Nanny of Oz

An internationally experienced nanny & consultant

being a nanny

Just to be clear, I’m writing this from my perspective – as a nanny. I’ve never officially worked in a childcare centre. I totally understand that many educators love working in centres and that there are some positives to it. But for me, when I consider the differences between being a nanny and working in a centre, nannying is the clear winner. Let me tell you why…

Choice
When job-searching as a nanny, I get to choose the families I work with. Not only does this allow me to choose the location I work in, the hours I do, and the duties I take on but it allows me to choose to work with particular families. So many factors go into the choice, but usually I will love the age or stage of the children, feel like my skills will be particularly valuable to a family’s circumstances, and/or connect with the parents when it comes to caregiving philosophy or lifestyle.

Every nanny and family is unique, and the wonderful thing about working together directly is being able to find the right fit – to match or complement you. When I’ve chosen a role that I love, it makes the time I spend at work enjoyable and satisfying.

One-on-one care
Being a nanny allows me to typically work with one family at a time – one set of siblings or even a solo child. I truly adore the strong and close connections I’ve been able to form quickly with children while being a nanny. Nannies don’t have to juggle the needs of a large group of children, so in my experience it’s easy to create tailored routines and activities that result in positive outcomes for the children and our relationship. 

Working in a home environment might be weird at first, but once I settle into a household I become really comfortable and it truly is such a uniquely personal job. I get to know the parents really well when I work in their home, which contributes to the children’s consistency of care and to building a great environment for us all. 

Less paperwork
My nanny hours are spent specifically on time with the children and doing tasks that actively support the family. I don’t spend a lot of time reporting on what I’ve done or ensuring that I’ve checked off certain boxes guided by generic regulations. The parents and I are able to decide together what the priorities are and they usually revolve around what is best for their particular children. 

It’s important for nannies to keep parents informed on the things that are important (and fun) for them to know, but a lot of the paperwork that educators in childcare centres get bogged down with is unnecessary when it comes to being a nanny.  We instead get to focus on what the family actually needs.

Flexibility
The choices don’t end once I find a job. Being a nanny means my days are varied and I have a lot of flexibility in what we do. Depending on the role and the children’s needs and preferences (and putting aside the Covid complications), my nanny weeks usually involve things like visiting playgrounds, libraries, and cafes. We get to choose the right balance for us between being indoors and outdoors, restful moments and plenty of active opportunities. 

There’s usually time for bigger adventures too – visiting the zoo, a performance, or a museum are all very standard ways to spend some of my work hours! The children and I can choose to set the right mood by nominating times to listen to music, meet up with friends to socialise, and have quieter moments together.

Safety
I need to also address the impact of Covid-19 on nanny life, since it’s been a big shift for the world in many ways. Nanny care can be a safer option for us as nannies and for the families we work with, because there is usually a lower risk of exposure with less households involved. We have more control over who we see and what we do, and usually know each other so well that we are able to communicate openly about our risks and comfort level. 

In Australia we’ve also seen a massive increase in families wanting nannies over the past few years, so there’s never been a better time to consider being a nanny. With nannies in such high demand there are so many jobs to choose from that every great nanny (or wannabe nanny!) can find something that works well for them.

Have you considered being a nanny? What are you waiting for??

melbourne nanny wage

Hello! I've created a Melbourne Nanny Wage Calculator!

Long time, no write, I know – it’s been a busy few months! Late last year I decided to create a calculator to guide nannies and families on industry standard wages. I’ve finally gotten it up and available for those in the local industry to try out to get an idea of an appropriate Melbourne nanny wage. (It’s probably quite suitable for other places in Australia too, though each local industry standards do vary slightly – maybe add a dollar or so for Sydney and minus a dollar for other regions?)

