What is a Unicorn family?
By definition a unicorn can be described in two ways; the first, which we all know, which is of course a mythical creature, most well presented as a horse with a single straight horn that projects diagonally from its forehead. The other description, due to the fact it is mythical it is a metaphor for something that is typically highly desired but at the same time difficult to find or keep. More recently unicorns have become iconic in the world of fashion and a symbol of a wonderful yet unrealistic scenario. Sadly, this wonderful yet unrealistic scenario is applicable to the world of nannying. It’s a sad truth and we want to praise all the unicorn families out there that are grateful, respectful and completely wonderful in the way that they interact with nannies. Unicorn families are our ‘ideal world’ whereby we feel safe and appreciated in our jobs and want to give the children and parents our absolute best. There’s a lot to be said about appreciation in the workplace and what that can do for a person’s motivation. Being appreciated in the workplace has been proven to improve ones productivity. When an employee is under the understanding that their work is recognised and appreciated and know that what they are doing is valued they are further motivated to maintain that level of performance and continue to improve their work. It will boost their morale and is great for their overall health, it can even help their sleep habits, boost their immune system and lessen stressors in their life.
Just before we go on to speak about unicorn families further, lets set the image again, unicorns are unique, mystical, associated with sparkles, rainbow, glitter, elegance and beauty. Who would not want to be associated with such magic?
We do our best to make nanny placements with nannies and families that we know will have great chemistry and if they are lucky, meet their unicorn families, the ones they never want to leave and which break their hearts when the children no longer require a nanny. We wish that every single nanny placement made was a unicorn match, but for now, unfortunately it still remains rarer than we’d like. For some reason, either from the family or nanny there is sometimes an air of entitlement which is one sided and it can turn what should be a beautiful working relationship, solely focussing on achieving fantastic results with the child(s) through love, care, play, education etc. into a battle of egos whereby one is feeling unappreciated and the general flexibility and normal behaviour which would happen naturally between two parties that care for each other diminishes and therefore has a negative impact on the children, parents and nannies. Our question, is why on earth does this happen? Well we know exactly why? And if you’re ready for a big old bottle of the truth juice read on!
It’s our favourite ‘C’ word coming up again at team Great British Nannies.
From the very moment you meet a family communication should feel easy and flowing, discussing your ideas about child rearing and discipline will be easy and you’ll soon understand whether your feelings on certain subjects are aligned. Never, ever rush your nanny interviews, make sure you have a host of questions for the family for you to get to know them better, remember it’s not only you being interviewed they are too! Try to insist on a trial period with your nanny placement agency or the family direct depending on how you found each other. Sometimes a dreamy like interview can turn into a realistic nightmare. Check first and try to make the right choice about your next job, not for money or desperation but a family that care and appreciate your wellbeing, not just their own needs.
And now for our favourite ‘F’ word that we use on the daily at Great British Nannies.
Ah, you were thinking FRUIT, right?
