How did you become a nanny?
When I was in college for graphic design, I was looking for part-time work. I only had classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so I was looking for something to fill my time in between then. I actually had a good friend who had started nannying in a different state and she seemed to really like it so I thought to myself, “Ok, let’s see what it entails.” I found a part-time job where I started working Tuesdays and Thursdays for a mom who had 2 little girls. I was with them for about 3-4 months until the summer and it was my first experience during college working with kids.
What made you choose to further your career in nannying, as opposed to graphic design?
Before my first nannying job in college, I did some babysitting in high school for extra money so I already knew that I loved working with kids, but I also knew that I didn’t want to become a teacher. I did digital design in high school and I fell in love with that, and that’s the direction I felt I wanted to go. But once I was in college and working with kids more, I realized that I wanted to continue to work with kids.
How has your career evolved since your first nannying job?
Through taking classes and getting certifications—I renew my First Aid/CPR certification yearly. I also worked in a preschool for about a year and I had to get further certifications for that.
What do you love about being a nanny?
Everything. When parents ask me that I always say I love the bond with the children. I like nannying as opposed to working at a daycare because I like going on field trips or outings with the kids—being able to get out and do things with kids is what I love to do.
How does what else you do in life connect to your child care work?
I’m very creative and I do a lot of creative things at home so I take my creativity with me when I’m working with children. I don’t have children of my own, but a lot of my friends have kids. I’m always with my friends and their kids and when I’m with them I tend to hang out with the kids more!
When you’re not taking care of kids, what would we find you doing?
Playing guitar. I’ve been teaching myself lately and actually getting better! I like to play video games sparingly and living in Colorado you can hike everywhere, so I go outside a lot.
I always try to incorporate learning somehow, even if it’s something as simple as counting the number of carrots we have on a plate.
What kinds of responsibilities have you had while being a nanny?
Besides the typical tasks of feeding and changing diapers, I’ve done light housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, meal prep, and outings to museums. I really like doing art projects, even if it’s something simple like tracing our hands and coloring them in. I was a live-in nanny for my first nannying job for about 3 ½ years. It was a single mom with 2 girls and I’m still super close with this family—they’re like a family of my own now. When I first started with the family, the mother was going to school and working 2 jobs. Because of that, she wasn’t home often so I was with the kids 24/7. I would cook, clean, do homework, and everything else with them. I like to think that I helped raise the 2 girls, and it’s funny because that was years ago and the oldest girl now is 13 years old, but when I see her I see so much of me in her.
What is your process of interviewing with a family?
I’ve always gone to their houses—for babysitting jobs or potential nannying jobs. I would do this after FaceTiming with them and feeling like it was safe. It’s nice to go to the family’s house because you can see their interactions and get the vibe. There was one time I was interviewing with a family and I came over and they were unloading groceries and the mother was just like “welcome to our chaos!” and I just thought to myself “I love this!” This is how I grew up, and it makes me feel at home.
One of my go-to questions I always ask is about allergies. It’s something that I’ve ingrained in my brain to ask for whenever I’m meeting a new family. Some people don’t think to ask that, and then you could be alone with the kid and the next thing you know they could have a reaction. So that’s my #1 question.
How do you approach tough conversations with families?
With most of my families I’ve felt I could be very open and honest with them. However, the last family I sat for was a little less of an open environment. So in the mornings, the parents and I would have little talks about the day, or if something happened the night before that I should know about. When I needed to move into a bigger apartment, I needed to ask for a raise and I was really scared to ask for one. But at that point, it was just something that I had to do, and no one else was going to do it for me. That is the type of mindset I take on when I have to approach a tough topic.
Do you stay in contact with the kids/families you have nannied for? Why?
I do, and the main reason that I love being a nanny, and I consider myself to be more of a “girl” nanny, is because I don’t feel like I had good personable role models growing up and that’s what I want to be for little girls. The first family that I nannied for (that I was a live-in nanny for), they have come to visit me in Colorado and I FaceTime with them at least once or twice a week.
What’s the most important thing for a healthy caregiver/family relationship?
