Overage or Overdrive?

opinion 1
At what age would one have reached an age where they are past their prime for a particular career? For example, at what age is considered too old to be a nanny or early childhood educator in a classroom?

I reach the first of the "F Birthdays" (40) in June, and after 28 years of babysitting, followed with 14 years in the classroom and a couple of years being a nanny, I am beginning to wonder if I am too old to work with children, either as a nanny or in a classroom. Due to a rough life in which I was constantly told I wouldn't amount to anything by my father due to my special needs (epilepsy and ADHD) I don't speak to my father and I have accomplished more than most people (father, teachers, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists) thought I would. That being said, I will be graduating next May with an associate's degree in early childhood education, even though I should've graduated long ago, like a "normal" 40 year old.

My resume lists my childcare center experience as 1998, when I got my first job, while the baby-sitting experience is listed as starting in 1984, when my eldest niece was born. Children adore me; at the center where I work a parent told me I was her 5-year-old son's favorite teacher, and he isn't even in my class. This brought a smile to my face! I am currently searching for a new position, and I get the impression that parents see how long I have been in this field and think I am too old and too experienced. I live in a college town, and I am beginning to think maybe I need to switch to a different career field, even though I have 13 months and 10 days until I graduate.

I am not in my 20's anymore, and I think that this intimidates parents: just last week I had two interviews set up. One parent cancelled on me saying the position was filled and later that day she had advertised the position after she told me it was filled. Another family I was looking forward to meeting didn't send me a confirmation that the time we were scheduled to meet was fine. I didn't bother to contact the family, and chalked it up to them not being interested due to my age and experience. Another family that I found through the university's job center was excited to meet me, however, when I mentioned that I didn't attend the university, they appeared to lose interest in me. Again, I believe that if I was 10-20 years younger, parents would see me as a candidate, not just a person on paper with a questionable background. Because I have the years listed in each section to date my experience, it's not hard to do the math and figure out just by my resume that I am close to 40.

I consider myself a diverse caregiver, being that I have worked with low income children in the inner city to the dual career, upper class (not wealthy) families. I feel as though my experience with all ages allows me to work with any age children and be comfortable, while my experiences with parents, including "high maintenance" parents, provides me the abilities to get along with any parent, including parenting style, thereby creating a team. Am I too old to be a nanny? Or is it just my imagination in overdrive?


Wendi said...

OP congratulations on getting your Associate's!! Woo hoo!!

I am a Nanny in her 40's who does not think she is too old for this profession. A lot of my clients love my experience, my wisdom and my youth. Yes...I just said youth. Being 40 is not considered as old as it used to be...Hello J LO....LOL....and most of the parents I work for tend to be around my age.

As long as you are energetic, healthy, happy and present a good work ethic, are only as old as you feel. Age is just a number.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

Normally I would say that 40 is definitely not too old to be a nanny but since you are questioning yourself, it is something to put some thought into. I think it ultimately comes down to the individual. I know people in their 40s who are more energetic than people in their 20s! Generally, if I am being honest, if I were hiring a nanny for my kids (that I don't yet have) I would look for someone in their mid 20s, simply because of something that you said... older nannies are "too experienced." I personally wouldn't want a woman coming in and being a mother figure to my children, I honestly would feel threatened!

That being said, I have to agree with the PP that you are only as old as you feel. If you feel that you are in good enough health to continue, then by all means! Congrats on your degree!

alex said...

40 is not old at all! Please do not think that! If you are wary of the nanny positions, then I definitely think the teaching is teh right way to go. I have seen people teaching into their 70s and still being a favorite!

Phoenix said...

I look at it this way, you are never too old to do something you love. You love working with children and you say children love you. That is all that matters. You've had some problems that are outside the norm but everyone has those. No one is perfect.

I say keep doing what you are doing and don't let anything especially your age get in the way

Z said...

I know exactly what you mean, I am approaching 40 as well. It is great because I have a ton of experience, but I think it is intimidating to a 28 year old new mom to hire someone around 10 years older than her.

I have worked for several moms who were younger than me, and they all seemed so insecure. Like they were afraid to tell me what to do, they just made suggestions. It seemed odd to me, I wasn't thinking about age, I was just thinking that it was her house and her kids so I was going to do what she said. The boss is the boss, age has nothing to do with authority. I was surprised to find so many people who think they should automatically give respect and deference to someone just because they happened to be born first.

workingMom said...

