Working as a nanny can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling careers out there for those who are well-suited to the occupation and have a genuine love of children. There are times, however, when you will need to vent your frustrations and share stories with other adults who work in the same industry. Even if you have a strong support group of friends and relatives outside of the childcare profession, there may be things that only a fellow nanny truly understands about the triumphs and pitfalls of caring for children as a career. Meeting other nannies can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to the area. Here are some ways that you can connect with other nannies:
- Online Message Boards – While the online forum or message board is largely viewed as a dying medium in many Internet-savvy circles, there are still boards catering solely to niche groups that boast a thriving community. Nannies may find that these dedicated forums are an ideal way to connect with others in their profession to speak candidly with, especially as the format lends itself almost effortlessly to something akin to anonymity.
- Nanny Organizations – There are plenty of nanny organizations available on the local, national, and even global levels. The most famous and perhaps the most reputable, the International Nanny Association, even hosts an annual conference for nannies to meet up, continue their education, and discuss relevant topics. Joining an organization is not only great resume dressing, but can also help you connect with other private childcare providers to share insights and battle stories.
- Outings – The group of nannies gathered at the park as their charges play is such an iconic cultural image that it’s become ingrained in the collective consciousness, and for good reason: meeting up with other nannies while the charges engage in physically active play outside of the home and off of the couch offers private caregivers the best of both worlds. Charges are engaged and happy, in the company of other children, and building their own social skills, while you’re able to find a much-needed social outlet as you supervise free play.
- Request a Contact List Through Your Agency – If you obtain placements through the services of a local nanny agency, they may be willing to provide you with a contact list of other nannies in your area in order to facilitate socialization and a sense of camaraderie among their nannies. Check with the agency you work through for such information; be warned, however, that most agencies will be loath to provide such a list to any nanny that didn’t use their agency themselves for confidentiality reasons.
- Take Advantage of the Blogosphere – In addition to the thriving social media groups and online message boards, popular nanny blogs that feature a prominent comments section are hotbeds of communication and idea exchange online. Many of these blogs are dedicated to frank discussion of the challenges that nannies face as well as a celebration of the more fulfilling aspects of the profession, allowing a good balance of honest discussion.
- Look For Local Meet-Ups – Local meet-up groups aren’t just dedicated to speed dating and matchmaking; these days many major cities actually have organized childcare provider and nanny meet-ups designed to allow nannies a chance to connect with one another and form relationships with others who share their passion for providing top-notch childcare.
- Arrange Play Dates – Asking your employers about friends or relatives that they may have with children in the same age group as your charges who also utilize nanny care can be a great way of meeting other nannies! This allows the kids under your care a chance to play in an intimate setting on a smaller scale than that of a large park or playground, while you share grown-up conversation with another childcare provider.
While spending time with your fellow nannies sharing tales and decompressing can be a blessing, it’s important to keep in mind that there are some things you still can’t share. You are ethically bound to keep your employers’ confidence in certain areas, and legally so if you’ve signed a work agreement with a confidentiality clause. Be careful not to be lulled into a false sense of security while you’re chattering with other childcare providers, as there is always the potential for harmful gossip to make the rounds. Remember that the momentary release of sharing a juicy tidbit or airing your grievances is absolutely not worth the loss of your post and reputation, and make every effort to behave accordingly