Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me before My First Day as a Nanny
by elizabeth conner.
The week was over - falling onto my bed at 5:30pm I laid motionless and exhausted, covered in everything from baby food, boogers, and formula to sweat and faint smells of the last soiled diaper of the day. My brain needed to be turned off, my body needed a massage, and my pride needed a shower but all I wanted to do was lay there enjoying 5 minutes of silence. I couldn’t remember ever being this emotionally drained – even when working 60+ hours a week in the corporate world. That is when I knew:
Being a Nanny would be harder than I could have ever imagined.
The next day my NannyFamily was heading down to the grandparents to celebrate DadBoss’s birthday, so I opted to go with them. As the day wore on, Bear (1 1/2yrs at the time) missed his nap and dinner came and went with increasing exhaustion on his part. Finally he came over to me with his blankie and binkie, climbed on my lap, and sweetly fell asleep in my arms. Joy bubbled up within my heart and in that moment little Bear captured my love – he firmly held my heart in his tiny hand. And that is when I knew:
Being a Nanny would be one of the most fulfilling things I could ever do.
Caring for kids has always come naturally to me and babies have always been able to tug at my heart strings. Entering the nanny field was more of a natural transition into who I am and have always been rather than a dive into a crazy kid filled world. But as natural as this job is, there are a few things I wish someone would have told me before I dove head first onto this Nanny Train.
You will be lonely. As a Nanny you have moved out of the world of adults, real conversations, and people who actually understand you. You are now in a world of bumbling toddlers, kids with attitudes, and voices that will do anything to be heard. You essentially become a semi-permanent member of a foreign family where you are raising kids that are not yours, and most people have no idea how to resonate with that. Make nanny friends quickly! Even if it is just through social media – they will be the few friends that get it and will make the days less lonely.
You will feel under-appreciated.There will be days where you feel like you are the only one who cleans the house, picks up the toys, does the dishes, or washes the clothes. You will give parents advice that will go unheard. You will have moments of feeling like what you do doesn’t matter and goes unnoticed. It is part of the job. There will be times you get introduced as “the nanny” and think man, is that is all I am? Those days will come - acknowledge how you feel and let it go because the truth is you arethe nanny and that is what you get paid to be.
You are a professional, don’t let anyone tell you differently. We work with kids who tend to make everything less structured and we become an extension of the family we work with. Being an extension of the family is a double edged sword - on one hand it is great to feel the connection, trust, and comradery of family. On the other it is easy to be taken advantage of. The biggest complaint I hear among nannies is the “last minutes” that come up with MomBoss and DadBoss. Parents running late without telling you, asking you to stay late day after day, or requesting you to work a last minute weekend. If this is an occasional occurrence, no big deal. However, when it becomes habitual, things needs to be addressed because you are not family - you are a professional nanny. One way to keep it professional is to have a formal contract or written agreement between you and your NannyFamily. When you start to feel like you are getting taken advantage of, go back to your contract.
You will cry. You will laugh. You will get angry and frustrated. Your heart will melt. In other words, you will feel every emotion under the sun and most likely within a 20 minute time span. Bear has a way of making me more frustrated than I have ever been in my life one minute and the next his cuddles melt all the anger away. Recognize the emotions, process them, and let them go. Getting angry only upsets kids as they feed off of our emotions.
Kids are not robots. Sounds obvious right? But in those moments when Bear is so focused on fixing the pillows in a certain way or Bug is trying so hard to reach the sippy cup instead of coming to lunch immediately like I asked, I need to remind myself that they are not robots. They are little people with brains that are growing and developing. When they get so focused on a something that their attention is impossible to reach, I need to give them a little space and a reasonable amount of time to finish up what they are doing instead of getting mad.
Your job is more important than you feel it is. I was sitting with a group of friends sharing how I was struggling with finding worth as a nanny, unsure about how all the diapers, feedings, and hours with toys mattered in life. One of my friends stopped me mid-sentence saying, “You have one of the most important jobs ever, you are molding those boys into who they will be”. Never forget this! We, nannies, are getting the incredible opportunity to mold, shape, and grow our NannyKids into the people that they will one day become. We are trusted with someone else’s most precious possession – we really do have the most important paying job in the world. Never doubt the value of what you do!