I’ve been interviewing nanny candidates for the last 30+ years. Here is a key take away: age is not determinative. What does that mean? It means that great nannies are found all along the age spectrum. Let’s talk about the stereotypes because we all fall victim to them.
Older can connote crotchety, inflexible, unfit, and the list goes on. Those adjectives might apply in some cases but, based on my experience, not in all by a long shot. I see patient, knowledgeable, loving, and committed. Are there nannies who suffer from burnout? Yes. Some nannies need to move on. Burnout, however, can strike at any age.
Younger immediately says energetic, active, and malleable. While these adjectives hold true with many of the candidates we’ve interviewed, I have also seen those who do not fit the stereotype.
Other than the highly experienced nanny, one of the most frequent nanny requests the agency gets is for someone “young and fun.” Clients ask for a college graduate, who has a terrific personality, is athletic, and– fun. We understand that taking care of children requires lots of energy, stamina and patience, but being alone at home with a young baby for 10 hours a day is not always scintillating or fun. Having to be at a job at 7:30 AM and work a ten hour day can make even the peppiest nanny tired when she leaves work. While on the clock, iPhones and iPads can help with the tedium. But they are also the reason that many younger nannies lose their jobs.
I love when nannies come back to us after we’ve placed them in jobs successfully. Sometimes their jobs have lasted a decade. They have ten more years of experience and the acquired wisdom to share with their next family. However, they are also ten years older. While one might think that added experience would be viewed as a plus by perspective employers, many parents simply do not want to hire anyone “older” or “old.” I prefer the word “seasoned.”
I am not dismissing the idea of young candidates for nanny positions. In fact, I place many nannies in their twenties who are amazing with children. They often come from large families or are only children who always sought out other children to babysit. Others are former or future teachers looking for less bureaucracy and more one on one time with children. As I have listened to their complaints, I hear that a lot of them would like to have lives beyond their nanny jobs. The ten hour days are not appealing. Neither is the social isolation. While I think that nannying is a great career, some see nannying as a short term job and find it too hard to make it through even a one year commitment. Turnover is not fun for families or this agency.
The message is: Don’t be too quick to dismiss nannies who are either younger or more seasoned. We find talent all along the age spectrum. My advice is to be open to all great nannies –young and old.