As a former nanny, I felt that I had had an insight to navigating through the world of child care, but I never really considered what finding child care for my son would be like. When I was a nanny, I remember thinking things like, ‘I would never want someone else watching my kid’ and ‘I would be jealous if my kid loved someone that wasn’t a relative’. When I became a parent, however, all of that changed. I realized that as a work-at-home mom, I needed the help and welcomed the opportunity to find the right caregiver for my son.
I started out with just a few hours a day, hoping that I could manage the rest. I quickly realized that I wasn’t jealous of the time my son spent with his caregiver and I loved that he loved her. He still knew, without question, that I was his mom and the fact that he got excited to see her each day made it easier for me to focus on work knowing that my son is happy and well taken care of. Now that we have gone full-time, I wanted to share the lessons that I have learned as a former nanny with a nanny.
There is no room for jealousy. I remember a mom I worked with had once told me that she wasn’t jealous of my relationship with her kids. I didn’t say it to her face, but couldn’t imagine how she wouldn’t be. After all, I was the one who got to hear about her child’s day after school and I got to lie on the floor and play board games and I got to kiss boo-boos. The reality was that she got the morning snuggles, the picture he drew in school and she was the one he wrote about in her journal entry. She was his mom, his world. She enjoyed working and having a nanny gave her the opportunity to work hard and be a great mom; Sunday morning pancakes included.
Teaching respect starts in the home. As a nanny, I remember how much it meant to me to hear that I was doing a good job. While I needed that paycheck, I wanted that ‘thank you’. As the mom, I know that a paycheck at the end of the week isn’t the same as appreciation. I tell our nanny often how much I appreciate her and how much our son loves her. Respecting his nanny has been a great learning lesson for my boy as well. He knows she is charge and respects her. He gets away with much less with her and I like that he doesn’t push those boundaries. We also both say “thank you” to her at the end of her working hours.
Letting go. When I was a nanny, I loved the kids I cared for. I still think of them often, sometimes daily. That never prepared me for that overwhelming love I have for my own son. I admit, it was scary to me to love him so much and made me feel vulnerable. Bringing a stranger into my home to take care of my kid seemed to bring out fears I didn’t know I would feel. From personal experience being a nanny I know how important it was to know that I was trusted, so I gave my nanny the benefit of the doubt. When I realized she was the same level of crazy as I was when it came to my son’s safety, I was relieved!
No judging. I remember when I worked with a mom who was struggling with the thought of no longer breastfeeding her 6-month-old son, I didn’t understand why it was so difficult and stressful for her. She came to me for…advice? Permission to stop?– whatever it was, I didn’t give it to her because I didn’t know what she needed at the time. After my own struggles with breastfeeding, I realize now that she was afraid of the judgement that goes a long with not breastfeeding. I’ve learned there are million scenarios and perceptions of what kind of mom other people think you should be. There isn’t one right way to mother. I knew that then and I know that now. Your nanny is not judging you for being human, so it is okay to be yourself around her. Your kids will recognize your realness and feel free to be themselves as well.
Your nanny’s job is more important than yours. Let’s face it. Her job is to take care of your children. Is there anything more important? I believed it as a nanny and I believe it now. Not only could I not do my job effectively if I was worried about my boy, but I actually couldn’t even do my job if she didn’t do hers.
Since becoming a mom my child care advice has changed, but my personal experience working with a nanny has never been more on point. Not only do I have my own personal experience working with families, but for the past few years I have been working to support families and international nannies. I teach them the methods that had worked for me with when I was a nanny and now I implement everything I have learned as well from raising my own child.
Janine Snyder has been in the childcare industry for 25 years. She worked as a full-time nanny for 12 years until she had her own baby and now her job is to work and support parents and with nannies from all over the world, as Au Pair Sis with Go Au Pair.