Real Talk: My tips on taking charge of your caregiving career
Care.com recently posted the question “What advice would you give a caregiver just starting out?” Here are some tips I have for someone who is just starting out or even someone who has been a Nanny for years:
KNOW YOUR WORTH: You will meet prospective employers/clients who think you don’t deserve what you charge. That’s their prerogative. Know your worth and assert it.
CONTRACT IS YOUR FRIEND: A lot of headaches can be avoided with this underrated piece of paper. Aside from obvious benefits such as legal protection, a contract is a good reminder of one’s obligations, benefits, etc. A good contract should be detailed, comprehensive and modifiable and it should also be fair and beneficial to the parties involved. Do not sign anything in a hurry, anything you don’t understand or agree with or anything that cannot be modified upon agreement.
FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION: If something doesn’t feel right, figure out what it is and take care of it. Do keep in mind that sometimes, the best way to take care of something is to walk away.
DON’T BE DESPERATE: Don’t accept jobs that doesn’t meet your needs and expectations out of desperation and don’t keep jobs that doesn’t meet your needs and expectations out of desperation either. Desperate people do desperate things which often leads to regrets and ugly outcomes. So, put your best foot forward and wait till you find the right fit; you will be happy and thankful you did.
BE ALERT BUT NOT PARANOID: The industry is full of predatory employers- from those who underpay their caregivers to those who overwork them, etc. Watch for telltale signs because sometimes, a simple interview can tell you whether you should move forward or back away from a position. That said, there are LOTS of incredible families out there who appreciate and value their caregivers; so be mindful but not paranoid.
DON’T OVERSELL YOURSELF: We all want to look good on resumes/portfolios and show prospective employers our superpowers. However, it’s important to be honest about your experience, credentials and skills while putting yourself out there. It can be damaging to one’s image and reputation to oversell but under-deliver and just as damaging to be caught in a lie. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so give yourself a break! Be confident with yourself, hone the skills you have and be willing to learn.
KEEP LEARNING & GROWING: Speaking of learning, an exceptional caregiver doesn’t just excel at nurturing, she/he also excels at listening and learning. This includes listening to kids- this is something a lot of adults’ struggle with! Kids are great teachers, so be willing to be vulnerable with them and learn from them because they have as much to share with you as you do with them. Furthermore, when you get to the pinnacle of your career, keep learning because there will always be something you don’t know and something you can improve on. The more you learn, the more you grow.
HAVE FUN: Fun is one of the most rewarding things about working with children. Sure, every day won’t be peachy and there will be days when you feel like throwing in the towel. However, most days ought to be bright and positive. I strongly believe that the more fun you have doing your job, the more fulfilled you will be and the more fulfilled you are, the more likely it is that you will thrive and shine. So, do remember to HAVE FUN!