It’s guest blogger Wednesday and I have someone we all wished we had in our lives! Hope is a professional nanny based in Sydney, Australia. Founder of Nanny Shecando, a blog about life working as a nanny and with kids, Hope works to support and promote professional nannies and sitters in the in-home childcare services industry. This post by Hope is a really interesting perspective on what it’s like to look after other peoples children.
So, being a nanny huh? It’s all playing with babies, reading books, maybe an outing to the park and then before you know it, the day is over and you can hand the kids back. Right? Wrong.
There’s more to it than you might think when looking after children that are not your own. Then again, if you’re a mum, you know this all too well. I know we can all admit to revamping our casual TV rules, and helicopter-mum behaviour when our children’s friends are over incase something should go wrong on your watch.
When caring for other people’s children as a nanny, working for the right family can make or break your job. A “bad family”, or a family that doesn’t fit, can be the precursor to career meltdown.
Being a Nanny – 4 things (to be aware of) when looking after children that are not your own
1. OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS
It can be pretty sweet in the nannylife. Those slobbery kisses from affectionate toddlers and the handmade paper gifts from crafty primary school students keen to show you their appreciation, keep you coming back for more each day. And it’s good they do, because some days are tough. Some days, when you walk away in the evening questing why you do the job you do, it’s tough. Some days, when you can’t remember a good reason for going back to the same situation, it’s tough. Some days, when you’re exhausted and close to tears from dealing with other people’s issues, other people’s parenting techniques, and other people’s lifestyle choices, it’s tough. And all of this can make it tiring to care for other people’s children; children that are not your own!
2. THE SELECTIVE MEMORY
Everyday you look after (and sometimes raise) kids that are not your own. This means you must adapt to the family’s wishes. You witness their high points, and ride out the lows. But at the end of the day, the kids still leap from you to Mum and only seem to remember that you’re the mean person who forced them to eat their broccoli.
3. YOU BECOME THE DISCIPLINARIAN
Because you’re looking after kids all day, and spending the majority of contact hours with them, you become the disciplinarian. And yet, you can’t be there at night for the cuddles to make up for the earlier “tough guy” act. For some, it can be ironic that because you’re looking after other people’s children, you become the authority figure. And yet at times, you’re not in a position to proceed with authority how you see best.
4. ATTACHMENT & JEALOUSY
This is one of the hardest of all to deal with. Because it’s only natural that if you spend the majority of contact hours with the children that you’re going to become attached. Just the same, so to will the kids. This can pose a potential issue if the parents don’t share the view that, “it takes an entire village to raise a child.” It can be difficult to circumnavigate. Best course of action: eggshells, tiptoes, and sympathetic reasoning.
5. PHILOSOPHY TOWARDS CHORES
For me, working in a clean and tidy house is a key requirement. Whilst it’s part of my job to keep the house tidy and to teach responsibility and the role of chores to my charges, a nanny is not a cleaner.
At the moment my employers don’t need this same requirement. They don’t share my same needs. How I leave the place in the evening is not how I find it in the morning. It’s a mess and for some nannies, there’d be giant alarm bells going off in their heads.
“This family is messy, your efforts don’t last, everyday will be the same battle – don’t work here!”
Then again, I know my family has a newborn baby that doesn’t sleep through the night. I know that Mum runs two companies as well as working in corporate full-time. I know that Dad travels regularly for work and that the kids are still getting acquainted with the concept of housework and chores. It’s a work in progress. I’m not happy, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. Looking after their children in this makes it difficult, but I persevere.
6. YOU BECOME THE BUFFER
Sometimes, when looking after other people’s children, you become the buffer between parent and child. Matters are made worse when said parents share differing viewpoints. This can be tricky to deal with. Parents come with problems, opinions, expectations and often conflicting values. You’ve got to be a buffer and moderator, protecting the child’s best interest whilst adhering to the parent’s ideals.
Looking after other people’s children can be challenging. You’re on edge. You need to constantly be aware of safety concerns and hidden dangers. You need to maintain values, rules and structure. You need to ensure that you don’t impress your own opinions onto the child if their parents don’t also see things accordingly. You need to play devil’s advocate, the kindness fairy, and also mother hen. All of this is challenging, but in my line of work, it’s all in a days work.
You can check out Hope at her Nanny Shecando blog here