Jane Eyre, Mary Poppins and Fraulein Maria are perhaps the most notable (albeit fictional) nannies of all time. As a professional child caregiver for someone else’s family, the position of a nanny has been around for hundreds of years. Whether full or part time, a nanny is a good alternative to day care for some families. Though the duties are primarily the same, a few different names are used to refer to someone holding this domestic position.
A college degree in child care or development distinguishes a governess from a nanny. In many instances a governess provides child care and tutoring while living in the family home. According to "The Telegraph," the hiring of governesses has become increasingly popular because of the competitive nature of school entrance exams. These caregivers are typically college graduates or former teachers who make a handsome salary preparing children for educational success. Many governesses live with the family and often travel with them on holidays to continue tutoring the children.
An au pair provides child care for families in other countries in return for living accommodations and sometimes furthering the caregiver's education. Organizations such as the International Au Pair Association (see Resources) assist in the placement and requirements to become an international au pair. These requirements include a completed application, family history and a health screening with allergy testing, education, employment record and a record of skills with children.
The responsibility of a nursemaid is primarily to take charge or assist in the daily care of a child. The duties involved with these responsibilities include preparing the nursery, keeping the nursery clean, ensuring the child is fed and clothed properly, bathing and bedtime preparations. Nursemaids develop special bonds with children as they perform many of the duties a child’s mother would otherwise perform. Some nursemaids take on the responsibility of teaching the child as he grows into a toddler and prepares for elementary school.