slowly became more invasive. I would get a daily list of chores around the house—cleaning, organizing, and other chores that the mom or dad should have been doing. I started feeling like they were taking advantage of me. Thankful, they were great people, and I had a good relationship with them, so I was able to voice my feelings, and they backed off.
If it had been anyone else, it could have been a tense situation. Discussing parenting styles is a boundary that you need to cross.
You’re not nannying stranger’s kids out of the kindness of your heart. While you love the kids you nanny, you still have to be paid. You still have a business to run.
- You need insurance
- You need health coverage
- You need to pay taxes
If you’re just starting out, figuring out these things is tough. You’re left on your own. For example, I had to figure out whether or not to become an employee or a sole proprietor. Thankfully I’ve done a ton of research, I’ve learned from plenty of mistakes, and I’ve interviewed several tax professionals. Now, I have an article all about being an Employee vs. Self-employed Nanny.
Does a nanny in the U.S. have to be a employee or sole prOprieTor?
In short, it really comes down to the following:
- What are your nanny job responsibilities?
- Who’s calling the shots?
- Who’s setting the schedule?
- Must childcare be provided at the parent’s home, or may the nanny decide where to provide care?
If the parents are determining most of these things, you’re probably a Household Employee Nanny. The majority of nannies that I meet are W-2 nannies. There are very few of us that are 1099 nannies (mostly Newborn Care Specialists), and it’s because we come in knowing exactly how we need to perform our job, what we want, and telling the family what we need from them.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
I wish I would have known how not to undersell myself. I undersold myself plenty of times before I realized that being a nanny comes with a lot of responsibility. Because of that, you can ask for a decent wage. Now, I’m able to work part-time as a nanny and make a decent living.
By “decent living,” I do not mean “under minimum wage.” What I am currently charging new clients is roughly three times our minimum wage. We’ve got a Nanny Rates Calculator on our website you can go check that out in our Resources Page to help you figure out your starting wage.
I really wish I would have known how nannying can test your limits. Nannying can test your physical limits. How? There’s way more physical work involved with nannying than I ever imagined.
- You’re constantly lifting children and putting them down
- You’re running after screaming kids
- You’re chasing dogs
- You’re bending down to clean up the spilled milk
- You’re reaching high
- You are lifting heavy things, like the T.V. couch or other furniture, to vacuum
- You’re lifting boxes to rearrange and organize
- You’re moving stuff into and out of the garage or attic
All of those things are very physical. I wish I would have known how physical the job was. I wish I would have bought clothes to match the job.
Yes, yoga pants and leggings are your friends, ladies, and gents. Khakis and jeans, those are your friends. Occasionally, even a good pair of sweatpants will be the day’s work uniform.
Let’s be real here. The majority of the time, you’re going to be in their house or your own house. Nobody needs to see you, and the kids for sure aren’t judging you. The kiddos probably think you look great. Parents will be pretty understanding if you’re in some really relaxed clothing.
Another thing I wish I would have known was the emotional toll nannying could have. Before becoming a nanny, I didn’t know how invested you get in these kids. You feel like they’re your own kids. You see them grow up.
One of my little guys, who I’ve been with for his whole year-and-a-half life, just moved on to a day-care. We’re moving to a different country, and I had to give up the job. It’s so hard because you’ve seen them grow up, but you know that you’re not going to be with them anymore. You don’t realize how invested you’re going to get into this family and the kids.
I’m so invested in this kid that I postponed our move to India so that I could attend his parents’ wedding. It just happens. You will get emotionally invested.
As a nanny, you often spend more waking hours with the kid than the parents do. One day, I sat down and did the math. I spent 80% of his waking life with him. The parents worked full time. The sibling was at school. During the weekends, his time was split between the two parents and grandparents.
Situations like this are not uncommon. You often just end up being the one who is actually with the kid most of his life. I do feel great joy being able to be with him all of that time. But I also feel a little bit sad for the people in his life that can’t spend a bunch of time with him. He’s an awesome kid. Because you spend so much time together, you get really attached.
the last thing I really really wish I would have known before becoming a nanny was just how fast nanny burnout could happen. Honestly, guys, gals, don’t let people take advantage of you. Know your own boundaries. Take time for self-care, please. I am begging you, do not push yourself to the point where you dislike what you’re doing.
Being a nanny is the best thing in the world. I cannot imagine a more fun job. It’s a job where you get to sing Disney songs at the top of your lungs and dance around the living room in your pajamas. You get to do so many fun things and be with people who look up to you. People who love you for all that you are, and you love them for all that they are.
Don’t get worn out. If you notice that you’re feeling taken advantage of, or you’re feeling overworked, speak up about it. Don’t feel bad about speaking up for yourself. The parents that you’re working with would speak up if their boss were overworking them. They’d be getting paid overtime. They’d be complaining. They’d be getting annual bonuses and holiday bonuses. You want to be able to love your job. You don’t want to get burned out in your career. Being burned out will negatively affect the rest of your life.
3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Nanny
In summary, I wish I knew about Boundaries, Money, and Limits before becoming a nanny.
- Have a detailed contract. Without one, no one knows exactly what’s expected of you.
- Know that nannying is going to be on your brain 24/7, making it hard to keep boundaries.
- You need to be able to adjust to different parenting and disciplinary styles.
- You can make real money as a nanny.
- Don’t sell yourself short. Make sure you are getting adequate and fair compensation for your work.
- Nannying is a physical job. Be prepared and wear work-appropriate clothes.
- Nannying will take an emotional toll on you, which is both a blessing and a curse.
- You can get burned out fast. Make sure you don’t take on a job that’s too intense and make sure to make time for yourself. Relax, and have fun.
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Until next time.