My initial inspiration to make this calculator came from Rainey from Oh So Simply, who offers a nanny rate calculator designed for American nannies for her subscribers. The rates and variations reflected in my calculations are a guide only, and not to be used as financial or legal advice. They are based on local industry standards and my knowledge of the nanny industry. As with many things in the nanny world – every situation is unique. Rates also vary depending on many factors including the candidate and the family. Nannies in Australia typically fall under the Miscellaneous Award for minimum wage and conditions.

I welcome feedback from people who use the calculator, particularly on how it compares to their Melbourne nanny wage, and will take it into account with any expansions or adjustments I make in the future.

Click here to check it out!

 

video interviews

Video interviews are here to stay for nannies!

As a nanny, I’ve done a handful of video interviews. Pre-Covid this was usually for positions where the job or the employer were in another state or country. In the past year though, I’ve done over 100 video interviews with nannies in my role as Recruitment Manager for Nanager. Most candidates are perfectly fine in terms of how they present on video, a few are outstanding, and some are a disaster! This isn’t necessarily a reflection of their ability as a nanny, or even their ability to communicate or interview in person. I’m really tolerant and understanding about how awkward the situation can be. But it can impact on the nanny’s success with agencies or families. 

Unfortunately, video interviews are going to remain a part of our world due to the convenience they offer, as well as the safety they provide in times of social distancing. So how can nannies work with the format so the video interviews don’t work against them? Here are a few of my simplest tips that everyone can implement with a bit of preparation and consideration.

1. Avoid any known connection issues.

It’s impossible to predict exactly how steady a connection will be at any given time! However, you might know places in your home where the internet performs better or worse. Plan to do the interview in your best location. If your internet connection isn’t great, consider whether using mobile data will be a better option. 

Even with a good connection, sound can sometimes be an issue. Try to have earphones on hand to pop in if the audio is a little garbled. Sometimes that’s an easy magic fix that’s needed.

2. Sort out your set up.

Ideally, you want to have a place to put your phone or computer so that it is steady and in an optimal position without you having to hold it. you don’t have to have professional tools set up to make it work – just look at my makeshift laptop stand in my ‘home office’ (living room)! (Before this, I propped my phone on a few boxes and held it steady with Blu-Tak. Whatever works!) If using a separate camera device, try to place it somewhere that allows you to look at the screen and camera in the same general direction.

In video interviews the technology can be a distraction, so you want to do all you can to minimise having to think about it. We want to mimic the ease of speaking in person as much as possible. In terms of what the camera is facing – make do with your best option, but try to set it up in a neutral, clean space (try not to participate from your bed!).

3. Consider the lighting.

This is often something people don’t even consider, but it makes a huge difference to me. I’ve had interviews (both with nannies and with agencies!) where the other person was in such darkness that I could barely see them, and others where there was an intrusive pattern of bright light (sunlight through blinds, for example) that limited my view just as badly. The ideal is to have the lights on in your interview room and (if daytime) have natural light coming in without interference as well. Try to make sure any lighting isn’t making your glass too reflective either, if you wear them.

It might sound complicated, but it’s usually not too hard – it’s easy to test out what it looks like with your phone’s selfie camera. 

4. Present yourself appropriately.

Just like you shouldn’t do video interviews from bed, you also shouldn’t do them in pyjamas! That’s an extreme, but present yourself as though you were attending the interview in person. You’re in the comfort of your own home but it is still an interview. 

Of course, it’s a nanny interview, so there’s no need for formal attire, but make sure you look neat and presentable as well as natural.

5. Be prepared, be ready, and nail your video interviews.

Once you’ve sorted out the key points above, video interviews shouldn’t feel so daunting. Make sure you also know how to access the app/platform you need for the video interview, and ask someone for help beforehand if you need it. Be ready and in place for your interview a few minutes early, just like you should be when arriving for an in-person interview. If nothing else, it should allow you to take a few breaths and prepare. 

During the interview, try to forget about the fact you’re communicating through a screen and focus on getting to know the other person. Be friendly, be professional, be interested, and most importantly – be yourself!