Why flexibility, now this works both ways. Families often request that their nanny is flexible around their needs, and to be fair, that’s a reasonable request, after all, the private staffing industry is like no other, you’re essentially living within someone else’s life and are being to essentially be paid to make their life easier, whether that be caring for the children, taking care of the home, cooking meals, or chauffeuring them around your flexibility allows them to live life on their terms and at ease, in return you are offered a job that has some genuinely fantastic perks. But here’s the thing, flexibility works both ways, right? So, dear families reading this blog, please take note. It’s absolutely normal for you to get stuck in traffic, fancy another glass on a date night, need an extra gym session after a stressful week or whatever circumstance may come up and asking your nanny to work extra hours to allow for this additional ‘YOU’ time is a reasonable request. But may we ask that your nanny is appreciated for this. Unicorn families are the best example of this, they know all the wonderful ways of showing their nanny he/she is appreciated for essentially allowing flexibility in their lives whilst being at complete ease that their children are in safe hands and enjoying their time with their nanny who they are so very fond of. So, firstly, you can show appreciation to your nanny by paying her for the extra hours worked, in addition offering to get her a taxi home especially if it’s late and cold and you know she’ll be travelling home alone, how about bringing her a doggy bag from the restaurant you were at or offering her an early finish on a Friday night where you can so she can go to see that band she loves (a unicorn family would know which band he/she loves) because they’d have taken the time to get to know them, now there’s a thought you could even buy the tickets for said band and surprise them, involve the children and the surprise will be even nicer. Now, by no means does your appreciation have to show in monetary value (besides of course paying for those additional hours, as per the nanny contract). Even if you aren’t very imaginative yourself, Google is always there to assist you with great ideas to show appreciation. A few of the above were just some examples, others could be baking some cupcakes with the children for nanny or making her a card or even just not being shy to tell her how much she means to your family or that your child mentioned she missed her one of the days she was off. You are a team, it is not about competition, it’s about letting go of the ego and enjoying this teamwork so your children can learn about healthy, trustworthy dynamics inside and outside of the home. If you genuinely want the best results from your nanny, be a unicorn family, let it be your aim and you’ll see the unicorn magic start to happen. Hopefully with less glitter around the house, but certainly more smiles, happiness and laughter. Of course there needs to be a professional dynamic to the relationship, that will be both parties adhering to the nanny contract you have in place, but otherwise let your nanny become a part of the family, she will know her boundaries naturally and again, if you have good communication from the start she should understand when you want alone time with the children, your significant other, where she should take a step back or not. Looking for nannies over and over again and paying nanny agency fees on a regular basis, and unsettling your children over and over is by no means ideal. Take your time to find the nanny that can integrate and you can be the Unicorn Family. That way you’re likely to have someone with you long term. Sometime, when we employ people we need to remember how we like to be treated in the work place, what has made us feel good/bad/excited etc in the past and replicate that for your own employees. There is no guidebook for such a thing but basic human intuition would serve you well here.
Ok, we think we have made our point very clear about why Unicorn Families are the absolute best! Why we love and applaud them for the care and understanding they provide their nannies. So finally we are going to share some of the most beautiful moments we’ve read shared by nannies themselves, keep your tissues closeby, this could get emotional.
- Bought the nanny a spa weekend package at a nice hotel when her mother died to give her time to herself at that difficult time. They offered her extra days off during this time without any guilt whatsoever. As a result, later down the line nanny offered to work extra days on their family trip overseas, to which the family declined. But you see the balance and appreciation here.
- Nanny asked Unicorn Family if their children could be pageboy and bridesmaid at her wedding. Without hesitation the answer was yes, the nanny was so happy her NK’S (nanny kids) and parents were there to share her special day and as a second family they will cherish the photos forever. Needless to say the children were both surprised to see their ‘Princess Nanny’ out of her leggings for a change.
- Paid for their nanny’s yearly gym membership. This family knew how much keeping fit meant to their nanny on a physical and emotional level. They paid for her gym membership at a really lovely gym close to their home so that the nanny could visit before or after work and get those happy endorphins before or after a shift. MB and DB (Mum Boss and Dad Boss) were also part of the same gym and her and the Mum would often take an evening class together whilst DB would stay at home with the kids, why not? Happy Mummy, happy nanny!
- When everything went wrong with nanny’s electronics in one month, including washing machine, boiler and car her nanny family stepped in and fixed her car and bought her a new washing machine. Nanny offered to pay them back over a series of months, they would not accept that and were just happy to see her looking more herself again. It was the least they could do after the amazing job she had been doing with their children.
Are you looking to join your Unicorn Family or are you a Unicorn Family awaiting the perfect nanny for your family to join you and enjoy this wonderful adventure of taking care of and educating your children together then feel free to contact us here at Great British Nannies, we’ll be glad to assist, even if to answer any of your questions about hiring nannies or finding your dream job.
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