As nannies we have some unique challenges and some very exciting benefits to being in the home. We have a great deal of control over how things go- the pace, the activity and the schedule. We also have to juggle a lot of elements - the age ranges of the children, the other adults (parents, grandparents, other workers) in the home and the running of the household.
How do you set up your days?
There are a few different approaches but it warrants some thought.
Most children have periods of the day where they are more open to certain activities. For instance, very kinesthetic (lots of movement) kids may need to move around a lot during or after periods where they are exposed to new information. Younger kids may need to follow a period of stimulation with sleep. All kids need to have basic needs met to be able to fully engage. This means they need to be comfortable in temperature, not be hungry and not be too tired. Perhaps you consider all these things for your kids and set up times when you introduce materials, plan crafts or games and outings.
OR maybe you follow the child’s lead and each day is a bit more unique. There is a rhythm to this but it does not necessarily have a pattern that is easy to see. These days are more free flowing and able to change on a dime. You may introduce materials only to have a child see a butterfly and follow him on a nature walk instead of the puzzles or blocks you had laid out. You may not have a snack time per se but instead feed the child when they ask for the snack.
I find for me that it is better to think of a rhythm to the days instead of a true schedule. I like to have routines at the outset of the day- getting dressed, self care, eating breakfast. Then flow into a period of directed activity, setting out an art project, science experiment or sensory play. When the interest wains with this I open it up to free play which is often independent as I start a load of laundry or do the breakfast dishes. I observe the child and offer guidance as necessary. None of this is done on the clock (with specific times or starting and ending times) more just with the interest level of the child and my patience and interest as well. As it nears time for lunch there is more routines of clean up, any responsibilities the child may have and then stories before rest time. In the afternoon I like to get outside if possible and also allow time for revisiting the mornings activities.
What ever structure you choose, it is important to give it some thought and to have a plan. As always when working with kids (and nanny families!) the plan may go out the window more days than not. But starting with a plan means that you will make sure you are intentional in your caregiving, which is a big step to quality care.
Do you keep a nanny binder or notebook? What do I mean?
Well as I attend classes, workshops and read articles, I find that I want to save some of those materials for further reference and study. I used to keep a binder or file in a filing cabinet. These days my “notebook” is more a list of links and some folders on my computer, but it serves the same purposes.
Why should we keep a notebook?
Well, there are many reasons!
Nannies work with many different age levels. At one point in your career you may have toddlers, another teens. It is almost impossible for one person to know all you need to know about each age group at all times. Keeping a notebook lets you reference back to milestones, activity ideas or other information about each age and stage.
Nannies need inspiration. The days are long and we work with no other adults. It is part of our job to inspire the kids- but who or what inspires us? In my notebook I have a running list of ideas and techniques that will inspire me.
Nannies are professionals- and professionals research their areas of expertise. Part of being a professional is keeping up to date on all the latest and greatest information out there. You need to know so much to take care of kids and it is always changing. Keeping track of it all can be a challenge so keeping a notebook lets you ad information to refer to when needed.
Nannies need backup. Sometimes you don’t know what to do. Sometimes parents will ask you for advice. When I am faced with a problem, I know I can go to my notebook and pull out advice from a forgotten workshop, an article from a journal or website. I can share this with parents to back up my own personal thoughts and beliefs.
What should you be looking for when collecting data for your own nanny notebook?
*articles from parenting magazines
*thought provoking tidbits you come across
*ideas for crafts, activities and other kinds of day to day useful items
*articles and papers from scholarly journals and childcare professional publications
*listings of books (with notes if possible) that you have read
*listings of links that you can refer to over and over
American Medical Association
Zero to Three
*notes/handouts from workshops attended at Nannypalooza and other conferences
*important information about YOU as a nanny professional including info on taxes, building a portfolio, negotiating and interviewing with families, etc..
I will be posting info on Wednesdays for you to consider adding to your own notebook. Hopefully this will help you build your own library. And if you have a suggestion for others to add let me know! I will share it!