In Response to the “Dear Smug Nanny” Post

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Perspective & Opinion
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.


scma said...

Nice post. I'm a nanny in a similar situation. Not all of us feel so entitled. I love my charges and I am paid a fair amount.

Beezle said...

Well said. I've been with my charges for three years now. I've never had to "ask" for anything from the family wage wise or vacation wise. The family has always gone above and beyond to compensate all my needs. I feel if a nanny (or anyone in their field) excels, and is careful screening the prospective families she works for, there usually isn't a need to create "outlandish" demands because they are recognized and appreciated.

Naomi said...

Well done!

I even keep in touch with families I don't even work for anymore!

I feel I have put of my life into the kids that I've watched that I would like to maintain some connection.

Hopefully parents realize the differences ( even though babysitters are good) and the fiscal compensation is because we need to earn for our time as well.

Anonymous said...

Aww nice post, OP. It's nice to see someone put that out there in such an eloquent and non-confrontational manner. I agree with everything you said and it sounds as though we're in very similar situations as far as the family-nanny dynamic is concerned. I too consider myself lucky to be with the family I work for. And it has nothing to do with what I am paid but how I am treated. Respect and love. We have a great working relationship and I love my charges to death.

I hope some of the uppity, self righteous nanny employers out there read what you've written and think twice next time they attempt to group all nannies together as entitled and lazy.

Minneapolis Nanny said...

Thank you, Nanny, for posting this.

Nom de Plume said...

Well said, Nanny.

countryfire said...

Thank you for your lovely post. It was dead on about the difference between a nanny and a babysitter. I have been a nanny for 12 years and have kept in touch with most of the families. I tell people that my job is loving and raising other peoples kids and I love it.

ZZZZZ MOM said...


The differences between a nanny and a babysitter are as various as the lines on a dead oak tree. I mean, come on. Are you seriously comparing the gimped out, 50 year old Jamaican bench nanny to a 23 year old American college student with a heart of gold?

Grateful Nanny said...

ZZZzzzMom....wake up and read the post again while you are fully awake! How can you not agree?
OP, well said. Thank you very much for the post. No one could've written it any better.

A Nanny Who Cares said...

Loved your post OP!

I also work as a nanny for an amazing family that truly values me and my hard work. I believe I am compensated fairly. I know I could make way more elsewhere, however I also know that means sacrificing the amazing relationship I have with the family I work with now, so it isn't worth it!

I know there are many people out there that are focused solely on money and their own personal gain, these people can be nannies, but they can also be employers, doctors, lawyers, etc. One's profession does not dictate if they are greedy, it's their personal character that makes them shady.

Although I don't get much monetary compensation, I get so much love and appreciation from the family that it is worth it to me. I was one of the nannies who wrote in for the holiday bonus survey that got no monetary bonus or paid time off for Christmas, however they gave me some very generous gifts that showed a lot of effort and reflection in picking out. I was very pleased and knew they gave me more than they could afford, as the parents didn't even get to exchange gifts this year.

notananny said...

In my opinion the word is not important. I had a babysitter from the age of 6 to age 12 who watched me after school 4 days a week and often 1-2 nights per week too, or a weekend day. She also sometimes traveled with my family on vacation. She was a teenager, and definitely referred to as a babysitter and never as a nanny, but otherwise she meets every single criteria for a nanny that you listed. I loved her so much and considered her part of my family and the feeling was mutual. Our family attended her wedding and stayed in touch for a long time. She was a blessing to our family and actually she was more a parent to me than my own parents were in some ways.
The point is that no matter what title you use to refer to the person caring for your children, there is a big difference between someone who cares and someone who doesn't care. If you find the former then as an employer you should do everything you can to keep them.

career nanny said...

A nanny who cares
"I was one of the nannies who wrote in for the holiday bonus survey that got no monetary bonus or paid time off for Christmas, however they gave me some very generous gifts that showed a lot of effort and reflection in picking out. I was very pleased and knew they gave me more than they could afford, as the parents didn't even get to exchange gifts this year."

I'm sorry, I'm not trying to hurt your feelings here, and you may very well be a great nanny, but I think your Employers are trying to live above their means. They want the honor of saying "we have a nanny", but truthfully, if they are so broke that they can't afford to buy each other Christmas presents, I think they should either look into a licensed Daycare nearby, or hire a babysitter.

Florida sun said...

I am a full-time SAHM. But I do babysit on weekend nites to make extra money. Even though I am considered just a babysitter. I still do the same work a nanny would do. But of course with less hours, and no driving. I have cleaned up vomit. Have helped a child that must have had a stomache bug. And yes I was afraid I would bring it home. But I didn't I guess my body must have a pretty good resistance now.

