I thought I would write a little letter to myself - myself at the start of my nanny career about 20 years ago.
Dear Younger, More Energetic, Less Intelligent Self,
You found a career when you offered to help that family out for a few weeks. You found a calling, a way to impact the world, a place where you finally fit in. Give thanks.
Give thanks again. Some people never find that place.
Now keep that gratitude handy because this profession is like no other.
You will encounter parenting that you will immediately and incorrectly feel is wrong. The truth is that parenting is like painting, there are really very few “WRONG” ways to do it. There are lots of ways to do both that will produce a masterpiece, but sometimes artists and painters just throw stuff up there and see what sticks. Sometimes it is something original and amazing (see Jackson Pollack) and sometimes it is crap (see millions of starving artists). Either way, it is a huge responsibility to help a creation find it’s way into the world.
Parents have it harder than you think they do. Give them a break. Be THANKFUL that someone else pays you to do what you love. Be THANKFUL that parents put their own egos aside and hire an “expert”. Be THANKFUL that you have a job.
You will be angry that the dishes are not done. You will get frustrated that the rules are not always enforced and that the messes get bigger and bigger. You will be annoyed at the lack of follow thru, the late nights and the inconsistent behaviors. You will have days when you feel under appreciated and unloved.
Get over yourself. That is wasted energy being angry and feeling indignant. Either change the situation or let it go. Don’t hold on to that ball of resentment in your stomach, it will affect your relationships with the kids and cause you to gain 20 pounds.
You will put your needs aside for the family you work for- not always a good thing. Find a balance. Your boat will go under and you will find yourself drowning if you don’t put on your big girl panties and say “no” nicely and firmly. No one is responsible for drawing the lines but you. So get yourself a marker, a mirror and figure out where your boundaries are.
Your ideas about how to raise and educate a child are going to change a great deal as you learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to try something new, to admit your way is not the ONLY way or to just concede that the stuff your mother said was at least half right.
You will have some really amazing moments in your life that you will owe to the children you care for, the parents you support and to the nannies you call friends. Stop to take notice of these moments. Sing out the songs of your successes. These moments will be your own masterpiece and they will be amazing.
You are a nanny. Be proud of it. It will be a journey like no other!