I have spent many years of my professional life working towards building a nanny community. I am not alone! Most nannies crave a community as we work in so much isolation from other adults and our jobs are not easily understood by our families, friends or outsiders.
Community means different things to different people of course. And lately I have come to the conclusion that we nannies- we want it all but as a group sometimes we are unwilling to give. Let me tell you what I mean.
We all want to feel included. Like we belong and are accepted for who we are. I certainly want to feel that way! But the other side of that is that we have to accept others. We have to include those with whom we disagree. We have to accept those nannies who WE might not consider nannies. I think instead of finding ways to distinguish ourselves from others we need to find things we have in common. We have to agree that professional or unprofessional, career or “just for now”, babysitter or nanny, someone doing the job belongs in our community.
We want to feel supported. We want to feel like there are others who are lifting us up. That our community is standing behind us- not attacking us. Well that means we have to stop working at telling each other what is wrong and work to understand those with whom we seem to have nothing in common. This works both ways. Ask yourself this question- when you see a nanny and have the reaction “I wouldn’t do that” do you let the judgmental part of you take over. Or do you stop to work to understand why they might be on their phone instead of playing with the baby? Do you sit next to them and model appropriate behavior all the while being nice to them?
We want to be invited. We want to feel others are reaching out to us. Let’s face it. When we disagree with that nanny who wears appropriate clothes to work, it is hard to invite them into your life. But inviting those who are different enriches our community. It means putting yourself out there too. It means leaving your comfort level and trying to talk to new people, to join in the discussion. For some who have been treated badly in the past, putting yourself out there is the hardest part of being in a community. But I promise that it is hard to be invited in if people don’t know you WANT to join.
We want to have standards. We want there to be an accepted code of behavior. We want to be highly regarded. Again, the responsibility to our community means we have to work to set those standards. If we can’t seem to work together as a community- then we will never get there. We will never be able to set standards that outsiders will accept means getting rid of the US vs. THEM mentality that sadly still exists in this profession. The first step in getting to a place where we can set standards is finding a way to listen to each other. To have mutual respect for each other. To forgive others who have perhaps done you wrong.
It is not easy to be in a community. It means taking care of the least of us, finding the value in each voice. It means being patient and kind and passionate and working hard. It means putting yourself out there, taking risks and joining in.
The beauty of nannies is that we care about each other. We are passionate about our profession.