We liked what our colleague Greta Schraer wrote for her blog CincyNanny and we wanted her to share it with you on Thursday Table Talk.
What is a Nanny?
The Nanny industry is wide and vague.
I read a book last year called “Searching For Mary Poppins” written by women writers about the intense relationships between mothers and nannies – 24 to be exact. 24 different nannies written about by 24 different writing mothers. Great book! I would highly recommend it to anyone navigating through a similar relationship. As I read, I kept looking for myself in these real life stories. And although I did find similar characteristics in many of them, as I closed the book, I was discouraged. I was not there. Did any of these mothers really know me? Instead, I read many other definitions of a Nanny…
Nannies are caregivers that travel with Hollywood stars and give up their own lives to bring up kids on movie sets. Yes. Sometimes.
Nannies are older women that never had their own kids. They instead feel the responsibility to attach themselves to a different family as their own. Yes, sometimes.
Nannies are for parents who don’t want to raise their kids. Sad, but sometimes true.
Nannies are British, strict, and run the house in a military-like style. OK. Yes, Sometimes.
Nannies are from countries like Ecuador, the Philippines, and Mexico who leave their own kids to come make better money to send home. They speak little English. Yes, Sometimes.
These stories are true and the Nannies are real, but I am not that Nanny.
Here in Cincinnati, Nannies are thankful to find each other, as they feel few and far between. But the truth is there are many of us. We are here. We are professional. We are important. We have a great responsibility but sometimes feel isolated with no one to look to for support or even a hand up to the next level. I believe for that reason, our job frustrations can get to us and we have no one to turn to for clarification, questions, and help. Instead we join the national average and leave our “long-term” jobs within a couple years of starting. 57.42% of Professional Nannies have been with their families for under 2 years (according to the 2009 INA Salary and Benefits Survey Recap) . Many times, that frustration even causes us to leave the industry all-together. Sometimes the frustrations don’t seem worth the calling.
Let’s face it, we love kids. Who else would look to another family and say, “Please let me play with your kids for a living.” We feel lucky, like we are beating the system. Like we are not really even working. Well until….. one of THOSE days. A day when there is an uncomfortable moment with someone in the family, a disagreement about discipline, or a mountain you are climbing with a child that is not a priority to the parents. But we love these kids, we have grown incredibly attached to them…So, we suck it up. We remind ourselves, “I am not their parent. I am here to carry out the parents’ ideals for their children. I have to just do the best with what I have. At the end of the day it is the parents’ responsibility.” Besides, we ARE learning. We are dealing with challenges. I make mental notes daily as to what I will do the next time around or with my own kids. This mental conversation stays in my head or occasionally vents to my husband or best friend – but they don’t really know my situation.
As Nannies, we do not have the fellow employee at the cubical next door. We can’t go grab a coffee in the break room, or stand around the “water cooler” and hear how the other employees feel to validate our thoughts. So we let it go (we think). Then maybe it happens again…. and we let it go. “It was nobody’s fault”, we tell ourselves,”I just have a different opinion.” But over time (for most in the first 2 years) it starts to wear on us. The grass starts to look greener on the other side of the fence. “I could work with less kids and be able to give them more attention”, “I could make more money”, “I could find a family that has THIS or THAT”. But is the grass really greener?
After meeting an amazing group of Professional Nannies in the U.S. at the International Nanny Association Conference, I saw myself in a lot of Nannies. I found us! We are wonderful people and there are A LOT of us. I found validation and understanding. I found my “water cooler”. I also picked up on some traits that run through our industry. Obviously we love kids. We really love kids! We love them like they are our own. We have great character and want to build that into the kids we are with. We rarely complain. We rarely speak up. Communication is hard, especially if we have don’t have a context to compare it to. So we let it go. We are sacrificial, not just for the kids, but for the families as well. We’ll do the things the family forgot and never say a word. We’ll go to the kid’s favorite ‘location’ every week because the smile on their faces makes all the annoyances go away. If you put together a couple of our common traits – bad communication and sacrificial heart – and you can see why sometimes it looks greener.
As I speak about such things, I realize I am lucky.
First of all, I am currently employed by a professional family that is open and available (I know that is not true for all employer/nanny relationships). We have worked really hard to keep an updated work agreement and daily nanny log. The household is busy, but I have no excuse NOT to communicate. I have failed in my performance many times and have been able to discuss it with them. Very honest conversations about our actions and the “whys” behind them help us to understand each other’s situation. Sure there have been times when I could smell that fresh cut green grass, but I know this soil. I have come to trust this soil. Are we perfect? No. Do we always agree? No. But do we respect each other? Yes. It has come over time, so if you are thinking of leaving the children you adore just because it’s hard to deal with the parents, my advice to you is don’t check out just yet.
Secondly, I now have INA and community of Nanny friends all over the U.S. that I can email or Facebook my questions and frustrations to. I have been able to see that there is a standard. There is community. All of which I am hoping to bring to Cincinnati. The start of this blog is a way to connect us. To give us a local water cooler. And it will expand.
As we build our local community we will bring a clear understanding and standard for what a Nanny is. Who we are. How we can respond to our frustrations. How we can grow as professionals.
So, what is a Nanny? There may not be one definition. Here is mine:
I am a professional. I am part of a family team. I am one of many that will build into the lives of these beautiful, talented children. I need a community. I need respect. I make mistakes. I love children. I want to grow in knowledge. I want to grow as a person. My gifts are unique and therefore I make my job unique. I am faithful. I am affectionate. I am a leader. I serve a True God who gives me forgiveness and guidance. I have a passion to gather Nannies together to share experiences, gather resources, to challenge each other, and of course, play together. I have found my calling. I am a Nanny.
Greta is Professional Nanny in Cincinnati. She cares for the most wonderful 2.5 year old triplet boys.
Greta has 20 years of experience working with kids in different capacities, including part & full-time nanny, assistant youth pastor, and mentoring teen agers.
Current Job Goals:
Potty Training Bootcamp, holding crayons correctly, saying our first and last name, singing the ABC’s (correctly), preparing for pre-school in the fall, and having fun!!-
Current Professional Goals:
Working on the CincyNanny. Working as an advocate for Nannies.
Goal for CincyNanny Blog:
To lay the foundation for a Cincinnati Community of Nannies.
To educate and provide resource to Nannies & Families.
Bring excellence to the profession, provide quality care for families and realize that we take on the responsibility to raise children as a team effort.