What it Means to Be a Nanny

Photo by Tatiana via Flickr Creative Commons by brooke baker.

I am a nanny. People tend to think I sit on the couch and watch TV all day while the kids do their own thing. They urge me to get a real job. They assume I’m just an overpaid babysitter who keeps the kids alive while the parents aren’t there. According to them, I have one of those easy jobs where I really don’t have to do anything. In reality, their ideas of what I do are far from the truth. So what is the truth? What does it really mean to be a nanny?

As a nanny, I am trusted to love and care for my charges just as their parents would if they were home. I am a part of a parenting team where I am responsible for making daily decisions regarding health, diet, and educational activities. I work ten-hour days with no breaks, and if I do find myself watching TV during the day, it is likely to be the newest taping of Peppa Pig or Dora the Explorer.

So when people tell me I should get a real job, I like to remind them that I do I have a real job. I actually have many. I am a teacher who knows how to hide lessons in all of my charges’ favorite games and activities. I am a nurse who knows which kind of straw will get her charges to drink the most fluids. I am a chef who knows that it is relatively impossible to hide vegetables in mac and cheese, a stylist who knows exactly where each child’s favorite outfit is at all times, and a photographer who keeps mommy up to date on all of her kids’ daily activities while she is at work. Finally, I am a caregiver who knows just what the children need from her when they are missing Mommy and Daddy.

I nanny for two girls, ages 5 and 2. I’ve devoted the past two years to learning how to be the best nanny I can be for these girls and their family. I’ve learned to understand what they need. For instance, the 2-year-old girl needs to carry around her own backpack while her sister gets ready for school in order to be comfortable with her sister leaving for the day without her. I discovered quite quickly that the 5-year-old girl is not a morning person… unless there is baking involved. I’ve learned that children need you to be honest with them just as much as we need them to be honest with us. I’ve learned to protect them without being overbearing and to love them as if they are my own, even though they aren’t. They have taught me that specific mixture of happiness, sadness, excitement, loss, and gain that comes with watching the children you love grow and change. I’ve learned just how fortunate I am to be a part of these girls’ childhood and to be a part of the memories they will cherish forever.

Every day is not all fun and games, this much is true. There have been those mornings when the girls are crying on my shoulder, wishing Mommy could be home today. Times when raw eggs are on the floor and the bag of flour is upside down on the counter while the youngest is licking granulated sugar out of her dirty hands, and I wonder why I ever thought baking with two kids was practical, until later that day when we wrap up our freshly baked cookies and I watch the girls place them in containers with big smiles on their faces. They carry the containers as we go around to deliver treats to our friends, and the girls were able to learn what it means to give to others. Those smiles on their faces and thank-you notes we get are what make the baking messes worth it.

You see, my job is real. I have a hand in raising the children who are our future, a hand in teaching them right from wrong. When these little people are grown and are doing their part to influence our society, I can say that I had a part in influencing them. Being a nanny means I haven't gone a day without thinking of these kids since the moment we met. Their smiles are contagious. They are a part of who I am. This job is a significant part of my life, and I truly cannot imagine doing anything else.