So you have decided to be a nanny! Good on you! You’ve got this!
Here are some basic tips to go beyond being a good nanny or a decent nanny and become an AWESOME NANNY!!
1. Sing songs: Okay this one sounds pretty basic but it is so important especially working with younger children. Learn as many songs that are kid appropriate as you can!! They don’t have to be kid songs per say but please don’t teach the next generation songs filled with swearing, hate speech, or about objectifying women; the world already has too much of this. One of my favourites is The Lion Sleeps Tonight originally sung by Solomon Linda. This song is simple but gets a child(ren)’s attention. It is also easy to change the lyrics which brings me to another important point; if you can’t think of a song make one up. For the most part kids don’t care about the words of a song as much as the sound of you singing. I have made up many songs about meal time, diaper changes, and getting in car seats. Singing can help calm a child or keep them entertained while you are preparing their next meal.
2. Be present: When I say be present I mean be in the moment with that child(ren). Put your phone away, turn off the TV, and participate in whatever activity the child is doing as much as possible. I know I am guilty of checking my phone during shift but I try to keep it to a minimum. As part of my job I do need to keep in contact with the children’s parents but this is different than spending my time surfing social media or playing Candy Crush (yes it is a highly addictive game but put it away when you are working).
3. Plan what you can: I like to make a program calendar for each month so the parents have an idea of what we are going to be doing throughout the month. I let the parents know that the program calendar is a guide and can change due to weather, nap schedules, or if one of the kids isn’t feeling well. I like to fill every day so we at least have an option for an activity.
4. Be flexible: As much as planning can be helpful so is going with the flow of the day. If the kid is teething and was up all night then maybe reschedule your trip to the zoo. Some days kids need to rest too. If the child is enjoying playing in the backyard don’t feel like you need to go to a group activity that day.
5. Know the children you work with: Do your best to find out what the kid(s) enjoy and what they don’t. Talk to parents about what their kid(s) enjoy, what their routine looks like, and what upsets them. You will learn some of these as you work with them too. If you know a kid is terrified of the vacuum cleaner then don’t run it while they are playing nearby. Think about what you are doing and why.
6. Communicate with Parents: Cell phones are an excellent way to communicate with others; you can send text messages and pictures to parents, document important points in a communication book or use an app like Hi Mama to communicate information. There is a yearly cost for Hi Mama so it will not work in every situation. Use whatever works best for you and the family/families to communicate.
7. Do extras when you can: Depending on your role there will be specific expectations. Some nannies are solely responsible for caring for the child(ren), while others have cleaning and cooking responsibilities as well. If you find you have a couple extra minutes in your day then finding something to do that tends to get missed or forgotten. My go-to task is cleaning the stove top or vacuuming the area rug. This takes me maybe five minutes to do but the families really appreciates it when I do.
8. Get creative: Find creative ways to keep the kid(s) entertained. These don’t have to be expensive. A large cardboard cut for a kid to sit in and colour inside can keep a kid busy for hours. There are so many resources on pinterest.com. You can create a board on Pinterest with ideas for age appropriate activities and browse it on a rainy day.
9. Laugh: There are so many moments throughout my day when I could get frustrated by the toddler who has taken off his/her boots for the umpteenth time or has thrown all of his/her lunch on the floor. Instead I try to find the humour in every situation. I try to laugh as much as I can throughout the day even if it is at my own expense. The little ones I work with also have adorable senses of humour. when I take the time to see what they are communicating it usually brightens my day.
10. Take Care of Yourself: This is so important for anyone working in a care giving role! Make sure you are eating regularly (or at least snacking on healthy foods), getting a good night’s sleep, and exercising. Take care of your mental health as well as your physical health. If you don’t take care of yourself you will burn out!
Thank you for stopping by and reading this through to the end! I hope these tips are helpful!