I have always loved children and for as long as I can remember, have been anxious to have my own. It probably started with having three little sisters, the youngest one being born when I was 12 years old. I started babysitting when I was 15 years old for different families my mom hooked me up with through church, but when I was 16, I got my first actual babysitting job that turned into a nannying job. A lot of people are confused about the difference between a babysitter and a nanny, and in my opinion a babysitter is someone who comes over once in a while to take care of kids to have fun with them, whereas a nanny who is someone that watches the kids on a regular basis and is a big part of raising them, shaping their little minds, and becomes almost a part of the family.
A few months before I turned 17 I got into a pretty bad car accident where my car got totaled. It was going to be hard for my parents to always be driving me to the restaurant job I had at the time, so my dad asked his secretary at work at the time who had just had her second baby if she was looking for some help watching her girls. Conveniently, they also lived within a distance where I could ride my bike to their house. I went and met the baby and the family and fell in love. At the time, they had a two year old and a newborn, and I had so much fun that summer taking them to the zoo, on walks, playing with them, and just learning about childcare from two near-perfect children and their amazing parents. When I went away to school that next fall, I continued to watch the girls on breaks from school and on summer vacations. And I still see them now every once in a while! They now have three girls who are all actual little people, and I love to see them morph into their own person and get more and more wonderful every day.
After college, I got a job doing what I was “supposed to be doing,” but I hated it. So as I talked about in this post, my mom asked me what I liked and I said working out and kids. So that was how and why I become a personal trainer and a nanny. I immediately made a profile on care.com and met another wonderful family that was looking for help with their preschooler and two year old. I met the family, loved them, and started working almost immediately. These girls were so spunky and fun and kept me on my toes every day. In this role, I felt like much more of a nanny and less of a babysitter (in a good way!). I was with them all day every day, taking them to and picking them up from school and extracurricular activities, feeding them all their meals, and making sure they were behaving, doing their chores, and interacting appropriately in social situations. I loved these added responsibilities.
As time went on and the girls inevitably grew up and I started wanting to move faster into the personal training world, I split ways with the family except for occasional Saturday nights. I think you learn so much from watching other people’s kids – especially over the course of time as the kids develop further and grow up more than from when you first met them. Nannying is also interesting, because each family is so different and has different styles with which they raise their children. For example:
- One family was very straightforward with their children about the values they wanted to instill in them, but let them be extremely independent otherwise. These girls were the most well-behaved, sweet, funny, and delightful children I have ever had the privilege of watching. They happily are helpful, do their chores, and go out of their way to make pleasant conversation.
- Another family took the approach of pretty much giving the kids whatever they wanted, as long as they were behaving well. This was harder for me to abide with, since I was brought up differently. However, these girls were outgoing, super fun, so social, extremely inquisitive, and always up for an adventure. We never had a boring day.
- A third family I have worked with periodically was so crazy protective of their boys and really intimidated me on my first day! I thought I would somehow mess up and allow them to do something the parents didn’t agree with, but of course, everything was fine. These boys were pretty shy and not super social, but loved each other so much and were always up to play a game or cook something with me.
If you are a parent or have ever watched children before, I’m sure that you have your own style of caregiving you prefer, too. I think that each child has such a unique personality and may need something completely different than their best friend. As women, I think this can be a really hard comparison game. I am not a parent yet, but I can count plenty of times where I was at swim lessons with my girls and would be talking to another nanny and would feel inferior because I was not putting sunscreen on exactly the same way as they were, did not always dry the bathing suits before putting them back in the swim bag, or didn’t do the girls braids as cute as some of the others. Did it matter that my girls were safe, happy, and well-behaved? I hate to say it, but sometimes not as much as seeming like I was doing a good job. It’s a sad thing, but we often compare ourselves to what others are doing, even if it is like comparing apples to oranges.
I am so looking forward to having my own children one day and learning right along with them. I really commend any of you that are mothers out there, because I only got a snippet of what a difficult, but rewarding job it is! As exhausting as it is, at least for me it made it all worth it when those sweet babies would finally tire out and fall asleep on me at the end of a long day 🙂
Did you babysit a lot growing up? Did you like it? If you have children, do you have a hard time comparing yourself to other moms?