Featured Friday: Manny Of The Week -- Brandon

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Brandon is an awesome manny who actually gave me some wonderful advice when I first started this blog. My first post, Part 1: Top 10 Reasons A Nanny Feel Taken Advantage Of, was written using all feminine pronouns. When writing the article, I didn't want it to be filled with he/she, him/her, nanny/manny, so to maintain the flow of the piece, I kept it all feminine. Brandon kindly informed me that it is no longer grammatically incorrect to use "they" to refer to singular people. So, all my articles since then have been (and will continue to be) non-gender specific. Here at Nanny Counsel, we definitely embrace both nannies and mannies! So thank you again, Brandon. And thank you for doing this interview :)

Interview with Brandon

1. How long have you been a manny and what type of manny are you (part-time, full-time, live-in, etc.)? I’ve volunteered in childcare in some capacity (teaching Sunday School, babysitting neighbors, etc.) for twelve years, but a majority of my paid childcare experience has come in the last four years.

2. Why did you choose to be a manny? I chose to become a manny because I have always known that I had a natural talent working with kids. Additionally, as a PhD student, I’m not making a lot of money living in one of the most expensive counties in the nation, so I’ve needed to supplement my income so that I could live comfortably—childcare seemed like the most obvious choice, since it pays well and it’s something I truly enjoy doing.

3. What has been your favorite moment as a manny? It’s hard to pick one, since so many of my favorite moments tend to blend together. It always makes my day when I’m greeted with a smile and a hug. I also love when I’m able to have silly moments with my kids. If I had to pick one, though…one time with a (at the time) 6-year-old girl, I painted her nails, did her hair, and put sunglasses on her dog and took a picture (He looked AWESOME!!!!!). At the end, she smiled, said “thank you” and gave me a hug.

4. What has been your worst experience as a manny? I would have to say my live-in manny situation last year (May-December). The kid was great, and I still see him to this day…but his mother’s and my personalities/philosophies just clashed, and I was left burnt out, particularly after many times where she had taken advantage of me.

5. What’s the best thing a parent has done to make you feel appreciated? The best thing would have to be when the family I’ve babysit for nearly three years took me to two Nationals games last year, including one game in an executive suite and the other being treated for my birthday. I’m a diehard Red Sox fan, but love watching baseball!

6. What’s the worst thing a parent has done to take advantage of you?

Related to question 4: There were nights where the mom (in my live-in situation) never came home without telling me in advance, and I had to adjust my Sunday schedule (which includes teaching Sunday School in the morning). I ended up having to bring him to Sunday School with me. Last summer, she only paid me

$150

a week to hang out with him full-time during the summer (I only took this because I wasn’t paying rent for two evenings a week+1 weekend day a month). Also, as time progressed, she started requesting more hours from me without pay, one time texting me while I was in class, asking if I could come home to watch him that night because she wanted to go out. I had told her I was in class and wouldn’t get out until 10pm. She got upset about my lack of flexibility (my teaching/class/research schedule was given to her as soon as I got it in August), and eventually found a replacement. I was burnt out—I’m now a 5th year PhD student getting my dissertation ready, so I did not have much flexibility, especially during the week.

7. What do you find most rewarding about being a manny? Watching these kids grow and helping to teach these kids has been the most rewarding experience for me.

8. What do you find most difficult about being a manny? Mostly the exhaustion at the end, especially after a long day of teaching/research.

9. Most embarrassing moment as a manny? One time, when I was watching four kids, including two-year-old twins, the kids were playing on the back patio while I was cooking their dinner. I hadn’t realized the girls had closed the screen door. When I went outside to get them, I walked straight into the screen door (which was already falling apart) and the screen door popped out and fell, taking me with it. The 10-year-old just looked at me and said “wow. Did I just see that?” I immediately texted the mom and apologized about the screen door, and she just laughed and said it’s fine—she needed a new screen door anyway.

10. The funniest thing your manny kid has said/done? Can’t think of any of the funny things my kids have said, but when talking about things my kids have done, an influx of memories come to mind. One of my favorites is when I was watching a 6-year-old. He gave a huge teddy bear sunglasses and a ukulele, putting the right paw over the front of the ukulele. He put swimming goggles and a red clown nose on himself. Then he gave me many-colored clown hair and a plastic phone. No words…just doing all of this as if he did it every day out of habit. He even had a serious face when he was doing this. I think that made me laugh the hardest.

11. Craziest thing a parent has ever done/asked of you? I’ve had relatively normal experiences, thankfully. I guess the most out-of-the-ordinary thing a parent has asked me to do was pick up a prescription for her.

12. Favorite activity/game/outing/etc with your manny kids? Some of my most cherished memories have come playing chess with my kids. Other than that, I love doing creative things. One time, I made a stop-action Lego movie with the kids…that was an experience!

13. What do you wish parents/society would understand about being a manny and the manny field in general?

One thing I wish is to see the removal of the stigma around a male taking care of children. While I do understand the concern, especially with how media portrays men with children, there are many more men who are nourishing, caring, wonderful caregivers, like myself, and tend to be more interactive with the kids, especially with outdoor activities. In my experience, I’ve never shied away from getting my hands dirty playing outside with the boys—and that’s the kind of thing I think kids want from a caregiver.

14. Best advice for new mannies? Particularly for new mannies on UrbanSitter, make sure you start off your profile strong. Build a strong biography writing your traits, interests, and what you’re looking for in a family. Find parents to write reviews. UrbanSitter has a feature where you can request reviews if you know their email address. The only thing is that parents need to have an account before sending this request, so you will need to ask them to create an account, then send them a review request to the email they used to sign up (usually their Facebook email). I struggled finding jobs until I got my second review—then I wasn’t able to keep up with the demand!

15. How do you practice self care? In the time that I do have to myself, I try to keep myself active by running and reading (obviously not at the same time). When I’m overly exhausted, I usually watch something on my Roku, whether it’s on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or watching a Red Sox game. I’m also a fan of wine, so it’s great to be able to sit and enjoy a nice glass of wine after a long day.

16. Extra hobbies/interests? I’m a musician and play guitar/bass and piano, as well as sing. I love writing my own music! I also love bowling, reading, playing with my guinea pigs (Harry Pawter and Charlotte—her nickname is Ginny Pawter); computer programming, especially on my Raspberry Pi; and baking/cooking.

*If you are interested in being a featured nanny/manny of the week, please email brooke@nannycounsel.com. Thanks!