Thursday, September 16, 2010

Creating Positive Changes in a Negative Situation

Today we are talking to an anoymous nanny in the Midwest who is going to share with us how her perfect job, changed to a job she hated, and how she took the negatives aspects of the job and created positive opportunities that she learned to enjoy.

When do you start this job?
Jan , 2008

Did you find it through an agency?
No, I found it through an online site.

Give us a brief synopsis of the job description you interviewed for.
The job I interviews for was caring for their toddler and a soon to be born baby. *Eventually they had another child so I was caring for 3 children under the age of 4. I was also expected to do child related tasks
Did the job fit the job description when you first started it?
There were some parts of the job that were as I thought it was going to be but there was one major part that was not.
I thought I could do outings with the children, when in reality I could not. It had to be as a "family". I could drive their car with the kids to the library. During the 1st yr going to Costco was the highlight of the week.
When did it change?
The summer of 2009 my hours were cut to part time. I tried to find another part time postiion with no luck. That was when I really started to feel like a "Parent Helper". The dad wanted to spend as much time as he could with the kids. I didn’t have a problem with that, but I am a planner and he was not. I never felt like I could do projects or educational activities not knowing what he had planned. Learning to go with the flow was challenging at times. I was tired of going places with the bosses. It just was no fun anymore.
How did it change?
I took on more household tasks ( which I was ok with) when both kids were napping. They wanted more help around the house since both kids slept at the same time in the afternoon. I was mopping the floor once a week, vacuuming the tile each day and vacuuming the 2 play areas 2-3 times a week. I was also wiping down the counters, cupboards and bathroom sink and doing laundry as needed. I was becoming a housekeeper. In some ways, I enjoyed it. At first the mom would put the clothes in the washer and I would transfer them to the dryer and then fold the clothes. The last 8 months I just did the kids laundry and folded the parents laundry. The last 8 months that I was there the dad was travelling a lot less. He wanted the kids home ALL the time. The oldest was in activities almost everyday. When he had a "free" day he was so excited. I spent a lot of time with the with the two youngest. If we did get to go to the park we had to come back so the kids could watch dad mow the lawn.
When it changed did you talk to the parents and try to find ways to make it better for all of you?
I did try and talk to them but they were just not comfortable with me driving their children. They trusted me but not other drivers.
What were some solutions that you offered them?
One solution which actually worked out to my benefit was learning to cook. With 3 kids and a mom that was working full time it was hard for her to plan meals. One day I offered to help with the cooking and she took me up on it. I have to say that even my cleaning skills improved overtime
Did you offer compromises?
I could have playdates at the house. I had a few playdates at the house and they all went great but it took me a while to be comfortable with that.
Did they try to make any compromises at all? I asked if I could take the girls to music class which was only 5 minutes away and she said yes. This helped so much. I loved Fridays. The girls loved music class as much as I did.
Why did you stay?
I stayed for two reasons. The first reason was the kids and the second reason was that the jobs were few and far between. I did go on some interviews but I think not having my current reference hurt my chances. I knew if I stayed I would win in the end and I did.
This wasn’t my happiest time in my work in the nanny profession but I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about what makes me happy in a job. I learned that I don't want to work for a work at home parent again. The Moms' office was on the other side of the kitchen with no door. Dad's office was in the same place until he moved to the basement in the fall of 2009. This was a great help because then he was separated from us and I didn’t have to try to work around him. I knew that the dad really was making an effort but it was just a difficult situation.

