Received Friday, June 4, 2010
I wrote and asked for other's advice on my upcoming vacation with the family for whom I work: (When the Nanny Travels Along). I was offered a "split shift" so that I could have some afternoons off to do some site-seeing myself. I returned last night, and this is actually how it all turned out...
My employers were very, very thoughtful and fair with me. I actually had to remind them several times that, while I was grateful, I was there so that they could enjoy their vacation time off. I encouraged them to go out and assured them I was quite comfortable staying home with the babies (seven month old twins), and that it was my expectation that this was a work week for me. I did work long days, and was responsible for getting the babies up around 6:30 and bathed and to bed each night at seven (and all else in between), but after that the parents really took over if a baby awoke, and they tended to any nighttime needs (although the babies are very good sleepers and easy to get back to sleep if the wake). During the day, if the parents were around they pitched in if both babies needed me at the same time. As well, they insisted upon cooking my meals and if they went out to eat they brought me some treat home. Midweek they scheduled a massage for me at a local spa. Saturday they took me out to all the local farmer's markets because they know I like that! A couple of the mornings they suggested I not begin my duties until 10am, and they took care of the early mornings so I could sleep in (usually I set my alarm for 6 each morning to insure I would be awake to hear the first call of the babies because the mom is a very light sleeper). So on a couple of mornings I got to sleep in. In the end, I was paid for my regular 12 hour daily shifts as if we were at home. They asked me if I thought this was fair and I agreed it was. I was also paid this rate for the short traveling days and for the extra personal time I had off.
So, I have to say, all-in-all, I am very grateful for how everything worked out on this trip. Generally speaking, it was hard for me to be away from my family for so long (10 days) and I did get very homesick at times. Also, I struggled some with occasional moodiness in the household that I am not used to. It is more difficult to be in this role of "Mother's helper" than to be a nanny while the parents work. I know that they are my employers and these are their children and I respect that and acquiesce to their requirements. But I am a retired kindergarten teacher, paid freelance mentor to new kindergarten teachers, mother of 5, grandmother of 4, and I have a lot of experience under my belt. So, in all honesty, it is very hard to have my judgement questioned by first time parents of 7 month olds. But....like I said, I am their employee, so I just bite my tongue and go ahead with what they have asked/told me to do. They are very bright people and like all of us, will figure out parenthood by trial and error.