Ten Things Nannying Taught Me

The-Nanny-Diaries

Tomorrow will be my last Thursday as a nanny to the family I’ve been working with for over TWO YEARS. Next week will be my last week. Crazy, I never thought I could “commit” to a job that long, but it’s been a wild ride, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’ve grown so much over these past years. And while I’ve taught the kids I work with, they’ve taught me so much about myself, communicating with others, relationships, friendship, siblingship, love and selflessness. Here are some of my favorite lessons:

1. In every job that must be done, there is an element of funab2d309c23174c13e6ad5165dbcad3de3389eb77Something that I didn’t realize before becoming a nanny is that NO ONE LIKES CHORES. It’s not like you grow into an adult and *snap* you love washing dishes and cleaning your room/messes. No one likes it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an opportunity for fun. I’ve learned to embrace the fun aspects of getting things done, such as getting kids to race with getting their pajamas on, “fish toss” their laundry away, and Disney music dance the dishes clean.

2. What you’re passionate about MATTERSsound-of-music-maria-and-guitarHave you ever stopped for a minute and realized how much we encourage children, as a society? We encourage them to do their best, work hard, dream, imagine, and run after things they love. Somehow, these are all lessons that we (often) lose when we grow up. Being a nanny encouraged me to start loving sports again, pursue being an artist as a profession, instead of just a pastime and be unafraid to plan for the future.  It’s absolutely amazing the rebounding ability of children. We all fail sometimes, but we all have to get up again and keep dreaming.

3. It’s ok to be a little kid, again

24nanny-600  Who said adults aren’t allowed to have fun, anymore. There’s something wholesome and amazingly refreshing about remembering how to have fun before it had to include going to clubs, drinking, smoking or trying to look “cool.” We all have that little part of us that likes the silly, the imaginative and the crazy. It’s ok to stop being serious and be a little weird sometimes.

4. Never underestimate the power of your wordsyou-is-kind-ymhjvrThe way we speak to others is something I know I took for granted before becoming a nanny. I had more of a “if you don’t like what I say, too bad” approach, and I think over time that hurt more than ever helped me. Being around kids, you can’t do that. You can’t cut down, demean or be “brutally honest” (although, they definitely will be to you). Instead you have to encourage, uplift and inspire with your words. Even if you’re saying something negative, you have to go about doing it in a way which is positive. Learning this skill has taught me more than four years of college and a communications degree. The way we talk matter, don’t let your words be aimless.

5. How to be a big sister

uktv-doctor-who-xmas-2012-10Some of the “kids” I nanny are in high school and that makes the whole process of “nannying” quite different than working with elementary age kids. They don’t need me to remind them to go to the bathroom, or to feed them. What they do need is someone to talk to, share clothes with, and watch trash TV with (just a little bit). Two of my girls really have become like little sisters to me. We watch the same TV shows, read the same books, talk about fashion, talk about boys, sex, tampons and every other embarrassing thing you can think about in high school. I get to encourage and uplift them, but more importantly I get to speak truth into their lives. I’ve learned never to underestimate the power of life experience. Whether your past is good or bad, you have something valuable to offer to the next generation.

6.  Gentle words can have just as much powersupernanny-pic-sm-348146256Learning how to “work with kids” meant something different to the past generations of my family. To put it nicely, it involved spankings and soap. But I’ve learned, after two years of working with kids that I have no option to discipline in that way, that there are so many other ways of connecting with children and teaching them how to communicate, respect others and take ownership for their actions. Of course, with every child there are different ways of discipline, but I SO love expanding my knowledge.

7. Sometimes you’re going to have to do embarrassing shit007TND_Scarlett_Johansson_013It’s true – you’re working with kids. What does this mean? Well, you’re going to probably be doing some embarrassing things like dressing up in weird costumes, letting them paint your face and dragging them on your legs as you walk in public. But, here’s the thing – who cares? Learning to chill out has been my biggest lesson from nannying. Because, the truth is, the only person whose opinion matters is your own and the kids (who are loving it – guaranteed).

8. Cherish the little things

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I’m pretty standoffish by nature. I don’t run up and give people hugs (in fact, I don’t really like hugs) and I’m not the type to call people sweetheart, or sit for three hours to listen about their day. But, over the past two years, I’ve learned that those little things like calling a kid “love” or giving them a huge hug when they come home from losing their soccer game ARE IMPORTANT. Despite my scandinavian background, I’ve learned so much more about valuing other people and really taking the time to cherish.

9. It’s not about you

jane-eyre-movie-jane-and-adele                              I’m a generation Y twenty-something. Every NY Times article and scientific research study tells me that I value instant gratification, self interest and ME ME ME. Which I think would have been a lot more accurate before I became a pseudo mother of five. When you have children running around you constantly, you have to start thinking about more than yourself. You have to have snacks always in your purse (NOT FOR YOU), extra water in your water bottle (ALSO, NOT FOR YOU), A GPS in your head (“Are we there, yet?”), a memory that holds all their birthdays (Forget one, and you’ve made “favorites”) and a mind that is completely not your own. You don’t think about you at the grocery store – you think about which kid likes spaghetti sauce, who hates blueberries, who’s allergic to eggs and who only eats tofu this month.

