Thank you to the Seattle Area Nannies Facebook group and the r/Nanny subreddit for idea contributions!
"When are you getting a real job?" "Oh, so you're a babysitter?" "How do you know? You don't even have kids." These are just some of the things people say when they find out we are nannies. Nannies are sometimes treated like we are just the help or worse. People sometimes act like this is just a phase we're going through that we will eventually outgrow. The truth is that many of us are career nannies who will stop when we retire, maybe. We love kids, but let's be clear; we are not babysitters. So please don't call us that. This is a job, and we don't just sit around and play games all day. Here are 14 things nannies wish non-nannies knew.
1. It is a 'real job.'
We don't just play with kids all day and keep them alive. We actually run the household. We do laundry, dishes, drive to extra-curricular activities, talk with teachers, manage medical appointments and everything a parent would do. Each contract is different, but some of us even care for kids for weeks (day and night, with no breaks).
2. It's mentally and emotionally draining.
It's not always physically laborious, but it is mentally and emotionally draining. It has been said that raising kids is the hardest thing someone will ever accomplish. It's true, and being 'just a nanny' doesn't make it any easier. Imagine if your job was to take care of a tiny drunk person who couldn't talk and might scream if he doesn't get his way. It might be fun, but it also requires us to always be on our toes, because just when we think it can't get any stranger, we turn the corner to find our two-year-old has pulled out the entire roll of sticky tape and is now caught in a web of clear plastic.
3. Nannies are not babysitters.
There's a reason Care and Sitter City has separate section for babysitting and nannying. Nannies are very involved in child-rearing. We are expected to be the 'stand-in' parent while Mom or Dad can not be there. Babysitters are tasked with keeping the kids fed and helping them with basic tasks for a short period of time. They are often uninvolved in the child's medical care, schooling and social and emotional education.
4. Illegal workplace environments are very common.
Many families will not hire men, which is discrimination. We don't get breaks, which is illegal in any other profession. We are sometimes offered well below minimum wage. Benefits are not common, so many nannies don't have medical insurance or a retirement plan even if they work full-time.
5. Nannies should still be paid when their nanny family goes on vacation.
We still have homes, utilities and other bills. We are adults with adult income needs. Families need to pay us, even if they go on vacation. We can't just go out and find a job for only one week to make up the difference.
6. Leaving our nanny family is the worst.
Non-nannies will never truly understand the bond between a child and his or her nanny. We spend 9 to 10 hours a day with them; longer if we are overnight or travel nannies. We treat them like our own. We love them and would jump in front of a bullet for them. When it is time to move to the next family, it is hard. We never forget our nanny-kids and would go to the moon for them if they showed up on our doorstep.
7. We work odd hours and often work overtime.
Some parents have predictable schedules and some have on-call schedules that vary week-by-week. Either way, we don't just arrive at nine and leave at five. We often work more than forty hours a week since we have to arrive in time for the parents to commute to work. If our nanny family works from 9 to 5, you can bet we work from 8 to 6, or 7 to 7. If we nanny for someone who owns a business or works in the medical field, we often have kids overnight.
8. Nannies who don't have kids still know a lot about child-rearing.
We have worked with dozens of kids from many families, usually for 200+ hours per month. We have seen almost everything, and going home each day gives a chance to reflect on the things we can do better and the things we did that worked. We usually know a lot of other nannies, all of whom have cared for dozens of kids from dozens of families, and we do swap ideas and learn from each other.
9. Nannies need to support their families, too.
Nannies charge anywhere from $10 an hour to $40 an hour depending on the number of hours, children workload and the area they live. It may seem expensive, but we are adults with adult bills and income needs. We are being paid to be a surrogate parent, of sorts, while Mom and Dad are away. If people want to pay less, they can hire a teenage babysitter or take their child to a daycare.
10. Not everyone is cut out for it.
Being a nanny requires patience, lots of creativity and someone who is okay with being the only adult all day. Kids push buttons and yelling only makes it worse. Nannies need to have a wealth of ideas for disciplining and distracting kids who are misbehaving. They need to be able to invent great boredom busters on a moments notice. Staying calm and being creative is the only way to win at this game.
11. It's isolating and lonely.
Our job is lonely and often misunderstood. It is not uncommon for us to get condescending remarks like, "When are you going to get a 'real job?'" and "Oh, so you just play with kids all day." We rarely have time or energy to socialize with adults and sometimes feel isolated.
12. We don't get breaks, or lunch or even peace in the bathroom.
Lunch break? What is that? Many of us hear people say, "Oh, just do it on your lunch break." We are with the kids alone all day long. We're lucky to go to the bathroom alone. We don't get breaks. Sometimes we don't even have time to eat lunch.
13. Condescending remarks are common.
We hear everything from "So, when will you get a real job?" to "Oh cute, you're a nanny! How fun!" It's fun and hard, but cute is not how we would describe it.
14. Some of us nanny as a career.
Yes, it's not just a job for college students. In fact, some of us get college degrees in early education or child development with the intention of becoming a full- time nanny. Many of us do it until retirement. Nanny 911 aren't the only career nannies!
Summer is almost over, but that doesn't mean summer fun is over. Print these summertime outlines for zendoodlers. Just add your own patterns.
To read more click here.
Three cheers for these 25 mind-benders. Get ready to throw out everything you think you know. Or just, ya know, overthink them all until your brain hurts and you need a shot!
I was a nanny for over ten years. Now, I make homemade toys and write full time. Occasionally, I work at my local schools and provide back- up child care for some parents I used to work for and for my church's nursery. I am multi-talented and loves to paint, draw, crochet, write and sew.