Have you been contemplating leaving the classroom behind in order to become a professional nanny? Many teachers have already done this and are reaping the benefits, but you should know – it’s not for everyone. Like with any big decision, you should be well-informed about the pros and cons, and in this case you need to ensure being a nanny is for you! Our expert recruiting team (made up of former teachers) compiled a list for you, outlining the major differences between teaching and nannying. Read up, because everything you need to know before making the switch is right here!
You Structure The Day
In a classroom, the daily schedule often revolves around pre-set activities – recess, music class, lunch time, etc. As a nanny, you’ll be setting that schedule. It is up to you, as the rockstar nanny, to envision, organize, structure, and maintain a daily schedule and routine – one that meets the individual needs of your charges and the household.
One-on-One (or One-on-Two, Three, or Four)
Perhaps the biggest difference, and certainly the one we hear referenced the most, is the change from a large classroom setting to a more intimate one. Most teachers are required to care for and meet the needs of 20-some children; as a nanny you may be tasked with caring for more than one child, but never more than a handful, at least not on your own. This one-on-one interaction allows you to get to know each child individually; you’ll know their interests, triggers, knowledge gaps, and more. In turn, this deeper understanding of your charges allows for you to more effectively meet their specific needs, design activities that spark excitement, and even dive deeper into various activities if preferred.
As a teacher, when you’re not feeling well, you can rely on substitutes. If you have an appointment, you can count on a colleague to sit in with your class for an hour. However, in most homes, a nanny doesn’t have that kind of backup – aside from mom and dad. When you call out sick an hour before your shift starts with a family, you throw their world into chaos. As a nanny you often have to muster up the ability to push through, even when you are not feeling in tip-top shape. Otherwise, the parents (your employers) will likely have to completely rearrange their days to accomodate you. Most families will, of course, provide sick days and kindly have you stay home if you’re truly under the weather; however, you have to be aware that, as a nanny, missing a day drastically impacts your employer’s day. This can be a lot of responsibility, too much for some, and you need to make sure you can take that on.
Housework May be Involved
As a teacher you are responsible for keeping your classroom neat and tidy, but you also have a janitor in your back pocket. As a nanny, you may have the assistance of a housekeeper, but not always, and even when you do, a lot of times the child-related housekeeping still falls on you. Keep in mind that as a teacher you have one (I repeat, one) classroom to maintain; as a nanny, you are responsible for the children’s bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen, play areas, outdoor spaces, nanny vehicles, etc. This requires a different mindset, and means you’re cleaning as you go throughout the day, which is not all that different from the structure in a classroom. However, nannies are often asked to pitch in with other household duties, including but not limited to laundry, unloading and loading the dishwasher, meal prep, running errands, grocery shopping, pet care, etc. You need to be ok with, and maybe even enjoy, mixing it up throughout the day.
A Nanny or a Chauffeur?
The driving component of being a nanny is a huge difference from the requirements of a teacher. Nannies must be able to drive their charges to and from school, appointments, and extracurricular activities. Some parents will provide a nanny vehicle for on-the-job use, but most do not. Keep in mind that as a nanny you need to own a safe, reliable, insured, and child-friendly vehicle, and you need to be comfortable driving it on the job! Additionally, many parents require a nanny to have a clean driving record. That speeding ticket you got two years ago, may be a deal breaker!
Teachers often have to deal with parents that complain, are overly involved or not involved enough, and of course – parent/teacher conferences. Nannies have to plan for parent/nanny conferences just about every day – at the beginning and end of the day. Nannies often work closely with parents; some even work alongside stay-at-home parents or parents who work from home. If this is a paint point for you, you may want to reconsider changing roles. Additionally, where teachers make decisions for their classroom (within the guidelines of the school itself), nannies can offer advice, tips, and insight to parents, but at the end of the day, professional nannies know that parents get the final say on all decisions.
Off Time; Your Time
One of the most requested qualities of a nanny is flexibility. Parents don’t just want flexibility, they often need it. Sometimes they run late and need you to stay longer than you’d planned, other times their child wakes up sick and they need you to come in early so they can get to work on time, and sometimes they just need a date night. As a nanny, you have to be flexible and accommodating to some degree to work outside of your typical hours, or you may have trouble keeping a job.
Teachers do not typically get the chance to travel, unless it’s for a field trip; however, many nannies travel (often) with their families throughout the year. For some, this is an exciting opportunity to see new places and mix things up, but for others this might be a burden. You may even get to go to some locales you may never have had the chance to go to, or stay at world-class resorts, but keep in mind that while some aspects are exciting, you’re still traveling for work. That means you may not have the opportunity to do activities of your own choosing or the time to create your own agenda. If you go to Paris with your charges, but The Louvre isn’t on their to-do list, you might not get to see it, and you have to be ok with that. Either way, it’s definitely an important factor to take into consideration before making the switch.
Apart from maybe handing out classroom snacks, teachers aren’t usually preparing meals. Nannies often have to heat up meals at minimum, but are often asked to prepare and serve nutritious and well-balanced meals to the children in their care, and it’s not uncommon for them to also be responsible for the grocery shopping, meal planning, and possibly even preparing dinner for the entire family. It’s important to reflect on your cooking skills and willingness to learn new things; effort and attitude is everything!
A Solo Gig
Working as a nanny is typically a pretty solitary job, aside from the company of the children in your care. While teachers have co-workers, most nannies do not. You’ll get much of your adult socialization through attending age-appropriate classes, spending time at local parks, and coordinating and supervising play dates with other children and their nannies or parents. Teachers have a built-in community of coworkers who understand what their job entails; a unique group of like-minded individuals who can act as a support system when things are tough or stressful, or who can celebrate successes together. Nannies can have a community, too, but it requires more thoughtful work on each individual’s part – by reaching out to nannies in Facebook groups or at the park, and creating your own support group. Everyone needs an outlet, but also keep in mind the heightened level of confidentiality that comes with being a nanny.
If and when you are ready to transition from the classroom to a private home, it’s important to know what you’re taking on. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a nanny; but remember why you chose to become a teacher – your passion for helping parents raise happy, healthy, educated, and kind individuals. As a nanny you have the same goal, but on a smaller and more intimate scale. After weighing the pros and cons, are you ready to take the leap?