One of the most important weapons in a good nanny’s arsenal is a strong immune system; the job demands copious amounts of energy, which can be easily sapped by even a minor cold. Because many common illnesses can easily be passed between nannies and their charges, it’s also important for a nanny to avoid passing germs along to the children in her care, and to keep herself in top physical condition to fight off common illnesses that her charges may have. Here are some of the best ways to stay healthy and strong in order to provide your charges with the best possible care.
- A Balanced, Healthy Diet – Relying on sugary, caffeine-laden energy drinks to get through the day can actually lead to a major crash, which will leave you sluggish and lethargic. By substituting healthy snacks and maintaining a well-balanced diet, you can ward off the mid-afternoon crash, and you may even boost your immune system in the process.
- Get as Much Rest as Possible – Nannies, especially those of the live-in variety, know that sleep can be a precious commodity. While it can be difficult to get a full eight hours in, allowing yourself to become run down and sleep-deprived can affect your mood, increase the likelihood of burn out, and weaken your immune system. In order to protect your health and the longevity of your post, it’s best to avoid too many late nights. Sacrificing your social life altogether isn’t necessary, but painting the town on every one of your nights off is certain to leave you exhausted.
- Exercise Regularly – Running after an active child may be more than enough exercise for some nannies, but those with infant or school-aged charges don’t often face the same physical challenges as those with toddlers or preschoolers in their care. Devoting even a few minutes a day to some form of exercise can keep you in good shape and also provide you with a dose of mood-boosting endorphins.
- Acquire a Stress-Busting Hobby – Personal time to explore hobbies and interests isn’t something that many nannies have a surplus of, but the stress that can accompany a demanding post can be damaging to your health. Harvard University reports that lab animals in stressful situations were less effective in producing antibodies that suppress illness, creating a definitive link between excessive levels of stress and a reduced ability to fight those illnesses off. To combat the effects of stress, find an enjoyable, low-pressure hobby that you can pursue in your off time; your body and your charges will thank you.
- Take a Multi-Vitamin – It’s often difficult for busy nannies to get the nutrition they need from on-the-go meals and snacks. To ensure that your body gets all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that it needs for peak performance, it’s a good idea to make a daily multi-vitamin part of your health regimen. Additionally, deficiencies of certain key nutrients can adversely affect your immune system, so be sure that you’re getting plenty of zinc, folic acid, selenium and copper, just to name a few. Despite the many claims of Vitamin C’s ability to boost the immune system, there is conflicting evidence regarding its efficacy. Herbal supplements should be regarded warily, as the largely unregulated industry renders many brands inconsistent and can even be sold at harmful concentrations. Before beginning herbal therapy or using over-the counter supplements to manage or cure any health condition, consult a medical professional.
- Flu Shots and Preventative Care – The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone over the age of six months old get an annual flu vaccination, which is currently the most effective means of protection against the communicable viral illness. In addition to providing you and your charges with protection from the flu, the LA Times has reported that nannies who obtain an annual flu vaccine are more likely to be hired than those who do not.
- Maintain Strong Hygiene Habits – Colds, the flu, food poisoning, Hepatitis A and rotavirus are among the common illnesses that can be spread by hands that have gone unwashed after coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. Because some of these illnesses can have serious complications, it’s of vital importance that nannies make a habit of regularly and thoroughly washing their hands, especially before and after preparing food and coming into contact with bodily fluids.
In addition to an annual flu vaccination, there are other vaccines available, many of which are recommended to those who work in the childcare industry. Discussing your vaccination options with your doctor, along with the best methods of staying hale and hearty, is the most effective way to ensure that an illness doesn’t affect your job performance or the health of your charges.