Being a nanny wasn't something that I ever planned on doing. I received my Bachelor of Education in 2012, and am qualified to teach English and Social Sciences for grades 7 through 12, a far cry from the toddler crowd I find myself in these days! I love learning and sharing knowledge, so teaching seemed a natural choice and I always pictured that my career in education would be outside traditional classroom teaching. I love working with kids, and in nannying, I love the flexibility and autonomy I have. Mostly, I love creating relationships with each child- – getting to know them, teaching each one individually and really seeing and feeling that I am making an impact on their lives.
My jobs in nannying have happened through word of mouth referrals, which are beneficial for both the family and the nanny–both parties can be assured of each other through a good reference.
Regardless of whether the job was found through word of mouth or through a job search however, it's the interview process which is the most important in figuring out if it's going to work.
In speaking with the parent of a family who wants to hire me, I am looking for the same things I would be looking for in most jobs:
With nannying, those expectations can be very vast or very limited. More than most jobs, I'd say nailing down EXACTLY what is under the nanny's purview is very important. I want to know:
I never like asking these questions, but I know how important it is to get everything out on the table from the very beginning. As much as you are worried about hiring someone who will be trustworthy and caring towards your kids, your potential nanny is worried about finding a good working environment. The more that a parent shares without me having to ask, the more comfortable and trusting I feel.
Just as important as the nanny/parent interview is a play date with the kids in the home. It's a good opportunity to get a feel for how the home runs and observe the children's behaviour and the parents' parenting styles.
There are certain practices that a nanny can, and should adopt if asked. There also is something to be said for parents who are comfortable exposing their children to different ways of doing things. Observing your compatibility on parenting style is super important.
Personally, I'm happy when I see structure in place for behaviour management and lots of toys and children's artwork on the walls, because I prioritize rules and respecting others as much as I do creativity and free play. Those are things I look for–but everybody will be different!
Watch for other patterns during your trial playdate, such as:
If there are contradictions in your style, then you and your potential nanny are probably not the ones for each other. I've turned down a job because I felt like my style wouldn't fit with the family, and I would expect any family to do the same.
My last and final extremely important tip: the necessity of open and honest communication. Probably more than any job, honesty is key in nannying.
All in all, I'd say most nannies are looking for a compatible family, an open and secure work environment, and autonomy and flexibility during the work day. For me, the goodbye hugs, handmade cards, and spontaneous cuddles are daily bonuses for a job well done!
Kali Greve is a Toronto-based nanny to Aven, 3, and Zain, 18 months, who loves exploring the beautiful city of Toronto, with kids and without. Along with her Bachelor of Education, she brings her natural curiosity, love of nature and passion for the arts to all her work with children!