Wednesday

"Nanny Dreams"

Received Wednesday, July 30, 2008. - Perspective & Opinion
I've cared for children for over 15 years and been a full-time nanny for about 6 of those. Over my professional history I've experienced what I call, "Nanny Dreams". I know that they're classic anxiety dreams, so I don't really need anyone to psychoanalyze them for me, but I would be interested to know if any other nannies have experienced this phenomena.

For the most part I experience these dreams during the day, usually on a weekend or while I'm on vacation and taking a light nap. They're never the same in content, but the theme is always the same: I'm neglecting the children. For example, I'll dream that a young charge and I are out at the park, I'll meet a friend and go off shopping with them, leaving the child behind. Then I'll realize what I've done and spend the rest of the dream frantically looking for the child. I usually wake up with a start and still believe the dream is true. I sit up in bed and am about to rush off to search for the child when I realize that I'm in Hawaii and the kids are thousands of miles away, safe with their parents.

Maybe these dreams are unique to me, because I also had similar ones when I was a waitress, except they had to do with not having brought people their food. But, I am curious to know, has anyone else had dreams like these?

41 comments:

lets hope said...

I think your losing it.

lets hope said...

Get out now....

UmassSlytherin said...

They sound like anxiety dreams to me. I don't know a whole lot about dreams, but I disagree with the above poster who says you are "losing it." Dreams are a manifestation of what we are feeling and thinking about, from my understanding. Those don't sound like nice dreams, OP, I'm sorry. I myself have alot of nightmares that sound similar to that. I do alot of theatre and believe it or not, sometimes I have dreams that I am performing in a play from about 10 or 20 years ago, and I cannot remember any of the lines or blocking of course because I havn't rehearsed! I know it sounds silly but they are very very stressful. lol

Perhaps you can talk to a doctor about it, but in the meantime, they sound like normal anxiety dreams to me.

OP said...

I should have mentioned in the post that I don't have these dreams frequently, maybe 5-6 times in a year, so I don't really think I'm losing it.

But, if I were, would I know?

lets hope said...

I was only kidding around O.P.

Its probably something stressful going on in your life at the moment.

cfg said...

Perfectly normal, OP. It just shows that you care about the safety and well-being of these children. I have had them before, too.
Try not to concern yourself over them, it's just your subconscience mind working overtime, and there's nothing you can do to control it except to relax!

JerseyXJacqui said...

I've had dreams like that before, and oddly enough they're usually not at night, but during naps. Anybody in ANY job who has huge responsibilities is bound to have dreams about messing up. Totally normal, OP.

Rhea said...

When I was a nanny for my little "Booger", I had those dreams. I would dream I put him his in crib for a nap and then left work completely. Usually when I was leaving work, my boss drove by and I would think it was good they were going home because I had left him and he needed to not be alone. About the time I would realize I had abandoned a toddler in a crib, I'd wake up.
I had those dreams a few times after I left the family too.

His mom said that she had dreamed pretty much the same things occasionally since he was born. Just leaving him alone and going off to do her own thing, and when she would realize what she had done and that he was in danger, she'd wake up.

I think it's just normal fears that you might not do it right, or they might someday be in harms way because of you or from something you could have avoided.

Anonymous said...
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Minneapolis Nanny said...

I had a dream a few nights ago that my 6 month old charge was choking on a sunflower seed... that I gave her!

It wasn't the first dream I've had over my 5 years as a Nanny.

You're normal.

nanny said...

I once had a dream that the mother of the child I nannied for was raped, and that I then found her and her son murdered! Talk about freaked out when I woke up. I was a bit of a mess over that dream. I don't often have dreams about the children I have taken care of, but that was a doozie!

nanny said...
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nannynomore said...

I used to have them the night before I started a new job. I would dream that something was going wrong, nothing big, but things like getting to work late, not knowing where the house was, things like that. I figured it was anxiety and they only happened when I was starting a new job.

NVMom said...

