Featured Friday: Nanny Of The Week -- Kate

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Welcome to our first Featured Friday! I have received many requests to do a series like this so I figured I should listen to what my readers want, and we will give this a try! Our first feature is of an amazing nanny named Kate. How do I know she's amazing? Well, she happens to be a very close friend of mine and she kindly offered to be the "guinea pig" for this new series haha. So, read on to see what she has to say about her experience as a nanny including her best moments, her most difficult experiences, and even advice for new nannies. Kate, thank you so much for doing this! And to everyone else, please give me your feedback on what you think of Featured Fridays. Also, email me if you are interested in being featured!!

Interview with Kate from Los Angeles, CA

1. How long have you been a nanny and what type of nanny are you (part-time, full-time, live-in, etc.)? I was a babysitter and part time nanny throughout high school and college. I started as a full time, live out nanny for a baby boy in March 2010. I have been at that job for over 6 years now! I was full time until last August, when I went back to school to get my master's degree. This past school year I reduced my hours to 3 days a week but will go back to full time hours for the summer. My nanny kid is now almost 6.5 years old!

2. Why did you choose to be a nanny? I have always loved working with children, and it was my dream to be a nanny after college for a few years. I enjoy working one on one and developing that special relationship with a nanny family. Growing up I was always the older kid that helped with little ones, and I was told I just had a way with kids, especially babies.

3. What has been your favorite moment as a nanny? I have way too many favorite moments to name. At my current job, I would say our trips together have had some of my favorite memories, especially the trips to Hawaii. A more recent favorite moment would be an overnight I did a couple of weeks ago. We ordered pizza and stayed up "late" (like 8 instead of 730) watching a DVD in our pajamas. The next morning my nanny kid told me that last night was really great. We hadn't done much but in his eyes it was the perfect Friday night!

4. What has been your worst experience as a nanny? Before I found the job I currently have, I did a trial weekend with a family. Originally the position was supposed to be full days Friday, Saturday, Sunday and I could sleepover nights since the job started at 6 AM. Well then the job changed to only Saturday and Sunday and they didn't want the nanny sleeping over. I continued on with the trial days. I was miserable. The toddler barely napped. It was expected that he be constantly entertained and there were cameras in every room. You could not let him play by himself. I shadowed the week day nanny one day and it was exhausting. In one day they did music class, swimming, two parks, errands, two walks around the neighborhood, and then more swimming. The nanny said that she liked the music class because it was a far drive which meant the toddler got a decent nap (since he really didn't nap in his crib ever). More and more red flags emerged (the hours changing, not being able to spend the night, the toddler not being a good sleeper, mom working from home). I spent a Saturday with the family and it was awkward. The mom kept stepping in any time the toddler got upset or I wasn't doing something how she would. I knew it wasn't going to work. On Monday morning I called the agency and told them it wasn't the right fit. The agency woman was PISSED! She screamed at me and said all of us American girls are lazy and don't want to do any work, we were unprofessional and all the same. I tried to explain that I needed a full time job (or at least more than 2 days a week). She hung up on me. I was shocked. I had only agreed to a trial weekend. I had not officially committed to the job! I never heard from that agency again.

5. Whatโ€™s the best thing a parent has done to make you feel appreciated? I have a few: acknowledge in person or in writing how much I am appreciated (even as simple as saying "thank you" when I leave), let me take time off for special events/trips without making me feel guilty, treat me with respect

6. Whatโ€™s the worst thing a parent has done to take advantage of you? Be chronically late or cheap about money

7. What do you find most rewarding about being a nanny? I am helping to shape these children on a daily basis! Being able to be there consistently for a child and knowing that I am their role model, teaching them new things, and then seeing them learn and grown over time. Being there for all of the firsts (first steps, first day of school, etc) is so special.

8. What do you find most difficult about being a nanny? You are working in someone's home and often this is the first time your boss is a boss! They do not always know how to communicate or handle situations that come up when you are employing someone. A big issue I have had is employers comparing their job to mine and not understanding that as a nanny you are "on" all day. Just because the kids are sleeping or napping does not mean you are on a break. I also struggle with how much of society perceives nannies as just "the help" or not a "real job." People make comments about how my job must be so easy or on the flip side, assume I work for parents that never see their children and how awful they must be, how they can't love their children if they have a nanny 50+ hours a week.

9. Most embarrassing moment as a nanny? I guess crying in front of my boss (only once!). I don't think I've had anything truly embarrassing happen at work.

10. The funniest thing your nanny kid has said/done? For some reason this one really cracks me up. My nanny kid was about 4 I think and was in the bathroom: "One day, when I see what girls have instead of a penis I'm going to be amazed!"

11. Craziest thing a parent has ever done/asked of you? Drive a very, very expensive car on my first day (working in LA I have had to deal with some very demanding and high maintenance bosses, however, I don't think anything I have had to do was that crazy-I've been lucky!)

12. Favorite activity/game/outing/etc with your nanny kids? Since I have been with my current nanny kid the longest, I will say our favorites: going to the zoo, playing sequence (the animal version), and exploring our city/going on adventures (this can be as simple as riding the bus around UCLA or doing a day trip to Discovery Cube)

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

I mentioned this a little in my answer to question 8, but I think parents need to understand that for many nannies this is a career. It is more than just a job. In most cases, a happy nanny means happy kids so really appreciate your nanny. Thank her, let her leave early sometimes. Your nanny will go above and beyond if you treat her with respect. Communication is key!

14. Best advice for new nannies? You have to let the parents be the parents they are, not the parents you want them to be. This has been a hard one for me to learn but it's something I really try to remember when I come in on Monday morning or we travel together. You can make suggestions and model certain things but at the end of the day, the parents are the parents and they may do things differently or not have the same priorities.

15. How do you practice self care? Venting to/talking with other nannies who get it, going to the movies, having a night once a week where I just relax and watch tv by myself, making sleep a priority, seeing friends (having them over or going out)

16. Extra hobbies/interests? Now that I am back in school, that takes up a large portion of my time. I also have a nautical fashion/lifestyle blog called Nautical by Nature that is a good distraction from work and school.

17. Anything additional youโ€™d like to share? Thank you for starting this site, Brooke!