Today started out like any other Tuesday morning, got up at 6:30am, on the road by 7:00am, chuckled at the man behind me shaving in his car as we inched onto the thruway. I arrive a few minutes early and walked in the door of my work place. I may not have a normal desk or cubical walls and my co-workers look a lot more like two 4-legged, wagging tail animals (because they are dogs) then zombie overtired people. Most mornings I am greeted with a welcoming hello from two loving parents and an adorable giggling baby boy, Roo.
But here I am at work.
At my real Job.
I am a Nanny.
Being a Nanny I have come in contact with a lot of assumptions about my job, a lot of people who have no clue what I do, people who admire what I do, and people who totally dis-credit what I do.This last one I can usually ignore but today is not one of those days I can ignore it. After putting Roo down for his nap I popped on Twitter for a quick peek and sadly came across this post:
However, I am going to use this tweet as proof that there is complete ignorance in our society about my profession. Ryan's two big miss-assumptions are that all nannies are college students trying to pay their way through school and that being a nanny is not "a real job". Ryan has yet to state what qualifies as a real job. Honestly I don't really care what Ryan thinks, I don't know him, I will most likely never meet him, and the reality is he is a college student trying to get followers - to become famous so he can be president in 2036. He probably just wanted to post something "funny" and controversial to get a rise out of one of his friends. I am not worried about this guy, nor will I think much about him once I post this blog because he is doing what the average college male does for s**** and giggles. He even tweeted "this tweet was supposed to be a joke" - I don't know him, so I believe him, poor guy just pissed off a whole group of nannies for one poorly tweeted joke.
Still I do care about the mind-set that is behind this tweet and can't let it go. The thought behind this not so thoughtful tweet is 'that being a nanny isn't a legitimate profession, that there is something short term or undignified in taking care of someone's children.' Along with this goes the thought that all a nanny does a is lay around in their pajamas, watch Netflix when the kids nap, and lounge in the sun while the kids are at the park. Will you allow me to debunk some of these false assumptions?
All Nannies are Not College Students:
Some nannies start off being a nanny to pay their way through college, but a lot of them end up making a career out of it.Why? Because being a nanny can often show more promise in long term benefits (yes I mean healthcare, PTO, etc.) then whatever field that were studying in school. Other nannies find out that they really enjoy being with kids on a smaller scale rather than in a classroom. While some nannies find it the best way to stay at home with their children while helping a working mom out with childcare. I am 27 year old woman who didn't find my nanny career path until I was 24. I could point out hundreds of nannies well into their 20's & 30's who had made a GREAT career out of being a nanny. So when comments are made like this one, it implies that the 40 year old nanny playing tag with her nanny-kids at the park is doing a job she should have left after college, I get frustrated.
Being a Nanny Has it's Perks:
I will be the first on to admit that I LOVE the perks that come with my job as a nanny. Most of us don't have a uniform, we can dress comfortably each day - no business attire required. We get to fully enjoy each new season because our work can take us outdoors whenever the kids want. Each family and each nanny-job is slightly different in the perks that come with it. My last job I was a live-in so I was able to go to work in my pajamas and get dressed after starting the work day. My current job has one less child who is an incredible napper so I have more free hours to blog, write, or read during his nap times. Some nannies get to go on exotic vacations with their nanny-families, others get free health care, sick time, guaranteed hours, vacation time, over time, a nanny-car, or other benefits that pertain to their particular family. Those benefits should sound familiar to you, they come from the corporate world - paid holidays, PTO, company car, benefit packages, 401K? All jobs have their perks. By definition a nanny who has a paid position at a regular place of employment has a real job.
