Hello! It’s been a long time since I have written. Part of it has been because it was a fun, eventful summer and part of it was lack of motivation, I won’t lie. I’m trying to work through it and today has been the first day I have even felt like I could sit down and focus long enough to get anything out that made any sense. So, here we go!
This summer has been great. I hope I can write about everything that took place one of these days, but today, I just want to write about my job.
I mentioned back in March that I was a nanny for a family who asked me to be their night nanny for their new baby. I was hesitant to do this because of my commitment to my other families, Trader Joe’s and of course the fact that I had never taken care of a new baby before. Well, I threw all of that caution to the wind and decided that I was going to do it anyway. My job was to train the baby and her older brother to sleep through the night.
Princess Buttercup was born on May 28, 2013 and I have been her night nanny ever since her first night home. I believe she was three days old and barely weighed six pounds. The trainer was there with me for our first two nights together, then Ms. Kasey was on her own. Taking care of someone so tiny and so helpless is absolutely terrifying and absolutely exhausting. The first three weeks, I never knew what I was going to get! The next three weeks were probably the hardest, most exhausting I’ve ever experienced. I seriously doubted if I was cut out for taking care of newborns. They’re adorable, but, obviously, very needy.
Watching older babies and toddlers, while it can sometimes be thankless, can pay off in other ways that are encouraging. The reason I enjoy being around kids so much is because they make me laugh to no end with their endearing words and behavior. Kids also just tend to have a “thing” for me, so they’re constantly climbing all over me, touching me, hugging me, holding my hand, using me as a human chair, etc. Older toddlers can also be reasoned with, and we can both see a clear line between behavior and consequence, positive or otherwise.
I bring this up because between weeks three and seven, I really thought this baby didn’t like me and there was nothing I could do to convince her otherwise! Finding that delicate balance between my love and doing what’s best for her was not easy. Sure, I could pick her up every time she cries, rock her to sleep, not stretch out the feedings, etc. But ultimately, that’s not my job. I’m getting paid to teach her how to soothe herself so she can sleep through the night.
And realizing that was tough, because even though I think most of the time I find a great balance between firm and loving with the toddlers I watch, the lines are much more blurred with a tiny baby because she can’t talk to me. Then when you add in the fact that it’s not my baby, I’m just entrusted to judge the line correctly, it was a lot for me. Kind of like a weight on my shoulders, or a voice in my ear that was like “don’t screw this up.”
I take great personal responsibility when I am watching kids. Probably too much, if there is such a thing…We all know I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I just try to put myself in the parent’s position. Like if this were MY kid, what decisions would I want my nanny to make, and I mostly go off of that. Having the feeling that the baby didn’t like me was making me feel guilty. Then I remembered my old friend, neurotic fear. My bully that likes to make claims that aren’t rooted in reality to block out my healthy conscience.
As soon as I recognized it, I was able to change the way I felt at my job. From that night on, I went into work assuming this baby LOVED when Ms. Kasey took care of her and put her to sleep at night. And it worked! Within a day, she was smiling at me…and not just a small, gassy smile. She does these HUGE, toothless grins that make my heart smile. By week nine, the Princess was sleeping through the night. And she has been ever since.
It’s been great, now that she and I both know what to do at night. She makes me laugh to no end, with her dozing off in the middle of eating, waking herself up with her loud burping, and her adorable cooing. Even when she’s fussy, she doesn’t really cry, she just complains. I have a great time putting words into her mouth, trying to imagine what she’s trying to tell me. I’ll definitely miss putting her to sleep at night and getting to see her smiley face in the mornings.
Tonight is my last night as a night nanny with Princess, or, as I prefer to call her, my little chickpea. The three months of newborn experience have been invaluable not only to my job as a nanny, but to my capacity for love, patience and compassion. I can be having a bad day and all I need do is think of that first huge, toothless grin from my little chickpea and I feel better.
What’s next? I’m not sure. I’ll still keep the Princess and her brother on most weekends, so I’m glad that I still get to be in their lives. I still feel like I’m on the right path, because it’s no sooner than the words “I’m finished night nannying” come out of my mouth that I’m inundated with babysitting offers. I really love what I’m doing and for right now, that’s enough. Til next time!!