Hi readers! We are so excited to have started a new year with Chicago Collegiate Nannies. As our year starts, we want to kick it off with another round of Nanny of the Month recognitions! For those who have been following along, we take some time each month to nominate a nanny within our agency in order to showcase their talents, skills and personalities. We took some time to connect with Danny R. recently to hear about his experience with being a Chicago "manny"! As our first male Nanny of the Month, we are excited to share what we learned from Danny about his experience as a nanny. We were also eager to hear his story about how he transitioned from being in a band for nearly fourteen years to now finding a completely new career path in the nanny industry. Take a few moments to read about Danny and congratulations to our January Nanny of the Month, Danny R.!
CCN: What’s your favorite thing about being a nanny?
Danny R.: Oh, my gosh. I love being a nanny! I guess probably the “one-on-oneness.” It sounds so silly, but I just love picking him up from school. It’s such a great vibe to start the day. It’s very satisfying. He’s three [years old], but I feel like we talk. I tell my friends all the time that we should start a detective agency because the way we talk to each other because sometimes it’s like we are an old couple, it’s hilarious. It’s like having a great companion.
CCN: Can you tell us your story about how you decided to become a nanny?
Danny R.: I was in a band for fourteen years and we were on the Billboard charts and everything. It was awesome. Except, I felt like something was missing. Every summer, I would work at a day camp and it was so much fun, so great for me. When I was less into being in a band, I wondered what else I should do. And then I thought, “I don’t want to be a teacher, but I love working with children.” And then I thought, “Why don’t I just be a nanny?” and it all came together very quickly.
CCN: What do you think has been the most rewarding thing you have learned throughout your current placement?
Danny R.: I think I’ve learned how to think about what I really want to focus on. In the form of a “goal of the week” is the way I think about it. For me, [my nanny kid] is the most picky eater I’ve ever met, ever. And so I thought “let’s work on this.” And every week, we work on new foods and we have our own system. He knows new foods are [coming] and he knows what that [process] is going to be like and we talk about it a lot. He’s opening up a lot more than for anybody else. I know it’s been hard for him to eat anything, and I’ve figured out a lot of things and it’s been very satisfying. There’s a quality there. [And knowing] I can figure out the things that parents have a hard time with, and I get to think about “ok, let me get this [worked out] for them.”
CCN: What do you think has been beneficial about working with an agency like Chicago Collegiate Nannies?
Danny R.: It’s unbelievable how great working with an agency is. And especially with Chicago Collegiate Nannies. I’ve met all of the staff, they’re all very nice, very easy to reach out to. And if I have any questions (and I have in the past), the turnaround time is incredible. The really best thing about working with an agency for anyone would be that you get to figure out what kind of family you are looking for, and families get the opportunity to think about what kind of nanny that they need. They (an agency) come in knowing more than they need someone to help them with their child. They’ve figured out the family’s schedule and all of the intricacies that come with [hiring a nanny]. Having been with a family that didn’t use an agency, the family would figure out on the fly [about last minute things] and it would create a very hard work environment. Also, the only person the nanny has to advocate for themselves is themselves [in that situation]. You have to talk directly to your boss [about these topics] and it’s really hard in any job to do that. And to do that constantly, it can [sometimes] be the most important topics that anyone would have at any job. [Working with an agency] just made everything very streamlined. When you’re going without an agency, you’re just thinking “I just want to be a nanny” and “I want to find a job.” It’s totally different with an agency.
CCN: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to become a professional nanny?
Danny R.: It’s about relationships more than with children, it’s about relationships with adults [as well]. If you don’t think you can handle talking with parents constantly and informing them about how the day went, then this is not what you should be doing. It’s much easier int he format of a teacher. Anything can happen when you’re a nanny and you’re responsible for that person completely and it’s not similar to things where you’re at a daycare [and you have supports]. You have to be an incredible problem solver. If you’re not, you might want to think about how you can improve becoming one.
CCN: Do you have any plans and goals for yourself personally and professionally in the next five years?
Danny R.: Yeah! I’ve been thinking about that a lot, actually. This past year has really been coming up for what I really want in my life and what I want my life to be about. Because I used to be in a band, and that was for fourteen years. And that was everything of my life. And I stepped away from that thinking, “Being in a band doesn’t define me. What do I want to do and accomplish?” And I had a lot of success in doing that. So, stepping away from that and reinventing everything I do in an incredibly different industry has been challenging over the last year… So, I was thinking that I’d really like to write a book for nannies. More like a handbook for when you first become a nanny. There’s just nothing out there that is really like that. There’s parenting books, but being a nanny isn’t [all about] parenting. While you could be watching someone’s child and doing a lot of crossover parenting things, there’s a lot of things [you will experience]. [For example], the first week at a family’s house is a crazy experience. There are things that nannies need to know that aren’t in a parenting handbook, like how to write a resume…There’s so many nannies out there, but it’s a very independent industry. There’s all this advice out there, but I’m only seeing it in forums, and you don’t know who you are getting the advice from, their qualifications, etc…It seems to be not the greatest place to learn. I see all these posts come up of every situation and I think “Yes, everyone runs into this problem.” There’s all this advice, but there’s no one curating this…I feel like I could give a heads up.
CCN: What would you say has been the biggest lesson you have learned as a nanny?
Danny R.: To really look for the right fit in the family. It’s not wrong to find out you’re not completely compatible. It’s ok to know that whatever you thought going in is not the reality. My last family was really challenging, and I wondered, “Am I going to find another family? Am I just not good at this?” I realized, I’m much happier like this [in this new position]…I really like having the kids as front and center and I don’t want to have too much getting in the way of them having a great time.
CCN: Are there any other tips and tricks you’d like to share?
Danny R.: My biggest tip is that I think it’s paramount to talk to the children about everything that’s going on [and give] as much warning as possible about everything. Talking is great because [I’ve been talking] with my [nanny kid] about eating more foods and it’s helped him eat more foods. I know I remember going on a lot of trips with a previous family…the kids knew they were going to be going on a plane, but the reality of it was more surprising for them. And even though they had done that a lot (we all had our tickets and I knew where I was sitting and everyone else was sitting), we would get on the plane, and someone would want to switch seats…it can be a really mind blowing time for a child [if they don’t know what to expect]. Just talk all the time and keep them informed.