You’re at the neighborhood playground. You’re enjoying some fresh air and relieved to rest on a bench while your kids burn off some energy on the monkey bars. Now, be honest: have you found yourself staring at another adult at the park who appears to be not the child’s parent? Do your “spidey-senses” perk up to “keep an eye out” on the behalf of the child’s parent?

Well, stop doing that.

During a recent candid conversation on the Moms You Meet podcast, professional Nanny Jada Rashawn said, “When we go to the park, moms are judging us!…I’m going to notice when you’re staring. I’m going to know when you’re staring too long.”

You’re actually distracting the nanny or babysitter from doing their job well. They feel you staring at them and immediately their defenses go up out of fear that your distorted observation could cost them their job. And when that happens, they’re forced to split their focus between the children in their care and your laserbeam stare. It’s like if a manager of another department was silently looking over your shoulder as you did your work in case they need to report something to your boss. It would distract you from doing a good job and would just overall not feel good

So why do parents instinctively stare at nannies? Here are some potential reasons you get caught in this reflex and why it’s not helpful.

Adult and Child Appear To Be of a Different Race

This shouldn’t be something we need to address, but unfortunately, we do. First, there are plenty of multi-racial families in this country and how genetics present can vary wildly. Regardless, even if the adult is a caregiver, what does it matter?

Nanny is On Their Phone

More often than not, nannies are in regular contact with their boss mom or dad—touching base about something or sending them pictures of their child. It could also be a part of the nanny’s job to help with certain things for the family, like coordinating with a repairperson or scheduling a playdate with another family. Bottom line, you have no idea what they’re using the phone for.

Nanny is Disciplining in a Different Way Than You Would

When a family hires a nanny or a babysitter to care for their children, part of the onboarding process is communicating how they parent. This is a very important part of the job. So, if you see a nanny handling something not exactly the way you’d handle something, pause to remember that you aren’t their boss and that isn’t your child. Each family decides what’s best for their kids.

Nanny Isn’t By the Child’s Side Constantly

Most likely, you aren’t by your child’s side either. An important part of childhood development is allowing kids to explore and play without an adult hovering 24/7. This means that there will be times when a child falls down or gets upset, but that doesn’t mean that the nanny isn’t doing their job well. Dealing with those types of challenges is important for a child in learning to grow.

You’re Admiring How the Nanny is Doing Their Job

This is great—we can all learn things from others because none of us have it all figure out. But if your admiration has transformed into a long stare reflex, that’s distracting for the nanny. Alternatively, walk up to them and introduce yourself. Make conversation and if you feel so inspired, tell them that you appreciated what you saw. Building these bridges goes a long way in the playground dynamics and the children ultimately benefit from parents and caregivers supporting each other.

 

So next time you’re at the playground with your children, take a moment to remind yourself that at the end of the day, nannies want the same things that parents want: for the children to be happy and safe. Build relationships with both the parents and caregivers in your neighborhood. Connect with the caregivers of the other kids and schedule park meet-ups, informal group games, and special play dates. When the adults are better connected, the kids only benefit—and your community will only be stronger for it.

Interested in hearing more about the relationship between parents and nannies? Check out the Moms You Meet podcast for the Mommy-Nanny Tension: Let’s Talk About It episode, and so much more.

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