Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nanny to Mommy

Many women start their careers as professional nannies in their early to mid 20’s, often before they are married and have children. For the career nannies of the last 25 years, many of them were working nannies when they started their own families. Going from nanny, to mommy, to working mommy/nanny is a huge transition.

Today we are talking with Andrea, Kristen and Penny. Three career nannies who also become mommies and continued to work in the profession.
Andrea had been a nanny for 4 years before her daughter was born in 2004.

Kristen had been a nanny for 19 years before her son was born.

Penny had been a nanny for exactly 10 years when she and her husband found out that she was pregnant.

Andrea was working for a school teacher at the time. She didn’t discuss the pregnancy with her employer before she got pregnant. Her daughter was born at the end of summer. She went back to work 2 weeks after her daughter was born. Andrea didn’t discuss the pregnancy with her employer before she got pregnant. They also didn’t really discuss whether or not she would bring her daughter to work with her, it was simply understood.

Kristen did discuss this with her employers after she had been working there for a couple of months. At that time they told her that if she got pregnant, they didn’t want her to bring her child to work with her. Kristen did not get pregnant for 7 years. At that point in time her employers offered to let her bring her son to work with her. They felt like the children were old enough because they were in school and the baby did not interfere with their daily routine. They told her they would do anything to keep her. Kristen went back to work 10 weeks after her child was born. Her maternity leave was unpaid.

Penny’s pregnancy was not planned so she didn’t discuss it with her employer until after she was pregnant. They were wonderful and shared her excitement.Penny’s employers agreed to give her eight weeks but after her son was born they went the extra mile and gave her a gradual return to her full time duties. She didn’t have to work full time until her son was over a year old. The parents helped out and also used other family members to fill in the gap. Penny did discuss bringing her child to work with her and her employer was fine with it. It was never an issue. Penny said that she been so much apart of their family and their lives that adding her little baby to the mix didn't need much discussion

Was it hard to be a parent and nanny?

Andrea said that "At times it was but her charge was 3.5 so that helped. Her employer was easy to get along with and they worked well together. It was hard to be at someone else’s house all day when all her childs' things were at home. One of the things that all 3 of the nanny/mommies did was have a place at work for their child’s things so that they didn’t have to drag things back and forth. Andrea had a bed, changing area, toys and a swing. As her child got older she didn’t want to nap anywhere except her own bed, so that made it a little difficult at times.

Kristen said that the hardest part for her was the commute. I would drive a half-hour to the train station, then take a 48 minute train ride, then get off and have to walk to their house with the stroller. It was hard during the winter months, and easier as it got warmer. The kids adjusted well and were very excited about my son being there. They were old enough to do things on their own. Plus, they loved to play with all the baby toys.

What surprised you the most about being a mother and working nanny and how was it different?

Andrea said “ I was suprised how different it was just knowing and feeling the difference in my relationship with my child and my charge. I of course loved my charge, but the love you feel for your own child is not easily explained. I didn't treat them differently, but my daughter certainly treated me differently! Being a Mom is different than being a working nanny. It means you are at work all day every day, you get up with your child and you go to bed with your child. I found it hard sometimes to separate myself from that and I quickly learned that not only did I have a relationship with my charges but my daughter did as well.”

Kristen was surprised how easy the transition was .Being able to take a lot of things for my child to work and leave them there instead of dragging things back and forth made a huge difference. Everything was so smooth and I really didn’t have any problems, except with that long commute. As a mom I don’t have to answer to anyone. I can do what I want when I want with my child. If I want to stay someplace longer and have my son have a shorter nap, I don’t worry about it. I know he will be fine. I feel more relaxed and I think it is easier. I enjoy being a mother and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Penny said “She was most surprised by her reaction to her baby.”As a nanny, I have always been so sure of myself. I know what my charges need. I know how they tick. As a mom, I was lost right from the start. I was nervous, unsure of what to do at any given time. I felt everything was out of my control and it terrified me. Things got better as he grew but there are still times when I am unsure. I am thankful I have all my nanny experience to lean on. I believe being a nanny will absolutely help me be a better mother.
My charges think it is cool to have a "little brother", especially my 10 year old. He meets us at the car every morning to get his baby-hug fix and help get us inside. He is more than happy to entertain a few minutes here and there while I put laundry away or prepare dinner in the evening. I keep telling him he will make an awesome nanny someday.

