Common Issues When Nannying in Public
By Elizabeth.Hawksworth on October 15, 2012
I don’t blog on the weekends as a rule, and I was out this weekend at my great-aunt’s funeral, so I didn’t have a lot of time to think about blog posts for the week. But I thought, I get a lot of questions about nanny issues and how we deal with them, that I decided to do a post detailing some of the common issues I run into on a daily basis when in public. Here are five issues I deal with most days when nannying:
1. “Oh, s/he’s so cute! You have an adorable daughter/son!”: I’m sure most nannies have this issue – everyone thinks that the kids that you’re with are yours. It’s not hard to gently correct the person, but it gets annoying when I have to do it a million times a day. Glo-Worm and I, according to my friends at the Early Years Centre we attend, look somewhat alike, so many people tend to assume that I’m her mother. I’m fine with correcting them; the issue comes in when people realize that I’m “just the nanny” and then proceed to either not speak to me anymore or noticeably drop their tone in temperature. So, I deal with it by not correcting their assumptions until they actually come right out and mention the words “daughter” or “son”. At that point, we’ve developed somewhat of a rapport, and most continue to speak to me as they would to another parent. This method has at least not had parents turning their backs in disdain on me! (In fact, I have a great group of parent friends now!)
2. When you or the kids get sick: I’ve dealt with this a few times for sure this month – either I am not feeling well, or Glo-Worm is not feeling well. Today, for example, I woke up with a slight gastritis attack last night, and I feel nauseated and blah as I type this. It’s not bad enough to go home, but it’s still unpleasant. I deal with this issue by just gauging what the two of us can handle. If I’m not feeling up to snuff, we might not go for a long walk or to the park. If she isn’t, we might just spend the day low-key at home. If either of us get really unwell, I of course call the parents to come home and relieve us. This isn’t really a public issue, but I’ve dealt with children suddenly spiking a fever in public (though thankfully, no one has vomited yet in public with me . . . and I hope they don’t!). When that happens, we go straight home and I call their parents to come home.
3. Public tantrums: Dare I say it? I get more judgement as a nanny dealing with tantrums than I think a parent does. Some people really expect nannies to be perfect human beings. As much as I wish I was Mary Poppins, kids still throw fits in my presence. Even Glo-Worm has a few times in her stroller when her bottle is gone or if she doesn’t want to sit. My main M.O. is to get us out of the situation as fast as I can – I’ve sometimes run towards the nearest door with the stroller once the screams start up – but if I can’t, I try to assuage the tantrum the best I can by trying to fix the problem. At Glo-Worm’s tender age of 15 months, she isn’t tantruming because she’s spoiled or anything. She’s tantruming because there’s a problem. Fixing the issue can turn off the screams, or produce more. If it produces more, well, the woman you see running towards the exit with a screaming kid in a stroller is me.
4. Comments on “inappropriate” behaviour: Glo-Worm is 15 months old, and was recently weaned. Without going into too much detail on a public blog, she has a habit with putting her hands on my chest that is somewhat inappropriate, considering I’m her nanny. I get a lot of comments about this, and I’ve even gotten a lot of disapproval and suspicion regarding it. I deal with this in one way: “She’s a baby. We’re working on helping her learn that this habit is not appropriate.” There’s not a lot I can do about it. She does tantrum loudly when she is unable to comfort herself in the way she’s accustomed to. And she is very comfortable and attached to me, so this is a way for her to attach and comfort herself while in my arms. I do remove her hands gently about a thousand times a day, but sometimes in public? It’s just easier to deal with it until I can get her home for a nap or lunch (she mostly does it when hungry or tired). I have to say, I’m more than a little surprised and slightly disgusted at people’s assumptions. Babies are babies!
5. When “nature calls” in public: When I have to take care of natural business at Glo-Worm’s home, I plop her in her playpen or crib for a few minutes and deal with it. She doesn’t scream or cry – she’s used to it. When I’m outside with her and I have to deal with the business, I have a bigger problem. If I’m at the Early Years Centre, I can ask one of my friends to watch her for the few minutes it takes, but if I’m at the library or other place, I have to take her in. I’ve developed a habit of facing her to the wall in her stroller while I get on with it – and while she does try to crane her head around and complain that she can’t, well, watch, it is a way of making sure that I’m enforcing appropriate boundaries between us. Giving her my coveted cell phone also works to make sure she’s not watching me during those times! This is perhaps my biggest issue as a nanny – and one that I am still looking for a better solution to!
Thankfully, I’ve nannied long enough that I’m pretty good with dealing with these common issues. Nothing fazes me too much. What are some of your common issues in public and with strangers when you’re with your kids?
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