Being a nanny can be incredibly rewarding and incredibly challenging. Nannies get to experience many of the same ups and downs as parents, except they also have a unique set of job-related challenges on top of it all to deal with.
We spoke to a few professional nannies–who have 34 years of experience between them!–to learn about the toughest parts of being a nanny. With this insider info, parents can help make the experience successful and that can lead to happier nannies, happier kids, and, why yes, happier parents.
The 3 biggest challenges of being a nanny
1. Syncing parenting styles
When parents and nannies are not tied to the same parenting style it can quickly lead to frustration, not to mention confusion for kids. “Being on the same page is essential to creating a happy, healthy nanny-parent relationship,” says Dolores McComb, who has been a professional nanny for over 10 years to families in Brooklyn and Long Island. “At the end of the day parents always get to choose how to handle their children, but when you don’t agree consistently it can be tough.” To minimize this challenge, parents should discuss their parenting philosophies in the interview process and set ground rules early. Nannies also need to feel comfortable following the chosen parenting style and find out if there is a place for their own approach to be integrated into the family’s framework.
2. Striking a balance
Similar to the above, it can be challenging for nannies to constantly be aware of and align their actions and responses with what the parents would do. “Nannies have their own boundaries, intuitions and needs,” says Kristen DelMar-Cain, who’s a full-time nanny for over 15 years to families across New York City, “so addressing a child’s needs according to everyone’s desires, while managing and respecting your own, can be very challenging to execute.” For help navigating these situations, DelMar-Cain recommends a nanny support group. “My network has helped me work through day-to-day challenges, and figure out how to be an extension of the family I’m working for.”
3. Having more experience
As nannies care for more and more children throughout their careers, they gain a lot of experience. While this is often seen as a plus for parents, the flipside is that sometimes nannies have more experience than the parents do. When it comes to sleep training, starting solids, potty training, setting limits and more, nannies with significant experience may feel there’s a faster, easier, or more successful way. “I believe parents should always have the opportunity to experience and learn as they go–even if I don’t agree or find it frustrating,” says Izabell Kole, a Brooklyn nanny with 9 years of experience and two teenagers of her own. “Afterall, we have the same goal: a happy, healthy, well-balanced child.”
Other common challenges for nannies:
- Dealing with double standards
When parents ask their nanny to adopt a new rule or routine or to help break a habit, it can be problematic for nannies and kids when they don’t also do it themselves. For example, if parents expect a nanny to only allow a child to have a binky at naptime, they need to not give in at the breakfast table themselves. The solution starts with parents’ commitment and communication.
When you’re a full-time nanny for a family the work doesn’t wait for you if you need a day off and there usually isn’t anyone trained to jump in and cover you without some impact on the kids’ and parents’ day. This may leave nannies feeling torn about taking a sick or even a vacation day. “I’m guilty of putting off my own appointments or personal needs because I don’t want to disrupt the routine,” says McComb. Having a backup plan in place for inevitable time off will help everyone feel more comfortable when the need arises.
When nannies quit it can be for a variety of reasons, but none of that changes the relationship they’ve developed with your kids. Saying goodbye after spending so much time with your little ones every week can really take its toll. “It’s hard knowing most of these kids I’ve cared for won’t remember the bond we shared and how much I’ve grown to love them,” says McCombs. To manage the transition for both kids and caregivers, parents can look to create opportunities for them to stay in touch through calls, cards, or even visit.
Trying to find your next nanny? Visit our nanny boards to hire a professional nanny in the NY area.