*This book was created in association with the world-famous Norland College.
The biggest stumbling block for American nannies, at least, seems to be a lack of professionalism. This is understandable. There’s a lack of history to back it up. Many Americans still feel weird about having ‘servants,’ like that’s a bad thing.
Sadly, some Americans still feel it’s shameful to work as a household employee. Maybe they equate it with slavery or something, a national embarrassment.
Let’s get over that, okay? With over half of American mothers working outside the home, we need domestic employees! Seriously, no matter how awesome, there are no supermoms. And dads can’t pick up all the slack.
Look at any famous parents you know, whether they’re Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, or Kim Kardashion, and they’ve all had help raising their children. In fact, they’ve probably employed a whole team of nannies, plus cooking, cleaning, and pick-up the dry-cleaning staff. Do you know how to clean and maintain a 500 year old painting? Somebody’s gotta do it. Let’s not forget Personal Assistants! Sure, you know how to run out for a skinny, organic latte, but can you sew on a button popped off a jacket just before the star is about to go collect her Academy Award? Hmmm?
Being a nanny or a housekeeper or a professional cook or a household manager, a groundskeeper, these are all admirable occupations worthy of respect and a competitive salary.
Nannies of the Sacred Code
This is the fourth post in a series. I link to the previous ones at the end of this post. Each one considers at what point a potential nanny might enter the profession and the preparation I recommend. Plus, there’s one for potential employers and this one on professionalism for a total of six posts on the topic.
Disclaimer: This is only my opinion! Each of you is a unique individual with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. You need to do your own homework and figure out what’s best for you.
Also, everything about a nanny applies to a manny. There are even agencies founded specially for them, although I don’t know if they’re exclusive. This beautiful image was found at Pexels.
How to Become a Real Nanny of the Sacred Code
- The Nanny Career Path Straight Out of High School like Princess Diana & Early Childhood Education
- How to Attend a Nanny School Like Princesses Beatrice & Eugenie’s Nanny Did
- How to Switch to a Nanny Career with Online Training
- 4 Ways a Professional Nanny Can Kick It Up Another Notch
What is the Sacred Code?
I created this fictional designation based on the real life practice of friends recommending nannies who’d worked for them and nannies letting their friends know when new jobs were opening up. A hundred years ago in England it was common for noble families to pass around nannies as needed. For example, the nanny who raised Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon also nannied that lady’s daughters, the future Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. Wasn’t the Queen an adorable toddler? (This is a Public Domain image.)
The Code itself is based on three universal human virtues all nannies ought to possess in abundance.
Loyalty, Sincerity, and Compassion
In a nutshell, professionalism is communication. Behaving in a professional manner assures your employer that you’re doing your best, you’re focused on the job, and you’re qualified. As a result, they can rest assured that their children as safe, learning to potential, and loved.
The Nanny Dress Code
I’ll be honest with you, this was my toughest one. What’s the point of dressing up if I’m going to be barfed on? There seems to be two unprofessional nanny types in this category, the fashionista and the slob. I was the slob.
I will now hang my head in shame.
Fashionistas, nannies are not on the job to bring attention to themselves. If long, manicured fingernails and dry-clean only outfits are important to you, this may not be the best career choice.
A good nanny blends into the background so the employer can shine. A good employer shows appreciation for this support.
Check out Westside Nannies YouTube episode on this subject.
I can see the wisdom in having a uniform, especially while in training. It gets the nanny used to dressing neatly and conservatively, a constant reminder that the children are her focus. Check this out- Norland College Uniform.
But, a dress code will suffice. Some employers require and provide uniforms or set the dress code. If not, I suggest you set your own dress code. I’ve found that setting aside clothes just for daily work is sufficient, plain tan pants and camp or polo shirts. Keep extras and aprons at work, if your charges are particularly messy. Style your hair out of your face. For formal events, like attending weddings with your employers and charges, a navy blue skirt or pants, white (not see-through) shirt, and plain black or navy blue shirts are good. Check out what we wore at The English Nanny & Governess School.
Etiquette & Protocol
Also not my strong point. I rarely needed to know which fork to use at dinner, however, since I specialized in babies and toddlers. But, you never know when this will come up and it’s good to be prepared. I suggest taking a class, if you were raised in the boonies like me. Eating dinner like a ravenous wolf pup is generally frowned upon at Buckingham Palace, you know.
You can find many different in-person and online classes for etiquette. Check out this one by Beaumont Etiquette.
This is my all-time favorite baby care book, although single-side breastfeeding really didn’t work for me.
Setting Routines & Maintaining a Daily Log
I was much better at this one. As a mother, in fact, I became extremely good at this, because I actually homeschooled our four children when they were little! I was one of those parents blessed with the choice to stay home when my own offspring were young.
- Set Priorities
- Create & Maintain Daily Care Routines as close to a set time as possible, then factor in an extra half hour and three extra activities for flexibility.
- Draw up a formal routine and post it on a message board or in your nanny daily planner book.
- Record everything the child does and everything that happens in regards to each child every single day, all day long, in at least 15 minute increments.
This is easy once you get in the habit. Check out Organized Home for advice and resources. As I recall Starkey International’s NANNY MANAGER was particularly good. It’s been a couple of decades since I read it, so read the reviews for yourself. Starkey also has other resources for nannies and household managers, like etiquette guides.
This is an issue I didn’t need to deal with back in the day, because most people didn’t have one at all. I certainly didn’t. Nevertheless, you do now. Your online presence can reflect poorly on your on employers and invade their privacy. Everything that affects the employers affects their children and you would never, ever do anything to jeopardize the children’s well-being. I’ll refer you to an agency more up to date on this. Westside Nannies on Social Media Profile
In fact, you really should watch ALL of that agency’s YouTube videos. They’re fantastic.
The Internet has made it extremely easy and even trendy to vent and judge others quite loudly. Books and movies are made criticizing the lives of the rich and famous, some of them by formerly employed and overpaid babysitters. A truly professional nanny would never do this. Ever.
That’s just one of the reasons a Real Nanny of the Sacred Code lands the fabulous jobs that a similarly qualified childcare worker never will.
You absolutely must be kind and completely trustworthy. After all, you never know who might drop in to visit the nursery or what your charge might be when he grows up.
This is my last post, for now, on the topic of nannies. I may revisit it next summer with maybe more on routines and priorities, as these seem to be a real challenge, especially when caring for little ones.
In the meantime, go back and read or reread this series at your leisure- Real Nannies of the Sacred Code.
Next Week: I switch the focus of this blog to Young Adult Fantasy & Historical Fiction, and related subgenres. My Tuesday post will be ‘How to Recover from Book Trend Hangover.’ As a book reviewer, believe me, I am well-qualified to write it!