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Keeping it Professional: How to Balance Professionalism and Play as a Nanny

May 5, 2014

workplaybalanceAs a nanny, your primary role is to act as a role model for the children in your care. You are the one in the trenches, soothing stuffy noses and cuddling little ones when in distress or preparing bottles and tucking them into bed. You are also a playmate, building blocks and having tea parties on a whim.

In addition to your role as a childcare provider, you also have to maintain a level of professionalism that shows the parents that you are responsible, prompt and honest within your position.

Learn how to find the perfect balance between play and professionalism to make the most of this precious position you have.

Timing is Key

Just as a chef knows just the right moment to take the dish out of the oven or sprinkle on seasoning, as a nanny, timing can make or break your success on the job.

It is imperative for parents to know that you value their time and are dedicated to the care of their children. Show just how professional you can be by showing up at least 10 minutes early for each shift. Be prepared by having the day’s activities planned and implementing a schedule that ensures you have time for laundry, transporting the children and most of all, playing with them. Punctuality is a valued trait in a nanny, so if anything will prevent you from showing up, alert the family as soon as possible so they can make alternate arrangements for the care of the children.

Respect is a Two-Way Street

Even though you may spend hours on the floor coloring, creating glittery crafts and developing artsy masterpieces with the children, you must always remember that your position as a nanny is a job that relies on mutual respect. Your employers respect you by providing the tools you need to care for the children, a paycheck for your time and expectations for your position.

Show your respect by exhibiting professional behavior on a daily basis. Adhere to the guidelines that parents set related to discipline, naps, bedtime routines and food choices. By setting a positive example for the children and offering consistent rules as their parents do, you are teaching them the value of professionalism and respect all at once. You can also teach and model respect through positive play activities that show the importance of being courteous through sharing and taking turns to achieve more of a balance between professionalism and play.

Communicate Concerns

When frustrating situations on the job make you want to speak out, keep in mind that professional communication is the route to take. For example, if you have been told to only feed the children healthy snacks, but the children have been indulging in pop tarts and sugary cereal when you arrive in the morning, it can be frustrating coping with the hyperactivity that will surely result.

It can be tempting to lash out at the parents for violating their own rules, but in terms of professionalism, resist the temptation. Instead, find ways to communicate your concerns to the parents in a professional manner, such as sitting down to clarify their expectations and outlining the foods they prefer their children consume. It may also help to show them examples of how an overdose of sugar can affect the children’s behavior throughout the day. If you approach the situation with a light-hearted yet professional tone, you will be opening the door for continued communication with your employer and showing that your primary concern is the well-being of the children.

Showing Off Your Best Side

As a nanny, you have the opportunity to mold the children in your care into professional and playful human beings. You are a role model and they look to you for guidance and appropriate behavior. Show your true personality – playful or shy, independent and confident or silly and sassy – through play and professional activities.

According to the experts in the early childhood program at Sullivan University, “Nannies serve as role models. They have good manners, use correct grammar, and show sportsmanship. Their example helps children grow to be productive and happy adults.”

The key to connecting with a family is to show your ultimate care for the children and let your professional and playful sides thrive.


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sharon says:

it’s so frustrating to see parents doing the opposite of wht they tell us nannies to do! i think that a lot of times parents don’t realize they’re violating their own rules though – since its their kids, they do what they want, and a lot of times dont think about how that differs from what theyve told the nanny.