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The Nanny Time Bomb

Recently I had a chance to catch up with Jacalyn Burke about her new book, The Nanny Time Bomb. Here’s a snip-it into our conversation where you can read what she had to say. – Michelle

nanny timebomb

1. Tell us about the blog.. why were you anonymous? What led to its popularity? How did you deal with the things you read?

I wrote anonymously to provide myself with a broad and safe platform to explore issues in childcare. Why is it popular? Time. If you write 3-5 times a week and repost engaging stories about nannies in the media over ten years eventually Google takes notice. I would hashtag every topic. I added keywords everywhere. I engaged top authors and personalities. And people began to respond. I used what I read to create awareness. How did I deal with tough content? I channeled my frustration and at times sadness into my blog.

2. Why did you write the book?

I wanted to take my platform and message to the next level, and to reach more people. I also wanted to create a tool for parents, agencies and nannies to use in child care.

3. What was the biggest thing you learned? What surprised you?

That it’s complex. There are very few black and white issues in child care because it is predominantly a human to human, relational sector. What surprised me? Quite a few things: how hard women actually work, both moms and nannies to keep homes running smoothly; how often a nanny’s work is not respected in our society; how children suffer when their nanny is disengaged; what low rates some nannies are paid; and how mothers separated from their own biological children hundreds of thousands of miles away and even exploited by employers – can devote themselves to other people’s children – they are truly heroic, no, they are majestic human beings.

4. What’s your best advice for someone thinking about being a nanny? 

Get an education first. Attend a good college and take a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development or attend a reputable nanny college. A solid educational background on a nanny’s resume is her best defense against being exploited. My second piece of advice is to find a good, boutique nanny agency that has a solid reputation for excellence.

5. For someone thinking about employing one? 

Find a professional nanny agency. If you cannot afford one then buy my book. It will guide parents through every stage of sourcing, screening, interviewing and hiring a nanny.

6. What is your one hope for the future of the industry?

That we all come together into one powerful movement of workers who advocate for reform. Within reform comes better wages, contracts, paid over-time, immigration reform and recognition for the actual work that women do, and their impact on our economy, and the rights of all children to feel safe and loved in the absence of their parents.

7. What is the biggest myth in the industry?

That a nanny is a member of the family. It sets employers and employees up for all kinds of emotional entanglements. Is a teacher a member of the family? No, she is a professional with her own family but that does not negate her powerful role and influence on a child. It’s the same with a nanny.

8. What is the best kept secret?

Fortunately due to the amount of books and resources available about child care there aren’t too many secrets left. It’s all information and information is useful.

9. What do you think makes the nanny/family relationship successful? 

In a word : professionalism. A nanny should strive to remain a professional who happens to work in a domestic environment. It always helps to start with an agreement or contract. That sets the tone of the relationship.

10. What is the one thing anyone thinking of getting into this field should do or know?

Prospective nannies should understand that this is a calling that requires a genuine love for children. It often calls for personal sacrifices: a missed dinner date, a sleepless night or a gesture or action that can go un-thanked or even acknowledged. The wages are not always high and the hours are long. There is not much glamor or prestige in this vocation. And YET being a nanny is probably (in my humble opinion) the most important service that any human can provide for another human, with the possible exception of end-of-life and elderly care.

Jacalyn S Burke founded the I Saw Your Nanny Blog and is the author of The Nanny Time Bomb: navigating the crisis in child care, has now been released. Get your copy, have your say! To learn more about Jacalyn visit https://jacalynsburke.com. Michelle LaRowe is the Executive Director of Morningside Nannies and was featured in this book.


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