Working

Nanny Diary

I have been a nanny (part-tme, full-time and live-in) for what will be six years next month.

I never planned on this happening.

After my contract was not renewed for a 9-5 office job back in 2009, I found myself on unemployment.

A friend needed help with her twin boys once a week and the rest was history.

I found jobs on various care taking websites. As a provider, the service is free. You can enhance it by paying for background checks, which I did when I had the extra money. I slowly built up references and was able to land jobs when others were ending.

The best part about nannying is hanging out with a baby all day. Not all babies, mind you. Some you just don’t connect with like others. Still, they have their moments and it’s rewarding and fun to be there for those.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to become friends with the parents, or the very least, keep in touch once the job is done.

There are a lot of downsides to it too. The worst being the absolute instability of it all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told my services won’t be needed for days or even weeks because of vacations or grandparents in town.

Every day I don’t work, I don’t get paid. And while I understand the cost savings this has for the family, it hurts mine.

Not to mention, there is no guarantee I won’t be let go for any reason on any day, without notice. There is also a set amount of time you can work with one family full-time since eventually those babies turn into toddlers old enough for preschool.

There are no sick days and no paid benefits.

I’ve seen ads that ask for additional housekeeping and cooking all for the low, low wage of often times less than $10 an hour. I can’t help but think these people are hoping to come across undocumented workers or college students who don’t know any better (something tells me they do.)

I get that it’s cash under the table, but that works both ways. If you employ someone and do it above board, you’re responsible for their social security and medicare taxes.

I know that some people probably think I’m just an old babysitter. I suppose that’s sort of true. There is a lot of downtime, especially when you have a baby that sleeps a lot. For the families that aren’t looking for additional help around the house, I’ll often find myself behind my laptop or watching t.v. Yes, I get paid to do that. But that’s part of the job. My wages are based on my time and ability to keep a child alive and content, and ultimately, for someone else to go and make a living.

I’ve struggled with finding my worth. I go back and forth about wanting to make this some kind of career where I manage a household, run errands and act as some sort of Mary Poppins Executive Assistant. At least then I could charge $20 an hour and feel OK about it.

In some ways, I feel stuck. I’ve been doing this for so long now and the jobs keep coming even when I think I’m going to be out of work for longer than I want. I don’t gain any applicable skills as the years pass and my resume looks terrible.

Stranger still is leaving my own baby at home to look after another.

I’m not sure how much longer I can do this, but it’s also the only thing I’ve known for the last six years.

-Carly

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