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If you ever thought about hiring a nanny… think again. There are “Manny’s” out there too! Meet Florence Ann Romano, author of Nanny and Me, a literary depiction to help children and parents understand the difficult transition of hiring a nanny. Just ask the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! They have their very own copy as this vital tool has been graciously accepted in households across the country and the world. During her whirlwind moments, Ms. Romano has discovered her lovely moments as an author after 15 years of being a nanny and caring for over 30 children! Let’s find out exactly how thankful the royal family was by receiving this one-of-a-kind book from Florence Ann Romano and how she can shed some light upon hiring the perfect Nanny or Manny for your home.
In what circumstance would someone consider hiring a Nanny?
Hiring a nanny is commonplace today. In fact, 60% of households in America employ a nanny or caretaker for their children, and that statistic rises in line with the employment rate. The fact that a majority of households have both parents working outside the home is not trendy; it isn’t a fad – it is the new normal! Parents need to be able to trust someone to be a sound and true role model for their children in their absence. As I always say: a nanny is an extension of the parents’ eyes, ears and heart.
What qualities should parents look for in a potential Nanny?
The best way to evaluate what type of nanny is right for your family is by having a family discussion – talk to your spouse; your children, and even neighbors that employ a nanny or caretaker. Find out what the end game is for your family regarding a nanny and make a list of goals. For instance, will they educate your children? If so, what is your definition of education? For example, does that mean strictly math and reading workbooks, or does that also include excursions to museums to expand their culture and minds?
You also want to consider the type of role model you want the nanny to be for your children. Again, a nanny is an extension of your family, your values and your dynamic as a unit. Make sure your potential nanny is going to carry out what is most important to you.
When interviewing a potential nanny, make it a tiered process. In other words, have coffee with the potential nanny and get to know them. Ask about their background and get a feel for their personality. There are basically no questions that are off limits when it comes to the safety of your children! Then, after this initial meeting, bring the potential nanny into your home for an afternoon. Observe them with your children and ask your children for their opinion after he/she leaves. Children notoriously have no censor, and you shouldn’t discount their feelings or intuitions!
“Manny” – this is an unusual term, who are they and can they do what traditional nannies do?
“Manny” is a modern term for a male nanny. Regarding whether or not to select a male versus a female for the job, there is not a general rule of thumb – it only matters what is the right choice for your family.
“Mannies” can be a great choice for families that desire a strong, male presence and energy in their families. For example, a manny could be a great choice for you if there is not a father present in your household, and you’re looking for someone to step in and be that missing male influence.
However, I do want to mention that regardless of gender, you need to select a nanny or caretaker who understands the important responsibility of being a positive role model for the children. This is a non-negotiable!
How would parents know that a Nanny or Manny is not right for them?
I have a hard and fast rule that I encourage parents to always remember: A nanny does not replace your role as a parent. Parents must still parent at home and be involved in their children’s lives. If this is not how you run your household, then it is imperative that the parent communicates this to the nanny beforehand.
By being involved in your children’s lives, you will have a window into their world. I encourage parents to develop a strong and safe line of open communication with their children. If this is accomplished, your children will feel comfortable talking to you about any misgivings or problems they are having with the nanny. Make sure your children know they can come to you with anything and everything.
If you prefer to give the nanny a trial period – a specific time frame to evaluate if it is, in fact, the right fit– you are completely welcome to do so.
Remember this rule of thumb: “If we don’t agree, it’s not for me.”
In other words, if you and the nanny are not on the same page, it’s best to dissolve the relationship. There will be someone else out there for you – I promise!
Nanny and Me helps parents and children understand the transition from being cared for by your parents to being cared for by a nanny or caretaker. It is based on my own experiences as a former nanny and is told from the child’s perspective. The book is dedicated to seven children whom I was with the longest. I still stay in touch with and visit each child I cared for! I even attend their prom photos and graduations and share many beautiful meals with them. They will always be “my kids”! This book is for them.
What are some things parents should do to prepare their children when introducing a Nanny or Manny into the family?
Prepare them with excitement! Let them know that this person is going to love them, play with them, teach them, and create wonderful, magical moments with them!
Put the emphasis on the kids – make sure they know that this is not a punishment or because you don’t love them enough to spend time with them.
Children can sense the guilt the parent might be feeling, and though that guilt can be hard for the parent to work through, remember to keep things positive for your children. A stranger might be scary to them – make sure they know you want to hear how they feel and you will help them talk through their concerns. Let them be involved in the interview process, as well. They will feel like they have more control over the situation.
I mentioned the guilt parents often feel, and I would be remiss if I didn’t address it!
I am speaking directly to you, Parents:
Remember that you are doing the right thing for your children by giving them another person to love them, protect them, and make their world joyful and fulfilling. A nanny will never replace you; it is not a competition. Giving your children love, in the endless forms it can manifest, even through a nanny, is the best gift you can ever give!
You started the “Nanny” process so young, what are some tips you can give to teens who may be thinking of going into the Nanny field, or babysitters:
I started as a mother’s helper at age 11. When I was growing up, taking care of my baby dolls was a full-time job, as far as I was concerned! So, becoming a babysitter – and eventually a nanny – was destiny unfolding!
When I was a mother’s helper, I paid close attention to how they parented and what the rules of the house were. This is important, because you learn the most from observation and asking questions. I witnessed various parenting styles, and an eclectic collection of personalities! It prepared me well to deal with anything the future would present.
Most importantly, you have to love children – truly, deeply and fiercely. If you don’t, and there is no shame in admitting that, I would suggest not entering the nanny field. Remember: it’s about the kids, and leaving their world a better place than you found it.