We were sitting on the floor playing in his room playing with his bin full of toys. He was an only child, I was a nanny with a firm belief that kids need to learn to share. As he attempted to grab the train from my hand without asking I refused to give it to him until he politely asked for it -sounds reasonable right? Apparently not to him as he jumped up and ran into the office where his mom sat working.
"Mommy, Nanny wont give me the train"
I rolled my eyes and gritted my teeth as I heard them coming down the hall. "Nanny, what happened?"
Forcing a smile "I asked Billy to politely ask for the train instead of grabbing it out of my hand"
"Could you please just play with him nicely, I need to get this work done" she turned and walked back to her office, leaving Billy with a triumphant grin.
It was week two and I knew this was going to be a long few months.
This wasn't my first and it sure wasn't going to be my last time working with a stay at home mom (SAHM), but it sure was the worst experience.
Some of my earliest jobs in babysitting were with SAHMs and they were fun. Playing with the kids, helping with meal prep, and home work while mom was able to get some much needed house work or laundry done were regular jobs for a 12 year old girl.
As that 12 year old babysitter turned into a 25 year old nanny some important lessons were learned along the way, especially about working with a SAHM. Here are few things I either ask directly or figure out before committing long term to working in a home with a SAHM (or SAHD).
1. What Do They Expect of Me When They Are Home?
Am I responsible just for the kiddos? Do they want the light house work accomplished to? Am I there just to entertain and play with the child or am I to help partake in teaching the child social skills? This is the first thing I need to know if I am going to work with SAHM, their expectations of me and my role with their child.
2. Do I Agree With the Parents Parenting Style? This one takes either time or a lot of communication to figure out. Does the mom use attachment parents while you don't agree with it? Do they spank when you don't think they should? Do the parents set too strict of guidelines or not enough of them in your opinion? Then it's to figure out how I feel about either having similar or differentiating parenting styles.
3. Do the Parents Respect My Authority as a their Nanny? This is especially important if you have different styles of parenting. If you don't want to give Johnny a sweet treat before lunch and the parent doesn't want to deal with crying and gives him one after you said no, how do you feel about that? Does the parent respect the guidelines I set for little Susie while I am in their home? Or do the undermine them (even unintentionally) when Susie starts fussing?
4. How Open are the Parents to Communication and Input? This is a big one for any job, not just one with a SAHM. But especially when you are working with someone that stays at home, are they willing to talk about how things are going? Is your input allowed and validated? If things aren't working well with two of you home are you able to talk about how to make things better?
5. Am I Okay with The Answers to the Questions Asked Above? After all is said and done each nanny and each family has a different temperament and allowance for differences. So ask yourself how do feel if you disagree with the parents style but they respect yours while you are in the home? Or how would you feel if you disagree with how they are raising their child and they expect you to raise the child in the same manor? Are you okay with their eating habits, the child's activities, and the expectations the family has for you?
These are just a few things to consider. Personally I have way to strong of an opinion to work long term with a family that I can't agree with the parents. That is what happened with the family in the beginning of this story. They wanted a play-mate not a nanny so after a few months I called it quits. I just couldn't work for a family who didn't let me have any authority in the home, especially the few times when I practiced it the child actually listened and behaved better afterwards.
Some of you just don't care, in a good way - you are more laid back and easy going. Sure you don't agree with the parents but it is not your job to care, it is your job to love and play with your charge. There are days I wish I had your attitude and qualities I can learn from you.
When I started with my current NF I knew that MB had summers off while I would still be working with the boys. We both knew that this would change our days quite a bit. Weeks leading up to summer break we chatted frequently about how we saw the summer looking, which responsibilities we both had and our expectations. For the first few weeks she was mindful of asking how things we were working out on my end and we talked about how she saw things working.
Before taking a job with a SAHM get to know yourself first. Figure out your style, what kind of authority you need, what things do you need to in your professional environment to thrive. Admit if you have a strong opinion on how things should be done and what areas you need to let go of. Learn how laid back you can be and what boundaries you need to set to not get burned. The first step of knowing who you can work with is knowing how you best work.
Stay Tuned For Some Secrets In Working Along Side a Stay At Home Mom.