OP, I how much the reluctance on the parent's in your examples have to do with the fact that you are advertising yourself on the University website? Perhaps parents shop there because they specifically want a younger, "college-age" nanny?

Personally, I think a mature nanny can be a very desirable demographic for some families; I think you just need to market yourself better, and use a agency/service which will capitalize on the expectation of maturity and experience for the parents who use those agencies/services.

If you love nannying (and you clearly seem to possess that special "knack" for connecting with kids), keep doing it. But just be aware of the way you market yourself, and the expectation that is created through that marketing.

Aphrab said...

I am in my mid-40's and a nanny and it has worked in my favor. The 2 families I work for appreciate that I am older and have so much experience. The parents ages range from early 30s to almost 40. It has been a really good fit and another child is arriving next month so I have some job security. ; ). I would say market yourself elsewhere. I got my job through Oh yeah, a friend of mine is in her early 60s and is a nanny..she loves it and the family she works for loves her. Hang in there!!

Tina said...

40 is the new 20. Look at all the 40-somethings who are still going strong.

I.e., Gwen Stefani, Mariah Carey, J Lo, P. Diddy, Jay Z, etc......

And man Madonna looks amazing at 53 and still has the energy she had in her 20's.

Young at heart said...

I feel ya, in my knees! I'm thirty nine and been teaching or nannying all my life. While I don't worry about being in the wrong field, I do realize I have to adapt if I want to keep working with children. I love being both a preschool teacher and a nanny and trade between the two fields every 2-4 years. I nanny now and it's physically easer on my body than preschool was, but I'm not watching a baby. I've suffered from back pain more while teaching. I get to story time early so I don't have to sit on the floor, and sit a lot more at the playground than in my twenties when I'd be climbing around more. As I age I'm better at doing lots of activities with children besides art, I love cooking with them, I tell great stories, I like going for hikes, and I'm calmer. I'm discovering new things I enjoy doing with children that they love and the parents appreciate. There are many women I have known over the years that were amazing caregivers and teachers well into their 60's, they just learned to adapt their skills with children. I'm a firm believer that working with children keeps us young!

nycmom said...

I definitely do not think you are too old to be a nanny! However, I think there is a lot of merit to various earlier comments. Many parents simply have a strong preference, often based only on their own instincts, but sometimes based on other factors. I am a big believer in a good "fit" between the nanny and family. A great nanny for one family might be a terrible nanny for another family and vice versa.

I'll give my own biases, but take them at face value and know I am not claiming my choices are "right." For infants and toddlers, I prefer an older nanny. Ideally 35yo-50yo, late 20s at the youngest, having raised or raising her own kids. Little ones require patience, endurance, focus and experience IMO. I think "energy" is important, but a balanced, constant energy, not arriving with pep and burning out. Days with little ones can be tedious and repetitive. They are prone to various illnesses and injuries which worry me more than when my older kids get sick. I need someone with good judgment and realistic expectations. I need someone experienced because at that age, my nanny needs to create the days' activities and find the playdates. I also need someone more comfortable with managing the household and, yes, helping out with (fully disclosed and compensated for!) tasks like children's laundry, grocery lists and generally keeping the house in order and running smoothly. Most of all, I need someone I can trust, with lots of references.

However, for my older kids roughly elementary age and above, I prefer a younger nanny and so do my children. I don't need as many references. My kids can talk and you can be sure they will tell me their observations. My kids want a caregiver they can relate to and perceive as a bit more of a big sibling role. Since my kids are in school, your job is quite different. You need more energy for a shorter period of time. You need to supervise and inspire the completion of homework, shuttle the kids to occasional afterschool activities, advise my preteen daughter on whether her clothes are cool, reassure my 9yo son that not everyone is good at sports and find a way to convince them that TV/electronics are not the most fun they can have. I have found my kids respond best to someone young and familiar with their video games, who can play along for 15 minutes, then skillfully divert them onto a healthier activity. You don't need to be as creative with ideas -- they will tell you what they enjoy -- but you do need to be someone they admire and want to hang out with.

Plus, my kids fight now. A lot. Sibling rivalry is a huge issue. Although as a parent, they generally listen when I get angry, that's a tough job to expect of a nanny. Although I will *always* support you in front of the kids and either continue your consequence, or have you be the one to lessen it, we would all prefer to limit the conflicts. I have found my younger nannies better at navigating this role and mediating a solution that suits everyone. Older nannies, like mom and reasonably so, tend to be more authoritative which just doesn't work as well for those conflicts. Perhaps my kids are already sick of me yelling at them : ) Sort of like how my husband taught me years ago that I don't need to make everything I care about a major right/wrong issue with the kids. Sometimes, diverting and distraction works just as well and accomplishes the same goal.

