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Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Moxie: Growing as a Professional

Growing as a Professional by:Glenda Propst



How do you feel about what you do?
Do you see yourself as a professional?
How do your employers treat you?
How do your employers' friends and family treat you?

Many of our feelings of self worth come from our employers. How you see yourself has a lot to do with how others treat you. Whether you realize it or not, people do see you, and they watch you. It may be a friend of your employer who recognizes the children, or it may just be someone who knows you are a nanny. Everywhere you go -- the grocery store, the mall, the dry cleaner, the park -- you never know where you're going to meet someone whom you know or someone who knows you.

You may be the only nanny someone knows. You are a representative of nannies everywhere. We owe it to each other to always conduct ourselves as professionals, no matter where we are.

I know it's hard to feel professional when you have no office, wear casual clothes to work, and get paid to read books, play peek-a-boo, and go to the zoo. We have no lunch hour except naptime (which our charges eventually outgrow). There is no one in the next room to whom we can run over and tell a joke, and our real bosses are usually under the age of five! As important as our work is, it's extremely isolating and lonely at times. A nanny who is not happy is not going to do a very good job. It's important for you to take care of yourself and to make sure your needs are met.

Nannies need to have a life outside of their job. Nannies also need to find other nannies with whom they can network. No one understands your frustrations like a nanny does; not because they don't want to, but because they don't do what you do. Nannies can offer support to each other and help each other work out solutions to problems but is one on one nanny support enough?

A very wise woman once said that nannies are the Cadillac of child care but unfortunately, many of us care for children the same way that our mothers cared for us.
We all came to this road on a different path. No matter what brought you to this profession, whether you went to nanny school or just had childcare experience, finding a job was only the beginning of being a nanny. If you want to learn and grow as a professional, you must work on your professional development. You can’t operate on the assumption that once you land your first job you are done.All professionals are required to seek out ongoing education. They are required to attend seminars and workshops to update themselves on the latest technology and research in their chosen field.
If we want to be treated as professionals by our employers, and we want the world to realize the importance of what we do, we must continue to educate ourselves, improve ourselves, stay abreast of what is happening in our field, and the current trends that relate to the ages of the children in our care.
The internet has opened up a whole new plethora of ways to educate ourselves. There are websites and blogs galore about child care, parenting, how to find a nanny job, how to interview, what to ask, and what to expect, but beyond landing the job, you have to keep growing yourself professionally. We are never done!

Joining a chat group and talking to other nannies is a great way to find support and solutions to problems we face on the job but is that really enough?
After all, chat groups are simply other nannies sharing their experience, often dealing with children the best way they can, and experience is important and valuable but it can never replace education and training.
To really expand your professional horizons, you have to reach a little bit further than your computer keyboard or the dial pad on your phone.
As nannies you should also be seeking out educational opportunities in your community. It could be a class at the local community college on child development, or a workshop for new parents on Baby 101 at the local hospital. Opportunities to educate ourselves are everywhere if we just look for them.
The greatest professional motivator for me has always been other professionals in the field of child care. I am not talking about just other nannies, but also about agency owners, other parents who employ nannies, early childhood educators and parenting professionals as well.
I have attended a professional conference for 20 of the almost 25 years I have been in the nanny profession. I am convinced that I could have never lasted in this field if I hadn’t been able to create a professional network of resources.
I hear nannies complain that they don’t get anything from professional organizations.
I hear nannies complain that traveling to conferences is too expensive.
At last years INA conference, the wise Dr. Lynne Keeney said that you don’t get anything back if you don’t give something away.
It sounds like a simple concept but I don’t see many nannies doing that.
In fact, I don’t even see nannies taking advantage of things that are given to them for free.
Over the last several months there have been many opportunities to win conference scholarships, registrations and memberships. The qualification process was easy.
I am really embarrassed to even tell you the paltry number of people who attempted to win.

