The sharp, staccato sounds of piano practice drift into the kitchen. My little guy is playing a rough rendition of “Mississippi Hot Dog” for the third time–still not quite right, but better than yesterday. I smile, rinsing the snack bowls and placing them in the dishwasher. He’s improving.
I look up to see my girl digging through the stack of new library books, exclaiming when she finds the latest volume in her favorite series. Jackpot. She races to the couch and is happily lost in the pages.
This is my domain. I am the nanny.
In the seven joyful years I’ve worn that title, I’ve encountered a slew of misconceptions about my job–even from parents who employ nannies themselves. It’s no wonder there’s often a communication gap. In the five minutes before the parents leave and the five minutes when they get home, we discuss schedules, activities, and behavior reports. There isn’t time for much else.
But parents, we nannies have so much more on our hearts. As your employees, we aren’t likely to bring these things up on our own. But given the chance to speak candidly, here’s what we’d want you to know:
- We are not trying to replace you. We understand that your relationship with your children is paramount, and that you sometimes feel guilty about being gone. We want you to trust us to nurture your kids, to teach your kids, to discipline your kids, to love your kids–but we never want you to feel that you have been replaced.
- We don’t believe everything the kids say (and we hope you don’t either). When Little Man tells us he’s allowed to have candy for lunch, we know better. And when he tells you that he had to stand in the corner for three hours today, we trust that you won’t bat an eye.
- We don’t want to steal milestones from you. If Baby Girl says her first word or takes her first step on our watch, we might pretend it didn’t happen so you can have that experience for yourself. By the same token…
- We DO want to be involved in special events– even off the clock! We want to celebrate birthdays and watch school plays and cheer from the bleachers at basketball games. We invest so much into the everyday lives of your kids that we want to be around to see the big stuff too.
- This is more than just a job to us. It wouldn’t take long to find a position that pays more, and there’s a good chance we’re qualified to work in another field with more prestige and benefits. But we choose to remain with your family because we love what we do. Your children have become a part of us, as they have become a part of you. Our love for them is fierce and strong.
- It breaks our hearts to leave. Whether it’s a move, a schedule change, a health crisis, or simple a case of kids getting too old to need us anymore, the loss of that relationship is devastating. Please understand that we want to continue to be part of your children’s lives however we can. Do your best to encourage that communication.
At the end of each day, I drive home and leave those kiddos behind. But they are constantly in my thoughts, popping up in my conversations, and making me laugh as I recall the silly antics of the day. No doubt I have “Mississippi Hot Dog” stuck in my head again, and I don’t even mind. The children have made their way into my heart and carved out a permanent place. As parents, I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.