Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The recent post referring to nannies as “glorified baby-sitters” really got me thinking. I’m a nanny, and have been with the same family since August 2006. When I started, the kids were 3 months, 21 months, 7 ½ years, and 9 years; they are now 2 ½, 4, 10, and 11 ½. I’m closer to the younger two kids (mainly because I’m with them much more during the day and they were younger when I started), but have a good relationship with the older two as well. I work a minimum of three full days a week, I’m paid a reasonable wage – definitely not outlandish, but enough that it is worth my time – that includes one week of paid vacation at Christmastime, and have a great relationship with the family.
As I’ve been thinking about the whole nanny vs. baby-sitter issue, here is what I’ve come up with:
• Nannies are usually older than baby-sitters and have more childcare experience. I know this is an obvious one, but one worth mentioning. I’m 26 years old, married, and a college graduate. I’ve watched kids since I was in middle school and have been First Aid/CPR certified multiple times. We often have been an educator in some capacity, whether it was with a church, an after-school program, or as a private tutor.
• Nannies love the kids they watch. I’ve been attached to other kids, but there is something about the fact that I have been with them for over two years for a minimum of three days a week (and often more). I love these kids so much that it scares me that I will one day love my own children even more. I’m very lucky that the parents that I work for are very family-oriented (the kids will always choose their mom over me, which is just how it should be!), but there is nothing better than seeing them light up and run to hug me when I pick them up from school or having them tell me they love me while we’re snuggling. I just had my first two weeks off in a row, and I missed them terribly after the first week. I couldn’t wait to go back to work!
• Nannies will take care of your kids when they’re sick, while a baby-sitter won’t want to get your kids’ germs. I’ve wiped snotty noses, rubbed backs when they were about to vomit, administered breathing treatments, taken care of bloody noses, and sat on the edge of the bathtub reading books to toddlers with diarrhea. I get a cold nearly every time they do (so does my husband!). I’ve snuggled sick kids while I have a pounding headache because they need comforted until their medicine kicks in. A nanny does what needs to be done, even when it’s not convenient.
• Nannies will do light housekeeping because it’s the right thing to do. My bosses made it very clear to me that the kids are the first priority but that they would appreciate it if I would help them with laundry and dishes when they’re both napping. I do it not only because they ask me to but also because it makes their lives easier and they’ll be able to spend more time with their kids when they get home rather than folding clothes. They have been good to me and I want to do the same for them.
• Nannies are part of the family (or should be, at least). I know about things that are going on in their lives, and they know about mine. They’ve spent time with my husband and ask me about him on a regular basis. I’m invited to family birthday parties (as a guest) and family brunches. They understand if I have out-of-town guests and let me bring them to work with me. When I told my boss that I felt weird going into their bathroom to look for something for the kids, he told me that they were already trusting me with their most prized possessions and that meant that no part of their house was off-limits. When one of the grandmothers had a stroke, I didn’t hesitate to agree to work extra hours so they could be at the hospital as much as possible. I knew the kids needed some stability, and I’m the next best thing to their parents.
I know there are lots of baby-sitters who consider themselves nannies but don’t want any of the responsibility that comes along with it, and I know there are nannies who try to squeeze anything they can out of their employers (and vice versa). I understand that I am in a good situation and I don’t take that for granted, but please don’t view every nanny as a spoiled, overpaid employee with a false sense of entitlement. Some of us have truly fallen in love with the kids that we watch and we only want the best for them, and some of us have made the families we work for a priority in our lives. There is a level of investment that comes with being a nanny that I think is lacking with a baby-sitter, and I think once you really take a look at someone you will be able to tell the difference.