I am really at a loss for understanding what it takes to motivate others in my profession. They want professional respect, they want professional benefits, they want professional pay, they want professional recognition but they don't want to put forth any effort to either give back or expand their professional horizons.Last week when we had the excellent article regarding nannies as mandated reporters of child abuse, instead of a legitimate concern or a productive discussion on how we as a profession could be more effective in that role, we had a trivial discussion about whether or not we really were classified as mandated reporters. The point was totally missed in favor of an argument.
The one thing that I have learned in my nanny experience is that you can not quit. You can not stop working to improve the profession, you can not stop trying to educate the public and you can not let those who do not understand, keep you from working to achieve your goals. My life is richer, my world is bigger and my vision is clearer because of the connections I have made beyond the safe haven of my job and my home. Being a nanny does not define me, but being a nanny has helped me define what matters most to me in this life. It has taken me to places I never knew I would go, it has allowed me experiences I would have never had and to make friends I would never have met. It has changed me in ways that I could not have imagined and grown me beyond what I ever thought I could be.
I have learned that you get out of something, as much as you put into it.

So today, you may think that Monday Moxie is a lot of moxie, but for those of you who know me, you know that every once in a while, I wake up at 3 A.M. with a burning question on my mind and have to write about it before I can go back to sleep.

My question for you today is what has the nanny profession done for you?


And more importantly what are you giving back?

10 comments:

Lisa August 3, 2009 at 12:18 PM  

I SOOOOO agree with this topic!

When we are using that term professional whether it's occupational, athletic, or artistic. This means that person has made the investment in time toward this status. The athlete has to train, participate in the sport, stay in shape, etc. As a child their parents may have invested time and MONEY into this. It is the same with the trained actors, dancers, and musicians. Other professionals had to go to college from anywhere from 2 to 8 years at least to earn all the degrees required to make them "professional."

Then these professionals may have those resumes. Artists have their portfolios. Athletes have footage of them playing their sport.

My point to all this is, if a nanny wants to be "professional." Then real effort, self-improvement and pride needs to be part of who they are.

Like the other professions it does require an investment in education. This includes time and sometimes expense.

Kristen August 3, 2009 at 2:43 PM  

The nanny profession made me a better nanny. Attending conferences, reading newsletters and talking with other professional nannies, made me realize that I can always do better or different than I had been doing. If you truly love what you are doing, there is always something more you can learn. I always read books on parenting, baby basic, took classes anything that would make me a better nanny. I also learned that you can never love too much. I have been so lucky to have had so many charges that let me be a part of their lives. Being a mother now, I appreciate the parents more. Even though they may have made me humph a few times, I think about all those times when one of my charges told me they loved me and wanted to be with me in front of their parents. I can't imagine how hard that must be and on the other hand how special that must be. To me some of the highest compliments I have received were from people I didn’t know that told me after they found out I was my charges nanny. You are such a wonderful nanny then, because you can tell how much the children love you and how much you love them. Those comments always made me feel like I was doing a great job and I was in the right profession.

To give back to the nanny profession is something I think every nanny should do. Give your time with support groups, national associations, talking with new nannies, seeing how you can help. Being involved with different ways to share your knowledge, no matter to whom you are speaking with and to listen, I mean really listen to others is a great way to give back.

djeterfann2 August 3, 2009 at 7:04 PM  

UGH i tried to respond to this article but it said cant accept. I was just saying that I love it! You made great points. I found that I had to learn to be profesional it didnt happen overnight. I thin nany menotrs are a great resource for other nannies. I know INA has a program. I developed on as well for another group but that didnt work out.
I think younger nannies today sometime thin they are too smart, good, etc for a professional group. They are wrong. Thanks for this great article G :)
Jenn worldwidenannies@yahoogroups.com OWNER

Anonymous August 4, 2009 at 3:24 PM  

Just because a nanny doesn't conform to what you think a nanny should do in order to be a professional (ie, jump at the chance to join INA) does not mean the nanny is not a professional. I encounter a lot of nannies in kid classes and at playgrounds who have never even heard of any nanny associations/groups and who really are not interested. Yet, they take college courses in related material, are involved in community groups, parenting groups, attend parenting workshops/classes, set up preschool like programs for their charges, etc.

Sometimes, what a nanny gives isn't by way of giving dues to an organization. Sometimes it is what she gives to the families she works for and, in turn, how fantastic she makes nannies as a whole look by doing her job well and VISIBLY in her own community.

And, btw, instead of slamming those who chose to comment on the mandated reporter blog...perhaps if the creators of this blog want conversation to go a certain way then they should join in the discussion rather than using a later blog entry to attack those who DID reply.

