Child care person in the spotlight: Nanny Jess
Child care person in the spotlight: Nanny Jess
What is your full name?
My name is Jessica (Jess, Nanny Jess) Renn, and I am 35 years of age.
Which service do you work in? How many staff and children are in your service?
I am a career nanny and I currently work as a fulltime nanny for 3 families.
Family 1 – G5.5 and B4
Family 2 – B5.5 and B3.5
Family 3 – B2.5
What is your professional background and career experience?
I have worked as a Private Nanny for the past 14 years. Working with children is my ultimate passion. I feel that being able to teach and assist a child in their everyday life to integrate into society so as they can live a happy and fulfilling life is the ultimate gift.
I have worked in long day care as an early childhood assistant, working mostly in the baby room (6 weeks – 18 months). I have also worked closely with special needs children (Autism Spectrum Disorder, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, anxiety disorders and dyslexia) for a number of years in both the early childhood and primary school setting.
Over the last 21 years I have worked with children aged 0-18 years in various roles through my nanny and teaching assistant work, schooling placements, babysitting, before/after school care programs and holiday programs. Working with children in these various settings enables me to continue to develop my skills and understanding towards the needs of the children in my care. It has also assisted me in expanding my skills in planning and implementing fun and interactive activities for children.
I continue to refine my skills in time management and problem solving through the challenges and experiences I face in my work. I regularly complete professional development to further my knowledge and understanding of children.
I have completed a Certificate III and Diploma in Children's Services at Swinburne University and a Teachers / Integration Aide Certificate at Monash University. I have a current Working with Children's Check, Police Check and have current up to date CPR, First Aid, Anaphylaxis and Asthma Management. I am a member of the Australian Nanny Association and will be taking up a second year on the 2017 committee.
In 2017 my professional development will include doula training and a newborn specialist course. I cherish every opportunity to be part of a family and provide the children in my care with every chance possible to achieve their health and happiness.
What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
My career with children began very young, in child care or crèche I always looked after the children younger than me. My first role was babysitting for a local family of 4 children from the age of 14. In year 10, I was given the opportunity to work in the afterschool care program at my school, this only fuelled my passion for working with children. I dabbled in many different courses at University and working life but found I always came back to children. I don't know why but for some reason it's the role I always fall back into and the bonus is I am good at it too (according to feedback I get).
What does a 'normal' day look like for you?
- Getting up early and getting out of the house to beat the morning traffic.
- Arriving at the family's home and letting myself in.
- Normally greeted by children and a parent where we will chat about anything related to the children that I need to be aware of.
- We say goodbye to mum/dad and I then proceed to go about organising the children for the day. This could involve preparation for school/kinder drop off or chatting to children about what they would like to do for the day or reminding children of plans or activities. I try to involve the children in decision making as much as possible as they get older.
- Generally, a quick tidy and then we set about our day.
- Most of my shifts are 8am till 6/7ish, so I work 10-12 hour days. During this time, I am responsible for the wellbeing and care of the children. Providing all meals and attending to all their needs.
- I complete a daily journal throughout the day to aid communication between myself and the parents. Sometimes details can be forgotten when saying hello/goodbye.
- Mum/dad come home generally to bathed, fed and hopefully happy children who are ready for mum/dad time.
What makes your service unique?
My service is unique as I cater to the individual needs of each of my clients. I have the opportunity to follow the children's interests. I attend to the child's every need and care for them as though they were my own, protecting and nurturing their discovery of the world. We go on many adventures exploring and discovering the world around us from the construction site down the street, to the beautiful parks and museums.
We practice and enhance our social skills through daily interactions in shops and the people we meet throughout our day. We refine our fine motor skills in our art work and play and even through cleaning our various messes off the floor. Gross motor skills are developed through running and climbing in parks and tickle fights in the lounge or the obstacle courses we build. Cognitive processes are developed while dressing, doing puzzles and trying to remember the way home from our walk.
Being a nanny is a unique role. There are no two families or nannies the same and finding your perfect fit can sometimes be tricky. However, once you click with a family it is often very hard to move on and say goodbye as each child steals a piece of your heart and is forever embedded within your memories as you were an integral part of their growth and development. You have played a significant role and influenced the adult this child will become.
What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?
For me the biggest advantage working as a nannying is loving going to work every day. Even those days when it's hard to roll out of bed. I LOVE my job.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?
- That nannying is not seen as a real job/profession.
- Nannies are often under paid and taken advantage of.
- Nannies are often not hired legally and given benefits like any other profession (sick pay, holiday pay). Nannies have to fight for these rights.
- Families are hiring nannies that do not have all their current industry checks. WWCC, police check and first aid.
- Nannying can be a lonely profession.
How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?
The Australian Nanny Association Incorporated (ANA) was established in 2012 by a small group of nannies and nanny agency owners as a support network for Australia's large nanny community, the families who engage their services and the agencies who facilitate the employment of nannies. The ANA has been part of some huge changes within the nannying industry and has been lobbying for the acknowledgement and recognition of nannies as early childhood professionals. The ANA is supporting and educating nannies, families and agencies.
The ANA has also been an integral part of the new Child Safe roll out in Victoria.
There are also lots of online forums and groups that nannies can search and become part of. My advice is to get involved, network, support and build each other up. Also attend the meetups. You can meet some amazing lifelong friends. The first meet up is always scary and challenging but you will be surprised how welcoming and accepting nannies are. Some of my favourite meeting and networking has been lunch/dinner with local nannies and the ANA annual convention.
How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?
Nannies need to be recognised as the early childhood professionals they are. Nannies need to embrace, support and build each other up.
Employers need to show their nannies that they are a valued employee. Being appreciated and saying thank you to your nanny goes a long way to the overall happiness and wellbeing of your nanny.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?
Remember you have to start somewhere, follow your passion and find courses and professional development to facilitate your passion. Contact someone like the ANA or an agency, even find a mentor (an experienced nanny), do not be afraid to ask questions. Be confident in your training and remember the children are the reason we go to work every day.
My favourite quote from The Dalai Lama is "Children are our greatest untapped resources". I remember this every day as I watch each individual child’s unique way of discovering the world around them.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 22 October 2020
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