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13 Questions with INA Nanny of the Year Nominee Joanne Barrow

April 6, 2013

by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief

Each year, the International Nanny Association presents the Nanny of the Year award at its Annual Conference. Those nominated for the INA Nanny of the Year award are exemplarily examples of who today’s professional nanny is and what she stands for. The 2013 INA Nanny of the Year will be named at the association’s 28th annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky April 12-15. As the 2004 INA Nanny of the Year, I’ve enjoyed getting to know this year’s nominees and look forward to meeting them in person at this year’s event.

1. How long have you been a nanny? I’m in my 23rd year.

2. How do you define a nanny? A Nanny is a professional nurturer, supporter and advisor to families.

3. How did you become a nanny? In 1990 I travelled from South East England to New Jersey for a supposed one year experience working as an Au Pair for a wonderful family in Millington, NJ. Long before the year was through I realized I’d found my career path and nannying was the next logical step. I soon won my green card in the lottery and stayed on with that family for five terrific years, I’ve never looked back.

4. Worst nanny day? The day you move on from a family. If you did the job ‘right’, it’s always going to be tough saying goodbye.

5. Best nanny day? When I know I’ve bought a little happiness into a child’s day, it satisfies my soul.

6. The misconception about nannies that bothers you most? That we’re glorified babysitters. A professional nanny holds an important role in aiding the long-term growth and development of her charges. She must act as an extension of the parents in their absence and with that comes a great amount of trust and responsibility, much more so than many people seem to realize.

7. How do you spend a typical day? It differs from day to day and post to post. Today I juggled two children, their homework, a doctor’s appointment, dinner, showers and violin practice- all in a two hour time frame. This time last week we spent a fabulous sunny day skiing in Crested Butte, CO. One of the greatest aspects of the job is how much variety there is from one day to the next.

8. Hardest part of the job? Keeping the lines of communication up and running when everyone’s busy running in different directions. At a minimum, a ‘weekly’ parent/nanny meeting with open, honest dialogue is a must and critical to the longevity and success of the relationship.

9. Easiest part of the job? Loving a child

10. Best advice to parents hiring a nanny? Do your due diligence in thoroughly screening applicants; no matter how she was referred to you, how good she looks in person or how experienced she seems on paper, screen, screen, screen…. and then screen some more. If you’re still not certain, go with your gut instinct.

11. Best advice to those considering becoming a nanny? Never take a position with a family whose value system causes you to veer away from you own. You will need your beliefs and moral compass to guide you on a daily basis so having your values in sync with the parents is of paramount importance.

12. What’s one thing you wish you could change about the industry? I’d like to see mandatory licensing and education in place for Nannies. I see this change as a way of providing a greater sense of security and value to the families hiring us and a greater sense of pride to us as Nannies in the important work we undertake. Only when this change takes place do I think the public’s perception of a ‘professional’ Nanny will begin to shift and carry the meaning and validation it deserves.

13. Best advice to nannies wanting to make nannying their career? Get educated on your subject. Take a course, attend a workshop or conference and keep adding credentials to your skill set. It shows a family that you’re serious about childcare as a career. You’ll need some solid hands on experience to be taken seriously, a professional resume and sound letters of reference speaking to your strengths and professionalism.

Tap into all Nanny related resources, local and nationwide. eNannySource offers a wealth of information on the job search process on topics such as resume writing and interviewing and INA links you to nanny mentors, training, and many other industry related services. There are some great resources available out there, read and gain knowledge from as many of them as you can.

INA is a non-profit educational associated dedicated to quality in-home quality childcare. Visit http://nanny.org/past-noty to learn more about the award and about past Nanny of the Year recipients. 


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