I think dreams are a way of dealing with our anxieties. I've dreamt that I was at the mall with my daughter, and that I sent her off to a different store by herself! that would never happen in a million years but I think it's a way of both addressing fears and relieving them at the same time.

Now about those going to class naked dreams....

Yaya said...

I know what you are talking about. I have dreams about work, not the same scenario as yours, but about work, nonetheless. Usually the night before I'm going back after a vacation, and my mind is swarming with all the stuff I'm gonna have to do the next day to 'catch up'.
Is there something going on w/ the parents that causes you to subconciously not trust them?
Honestly, you sound like me, you probably truly love your charges, and you just overthink things, one of those being about the kiddos. Try acupuncture! It's really been helping me with a bunch of stuff!

UmassSlytherin said...

Listen to Radio Disney before you go to sleep. That always relaxes me. But just FYI, you cannot win prizes if you call in to the station unless you are 14 or under. So don't even try, you can't enter for stuff, K? They don't let you.

givelove said...

I have dreams like this all the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with you. I'd be willing to bet that parents have these dreams about their kids too.

Fifi said...

Oh, yes, givelove, I have had dreams about leaving my daughter or doing something stupid so that we were separated. I believe that the last one that I had, I dreamed that I had let her get on a bus by herself and then I realised that I didn't know were the bus was going. Frantically chasing the bus, berating myself...always a relief to wake up from those dreams!

nannyneedsanap said...

I have a reoccuring dream that really creeps me out. I put the kids down for their nap, and leave them home alone. While I'm driving around, their Dad calls to tell me he's on his way home early. I realize I left the kids alone and rush to get home before their dad does. I always wake up before I get home.

mimi said...

I have a daycare...and I always dream that someone wasn't picked up by their parent...and in the middle of the night I will wake up and sprint over to daycare to check all the pack n plays.....its so creepy.

UmassSlytherin said...

geez, mimi. that IS creepy. :(

Calif Nanny said...

I use to have waitress dreams when I was a waitress. They are the worst. I also have the nanny ones too. I usually dream Im not there and they arent being taken care of. I wonder why no one is noticing. Very sad dreams.

Sprak said...

re-occurring dreams about school, work, family and they usually entail some sort of stressful situation. I still have the school locker dream where I forget my combination or can't remember where my locker is. This summer, when visiting an old school friend we were discussing high school and I mentioned the locker dream and she said, "oh, no, not the locker dream!" Seems she's had basically the same one through the years!

elizabeth said...

Haha are you kidding? That's why I think of this as a 24 hour job! I have woken myself up in the middle of the night, "looking" for the kids (ie I sit bolt upright while in my dream I'm standing on my tiptoes). Generally they're dreams about watching the kids on the beach or something, but once I had a dream that I had done something really irresponsible with my charge (I think I had taken her to a college party) and it was the most horrifying dream ever. I felt guilty for ages, even though it was just a dream!

Adria said...

Oh man. I was a nanny for two years and had a handful of dreams about the little guy that I can assume were induced by stress or due to something small that had happened during the day.

The worst one being:
(as a bit of a back story, I am also a birth mother. My son was placed for adoption when he was born and just turned 3 in April)
So! For some odd reason I was taking B (my charge) and Eric (my son) to a sleep study with me. We were at this bed store and my sister was there giving me a hard time about my adoption and yelling at me that I shouldn't be allowed to see my son.
(which sadly, is a reality.)
The sleep study was for me but I changed my mind after the fight with my sister and decided to leave the kids there to do the sleep study for me so I could go to the bar. They didn't have overnight bags packed so I gave my bag to the director and lied by telling her all of the stuff for both kids were in the one bag all together.
There are parts of the dream that I don't remember, some stuff thrown in the middle but the next memory of it I have is returning to pick them up two days (!!) later and being shocked that they were no longer there. The director was yelling at me for not bringing the stuff they needed, saying sleep studies aren't for toddlers and the best quote I remember being:
"IT IS NOT OK TO ABANDON YOUR CHILDREN AT THE INTELLIBED STORE!"
At that point my mind must have clicked or I got jolted and woke up horribly confused (around 3am) and flew out of bed, searching for the kids.
Which is amusing in and of itself considering I live in a studio apartment that's smaller than most people's closets. It took me a few seconds to realize it had been a dream and I didn't abandon them.