 

nanny references

Nanny references are a key part of presenting a picture to families of what you can offer when searching for a nanny job. They ideally come in two forms – written letters of recommendation, and contactable referees who can speak to a prospective employer on the phone. Everyone provides nanny references differently, but this blog post covers what I think is the ideal way for nannies to navigate each of the two forms of references.

Written Letters of Recommendation

I absolutely ADORE my reference letters. (I’ve even pulled some of my testimonials from them, including one dating back to the early 2000s!) I feel like they each present a unique perspective to the type of service I provided and relationship I had with each family. In order to make the best use of these documents, I suggest the following steps:

  1. Ask employers for a letter of recommendation. This might be towards the end of a position, but I also suggest a clause in your work agreement asking for a letter to be provided at the end of each year of employment. I’ve heard of many situations where a nanny/family relationship sours, and sometimes parents who are upset or angry that a nanny is leaving are not willing to provide an appropriate reference.
  1. Send a few letters of recommendation (without contact details) with your application. Along with your cover letter and resume, these documents provide a picture of what you are like as a nanny and person. I like to choose letters from families that have similar ages or needs to the family I am applying to work for.

Referee Contact Information

As much as it can feel like a nuisance to allow people to call your old employers, it’s important for nanny references to be verified verbally. The question is, when is it appropriate for the references to be contacted, and how often? Most happy past employers say they are willing to be contacted whenever needed, but as nannies we often don’t want to impose on them too much. So:

  1. Contact information should not be included in the resume that you send when you apply for jobs. (‘References available on request’ is the standard and acceptable thing to include there!) I only want people calling my nanny references after I have met them and am sure I am interested in a role. Usually these days I email my contact list of referees after the interview, along with a message about enjoying our meeting. You could also hand out the contact list on paper at the interview.
  1. If (when) families expect me to provide contact information for nanny references before an interview, I explain to them that my former employer’s time and privacy is important and I only provide their information at a later stage.
  1. Agencies will typically need to speak to references before you meet with a family. as part of the vetting process, so I am happy to do so after I have interviewed with the agency and am interested in a role through them. Some parents might still want to speak to your past employers themselves after that… While it can feel like a nuisance, I do understand it’s an important step that can help parents make the decision to hire you. Sometimes for parents there is nothing like speaking to a fellow parent and hearing how you impacted their lives as a nanny!

If you haven’t already been doing so, I think it’s a great idea for all nannies to ask employers for letters of recommendation. I’ve found them to be really helpful when applying directly to parents. Some parents are busy and might ask you to write your own for them to sign… Don’t. I really feel that nanny references are too personal for that, and I personally I notice when nanny references all read in a similar tone.

If your employers (or past employers) aren’t eager to spend the time writing one, let them know that you would appreciate it to stand out in your job search, and you hope it will reduce the need for people to want to contact them too often. It will benefit them in the long run.

Happy reference gathering!

 

nanny gifts

Nanny gifts are important because a nanny who feels appreciated is a nanny who will work hard!

Happy December! It’s the time of year when family and nanny gifts are somewhere on the long list of things we need to think about. It can be an overwhelming time of year, but hopefully also full of magic and fun! – schedules, responsibilities, and of course presents. Nanny jobs are unique in that they are not only a work relationship, but a very personal one as well. It can be tricky to know what to do in terms of gifting. But it also means that nanny gifts can be uniquely special!

It does depend somewhat on the relationship – how long the nanny has worked with the family, how close they are with the parents (sometimes through no fault of anyone, a nanny is very close with the children but doesn’t spend much time with the parents), and how many days a week the nanny works. It also depends on financial abilities.

Personally, I think it is always appropriate for a nanny to give the children at least a small present, and for the parents to make sure that the nanny gets a present from the family (even if it is something small just ‘from the children’). Heartfelt cards are also always appreciated and really lovely to exchange. If you have a close relationship and/or know each other well and can afford it, more elaborate family/nanny gifts might be exchanged. The more personal a present is, the better it will be received, but here are some ideas for nannies and for families to get you thinking.

