Chicago Collegiate Nannies is happy to present this month's “Nanny of the Month!" We will continue to feature one of our very own CCN nannies and tell you a little bit about them. Below is our interview with one of our favorite nannies, Katie L.--and she’s got so many helpful tidbits of information to share with you! Congratulations, Katie, and thank you for all that you do for Chicago Collegiate Nannies!
CCN: What is your favorite thing about being a nanny?
Katie L: I think that I really enjoy having the time. Because there’s a lot of time that you’re spending [with a family] versus having been a classroom teacher. You’ve got so many more kids and it’s such a brief period of time, that it’s hard to really form a close connection with the kids and really learn a lot about them. And so I think I enjoy that time, you know? It’s just the opportunity to spend a lot of time with just one child or maybe just a few children at a time, and really having the chance to grow that connection and really learn about who they are…I feel that the work that I do with kids is more effective when it’s a small group or one-on-one because you can give them that attention and you’re learning so much more about them and you’re understanding them better rather than if you had a lot of kids in a classroom situation. It helps me to be better at my job when there are fewer of them.
CCN: Can you tell us your story about how you decided to become a nanny?
Katie L.: I think it was really something that has always been kind of natural to me. I grew up with a lot of cousins as a kid and then I was the oldest one on both sides of my family and so over the years when I got old enough, I would start babysitting for family members and then we had moved from a farm. But then when I was in fifth grade, we moved to an actual neighborhood. So I think when I was in, probably sixth grade, there were tons of kids on my street, and so I just got involved with babysitting at that point. I was always involved in childcare my whole life. My first nannying position was for a family member who had undergone a surgery and needed help with my four boy cousins. So I had actually stayed with them for full time hours. So that was my first experience doing that and I’ve always been really comfortable being in a home setting. Home is really important to me…and so I’m just comfortable in a home and doing what I can. And I think it’s ideal to work with kids at home because it’s their safest and secure place typically. So it’s just neat to be with a child at their home and see them in their freest and most comfortable.
CCN: What do you think has been the most rewarding thing you have learned throughout your current placement?
Katie L.: I’m new to Chicago so the little boy I look after has lived here his whole life, and it’s been really fun to see the city with him. There’s been places he’s familiar with that he can show me the ropes [with] and then there are other things that we’ve done together that have been new for him. Like, we went to see “Aladdin” and it was an amazing show. And I think this Friday, we are going to be going to the Brookfield Zoo which he’s never been before. So it’s just been neat. All the kids I care for, I try to get them out and have some experiences, but being in Chicago is definitely an advantage over other places because there’s so much to do here.
CCN: What have you found has been beneficial about working with an agency like Chicago Collegiate Nannies?
Katie L.: I really liked the process of being placed. It was great! I think it took a little bit of work to find the right placement, but I think Lydia was extremely honest. I think she was really working hard to try and find a family for me and to find something that was going to work. And she’s just very thorough and professional and I can tell she’s very good at her job. I felt like I was in good hands with someone who was attentive and professional and wanted to find placement for me and the family.
CCN: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to become a professional nanny?
Katie L.: I would say to get as many experiences as possible. If maybe they have a job that isn’t a childcare position, but if they can do things on the side, just [by using] as many experiences as they can with babysitting, or maybe in some kind of a volunteer capacity. Just to get as many experiences as possible and references as possible. I think the families that are potentially going to hire you want to hear from other families that have worked with you and they want to hear as many positive things as possible. So I think for somebody that isn’t going to school, having a degree in education or something to do with childcare is ideal (but not everyone can do that), so those real life experiences are the next best thing or even better. If from one parent to another parent, they are going to put a lot of stock in that (in what another parent has to say).
CCN: What plans and goals do you have for yourself personally and professionally in the next five years?
Katie L.: To continue seeing as much of the city as possible and to continue cultivating my interests and finding things that are fun to do with the little boy that I work with. And possibly going back to school to do maybe something with family counseling or something like that. I’ve always been very interested in psychology so that’s something I might pursue.
CCN: How has being a nanny helped you in your own personal growth and development?
Katie L.: I think coming to Chicago from the suburbs, it is different. You guys do the training on working with families in Chicago and when I first was presented with that, I was thinking “Well, how can it be that different?” but [I realized] it is. There are definitely things that are unique to families in Chicago but I think just working for any family, I think it’s easy to assume that everyone is like you and that they would do things the way you would do things. And I think that isn’t the case. It’s definitely helped me become more patient and in some ways more open minded. It reminds you that sometimes you do get into your own head and it kind of pulls you out and shows you other ways of doing things.
CCN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a nanny?
Katie L.: I think you have to be so flexible. You know, kids are only as predictable as they can be. I think kids can be especially unpredictable when you’re out and about. I enjoy taking kids out on adventures and things, you know it’s unpredictable. And even with just day to day, you’re at home with a 2 year old, depending on how they’re feeling that way and it can depend on a million factors, it could be not what you’re expecting. And you just have to go with the flow and realize that everything is manageable you just have be flexible and be able to change your plans based on what’s going on around you…And for someone like me, I like to plan. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes I think I should have been an event planner because I get excited about making plans. But, you can’t plan everything, you have to just go with it.
CCN: Are there any other helpful tips and tricks you would want to share?
Katie L.: It’s fun to include the kids in the planning process. At the beginning of the summer before school let out, he (the child) and I made a list together of fun things to do for the summer. And for some kids, they like to be really involved so maybe just kind of gauging if that’s something they want to do (to help with the planning)…He was part of the planning and decision making process.