I give the kids a bath. Make dinner, etc. And even though never asked I do little things as: empty or fill dishwasher. Sweep the floors. Just to be nice.
Since they are great to me and usually pay me more than $15 per hour.

Em said...

Hmm, I only read the first sentence of each point, and I'm not sure I agree, but I'll be back to read it later.
Seems like it's knocking babysitters? I hope not.

You're a genius Em said...

I haven't read it either! I just came here to comment real quick and let everyone know that I'm pretty sure i don't agree, even though I don't really know what you're saying!!!!

I'm not K said...

You're a genius Em,
Are you TRYING to look like an idiot, or does it come natural?

Manhattan nanny said...

Nice post OP.
I think one reason many people rail against "over paid, lazy nannies" is this. There are many "faux" nannies that are all too visible on the streets and in the playgrounds neglecting or mistreating their charges. That coven of harpies sitting on the playground bench all afternoon while their charges are ignored should not be called nannies. Why do parents hire them? They will work off the books.
Another reason: some parents have very low standards of care. They don't expect much beyond "watching" their children. That is feed, change, and keep them alive. An easy job, requiring no qualifications, and not worth much pay.
Parents who are knowledgeable about child development, brain plasticity during the first three years, and are concerned about their children's education and social development hire well qualified professional nannies. You won't hear them complaining about their nanny being over paid, lazy or entitled.

You're a genius Em said...

I'm not K:

Do you mean "come naturally?"

I can send you some websites about grammar if you're interested.

Em is Decompensating said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I seriously think Em has some sort of mental illness. Increasingly rambling, perseverative, disorganized, and tangential posts keep on coming.

The most recent above was summarized pretty well by "You're a Genius Em."

Em, Please get some help!

If anyone knows her personally, please consider having a talk with her and finding out if you can help her out. I know it's easy to just discount her posts as personality, but the most recent is truly worrisome. I know it seems short and harmless in isolation, but consider how odd it truly is. Combine this with the multiple posts, late night hours, all day long posting, and rambling/disorganization and I truly think it's cause for concern.

With Honors said...

Genius, and I beg to differ on that, it can be said either way.

With Honors said...

Em is Decompensating i.e."In a mental health sense" - LOL

Right on!

OP said...

Hey - OP here...thanks for the supportive comments! It seems like most people on here are either complaining or asking for advice so it's nice to hear from other people who are happy with their jobs.

And to anyone who thinks that I'm putting down baby-sitters, I'm definitely not. I baby-sat for years and years and know how tough (and rewarding) it can be. I was responding more to the idea of a baby-sitter that was talked about in the other post -- the one who shows up on a Friday night and parks kids in front of the TV with pizza and then puts them to bed so they can relax on their own. Maybe I misread the post, but when they referred to nannies as "glorified baby-sitters" that is what I took as their meaning. Again, this is NOT an anti-sitter post...I just wanted to point out that all childcare providers are not equal and you shouldn't judge the good ones based on the bad. :)

You're a genius Em said...

Well sure, With Honors, it can be said either way. However, one way is correct and one is not!

NannyInCharge said...

I was also a babysitter for years and years before being considered a nanny. I babysat and still did many of the things a nanny does, however I was a teenager and babysat for many families in the neighborhood.

OP - I thought your post was great. It was well written and not argumentative. I agree with you and you sound like a great nanny.

I too feel very lucky to have found the main family I work for. Nanny can sometimes be more of a household manager or partner in parenting, while babysitter usually just takes care of the kids and maybe a few simple chores relating to the kids.

I don't know... I also agree the word doesn't matter as much as how great the nanny-family relationship is and how well the children are taken care of.

I think you can also be a babysitter for one family (work the occasional weekend date night) and be a full time (or pt) nanny for another family.

Alien Princess Pheobe said...

This is a lame post. I'm too lazy to type out everything lame about it.

MissDeeLovesJohnCena said...

Phoebe: This post is wonderful. You must be a park bench nanny if you said this post was lame. Don't get mad at the nannies who do their job the way it should be done, when you yourself can't handle being a nanny.

Decompensating: I am giggling as I write this. I get dizzy spells, headaches and blink too much when I read Em's comments. Perhaps Em is from Oz? I always wondered how Dorothy felt after the tornado. Perhaps Em might know.

OP, you said it best. There are differences between being a nanny and a babysitter. Problem is, many parents are unsure of what they want in a caregiver. I personally think some parents are intimidated in some way by nannies with portfolios, WA's, tax information and the whole nine. It amazes me as to how some families look for nanny after nanny.....

cali mom said...

I think Manhattan nanny said it pretty well.