Ideas for Nanny Gifts

1. Something related to their interests. This is really vague, but nanny gifts can show that an employer really pays attention to what their nanny says and does. I feel so seen and special when an employer notices something about me and chooses a present that fits in with my interests. This special something might be a coffee gift card, a household appliance that the nanny appreciates using in your home, or a voucher for an activity they enjoy. Hot tip – ask the children! All of my nanny kids, from probably age 2, would be able to answer the question of “what does Manda like?” with a range of relevant things!

2. Extra paid time off. Particularly if you have more downtime during the holiday season, consider giving the nanny some bonus free time. This could be anything from a half day to a week, and you could combine it with treating the nanny to a special activity they could do during time they’d usually be at work. Nanny gifts to tie in might be a spa treatment, or if you have friends who employ their nanny friend you could get together to surprise them with an adults-only high tea. (Give them some heads up about the need for whatever clothing or preparation they’ll need, even if the main event is a surprise!)

3. Cash bonus. Usually I agree with the idea of tying a bonus to the ‘Nanniversary’ (the completion of each year of employment) rather than to the holidays, but 2020 has been a strange year. If you have required your nanny to adjust their schedule, responsibilities, or ways of doing their job this year and are in a position to give them a bonus, that could be a really wonderful way of thanking them for their service, flexibility, and support. So many nannies have stepped up in unexpected ways and dealt with challenging changes this year, so a monetary bonus coupled with that heartfelt card I mentioned earlier…. What a treat!

Ideas for Family Gifts

1. A photo calendar. This is one way that nanny gifts to parents can be uniquely special and intimate. I take soooo many photos of the children I work with! One great way to share those with the family is to give them a calendar with images you’ve taken of their children’s experiences over the past year. There are several companies where you can design them and have them printed. Takes a bit of planning, but it’s reasonably cost-effective, useful, and very personal. If (or when) you have too many photos to choose from, you might want to create photo books as well!

2. A voucher for an experience they can do as a family. Maybe you often take your nanny kids to the zoo, but the family doesn’t tend to go together, you might want to provide the incentive. Some other ideas are mini golf, an upcoming concert or show, a special animal experience, or an art workshop.

3. Free babysitting. It can be tricky or even awkward to purchase something for parents who pay our wages. But as nannies we can provide the invaluable service of childcare! Offering an evening of your time as a gift for a family can be a way of giving parents something they will appreciate at a low personal cost.

Whatever you decide to arrange for family or nanny gifts this holiday season, I hope it brings joy to both the giver and the receiver! I still have Christmas cards that were given to me by families I worked with 20 years ago!

There’s certain things a lot of people think must just be a given if you’re a nanny. But we’re all unique and have different interests and strengths! I decided it was time to ‘own up’ about some of these that just don’t apply to me.

Loves to bake? Doesn’t happen often.

Ah, that nurturing scent of freshly baked muffins, and the joys of mixing and icing cookies with children… It’s just not something I tend to do often. I think I’ve baked maybe 15 times in the past 8 years. (That’s how rare it is – I can remember specific instances!) I guess I don’t think of it as an activity and only really do it if there is a special occasion or purpose for it. I much prefer cooking (savory meals).

Baking is something I can do (and I’ve had the chance to do a little more during my current time away from nannying during the pandemic), but I wouldn’t call it a natural skill. I’m not a big fan of sweets, and I live alone so I wouldn’t often think of baking things for myself. The children I care for typically don’t need regular baked goods either. Baking together is a great activity, but for me, it’s a sometimes activity. I do love to make treats for teachers and visitors when the occasion comes up though!

Artsy Craftsy? Not so muchy.

