Chicago Collegiate Nannies is happy to present this month's “Nanny of the Month!" Each month, we feature one of our very own CCN nannies and tell you a little bit about them. Below is our interview with another one of our favorite nannies, Kate C. We got a chance to connect with Kate recently and she is so excited to share about her experience as a Chicago nanny! Not only does she have an interesting story to tell about how she became a nanny, but she is also a nanny who has found a lot of overlap in her personal/professional interests through nannying as well! Congratulations, Kate, and thank you so much for all that you do for Chicago Collegiate Nannies!
CCN: What is your favorite thing about being a nanny?
Kate C.: I think I laugh a lot. I laugh a lot more than I would if I were doing anything else. The girls [I work with} are so surprising and out to trick in the way that kids are. And I enjoy being with them and experiencing things through their eyes and their vision of the world and a lot of it is really funny, so I laugh a lot.
CCN: Can you tell us your story about how you decided to become a nanny?
Kate C.: It was very natural, I don’t think I decided. I am a big sister. And I think a lot of people who work in childcare end up being care providers through [their] childhood. I watched my own little siblings and then it became a very natural thing for me. As a kid, I wanted my own money so I would start babysitting. And teachers were saying things like, “Oh, you’re super responsible, watch my kid!”…and I was already such a teacher’s pet so it was like, “Yeah, I’ll come to your house and experience your life.” so it was great! And then it just became a thing I kept doing…When I got to Chicago, I couldn’t think of another thing that I did for longer. I’ve stumbled into it.
CCN: What do you think has been the most rewarding thing you have learned throughout your current placement?
Kate C.: I think this placement has let me relax a little bit. It was just so funny because there’s so much going on and the girls have so many activities and it feels at times feels like it’s more high stakes than any other job I’ve ever had with kids. There’s just so much more going on. They’re a little younger than my last group [of kids I worked with] and a little bit older than the group before [I worked with} and they have different needs. But I think that after a year, the things that used to stress me out more [came up] like, “oh if they don’t have this, it’s going to be the end of the world” or forgetting their tap shoes in their dance bag, we have encountered all of those [things] and we’ve overcome those hurdles. And so, I think I’m a little bit more relaxed about all of it in general. Also, here’s a rewarding thing: they (the kids) like me! That’s rewarding. When I first started, they had had a nanny for a couple of years and she was leaving and there was an awkwardness about the transition as there usually is, I’d imagine. And they didn’t know me and didn’t trust me and…I could sense the difficulty there and when I look back on it now, I [realize] “oh, that’s gone” and that’s exciting. We are used to each other now and we enjoy each other now and that’s top notch…that’s rewarding.
CCN: What have you found has been beneficial about working with an agency like Chicago Collegiate Nannies?
Kate C.: Oh my gosh, I had never done it before. I’m from San Antonio and there was really no need to have one, where I’m from, because it’s much more low key and I don’t think a lot of people are able to make their living nannying or in childcare. And so, when I got to Chicago I think I was so overwhelmed by trying to find a job quickly and the variety of choice and the kind of particular culture of childcare in Chicago that when I applied to this position and got a call from Katelyn, she said I had to apply through the agency [first]. And I was kind of intimidated because I didn’t know how it would work, but Chicago Collegiate Nanny's system is so ideal. Now, I tell people all the time “Oh, you should go through and agency,” or “Guys, my agency changed the way [I found a job]" and it was next level for me. Everything was taken care of and it was so not stressful. I think when I had the interview with Katelyn and she was like, “Oh yeah, absolutely. We will represent you.” When that decision was made, I felt so relieved [and I thought] “Oh, someone’s going to help me” because I felt all alone in this new city and trying to navigate and find employment and feed myself. And to have that validation and support and to have them say “hey, we’re here too” was such a relief and I really felt calmed by that. That was great. And then they did! And immediately, everything worked out. They were like “here’s this interview, be there at this time” and I was like, “Ok, Jesus take the wheel.”
CCN: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to become a professional nanny?
Kate C.: You gotta find the right family, I think. And the right age and the right kids...It’s ok if it doesn’t feel right with somebody or you do something short term with someone and leave to go work for someone else, doesn’t mean you have failed as a childcare provider…It’s a bizarre job! Because you’re helping to bring up a kid, which is the most stressful and complicated thing that anyone ever does with their life. And it’s ok if you don’t land on the perfect family or the perfect fit on the first try. I think bringing up kids brings out really strong opinions and thoughts and people discover things about themselves nannying that they didn’t know. You realize you have opinions about what you think is good for a child and what’s good for you and what’s good for a parent. What it means to be a good person, even. And you didn’t know you had those thoughts. But, being in that situation and encountering conflict or cohesion makes you realize “oh, this is how I feel,” and that might mean that that thing is for you or that thing isn’t for you. And it’s great and important to be open to those discoveries and experiences.
CCN: What plans and goals do you have for yourself personally and professionally in the next five years?
Kate C.: Here’s where it gets thorny. I’m a professional theater artist as well as a nanny. I went to school for theater, I have a B.A. in theatre and I was professionally trained in new play dramaturgy at Actor’s Theater of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky (Louisville represent!) and that is what Brought me to Chicago. It was art and making art and making theater. And this job has allowed me to do that and to support myself while I do it. So, that’s what I will hopefully be doing in five years. In five years, I’ll be thirty (geez!) and I will ideally be in graduate school or I will be working for a regional theater (fingers crossed). I might still be in Chicago, I don’t know. I’m a dramaturg! I help people make art, that is my job. That has benefited by my working as a nanny and has effected my working as a nanny. It is such a big part of who I am and how I experience the world. Hopefully I bring that perspective and bring a little bit of art and creativity and fun into the girls’ lives. I really enjoy when they dance and stuff and play music. That’s why I’m here, that’s what I do, and that is what CCN has helped me to build for myself by making me fiscally solvent.
CCN: What would you say has been the biggest lesson you have learned as a nanny?
Kate C.: That sometimes it’s cool to let things go. You don’t wanna die on every hill, you know? At the end of the day, life goes on and you don’t have to fight every fight and…you’re the nanny and it’s ok to go home and turn it off.
CCN: Are there any other tips and tricks you would like to share?
Kate C.: I started doing this clean up thing with them. Where to encourage them to continuously clean things up off the floor and put them away and not put one thing away and then stand around. They each get to pick a song and we play the song on the Alexa. And everyone picks a dance/upbeat song and as long as the song is playing, they can’t stop moving. They can either dance and clean but they have to keep moving the whole time the song is playing. And they each get their own song. That’s worked ok and I get to dance too! Oh, one more! [This] changed my life. Have nanny friends in your neighborhood! Have them, find them. Find other nannies in your neighborhood, befriend them! The hardest thing about being a nanny for me, especially since I started into November so I started right into winter. I felt so isolated (which had never happened to me before). I had had jobs in Texas in the summer where it was time to go to the pool, lay out in the grass and be warm, etc. But I didn’t realize I had felt this way until a couple of weeks in, was “wow, I’m lonely at work, I don’t have any adults to talk to,” and then I made a friend completely separately and we were chatting. She said she was also a nanny and worked one block away from me. And I was like, “Great, we are best friends now!” and that changed the game for me. Having someone who knew what I was doing all day and had a sense of my job and what it was like. But also someone who I could call and say, “Hey, I’m at Starbucks, do you want a coffee?” or “Do you wanna take the kids and meet me at the park at like, 3p?” and then you can go and have an adult conversation which is vital to your day and you don’t feel by yourself. Find your co-workers, find them!