Did becoming a mother make you a better nanny or did being a nanny make you a better mother?

Andrea said” I don't think being a mom made me a better nanny but being a nanny made me a better mother. When I was growing up I never felt the need to have a child of my own so taking care of children I learned a lot firsthand and I learned a lot by reading and taking classes. I was really prepared for having my own child and had already learned most of the ins and outs of having a newborn in the house.”

Kristen said “I think being nanny made me a better mother. I had been a nanny for so long that I was a heard it, read it, seen it person. I enjoy reading as many different child care books as I can. I don’t think there is one solution for every parent, but taking different things, from different books made me a well-rounded nanny. So when I became a mother I really didn’t have the first time parent jitters. I think I had the same concerns, like is my child breathing, since I don’t hear him making a sound. Taking my knowledge I had as a nanny and applying it to myself, really helped not only me, but my husband. My husband told me I was kind, patient and helpful to him. He always says he is grateful for my career as a nanny, because it helps him be a better parent, since I am so calm and relaxed.
The one thing that I think makes it harder is that people that I know, who know I was a nanny always tell me, your kid is going to be the best kid, he will know so much, and be the most well behave child. I feel like there is added pressure that I always do my best. Not that my son will be the most well behave or smarter than other kids. I just feel like I have more eyes on me, watching me, critiquing me.”

Andrea still takes her child to work with her almost every day.

Kristen stays home with her son now.. After she worked for about 9 months, her employers wanted to cut her hours drastically, to the point that the commute would not be worth it. She stays at home with him now. She said that she really enjoys that she is able to be with her son and do all the things she did with her charges, with him. She has the best of both worlds.

Do you think that having a child has hampered you in the job market?
Andrea says “YES! Having your own child makes it at least 80% harder to find a job. I think it also depends on where you live. We just moved to California. Most parents are very familiar with nannies and they don't like having a nanny who has her own child and family. Back in Ohio it was never an issue.”

Kristens says “I think it has hampered my efforts to find part-time work. I think parents think that you will favor your child over theirs. I do understand that.”

Penny says “I am thankful I am not looking for work, for I firmly believe having him would hamper me in the job market. I know other mom/nannies in the area who are struggling to find positions.”

How old is your child? And when the time comes will you send them to pre-school?
Andrea’s daughter is 5. She is starting Kindergarten this Fall. She did send her to pre school.It allowed her to be with her peers and it allowed Andrea to have time to focus on her work and the children she nannied for.

Kristen’s son will be 2 on October 8th. She will definitely send him to pre school when the time comes. She is now a certified sign language instructor and will be doing classes in the future.

Penny’s, toddler is almost 18 months old now. He will probably be coming to work with her until he is in school himself, whenever that turns out to be.

Do you think that your employer relates to you differently as a mother than she did when you were a nanny?

Andrea said “No, I actually think the family I was with when I had my daughter learned a lot more from me and I helped them with a lot of parenting issues that I had already learned about in my past as a nanny.”

Kristen said “On some levels, we related to differently. I breast fed and so did she so we talked a lot about that. Everything else, we really didn’t talk about.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with nannies who are contemplating doing both?

Andrea says "I have so much advice I would love to share. My first advice would be to make sure you plan everything, IF you are planning to have a child you need to make sure everyone involved is prepared. If you get pregnant accidentally you need to make sure you handle properly and make sure you tell everyone as soon as you are comfortable doing so. If you are looking for a job and already have a child I suggest NOT telling prospective families right away. I always get familiar with each family before I tell them about my daughter. It makes things easier and I even wait sometimes until after the first interview to tell them. I have had a lot of success doing it this way, it does seem deceptive, however, it shortens the amount of time being wasted if in fact they don't click with you."

Kristen says”
“My advice I would give other nannies who would like to do both is, first make sure you are secure financially. That way if it doesn’t work out you are not frantically looking for just another job to help pay the bills. I would have something in writing so if you did get pregnant or you bring your child to work that almost everything has been discuss. Secondly, do it on a trial basis, that way if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t gotten yourself into a long-term commitment”

Penny says “I would advise nannies who are thinking of doing both to have good communication with their employers. You have to know they are willing to accommodate your and your baby's needs if you cannot afford or are unwilling to send your child to daycare.”

Thank you ladies for sharing your personal experience with us. As more and more nannies choose to stay in the profession after becoming moms, this is great information!