What it Takes to be a Professional Nanny

What it Takes to Be a Professional Nanny

If you are a nanny, you know that professionalism is important. But, do you know what it takes to be a professional nanny?

To be taken seriously in your profession, you must represent yourself in a professional manner. Now, you might be wondering what that really means. You’re in luck because that is exactly what I plan to share with you.

First let’s get a good definition of “professional nanny”.

A nanny, by definition is an individual who provides care for one or more children in a family as a service.

Professional, defined by Merriam-Webster, is

a :of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession
b :engaged in one of the learned professions
c (1) :characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) :exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

So that would mean, a PROFESSIONAL NANNY is an individual who provides care for one or more children in a family as a service who exhibits a courteous, conscientious, manner and conforms to the ethical standards of said profession.

Now, I know your next question will be, “What are the ethical/professional standards for a nanny?” Lucky for you, we have that information as well. According to the International Nanny Association (INA), Recommended Practices for Nannies, The Role of a Nanny is as follows:

A nanny is responsible for the complete care of the employer’s children.
A nanny’s duties may include:

  • Tending to each child’s basic physical needs
  • Meal planning and preparation for the children
  • Laundering and caring for clothing belonging to the children
  • Organizing play activities and outings
  • Setting behavioral guidelines
  • Providing discipline when appropriate
  • Providing social and intellectual stimulation
  • Providing transportation
  • Housekeeping, when related to the children
  • Traveling with the family.
  • Nannies must also be able to communicate effectively with both the children and their parents. Depending on the individual family, the nanny may be treated as an employee, as a cherished friend or as a member of the family.

Keep in mind, these are the BASIC job duties. Therefore, you may also accommodate the family by helping with light housekeeping for the whole family, meal preparation for the whole family, running family errands like grocery shopping, etc. Your particular job responsibilities will be defined by your family and should be part of your agreement with the family that ultimately hires you. Nannies Who Care provides all of our families with a template Family-Nanny Agreement to be fashioned to properly represent what YOUR specific job duties will entail. It will also outline your rate of pay, days of vacation, sick or holiday pay provided, mileage reimbursement, etc.

Now to address the ethics part. According to Louise Dunham, the principal of Placement Solutions, Melbourne Australia as well as serving on the INA’s Executive Board and the chair of the INA’s Ethics Committee, “Every single person in our nanny industry needs to be absolutely committed to the base principle that no child gets hurt on our watch. That means no corner cutting during recruitment and no getting distracted whilst on the job. It means holding others to account. Always.” It is really that simple.

Professionalism – What Does That Really Mean?

To be a professional nanny, and to be taken seriously as a professional in your field, you must not only provide the aforementioned services to your family, but you must conduct yourself in a professional manner.

What does that mean? Conducting yourself in a professional matter…

Well, let’s dive into now, shall we.

What it Takes to Be a Professional NannyBe on time.

Your employer, the family you work for, counts on you to be punctual. So be on time. Easy-peasy.

Show up for your specified work schedule.

Never miss work unless you have made arrangements with your employer WELL in advance. Of course, emergencies do happen, and if they do, communicate with your employer/family as soon as you are able to ensure they understand your emergency situation. This way, they should have time to contact Nannies Who Care for a back up nanny in the event you are unable to work. Don’t make a happen of calling in with “an emergency” it cheapens you to do so and effectively labels you as UNprofessional. Yuck!

Complete tasks assigned.

Maybe this seems like an obvious thing. But, believe you me, many people get complacent in their jobs and feel as though they do not have to do EVERYTHING that they originally agreed to do. OH BOY, that is the WRONG ATTITUDE. If you agreed to do specific tasks when hired, those are the tasks that you should do. If you are instructed to create a meal, create a meal. If you are instructed to wash all the laundry, wash all the laundry. The job duties you were assigned are what you should be ensuring are completed on a daily basis. No exceptions.

What it Takes to Be a Professional NannyKeep the lines of communication open.

If you are feeling neglected, overworked, underpaid, etc. the family you work for will not know this unless….wait for it….YOU TELL THEM! I know, novel idea. But, if you don’t share how you feel, your employer will not know. Nobody is prewired with ESP. Maybe you feel like it is obvious, but guess what, usually, it is NOT!

What you don’t want to do is keep your feelings inside. All this does is allow the grievances time to fester and become a MUCH bigger issue. Instead, set up a specific time with your employer(s) to discuss the issues you are facing to deal with them like an adult…like a professional! Trust me, your family will respect you for taking this step. Chances are they will have a few things to discuss, as well.

What it Takes to Be a Professional NannyContinue your education.

Nannies Who Care offers various training opportunities throughout the year. To find out what opportunities are currently being offered, visit our Facebook page or call us at 727.784.8868.

In addition, you might consider training provided by other reputable agencies such as the INA. Attending classes to further your knowledge is not only important, but it will resonate with your family. It shows that you are dedicated to your profession. Oftentimes, your employer will even pay for your training! It never hurts to ask.

What it Takes to Be a Professional NannyGet creative!

Make sure that you are providing for the physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs of the children in your care by using developmentally appropriate play/learning activities, materials and equipment. You can promote socialization in young children by providing opportunities for children to interact with their peers through play groups, outings, and age appropriate group activities.

Be your charges advocate.

All nannies should be familiar with the signs of child abuse and neglect, and should be knowledgeable in the procedures for reporting these signs. Nannies are court mandated reporters and have a professional and ethical obligation to report suspected abuse of any child to the proper authorities. Nannies should actively promote the optimal development of a child in their care.

Treat each child as the unique and special gift that they are.

Understand that each child in your care is a unique individual. You should strive to create an environment that fosters each child’s self esteem and independence. Provide structure and developmentally appropriate behavior management techniques and you will build trusting relationships with the children in your care.

What it Takes to Be a Professional Nanny

Ensure your charges environment is safe and healthy.

You should partner with your employer to create a safe environment for the children to learn, play and explore. Consider discussing appropriate childproofing options, if necessary – i.e. baby gates for staircases.

What it takes to be a professional nannyBe present.

Put down the cell phones, nannies. Your sole responsibility is to keep the charges in your care safe and you cannot effectively monitor a child or children while Snapchatting or Instgramming. Put the phone away and only use it when there is an emergency OR if your employer is contacting you. Otherwise, you don’t need it – put it away.

You can do it!

If you follow these guidelines, you will not only be viewed as a professional nanny, you will increase your chances of maintaining a long-term commitment with your family. Being a professional nanny is not for the faint of heart, but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Give your role as a professional nanny the 100% attention it deserves and you will be better for it.

Thank you for stopping by. Come back again.

sheryl-head-shotSheryl Sheppard
Marketing & Placement Specialist
Nannies Who Care

Sheryl is a proud mother of two boys, both of which are soccer players (yup, a true soccer mom). She has been happily married for 17+ years. When Sheryl isn’t writing blog posts, scheduling nannies, or marketing for Nannies Who Care, she is either driving to some remote soccer field or packing healthy lunches.


International Nanny Association

Merriam Webster






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