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On the Park Bench: A nanny’s 3 tips for creating 'magical moments'

Ashley Williams
May 8, 2019

There are few things more satisfying for parents than seeing a child hit a developmental milestone — from a first smile to a first word. Bay Area-based nanny Sydnee C. can relate.

“I’m not a parent myself,” she says. “But I get really excited knowing that once we have one of those moments, there will be another. It’s so magical to me!”

Over the course of a 10-year career that has included jobs as a daycare instructor, date-night sitter and nanny, Sydnee, 29, always focuses on putting her kids — even the babies  — in the best position to shine. For instance, she took a cue from a 4-month-old who consistently struggled to roll over on his own and came up with a few exercises at tummy time to help him figure it out. By 6 months, he was mobile and sitting up.

“It was him initiating and my meeting him where he was developmentally to help him grow,” she says. “I was so proud.”

That kind of moment drives how Sydnee approaches caregiving. Part of her success comes from simple preparation, like making sure she has organized needed food and toys and nailed down plans for her workday early.

“If not, you’re going to find yourself stopping throughout the day,” she says. “You could miss that time you could be having a magical moment with the children.”

Here are a few more of Sydnee’s tips for making the most of every moment with her families.

Help kids pursue their interests

“One 3-year-old I had was high energy, but I noticed she was unable to focus at her ballet class. So I got her to ‘teach’ me ballet at home. I’d say, ‘Hey, am I doing this right?’ Once we did it together, she was way more interested in doing it in class. When we’d go, she’d wink at me from across the room. When you can see the activities they truly enjoy, that’s what’s really fun.”

Challenge the status quo

“It wasn’t a part of one family’s schedule to read books for their toddler’s nap time, but I could tell she was never fully ready for sleep when I put her down. I started reading, and it was really great for her. I told the parents they should tune in to the camera in her room to see what our interactions were like so maybe they could do the same with her on the weekends when I wasn’t there.”

Let parents know you’re on their side

“You need to be there for the kid but also for the parents. I get a lot of questions like, ‘Is this normal?’ One mom even asked me if her kid singing all the time was OK. Sometimes you have to build parents’ confidence. They may second-guess whether they’re doing the right things or compare themselves to other parents. I always tell them, ‘Your family is different, and your child is different from any other.’ I set them at ease and let them know I’m not there to judge.”

Read next: On the Park Bench with Alexandra

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