It's Physically Challenging:
Amidst all of the joys and perks that come with being a nanny there are challenges; not surprisingly since all careers and jobs have their down sides. Our challenges tend to come in pint size forms with wonderful bundles of joy that don't know how to fully communicate. Whether it is the 5 month old who is trying to fight off the much needed nap, the 3 year old who wants the green tractor not the red fire truck, or the mouthy teenager who wont respect the house rules - these little munchkins can turn on a dime. I, now, fondly remember the time in my past job when both Bear and
Bug didn't want to leave the park. It was lunch time so they were
hungry, slightly tired, and CRANKY - picking up both boys, our backpack,
and their water bottles I carried two screaming kicking toddlers to the
car. I used to end days after working with two toddlers by collapsing on
my bed and enjoying the 5 minutes of silence until dinner. Tired. Beat.
Usually puked or pooped on and so grateful for my job.
It's Emotionally Draining:
In one comment Ryan makes to me he states "stay at home mom's usually don't typically hire nannys. Because they are at home. Raising their children". I am not going to get into the working mom verses stay at home mom side of this, each parent and family has to decide what is best for them. What I am going to say is that I don't decide if a family decides to use a nanny or not. What I do decide is how I can help raise the next generation into kind, caring, and functioning members of society. I go into all the details of why I became a nanny here, but the brief version is I saw families struggling to make ends meet and provide quality child-care for their kids.
The decision to work alongside dual working families is one of the best decisions I have made, but also one of the emotionally hardest decisions I have made. To provide the best care I can for children I get emotionally attached to them, I love them. I care for each charge as if their were my own kid, knowing full well they aren't, that I don't have the final say in some of the bigger decisions in their lives. I work in a field where I would guess the average nanny-family relationship last about 3 years. Nannies spend years pouring love, life, energy, and encouragement into their charges and in the end have to walk away.
Nannies also walk the fine line of being apart of a family and child's life providing daily needs and support in all areas of that child, while respecting their role as nanny and the parent's role as parent. Often times even in the best circumstances nannies and parents don't always see eye to eye on what is the best thing for the child. The nanny has to bite her tongue and do what the parents want even if she doesn't agree. It is hard to walk this line and balance in an environment that often is not conducive to yes or no answers.
Rule of Thumb - Being a Nanny Gets Harder:
This is a total generalization, but often the longer a nanny stays with a family the harder their job gets. A nanny often starts off with a family while the child is still an infant, meaning the basic tasks are feeding, changing, and sleep training of some sort. As the infant grows into a toddler the tasks become harder - potty training, teaching letters, words, manors, providing nutritious and balanced meals, most of which the toddler does their best to combat and oppose. As toddler becomes pre-schooler now add homework, pre-school drop offs, alongside of all the previously mentioned tasks. Being a nanny is rewarding but when it comes to daily tasks is rarely gets easier and most often gets more challenging.
It's Is (in my Opinion) the Best Job Ever:
When I first moved out to Washington I left a career at a radio station, one that gave me raises every year, vacation time, the whole benefits package. I left behind wonderful co-workers, better friends and all my family to come out here for a nanny job. After a few weeks people asked me if I was missing my job back in NY my response was a derivative of "honestly no, even on my bad days I love having 2 bosses that need my help with deadlines that come in the form of naps and feedings instead of 5 bosses vying for their deadlines to be accomplished first". Sure there are things I miss about the corporate world; things like lunch breaks, actual conversations, and not smelling like a diaper factory at the end of the day. Yet when I think about how every day I get to wake up, hang out with, play with, and help shape Roo into the man that he will one day become I can't think of anything else I would rather do.
So please understand, Ryan or whoever else might say these things in jest, that when you make comments implying that being a nanny is not a real job you make it harder for us nannies to gain our footing in the professional field. As already one of the lowest paid industries we need all the support we can get. We need our profession to be taken seriously not just so we can support ourselves financially, but so that we can help raise and love on the next generation while their parents are at their real jobs to support the needs and dreams that these children are going to grow up to have. So as a community of nannies back-lashes at you on twitter I hope you understand it is because you (probably in innocence and jest) degraded and devalued something that many of us have been fighting really hard to place value and professionalism on.