You’re not REALLY a parent: a nanny’s perspective

Guest post by Kate (the super-nanny)

It’s true. I am not really a parent. I hear it all the time as I walk by and push my stroller with the two 19-month-olds in tow. We go to play dates and lunches, do crafts and sing songs. Most of all? We enjoy our days together as I work hard to create good little humans that will hopefully become good big humans.

So if I’m not a parent, you may be asking what I am talking about being with two 19-month-old kids all day. (Besides being that creepy woman walking the mall singing songs that no grown person should know…) I am a nanny. I hope to be a parent fairly soon, but for now I am what I call a “daytime parent stand-in”. I am educated in child development and have worked with kids since I was a kid myself. Here’s my story for the day…

I nanny for two children of separate families, both of which are currently 19 months old. I have been with them since they were 4 months old and I love every day of my work. Yes, there are days where I imagine the beach I will be on during my honeymoon and begin to drool, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my work.

My job description includes: fostering the mental, emotional and social growth of each child while taking every precaution to protect their safety and well being. What does that sound like to you?

So tell me why I walk into a play date and upon finding I am the nanny of these two beautiful little people every single mom I have ever come into contact with says something along the lines of “Oh…of course YOU wouldn’t REALLY understand. After all, you’re just the nanny.”

JUST THE NANNY? Well, excuse me…I didn’t realize that because I don’t have to get up every few hours to feed a child (just yet) or that because I get to pass off a child at the end of my day, I was any less of a caregiver to this child as you are to yours.

(And don’t mention the tattoo! “You have a tattoo and you are a nanny? Do they know?” Yes, I do and yes I am and yes…they do. My tattoo has nothing to do with my ability to work with and care for children!)

While I realize I have no blood connection to this child, I would be just as devastated to see them in a cast on Monday morning as you would be to see a cut on their arm when you walked in at 5pm. I am still doing all the jobs you do while you are gone. And honestly speaking…don’t you WANT someone to treat your child as if they were as important and good as their own while you can’t be there?

It really amazes me to think about the thought processes behind the “YOU’RE JUST THE….” comments. I really don’t get it. Again, I understand I am not a parent, but I also understand that I go through teething and nightmares and picky eater issues all the same. I may not have them 24/7, but (beware of controversial comment here) neither do you unless you are a stay at home mom and your children aren’t currently in school. I still worry and wonder and work hard to find a new song so I only have to sing ‘ring around the rosie’ 50 times a day as opposed to 100.

Where I think the real stigma comes from is the two nanny urban legends every mother would naturally fear at some point:

  1. the nanny & the husband scenario
  2. the nanny being loved more than/being considered closer than the mom

Let me tell you, most of the time those urban legends just don’t happen. I want my job because I love working with kids. I can guarantee that no matter what I do or say with these kids all day, they will never (nor would I want them to ever) think of me as mom, and just for the record I have never personally known a nanny to look for a job with intentions of finding a man nor have I ever known a nanny to do anything inappropriate with someone’s partner.

I hope all parents will try to work past the “you’re just the’s” and work towards making relationships with the local nannies and caregivers. The “you’re just the” comments make us feel as bad as you feel when a doctor tells you they can’t give you information about a loved one because you’re “just the fiance/girlfriend/etc”. We love to help! We make great babysitters! We love to have play dates! Most of all we love to connect and get the kids active, and besides…I am sure I could use some adult talk time just as much as you could. But for now…

I am Nanny. A step up from the cool years-older-sister, a step down from Mommy, and exactly a daytime parent stand-in. If Mommy is a superhero, Nanny is her sidekick.

Comments on You’re not REALLY a parent: a nanny’s perspective

  1. try being a stepmom, you'll hear the same shite from some people… apparently, popping someone out of your own womb is automatic grounds for sainthood, whereas merely taking care of them, loving them, and being flat-out willing to take a bullet for 'em isn't enough. (xo from a stepparent & soon-to-be "real" mom – i think we're ALL real!)

  2. I'm a parent who has children in day care. Personally I adore the young women who have helped me raise my son and daughter. I ask them for their opinion and will defer to it. I have also worked in a daycare chain in the corporate office and occasionally wokred in some of the rooms when there was a staffing issue.

    It is hard damn, backbreaking work, and god bless those who do it every day.

  3. I do want to suggest that sometimes parents/mums don't pursue conversation or friendship with nannies, not because of "you're just the nanny", but because they are looking to make connections with other parents. Sure, I can talk about developmental stages, naps, feeding, or the latest film we saw, or last night's TV with a nanny, but what I really need at the moment is other parents who want to talk about where their identity went, where their relationship went, whether they love it or hate it & how they feel about that. It's a different conversation.

  4. Thank you for this- I do not have children of my own, and maybe I never will. The biggest reason? My other 'kids'. I was a nanny for five years to the same family. Saw the youngest through weaning, potty training, all the way through first grade. The oldest through pre-school to getting his glasses, and making the honor roll. My 'kids' knew me as 'second mom'- a title their mother gave me herself. When their father died, I stepped up even more, staying days on end with them so mom could continue med school.

    They moved last year (so mom could do her residency in another state) and the kids just assumed I was going with them (mom had offered to move me AND my now husband out there just so the kids could have me nearby in a new place). I stayed behind for my husband, and other kids who needed me. I have visited them several times, and skype, talk with them on the phone and email often.

    I heard it all the time "oh… you're their babysitter? AND you have PINK hair?!" No.- I am so much more. I am their teacher, their personal assistant, their tutor, their chef, their bed time story machine and their monster killer. I still am, even 2000 miles away. Mom knew I was right for them and I knew they were right for me.

  5. I am a young (19yrs) nanny I have been quite lucky not to get any just the comments in fact I have found that people warm to me when they find out I’m a nanny and I think it is because my kids look a little bit similar to me. Which can also be quite hard as much as I love my kids the glares and snares I get from people who think I’m a teenage mum are very hurtful. Although the change in expression on peoples face is funny.

  6. To all the nannies/ day care providers out there, THANK YOU! I am a mom of 3, have worked full time and had an AWESOME day care provider (K). There is no way that my kids could have turned as well adjusted as they have without K. She was a great influence on my kids and me too. To all the nannies out there, you are part of the village that it takes to raise a child (and the parents too). You are NOT just a nanny, you are THE nanny, friend, family!!

  7. hi from another nanny (who loves her job more than she loves a blue sky) just wanted to add, I took my 2 little ladies (nearly 4 and 17 months) to the park yesterday and meet an au-pair from sweden there with her 2 little boys, I had a better time at the park than the girlies did i reckon, it was wonderful to be able to chat to someone else about it all.

  8. Don’t sell your self short if you are the Nanny then YOU are the super hero. You do what those moms cant. I been everything from the babysitter to full time nanny to day care teacher to Au Pair manager of foreign au pairs in the us to Mom of my own four kids. Usually someone like us who has tackled it all, knows more about about children then just a mom. But now being the mom, realized there might be some jeliocy from those who put you down. Some parents like to think they know it all but have just experience their two kids. But we know they are all so very different and different approaches work for different kids. Don’t let it bother you. Sometimes too, a parent could be jealous they dont have a nanny too. They r super stressed and could use relief for an afternoon (I know I could!) Just keep tour chin up and keep going on. Also I bet if you look hard enough you can find other nannies in your area and meet for a nannies n me playgroup. I did that for my au pairs and it was my best turn out for my events. Every one had a great time and the kids loved meeting other families with kids that had the same situation at home too.

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