Yesterday was my last day with my “nanny family” of 9 months. It was so emotionally exhausting that I came home and slept for 12 straight hours. I’m sure I cried at least 20 times throughout the day, and probably would have cried even more if my 3 year old son (Simon) hadn’t been with me. It’s always hard to leave a nanny position, but it’s 1,000 times harder to leave a position that you LOVE.
As nannies, we sometimes talk about finding our “Unicorn Family”- a family that is so perfect, it’s hard to believe that they actually exist. The “L” Family was my Unicorn Family. Not only did they respect my career choice, but they respected my time and my “work space” as well. They NEVER came home late, and not once did I walk into a sink full of dishes from the night before, toys all over the floor, or piles of laundry stacked up for me to tackle. In fact, I didn’t even do Baby D’s laundry- my “mom boss” (MB) preferred to do it herself. From day one, I was treated as a professional AND as part of the family, and there is no better feeling than that for a nanny!
When I started with the “L” Family, Dawson* was not yet crawling. From the very first day, I knew that we were going to get along splendidly. His sweet smile melted my heart, and his little coos and babbles were irresistible. He was, by far, the easiest baby I’ve ever cared for in my 17 years as a nanny: perfect sleep schedule, great eater and happy 95% of the day. We barely noticed when he was teething, as he never complained (unless he was hungry). He loved being held and snuggled, but was also able to play independently for long stretches of time. We went on adventures together all over the city. His favorite thing to do when we were out was to stare at people on the bus/train until they looked at him, and then flash his gummy smile that lit up his bright blue eyes and melted strangers’ hearts. I can’t even count the number of times I heard “What a beautiful/sweet/calm baby. You are so blessed”.
And even though he wasn’t mine, I’d say “Thank you!” Because he truly was such a blessing in my life.
*Delilah Jones lives in Sunnyside, TX, and is the mother of an 18 month old daughter, Magnolia. Fourteen months ago, Delilah and her husband, Casey, hired a nanny after Delilah returned to work full time. Their nanny, Eloise, brings along her own 16 month old son, Archer. Eloise is a former 2nd grade teacher with 12 years of experience as a full time nanny. Eloise is what’s known as a “Nanny-Mom”. A Nanny-Mom is a professional nanny who brings her own child to work with her, either part or full time. The majority of Nanny-Moms are career nannies with 3-20+ years of experience as professional nannies.
If you are a family who is considering doing a nanny share, but you don’t want to have to deal with another set of parents regularly or would rather not have a strange child in your home, a Nanny-Mom may be exactly what you are looking for! There are some potential drawbacks to hiring a Nanny-Mom that a family will have to consider during the hiring process. I recently asked 100 moms what their main concerns would be pertaining to hiring a Nanny-Mom. The three main concerns were as follows:
- Would my nanny pay more attention to her own child than mine?
- What would I do for backup care if my nanny’s child was sick and she called off work?
- Would I have to pay for food/supplies/extracurricular activities for my nanny’s child?
Other concerns included issues such as liability (what would happen if the nanny’s child was injured in the family’s home?), concerns about limited space, nap schedules, and baby ‘equipment’ logistics. Read on to hear how families just like yours answered these questions.
Three year olds: AND SO IT BEGINS…
My son, Simon, has been 3 for two whole days, and I feel like he has literally changed overnight into a person I don’t recognize. As an Early Childhood Educator and a career nanny, I know what the experts say about three year olds. I felt like I was prepared for this transition. “Bring on the threenager!”, I yelled in defiance.
It’s been two days, and I already want my sweet and loving boy back! Last night, after a particularly difficult night of refusing to do EVERYTHING and throwing himself on the floor in tears because he “wasn’t tired”, I sat down (in tears myself) and wrote this letter to myself. Maybe it will help you, too…
“It’s not personal- it’s developmental” is a phrase we use often in our house, right? It takes a lot of self-discipline to not lose your shit when your kid is losing his. However, losing your shit is a sure way to not only create distance between you and your son, but to push him into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode (which is why children laugh in our faces, flat-out ignore us, or scream back when we yell at/scream at/spank them). The MOST important thing you can do for his well-being and development is to figure out how to stay calm yourself in the midst of his ridiculousness. The first step to staying calm is to not take his behavior personally (because it’s not!).
“Why is it easier to be kinder to another person’s child than your own?”
When I was 12 years old, I began babysitting for families in my neighborhood. The first family I worked for had SIX children- 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. I was paid $.50 per child per hour (a decent amount of money to a preteen in the early 90’s), and often had all six children on my own. Now that I’m an adult- and a mother- I look back on that situation and think “What the heck were those parents thinking?!?” I was TWELVE. But, as it was pointed out to me many times over my early career in childcare, I was a natural. Word traveled quickly, and by high school I began babysitting regularly and was paid extremely well.
Imagine that you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant with your first child. This is something that you’ve been dreaming of your entire life. You’re elated. Overjoyed. You celebrate the happy news with your partner, your family, and your friends. You’ve always loved children. It is one of the reasons you became a nanny. And now you will have a child of your own! Then, reality sets in and your mood goes from excited to anxious. How are you going to tell your “nanny family” that you’re expecting?
Often, when speaking with parents, I will hear the following: “I have a GREAT nanny! She is kind, attentive, polite, punctual, tidy, etc etc etc. We just love her!”. While these qualities are wonderful for *any* employee, they don’t always translate to “great” in the nanny world. So let’s talk about what actually makes a great nanny. What qualities, quirks, and practices make a nanny stand out above others in her field? Even if you already consider yourself a stellar nanny, there are always ways to improve and better yourself!
I recently asked some online mommy-group members to tell me what a great nanny looks like to them. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of women who truly seem to adore and respect their nannies.
In the early days of my nanny career, I used to bring only one thing to in-person interviews: my resume. For me, this was a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you bring a resume to an interview? However, for several of my interview families, this was a first for them. No other nannies they’d interviewed had brought in a resume. A few times, I would get comments like “Wow, a resume! So professional!”, and then a semi-patronizing look that seemed to convey the question “You know this is JUST a nanny job, right?”. Mostly, though, families were genuinely impressed and thankful. With that resume in hand, I got more callbacks than rejections.
The Nanny World is quickly and quietly expanding. Ten years ago, the average American may not have even known what a nanny WAS, let alone what a nanny DOES. When I became a nanny in 2001, many people in my town had not heard the term before. Even after I explained it to them, I often hear a lot of “Oh, so you’re a babysitter?” Well, no. A babysitter is usually a teenager with little to no experience who comes occasionally to help a family for a few hours per week. A babysitter’s main objective is to have fun, keep the children alive, and maybe order a pizza and give a bath or two. Although I’m sure they exist, I have yet to meet a “career babysitter”.