I’ve worked with kids for 10 years, and I’ve learned quite a bit throughout that time. I’ve worked with close to 10 families and observed so many different dynamics. I went into it knowing not much about kids besides the basics of childcare. These are 6 things, beyond the basics, that I wish someone had told me before I became a nanny.
It wouldn’t have stopped me from becoming one, but I would have felt more prepared and confident from the get go.
1.You may feel used or overworked at times
Nannying can be much bigger of a commitment then you first realize. I nannied mostly part time in the beginning, and now have had some full-time nannying experience. When you first start out you are naïve and things are novel so everyday tends to be easy and fun. When you have been nannying for awhile it starts to take its toll, like any job. Now don’t get me wrong, I still love being a nanny, but I’ve started to realize that nannying is a bigger job then I used to believe.
You are in their house every day, or a couple days a week, tending to their child, cooking them food, doing dishes, laundry, tidying up, etc. That long list of chores is not something most people expect, and it sometimes doesn’t all come at once. When a boss sees you do one of those things once or twice, they may start asking you to do them all the time. Now something you did out of wanting to help the family when needed has become just another part of your job. Also, a 5pm end to your workday every day is never going to happen. Even if your boss tells you that is when you job ends, it doesn’t. More days than not it will be later than that. I’ve found it comes with the job. There’s always one last thing they want you to help with before you leave, and because you want to do well at your job you usually do.
2.The kid/s will always be on your mind. 24/7
You will constantly be thinking about them whether you want to or not. When your not at work little things will remind you of that special moment you two shared the other day while reading Goodnight Moon, or you’ll remember they have a soccer game and you find yourself wanting to know how it’s going.
After awhile they may even feel like “your” kids and you love, care, defend, and talk about them like they are. It’s not a bad thing to always think about them because it shows how much you care; however you do have to be careful that this doesn’t encroach on every part of your life. Not everyone is going to want to hear about the super funny thing your nanny kid did today, or whether or not they ate all their vegetables at lunch. Also don’t let worrying about them consume your mind. It is normal to worry about children. They are innocent and defenseless, but they are also resilient and intelligent little beings. They will be just fine when you are not with them, whether it’s because they are at school, art camp, or simply with their parents. They know you love them and will be there tomorrow for even more fun.
3.You may turn into a friend/ person to vent to for the mom or dad
Be careful. This can blur lines between a boss and employee. It makes it hard to separate your job from your personal life. You also may not want to know all of the information they are telling you. This can get especially tricky in families with high marital conflict, sometimes you may get stuck in the middle. Be careful in the advice or information you give them back. In their moment of weakness you could say something that they take differently and it could end up effecting your job.
You need to set boundaries. They can be explicit and told to the parents or just internal ones you remember. With all that said, becoming friends with the mom or dad is not always a bad thing. I know I made it sound completely negative, but when done effectively it can be good and healthy. You, as a nanny, need to make sure you always remember that first you are their employee, and then you are a friend second. Your main priority should always be the kids. Strive to do your job and take care of the kids, but also have a friendly relationship with the parents. Having that friendly relationship with your boss will help keep an open, honest communication line. It will make things at work run smoothly.
4.Nannying is far and above the most rewarding job you will ever have
As a nanny you are getting to help a tiny human grow and develop in to a person. The things you teach them in your time with them, will effect them for the rest of their life. To me that is an amazing opportunity and immense responsibility. When you teach them things, like sharing, and then see them do it out in public without your guidance, your whole body smiles. It’s in little moments like that, that I am reminded of how important my job is. I am helping to set the stage for the rest of their development and future relationships.
You are a major part of your nanny kid’s growth, and when they grow you grow right along with them. Their milestones are your milestones, because you helped them get there. I love staying in touch with the families I used to nanny for because then you are really reminded of the impact you made in their lives. That impact never goes away. I know I made it sound like being a nanny is this crazy, scary responsibility but when you do it right, the rewards are endless and magical.
5. It’s so much more than just childcare
Yes your primary outcome is childcare experience; however there are other skills you leave this job with having. One is communication. Communication is key being a nanny, and you need to be able to do it in many different ways. You need to be able to communicate (verbally and nonverbally) with the kids you nanny. You need to be able to communicate with the parents/ your bosses.
You also need to be able to communicate with other nannies and parents and friends of the family. Another skill you gain is patience. You cannot work with kids if you do not have patience. Kids are constantly developing and learning new things, which takes time. You need to have the patience to teach them the same thing 4 or 5 times. You need to have the patience to let them get themselves dressed some mornings, even when you know you could do it faster. You need to have patience when things don’t go as planned, because with kids this happens often. You may not have the best patience going into your job, but you will leave it with a deeper understanding of what it means to be patient. Other skills I’ve gained are negotiation, persistence, compassion, and empathy. I’m sure there are plenty of others too 🙂
6. You become part of a family.
And that my friends is a great feeling. When you find the perfect match with a family everything seems to click. You never want your time with these kids to end, but as every nanny knows kids grow older and need you less as a nanny. This does not mean they do not need you any less as a person.
Once you have been apart of the family’s life for so long they won’t want you to leave either. You have become another family member. As they grow you just need to shift your relationship a little. I’ve found having special nights out with the kids, watching them for an evening when the parents go out, or sending them a letter helps me stay connected. I have 5 families now, instead of just 1, and that is the best feeling in the world.
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