The past three years, my summer job has been full-time nannying. Today marks my last day of work as a nanny for this year, and probably the rest of my life! So as I reflect on this past summer in particular, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned in this role.
A bit of background: I’ve been hanging out with two charismatic, sweet young girls and their warmhearted, too-smart-for-his-own-good big brother for the past two and a half months. There are very few kids I’ve seen who love their siblings as much as these ones do, and I’ve learned more from them than I could have imagined.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Sure, I might look weird making goofy faces to the kids from across the pool or jumping on a trampoline with kids half my size. But who cares if the moms or other nannies think I look like a giant child? Because life is too short to agonize over what other people think of you or stress out over the little things.
- Never underestimate the power of a timeout.
And I’m not just talking about sending a kid to their room when they throw a fit. Actually, if I had a dollar for every time my 4-year old CHOSE to go to her room when she was upset… you get the point. And guess what? After she took some time to cool down, she always reemerged from that bedroom as the smiley, playful, and happy kid I know her to be!
So if you feel yourself getting worked up about something, take a deep breath and remove yourself from situation for a while.
- If you admire someone, tell them.
Among all the crazy and goofy things I heard from these kids all summer, one of my favorites was when the 7-year old would tell me I’m “the best babysitter ever.” Sometimes she told me that after I caved and bought her ice cream at the pool, but sometimes it was the little moments like coloring or taking Snapchat selfies together. Nothing warmed my heart more than hearing I was making her summer one to remember!
- It’s okay, and quite mature, to ask for help.
I was so stressed out at first about being the “perfect” nanny for this family. But how the heck was I supposed to take care of three children when I had finally just figured out how to take care of myself?
So naturally, I called my parents, the experts at raising three children, and begged for their advice. That first week, they heard tears of frustration, exhaustion, and pure confusion. But they always listened carefully, advised gently and thoroughly, and followed up to see how things were going.
Sometimes, your ego takes a hit before you realize you can’t do it all on your own. I thought I’d be able to figure it all out for myself, but in the end, I’m so glad I sought out my parents’ help!
- Good food and naps are the best forms of medicine. Laughter and sunshine are the best forms of therapy.
Okay this sounds like a cheesy Pinterest quote, but let me explain.
- Headache? Ditch the Tylenol, reach for some water, and grab a healthy snack if you’re hungry. ~Science time~ Foods high in electrolytes (e.g. bananas), magnesium (e.g. almonds), and complex carbs (e.g. brown rice) can all help rehydrate and dilate the constricted blood vessels in your brain that are typically causing the headache.
- Exhausted? A 20-ish minute power nap can usually do the trick.
- Bad mood after a rough day at work? Find a friend who doesn’t mind your venting, talk out all the things that went awry that day, then laugh once you realize how ridiculous and trivial they are in the grand scheme of things.
- Just plain feeling blue or down? Catch some rays! Vitamin D is shown to improve mood and symptoms of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and PMS.
- You can do something different than the rest of the group and still be perfectly content.
The oldest sibling was 11 and didn’t usually want to do the same things as his younger sisters. Rather than forcing him to join our outings, I’d let him choose if he wanted to tag along or not. No matter if he came with or stayed home (with his parents’ permission of course), he seemed happy with his decision and didn’t second-guess himself after-the-fact.
This is important because I think, especially in college, we force ourselves to go out and be social even if we don’t feel up for it because we’ll have FOMO otherwise. Or we join that club all of our friends are in (despite not having any real interest in the matter) because we just want to be part of the group.
If those things aren’t enriching you or bettering your life, drop them. Just be you and do you. And feel damn good about it.
- Parents are badasses.
This is the most important of all. I have to say, I’ve gained major respect for parents this past summer. I’ve always been grateful for all my parents do for our family and I do love my nanny kids to death, but it takes more patience, grace, and persistence than I can imagine to care for other people more than you do for yourself.
So if you can, pick up your phone at the end of this post and call your parents. No matter if it’s been a day or a decade since you’ve talked, they want hear from you!
Funny how as the oldest one in the group, I should be doing the teaching and they should be doing the learning, right? Not exactly so. Interacting with these three has reminded me of the innocence and good nature we all possess, showed me how to be vulnerable yet brave, and brought me back to my roots of playfulness that I think we could all use a bit more of.
And I have to add, it’s been one of the most rewarding life experiences I’ve had so far. In less than three months, I’ve watched each of these kids learn how to ride a bike, master a front flip, or climb a rock wall all the way to the top for the first time. Nothing feels better than watching the grin on their faces after accomplishing something like that!
p.s. don’t worry. any pictures, information, or stories used in this post were approved by their parents 🙂