The first summer after college, I moved to the Hamptons to become a live in nanny for a 5 month old baby girl. It was a long summer, but a learning experience. The nanny/family dynamic can be very dicey, and I vowed that I would never hire a nanny for my own kids. For example, I used to hate it when the mom was home and I was taking care of the baby. Sometimes I felt like I knew the baby better than the mother and couldn’t act on my instincts. I just wanted to go about my job without someone looking over me. And I had a hard time understanding why someone who didn’t really work needed help all of the time.
Fast forward 15+ years, with two kids of my own and another one on the way: I understand the mom I worked for a lot better now. I work from home, so my son goes to his babysitter’s house for childcare. I don’t love that she lets him watch a lot of TV and sometimes takes him to her doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping, but I love that she loves him and he loves her. She takes great care of him and he is a part of her family. I rely on my babysitter and am able to work part-time and run my own business because of the trust I place in her.
In Tasha Blaine’s book: “Just Like Family” the author documents the lives of three nannies in 3 different situations. While I read the book, sometimes I cringed at the nanny/family dynamic and took the nanny’s side. Other times, I thought I could relate to the mom. Parents that employ nannies might want to read this book to better navigate the dynamic between the employee who is paid to provide love and support to the children they care for and the employer who may want to relax on some issues. (A great example in this book: the mom doesn’t want the kids to watch TV when the nanny is watching them, but when the nanny is away and the mom is in charge, the TV is on 24/7.) I have had the experience of being a nanny, so maybe sometimes I am a little more relaxed with my babysitter than most. But it is like the idea of waitressing: once you’ve waitressed, you are going to treat your server with a little more patience and respect than you might have otherwise.