Creating a Loving and Professional Relationship
By elizabeth conner
It plays in my head like a movie: The lights dim, the film starts rolling, and there I am descending down the escalator looking around for a mom and her baby. Thoughts whirl in my head. Would we get along? Would I be what they wanted as a nanny? Would I agree with them on key parenting issues? Would I like Washington? Would I like Bear? And what about the un-born Bug? As I step off the escalator, there in the corner is a woman who looks vaguely familiar – is that her? Our eyes meet and I know immediately. Yes, that is her. That is my new MomBoss.
Like any new live-in nanny, I was nervous about how well MomBoss and I would get along. Not only would I be working with her every day and partnering with her and DadBoss to raise two adorable boys, but I would be living with them. Would we be more than employee/employer? Would it be weird to hang out in the living room after dinner? Would birthdays and holidays find me homesick for friends and family of my own? Nerves and what-if’s kept rolling around in my head.
All worries and doubts were pushed aside that sunny May afternoon as very pregnant MomBoss, Bear, and I left the airport and drove to my new home. Pulling into their driveway I remember thinking, MomBoss is going to be one of my closest friends.
Fast forward a year and a half: Christmas 2014 is approaching and I have a difficult decision to make. Do I go home for Christmas to spend time with my parents and other loved ones? Or do I stay and spend the holidays with my NannyFamily? There were several factors that went into this decision and most of them pointed to me staying with my NannyFamily. When the decision was made and friends started asking if I was sad about missing holidays with my family, the most honest and natural response in my mind was, not really. Because if I am not able to spend holidays with my biological family, the next best thing is my NannyFamily.
As the truth of those words sunk in, I was struck with the reality that I had found love in the most unexpected place – my employers. Every nanny is different, not all NannyFamilies are the same, and yes it is rare to find a family that has this type of bond. But as I think over why we have this close relationship it mainly goes back to this - MomBoss and DadBoss having realistic expectations of what is required emotionally to have a full-time, live-in nanny.
MomBoss has never shown or expressed jealousy of my relationship with the boys. In fact, she has said and acted in quite the opposite manner. She once told me, “It is like having one of my sisters taking care of the boys”. This alone has allowed for more open communication and friendship. If you are a parent looking to hire a nanny – make sure you are emotionally ready for it. You need to know that your child will be spending over 8 hours a day with someone that isn’t you and will most likely love them unconditionally. This person is going to become your child’s best friend and their love will be reflected in this fact. As a parent you need to make the decision to embrace the gift in a nanny or re-think having one.
Both DadBoss and MomBoss have opened the doors for great communication and two-way-discussions on how to handle the boys in transitions and tough situations. I mainly communicate with MomBoss regarding the boy’s behaviors and habits – mostly because we spend more time together. Since day one she has always welcomed and asked for my input on different situations, with me knowing that in the end every decision is theirs to make. They are the parents. In the same way, I often ask both parents how they would handle (or like to have handled) different situations that come up with the transitions that toddlerhood brings. As a nanny, I need to be willing to openly communicate what is happening in the boy’s lives. As a parent, you need to be willing to talk to the professional that you have hired to take care of your kids. Ask for their input, respect their skills, and appreciate the qualifications they have as someone who knows about the children they spend 40 plus hours a week with.
Appreciation is the glue that gives me the desire to renew my contract year after year. At the risk of bragging too much on my MomBoss I must say she is great at making me feel appreciated. In the past two years I can count only a couple times where I felt slightly under appreciated, due to busy schedules and lack of sleep. My MomBoss is always going out of her way to make me feel appreciated and thanked. How? By saying thank you for getting the groceries, commenting graciously on a clean kitchen, or noticing the barely noticeably vacuumed floor. DadBoss will make my favorite meal on my birthday or make sure I have a traditional family item at Christmas. They treat me as they would treat one of their siblings…not like the hired help. They have found the balance between being professional and enjoying our friendship. Parents, if you want to have a great relationship with your nanny, the two words “Thank You” will go a long ways. Once a day or once a week just let them know that you appreciate not only the time they spend with your kids but the extras they do while the kids are napping.
Nannies and parents can discover a friend, a confidant, or even an additional loved one in each other if mutual respect and appreciation is found.