There are just as many misconceptions about nannies as there are about actors (and probably every job on the planet).  Even though I’m used to the ignorant and sometimes offensive questions, I decided it’d be best to clear some things up using the good ol’ blogosphere.

I was a Nom for almost six years to Big C (boy) and Littlest C (girl) and to say it was an amazing experience is an understatement.  I learned so much about raising children, communication, my own flaws and strengths, and how to love unconditionally.  But of course being a nanny was the one job I NEVER wanted to do. In fact, when The Mother first suggested it to me years ago the summer after my college graduation, I completely broke down sobbing after realizing what a degree in theatre really meant and how sad it was that I was only qualified to work with children.  I would never get respect working as a nanny!

Little did I know that one year later I’d be willingly applying to families in The City to do just that.  Note to self:  Moms are always right.

There is no difference between a nanny and a babysitter. Actually, there IS a difference.  Case in point, I never liked babysitting as a teenager but I loved being a nanny.  To me, a nanny is someone who establishes a deeper relationship with the children, acting more like a parent and care-giver than a temporary watchful eye.

A nanny usually becomes part of the family.  Personally, I’ve never missed a birthday party or a dance recital and those were always on the weekends.  I took my kiddos camping on my families’ annual camping trip in Minnesota without their parents, and The Scottish and I have spent many a holiday with my nanny family, from Thanksgivings to Easters.

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A nanny can be part-time or full-time but they are usually a consistent presence in your children’s lives.  A babysitter is more sporadic and can juggle multiple families.  Age has nothing to do with it either, you could be a 15-year-old nanny or a 55-year-old babysitter.

I wish I wasn’t so sensitive about this lingo, but I feel like being called a babysitter dismisses so much of what I was to my kids.

If a family has a nanny the parents rarely spend time with their kid(s).  This is something I heard quite a bit, mostly from people who didn’t know our situation, “Well, I bet you spend more time with the children than their actual parents do!”  Not true, at least not in our case, but I can’t speak for other families.

Usually having a nanny means there is more quality time spent between parents and children because a nanny can help with those day-to-day routines that are such a time-suck.  My boss’ worked hard during the week so they could play hard on the weekend with their kids.  In our case, having a nanny meant additional love and support in the household, not a subtraction of it.

You must love ALL the children if you’re a nanny.  Nope, sorry!  Children are annoying and sticky.  I can’t say I love them all even though I’m obsessed with my two kiddos.  I just knew there was a connection between us from the moment I met them.  I don’t have that with every child I encounter and that’s OK.  I’ve volunteered in classrooms and organized after-school programs.  I come from a family of teachers (one of the most courageous and admirable professions out there) but I don’t have it in me to work with all the children all the time.  🙂

Nannies are all old/young/minorities/don’t speak English/smoking hot (thank you TV and movies for that one)/live with the family.  Excuse me while I laugh.  Nannies, just like mothers and fathers come in all shapes, and sizes, ethnicities, and age brackets.  Every situation is different and every nanny is unique.

(One truth I have noticed is that most nannies are women.  I’ve had many experiences with stay-at-home Dads but I’ve never met a male nanny.  Pretty sure there is still a social stigma about hiring a man, someone outside of family, to one-on-one watch children.)

Nannies are exactly like Moms.  It’s just not possible.  And for the most part, people get that.  Except when they want you to stay late at the park, skip lunch, serve junk food for dinner, or meet them last-minute somewhere to play.  I made my own schedule with my nanny kids yes, but it was based on what was best for the family at that moment.  I always had my boss in the back of my mind, and I considered what she would prefer before I made any decisions.  If you’re the mother, you can make the final call.  The nanny can be flexible to a point, but remember she has to answer to someone.

My nanny kids will be a part of my life forever.  There is no way our bond could be erased, not by moving, not by me having my own children, not by them growing up.  They are my babies for life.

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I was told once at a Dunkin Donuts while pushing Littlest C in a stroller, “Aww, she must look like your husband.”  It’s true, we don’t look very much alike, but I’ve also been mistaken for their Mom more times than I can count and complimented on how good my kids were being.  I take pride in their accomplishments because I helped shape them into the people they are today.

I was (and will be) able to love and support two beautiful children that are not my own and for that I will always be grateful.

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6 Responses to “Just Call Me Nom (Nanny Mom)”

  1. Candie ODell

    totally get this post. I’m constantly asked if I’m Addies mom, and I take it as a huge compliment. she’s the 5th family I’ve worked for, and I absolutely love being a nanny. they completely respect me. I’m seriously thinking of opening a daycare and put my child rearing skills and non-profit skills together

  2. Elizabeth

    I had live in nannies growing up and I completely agree that they are part of your family. Some of them were international (from Poland and Denmark) so we lost touch as my family and their families moved around, but thanks to Facebook, we’ve reconnected and I couldn’t be happier.

  3. Susana Alex

    In my point of view, I could say being a nanny for a family is a different experience than working for a daycare. As a single person, it is impossible to manage lots of children in the same time. For me, I cannot manage more than two kids at the same time.


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