When I graduated from college I worked a number of unrewarding career-oriented jobs until I decided that I just wanted to do what I really loved: hold babies. This led me to an extremely fulfilling career as a professional nanny. I did, of course, do a whole lot more than hold babies, but I truly loved my job. In many ways being a nanny is a lot like being a parent, except for a few blaring differences that I couldn't fully appreciate until I became a parent myself.
Being a nanny made me very excited to be a mom. Now that I am a mom, I can't help but notice that in these five ways I was a better nanny than I am parent.
I worry more. As a nanny you have a certain amount of objectivity and emotional detachment that you can't have as a parent. I was cautious with the children, but I never experienced that mind-altering constant worry that seems to come along with motherhood. Not only do I worry more about my children's well being, I'm also less confident. I second guess my parenting decisions in a way I never did as a nanny.
I have less patience. Nobody knows how to push your buttons like your own child. And you are so connected both physically and emotionally that it's no wonder your fuse is short. Still, I have to laugh at the fact that as a nanny I almost never raised my voice and even an epic tantrum didn't really ruffle my feathers. As a mom, all I can say is "Sorry kids, it's too bad we can't afford a nanny."
As a nanny I wasn't on my phone or trying to get work done, hanging with the kids was my work. I strive to recreate that mindfulness but it's harder than I thought it would be.
I'm more distracted. When I was getting paid to watch kids, that's what I did. My time with the children was fully focused on them. As a nanny I wasn't on my phone or trying to get work done, hanging with the kids was my work. I strive to recreate that mindfulness but it's harder than I thought it would be. My kids have to put up with a caregiver that is pretty much constantly multitasking.
I have less energy. I wasn't a live-in nanny so I got to sleep all night long. And I was in my early twenties. I had no problem happily running after little ones all day and I did so refreshed. I still run after little ones all day and I genuinely enjoy it, but I am more than a little exhausted. My poor kids get me as a the yawning mommy instead of the perky nanny.
I'm less appreciated. And therefore more grumpy. As the nanny you get praise from all angles. The kids love you because you're fun and exciting, and the parents love you because you're a huge help. Sometimes being a mom of young kids can feel quite thankless. Add to that the fact that there's no paycheck and no such a thing as a day off and it's no wonder that I'm not quite as cheerful all the time.
Thankfully there is one thing I am better at as a mom, and that's love. While I may not be as good at it as I'd hoped, the only thing I adore more than holding babies is holding my own babies. I loved being a nanny and I cherished the children I cared for, but nothing beats the bond of parent and child. The relationship is messier and the job more difficult, but the reward is beyond compare. There are times when I wish my kids could have me as a nanny, young and carefree, but instead they get my unwavering love for ever and ever.