Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Nanny

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Nanny

Overview: Nannies are professionals caretakers whose primary job is to take care of a family’s children in their home. They provide a nurturing and safe environment for a child, help them grow and mature, and will educate and discipline as needed. Nannies usually also prepare meals for the children and do light housekeeping. They may take children to school, to appointments, and accompany them on extracurricular activities. (The duties and expectations will shift with the age of their charges, and the requirements of the parents.)

While the full scope of duties should be agreed to in a contract between the nanny and the parents, many nannies either do not have a contract or their duties evolve over time as parents pile on responsibilities without discussion, which can cause friction. Nannies may work full or part time, and be live-in or not. It is very common for nannies to become very attached to their charges and the family as a whole.

Necessary Training: Nannies can have different levels of education, and typically the more they have (associate degree in childcare, certifications, safety training, etc.) the more they are paid.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, baking, basic first aid, blending in, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, gaming, hospitality, making people laugh, multitasking, photographic memory, reading people, swift-footedness

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, affectionate, alert, calm, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, creative, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, easygoing, efficient, empathetic, enthusiastic, friendly, funny, generous, gentle, happy, honest, honorable, hospitable, imaginative, independent, industrious, kind, loyal, nurturing, obedient, observant, organized, passionate, patient, persuasive, playful, protective, responsible, sensible, tolerant

NEGATIVE: frivolous

Sources of Friction: Parents who micromanage or make unreasonable demands, parents who expect the nanny to accomplish tasks (such as toilet training) but then don’t continue the hard work of training or enforcing behavior themselves when they have the kids (undoing the nanny’s hard work), parents who are poor communicators or don’t make time for discussing the children and what happened through the day, being paid an unfair wage for the work, having one’s duties change and more responsibilities added without a pay increase (or a discussion as to whether these new duties are okay with the nanny), feeling isolated after long days with no interaction with other adults, kids who struggle with following the rules, understanding expectations, or proper behavior because their parents do not enforce the same rules and expectations as they demand the nanny enforce, putting up with unhappy employment conditions because the nanny is attached to the kids (like a refusal to pay for additional hours, disrespect for one’s position, being late or changing plans without any regard for the Nanny’s schedule, adding in housework duties or expecting everything to be immaculate when these duties were not part of the original agreement, etc.), disagreements over discipline or parenting, watching parents neglect their children or place unreasonable demands on their maturity and development, a lack of benefits and health care, struggling with taxes (or establishing a credit rating if the nanny is being paid under the table), feeling drained because so much energy is being given at work, jealousy toward the nanny because she has built a strong relationship with the children who may show a preference to be with her rather than a parent

People They Might Interact With: parents, children family friends, delivery people, teachers, librarians, coaches, the parents of other children one’s charges play with, doctors, dentists

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: If one’s identity is to become a parent but this is impossible (due to economics, relationship status, genetics, etc.), this Occupation would bring the character close to what the want most but also be a constant reminder of what they themselves cannot have
  • Esteem and Recognition: If the character works for a family that doesn’t respect the nanny’s time, schedule, skills, or needs, this can really sabotage their sense of self-esteem and worth
  • Love and Belonging: Being a nanny can be isolating and draining, especially of one is a full-time live-in, reducing their ability to find a partner or diminish their energy to maintain a romantic relationship

Common Work-Related Settings: amusement park, attic, backyard, beach, birthday party, casual dining restaurant, child’s bedroom, circus, community center, elementary school classroom, fast food restaurant, garage, grocery store, ice cream parlor, kitchen, lake, library, living room, mansion, movie theater, nursery, outdoor pool, outdoor skating rink, parade, park, pet store, playground, preschool, principal’s office, rec center, school bus, shopping mall, skate park, teenager’s bedroom, tree house, zoo

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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