I have been looking forward to reading Larissa Neilson’s book, The LA Nanny Book, since I came across her Twitter feed, drawn in by her RIE-influenced content. When I heard the book had been released, I immediately ordered a copy. I’m so glad that I did! Although I am not currently a nanny (I once was) and do not intend to become a nanny in the near future, I still found the book to be a pleasant, positive, informative read and a practical resource to add to my bookshelf. I would recommend it to both parents and caregivers as an eye-opening account of relationships and practices in this unique but widespread field. Larissa writes of her own experiences working within a specific nanny culture (that is, in Los Angeles), but her experience and advice will, I hope, be applicable far and wide.
The book is well-organized into three sections, which makes it both easy to read and easy to reference later on. The first part, beginning with a chapter entitled, “Choosing to Become a Nanny,” is most relevant to current and future nannies, but I found that many elements could be applied to any caregiving situation, including setting reasonable limits from the start, approaching each relationship within the job from a place of respect, and building up those relationships. I would like to share a few quotes from this second that resonated with me.
“Having the heart of a servant means exactly that. You’re passionate about serving others. This has a lot to do with leadership; true leaders serve.”
“We don’t live in a perfect world. That’s why I say my intention won’t ever be to fix, somehow change, or push parents to do or follow exactly what I’m doing. What matters is that the child is engaged with respect and therefore, you impact her life forever.”
“I knew I emptied myself into those children. I felt accomplished because I gave it all.”
The second part of the book introduces the Educaring® Approach and my favorite part is where Larissa describes “sensitive observation” of infants. This is applicable to anyone who is with children in any capacity, be it as a nanny, a teacher, a parent, or a grandparent. I hope that this section invites you, as it did me, to read slowly and thoughtfully, as Larissa shares the wisdom of experience in being with children in a truly beautiful way.
“Being present in mind means you come to the child with a sense of wonder and excitement to see what the child’s up to, what new thing she will do, what new body movements will happen today. Your mind is filled with the word and understanding of respect and you’re calm because you know what you’re doing.”
The third section of the book includes “Leaving a Legacy,” wherein Larissa talks about how and when to leave a family after your years or service. All nannies and caregivers will appreciate her guidance in this area because knowing when and how to say goodbye to a family is difficult and it is a sensitive, bittersweet time.
I should also mention that the book includes lists of resources and citations that will make it a simple matter to further pursue your education on the topics included, if you desire.
Larissa has given us a real gift in this book by sharing her years of experience in the field, her training in and understanding of the Educaring® Approach, and also her personal views on professionalism and work ethics, which I believe can be applied in myriad other situations. Thank you, Larissa!
(You can also follow her on Facebook.)