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Highlighted Nanny – Jodi Wittig

 “Jodi has worked for us for a year but it has not been just any old regular year. It is a year where all three of our boys started new schools, we moved three times, I started a new job and all of this was catalyzed by a cross country relocation to Chicago. So it was a very FULL year. I interviewed Jodi while we sat in two unmatching stuffed chairs in an otherwise totally empty apartment. I showed her videos of the boys on my phone because while I had moved to start my new job, the boys had not moved yet so they could finish up school. It was an awkward interview only because of the set up, but Jodi’s warmth and professionalism shown through it all. She made me feel like this interview, the year ahead for the family, a still untested work schedule, and the loads of work ahead with the move was not only no big deal but a welcomed adventure and she was excited to partake. She was right–it was no big deal but only because of the breadth of her talents, her amazing ability to both be flexible and keep a routine, and a good kind and honest heart.

During the interview process, I knew I was asking Strollers and Stilettos to find the impossible, or at least the improbable. We needed someone who could engage, enrich and care for our three boys ranging in age from 4 to 10 –this in itself is a tall order. Four year olds still want you to sing the ABCs over-and-over-and-over again, and still have accidents and need to be reminded to take a break from coloring to go pee. And 10 year olds want iPhones and feel like they are ready for high school. Its a broad age range for any nanny.

AND we needed the impossible job candidate who could help us get our lives in order-get the house ready, coordinate the tuning of the piano after the move, enroll in camps, figure out the best dry cleaner, and keep the refrigerator stocked though it all–all this and the other 100 million things that you must accomplish when moving.

Indeed I had requested a person that may have been impossible to find.

A year later, and very grateful Jodi took the job, despite the odd interview set up, Jodi has been an amazing partner in a most dynamic year of our family’s life. She is both a Nanny and House Manager in the fullest sense. She was the impossible nanny house manager I was looking to find. She makes everything in our lives, both work and home life, possible.

The brilliance of Jodi is not only WHAT she does but HOW she does it. Jodi smiles through everything-is flexible and proactive. She helped the boys feel at home by taking them on trips to their new library branch, and hundreds of other big and little things. She is a natural at gently teasing the ten year old to play at his level by reviewing all the features of the new apple products. Jodi also literally plays on the level of our 4 year old–getting on the floor to play cars, and singing a song over-and-over-and-over again. She is thoughtful to the extreme–like bringing in a car advertisement with a red sports car she saw knowing that this is the one true obsession of our son. And although we are not too picky of eaters, she memorized all our food likes and dislikes as if she has been with our family for years and years. Jodi is proactive and insightful, even suggesting that the sticker chart was not working and a new system was needed. We now have a jewel jar where we place a plastic jeweled bead when we “catch” the boys doing something great like cleaning the table without being asked or being extra kind to one another. When the jewel jar is full-we go out to ice cream. Jodi’s jewel jar idea has sparked countless sweet moments for our boys. This list goes on and on.

Above it all, my husband and I have a sense of ease and joy that our boys are with such an amazing person as Jodi. And for parents that work out of the home this is the greatest gift. A stocked refrigerator, clean dry cleaning clothes in the closet, a house with not too many hot wheels cars under foot are nice and indeed essential too. However, knowing that our boys are with someone that they can learn from, who they can model themselves after, and who cares for them as unique and individual little human beings is what makes Jodi the impossible Nanny House Manager.” – Bridget C.

 

Strollers and Stilettos® interviewed Jodi Wittig as our highlighted nanny/house manager for the month of May. Jodi grew up in Las Vegas and holds a degree in Spanish secondary education. She is also certified to teach ESL and early childhood education. Read the full interview below!

 

S&S: Where did you grow up?

 

JW: I was born in Milwaukee, WI but grew up in Las Vegas, NV. My mom moved there when I was young. I was fortunate to have Midwestern roots, with my dad still living in WI, and I got to enjoy Las Vegas sunshine most of the year.

 

S&S: Why did you end up in Chicago?

 

JW: I went to college in Chicagoland suburbs and did my student teaching in the city. I fell in love with the city then, and after a few years of following different opportunities I ended up back here. I like to say, I moved here mostly for the food.

 

S&S: What is your alma mater?

 

JW: I went to Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL.

 

S&S: What degree(s) do you hold?

 

JW: I have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish secondary education. I also have certificates to teach ESL and early childhood education.

 

S&S: Tell me a little bit about your professional experience – What have some of your previous roles been?

 

JW: I started my professional career as a high school Spanish teacher and cheerleading coach in Las Vegas. After five years I decided to move to LA, with a shortage of teaching jobs available, I pursued a nanny career and fell in with an amazing family there. In LA, I also taught preschool and tutored. I then decided to move back to Milwaukee and eventually Chicago, finding wonderful families in each city.

 

S&S: What did you want to be when you “grew up”?

 

JW: Honestly, I still haven’t figured that out. I have many goals and plans but the one thing that remains consistent is that I feel blessed to spend so much time with children.