I do blame that dream on my sister, haha. Earlier that day we'd had a talk about my adoption because she couldn't wrap her mind around why my son's adoptive parents want me to be so involved and around. She said I may as well have thrown my kid into a dumpster and by being involved in his life as his birth mom, I was simply helping him along his path to be a crazy, mixed up kid who's life would be ruined. I am pretty good at brushing off crass comments about adoption, since people I have met do not agree with me being involved but having it be my own sister say it really really gets to me.
That's been the only really awful "omg i gave your child away to gypsies" dream. The others were usually where I'd forget to pack a juice box or goldfish in the diaper bag and all hell would break loose.

lovesannaandstinker said...

OMG! I totally do too!! Mostly the baby crying.... loudly. Or I constanty hear them cry for me when I KNOW they are both sleeping soundly (that scarily enough) is when I am wide awake though... EEKK....

Samantha said...

I think its totally normal and most likely some kind of anxiety coming forth in your dreams. I remember a few years back I was babysitting 3 of my nephews for the summer while my sil was at work. On one of her days off she took them to the park and I stayed home to take a nap and I had the most real dream I have ever had in my life that I was asleep and something was wrong with the 3 of them, I was yelling for them to come to me because I couldn't move, I couldn't wake myself up. When I finally woke up I freaked out and ran around the house looking for them before I realized it was actually a dream and my sil had them for a couple hours.

Personally I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Jody said...

i have been a nanny for many years and have had these dreams too! I think it means you are really good at what you do, and always want to do your best! You fear failure!

macaroniandcheese said...

i have such dreams too. don't worry, it's completely normal.

mom said...

I used to have those kinds of dreams while I was pregnant (and a few after as well)...like the one where the baby is born but you forget that you even have a baby and go about your daily business until AGGGGH you suddenly remember that you have a baby you are supposed to be taking care of...only you don't remember where you left it. Then i would spend the rest of my dream in a panic trying to find my baby.

Then I read in a book (I think it was "What to Expect When You're Expecting)that that is perfectly normal...and the book even mentioned one or two of my EXACT recurring dreams.

I think it said that it means something like oyu are concerned about doing a good enough job as a parent and so your insecurity comes out in a dream.

OP, take this as a sign that you want to do a good job and have inner concerns that you might not be doing as well as you can. If you are a good and attentive nanny, then it probably just means you feel secretly insecure...because it really is such an important job. If you are a good nanny, don't fret too much about the dreams and realize they are normal. If you do little things as a nanny that you think you ought not do, maybe there is a little guilt inducing the dreams. If that is the case, just do your very best to correct the couple of things you might do better and maybe the dreams will stop. (Altough I must say that, even as moms, we always feel we could do some things better....so don't expect perfection from yourself, because it will drive you mad.) Just do your very best...and welcome to being a (surrogate) mommy!

mom said...

Adria,

Bless you for giving your child a chance at a life you didn't (for WHATEVER REASON...the reason DOES NOT MATTER even a tiny bit)think you were capable of providing him.

You are an angel!

Don't let your sister, or anybody make you feel bad about that choice. (Frankly, your sister sounds like a cruel and horrible girl.)

So many children and parents who would never be together if not for adoption are incredibly grateful for people brave enough to do what you did. And so many kids have suffered irreparable damage for people trying to hang onto them when they were not yet capable of being effective parents. I think the HARDER choice would be to give a baby up than to keep it...and am always amazed when thinking about the selfless love that must go into a decision like that.

Hold your head up and STOP being ashamed. You did a wonderful thing, and don't ever forget that.

kathleencares said...

