Book Review: State of the Nanny by Louise Dunham

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I am a seasoned nanny. Over the years, I’ve worked for NannyFamilies of varying rules, discipline philosophies, incomes, family size, and degree of personal attachments. I’ve received various certifications, met unheard of challenges, and acquired stories that never get old. And while my job and my clients change, one thing always remains the same: there is always something new to learn. There is always a changing trend, a new law – or an old law I was unaware of – and a need for the resources to find this information. I recently read Louise Dunham’s book, State of the Nanny, and found it an invaluable tool for nannies new and old, and the families that employ them.

Dunham, a former nanny who has served on various boards and committees, including the INA board, and owns her own recruitment agency, begins her 134page book outlining her own history and a brief description of the role of the nanny throughout history. I discovered interesting facts I never knew, and I also felt like the information provided was personal because it was coming from another nanny, someone who has trudged through the trenches alongside me.

One of the biggest obstacles we, as nannies, face is we are consistently accosted with the questioning of the legitimacy of our career choice. We’ve all encountered the stranger or even friend that learns what we do and meets that knowledge with a response of, “oh,” or the dreaded polite smile. Even worse, they refer to us as a babysitter. Dunham does a fabulous job of outlining the INA’s definitions for various in-home care roles and provides a list of excellent online resources we can use to defend these uninformed replies. They can also serve as a wonderful aide for your own NannyFamily, if your role has become unclear to them. I found myself, on more than one occasion, declare “YES!” as I breezed through the book, feeling the support and validation from the author. I even suggested that my MomBoss read the book.

As one moves further into the book, the author discusses, at length, her own agency, it’s values, and operations. If you’ve ever thought about beginning your own agency, this book could be a useful tool. Although the author is from Australia, so some of the information was a bit varied internationally, it was interesting to read how agencies and the child care industry is run in a country different than my own.

It’s very clear that Louise Dunham is an advocate for nannies everywhere. She takes the time to root us on, provide tools for nannies, and remind us she’s been there. She is no-nonsense in her approach, yet you can still feel the warmth in her words that only a nanny can possess. She even provides a few stories and lines that had me chuckling. I sped through this book. Not because it was without content, but because I couldn’t put it down. I felt empowered, armed with knowledge I didn’t have prior, and driven to seek even more information and education on the career of my choice. I would suggest State of the Nanny to every nanny and their NannyFamily. You’ll walk away being happy you read it.

From the State of the Nanny press release:

“More priority needs to be placed on the value of in-‐home childcare arrangements to not only benefit children, but parents,” says industry expert and CEO of Placement Solutions, Louise Dunham. In her book, State of the Nanny, Ms. Dunham explains that many families would benefit from the provision of quality, in-­‐home care provided by professional nannies, who not only provide quality care to children, but help parents with the modern challenges of balancing work and family time. In families where both parents work, do shift work, or travel, many parents are placed in the difficult position of trying to find quality care for their children, which fit around the demands of their work. “Sheryl Sandberg puts it well in her book, Lean In; while women continue to do the majority of housework and childcare, they will struggle to progress in Senior Management roles, which is where a nanny plays a critical role as an integral part of the team,” explains Ms. Dunham. “All too often, parents associate in-­‐home care with finding the cheapest hourly rate they can get. Children deserve professional care where the nanny is 100 % present, active, and engaged with their children. It is not enough to hire a nanny who is ‘not quite good enough,’ Ms. Dunham continues.

Get your copy of State of the Nanny

 The book is available from major online retailers including amazon.com, booktopia.com.au, fishpond.com.au and bookdepository.com with more to come. It is available as an eBook from amazon.com.au, kobo.com and Apple’s iBook store.