 

S&S: Who is one person you looked up to or still look up to?

 

JW: I look up to everyone in my family for different strengths they all have, everyone contributes in really personal and vital ways but as I learn more and more professionally, I really look up to all good parents. It’s a very tough job!

 

S&S: Why did you decide to become a nanny/house manager?

 

JW: I know I liked working with kids and being in the public school setting I was in, I didn’t feel it was personal enough. I work really well in personal relationships so nannying seemed to fit.

 

S&S: How long have you been in this role?

 

JW: A nanny: 8 years. My current position: 9 months

 

S&S: What is your favorite part of your current position?

 

JW: The family is wonderful so I really enjoy getting to know them more each day. I also like the diversity that comes with a nanny/house manager job and with the kids in school full-time, there are always new projects and opportunities to do more with the time to accomplish them.

 

S&S: Why do you enjoy working with children?

 

JW: They are hilarious! In general, I like people who are capable of feeling deeply and are honest in their words and actions, for better or worse, kids are great at both of these things.

 

S&S: Kids often say whatever comes to mind – Do you have a favorite line from a kiddo you previously worked with?

 

JW: I know there are many lines that aren’t coming to mind right now but one memory that always makes me laugh is from my family in LA. The kids were getting ready for bed and putting on their pajamas. After changing, the 8- year old girl and I were sitting in the kitchen when her older brother came waddling towards us, he was so excited to join in our conversation, he had put both of his legs into one pant leg, literally jumping into his pajamas, and the other pant leg was just dangling empty. I think he got talking for about a minute before we burst into laughs and pointed it out to him, he hadn’t noticed.

 

S&S: Do you want to have a family of your own someday? How many kids do you envision yourself having?

 

JW: I’m a maybe. Daily, I see how much work and effort children are and what a crucially important job it is. I want to make sure I have the right partner before jumping in. I think life can be really fulfilling with or without children.

 

S&S: What are your favorite things to do with kids?

 

JW: I love to play games and hear stories about their days. It’s also very fun to explore Chicago with kids, they notice the coolest things I may never have seen on my own.

 

S&S: What do you enjoy doing in Chicago during your personal time?

 

JW: I love to go out to eat. I ran the Chicago Marathon last year so I got into running the lakefront. Before moving to the city, I couldn’t imagine life without a car, now I can’t imagine life without Divvy. I really like navigating the city on a bike. I like comedy shows and all the live theater and hanging with my super cool boyfriend.

 

S&S: Tell me about a day in the life of a Nanny.

 

JW: I divvy to work, help the mom prepare snacks and breakfast, then usually walk two little energetic guys to school. When I come back, the once bustling house is empty. I clean up the kitchen and pick-up the house then begin checking my to-do lists. There is always something to buy, fix, clean up, someone to call or something to schedule- I enjoy the busyness and some days employing strict time management skills. Also, I like to anticipate what the kids may want to do after school and have all my tasks complete so I can be with them after 3pm. I then pick them up, we play for a few hours, I make dinner and say goodbye until the next day.

 

S&S: What are some of your favorite spots in the Chicago area (i.e. museums, play cafes, restaurants, beaches)?

 

JW: I love anything on the lakefront. I went on a dinner cruise from Navy Pier last summer, which was surprisingly fun. I like good food and see myself traveling a little farther than my current bubble to get it. It’s always nice to find a really good old fashioned and chat with a friend. There are some great yoga teachers in this city, many more for me to discover. I love Adler after Dark and the polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo, I visit him as much as possible. I have also been very fortunate to take the kids to the children’s museum and the Shedd Aquarium; we always have a great time at both!

 

S&S: Where do you see yourself in five years – On a personal and/or professional level?

 

JW: TBD and I like it that way!

 

S&S: How did you hear about Strollers and Stilettos®?

 

JW: Before I moved to Chicago and was looking for a job, I saw a position advertised and applied to it. Strollers and Stilettos called me right away! I met Katie a few days later and knew she was a gem.

 

S&S: What was the process like with Strollers and Stilettos®?

 

JW: It was very straightforward. Katie is very knowledgeable about all aspects of placing help with a family and honest about the process to each party. I felt very supported and encouraged when she sent me on interviews but also really safe to tell her exactly what I liked and what I didn’t. She has helped me through the whole process of finding the right fit: before, during, and after.

 

S&S: How did Strollers and Stilettos® help you with finding a family in Chicago?

 

JW: Through a pretty extensive interview process, Katie learned who I was and which families would be a good fit. Then, when she found a match, we would meet each other and report back to Katie. She is like a matchmaker!

 

S&S: Do you have any advice for families interested in hiring a nanny?

 

JW: Yes, it is okay to be picky and ask lots of questions but ultimately, find someone who cares about children and really sees what is best long-term for your family.

 

S&S: Do you have any advice for candidates interested in becoming a nanny?

 

JW: Again, it is okay to be picky and ask lots of questions. Look for a family you can respect and cares for your well being as a person. It really is more than just a job, but remember sometimes, it’s a job.