Communication. I can think back to one of my families I had in the past where there was a time before me and the mother were very open. There were times where I would take the child to go out for lunch because I had nanny friends and we would all meet there to connect and let the children play. The mom didn’t tell me for a long time, but she was annoyed that I was going out all the time. I was happy to come home and have lunch there instead, but this was something that needed to be communicated and I talked about that with the parent. It was kind of an “ah-ha” moment for us, by me telling her that I can’t do what the parent wants if I don’t know what I’m doing wrong in the first place.
What is something the kids in your care have taught you?
Patience, for sure. With little things, like watching a baby stack rings, it’s obviously going to take a little patience. Homework was a big thing for me too, just understanding that it could take a little longer depending on what the child is learning. Also, learning to be carefree.
How did you feel when being introduced as “the nanny?”
I don’t think it’s ever bothered me because I take pride in it. I’ve never really been introduced as “the nanny” necessarily. The family I was a live-in nanny for would introduce me as “Haley, she lives with us and helps me with our girls.” Other families usually introduce me as Haley.
What would you say is the most challenging thing about being a nanny?
Boundaries and being able to “love a child.” Again, it comes down to communication with the family and the types of relationships you have with them. With one family, the relationship was a little more distant, but with the family I lived with I practically raised the children and felt more like a big sister to them, and other families just welcome me with open arms.
What is the #1 thing you’ve taken away from your experience of being a nanny so far?
Gaining family. In March of my senior year of high school I lost my dad and then right after graduation I lost my mom. All I really had was my brother who is a little older than me and growing up we didn’t really get along but now we’re really close. So going straight from high school and losing my parents, to college, and then moving in with a nanny family, I’ve gained all of this family. I love to see families and just the way they parent or interact with their kids.
What would be your advice to parents to help cultivate meaningful relationships?
I think being open and asking questions, and just getting to know the person who will be working with your kids. If the sitter doesn’t answer, then maybe it’s just not the right time or maybe they’re just not that type of person and it will be a different kind of relationship. I always loved when a family would invite me to come do things with them after work.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about being a nanny?
That we aren’t just sitting down all day, and doing nothing. I would prepare worksheets for the last family I sat for who had a 4-year-old, and we would go to music class, and storytime, and I would gather stuff from those classes. I always try to incorporate learning somehow, even if it’s something as simple as counting the number of carrots we have on a plate.
In your experience, what are the benefits of having a nanny contract?
It’s definitely beneficial for times like this [in a pandemic], or times where you may be laid off. For my live-in job, I did not have a contract. But otherwise, I would definitely recommend everyone to have a contract, even if it was just stating your hours or the bare minimum. My typical contract would include my start date, the address where I worked, my work schedule, job responsibilities, compensation, unpaid holidays, and a confidentiality agreement, as well as grounds for termination.
A quick anecdote from my time nannying…
I had a moment with a girl that the mom thanked me for it later on, which was really sweet. When I was living in Florida with the family that I lived with and cared for, we were out to breakfast with a group of people and I was sandwiched between the 11-year-old and the 13-year-old. We were playing one of those games on the menu where you have to draw lines to make boxes. The 11-year-old was getting mad because she was losing and threw stuff down and got pouty over it. I looked at her and said, “are you really going to let this game ruin your whole day?” I broke it down for her even more, “we’re playing this game, and we’re at breakfast, and you’re really going to let this little game ruin the day while we’re having a good time at breakfast?” She hesitantly said, “no” so I said, “ok, then quit being so mad.” I didn’t realize the mom was listening the entire time, but she thanked me later. Since then, the mom has brought it up many times to the 11-year-old when things start not going her way. This story just shows how I am as a nanny, and this felt like it confirmed I was doing something right, and it was really sweet for the mom to notice.
What’s your favorite “kid” food/snack that you like to eat?
Favorite Movie to watch with kids?
Current kid-related thing you’re obsessed with?
I want to get into fairies. I want to learn all about it!
Current kid-related thing you never want to see/hear again?
Go-to rainy day activity?
Arts and crafts
Favorite nickname a kid has given you?
Hay-e for little ones who can’t pronounce my name, or Miss Haley
Most interesting reason parents needed you for child care?
I had to babysit for a family from out of town at a hotel, and the mom gave us $200 to go to Dave and Busters to go play games.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would your 1 wish for child care be?
No more tantrums!