Whether coaching the kids through intricate creations from Pinterest (which I actually don’t use…) or letting them put together their own creations (no matter how much mess it makes or how many resources they use), many nannies have a knack for crafting. It’s never been something I’ve gravitated towards, and only has a large focus in my work if the children show a particular interest. The mess and clutter of using tons of resources honestly made me cringe when I helped out in one of my nanny children’s kindergarten classes!. 

For the occasional birthday or holiday I’ve helped children make things for their parents or teachers. Once a 2 year old decided his mother would like a pop-up snake birthday card, so we made it happen! I have always given opportunities for children to explore arts and crafts of their own ideas. But there are no daily or weekly creations showing up from their time with me. I’m much more likely to have them drawing in the sand or dirt, or creating a pattern with leaves, rocks, and flowers.

Adores babies? Give me a toddler.

This is something that nannies are actually somewhat divided on. Not every nanny is a ‘baby nanny’, and I certainly don’t identify as one. When I was starting out as a babysitter, I never had the opportunity to work with babies, and it wasn’t something I pursued later. Sure, there have been babies that I’ve enjoyed spending time with – baby siblings of former nanny kids, and babies of other people I love – but I’ve never had a passion for taking a full-time ongoing nanny position starting with a baby. 

On the other hand, I LOVE toddlers.. Which is a feeling a lot of nannies and parents don’t share with me. Really, once they start talking (or just before) and walking is when I’m in my element. I feel like my strengths lie in caring for toddlers and preschoolers, rather than meeting the needs of young babies. Also, everyone is familiar with baby sleep experts, which is not me, but I have been really successful at promoting great sleep habits and routines in that 15mo-4yo age range.

At-home purpose-made resources? I’d rather be out adventuring

I’m on Instagram. I see so many of the intricate activities and resources and plans caregivers have put together for young children. They make me feel inspired and a little envious, but it’s not actually something I tend to want to do. I’m quite the minimalist, and as much as I love some of the learning tools people make, I’m an advocate for learning through natural resources, play, and daily life. Sensory kits are amazing, but they use so many materials. Sorting coloured shapes into bowls is great, but we don’t need something purpose-built for that.

I prefer going to the playground, to the beach. Exploring the natural world and local community, and travelling (when we can!) to learn about objects and environments. Counting pushes on a swing, singing about the colours that we see, feeling the textures of the trees. Interacting with people we meet at the park, schedule playdates with, or encounter in a business. I don’t love staying in the house all day, but when we need to there are existing household items that can facilitate learning and spark a sense of fun. Finding matching socks in the laundry basket is a fun one! So while I have to admit I sometimes have fantasies about having themes of the week or a ton of specific resources, when it comes down to it that’s just not my style. And that’s ok.

Deciding how to go about finding a nanny requires parents to strike their own right balance between time, effort, and cost. Using an agency will typically be a more expensive way of searching, but will mean there are professionals to take the lead. These professionals will spend the time and effort needed to present only the most suitable nannies to a family for consideration. Searching for a nanny without an agency will save money, but will require parents to put in more effort. This can absolutely be worth it though.

My perspective as a nanny

As a nanny, I have sometimes used agencies (especially for a lot of my temp work, as they can find me the jobs and ensure that the working arrangement is legal). But the majority of my roles have been found using online sites or word of mouth. Interviews and negotiations for these positions have then been directly with the families, which I’ve really liked.

When parents create their own job ad, this typically gives it a more personal touch. The content and way it is written give hints about the family beyond the basics. A family’s personality tends to shine through, showing me their values and priorities. Likewise, my response to these ads is usually more personal and tailored to the family. One of the most important things for me is finding the right fit. Having complementary personalities, shared values, and a role where I am able to meet the needs of the children. These are some of the most important things I look for when starting a new job.

My thoughts for parents

A benefit of seeing the full spectrum of interested nanny applicants, is that you will continue to refine what you are and are not wanting in a nanny. You’ll discover ways to express your needs and values more clearly. This might lead to adjusting your ad and/or what you say to applicants throughout the screening process. These adjustments will bring you closer to your ultimate goal of finding a nanny who is a wonderful fit with your family. One who can meet your needs, and who can bring the energy and skills needed in the role.

