All quality caregivers have a genuine love and working knowledge of children; however different care giving environments require a different type of childcare. For caregivers with other types of care giving experience who enter into the world of nannying, the change of environment often comes along with an unexpected change in expectations. While daycare providers and nannies may share similar skill sets, the dynamics of working in a private home are much different than those in a home, family, or daycare setting.
When considering a career as a nanny, there are several differences from being a daycare worker that you should be aware of. Here are 6 reasons why being a nanny is different than being a daycare worker.
1. Accountability. Unlike in a daycare environment, nannies typically work unsupervised. Parents depend on nannies to be totally transparent about everything while on the clock. The level of trust a nanny employer must extend to a nanny is typically far beyond what is extended to daycare providers, since nannies work alone, without coworkers or supervisors. They must be trusted to do what their employer asks and to report any questions, concerns or problems that arise. Nannies must be transparent and trustworthy to succeed in providing in-home child care.
2. Relationships. The nanny and employer relationship one is complex. Nannies and parents develop a true partnership in raising the children. Nannies step in to meet the child’s physical, emotional, social, and intellectual needs while the parents are away from the home. This requires nannies and parents to closely work together. While a nanny is an employee of the family, she often becomes more than just a worker. She becomes a valued contributor of the family unit that is significantly depended on for the family to function as desired. Since the nanny’s workplace is the private home of the children, the relationship is naturally more intimate than the relationship between a daycare worker and the family.
3. Employee status. Unlike in a daycare center where the caregivers are the employees of the center owner, nannies are employees of the families for whom they work. Rather than the family adapting to the policies of the program, as employers, the parents set the rules, establish the policies, and call the shots that the nanny must adhere to.
4. Isolation. Since nannies typically work alone with the children, there isn’t regular interaction with other adults throughout the day. There’s no one to take over for a formal break and no one to lend assistance should the need arise. Nannies must facilitate social opportunities for the children and avoid isolation by attending playgroups, going on outings and developing relationships with other parents and caregivers and their similar aged children so that they can connect during the week.
5. Hours. On average, nannies work 40 to 60 hours per week. A nanny’s work day often starts hours before centers open and extends well past when they would close. Nannies must be prepared and be willing to work 10 to 12 hour days. Given the nature of the job, flexibility is also required. If a parent gets stuck in traffic on the way home or if a meeting runs over, they can’t leave work until the parents return home.
6. Regulation. Daycare centers, at least licensed ones, are overseen by local and state regulations. Nannies work in a largely unregulated industry. Unlike preschool teachers, there is no universal certification for nannies, and unlike centers, no one comes to inspect the private home for safety standards and concerns. Nannies must be proactive and work with the parents to develop a safe environment that encourages exploration. Nannies may also opt to attend formalized nanny training or take voluntary exams, like the International Nanny Association Nanny Credential Exam. Nannies should also maintain current CPR and first aid certification.
While all caregivers play an important role in the lives of the children for whom the care for, nannies tend to work for a family for at least one year and typically, if they start when a child is an infant, will work for several years with the same family. For caregivers wishing to become a nanny, careful consideration of the differing expectations and demands is required.