Saturday, June 21, 2014

Frustrating Nap Cycle

Last weekend I had the chance to spend time at my brother’s home. He has a wife and 3 little boys and for the first time I met his youngest. Little L – born in the last 6 months. I live on the opposite side of the country from my family and when I was back at Christmas didn’t get to visit my brother. 

This trip made some great memories with the whole family. Ones that I will cherish for a life time. It also brought back memories on a time not so long ago: Bug’s 3-6 month mark. The months of the “Frustrating Nap Cycle” (FNC). If you have ever raised a baby you will most likely know what I am talking about, the months where it can often take more time to sooth and lay a baby to sleep then the actual length of their nap-time (slight exaggeration but in the moments it doesn’t feel like it). Bug and Little L are GREAT sleepers and overall good babies. But this Frustrating Nap Cycle leaves no baby (nor care-taker) un-turned in its wrath

Saturday morning Little L stayed with me as his Momma took the older 2 boys out. I rocked and sang him to sleep and after he hit his sleep spot (that spot when they can be laid down in the crib without waking up) I laid him down. It took about 20 minutes to soothe and rock him to bed ½ of that time he spent crying and fighting it. 

Later for his afternoon nap Little L decided that the FNC needed to be fully in-place. I rocked him, laid him down, he woke up, soothed him some more, laid him down, he was quiet for a while then woke up 20 minutes later screaming again.  I was now fully reminded of the struggles through Bug’s FNC months ago. Struggles that I can honestly say we are past and gladly don’t have to repeat.

There were days with Bug that I would just hold him for his whole nap time because I knew he needed the sleep so badly. That is the hardest part of the FNC – knowing how badly the baby needs their rest while they fight it with every ounce of strength that they have. Some days I wanted to hold Bug so close that he would just fall asleep, others I wanted to leave him in his crib until he passed out of exhaustion from crying so much.

My frustration back then was the lack of nap time consistency; it used to aggravate and drain me. I like schedules and plans. The ability to know when Bug will fall asleep and how long he will sleep for is something I love. Now days we are able to pretty much predict when he will fall asleep and for about how long he will sleep for. Back then NOT so much. I would plan an outing for after his nap time and he would end up sleeping for an extra hour. Then there would be days where he would fight his afternoon nap so much it never happened.

Thankfully I didn’t have to endure this alone. That is one of the many joys of Nanning for family members, we get to walk this journey together. I was able to share this struggle with Mom-Boss and Dad-Boss, they experienced similar things on the weekends so they got it. We could talk and process this together and set up a game plan on how to handle his naps.

Let me encourage you, whether your baby is 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years you will get through it. You will have days where you are not sure you can handle another hour of crying. You will have days that you desperately need to take a nap with baby falling asleep across you on the couch. You will have moments you feel like crying yourself because you feel so bad the baby can’t fall asleep. And you will have the victories of normal nap times. Nap times you celebrate and relish because for now, for this time they are far and few between. In all of it, know you are not alone! You have a support and community right here experiencing the same things with you!

The FNC will end soon my fellow Nanny.

Stay strong and compassionate to the wee little bundle that loves and needs you


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Keep It Professional

Being on Twitter has recently become a favorite activity. Not because I am bored and needing to fill time, but because of the nanny community that I have begun to develop on there. If you are not a nanny it is hard to understand the struggles and pleasures of everyday life helping raise someone else's kids. Interacting with others who understand and encourage each other in it is refreshing. 


This interesting situation of being paid to (help) raise someone else's child is kind of unnatural and surreal for many people. Most full-time nannies spend anywhere from 35-60 hours a week with their chargers. In any situation where you are spending that quantity of time with another human being relationship and attachment is bound to form in one or both parties. Add the innocence and unconditional love that most children have and you have created a situation where attachment and love is guaranteed.

In the "Nanny World" there are several different types of levels of nanny. By level I mean amount of time spent with the children, requirements of the nanny, expectation of care, and open availability. The most demanding level would be someone who has a job much like Annie from Nanny Diaries. She is a live-in Nanny and expected to be on call 24/7 or anytime MB or DB requests - vacations and time off are hard to get.  The least demanding (for lack of better word) would be a part time nanny who works anywhere from 2-5 days a week doing basic child care while MB/DB work or run errands for those few hours. With every situation in between those two extremes I am always curious at what different nannies and agencies consider professional.

After a rather fun and long weekend with Bear and Bug I was exhausted yesterday before the work day even began. As I laid in bed before my day started I was thinking of two precious moments of cuddle time, one with each boy. With this heavy on my heart I posted:

"When you love someone else's child so much it hurts" #SignItIsGoingToBeHardToLeave                                               

Now I am not planning on leaving anytime soon (I committed at least another year) but as Bear and I laid in bed cuddling Sunday morning and my heart literally hurt because I love him so much. That is when I knew I was in trouble! Big trouble!

A sweet Nanny who also watches a family member's child made a comment  "#alwaysstayproffesional which is hard to do". Oh how she speaks truth!! The question that quickly popped in my head why is getting attached to our charges unprofessional  in our industry? What is unprofessional with developing a loving relationship with the kids that I spend all day every day with?

As I began to do some research the answer became very clear to my. Insecurity. One simple, complex, ugly word.  Both in the MB and the Nanny. I think most moms worry that the Nanny will be more loved, more needed, and more cherished than her. The Nanny worries that they will be let go, not be able to leave, or give up who they are for the children they watch. 

Here is the deal though if I want to be the best Nanny I can and do what is best for the boys I need to love them. Despite all the attachment and worries that may happen. When I can love the boys it allows me to do what is best for them. 

When I first started watching Bear and Bug I often would ask myself "If these were my kids how would I respond/what would I do"? Almost a year later I rarely ask that question because on some level they are mine. They are not my children! That is important to remember, I am not the parent but I am their nanny. In the same way one would use the verbiage "my niece, my nephew, my students" nannies often use the verbiage "my boys, my girls, my kids". We fully realize and know they are not ours in the end we are not the ones who have responsibility of how they turn out as adult humans, their parents are.

Some would say that is unprofessional, in the same way they would say it is unprofessional for a doctor or lawyer to become emotionally invested in their clients. However I would argue that becoming emotionally attached actually allows a professional to do what is in the best interest of their client or charge. Especially When It Comes To Kids!

Children need to feel loved and supported by someone! Whether it is Mom, Dad, or Nanny - children innately need to feel that love. They need to know someone has their back, their best interest, and will always be a support.  It is that last one "always be a support" that makes everyone a little worried about letting the little ones capture your heart. Because as a Nanny 9 out of 10 times you wont always be there in the end. My thought is that leaving is a natural part of all life. Even with parents that stay home and raise their kiddos, there will come a point when Mom or Dad wont be around to help out.

So it will be the same with the Nanny. You may be there for a month, a year, or 10 years. No matter how long you are investing in your children give them all you have. When a teacher starts at a new school they don't give half of themselves to their students in fear that they will only be teaching for a year. They give their all, pouring long hours and mass amounts of energy into their students and work. As a Nanny it should be the same.

We need to keep our professional standards high and give our chargers our all. Pour all the love and energy you can into them. They need you. They need your support. You are not their Mom. You are not their Dad. You are their Nanny, their best friend, their support system when MB and DB are away. Don't hold back in fear of the heart ache that will follow when your time with them is done. You don't do it with your best friends, your parents, your siblings so why do it with your NK? At some point every relationship ends, separation is a part of life and apart of our jobs.

 Embrace it.

 Love it.

 Love your Nanny-Kids.

ceconner ©6.2.2014