10. “When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.” grad.17333Being a nanny is so fulfilling, and at the same time heartbreaking because you know that it won’t be forever. You pour your everything into a family that, after you quit, you may never see again. But that’s the way it works. That’s what we’ve signed up for. Nothing is permanent except the love we leave behind, the memories we’ve made and the lives we’ve changed.

When You Wish Upon A Star

London, England
London, England

Today I’ve been reading a lot about taking chances and following your dreams. Both of which, I fully support. But, as I was sitting here trying to think of what my dreams are, and what they have been, I realized something. Dreams, or callings, or whatever you want to name them, are not as single sided as they sound. They change, evolve and sometimes pop up out of nowhere. Sometimes your heart can be dreaming about something for years before your head gets caught up with the program. Then, when an opportunity comes along, it’s like, “WHAM!”

Sometimes, dreams smack us in the face.

My current prognosis for my life is that I knew myself better as a 10 year old than I do now. Why? Because when I was 10 I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I tried new things because I wanted to, and pursued them because that’s what felt right. I climbed trees and pondered life, wrote poetry, made forts and conducted random science experiments, because that’s what I wanted to do with my time. I was completely free of the restrictions of having to think whether climbing a tree was beneficial to my 401K, or if blowing things up in the kitchen would yield higher profit margins.

But, as adults, how often do we get that option? In college you take classes because, if you don’t, you’re not going to graduate (not because you can’t live without Molecular Biology). In the career world you work places because they offer you medical benefits and vacation time. Rarely is it because it’s some place you’ve wanted to work your whole life (although, of course, there are exceptions). And when you have kids, you get up at 5am every morning to get them ready for school, not because you want to, but because it’s your responsibility to as a parent.

With all these responsibilities floating around, it can easily feel like there isn’t room for dreams. When do those fit in? Between 3-5am? On the first and third Wednesday of every month?

But here’s a challenge that I give myself. When I have a rare moment of silence, no kids running around screaming at the top of their lungs, or responsibilities piling up by the second. I sit there and I ask God to remind me of the dreams he has fulfilled.

What were the things that I thought I’d never be able to do, and then did anyway?

When I look back, it reminds me of all the times I stood, shaking my head, thinking, “That’s impossible.” All the times I tried crunching numbers that seemed impossible to come out even, but then did. Never, for one moment, have I lacked the guiding hand of my Father, and the comforting whisper to try. And always, without fail, when I start to walk forward, the pieces come together seamlessly.

My favorite part about following your dreams and ambitions is that it starts what I like to call, Dream Dominoes. People inspire people. Stories inspire stories. When we step out of our comfort zones we empower others to do the same.

It always blows my mind when I take a step into an unknown place I feel called to and, all of the sudden, others start telling me about how they’ve decided to pursue things in their own lives as a result. It makes you wonder, what if changing the world is as simple as taking a chance on the things your heart beats for?

We never know the impact our own lives can have, until we step away from the comfortable and start paving our own paths. To stay safe may feel comfortable, but that doesn’t guarantee that the comfortable is safe.

My challenge for you, today, is to grab a notebook and write down three things you dream about having happen in your future. But, FIRST, write down three things that have happened in your past. Dreams that you never thought could turn into realities, but then did. It doesn’t matter if they turned out like you thought they would, or went according to plan, just that they happened.

Here are mine:

P A S T:

  1. I travelled farther than anyone else in my family. When I went to India I had no idea how I would scrape together $2,500 for the trip but, in the end, I had the exact amount of money I needed in my bank account.
  2. I wanted to intern with Krochet Kids International more than anything in the world. For two years I hoped and prayed that I would get an opportunity to work for such an awesome organization, and then I got chosen as a summer intern. I couldn’t believe it! I had wanted it for so long that I almost cried when I found out I would be working there.
  3. I went to college. Financially it seemed improbable that I would get there, let alone graduate. But I did – with honors. And everyone who ever told me I couldn’t because of my age, race, social standing or gender had to sit there and watch me succeed.

F U T U R E:

  1. I want to work somewhere that allows me to combine what I’m passionate about with my talents. I want to help people. I want to inspire hope in women who have been lied to about their worth and their place in this world. I want to write and explore and wake up every morning knowing that what I’ll do that day will change lives.
  2. I want to write a book. I don’t know what about or how on earth this is going to happen, but I want to write a book and have it published, even if there’s only one copy and it’s sitting on my bookshelf.
  3. I want to adopt. Probably not for a long time, obviously, but adoption is something that’s really close to my heart. I don’t have specific plans… actually I think it’s kind of weird when people pick a favorite country, or custom order what kind of kid they want, but this is something that has been on my heart for a wh-ile.

 

And that’s me! What are your guys’ dreams?