by Rachel Quigley - myTamarin
A year on from the start of the CV-19 pandemic, at myTamarin we’ve been looking at how it has shaped the global nanny market. Like all others, the nanny industry is evolving and jobs are changing as parents and nannies learn to adapt to ‘the new normal’.
Whether you’re a parent navigating the childcare market, a nanny looking for a new job, or a nursery nurse or teacher looking for a career shift, here are our observations of the industry's trends.
1. It takes two to tango
With more parents working from home, both nannies and parents have had to adapt to a new working environment. After a year of fine tuning that delicate balance it can still be a challenge to get it right.
Nannies, particularly those used to sole charge, went from minimal supervision to what may (unintentionally) feel like constant observation.
Teamwork and an open, honest dialogue are more important than ever. Boundaries need to be laid and expectations managed.
Even as offices start to open, many parents will continue to juggle a combination of WFH and not. What started as a temporary necessity might well be here to stay, so both parties need to align their approach.
Furthermore, children (especially those lockdown babies), have become more attached to their parents than they might otherwise have been, and vice versa. Going back to work and leaving your baby with someone new is always hard. It has been even harder for parents to take a step back when WFH. Nannies are learning to navigate this and be empathic (both to child and parent).
myTamarin says: Communication is key; it's both ways, of course, but as a nanny you can ensure you're communicating enough from day one, e.g. let's align on the routine, schedule, food, parent’s time etc. from day one, then revisit frequently, at least once a week what's working and what not.
2. A muck in attitude goes a long way
It's not only about childcare anymore; parents need help with other household tasks.
Nannies who show flexibility to assist with things beyond their normal duties have proven to be invaluable to parents.
With people spending more time at home, keeping the house clean and in order has been a priority for everyone. Typically, a nanny will spend the majority of her time with the children and be required to undertake just nursery duties and a nanny-housekeeper may spend less time with the children and more time keeping the house clean, cooking for the family and doing laundry.
However, the lines have become blurred. Nannies with a can-do, pitch-in attitude have shown to be some of the most appreciated.
myTamarin says: Flexibility works both ways. Having the willingness and ability to work as part of a team with other adults to share the burden of household duties is highly esteemed. And parents will show you their appreciation in various ways in return.
3. Focusing on a child’s development
With schools on and off (and parents at home watching), focusing on a child's development (not just their safety) is key.
Nannies have had to be super creative and work alongside parents to ensure children are being homeschooled effectively. Technology and screens have their part to play in this, but in moderation, and always in agreement with parents. Don't sit them down in front of a TV or an iPad, instead be mindful and choose interactive screen activities that focus on a certain skill.
Taking children outside and encouraging them to be active and curious is a great way to break up the day.
While schools will now (hopefully) remain open, many parents and teachers still feel there is some catching up to do. Nannies can be instrumental in ensuring that children continue to stay on track. Check in with parents and make sure you are clear on any particular areas that need extra focus.
myTamarin says: Don't shy away from feedback; feedback is a gift, it allows you to improve, grow, and progress; ask for it, and be grateful for it, and act on it; in the corporate world it's all about feedback to enable continuous growth.
4. Is temp to perm the new norm?
Rather than going straight into a search for a permanent nanny, more and more families are starting off with temporary cover to allow them to find the right permanent nanny.
What we’re finding in many cases is that the family are coming to love the temporary nanny and end up offering them the permanent role. This can be great as it really does give both sides the opportunity to figure out if they have that chemistry and if it’s a good match before committing. Temporary jobs are a great opportunity for people who are just starting out as a nanny, or transitioning from a different sector of childcare, to build some relevant experience.
myTamarin says: Nannies who are holding out for that perfect permanent position, should be open to temporary positions as you never know how it will turn out.
5. Matching based on subjective criteria leads to 2.5x longer placements
Childcare agencies typically suggest candidates based purely on objective criteria (e.g. experience, availability and geographic proximity), which means the more subjective criteria often gets neglected. In the new world we’re living in, matching based on criteria such as personality, values, communication and parenting style, is more important than ever. With more parents WFH nannies and parents are having more interaction than has previously been the case. If you’re not feeling the chemistry in the first place, chances are it’s not going to work out for the long-term when you’re living and working in close proximity day after day.
myTamarin says: Questions such as “what things did you like/annoyed you about your last family/nanny” or asking about family and upbringing can help uncover some of those more subjective preferences and characteristics.
6. A positive online presence is more crucial than ever
Yes, nannies are allowed a social life, but need to be able to balance this with maintaining a professional presence online and demonstrating their love and suitability for childcare. The days of purely hiring through CVs and written references are long gone. The more thorough agencies and employers are going to do at least two verbal reference checks with previous employers and will also check out a nanny’s online presence too.
myTamarin says: At the most basic level, the right social media profile picture will help. We're also seeing that nannies who are really serious about standing out from the crowd are starting to create their own childcare/nanny specific social media pages to help build a professional brand.