We’re Not Laughing, We’re Celebrating! Nanny Magazine interviews INA’s 2017 Nanny of the Year, none other than The Funny Nanny herself, Candi Vajana!
Nanny Magazine: Hi, Candi! How does it feel being this year’s “chosen one?”
Candi Vajana: The chosen one? Wow! Even now I cannot believe I am the Nanny of the Year. It is a tremendous honor and I am truly grateful to have been nominated and awarded this title. It is still all very new; I was nominated a couple of weeks ago and at times I still cannot believe it!
NM: Did you ever imagine becoming Nanny of the Year?
CV: I had thought about it and I had wished for it to happen, but I had not imagined it would come true! I was nominated alongside some wonderful opponents who are all worthy of this title, so I did not imagine it would be me who would be the Nanny of the Year, 2017. I was so surprised when I found out that it took me a few days to realize that this was real life!
NM: What are your responsibilities now as Nanny of the Year? How do you find time for everything?
CV: The Nanny of the Year serves as an example of the best kind of nanny, and represents a positive role model for the in-home child care industry and the International Nanny Association. The Nanny of the Year is a professional nanny who is a genuine advocate for children and who enriches the lives of the children in his or her care. I will need to make myself available for media interviews, such as this one, and I will be available to talk to others about nannying, the International Nanny Association, and about the Nanny of the Year process. How do I manage it all? Well, the jury is still out on this one, since I was awarded the title only a couple of weeks ago!
NM: What made you want to become a nanny?
CV: I always knew that I wanted to work with children, I just wasn’t sure in which capacity. When I was a teenager, my parents fostered a young child. Helping to look after her is what made me decide that I wanted to be a nanny.
NM: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
CV: I am half British and half Italian; I moved a LOT while growing up. I have a brother and sister, whom I love dearly, that live in the United Kingdom, as well as my parents, whom I also love dearly, who live in Italy. I moved to the United Kingdom to train as a nanny and received my NNEB Diploma in 1992. My first job was in Belgium, then Italy, the US, the United Kingdom, the US again, Austria, and now I am back in the US. I am a life-long learner, I have an NNEB Diploma, a Montessori Teaching Diploma, a TEFL Diploma, a BTEC Diploma in Business and Human Resources, I am awaiting my results for a BA in Business Management, and I am a Newborn Care Specialist! I am happily married to my husband, Giammarco, and I must admit that I could not have achieved any of this without his support and his cooking!
NM: What would you say to someone thinking of starting a career as a nanny?
CV: Being a nanny is not for the faint of heart! If you are considering being a nanny, make sure you love children (just liking them is not enough!), you need to have the patience of a saint, be ready for some adventures, be able to have fun and to laugh at yourself, have a profound sense of humor and the stamina of an ox. Be a life-long learner and know how and when to set boundaries. Do not be afraid of the unknown, but find a mentor who can guide you through nanny life.
NM: What is your favorite part about being a nanny, as well as your least favorite?
CV: My favorite parts about being a nanny are the hugs, snuggles, smiles, and kisses you receive; children are so loving. The least favorite part is leaving families; it is truly heart breaking.
NM: What would you say is your ideal age of children to care for?
CV: The ideal age range for me is from about 4 months onward. I love children of all ages, but babies are my thing.
NM: How do you connect to nannies in your community? Has it been difficult to find a nanny community to be a part of?
CV: Each community is different; since I have moved around so much, I have had to find ways to make things work. In Houston, many moons ago, I was donating platelets and was telling the nurse what a tough time I was having making friends. She gave me the phone number of another nanny who had donated blood that day. We soon became good friends! In Belgium, there was a large community of nannies and they had regular events, so it was super easy to find a nanny community. In Austria, I had a hard time because I could not speak the language. Currently, connecting with nannies is so much easier. There are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to nannies, and the International Nanny Conference each year is also a wonderful way of connecting. I will be attending NannyPalooza in the USA and the UK this year, and I am looking forward to meeting like-minded nannies. I am organizing some local events over the next few months and hope to meet lots of other wonderful nannies in my own area, as well!
NM: What resources do you rely on to continue to learn as a nanny?
CV: I read a lot, and I attend classes and conferences. I study online as well; I am just completing a course about “play,” at the moment. And of course, I read Nanny Magazine!
NM: What message do you hope to leave other nannies with at the end of this year?
CV: I hope that by the end of my Nanny of the Year tenure, other nannies will have heard of the International Nanny Association, and they will have become involved in their nanny community (helping each other, networking, mentoring, etc.). I hope that more nannies will embark on a learning journey, becoming life-long learners, but most importantly I hope that more nannies will feel empowered by their profession!