I haven't had the nanny dreams, but I use to have the waitress dreams years ago. I think it is just normal anxiety.

OP said...

I had waitress dreams as well, although they were easier to control. I learned that when I came home from work, no matter how tired I was, I couldn't go right to sleep. I had to talk on the phone or watch a TV show first to kind of disconnect from the job.

Perhaps nannying is just the kind of job you don't really ever completely disconnect from, even while on vacation.

v said...

I've had them too...maybe its normal...who knows?

Isn't it a horrible feeling when you think its true and you wake up so scared and frantic, then realize its a dream and your heart is still pounding.
After a dream like that I usually watch them even more carefully thinking it might come to pass. lol

Alison said...

yes, I have dreams like these all the time. I've had dreams that I've lost the kids, had dreams where they died, you name it. I think it's completely normal. Being responsible for another life is stressful!

No Longer Anonymous Regular said...

LOL. Anxiety dreams are weird. I'm not a nanny, but I have recurring dreams that I get called from my grad school that I didn't passed my statistics final exam and they are revoking my diploma and notifying my employer. I go into work and I'm told I must take and pass the exam or be fired, I sit down at a school desk immediately that just happened to be sitting in my office to take the exam and can't understand any of the problems. I'm 10 years out of school and I doubt at this point anyone at the company I've been at for eight years even knows where I went to school--let alone cares. Anxiety is anxiety--seems to happen whenever I get a bit underwater at work.

K said...

I have nanny dreams sometimes, but they are mostly the same ones over and over.
I have this one dream where I dream that I'm getting fired for giving my charge like pizza or something.
(Her parents are SUPER healthy and she isn't allowed to eat anything non organic or that has wheat in it unless it's gluten free..she has no allergies this is just her parent's obbsession.)
Then I have one where her parents leave me alone with her for the weekend and they never come home and I have to adopt her as my kid. Thankfully I don't have these that much...

Adria said...

Mom--

Thank you! When reading your reply of "your sister sounds like" in my head I thought "ignorant bitch" but your version seems to be slightly more appropriate.
Luckily, the shame has ended for the most part and anymore it seems like I use sarcasm to glaze over the subject when I am triggered by the wrong person about it.
Only a small amount of people have ever been as callous as my sister about my adoption. Most of them are like you, encouraging and accepting... but everyone has bad days and the claws come out!

Thanks for the support! Even on my worst days I know how totally lucky I am to have my son and the whole situation. He knows who I am, tells his friends and family how much he loves as misses his "adramom" or "firstmom". As he gets older he'll manage to put it all together so it makes total sense but at 3 he's doing a pretty amazing job. I see him once or so a month, receive pictures from them once a week and catch up over the phone once every three or four days at times. His adoptive mom has become one of my best friend's. We can talk for hours and Eric will get brought up once or twice but the relationship we have is so close we don't feel guilty about not talking about Eric the entire time. My parents are very active grandparents, they've opened their entire world up to us and they think it's extremely important that Eric knows his birth family and has a close relationship with us all.
So, no matter what my sister says, or the things people who have no clue as to what goes on in my life with adoption, I know how lucky I am that I have my beautiful son and we're all one really large family.

mostly clueless said...

You know, Adria, I think that it is difficult to understand what adoption is all about when one has never been part of the process in some way or another. One can only judge with one's heart in the circumstances, and some people are unfortunately ill-equipped to do this. Please feel sorry for these people. They must miss so much out of life.
And I think your sister loves you very much, she probably tells you these things because she does not want you to get hurt.

Denver Nanny said...

totally normal...but you're probably getting burnt out at your current position. I've had similiar dreams, but I was overworked, under appreciated, and taken advantage of...I don't think you should be THAT anxious about your job unless the parents are contributing to the stress

StudentNanny said...

I have dreams like that all the time...once I dreamed that my charge got on the bus without me and I was chasing the bus, or another time I left him in a sotre...Im a student and I also have nightmares about forgetting to study for exams, etc, so I think its just a sign of being conscientious