Stop Asking Me When I'm Going to Get a 'Real' Job

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Photo via Unsplash

Oh hey you! Yes, you with your judgmental views and assumptions about what I do for a living and whether or not being a nanny qualifies as a "real" job. I'm just curious what you think I do all day at my pretend job? And what do you think I do with all that pretend money I make? I must use it to pay my pretend bills...

All too often people think that nannying isn't a REAL job. Even worse -- some people don't just think it, they voice it as well. Don't believe me? Just take a look at these judgmental remarks real nannies have been subjected to.... (PS. The worst offenders tend to be a nanny's own parents, friends, significant other, and *gasp* even the parents of the kids they nanny):

"But what will you do when you grow up?"     
I am grown up. K thx byeeeee. 

"Are you still babysitting?" "No, I'm a nanny." "Is there a difference?"      
Why yes. Yes, there is a difference.

"Well you can't be a nanny forever. So then what?"      
I retire.

"So are you going to school while you do that, or....?"      
Are you going to school while working 50+ hours/week at your job?

"I bet that's like the easiest job ever, just sit them in front of the tv all day."     
Have you ever even taken care of a child?

"Oh you're a nanny? Yeah, getting a teaching job is hard these days. You'll get there!"     
Huh? I left teaching to become a nanny. Ya know, because nannying pays more than teaching...

"When are you going to finish college and get a real job?"     
Oh I finished college. Thanks for your concern though. 

"If I knew I could get paid that much to sit around and play all day -- I wouldn't have gone to college."     
Yes, because raising kids is just sitting around and playing all day. - said no parent ever

"Oh, are you still just babysitting then?"     
If by "just babysitting" you mean nannying, then yes.  

"Are you sure this isn't just a way to pay the bills while you pursue what you ACTUALLY want to do with your life?"      
Well, ironically I ACTUALLY want to be a nanny. Shocking, I know. I mean, what a menial job it is to literally invest in our future. 

"I'm sorry but sitting around with a toddler and a baby is not working. It's playing mommy."      Wowww. Okay. You just managed to insult nannies and moms. Oh, and clearly you've never taken care of a toddler and a baby if you think it involves "sitting around". 

I'm constantly baffled by the notion that nannying isn't a real job...or that it's only a temporary job while one pursues something more professional and meaningful. For some, nannying is just a temporary job and that's cool -- but for others it is an intentional career choice (keyword: career). Whether nannying temporarily or longterm, it's important to remember that it is always considered a real job. A real job that pays real money. How can any job that financially supports someone be pretend? Plus, talk about rude. How would you feel if someone made a remark like that about your career choice? "Oh so you're still just teaching huh? When are you going to get a real job?" But no one would ever dare say that to a teacher (and rightfully so -- I'm a major teacher advocate). For some reason, many people think it's appropriate to rudely question a nanny's career choice, and I just don't get it. While I don't understand how anyone can undervalue the work that nannies do, I do recognize that there are some major misconceptions about our profession that contribute to this "nannying isn't a real job" mindset.

Here are the 3 misconceptions that I think cause society to undervalue the nanny profession:

