Note- this blog post was previously published in 2011
The first steps. Oh the first week when you are dancing around each other trying to figure it all out. You nervously wonder if the house is always this clean or if they are trying to impress you. The kids look at you every day with a certain “what the heck are you doing back here” glance then try hard to ignore you. Mom boss might leave a note or two, but she is careful to include phrases like “if you want” or “could you please”. You are optimistic and employers seem surprised that you keep coming back every day.
The honeymoon phase- you remember this phase! It is when the employer comes home early from work and says why don’t you go ahead and leave it has been a hard week. When mom boss thanks you every Friday afternoon with tears in her eyes, as she assures you no nanny has ever done so well with the kids and they don’t know what they would do without you. Everything is as it was promised- sometimes even better. You don’t mind doing nice little things like taking out the trash, or cleaning up the coffee maker. You are a team player! Christmas and birthday gifts are extravagant and thoughtful. The kids can not get enough of you and wait by the door for you to arrive and ask you to come to birthday parties and gymnastics meets. You feel like everyday you can really affect change in behavior, teach a child to read, make the blind see and the kids put their darn socks in the hamper. Super Nanny!
Then you settle into the routine part of the job. You come into work mostly on time. MB starts to leave lists absent of little smiley faces and full of errands that almost cross the line but not quite- like could you please pick up the groceries for this weekend’s dinner party since you will be at the store anyway. Do you mind reorganizing the towel closet while the baby naps? You find yourself coasting a little with the kids. Don’t get me wrong, you are still doing a good job, but Mary Poppins seems like a lot of work. You stop doing the little extra things because you know that if you take out that trash once, it will become your job always and you didn’t sign up for that. You notice that you have to start asking to be paid. And while the employers still say nice things about you- it is more often than not to the neighbors and teachers and not directly to you.
Then there is the descent. When you go to work angry, sure that they have left a mess. And they have. When you find yourself looking at the clock every hour waiting to be done. When you carefully avoid each other, avoid confrontation because you feel as though it won’t make a difference anyway. Your job description has grown to include a multitude of jobs that you not only didn’t agree to, but that you resent doing each and every time they come up. When you can do your job with the kids without even thinking, it becomes automatic. Which again does not mean less than stellar, but it is not as thoughtful or with the same passion. It is time to move on.
Honestly, we all go thru all these cycles. And for different amounts of time. Finding ways to recharge yourself so that you remain thoughtful, engaged, excited and patient is the trick to keep from sliding to the dark side.
Have I missed any stages? What phase are you in right now??