Many nannies (including myself) are registered with several agencies, in addition to searching for work in other ways. But if a job ad is posted by an agency that a nanny is not already registered with, it can be a deterrent to need to go through the agency’s registration process before speaking with a family… even if the ad sounds promising. By advertising directly to nannies, this removes the possibility you might miss those candidates. You may also reach a different group of nannies by advertising on platforms than agencies do not use.

The bottom line

Finding a nanny definitely takes work. By eliminating the ‘middleman’, you will need to field all the applications you get from nannies in response to your ad. But, once you hear from a promising applicant, you can move forward right away by reaching out to them. Things can move more quickly this way. By putting in the time and effort to advertise and screen the nannies, rather than using an agency, you could also save money on a lot of the extra costs associated with finding a nanny. This could mean your overall spending is less. And/or it may mean you are able to offer a top quality nanny a higher rate. 

What can parents do

Luckily for parents, Lauren at Nanager has come up with Find Your Own Nanny. This means parents now have options. As a parent, you can decide how you want to go about your nanny search (and how much you want to spend). Would you prefer to do more of the work yourself and spend significantly less money to find your nanny? Find Your Own Nanny guides parents through the steps of advertising for, interviewing, and hiring a nanny. Aside from giving you step-by-step guidance, Lauren at Nanager is also available if you need extra help along the way. Having access to professional guidance, but putting in the effort to have more autonomy in your own search, could just be the right balance you’ve been looking for.

I’ve worked as a nanny in several places and have seen that the industry norms vary depending on the location. One area of difference is the typical process of how a nanny and family choose one another. In some areas, after interviewing and any reference/background checks, one nanny is offered the role, accepts the role, and starts working with the family. In other areas, families will ask one or more nannies to work ‘trial shifts’ where they spend a day or more working before the family decides whether to offer them the job.

The idea behind doing trial days (as I understand it) is to test out whether the nanny and family are a good match for one another, whether the nanny is capable of and happy to do the job, and possibly to compare the work of one nanny with another. I can see why people think this is a sensible step, and acknowledge it could be helpful in certain circumstances… After all, it’s only when nannies and families work together for a while that they’ll see how things will go. Trial shifts, in theory, allow more time together than just an interview.

But you know what I think? I think trialling/testing out a nanny before offering them the job is an awful idea!! In my experience, trial days rarely give much indication of what a typical working relationship would be like. Most of these that I did, I left hating the experience, and I never felt like I made a quality impression. A day where a nanny is on trial is not a day like any other. The pressure the nanny can feel, the fact that everything is new – not only the tasks and environment, but the relationships, the way parents can feel torn between enticing the nanny with unrealistic displays or testing the nanny by throwing them into the deep end to see how they’ll cope… it can be a recipe for disaster! It could end up being a real trial by fire that leaves one or both parties feeling burned.

It’s really important for children to spend time getting to know their new nanny, but as an experienced nanny, I’ll tell you – I never expect much from children when I first meet them, especially if their parents or other caregivers are around. I assume that if a young child has a choice between their known and trusted caregiver and a stranger, they’re going to go with the known person for the big things. When they do transition to a new nanny, it can take some time to build the connection and routine to help them feel comfortable. I do not see the benefit in forcing or rushing this, and prefer to move at the child’s pace. Having a potential new nanny (or multiple nannies!) come in, whether the child understands why they are there or not, can be disruptive for the children and can cause unnecessary stress on them and the nanny. 

Children are also unpredictable, and all sorts of things can impact their mood and actions. It could be something completely unrelated to the visiting nanny that determines whether a child is happy and settled, or whether they are cranky and acting out. Seeing how the nanny deals with a child who is struggling could be a good thing to see, but again since the visiting nanny hasn’t established a relationship with the child, I don’t think it’s a great indication of the nanny’s skills or ability to respond appropriately to a child.

