Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Jo's story: life as a nanny.

Today we have as our guest blogger, Jo, who is one of the consultants at Rogan Family Care.  I had to really twist her arm to get her to write for us, but I'm sure you'll agree she has done an excellent job of  telling her story and reflecting on her life as a nanny. When you read it you will understand how fortunate we are to have her and her wealth of nanny experience as part of our team. 

My name is Jo, and I have been working with children full time since 1997. Originally I wanted to be a child psychologist so that's what I studied at Uni.  In my final year I ran out of funds so, while I looked for a job, I volunteered at an Early Learning Centre.  After a few weeks they offered me a permanent role and I loved it so much I stayed there for three years.  I was very fortunate to work with some amazing teachers. Through their instruction, my previous studies, and professional development, I learnt a lot about children and a whole lot about myself.  

My first real nanny job was after school care for a daughter of one of the parents at the centre. Then, like most nannies, I gained more work through word of mouth recommendations.  I signed up to a few nanny agencies and worked as a temporary nanny and agency centre worker.  I can't recommend enough to people who are new to the childcare industry how important it is to be exposed to a wide variety of centres and in home situations.  You'll see some less than great ones for sure, but what you'll gain from the experiences will give you so much to draw on in your future career.

After a while I settled down and worked for one family at a time again. This is still my favourite type of nanny work.  The bonds you build with the children and parents can last for many years after you stop working with them.  Seeing your hard work pay off when previously 'difficult' children respond to consistency and positive attention and watching 'unconfident' parents become more empowered is really rewarding.  

As many nannies do, I started taking work that included extensive overseas travel. With the years of experience came positions with 'high-profile' families.  Inevitably I encountered my share of 'difficult' clients, which I think is par for the course in this industry.  These more difficult experiences reinforced to me how important job satisfaction really is, and, on a personal note, that money really can't buy happiness. 

Most nannies I know who work for ‘high-profile’ clients are very good at multitasking.  I never really encountered the cliché ‘sit in the cafe and chat’ nannies you sometimes hear about. Helping run a large home, with household staff, travel, purchases, parties, appointments, school applications and basically doing whatever a client wakes up wanting can be a real challenge.  It can also be a hell of a lot of fun.  You meet people and have experiences that most people never will.  I think this is because being a nanny is such an 'inbetween/ambiguous' position in a large household.  You can't hide downstairs with the other staff.  Even though you're an employee you still go where the family goes (and if you have a great boss, you get to go some fabulous places without them as well!)  

I've learnt so much about myself through working with children.  Being exposed to so many different situations, countries, and ways of living definitely changed my life. 

I'd recommend nannying as a profession to anyone wanting a career with children.  If you love children, are open to new experiences, thrive on challenges and routines, and don't feel embarrassed singing Wiggles songs in the supermarket, it could be the career for you. 

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