Just g August 4, 2009 at 3:32 PM  

Anonymous, I think if you go back and read this post again, you will realize that no one is telling you to join INA, or NANC or APN or any other group. In fact, no where in this post does it say that.
It says that there are lots of ways that you can expand your horizons and improve your professional skills lots of places in your community.
It also points out that you can project a professional image through your interaction in play groups and other local activities. It doesn't specify what you should do, it encourages you to make the effort.
Glenda

Anonymous August 4, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

Exactly, if you go back and read the article it gives kudos for those who follow through with being involved in the community and giving back educationally to yourself by going to classes, meetings and things. Giving back to the family and the profession doesn't always mean you have to "give dues" to an organization. Why does it have to be such a negavtive comment? You act as though you were personally attacked, yet again!

Lisa August 4, 2009 at 4:25 PM  

I have membership in some nanny associations and for personal reasons choose not to be in others. But I admire an efforts they make to creating standards, raising bars, creating credentialing tiers, and exams.

My membership has not made a difference in whether I was hired or not in positions. (I really don't state it all my affiliations on my website, etc.) However, I have been in this industry long enough to know that without the associations in place my getting a fair wage, taxes taken out, benefits, etc. would have been MUCH HARDER! So I am grateful to the associations for this. As are many other nannies in our country.

Even though I am not a member of all the associations one could be as a nanny (day care worker, etc.) I still read the codes/standards/ethics that they put forth and allow them to be the compass for a direction I want to be going as a caregiver.

All types of professions have associations, (doctors, lawyers, teachers etc.) unions, and so forth. Why should't there be some bigger entity to be connected to for nannies?

I am in the NANC because I do believe in the strides they are trying to make in the Tier Credentials. I do think it will help nannies in the long run when it comes to job hunting and interviewing for them to say what they have done to develop professionally. I think it provides a self check of one's own work standards too.

I look at those levels and consider where I fit, and more importantly where I should be at this point in my nanny career.

It has made me step up and take some more courses. And, I have taken additional workshops that may "not count" for credit but still look great in my portfolio.

Does this matter to my current long term position, who knows...maybe not. But my employers are pleased that I am doing this, and are on board in paying for some of my training that doesn't always relate to my job with them.

They get that I should be in that "mentor" capacity. So this means taking courses to help younger nannies learn the ropes too.

Baby is awake, gotta go back to work.

Thanks for reading.

Sue August 5, 2009 at 10:34 AM  

Wow! Great post. I struggle with this sometimes and work hard to get involved myself and to encourage others to get involved.

I agree with you Glenda about the fact that the internet has opened up a world of possibilities to us. Whether you are taking an online class, reading journals or going to conferences it is easier now than ever to really make a commitment to your profession. Where I think we struggle as nannies is to create the welcoming atmosphere for ALL those who are providing in home care. SO many women and men are doing the same job we are with so much less training and expertise and that is where we really need to reach out and show them what is possible. We need to be inclusive and supportive of each other because as you said this job is so isolating. I think sometimes we don't know how to reach these nannies but I continue to try. I know the first few years of my career I didn't know any other nannies, or much of anything about the nanny world. Now the nanny profession has completely changed my life in ways too numerous to mention. It is all about lifting each other up no matter what.

CincyNanny August 6, 2009 at 3:36 PM  

Great thoughts, Glenda. Please continue to be open about your thoughts, even though you may get a little negative feedback. There are all kinds of opinions and we should all have the right to share. We have a broad range of talents & experiences! What a wealth of diversity we can take advantage of in a positive way!

What the Nanny Profession has done for me...
I think that I love this profession because I get instant love! Overall that is the best gift - the hugs, games, smiles!

What I am giving back...
I think that I am trying to use my unique gifts to give to families and nannies in my community. I am still trying to figure out what that means, but I love people, so it involves just sharing what I have to give. Writers should write. Teachers should teach. Crafters should craft. - - Share your gifts!

Best Nanny Newsletter August 9, 2009 at 8:09 PM  

Blogs are meant to encourage discussions on important topics and share differing thoughts, opinions and comments. Keep them coming Glenda!

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