When it comes to the parents and the nanny, let’s assume they want to make a good impression on one another. Parents might be tempted to make the home tidier than usual, or have meals set up and ready to go, or alter the routine of what they typically do during the day. Nannies might go into a day of work with top level energy (especially if they haven’t been working every day), or go overboard with activities and resources brought from home, or be so eager to please that they say yes to everything. What happens if that nanny is then hired for the role and everyone learns that the way they presented on the trial day is not the everyday reality? You might say that’s to be expected, but then I’m not sure I see the point of having that trial day as a way of testing things out.

So what do I think people should do instead of trials? Should they just interview a nanny, choose a nanny, and have them sign a contract to start while hoping for the best? Not exactly… I believe in a substantial interview process (which might be one or more interviews, at least one where the nanny meets the children) where parents and nannies discuss everything from experience to personalities, daily duties to childcare philosophies. Then I think speaking to the references (and reading letters of recommendation) can be more effective than a trial day for finding out a lot of things. Is the nanny reliable, caring, trustworthy, helpful? Do they respond appropriately to the children, do they plan and facilitate activities, do they form positive relationships with the children and the parents? Parents can even provide their potential new nanny with a previous employee’s details to speak as a family reference. After this, then working out a formal job offer and work agreement, I think it’s appropriate to begin working together. 

As a nanny who values the joy I have in my work, I’d hate to feel trapped in a role that didn’t turn out to be the right fit, so I recommend having a ‘probationary period’ where there is little or no notice needed for either party to decide it’s not working out. Depending on the job, for me the timeframes have ranged from 0-7 days notice for the first 1-3 months of the job (usually we know within a week or so). Doing this, you have your trial with a low risk period and an ‘easy out’, but without the pressure and disruption of testing each other before deciding whether to work together. A nanny working in a family’s home is such a personal situation, that the initial process of getting to know one another should aim to be thorough enough so you feel comfortable moving into a work agreement. The nitty gritty details of whether a nanny can perform the duties and whether the expectations of a family are suitable? That can all generally be determined before working together. Whether it’s the right personality fit for spending all that time together, and whether you’re able to work together to meet everyone’s needs? That is something that will more likely be confirmed after a few weeks rather than a day or two.

Oh wow.. Has it been a week!

The Melbourne nanny community has been on a wild ride of changing information and adjustments since Stage 4 Restrictions were announced (in an attempt to get a handle on the coronavirus outbreak that has exploded like nowhere else in the country). The nanny industry is a small industry in Australia, and we tend to not be given a voice when it comes to regulations made by authorities. The dilemmas we face in our small industry turned into a growing issue on Sunday when many parents realised that they would not be allowed to send their children to childcare centres under the new rules. Childcare is only available for ‘permitted workers’, which left a lot of parents scrambling.

Parents began advertising and reaching out to people in the community to try to get nannies to replace centre care. Personally, I immediately felt uncomfortable about this. Okay, I began to panic. After all, I have been advocating since March for nannies to limit their work to just one household! Ads began popping up for “someone to watch my children for 3 hours, 3 days a week while I work from home” and “a babysitter to watch my child once a week, so I can get things done around the house, because she won’t be able to attend childcare”. This sounded like a recipe for disaster, which was confirmed with the number of caregivers advertising that they were available to help other families on days they weren’t already working.

HELP!?!

I truly understand that parents need help. Under normal circumstances I’m an advocate for nannies because we can provide so much to a family, whether parents are in an office all day, travelling, or just need an extra pair of hands to help them out. As a nanny I proudly support people’s physical and mental wellbeing by providing care. But let me state the obvious: These Are Not Normal Circumstances. We are in really challenging times, and I trust the authorities who say that we need to drastically reduce the number of people moving throughout the community, and the number of physical contacts people have, in order to get this outbreak under better control. I’ve got my eye on the future, that we’ll be rewarded with after the devastating effort we’re about to put in.

