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  • Doula Rowan

Nanny Vs. Babysitter. What IS the difference?


Have you ever wondered what the difference between a Nanny and a Babysitter was? Take it from me, there is a difference. Most nannies will get a bit testy if you refer to them as the babysitter. Unless they are actually babysitting of course. I didn't realize the difference until I started working as a full time nanny almost two years ago.

I'll start with the easier of the two jobs.

What does a babysitter do?

A babysitter is the person you call when you need a date night out with your significant other and your tiny humans are too young or inexperienced to care for them selves for more than ten minutes. The babysitter gets to your house and typically the kids have or are eating dinner and you are rushing around trying to make sure that their pajamas are on their bed and the babysitter knows the night time routine. You tell them three times that the emergency contacts are on the fridge and little Tom won't go to sleep without his special blanket and a song. Once you are out the door the babysitter will possibly put on music to have a dance party with or turn on a movie until it's bedtime. They'll put the kids to bed and sit and watch tv until you get home. They are there in case your kids need someone while you are gone. If they need water or someone to take them to the bathroom. Occasionally they will fall asleep because it's really late and after a full day of school and homework they are tired.

Does this sound like something you did in high school or college? Probably because you needed a little bit of extra cash to buy things you wanted or needed. I know that's why I did it.

Now here's the part where I tell you about my career.

What does a Nanny do?

The easy answer is that a Nanny is another parent figure. We will love and protect your children as fiercely as if they were our own. We will kiss their hurts and make them laugh. All while teaching them right from wrong and how to say please and thank you. We will be the person you text when, on occasion, you can't find the TV remote and it could be anywhere. I mean really, what doesn't go missing when you have kids in the house? You will ask us how the kids day at school was because you miss them so much and we get to pick them up from the bus stop.

If you let us we will become part of the family. A supporting member who is there to love and care for your children all the while knowing that at some point we will have to move on to another family. It's a special kind of heartbreak that I have heard many a nanny/manny lament. We love your children knowing full well that we won't always get to be the one taking care of them.

A nanny is with your children when you can't be there. Whether you're at work or traveling the country or globe. They are there to get your children up and dressed. They make sure teeth are brushed and breakfast is eaten before going about a multitude of different routines. It all depends on the family. I'll give you a look into a Summer day with my nanny family.

I'm one of the lucky ones. My Mom and Dad Bosses have a staggered schedule so I get to go in at 8:15am most days in the summer. This means that Mom Boss, MB, and Dad Boss, DB, have gotten the boys up, dressed, fed and teeth brushed. On occasion the boys are still asleep and I get to do it if DB is gone when they wake up. MB leaves before I get there.

Typically I have something planned for the day. The library, a hike, a day at the park or even a trip into the city for a museum or something. Lets say today I have a trip to the local pool planned. I'll get them changed into their bathing suits and slather sunscreen on them. I'll pack a lunch that both boys and I will eat. Homemade fruit leather, some sliced peppers, pretzels, grapes and apple slices are common picnic fare. The boys aren't fond of sandwiches, unless it's grilled cheese. I pack enough water for all of us and our towels.

We pack up into the car, secured in our car seats after lots of reminders that "We put our arms in the straps Before we choose our toys boys." (Do you have anything you say every time you do something and the kids seem to forget the moment you do it again?)

On the way there D (the five year old) will ask questions about a million things like "Why are there lines on the road? Why do you have mirrors on your car? Why is the sun so hot today?" All these questions will be answered until B (the three year old) starts crying because he wants a chance to talk and "D won't let me say anything! He just keeps talking and talking and talking. It's not fair!" Only to ask the same things his big brother was asking because he wants to be just like D.

When we get to the pool I unload the boys with a firm reminder that "When we are out of the car we put our hand on the door." (My biggest fear is that one of the boys will run into the parking lot while I'm unloading the swim bags from the trunk. Thankfully it hasn't happened.) The nuggets and I will spend a couple of hours at the pool. Playing on the playground to get good and sweaty before getting into the pool to cool down. I used to take them in one at a time because we don't use bubbles or floaties. But D has gotten really good at being independent and moving around the pool so now I keep an eye on him as I help B practice his swimming.

We swim until lunch time and we sit on our towels in the sun while we eat. There are lots of silly giggles as we play a bit with our food. (Have you ever had an orange pepper mustache?) Eventually we pack up and go change in the changing rooms. (We tried showering there once and oh my gosh the water was freezing! Poor B lost his breath when I washed his hair. We won't do that again!) The boys put on pjs because we go home and go straight to quiet time (What I call nap time. Turns out sometimes all nap time needs is another name to be appealing to older kids.)

Quiet time has the same routine regardless of what time it is. Potty, I read one book per child as we snuggle on D's bed, then I tuck in D, go sing to B and put him in his crib then go sing to D until he's asleep. Once both boys are asleep it's clean up time. I do breakfast and lunch dishes empty out the swim bags and hang anything wet up to dry. Usually outside, on the back stairs. If there's laundry I'll fold it. Usually the boys sleep long enough that I get a chance to sit on the couch and browse through Pinterest or Facebook.

I make sure to have them up between 2:30 and 3pm. I want them rested but I also want them to go to sleep at a decent hour for their parents. Once I get them up it's snack time and we will either go to a playground, read a book or do some sort of craft or science project. I do my best to clean up as they play so that MB can just relax when she gets home and enjoy the boys.

We will try to have a conversation, very likely the first adult conversation I've had since DB left for work 8.5 hours ago. But the boys will want Mama's full attention. So I will pack up my stuff and head out, after a round of hugs and "See you tomorrows." MB and I will text later if we didn't get a chance to really check in on the day.

Rinse and repeat. Monday through Friday and sometimes on weekends. As a nanny your family is our life and your children are our little loves. We will have a hundred pet names for them and we will go through rough toddler tantrum days and perfect sibling love days. All while keeping your home from becomeing a disaster zone.

So the next time a Nanny gets a bit testy because you called them a babysitter. Try to remember that the distinction is there and it means a lot when you respect what we do.

#NannyvsBabysitter #DifferenceinChildcare #ThePeculiarNanny #ItTakesaVillage

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