Before my son was born, I knew that I would nanny with him. I had worked with children of all ages for many years before deciding to have children so I knew that I would figure it out. When he was 3 months old we began this journey into nannying together. At first it was really hard, but then I adapted and I was pleased by all of the benefits!
1. He has pseudo siblings. Lucas gets so much friend time that it just doesn’t feel like he needs a sibling right now. Now that he is 1 1/2 years old people love to ask me when the next one is coming and it’s very easy to shrug off the question and say “who knows!” It’s great because I really don’t want another child right now but would struggle with this if he didn’t have daily exposure to other children.
2. He learns to care for others. Ever since he was a baby, he watched as I cared for the other children in my care. I often involve him in this process now that he is older, such as: “Sophia is so sad, can you help her feel better?” I am really enjoying the level of empathy he seems to have gained from this.
3. He knows how to share mommy. I can hug and love other children and he has not yet complained about this. He will often come over for a quick hug while I hug the others, but then goes on his way. I have lots of love to give and am happy that he seems to know that I can share that love.
4. He learns patience. Sometimes, he’s just got to wait. I have to cloth, change and feed other people, including myself. I feel that if I were alone with him he would not see that he AND other children are all learning to wait their turn and that is just a part of the world.
5. I learn flexibility. As I must balance everyones needs, I learn how to meet them with calm and grace. It always works out for the best and I have learned to trust this. I know my personality and if I were at home alone all day I would never go anywhere or do anything to disrupt my routine comfort. This makes me braver and I am happy to say that his infant time was filled with fearless outings.
6. I gain close parent peers. I see parents at playgroups and church, but it’s only at most once a week. When I nanny I see the parents multiple times a week and so we are better able to openly discuss the challenges and successes in our parenting. I feel like it’s closer to the type of ‘village’ that used to raise children. (Though it is nice that there are parent groups that are beginning to heal this loss of community, like the Peps Organization and Meetup.com)
7. He gets to live in the early childhood world. Adult voices can be so exhausting for small children and we just don’t know how to play anymore. When my son gets to be around other children, I feel as if he can relax more in his own peer group. He plays better and has a calmer disposition when there are these little people around that are just his same size acting in the same silly little way.
8. He learns more! When watching the older children, little ones see how life is lived. The simplist activities like crawling, walking, holding a spoon, putting on a shoe or sitting in a chair are demonstrated much better by someone who has had recently learned all of this. (The plus side for the older children is that the gain confidence when they can teach this!)
9. He is not the center of the universe. It’s not all about him, not now and not ever. I believe that it’s crucial that we learn this as human beings; there are other people in the world that we must always consider. A little selfishness has it’s place but building good communities start with selflessness. My feelings, daddy’s feelings and anyone else in our care’s feelings matter too and the quality (vs. quantity) of the care he receives from me is what will matter in the end. When he actually has to experience this now, it’s easier than having to teach it to him later.
10. I have so much fun! Sometimes days are tricky, but mostly the days are filled with cooking, cleaning, playing, laughter and joy! It’s very fun to share this with multiple children because when something is fun, it’s so much MORE fun with each additional child! Sometimes I feel like I have bright, shiny wings and 20 arms while I dance and sing about like a pixie! I was born to be a mother and teacher of small children so this is excatly where I WANT to be.
If you are considering nannying with your own children I feel that you must ask yourself several questions: Do I have an amazing amount of patience? Do I mind being really messy all of the time? Do I have the ability to practice meditation and inner work so that I may have a peaceful and empty mental space for the children? Am I okay with my baby crying while I care for the other children? Can I successfully and happily juggle 30 things at once? AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: Will I be able to strive for really good and open communication with the parents I work with? The most important part of working with a family is the communication. Once you find a family that you feel fits your just right, then it can blossom into a beautiful experience. I have had great succes because the families I like to work with are kind and genourous families that share a similar respect for their children as I practice with my own.
See these sleepy little cuddle buddies. When I ask if he’s ready to go see the children I nanny, he laughs, nods and says “YES!”