How did you move from being frustrated and ready to quit, to being motivated to making it work?
The Summer of 2009 when my hours were cut in half I worked part time that summer but in the fall they wanted me to go back to full time. I knew I wanted to end on good terms and the summer of 2009 was just too rocky. In the Spring of 2010 I became more and more frustrated. I was frustrated because I could not go anywhere that was not within walking distance. Music class had ended. Dad had moved his office again and this time it was moved into the dining area. It was impossible to keep 3 kids under the age of 4 quiet in the play area while he worked. I didn't feel like I was a nanny anymore, I was more of a housekeeper. I knew I needed to move on.My friends were so tired of hearing me talk about my job frustrations.I either had to do find a new position or just accept the situation.
What was your biggest support during this challenging time?
My friends supported me through this. I have a few nanny friends and lots of other friends. They were all very supportive in letting me vent and sometimes tried to offer solutions. I also belong to a some great Yahoogroups that gave me great support and advice.
What was the best advice you got?
One of my former bosses told me find things about this position that I liked and enjoyed and if I couldn’t do that, then I needed to move on.
Do what you can to make the families life easier so the parents are able to enjoy the children in the evening. I felt like if the parents could see that their household ran smoother because of me, I had done my job.
What steps did you take to make positive changes?
I learned to cook and discovered that I really enjoyed it. I always told myself it would benefit me in my future positions and I really think it will.
Did the parents notice immediately that you were putting forth this effort? or did they ever notice?
Yes they did. My broccoli cheddar cheese soup was a hit. I made it almost every week for 6 months. Dad looked forward to it and I would always try and make it when he was home. Dad did compliment me a lot through the 2.5 yrs I was there. He was the one who was there the most and he noticed  what I had done for the kids. He was the one who thanked me for everything on the last day I saw him. As frustrated as he made me he was the one who noticed the little things as well as the big.
Can you tell us how changing your attitude, changed you? And what you gained from it?
I just made the best of it. Having 2 work at home parents has been the most challenging job so far in my career. Some days I was in charge other days I was not. On one hand, I was glad that the parents wanted to spend time with the kids. They worked at home and I felt like they should be able to see their kids when they wanted to. On the other hand, it wasn’t always clear who was in charge so there was a lot of confusion in our roles. I did learn to improve my communication skills. I learned that when the time comes to talk to the bosses it was helpful to have a list of my concerns and solutions ahead of time.
Can you tell us what the greatest lesson you learned from this was or what you will take with you from this experience.
The greatest lesson I learned was that the kids loved me and they appreciated what I did for them. The parents and I worked very hard to teach the kids good manners and to respect adults. On my last day I had presents for the kids.Each of the them got their own framed picture of just the 2 of us. The oldest said “awww how nice." I also gave them a photo album. They had to look at it right away. They must have looked at the album half dozen times by the end of the day. I also made them shirts which said "Someone in KS loves ME". The oldest one wanted to wear his to the park. He wanted to bring the picture frames to the park to show another nanny we were meeting. That made me feel really proud. I had 3 wonderful last days filled with lots of hugs and cuddling.
How did this job end?
One day in May of this year at the end of the day, we were all in the kitchen together. The parents told me that they were moving out of state and that Aug. 6th would be my last day. I was so relieved. I had started looking again and I was dreading having to give them notice. Since they were moving, it worked out well for all of us. I could leave on good terms, get a great reference and still have a connection to the children.
Did this change how you interviewed when you started looking for a new job?
When I started looking for a new family, MB was very helpful when I started interviewing. She gave me suggestions on what I should wear to my interviews.
We  went shopping for shoes and make up. I don’t wear a lot of makeup but my she helped me pick some out and showed me how to use it. She also helped me with my nanny portfolio. Dad made a point of telling me that they would help me in anyway they could to find another family.
What is your best advice to a nanny who finds herself in a situation where a job suddenly changes and is suddenly not the job she signed on for?

Find ways to make the position better because it will make you feel better about yourself.

Don't expect anything in return.

We are there for the children.

I know I make a difference in the life of each child I care for. This is my job as a nanny.

When you have lemons, make lemonade.

Try to always find the positive side to every position.

List the positives and list ways you yourself can be the best nanny for the family.

Find other nannies to talk to and network with. No one understands better than another nanny.

There are so many resources today for nannies. Take advantage of them. There are yahoo groups, nanny support groups in many states as well as National Support groups. If you search the internet there are lots of resources.

Go to nanny conferences!

Go to Child Related Conferences!

Continue to educate yourself each and everyday.

Do what is best for YOU!

Remember that you need to look out for yourself because it is human nature for a family to look out for themselves first.

You need to come first. Often times as nannies we forget this but it is important to remember not to be a doormat..

My mantra that I have adopted for my life is
"A true professional nanny is willing to grow as a person in all areas of life."

This job was really hard to get through, but I did it and I am stronger and smarter and more appreciative of my new family because it.

As a  Christian it was helpful to me to remember to have faith.
With patience and God's timing the right family will be come along.
And they did...I started a new job in September and I am thrilled with my new family!


  1. What a lovely post Glenda. I'm going to share this with our network of nannies- as a previous nanny myself I know how hard it can be to stick out a tough role- and how rewarding it can be to see positive change over time. Attitude is everything! Rachel@KiwiOz Nannies

  2. Thank you Rachel. I will pass your comments on to the anonymous nanny who did this interview with me. Please feel free to share anything from this blog with your nannies.