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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Other Side, Parents vs. Nannies

A great friend of mine is a nanny. Strong and sure, she sometimes gets some flack from the parenting community. Posts like this kind of point toward why. But, you'll see, it's all mostly misunderstanding.

So, on behalf of's the other side.

1) Her first pet peeve is parents that allow tantrums. She says that she'll give in nine times out of ten and let a kid climb the stairs, but on the tenth time, she's not budging, and she's keeping the baby gate. Then she has to suffer a tantrum. And then when the parents get home, they think it's no big deal because they let the baby climb the stairs, so what the hell?

She says this undermines her and makes her job harder. Now, I can kind of see that, sure.

She says the parents either give her a mean look, or just take the gate down and let junior play on the stairs.

Then she says, thanks. Thanks a lot.

But here's the see, we're working on gross motor skills right now, and I want her to get all the practice she can while watched over by an adult so that she can perfect the skill, and I don't have to worry about her falling down the stairs much longer. Then we can get rid of that blasted gate that I stub my toe on every morning.

And since we're not co-parents, and you're not sticking around tonight, it's not really undermining you, though I can see how you would think that. It's more me wanting to spend time with my child, and wanting to practice stairs with her.

The ones who give the mean look? Well, they probably want you to practice stairs with the kid and think you are undermining them. But I don't think that's your job.

For parents, it's like, you can't just ignore a crying kid who throws herself into your arms. It's not me giving into a tantrum. I've just gotten home. I'm not thinking you're a horrible person. Babies cry. They want things, and they want them the same. But that's not how the world works, and while the girl learns that, there are going to be some stumbling blocks.

In fact, it's good that we have different methods. It introduces her to variety early. So, I'm not thinking she's a victim, but I am loving up on her, you know, because I love her.

And if you were able to calm her down about the stairs before I got home, that's more kudos to you! She likes and respects you, and you're helping me set adult / child boundaries. Those boundaries just happen to be different for you than for me.

So, in my opinion, I'm not 'giving in to her tantrum,' I'm just listening to her tell me about her day. And I'm thankful you were a part of it.

2) Next up is co-sleeping. Now, I never co-slept, so I'm going to have to step out of character for a moment.

She says that while co-sleeping may make the parents' lives easier, it makes hers harder, and she doesn't mind telling parents it's a problem for her.

Unfortunately, though, parents really aren't up late at night worrying about what personal, family sleeping habits are going to make their babysitter's or nanny's life hard. No. They're up late at night because their kid is screaming his bloody lungs out and finally, you know what, they take him into their bed. Because sleep.

End of story.

And if it's a problem for you, well, that's fine. Tell the parents during the interview, so they can decide if that's a problem for them. And, yeah, I get that it's inconvenient for you and even hard on the kid at first. But you know what? Kids are resilient. They fall into routines. So, hopefully you're not going to be dealing with screaming for a long time...because hopefully he'll learn that you don't want to lie there for an hour. He'll learn that a few minutes is enough. And I think you can give him a few minutes. You know what kids need to transition.

Most people will understand and sympathize with you, and even apologize that their little one won't go down for you. They know what the stakes are. They know what's happened. They still deserve a night off every once in a while, and if it's something you are unwilling to deal with, tell them upfront and save everyone some time. Especially if you are a full-time nanny who will be doing either naps or bedtime on a routine basis. I don't want my kid screaming her head off because you won't lay down with her for a few minutes, and if that's what's happening, you are totally right. We need a new arrangement. But my friend does say she'll deal with it occasionally. Well, that's better than nothing, right?

Again, it reinforces to the kid at an early age that adult / child boundaries can vary. A good lesson to learn.

3) Mama Bear. Oh, Mama Bear. I love Mama Bear...because I've been Mama Bear.

But let's take the "parent chilling on her cellphone or talking to her friends while her one-year-old baby plays across the area and she pays no attention, then comes up and berates a fellow caretaker when a three-year-old child falls on the baby" from the other side.

First, I'm probably a new parent. That huddle you see me in? That's not me getting some juicy gossip about the neighborhood. I couldn't care less. Lord knows, I can hardly speak to adults anymore. I just don't know how. I'm simply trying, and it's hard. No, that's me tensing every single muscle in my body so that I don't get up and walk over to hover directly over my precious at all times. I'm serious. I don't want to be one of those parents. The play area is for the babies, and I'm trying desperately to regain my independent personhood, and let the little one do the same. And it's killing me.

You don't have to do that because the child you're watching isn't your own, so while, you too, deserve a break like me, you probably don't have all these feels you're trying to logically counteract which would put you on the edge. And going along with that, yeah, my reaction is going to be out of proportion, but it's because my brain goes, "Love! Mine! Shit! Fuck! I knew I should have been hovering over there, I am such an asshole! Fuck! My baby! Shit! Is she ruined for life?!" I don't know the answers to these questions. Because I'm first-time parent stupid.

If the same were to happen to you, probably, you would be much more efficient and adept than I am at this. Your brain would go, "Oops! A little accident. Let's brush everyone off and try again."

Oh, how I would wish for that reaction, instead. It's a much more mature, and better, reaction.

So, when I come over and yell at you, and baby my child, and practically cry, it's not rage at you. And I apologize for being an ass. But it's got nothing to do with you at all. It's got to do with me. I'm all confused and scared and befuddled.

Please, give the Mama Bear a little patience. She's judging herself, not you.

As for 4) sick kids, and 5) payment, yeah, I've got nothing.

You shouldn't have to work around sick kids, especially if the parents ninjaed you and you didn't know they were sick. And everyone should get paid well, and on time, for what they do.

I guess some people are just jerks.



  1. Good points for sure - definitely something for me to remember when I get annoyed about my pet peeves. Sometimes it's hard to see the other side!



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