Updated: Oct 23, 2021
“Women must stop following the Old Rules, which exist only to maintain the status quo. If we follow the rules we've always followed, the game will remain the same. Old ways of thinking will never help us build a new world. Out with the Old. In with the New.”
So how does a career nanny go from being ready to start a new full-time position one day and 46 days later having a fully enrolled preschool operating out of your home?
That's a good question. In some ways, one that I'm not even sure how to answer yet. (stay tuned). This week, I got to wrap up my 4-week series titled"Naptime Nature Chats" On Clubhouse in the Year of the Nanny Club. While my son did his best to make Monday the one day he didn't take a nap over the past four weeks, we ended the series with a 3-hour nap and an excellent time to reflect on how I got here and how I was able to accomplish my goals in such a short amount of time.
Finding the Balance has been, and will always be, a problematic concept for me-time-management, Balance, and well-thought-out plans have never been my strengths. For years, I've allowed that to hold me back from my potential. Before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I thought I was lazy, and something was wrong with me. But through self-realization, therapy, seeing my authentic self, and accommodating these traits instead of fighting against them. I have begun to own my identity authentically and capitalize on my strengths rather than highlighting my weaknesses.
There are three things I can look back on that made my pivot from Nanny to Business owner possible. And I wouldn't have had the success I have had without any of the pieces. I didn't set out to gather them in my life, but I wish I had years ago. And I'm here to share them with you so that when the opportunity arises for you to shift gears and dive into your next big dream, you're ready and confident.
In the spring of 2020, like so many of you, I went from a toddler nanny who watches some elementary kids after school to a full-time educator of all ages. While some families struggled with the amount of virtual schooling required by public schools during that spring, I was grateful my Nanny kids school took a very hands-off approach, allowing each family to structure days as needed and providing support where they would be most beneficial. Because of that, my bright 1st grader was able to zip through all the work sent home but wasn't engaging and loving to learn as he did in school. So I did what many parents and nannies did, I printed 1000 worksheets from teachers pay teachers, did workbooks, projects, anything I was "supposed" to do. Because let's be honest, we all needed to DO something. Those first few months where we had no answers, only more questions each day, projects, and lesson plans to throw attention into were a great distraction.
Looking back, not one of those worksheets or lesson plans I put together is REALLY what got those boys learning and excited to be alive; it was the days we spent making mud pies, digging for worms, and researching composting.
The digging, exploring, and pretending reminded me of the magic of childhood and the responsibility that we have to allow our children to BE children.
I also dove deep into education wherever I could. Reading books, listening to podcasts, and keeping my mind distracted from the turbulence that was 2020. The most impactful books I read were both of Abby Wambach's books, Wolfpack and Forward. I've looked up to Abby since I was a little girl (more on that story in the future). And all of that was confirmed when I read these two books.
“Abby, You were never Little Red Riding Hood. You were always the Wolf. There is a wolf inside of every woman. Her wolf is who she was made to be before the world told her who to be. Her wolf is her talent, her power, her dreams, her voice, her curiosity, her courage, her dignity, her choices—her truest identity.”
They helped me change my mindset and start moving forward into living authentically. I've scattered some quotes from her throughout this blog as a glimpse into the mindset shifts that helped me make this pivot. I highly recommend reading both books, if you haven't already.
This shift in mindset allowed me to take subconscious beliefs that have been building since my childhood, put words and practices into action, and see the benefit every day. Through the spring and Summer of 2020, I discovered the Why behind what I do. The environment where I thrive and the type of education I want to provide for the children in my care.
By studying neuroscience and digging into how children's brains work (I highly recommend Whole-Brain Child and How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen), I was able to see each day how the actions I took affected the children in my care and shift my thinking from how to lead children, to how to grow WITH children.
Rather than following an educational philosophy such as Waldorf, Charlotte-Mason, Forest Shooling, Game schooling, Montisouri, Reggio-Emelia, I was able to take the best and most practical pieces from all of these practices and combine them into one dynamic program that adapts to my child, and any children in my care. And while it is based in science and calls on educational experts often, it is a living, breathing education that doesn't follow a curriculum or Method. Instead allows the children to learn and question the world around them each day.
“Note: When they say you're ridiculous, you know you're onto something.”
