Photo via The Nanny Box
Just about any nanny will tell you that one of their biggest pet peeves is being called a babysitter. Why? Because nannying is completely different than babysitting. This article is not meant to knock babysitting -- I babysit on the regular and have no problem being called a babysitter when I'm actually babysitting. What I do have a problem with is being called a babysitter when I'm actually nannying. There's a big difference between nannying and babysitting so let's break it down....
A nanny is someone who comes to a person's home to take care of their children on a regular basis. A nanny monitors developmental milestones, helps create and maintain the schedule, and plans outings/activities with the children. In addition, most nannies do much more than this such as potty training, helping to run a smooth household, grocery shopping, hosting play dates, keeping child areas tidy, restocking the diaper bag/changing table, weening from the bottle, introducing solids, sleep training, parent/teacher liaison, etc. With that said, please keep in mind that while a nanny certainly does much more than a babysitter, a nanny is not some all inclusive deal. A nanny is hired to take care of the children, NOT the parents or parent chores as they relate to the household. You can read more on this specific topic in the article "Wait. Am I Taking Care of Your Children or You?".
The most important thing to note is that a nanny is regularly scheduled. A babysitter is not regularly scheduled. Even if you have someone part-time who is regularly scheduled and that person helps maintain your kids' schedule/the household -- you have yourself a nanny, not a babysitter. A babysitter is not at all responsible for monitoring milestones, laundry, tidying up (aside from cleaning up from feeding the kids' dinner and whatever toys were used), grocery shopping, errands, organizing baby clothes, etc. A babysitter's focus is to take care of your child while you are out, keep them safe, and have fun with them. That's it. It's still a very respectable job and one that should be compensated fairly, which I touched on in Yes, Your Nanny Should Get Paid To Do 'Nothing' -- but a babysitter's expectations are different than that of a nanny.
Nannies have so much more on their plate, as referenced above. Nannies are helping to raise children. Nannies are following parents' child rearing practices and are an extension of the parents. If your "babysitter" has that much on their plate, they aren't a babysitter, they are a nanny. Confusing this term can actually be sore subject for many nannies because being a nanny is a career and nannies want to be given the proper title. Plus, many nannies are college educated and have additional certifications/trainings to ensure they are experts in the profession . To put it in perspective, imagine you are a doctor, yet your boss keeps calling you a nurse. I'm sure you wouldn't like this. I want to emphasize this is in no way discounting the importance of nurses, however I think everyone can agree there's a difference between the two professions. The same applies to nannies and babysitters.
Nannies unfortunately get hit with this title confusion from every direction. It's not only parents who make this mistake. Oftentimes the grandparents or friends of the parents will refer to the nanny as a babysitter. In fact, one of the biggest offenders tends to be the nanny's own parents!! I've witnessed far too many nannies who are frustrated because their mom says to them "When are you going to get a real job and stop babysitting?" Umm hello! Nannying is a real job. It's a hard job. It's a respectable job. It's an important job. And for professional nannies, it's a lucrative career.
So please, learn the difference between a nanny and a babysitter and use the terms correctly. Remember, these terms are NOT interchangeable. And to put it in perspective just one more time, like Jada from The Nanny Box says, "Calling a nanny a babysitter is like calling a wife a girlfriend".