When looking for a nanny position, it’s always nice to have your pick of a few different options. But in order to have families vying for your services you need to prove that you have the sought-after nanny skills they're seeking. Just like Mary Poppins and her magical bag of tricks, you’ll want to have plenty of tools in your arsenal.
We connected with seasoned nannies and the families who employ them to help us identify the nanny skills and abilities that are most desirable. These talents go above and beyond the traditional nanny duties, so possessing them will help you stand out among the sea of candidates.
9 nanny skills that will impress parents
1. Creating captivating activities
“There is such a big difference between a nanny who doesn't do any activities with the children and one who actively engages children in various activities,” says nanny Melissa Martz.
More than just caring for the well-being and safety of their kids, parents want to know that you can generate appealing activities for rainy days, “I’m bored” moments and summer breaks. Parents want to be confident that the time you’re spending with their children is both enjoyable and engaging, according to Martz.
2. Asking good questions
Anyone can answer questions, but a great nanny asks thought-provoking questions as well. Summer Blackhurst works with Go Au Pair, an au pair placement agency, and she frequently speaks with families seeking nannies. She urges nannies to ask genuine questions during the hiring process to ensure it’s a great fit for both parties involved.
“Parents measure communication not only by the quality of a nannies response to their questions, but also by the type of questions nannies ask the parents,” Blackhurst says. She says it’s important to dig deeper than just compensation and hours. Asking about the children and family values will show parents you are invested in this experience.
3. Bringing creativity into the mundane
Nannies who invite creativity into every aspect of the day are more likely to stick out to parents on the hunt, says Martz. She points out that even ordinary parts of the day – meal time, clean up or getting dressed – can be made fun with a little imagination. Parents will appreciate seeing how their children enthusiastic during their everyday routines.
4. Standing your ground
"Nannies need to stand on their own two feet when dealing with conflict."
"Nannies need to stand on their own two feet when dealing with conflict,” says Blackhurst. She says this demonstrates the level of maturity that parents are looking for when they hire a nanny. Being sweet and empathetic doesn’t have to equate to being a total pushover. Parents don’t want their children learning that adults can be manipulated by whining or that they will unwind in times of crisis.
5. Facilitating (not dominating) conflict resolution
Conflict is inevitable when you’re caring for children – especially if there is more than one. As the adult in charge, it’s easy to jump right in and squash an argument, but there are more productive ways of handling these situations. Instead, simply help facilitate the conversation until the issue is resolved. Parents will appreciate that you’re not only diffusing the situation at hand, but helping avoid a similar one in the future.
6. Lifelong learning
In any work environment, managers love to see their employees take time to improve themselves through outside research and education. Parents are no different – they love to see a nanny who is hungry to learn and develop as a childcare professional.
Ariella Rogge has employed nannies for her children for seven consecutive summers and finds this attribute extremely attractive. She looks for candidates who have an “intrinsic desire to improve on and enrich his/her ‘toolbox’ of child development skills through personal research, conversations with other parents and actual experience.”
7. An ability to relate
You may think it’s enough to simply love being around kids, but if you can’t relate to them (or their parents for that matter) you may struggle. Rogge cites an ability to relate to both her children and herself as one of the most valuable nanny skills she sought when hiring.
Show that you care about the lives of the family by asking questions. Dig into their interests and be willing to share about yourself as well. Establishing a personal connection to compliment your professional connection will like make you more desirable to a family.
8. An ability to advocate for family values & structure
Everyone has their own personal values and lifestyle, but parents need to know you can adapt to their way of life in order to maintain stability for their children. Showing them that you’re willing to support their family values and the structure they’ve established. Rogge says it was important for her to find a nanny who could align with her family’s needs, their structure and beliefs.
9. Educated understanding of child development
"Parents want someone who can contribute to their children's character & development."
Both parents and nannies reveal that knowledge of early childhood education (ECE) is an important factor in setting yourself apart from others. Experience is great for hands-on learning, but a formal education in ECE affords you the social and psychological knowledge of how and when children develop.
“Parents want someone who can contribute to their children’s character and development,” says Blackhurst. “Someone who is educated might be more able to understand the development steps the children will move through and respond more appropriately.”
Sharpen your skills
Very few candidates will possess all nine of these nanny skills, but choosing a handful to hone in on could help make you more marketable. Check out our 5-Step Guide to Becoming a Nanny to learn more about the next steps to pursuing your passion.