Sunday, July 4, 2010
Happy Birthday America!!! I post this photo not to display its artistic excellence...but lack thereof. It was taken last 4th July from a condo balcony...where I was nannying. That's right ladies and gentlemen, I spent our country's last independence day driving to Florida in a packed suv. Upon arrival my only form of celebration was watching these fireworks way off in the distance. So it goes without saying that this year I am particularly thankful for freedom.
This is the perfect opportunity to address the nanny holiday/vacation topic. I have no actual evidence but I would guess that about half of nannies have holidays like the 4th, labor day, and memorial day off. The other half don't. If you're being compensated, working a holiday or two is fine. I think the key (ok, this is the key to ALL nanny/family issues) is communication. Don't assume your nanny is going to work labor day weekend because you planned to go out of town. It's called labor day for a reason (clearly, I had to work last labor day weekend). Nannies, make sure the family you work for gives you a chance to celebrate holidays on your own terms. Families, when you're gracious, we'll return the favor...besides, what's better than being surrounded by kids on a summer holiday?
Now, vacations are a whole different ballgame- and this last one I went on takes the cake. Ok, wait, before I start let me insert that going on vacation with a family as their nanny can be really incredible-given the right situation (it just so happens I've never had one of those). Now, onto to my experience(s). I compare above the 4ht of July vacation to foreign language immersion. You see, I had only babysat for this family a time or two before we spent a week at the beach. I was just out of college, unemployed, and I thought, why not? "WHY?" Is all I can think now. I was going to continue working with the family after vacation, but I nipped that in the bud real quick. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to learn everything about this family; eating habits, discipline (or lack thereof), sleeping patterns, television rules, relationship dynamics, all in a very short period of time and in a very small space. I learned two important lessons. First, sometimes you just know when you are not a fit for a family. Trust your instinct there. Second, I learned a vital piece of information for families. Please read this carefully- give your nanny space on vacation. For example, her own bed. True story, I slept on the couch and then shared a bed with mom (yeah, it was awkward). Goodness gracious, if you are taking your nanny on vacation, make room for her!! I'm not saying a nanny needs her own room (that would be nice though) or a couple days off (also nice)- but for the person taking care of your children all week (or longer) there has to be down time. This is non negotiable. You take a nanny on vacation to take a bit of stress off of yourself, don't pile it all onto your nanny. Share the load. A nanny should be an additional partner for parents not a replacement for...but that's another topic for another day.
I hope all you nannies out there are experiencing a relaxing holiday and if you go on vacation with your little munchkins this summer, I hope it's everything you dreamed of.
Here's to freedom and the soldiers who fought for it! God bless!