Being a nanny in 2020 has taught me so many things, but ultimately what’s become clear is that the support systems we have in our lives are critical to a thriving community.
Before the pandemic, I was nannying once a week for the same family, and at that point, I had been with them for two years. They have one sweet little girl who’s about three and a half now. My main (and sometimes only) responsibility was to take care of her. I loved the days I spent with her, and there were times it felt wrong to get paid just to spend time with my tiny friend.
Once the pandemic hit, like most people, my life very suddenly changed. The parents began working from home, so I was understandably no longer needed, and my work with a flower company also slowed down. I did what everybody did—I stayed home, but I knew I needed to work. I used Sittercity and applied to upwards of 20 families, before finally hearing back from just one. It was bleak out there. They hired me almost immediately and I felt like I had a sense of purpose again after not working for almost a month.
It became clear to me in the first few weeks of working with this family that my responsibilities would be different (and more) than I was used to. I knew from the beginning that I would be taking on child care, housework, cooking, and schooling, but what I didn’t know was how hard doing all of those things 10 hours every day would be, and how much harder doing all of them in a pandemic would be.
It was not what I was accustomed to, having mostly only taken care of children and done light housework in the past, and it opened me up to the full range of responsibilities parents have on a daily basis. This job had a lot more responsibilities than I was used to as a nanny; it was hard to adjust to, and I got there eventually, but not without issue. I have the utmost respect and admiration for parents in this time because under all of these pressures I crumbled many times.
The pressures of the job mixed with trying to take care of myself, my home, my relationships, and my mental health was not something I balanced well. I neglected many of my own personal needs, and it took months to bounce back.
A part of this job is trying your hardest to be your best self, because when you are at your best, so are the children.
Nannies are a part of the long chain of support it takes to raise children, and just as parents need support, so do the nannies. I definitely struggled to reach out for help, because we’re living in a time where everyone is struggling in many different ways. It’s hard to ask for help when everyone around you needs help, but I learned because I had to. On the days I wasn’t taking care of myself, I wasn’t taking care of the children very well. A part of this job is trying your hardest to be your best self, because when you are at your best, so are the children.
Along with learning I needed my own support, I realized just how huge being a support system for families is a part of this job. Nannies are a critical foundation piece to a working family. Regardless of whether we are taking care of children or acting as house managers, our role as nanny is so important and it helps society function. People often ask me when I will get a “real” job, but this is a real job. It’s hard, it’s essential, and it’s fulfilling.
I’m back to nannying with the family I started with. They’ve since added another baby, and they are both the sweetest children. In a time where loneliness is plaguing all of us, I’m grateful for time spent with children and a family who love and cherish me in the same ways I love and cherish them. Even though it was a hard time, I’m grateful for the things I learned in the thick of it.