It has taken several days for information specific to nannies to be released by the State Government. Those days were filled with speculation and misinformation spread by media, local MPs, agencies, nannies, and parents. I’d still appreciate clearer, more specific rules. At ‘the moment of printing’, the most recent official statement I have found is the Permitted Worker Scheme page of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website, which was updated today. My summary of the information under the Childcare Permit heading is that in-home childcare is only allowed for permitted workers, who already have existing arrangements in place with an in-home care provider, when no other adult living in the household is capable of providing care. In addition to this (as has been made clear about childcare in general), vulnerable people are also eligible to receive care. This eases my mind about the virus’ spreading potential if so many people try to get nannies to work when they are not allowed to access centre care.

It’s not perfect. This is going to be an incredibly tough 6 weeks for many families and nannies. Nannies may struggle financially if parents do not pay them during this time at home, and they may need to reach out to unemployment services. Parents working at home in ‘non-permitted’ roles will have to find a balance between caring for their children and getting work done. I truly hope employers are understanding of this and provide their employees with flexibility. We have to take care of one another. Many children will need to learn how to play independently, take more responsibility for their own school work, and will miss their normal routines and caregivers. My hope is that Melbourne (and wider Victoria) will put in the effort to make this period of restriction succeed so that we can move forward into a less restricted new normal.

My personal pleas to nannies and families? Follow the rules, as a bare minimum. Don’t look for loopholes to try to get around those rules. The rules are there for a reason, and unfortunately that’s not to make anyone’s life easy during this time. Aim to do things that cause the least potential risk to yourself and the community. Please, if at all possible, limit nanny work to just one household. Consider the approach New Zealand took during their successful lockdown – think of the nanny’s home and one family’s home as a bubble that is as small as possible in order to protect people. Follow public health and hygiene recommendations as. best you can – hand washing, masks, distancing. Behave as though you have the virus, and take precautions to avoid spreading it.

Use resources that are available to you – apply for unemployment benefits to get you through, communicate with others to find a solution to your needs, reach out for support when you need it from family, friends, your community, and professionals. Call the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline if you need information or help (1800 675 398). I’m also here for those who need help with ways to communicate within their work arrangement, sourcing information, or any other support I can provide (from a distance!).

Stay safe, stay home, and THANK YOU to those who can do that and also to those who are providing essential services that don’t allow you to completely isolate yourself.

What if the first impression you make, when applying for a nanny role, is with an outstanding resume and a thoughtfully written message about why you’re right for the job?

To make nannying a successful career, it not only matters how you interact with children, but how you sell yourself in order to get the interview. Being a nanny doesn’t usually involve a high standard of written work. But applying for a job with a CV/resume that has grammatical errors or is poorly formatted can be off-putting. If your resume doesn’t accurately show your experience and qualifications with an appropriate amount of detail, it can really do you a disservice. Also harmful is when your written communication expressing interest in a job is unprofessional or inappropriate.

Parents and agencies (and that friend of a friend who is advertising a job) notice these things. Putting some effort into your choice of words can really make a difference when it comes to standing out amongst your competition. Whether you are a keen babysitter who is interested in taking on more substantial nanny work, a qualified child care educator looking to transition to working in homes, or a career nanny who has been working in the industry for ages, I think everyone can benefit from spending a little time or money on creating or refreshing their resume.

I’ve written a post for Nanager that provides some basic advice on what to think about when applying to work with a family or agency. The CV/resume, cover letter, and initial communication is what will get you in the door. No great caregiver should be missing out on being a top candidate for a nanny job because they didn’t present well on paper. Please get in touch if you’d like to chat about your needs and ways I can provide more specific help.

You can read my post here on Nanager’s website.

You can reach me by email at thenannyofoz@gmail.com.

Happy job hunting!