  1. You don't need a college degree to become a nanny. Okay that's true, but would you say that to a successful entrepreneur who never went to college? Would you say that to a sales exec who didn't finish their degree? There are so many careers out there that don't require a college degree, yet they are still recognized as an actual career. Why is being a nanny any different? My best guess is because childcare workers are severely undervalued in our society and also because many people don't realize just how lucrative nannying can be. Plus, let's not forget that many professional level nanny positions do, in fact, require a college degree. Furthermore, most career nannies have additional education/training such as CPR/First Aid, Newborn Care Specialist, Positive Discipline Educator, Child Passenger Safety Technician, and the list goes on. Career minded nannies are constantly continuing their education with workshops, trainings, and classes to ensure they are keeping current with new research findings (i.e., how many times has the AAP introduced new guidelines on how and when to safely introduce peanut butter in order to reduce risk of peanut allergies? Nannies are expected to stay current on all of these sorts of things.)
  2. Nannying is an easy, cushy job. This assumption honestly makes me laugh. Those who believe this likely have never cared for a child a day in their life. Anyone who has had full charge care of kids for 10 straight hours, knows how false this assumption is. Being a parent is widely accepted as the hardest job there is. Why then, is being a nanny (the person who fills in for the parents when they can't be there) not considered the second hardest job there is? Maybe it's because kids nap and we get a huge break. Let's take a look at what I do at my nanny job, and then let me know where you think there is time for a break. Please keep in mind that many of these tasks such as chores, researching activities, preparing meals, etc....are done during nap time (aka, my HUGE "break")...
  • I work 10 hour days, 7:30am-5:30pm
  • I monitor milestones and implement developmentally appropriate activities
  • I research and plan sensory activities
  • I purchase all supplies for crafts/art activities
  • I implement educational play on an ongoing basis
  • I plan and prepare (oftentimes from scratch) healthy, organic, nutritious meals
  • I work with the parents and the child to create a healthy and consistent sleep routine. If something isn't working, I troubleshoot until the specific sleep needs of the child are met.
  • I potty train
  • I change diapers
  • I clip baby fingernails
  • I shower kids with love and affection to establish a secure attachment
  • I provide praise and encouragement
  • I implement positive discipline techniques as needed
  • I keep diaper stations stocked
  • I wash and sterilize bottles/breast pumps
  • I disinfect toys
  • I take out diaper trash
  • I do child laundry
  • I keep inventory of child items (i.e., diapers, wipes, etc) and replenish when running low
  • I ensure the diaper bag is stocked and ready to go at all times
  • I purchase child clothes/gear and guide parents on the best baby gear to buy
  • I instruct parents on when it's time to get a new car seat, lower the crib, etc.
  • I organize and host playdates to enhance socialization
  • I take child on daily outings
  • I research and enroll child in local classes
  • I deep clean the car seat and high chair as needed
  • I descale the humidifier, bottle warmer, and bottle sterilizer
  • I load/unload the dishwasher everyday
  • I sweep/swiffer after meals
  • I wash child bed linens and changing table linens twice/week
  • I pre-treat stains on clothing
  • I wipe down kitchen counters daily
  • I let the dog in/out and keep water bowl filled
  • I replace batteries in child toys
  • I grocery shop weekly
  • I assemble child toys
  • I maintain a daily log of child's schedule and activities
  • I take photos/videos daily and share with parents
  • I organize child drawers, closet, and cabinets
  • I sanitize diaper pails
  • I drop off outgrown toys/clothes to good will or post online to sell
  • I maintain child’s wardrobe (changing out clothes seasonally and when outgrown)
  • I pack/unpack child items for travel
  • I act as a liaison between parents and teachers/doctors
  • If I don't know something, I research and consult with other professionals until I find the answer
  • I do all of this while also dealing with the curveballs kids throw at us, such as sleep regression, teething, picky eating, tantrums, cleaning up blowout poops, etc etc etc
  • And on top of all this, if I feel appreciated, I do extras "just because" -- like completely organizing the pantry...
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**In love with this pantry? I purchased all baskets/jars at The Container Store and then used The Home Edit as a DIY guide**

3. Nannying is a dead end job with low pay and no benefits. Hah! If only that were true. I'm not going to lie, there are plenty of underpaid nannies out there, but there are also plenty of well compensated nannies out there. Nannying is far from a "dead end job". It's pretty simple -- do babies keep being born? Yep. Okay, so as long as people continue to reproduce, the need for nannies will continue to exist. And just like with any career, you start at the bottom and work your way up. A nanny might have to take a lower paying job at first, but a good nanny can rise very quickly. For example, after nannying for just 5 years, I was offered a professional nanny position and more than doubled my income. If you're still not convinced that nannying is a legitimate career, here's a breakdown of my current compensation package at my "pretend" job...

  • I make more than the median household income in America.
  • I am paid legally via direct deposit through a payroll service. Taxes are withheld, I receive a pay stub each pay period, and each year I am issued a W2.
  • I receive mileage reimbursement at the current IRS rate as well as overtime (time and a half) on any hours over 40 in a 7 day period.
  • I receive the following benefits: health insurance stipend, 2+ weeks paid vacation, sick days, 10 paid holidays/year, and biannual car detailings.
  • I receive an end of the year bonus.
  • I receive an annual raise of no less than 3%.

With all this said, I don't even think a nanny's income should be indicative of whether or not their job is "real". There are so many helping professions out there, where the pay is dismal. For example, when I was looking for jobs in the mental health field (jobs that require a Master's Degree!), the pay ranges were from $25k-$35k/year. What???! But even with that low pay, people still choose that career. Why? Because they are passionate about it. Why is nannying any different? Nannies are passionate about children. They are passionate about directly influencing and raising the future generation. They are passionate about inspiring and nurturing the dreams of little ones. They are passionate about working as a team to create a loving, healthy, and happy household. I don't know about you, but if you ask me, I'd say that's a pretty important and very REAL job.