- As a former live-in nanny, I witnessed various parenting styles and sometimes judged them.
- I often saw parents either ignoring their children altogether or not giving them enough attention.
- Some children even called me “mom” because parents weren’t spending enough time with them.
I was a live-in nanny for two years in Sydney. I’d done the usual babysitting gigs since I was 14 years old, but when arriving Down Under with a backpack in hand, I wondered how different a live-in role would be. As it turns out — very.
As a live-in childcare provider, I became the fly on the wall with front seats for parenting styles and techniques of all types.
I loved all my nannying families and cared for a great bunch of children. Through all those experiences, I learned I must be calm, capable, and non-judgmental. But, admittedly, sometimes, I judged the parenting.
Parents omitting behavioral issues in the interview stage was my biggest bugbear
During the interview, parents are trying to find the best mutual pairing for their child and a nanny. For a desperate corporate couple left in the lurch, I can understand the temptation to gloss over the hourlong screeches of separation anxiety each morning. But it should remain just that: temptation.
I always hated when parents didn’t reveal the full truth about their children during the interview — not outlining what the child really needed. Sure, kids can have temper tantrums, but don’t cover-up long-term behavioral issues. Don’t rush or mislead me about your children’s behavior.
This parenting style is self-serving and not even sustainable. Trust me: If I spend 12-hour days with your child, I’ll find this behavior out soon enough. I can get to the bottom of the behavior much quicker if we’re honest that it exists, and then I can better support your child.
Lack of support for your child was something that also really bugged me
One of my biggest pet peeves was the classic “brush off.” Picture this: Your child and I have been enjoying fun activities all day, like park trips, ballet classes, and finally, some arts and crafts. The highlight of any day, though, is the return of Mommy and Daddy.
But some parents don’t understand that. Instead, I’ve seen parents say, “Oh, that’s nice,” to a drawing without giving it a sideways glance. I’ve also heard little voices trail off as they realize their ballet class story is going unheard.
I hardcore judged any parent who failed to embrace their child when they returned home from work and showed little interest in their kids’ day.
Work is tiring — after 12 hours of childcare, I’m tired, too — but it is damaging not to realize how important that 10-minute handover is.
Some parents were so detached that their children began calling me ‘mom’
Sometimes, parents weren’t just tired; they were completely hands-off. I’m unsure whether they became so detached that they didn’t realize how hands-off they’ve become or if they truly didn’t care. But one thing is certain: I could tell, and your kids could subconsciously reattach elsewhere. This is especially the case for younger children, and that’s when they started calling me “mom.”
Of course, the odd slip-up happens. But these incidents were different. While I gently corrected each instance by instructing them to say my name instead, it spoke to the problematic, shifting attachments.
At that point, I knew: You just aren’t spending enough time with your children, and it shows.
So, while I’d love to reassure the masses that nannies are judgment-free additions to your household, I’ll spare your intelligence. We live-in nannies quickly grow to care about your children and only want the best for them.
We worry, too, about the impact of revolving nannies and our temporary contracts. We’d love to be that stable figure for your kids. But in reality, we know visas come to an end and contracts finish. We nannies are only temporary. At the end of the day, the kids only have you, their parent.