Real Nannies of the Sacred Code
Good morning! In the coming months, I will be writing posts for nannies and nanny wannabes. So, I thought I’d better put up one for the employers first, because those nannies are going to need you to be awesome to work for.
Right off, I need to tell you the term ‘Nanny of the Sacred Code’ is a fictional designation. It is a term I coined for my novel, Jack & the Very Proper Nanny. However, you can find a real world nanny who would qualify as a Nanny of the Sacred Code, if such a designation did exist.
I came up with the idea based on the real world practice of friends telling each other about available nannies and nannies letting each other know when a great new job was opening up. So, ask around. You may find yourself closer to the ideal than you presently imagine. If you happily discover you don’t even need an agency, however, make certain you take care of all the necessary documentation yourself. Never start without a work contract, for example!
Disclaimer: Do your research. Read reviews for agencies and schools. Check the Better Business Bureau. I haven’t been employed as a nanny for over two decades, so my advice might be out of date. 😉
There are tons of books full of advice on employing nannies and I’ll share my favorite at the end of this post. There are also a bazillion blogs, but these tend to promote certain books, agencies, and educational classes. That’s fine, but if you want a wider, unbiased opinion this is a good place to start. I am by no means a final authority, however.
I graduated from The English Nanny & Governess School a long time ago and I haven’t held down a nanny job since I sprained my back while pregnant with my first very own baby a couple of decades ago. I’ve been married multiple decades and our fourth child should be taller than me by Christmas.
Pearl of Wisdom: Always have back-up childcare. No matter how devoted your nanny, she is not invincible!
I believe I am far enough removed from the profession to have the benefit of hindsight. So I’ll tell you straight up there are three steps you need to take before you do anything else on your search for the perfect nanny for your precious child. I mean, like, right after you discover your little one is on the way.
The 3 First Steps
Step One: Make a realistic assessment of your family’s childcare needs
This may be very difficult. If you’re expecting your first baby, for example, you have no idea if you’ll be able to work out of a home office while the nanny cares for your baby elsewhere in the home. Sounds simple enough and the best of both worlds. In practice, all sorts of things can make it challenging. Once again, this is a great time to seek the counsel of those who’ve gone before you. Ask other parents in various childcare situations how it works for them. Ask what it’s really like.
Step Two: Make a realistic assessment of the childcare options available to your family
Norlanders are widely proclaimed as the best nannies in the entire world. Besides the legalities of bringing one to work in the United States, they also command the highest salaries. What’s the going rate for nannies in your area? A college-educated nanny may be able to teach your child a second language, but so could an au pair. However, a 19 year old French-speaking au pair is unlikely to be any more experienced with children than a 19 year old American babysitter. Do your own homework!
Step Three: Educate yourself and the co-parent on how to be awesome employers
Calling a nanny a babysitter is like calling a neurosurgeon a nurse’s aid. A nurse’s aid is very important and certainly cheaper, but do you really want a medical professional with six months training cutting into your head? You need to learn all about withholding taxes, making sure he or she has something to eat for lunch besides organic baby food, and how to communicate with her so she doesn’t quit before the end of the first week. Being an awesome employer will help you retain a wonderful nanny long-term which is vital to your baby’s emotional well-being. My book recommendation near the end will help.
Making It Work
I know what you’re thinking. “Kimber Li, I’d be an awesome employer and we really do want a real life Nanny of the Sacred Code! But there’s no way we could afford to employ one, even if we walk to work and eat beans every day.”
So I’ve heard. Check out this video on how much nannies can earn nowadays. Six Figure Nannies on CNN Business
The answer is to find a nanny whose salary you can afford and who meets the basic criteria for emotional maturity, nanny ethics, and dedication to the profession.
And then you train her and provide the experience.
Disclaimer: This might not work for you, so be very careful in how you proceed.
- You will need to be pay your nanny regular raises, so that must be factored into your budget.
- Your nanny is free to leave you at any time, even after you’ve invested time and money into her training and education, even with a contract. She is not a slave and she knows it.
- If you have a well-trained and experienced nanny, even a so-called ‘friend’ may *poach* her. This means someone basically bribes your nanny with a higher salary and better benefits. If you haven’t won her loyalty or she’s incapable of loyalty, then you will have to match the salary or lose her.
Note: If you’re blessed with a loyal nanny, please don’t take her for granted! It’s sad that a loyal nanny will be paid less than a greedy one! If you can’t afford to give her a raise, please find other ways to reward her. I always loved how my last employer would brag about me to her friends when I could overhear.
Start your search early and take off as much time from work as you and your partner possibly can to have the nanny work alongside you, gaining the experience she needs. Find special classes for her to take and PAY for her to take them. Sure, CPR and Pediatric First Aid are a given, but there are other classes too. You can ask around and do a web search for classes on child nutrition, defensive driving, and active play for children, for example. Your local library, health center, and community college are good places to start.
And/or you can find a Nanny Mentor. Do you know a fantastic nanny, but she’s already happily employed? Ask if she can mentor your new nanny. Maybe your new nanny can shadow the Nanny Mentor on the job.
I will be blogging to nannies and nanny wannabes about how to become real world Nannies of the Sacred Code. You can follow along to find the best agencies and schools and such too.
You can also check out this book, Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer by Tammy Gold.
This one is my favorite because the author really breaks it down, how to be a great employer, how to make it all work, relationship skills, communicating, and understanding things from the nanny’s point of view.
You’ll need another book for details on the necessary legalities and necessary things for nannies to know. The Nanny Textbook by A.M. Merchant is a really good one, but it’s been decades since I read it. Be sure to get an up-to-date copy or something similar.
The following is a sample of my favorite agencies, organizations, and schools. They may not be suitable for your situation, but you can glean a lot of wisdom from their resources.
Sittercity has great resources and a broad reach.
The International Nanny Association is the mega site for all things nanny, including all about Nanny Mentors.
So what is the Sacred Code?
Do you have a helpful tips to parents starting on their nanny search? Please phrase it in a helpful and encouraging way. Thanks!
If you found this post helpful, please share it.
Best wishes on your search and congratulations are your little darlings! Hope to see you back here again.
Real Nannies of the Sacred Code Career Pathways: Straight Outta High School Like Princess Diana Woman Who Hired Princess Diana as a Nanny