Where Do Nannies Fit In?Posted: March 9, 2013
When I made the jump from daycare worker to nanny, I entered an occupation of hazy definitions. Nanny duties vary from family to family, so it’s difficult to create a specific job description for a nanny. However, I have noticed that there are two main impressions of what a nanny job is: Glorified babysitter or Pseudo-parent. While babysitters can certainly get tough gigs and it’s nice to get acknowledged by other parents that my job has validity, neither impression is accurately explains how a nanny functions within her* employer’s household.
I am not a glorified teenage babysitter. Since I work consistently within my employers’ households, I have much more influence on their children’s behavior. Because of my constant presence in the home, I also have to be prepared to handle some terrible behaviors that can come out of children. Even the best behaved children have bad days, meaning I will eventually have to deal with a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad day and all the naughtiness, tantrums, and tears that come with it (admittedly, sometimes the tears are on my end).
But what about babysitters who care for children in their homes several days a week? While these babysitters can certainly have a lasting influence on a child’s upbringing, there is another aspect of my duties that sets my job apart–assisting the daily running of my employers’ household. In both of my nanny jobs, I have helped with chores like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, and shopping (and then I come to my home and do it all again. Or realize that I have to do it all again–whether or not I actually complete my household chores is debatable). Likewise, I have also been responsible for getting the children to and from school, taking them to practices and playdates, and driving them to an occasional hair appointment. There is no calling the parents to come home when children fall ill. Of course, what’s a nanny job without nursing a sick kid every once in awhile? Once I can convey to people what my job entails, they begin to realize how much responsibility I have within my employers’ homes. However, sometimes this leads to the comment that it’s work like a stay-at-home mom (or dad) would have.
I don’t necessarily disagree with the fact that I do many tasks that a SAHM would preform. However, I am not these children’s mother. At the end of the day, I go to my childless home and take a break from the chaotic world of children. Likewise, I always eventually leave my job and a good parent would never, ever leave their children behind like I did last summer, will again this summer, and again the summer after this. Consequently, I don’t want the children I care for to see me as a third parent–it would lead to abandonment issues.
For the most part, I don’t think the children in my care see me as a parent. Arrivals make this evident. When I come into the house, it’s a very mellow occasion. I might get a smile and hello, and on a really good day I might get dragged into whatever project they are working on, but that’s all. When mom or dad comes home, there is a dash to the door with joyful shouts of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” or “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” And really, it makes me glad to see these kids reserve this outpouring of affection for their parents.
But where does this leave me as a nanny? I work in someone else’s household and help raise their children. I have many anecdotes about the joys and frustration of child rearing and household managing, but it’s hard to find a support system for my work. I’m not a daycare worker or teacher, I’m not a mother. And when I see a blog post on the internet about how hard it can be to be a parent or a Facebook status lauding teachers for their hard work, I’m never sure whether I can truly relate to the post or not. It can get lonely in this nanny-career limbo. So this morning I googled “nanny blogs.” I found a wonderful blog about being a nanny and all the joys and complications that come with it. Perhaps this is where I can find my working niche!
What similarities and differences do you think exist between babysitters and nannies? How about between parents and nannies?
*I realize that men can be nannies as well, but it is a profession primarily dominated by women. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll refer to nannies in feminine forms.