She’s “The Babysitter”

20 Nov

Have you ever been referred to as “just my babysitter” or “just the nanny?” I have.

When most people call me “the babysitter,” it isn’t meant to hurt my feelings. The four year old I care for uses the term “my babysitter” to describe to people who I am. There are often times when people assume I am her mother (a common occurrence in the life of a nanny), and there are times when she is excited to introduce me to people who may not know that “Katie” and “my babysitter” are the same in her world.
There are also times where I flinch when I think of myself as “just the babysitter.” I see myself as more of a very close family friend that adores spending 13 hour days with the kids…who just happens to get paid every Friday.

As a college graduate and a small business owner, I sometimes think about how I am 26 and am still a nanny. This is mainly because I started as a nanny to make more than minimum wage in college when I was home on breaks, AND I got to work with children. While I didn’t have a life plan (this may be extremely surprising if you know me personally), I did plan on being a teacher. Working with children was one of two things I was ever good at, the other one being the Spanish language. I always saw myself happy as a teacher, although I’m not really sure if I ever planned to be one for my whole life. I definitely hoped I would be married by now, and by the grace of God, I found someone crazy enough to marry me and actually enjoy it (I love you, Drew!). So, sometimes I think, “what am I doing still babysitting?”

The answer is simple. I love my job, and I love the family I work with three days a week.

I know that being a nanny will earn you a few insults under someone’s breath, and you can count on the fact that someone you know looks down on you quite a bit for being one, but if you have a nannying job that is even half as amazing as mine, take pride in what you do. In fact, when I moved to DC and started to meet people, I was embarrassed at first when it came time to ask each other what their job was. And I also remember that after my business was up and running and started to become successful that I even asked my husband if I should introduce myself as a nanny or as a nanny agency owner. I now interchange both, because WHO CARES what other people think?!

You may get to be there when the kids wake up. You may get to be the first face they see in the morning. You may get boogers in your hair daily, or you may get sneezed on outside causing your glasses to fog up, but you are helping a family to raise a child that will love you forever. They may not always remember your name come 20 years in the future, but little parts of them will be there because you played a part in their lives.

You may help them become potty trained. You may help them build a fort out of cardboard boxes that falls apart the second they actually play in it (a how-to blog on this will follow). You may help teach them to read, or that their J’s are backwards. You may teach them that saying “yes, please” is the right way to respond when you ask them if they would like a banana. And you may be the one they call for when they fall down and scrape their knees.

Now some nannies become nannies because all the other jobs are taken right now with the tough economy. I was one of those people, but I chose nannying because I knew for sure that it would keep me afloat until I figured things out, and WOULD YOU KNOW IT: I figured out that I loved being a nanny. So much in fact that I decided to help other women find jobs that were perfect for them, with families that loved them and appreciated them. With families that introduce you as their friend Katie, not their nanny. My boss actually does this, and I love her for it. Last week I even heard a woman call her nanny her savior, and I will never forget it. I looked over at that nanny, and I saw her making her fingernails look longer by covering them in pizza dough just to make the kids laugh, and I thought to myself, “We nannies certainly have something right.”

So my advice to those of you that haven’t found that perfect job yet is this: keep looking. Do what you have to do to stay afloat, but find one of those families that will love you and consider you their friend. Don’t let someone make you feel small, because you can be a really BIG part in the life of a child.

So nannies, babysitters, diaper-changers, booger-haired ladies: be proud of what you do! I certainly am.

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