I was thinking about this yesterday and saw two examples of babysitters at the playground. There were 2 toddlers, a boy and a girl, boy about 15 mos, girl about 20 mos. The girl snatched a shovel straight out of the boy's hand. Her babysitter spoke to her in Spanish, telling her ot was not OK to take the boy's shovel, and she needed to give it back. She listened to the lady, considered for a moment, then decided to ignore her completely and wandered off to play, shovel still in her hand. The babysitter never left her spot or pursued it any further. The boy meanwhile, stood looking stunned, sad, and very confused about what had happened and what he should do next. His babysitter meanwhile, had been on the phone for a good half hour at that point, keeping an occasional eye on him, and was completely unaware that he had just had his toy snatched right out of his hand by an older child. Neither child at any time within the 2 hours or so, ever attempted to interact with their caregiver in any way. Not to show them anything, say a word to them, ask them to play with them, ask them questions, nothing.

I think it pretty much comes down to this: a babysitter "watches" kids and does nothing beyond keep them safe, fed and reasonably unsoiled. A babysitter will not interact more than necessary with the kids, let alone teach them things such as effective communication, appropriate social interactions, or any form of academics, numbers/letters, shapes, colors, etc. A babysitter will NOT do such things as make judgement calls, research educational activities for the kids (music/movement classes, etc), or reasearch schools when the time comes on behalf of the parents and kids, and then have an informed discussion with the parents on the available options. A babysitter will not WANT to do anything more than make sure the kids are still breathing when parents come home.

Now, there is nothing wrong with going to the Burger King drive thru instead of sitting down for a steak and lobster feast, or hiring a babysitter instead of a nanny. IMO, the problems arise when either parents try to get the steak and lobster for the price of the #3 combo meal, or babysitters want the steak and lobster salary in exchange for slinging a burger.

So parents must understand the market, and if their budget only allows for a babysitter, they should scale back their requirements. And if a nanny IS a nanny and not a babysitter and sees a job advertised for a babysitter's salary, it should not concern her or him. As long as you aren't being forced to eat the Big Mac combo, you can't get upset that someone wants to order one. Also IMO, it has nothing to do with how long you work for a family, how many hours per week, salary, etc. Strictly what the employee does or does NOT do makes the definition.

NannyInCharge said...

Good analogy Cali mom and well said!! I totally agree with everything you said.

vinny said...

This was boring as watching my grandmother take a crap.

ericsmom said...

LOL Vinny

And I don't agree with the put down of what a babysitter does. I babysat in the past. Who said babysitters don't read to the kids. Take them out to the park or playdates. Last time I remember I did all that. And no I didn't just sit on my ass while they ran around. I interacted with them.

UES Nanny said...

OP was responding to the rant referring to nannies as "glorified babysitters". I don't think the issue is whether or not there are good babysitters.
Certainly there are babysitters who play with the children, read to them etc. The difference between the jobs is in the expectations and responsibilities.
I, and many nannies I know, do occasional evening and weekend babysitting for other families.

As Cali Mom pointed out.
"A babysitter will NOT do such things as make judgement calls, research educational activities for the kids (music/movement classes, etc), or reasearch schools when the time comes on behalf of the parents and kids, and then have an informed discussion with the parents on the available options."

I do these things for my nanny family, and mostly on my own time. I also purchase most of the children's clothes, plan their birthday parties, and schedule their Dr. appointments. I don't do those things for the families I babysit for.

l word said...

There has ever really only ever been one American SUPER nanny and she knows who she is.

fancynanny said...

Thank you so much! I worked for a family for two years, and loved their children to pieces, and felt that I did so much more than a babysitter would. Yet one day while on vacation with the family the mother and I started talking about this very subject, and the mother told me that she considered me to be a babysitter. Don't get me wrong, this was a great family to work for, and babysitters are great. But I considered myself to be so much more than that.

I saw the plane crash outside from Weehawken said...

I rather babysit because I get paid more. And treated better. When babysitting on occasional weekend nites the family is more generous. And your basically hanging out with the kids

hooey said...

So I think the distinction cali mom is making is that babysitters raise kids who understand that the sun doesn't shine out of their butts, other people are not at their beck and call, and that sometimes unjust things happen to good people.

Whereas NANNIES raise sniffling balls of neurosis who think that the world will do their bidding and that teachers, co-workers, and figures of authority are there to serve them.

Come on people, isn't this a little simplistic?

cali mom said...

Yes hooey, what you just said was very simplistic, not to mention more than a little stupid. It had nothing to do with what I said though, so my guess is that either you are a bitter babysitter who always wishes she could get that steak and lobster salary but hasn't yet found the right suckers, or you were just trying to get responses by making yourself spund stupider than you actually are.