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What is a Nanny?

A nanny is someone who is employed by a family, on either a live-in or live-out basis, to take care of children.

The nanny has been a well-known figure in children’s stories for many, many years and now she shows up on television as well. Some of these fictional nannies are kind, some are mean and scary, some even have magic powers and know how to fly. In the real world, nannies are ordinary people, like you and me, who are reliable, hard-working and patient. They enjoy taking care of children and are willing to fit in with the families they work for. The modern nanny is a respected professional.

What Might a Nanny Do?

Just like parents, a nanny keeps children safe and healthy and gives them special attention when they are ill. Nannies plan activities that help children to grow strong, to learn and to develop.

The day-to-day duties of a nanny are childcare activities: feeding, bathing and dressing the children, reading to them, playing with them, going for walks and going out to children’s events in the community. Some nannies may be asked to drive children to appointments or to help them with homework. There may be other household duties such as cooking, laundry, and grocery shopping. When parents hire a nanny, they usually agree on duties at the start.

Nanny responsibilities and duties:

  • Supervise and care for children in employer’s home; may live in employer’s home
  • Bathe, dress and feed infants and children
  • Prepare formula and change diapers for infants
  • Oversee children’s activities, such as meals and rest periods, as instructed by employer
  • Instruct children in personal hygiene and social development
  • Tend to the emotional well-being of children
  • Discipline children according to the methods requested by the parents
  • Organize and participate in activities such as games, crafts, reading, and outings to provide amusement and exercise
  • Plan, prepare and serve meals for children; perform other housekeeping duties
  • Take children to and from school and appointments
  • Maintain a healthy environment in the home
  • Keep records of daily activities and health information regarding each child.

Related Jobs

There are other jobs that are very similar to the job of nanny and are described together under the same. They are:

  • Babysitter
  • Child Caregiver
  • Child-care Provider
  • Live-in Caregiver
  • Parent’s Helper

As well, these other two jobs are closely related to the job of nanny:

  • Companions and Foster Parents
  • Day-care Workers

What does it take to be a Successful Nanny?

  • Nannies must be mature enough to play the part of a parent when the parents are not around.
  • They must be able to use good judgment and make quick decisions on their own.
  • They need to be patient and to be able to handle eight to ten hours on a stretch with a small child, perhaps with no other adult around.
  • Most families have certain rules and routines and a nanny must be flexible enough to fit in with them.
  • The nanny should respect the way that the parents want their children raised, according to their belief or philosophy. This is especially important in choosing books and entertainment for children and in dealing with a child who is misbehaving.
  • Nannies have to be well-organized and good at managing time on their own. They may have a lot to fit into their day.
  • But things don’t always go according to plan with children. Sometimes the nanny must change plans quickly without getting flustered and go with the flow.
  • Most nannies are women, but this does not mean that men cannot be nannies too. Parents will hire someone who they feel will do a good job of looking after their children.

“And you need to really love children, to be patient with them, and to have an active imagination. Children need to be constantly stimulated and they love to play, so the more creative and energetic you are, the better.”

What Parents Expect of a Nanny

  • When parents hire a nanny, they want more than a babysitter; they want someone who will help them to raise their children. This includes potty-training, reading with the children, teaching good manners, helping with homework and, in general, being on the ball.
  • Parents expect the nanny to be a good role model. The way she speaks, acts and dresses make a big impression on the children in her care. Most parents don’t want a nanny who swears or is rude and abusive. Of course, smoking, drinking and taking drugs while on the job would be unacceptable. Also, parking the kids in front of the TV for hours or having long personal phone conversations would not be considered appropriate nanny behaviour.
  • Nannies make a habit of communicating with the parents. They may do this by speaking together for a few minutes at the end of every day, or by writing notes in a journal, or log.
  • A nanny’s workday is between eight and ten hours. This gives parents time to travel to and from work. As well, many parents ask their new nanny to work for them for at least one year. It takes a little while for children to get accustomed to a new caregiver and it can be upsetting to have people coming and going from their lives too often.
  • If the new nanny does not have First Aid, WHMIS, and CPR training, the parents will probably ask him or her to get it. There may be other training courses that the parents will ask their nanny to take while on the job. Or the nanny may do on-the-job training in a more informal way – by reading books, magazines, and brochures.

Essential Skills

Essential Skills are the skills people use to carry out a wide variety of everyday tasks – for work and for daily living. They can be learned in one setting, for example, an upgrading program, and transferred to another setting, such as a workplace. New skills that you learn are built on these essential skills.

The main Essential Skills are:

  • Reading Text
  • Document Use
  • Writing
  • Numeracy
  • Oral Communication
  • Thinking Skills
  • Working with Others
  • Computer Use
  • Continuous Learning

A Nanny must learn more about these very important topics:

Reporting Child Abuse

Any adult who works with children is required by law to report cases of suspected child abuse – physical, sexual or emotional. Find out what your responsibility is. Ask The Child and Family Services for up-to-date information.

Child Development

If there is an Early Years centre or a Family Literacy program in your area, find out if they are running workshops or groups that you could take part in.

Safety in the Home

Health Units provide booklets, brochures and training sessions. Fire Departments may send guest speakers.

First Aid and CPR

As a nanny, you will need up-to-date certificates. Look into getting trained while you are upgrading your skills.

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