Oh, Nanny. I see you.
I hope you know just how valuable that nanny heart beating on the inside of your chest truly is. Nannying can be such a beautiful and rewarding job… it can also be incredibly difficult. I get it. There’s really not another job quite like it on this planet- it’s strangely intimate. If you have been blessed with amazing nanny families every single time who treat you like gold, that’s amazing! I am so so glad- you deserve it. Unfortunately, that’s not everyone’s story. For many of us, burnout has been a real struggle.
I remember sitting on the floor of my room during an abusive live-in gig. Knees pulled to my chest and tears falling down my face. I wanted to throw in the towel with nannying altogether. I was tired of being yelled at, begging to be paid, not clocking off because my MB wouldn’t come home, being put in very uncomfortable & awkward situations… the list goes on. My nanny heart was definitely bleeding and I was most definitely feeling the pressure. But I loved working with children, so I made a decision to channel that pressure into growth. For me that looked like quitting that particular job (I am by no means telling you to quit your job. If that's whats best for you, go for it!) I had to. I believe there are 3 things over the past 14 years that I have despised in the moment, but in hindsight have made me into a better nanny today. They are messy. They don't feel good. But if you lean in and decide to grow from them… they can be worth it.
The first is pressure.
I am definitely not a scientist- but I do assist little ones with science projects (that’s basically the same thing, right? Ha!)…so, here’s a little science lesson for all of us about diamonds. In order for diamonds to form, a temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit and a very high pressure is required (The equivalent of the weight of over 4 thousand grown men standing on your foot). In the natural environment, these conditions are only found deep beneath the Earth’s surface in the layer called the mantel. When these conditions are present- carbon turns to diamonds. I don't know about you, but I don't think the pressure of 4 thousand grown men standing my foot would feel the greatest. I mean sometimes just having one of my nanny kids accidentally step on my foot hurts! But it got me thinking.
If the pressure has taught me anything… it’s taught me this: in the nanny industry I have to be my own best advocate, and to be my own best advocate I need to constantly educate myself and know the industry standards. Knowing your value and worth is imperative. Learn a lesson every single time you feel that uncomfortable pressure. Getting taken advantage of, or settling for a pay rate that you really weren’t actually comfortable with, telling your bosses that you really can’t stay an extra 45 minutes every single night. The pressure can hurt… but if decided to learn from it, it will make you into more of a diamond nanny. Let those moments refine you. Let them fuel you to be your own advocate. Becoming a great advocate unfortunately comes by experience through learning to navigate tough situations. Those scars are actually increasing your nanny value because you learned how to better handle confrontation in a healthy way. You become aware of your worth.
The second is irritation.
These are the things that just seem to chip away at you. In the moment you think, “I’ll just ignore it this time and bring it up later if it happens again”. It happens again… and again. It irritates you and you go back and forth about whether you’ve waited too long to address it- maybe it’s too late? Like coming to work and finding a whole sink and counter top full of dirty dishes from the weekend… every single Monday.
Irritations are another example of something that can sharpen you into an even better nanny. Take a pearl for example. That beautiful little ball we make into jewelry to adorn ourselves with; it’s literally produced from an irritation. When a parasite or a grain of sand works its way into an oyster, it exerts a defense mechanism. A fluid is used to coat that tiny little irritant (that feels like a giant boulder). Layer upon layer of this coating (called ‘nacre’) is deposited until a beautiful pearl is formed.
Let those irritations make you a better communicator. In those situations you can learn. You will learn where to set boundaries. You'll learn your worth. You’ll learn about grace and where to apply it. You’ll learn empathy and how to be kind when you don’t feel like it. You will learn how to see the red flags before taking a job rather than after- and in this industry, those lessons are invaluable.
The third is collision.
Ok, let’s talk about gold. I love it. I love how it sparkles. I love the symbolism of its value. And when I learned how it originally got to earth… I began to love it even more.
Again, being a nanny who assists 3rd graders in their science fair projects, I am clearly a trove of scientific knowledge (just kidding of course- Ha!). Gold is actually formed inside of massive stars when they explode into a supernova. Of course, after a star supernovas and forms gold, the gold had to travel to Earth in some way. Scientists have found evidence that gold arrived via asteroids when they collided with earth, while it was still quite young.
Allow yourself to love your nanny kids with all of your heart… without fear or reservation. Allow their little hearts to collide with yours like those gold covered asteroids collided with earth. Knowing that you could indeed get hurt when a job ends. Allow yourself to fully invest into their lives and to learn from them. That can be difficult… but that’s were the gold lies, Nanny. It’s what makes everything else in this job worth it.
The Nannyhood Heart symbolizes Y-O-U. Worth far more than diamonds…pearls… or even gold. Produced under pressure- refined by irritation. Every geometric line etched in the heart symbolizes the value added to your nanny heart through lessons you’ve gathered along the way. You are shaping young lives. You are championing families to thrive. You are oh so valuable.
I see you.
Nickey Andree is a professional career nanny with 14+ years experience working with children from all over the globe. She is the founder of The Nannyhood. The Nannyhood creates community and fosters friendships for nannies in their cities. It advocates for, resources, and places value on Nannyhood. She is passionate about helping nannies find their squad and assisting them in eliminating burnout. When she is not nannying, you can find Nickey singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs, leaving out gifts for strangers, or exploring new places.