Nanny Shares Aren't For the Faint of Heart

Ok. Picture it. It’s a gorgeous winter Wednesday. I am a nanny share nanny, so at the time, I’ve got a 16 month old and a 13 month old. Normally, both are happy and content to play independently. But not today. Not this morning.

Both toddlers are a bit clingy on this day. It’s housekeeper day, and I’m trying to get all the toys picked up before they arrive. I’m also expecting a repairman to arrive before our departure. We’ve got to get out the door to pick Grandma up on our way to gymnastics, so I’m gathering snacks and sippy cups; I’m tossing toys in baskets; getting shoes buckled on tiny feet; doing last minute diaper checks; and waiting for the cleaning crew and repairman. Then I realize I need to go to the bathroom myself…. So I haul both crying kids to the upstairs bathroom. Now, I don't normally bring my kids in to the bathroom with me, I'm a closed-door type of gal; however, like I said, the kids were both off kilter and I didn't feel like torturing us further (ironic, I know). I sit and do my business, with screaming, grabbing, runny-nosed children literally clawing at me, begging to be held. I grab the youngest and lay him at my feet on the rug, which seems to help settle him; meanwhile, my 16 month old is losing her mind. I mean, she’s seriously unhappy, for reasons unbeknownst to me. This wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, just unfortunate timing for her. I finish, well, uh pooping, flush the toilet, and immediately dread overcomes me. You see, the toilets at my nanny family’s house are all sensitive. They require you to flush before you wipe, and I just failed to do so. So….brown, dirty water begins to rise in the toilet bowl, while panic is rising within me. Remember, we’re literally on our way out the door. Grandma is waiting for us at the other house. And this can’t be happening. A million thoughts run thru my head “I can’t leave this for the housecleaner. I can’t. I’d die. But what am I to do?” I happen to know, from experience, there is NO plunger to be found in this house. Like I said, I had already learned the hard way about the toilet situation. The kids are standing at my feet, still screaming. I need to get us all out the door. I’m freaking out over the toilet about to overflow….when finally the water recedes! I send up a silent and very sincere prayer to God to “please, please let the toilet flush”. I take a risk, flush the toilet, and glory be, it all went down! I quickly wash my hands, grab both kids, head downstairs. We’re now sitting on the entry floor as I put on my shoes, when the cleaning crew walks in the door. Followed closely by the repairman. I don’t mention a thing to either of them, I shoot MB a quick text asking her to grab a plunger on her way home, grab the backpack, the kids, and we’re gone.

Dear blessed Grandma could tell something was up when we pulled in the driveway. I laughed as I recounted to both MB and Grandma the entire situation. Kids crying at your feet, while you sit on the toilet is the epitome of a Wednesday-hump day, amiright?

Nanny sharing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s real. It can be dark, it can be crappy (pun 100% intended), but it is so rewarding. My little’s are each other’s best friends. It’s so beautiful to watch them share and empathize with each other. And it’s precious to hear one walking around the house calling for the other, Marco Polo-Style. Do I think everyone should nanny share? No. Not everyone can handle it. But for those who can, I encourage you to jump into the deep side of the pool and let’s kick ass together!

Here are a few tips from a pro, to help you find a lasting nanny share:

  • Compatibility! Find families that match your style, not necessarily each other. YOU are the caregiver, so you need to make sure you are comfortable caring for each child in the manner in which their parents desire.

  • Grace! Be gracious to your families, and they will *hopefully* show it back to you. Chaos happens. Shoes get lost. Tires go flat. Being understanding when one of your nanny families has family in town, or needs you to pick up an extra task or two for a few days, or any number of possibilities. These are busy families; just remember everyone needs grace from time to time.

  • Speak up! Don’t be afraid to voice concern over a safety issue. Or a scheduling conflict. I have had to tell families “I understand your child doesn’t care about stairs, but our share friend does; and therefore I can not work without the stairs/chemicals/dog/fill-in-the-blank being properly taken care of.” In a nanny share, having the kids on a similar schedule means more time to get out of the house, some down time for you, and is just all around the ideal way to go. This doesn’t occur to first time parents, so talk to them about it! Nothing ever changes if you don’t bring the issue up to discuss.

For more on nanny shares, you can check out my blog pieces on the Pareday.com website!

Britney Fredrickson started out as an infant and toddler teacher in a Montessori center, while pursuing her B.A. in Child Development. After several years teaching, she transitioned in to the nanny sector, and now specializes in infant and toddler nanny shares. She also serves as the Community Manager on the Pareday team, a nanny share website devoted to helping families and nannies connect to form successful nanny shares. A California native, Britney and her husband recently relocated to Colorado with their dog and cat. You can follow Britney at www.itsfinallynaptime.com, @itsfinallynaptime on Facebook and Instagram, or on Twitter @finallynaptime, for real-life anecdotes, nanny tips, and creative learning activities

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