Defining my Why allowed me to know what I wanted from a nanny family as I stepped into the Fall of 2021. Knowing my nanny kids would all be headed to preschool in the fall, I spent all summer not only soaking up the sweet memories with B8, G6, G4, G2, and my three-year-old son, I also interviewed with so many families I almost lost my mind keeping track.
If you are a parent, you know how crazy the nanny and childcare market is right now. So many professionals who worked in schools or other industries stepped into nannying when the world shut down; many of them went back to their original jobs this fall—leaving a vacuum in childcare and parents who now more than ever understand the value of quality childcare. With four offers on the table, I accepted one that had excellent references (yes, I reference check as a nanny!), an ideal schedule and location, and a chance to stretch myself in some ways and grow with a new family. However, what seemed like a same-team-parenting situation, soon turned out to be an environment where I started to feel embarrassed of my son for everyday 3-year-old things. Like playing, crying, or not wanting someone to hit him. 2 days in-it was clear it was not an environment is as willing to keep my son in, and I found myself grateful we hadn't signed a contract yet. We both agreed on it not being a good fit and walked away, which also meant walking away from a paycheck. Not sure if the other offers I was considering were still interested, I had a choice to make--did I even want to pursue that? Would I end up in the same situation again? Was it worth it?
Thankfully, I had the second piece of the formula that made this all happen-community and support. All through high school, I was always the "social butterfly" by all appearances. But one thing no one understood- even though I was a part of so many groups of friends and participated in so many activities, I had nowhere I felt I belonged. Nowhere my skills, voice, and input were valued and sought after. I was always on the edge of the group, along for the ride. Until I took the time to dig into who I am as a person and how my brain works, I could not see this for what it was.
“Claim your power, and bring along your full humanity. Clear the way for others to do the same. Because what our families, our companies, and the world needs is nothing more—and nothing less— than exactly who we are.”
I wasn't connecting because I was showing people what I thought they wanted to see rather than finding a community where I am valued for my authentic self. So. I started showing up. Authentically. And the results came instantly. I found a community where I am valued and cheered for every day. A coach who not only cheers and guides but advocates and opens doors without me even having to ask. Who has gathered a community to uplift, encourage, and become better leaders along the way and given us the tools to do it. I am forever thankful to Crystal Gail of Hey Crystal Gail and Clearly Nanny for her support as a coach and friend. When I debriefed her on what had happened during the trial-day-gone-wrong, she was the first to jump in and remind me-"Reagan, you have options. Just tell me what you want to do, and we'll get the ball rolling". And after talking to my husband and deciding to start Playful Acre, she was with me every step of the way, checking on me, encouraging me, helping me find resources, and reminding me of my why. I'm thankful to have found my support at just the right time, but don't wait till you're ready to walk away from that weekly paycheck to find yourself in that place. Actively build a community around you. Uplift your sisters and brothers. Support small businesses, new ventures, fun ideas, and encourage each other to live life fully and authentically. Then, when the time comes to pivot, they'll be right there cheering you on.
“You will not always be the goal scorer. When you are not, you better be rushing toward her.”
The last key to a successful launch was how I presented myself. I was grateful to have had my best friend and leader in the nanny industry, Sarah Foster, go through a job search just a few months before I began my own. Sarah's portfolio website was absolutely inspiring. A clear outline of everything she had to offer, I started building my own with a great idea of what to showcase to parents, pouring my heart into the content that would be the first impression of my skills, philosophies, and most importantly--my son--to potential families. I was left with a beautiful portfolio that had all the logistical elements of my resume and references but with an aesthetic and story behind it, ready to attract families that would align with my values.
Having this ready to go gave me a quick shift to Playfulacre.com, as I could transfer a lot of the content to the new website to show parents who I am because that did not change. Only the service I was offering.
While I've always loved website building and graphic design myself, if that's not in your wheelhouse of expertise, I highly recommend connecting with Nanny Miss Monique! Her video resumes and promotional videos are great tools to showcase your value.
Having defined my why built my community of support and presented myself authentically. I was able to pivot without missing a beat. Had I taken the time to do any of these steps, 46 days could have easily turned into 46 weeks.
So no matter what your next step is, ensure you're living authentically and in your truths to position yourself to pivot to the next great adventure.
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