Our Facebook live guest is Kimberley Roberts. Kim has been a professional nanny for 17 years and has over 20 years of experience with children. She has worked as a kindergarten teacher, reading specialist, newborn care specialist, and caregiver. In 2014, she received the title, “Mama” and began to bring her son, Simon, to work with her. Kim is the Nanny Expert for Via The Village and is a passionate advocate for Nannies. Her goal is to elevate the nanny profession through education and networking.
Can you share a bit about your nanny career and what has kept you engaged throughout your nanny career?
Kim: My nanny career started in college for my teaching degree. I was a summer nanny for a family and loved every second of it, having babysat at age 12 for 6 kids. I was paid 50 cents per kid per hour and thought $3 per hour was fantastic. I’ve always loved children and knew since 2nd grade that I’d work with children.
I taught kindergarten for 2 years, nannying during the summer. After 2 years of teaching, a high-profile family called me and offered a full-time nanny position, making more than I was as a teacher. I was less experienced at the time and I didn’t do my research and in 2005, there weren’t Facebook groups or online communities. Most people didn’t know what a nanny was other than Mary Poppins or British Nannies. For me, it was different because I was treated as the help, not a part of the family. I wasn’t prepared for having to use a side entrance, not being allowed to talk to my boss but go through a household manager and having to ask permission to leave the house. We had paparazzi hiding in the trees, so it was intense. It was a wonderful experience but difficult as some weeks, I worked over 100 hours. I was exhausted and love it, it was great.
What kinds of things would help someone who didn’t have a great first experience as a nanny or what challenges are more relevant today as nannies are more popular?
Kim: My first family had the attitude that I was there to help their family run more smoothly, The mom referred to me as, “her wife” and to the children as, “aunt Kim.” I was part of the family from the beginning and that was amazing. I’ve been viewed as the third parent and those are the positions that I’ve really appreciated.
I tell younger nannies that those are the families you want to work for. You want families that see this as a career choice or a professional and should be treated as a profession. I encourage nannies to ask families during the interview process, “how do you see my role in the family?” Do you see me as a surrogate family member or an employee? Can I come to you with issues and how are we going to resolve conflicts?
One of the biggest things I tell nannies is that you have to have a contract. Contracts are so important to make sure you all are on the same page about as much as possible. Nanny-Family relations are so unique, and nannies are part of the family, helping to raise the children. There’s no other job with the same dynamic between an employer and employee. There are resources to help as Via The Village offers free contracts for individuals and nanny shares.
Elizabeth: I’ll share as well that Amslee Institute has a free 30-minute class with 3 different contracts you can download. There is a one-page Sitter contract, a full-time nanny contract, and a thorough 15-page contract for live-ins. These downloads are designed to be templates and tools to help you think through and then modify them to make them your own. I love there are resources at Via The Village and Amslee to help everyone.
In working with Via The Village, what are some common misconceptions families have about working with nannies?
Kim: A lot of misconceptions comes around the responsibilities that they think a nanny should have or they just have no idea what a nanny does. Families want a list, do nannies clean toilets, do they walk dogs, or do I pay them extra to walk my dog? Do I clean my house before the nanny arrives or is that something she takes care of? It’s something that Via The Village is trying to tackle and a lot of agencies and other online resources that are listing nanny responsibilities. Families just don’t always have an idea of what a nanny does.[Jokingly] Families want a nanny with a college degree to clean our toilets and walk our dog and give us foot massages, but we want to pay $48 an hour, [Laughing].
Elizabeth: [Laughing] Right! We joke about it but we are also advocates in the community to build awareness and education what value professional nannies really bring to a family to help it run smoothly. Nannies earn paid vacations, sick days, reimbursement for mileage – all the things other full or part-time employees receive.
You’ve shared a lot about your career and helping others, if you had to outline from beginning to where you are, what are the career stage?
Kim: The majority of nannies often start as a babysitter and some nannies may start as a mother’s helper. A mother’s helper is a babysitter that works with a stay at home parent, supervised by the parent to help out. That can be a position someone over the age of 18 can hold but usually, they are caregivers with less experience. Then there is the entry-level nanny who may or may not have any training or certification. These nannies may have a few years of experience. Then, there are experienced nanny’s with several years of paid childcare and usually have some type of continuing education. As advocates for nannies, we are trying to do a better job of training and providing resources to newer Nannies. Via The Village is providing a list of training courses available, including Amslee Institute. Then, there are Specialist Nannies who may train in Montessori, a teaching degree, or a travel nanny. Beyond that, you can go in many directions including becoming a doula. I recently got my certification as a doula. There are a lot of nannies can do to advance their own careers, there are resources out there.
One of the things you are passionate about is advocating for nannies and helping those early in their careers to develop and grow. What are some of the things at Via The Village that are helping nannies?
Kim: We are working on a program, Via The Village Mentor Program. We are looking for experienced nannies who are looking to help younger nannies. Maybe you are a younger nanny who needs help finding a position or help with a resume, or you are having an issue with a family and don’t know what to do. We are hoping the newer nannies will reach out so we can pair them with a mentor to help them out. There are a lot of nannies who leave the field because they get burned out and don’t know who to ask for help or resources. If you don’t have a support system, it can be challenging or lonely working with children 10 hours a day. You can get burned out really quickly without nanny friends.
How do you join Via The Village Mentorship Program?
Kim: Nannies can reach out directly to me at, Kim@ViaTheVillage.com. Once we have a good number of mentors and those seeking to be mentored, we will start pairing people together. We are hoping to pair people together in the same areas, but that depends on who we have signed up. Just reach out.
Elizabeth: We do these live chats each week so let us know if there is a guest you’d like to see. We are alternating between industry leaders like Kim with Amslee faculty members. We also publish a faculty written article each week so let me know if you have a topic you’d like from a faculty member.
What are your thoughts on nanny training opportunities?
Kim: When I started sharing I was going to be on Facebook tonight, I was asked, “what is Amslee Institute?” When I explained, they got excited about it. I just want to mention how much I appreciate, as an educator, that your program is licensed by the Department of Education, they are extremely rigorous, congratulations. I also like that all Amslee classes are taught by a Master’s degree teacher, it is fantastic.
Elizabeth: Thank you! It took us over a year and a half. The Department of Education has a requirement that you can’t talk about the program until you are fully licensed. So, we kind of came out of nowhere a few months ago. We were committed to the correct process and thank you so much because it’s our way of truly demonstrating who we are as an organization and the commitment and quality we want to bring to the industry.
Thank you, Kim, for your time tonight!! If you aren’t already, please follow Via The Village and Amslee Institute on social media.
About Via The Village. Via The Village is a web-based networking platform connecting families, nannies, and nanny shares. Nannies and Families can sign up (free), create a profile, and start building a village. Not only can nannies search for new positions or a nanny share family – they can find other nannies employed near them to meet up for play dates or provide backup care.
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