... TBC

nycmom said...


Other factors to consider are that I would assume an older woman was looking for a longer-term, stable job and would expect to be paid more, probably deservedly, based on experience. If I were hiring for part-time care, or were the type of parent already looking to hire college kids, I would expect to be paying a lower wage and might assume you were too expensive.

Random other reasons:
-many moms prefer older nannies as they are quite paranoid about having very attractive, young women in their homes.
-many moms have an odd and arbitrary age cutoff above which they feel a woman is "too old" to "keep up" with young kids. I recently helped our newly 50yo nanny of 4 years get a new job. This woman is a powerhouse of energy and *always* has more energy than me despite being 15 years older. Nonetheless, many moms would not be swayed by my recommendation and simply wanted a younger nanny. Their loss, truly.
-Some older nannies are set in their ways, as are some older everyones. I do, paradoxically, hesitate to hire a nanny who was with her prior family for 6-7yrs+. I get insecure and worry that my family's quirks (i.e. my kids and my own less than ideal qualities), aren't going to be tolerated by a nanny who just left a job she was happy at for so long! I know we aren't perfect, but like a little room to grow with a nanny.
-many moms, myself included, have found younger women to be absolutely addicted to their phones, mostly texting, and I suppose the equivalent of the older, park-bench, or cell-phone talking nanny. I admit this drives me crazy and I am on alert during interviews and trials for this issue with younger women.

Sorry for my ramblings and take this as you will. I apologize if my generalizations have offended anyone and reiterate that they are only my personal preferences, not based in any kind of fact.

workingMom said...

Off-topic: I just want to say hello nycmom! I have been wondering where you were! You always give such good input!

I said...

I think since you have a lot of great experience in that field and now you have a degree, you can be a teacher in an early childhood school (not a daycare). They are part of the school districts and are popping up in big towns. My town of 150,000 just got a new early childhood school about 2-3 years ago. THey are run by the local school district (which includes 2 high schools, 5 junior highs, and 14 elementary schools)

tamm said...

nyc mom brought up a good point. Many people are looking for someone younger because they want to pay less.

A college student whose tuition is paid by her parents won't be looking for a job to support herself, she will be looking for spending money to go out with her friends. Someone younger might not know what nannies should be making, and people can get away with paying less.

I bet a lot of parents see someone who is an adult with an established nanny career, realize they can't afford a real nanny, so they try to get a young babysitter to do a nanny's job.

nycmom said...


Thanks for the kind words! I enjoy reading your comments also. I am still checking ISYN regularly, though not as often. Since I am often late to the comments I find that there are now so many wise folks on here that I don't often have anything to add! Plus, more nanny-focused topics (not a bad thing!) and I try not to step on any toes.

Also, we have been busy with a big move (thus having to part ways with our amazing nanny) and are still adjusting to our new home. I suppose I should technically change my moniker, but it has grown on me so I'm sticking with it!

Older Mama said...

You are not to old! As an older mama, I feel like nannies in their 20's are way to young and inexperienced. They just don't seem to have the maturity that I am looking for in a nanny. Currently looking for a new nanny, and if someone is over 30, I open their listing first!

fan of nycmom! said...

nycmom - wow, just wow! You give some of the most amazing advice on this blog. I sometimes can't wait to read what you have to say! You've written such a detailed comment with such great advice, thankyou for helping this reader out, too!

nycmom said...


thank you also for your kind words.

deb4now said...

I will be 41 next week and have a 3 and half year old daughter. Most of the parents that are having children lately and a lot of multiples mind you are in their mid to late 30's and early 40's due to getting married late, career choices etc..they are the same age as the nannies they are turning away? Doesn't make sense, if you feel like you have the energy and can handle keeping us with young children then that's all that should matter to a family. I have a hard time keeping up with my own child but I would hire someone for sure that could do my job and hopefully better no matter what age! Good luck to you

Aries said...

I agree with the comment that mentioned the forum you were in. I suggest signing up on another nanny website.

And age is just a number. My mother is 50 and has more energy then i've ever had. She wakes up bright an early and is ready to start her day. She'll even do a quick 10 minute exersize before getting ready for work. She raised 5 children, including me and i wonder if that has had alot to do with her energy and spirit! I think you're just assuming its your age but i'm sure it's not. You win some you lose some. Goodluck!