Advocating for nannies is of great importance to us at SPN. While this is something that we handle on a daily basis, it always makes us proud to see nannies advocating for themselves as well! We are proud to give nanny Stefanie the opportunity to share her perspective on experiencing a common issue facing nannies today.
It happened in the blink of an eye. I ran into an acquaintance that I’d known for a few years. She was a neighbor of the family for whom I nannied for over seven years. “Stefanie, how are you? You’re looking well. How’s your job?” Then the moment… wait for it… ”Are you still babysitting?”
With a frozen smile and through gritted teeth, I managed to stutter a polite response—something like, “Yes, I’m still a nanny. I’ve been in my current job for a few years now.” She didn’t even have the awareness that I’d changed the phrase, “babysitter” to “nanny.” We parted ways and I tried to get my blood pressure back under control.
If you ask any career nanny what her #1 pet peeve is, you’re likely to hear, “When people call me a babysitter!” Why the violent response to the term “babysitter”? After all, it’s not like nannies have never babysat for children. In fact, for me, babysitting through junior high and high school was my “gateway” into working with children and families on a professional level. In college I would spend nights with an infant whose single mother was a night-shift nurse. I was there 3 nights a week, and I called it babysitting. As a Montessori teacher I earned extra money doing lots of weekend babysitting and never batted an eyelash at the term.
Then, I became a nanny. I had a work agreement, vacation and sick days, W-4’s, and
mileage reimbursement. I spent 9+ hours a day, 5 days a week, with my charges; taking them to music class, gymnastics, and swimming, preparing meals, doing laundry, washing hair, brushing teeth, and changing countless poopy diapers. I made birthday and Mother’s Day presents with tiny, squirmy footprints. I befriended other children’s parents and nannies so my charges could have play dates. I cleaned vomit off car seats and poop off strollers. I sang songs, read books, and found lost snuggies before nap and bedtime. I held back my own tears as I pried small hands off of me at the end of the workday, trying not to see the crying child at the door calling for “Nefnie.”
This was a job—no, not just a job; this was my profession. I loved my kids so much that I would dream about them and think about what they were doing on the weekend. I would spend holidays with them, even when I wasn’t working. I still send birthday cards and valentines to my charges, years after leaving their family. This was way more than babysitting—I was a full-time nurturer and caregiver.
I’m still a nanny, eleven years and counting, and yes, I still hear the occasional “babysitter” comment. I guess it really doesn’t matter all that much to me anymore, because I know what I do and what I am: a hardworking, loving, fun, singing, cooking, cleaning, goofy, crafty, (mostly) patient, and caring babysi… ops… NANNY!