What is a nanny? What should I expect?
The International Nanny Association defines a nanny as one "employed by the family on either a live-in or live-out basis to undertake all tasks related to the care of children. Duties are generally restricted to childcare and the domestic tasks related to childcare. May or may not have had any formal training, though often has a good deal of actual experience. Nanny's work week ranges from 40 to 60 hours per week. Usually works unsupervised."
American Nanny Jobs notes that a nanny is more than a babysitter. Nannies are expected to participate in the social, emotional, and intellectual development of their charges, and will work with the child(ren) on such areas a language development, potty training, social manners, homework, and more. Most families request that a nanny make a minimum commitment of one year to the job. This is to make sure that the children have continuity in their childcare. Candidates who do not feel that they can commit to a year might consider other types of childcare work until they are comfortable with the commitment.
Before you apply to become a nanny you should ask yourself the following questions to judge your suitability for the work:
Being a nanny is hard work, but very rewarding. Make sure you are ready for the realities.
It is true that many nanny job descriptions also include tasks not related to the child or children. When reviewing various families' job descriptions, don't automatically exclude every family who has included non-child related tasks, simply because you are not interested in performing general housekeeping tasks. You should know that few families are experienced at hiring nannies - or at creating job descriptions. This means that while they will probably agree with you that your primary focus must be their children, they may not have always taken the time to think about how that translates into what should be expected from you. You must not be afraid to speak up if you feel that family expectations are unrealistic. This is a discussion to have before you accept the job and begin working. Discussing with prospective employers that performing non-childcare related tasks will take you away from what feel must be your primary focus - the care and nurturing of their child/ren is not inappropriate and may cause them to reconsider the job description.
The bottom line is this: It is to everyone's mutual benefit that you and your prospective family develop a set of job responsibilities (whatever they end up including) which are clear and which you are comfortable with. Never agree to take on tasks which you are either unqualified to perform or which you know you will relegate to the bottom of the list, never to get done or done properly. It is much better to simply state that you can not manage to get the hang of laundry, than to agree to perform the task and repeatedly do a miserable job. You may eliminate some or many positions by not agreeing to perform tasks which are commonly considered "typical" within the profession, but that is still preferable to accepting a job with a weekly ironing requirement, only to find out too late that no matter how awesome you are with your charges, the parents can't escape the fact that you cannot get the clothes ironed satisfactorily and the position ends on a bad note, with everyone disappointed.
Nannies are not "one size fits all". There are many different nanny styles, just as there are many different family styles. Look for the family that fits your style and happy shopping!
TIP: If the family you are considering working for has hired a nanny or nannies before, consider asking to speak with the individual or individuals in order to gain a clearer picture about what a typical day or week is like. Think about how you feel about performing the tasks he or she describes and ask questions about the family's willingness to be flexible if there appears to be fairly tight or rigid schedule to adhere to. Try to get a feel for what the family's true priorities are. You may use the Family Reference Form from 4nannies.com to help you. If, on the other hand, the family has never hired a nanny, it may be helpful to suggest that the proposed job description be re-visited after a month and perhaps again at three months, in order to make any necessary adjustments.