Wednesday, October 3, 2012

So you think you can nanny? Part 2: The Daily Grind

Sorry I haven't posted in quite a while! I've been crazy busy with numerous other projects (which will surely be discussed in future posts). So let's get down to business...

Refresher: I'm a full-time nanny (I'm actually attempting to write this as the baby naps and her big brother is at his weekly sports class at the Little Gym). Every weekday I have the pleasure of spending my time with an adorable 1 1/2 year old girl and a 4 year old boy. They are so fun but also an enormous handful! I leave every day completely drained, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

So what's a normal day like here in nannyville? It may seem like all fun and games but it's not. Truely.

Just let me give you a little taste...

For the first year and a half I worked with them, only the boy S went to school, from 8am -11:45am. So I would have baby A from the time I got to work (usually 8:30 am) until we went and picked up S at 11:45. However, now that both kids are in school in the morning my schedule has shifted a bit. I do all the same things but just a little later in the day.

So here's the run down of a pretty regular day (this is a basic schedule for any given day of the week, I'll talk about the extras later):
  • 11:30am- get to work
  • read notes from mom for the day (check down below I'll write out an example)
  • put together a small snack for the kids- usually a few pieces of fruit or cheese, or if I'm feeling nice I'll take them some pretzels or something more fun than fruit.
  • jump in the car and head down the street (only about 5 minutes) to get the kids
  • 11:45- pick up S from the benches he's waiting on outside, then go and get baby A from her classroom
  • load up the kids in the car and head back home
  • 12- get home, everyone takes off their shoes and I attempt to get both kids to go potty (baby A is beginning potty training so she's more difficult)
  • We will usually play or lately we've been watching a few minutes of an Elmo DVD because A has become obsessed (she will literally bring me the remote and ask for Elmo).
  • 12:30- lunch time! I make their lunches and mine if I'm hungry. 
  • They're generally pretty easy to feed (unless A is feeling especially picky, in which case sometimes I try multiple things until she actually eats something). S usually eats a pb&j, fruit and yogurt. I can usually get A to eat cheese of some type, fruit and yogurt. We mix it up sometimes with some other staple favorites like veggie hotdogs, chick'n nuggets, or burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, noodles and always different kinds of fruit.
  • 1/1:30- they're usually finished eating and I try to get them to participate in the clean up. Otherwise, I clean up whatever mess we've left from lunch and they play.
  • Attempt at potty time again, unless A has already had an accident in which case it's clean up her and her high chair time. 
  • 2pm- Baby A's nap time! 
  • I generally turn on a movie or Nick Jr. for S to watch while I'm putting the baby to bed. I make her a cup of milk, put on her sleep sack and we read a book. She's usually pretty good about going to bed so when she's done with her milk I can sing her a song and put her in her crib without much fussing from her.
  • When A is asleep is when I get any kind of "free time." I try to finish up anything left for me on the daily notes (basically my chores). Afterward I can usually get some personal things done while S has his "relax time" and watches his movie. Such is what I'm doing right now. Checking emails, paying bills, updating my Etsy, Ebay and blog and maybe doing some online shopping if I'm lucky. However, this free time is quiet rare and usually only comes in the form of about 30 minutes to myself.
  • 4pm- Baby A wakes up! She almost always naps for 2 hours (almost exactly).
  • Then it's potty time again and/or clean up any nap time accidents.
  • She usually asks for Elmo again, and I'll put it on for her while I'm doing any clean up or other stuff.
  • I'll fix the kids a snack (usually cheese and crackers or some fruit) and generally they have some activity to go to in the afternoon, so we'll get ready for that.
  • If they don't have a planned activity we find something fun to do. Lately because the weather has been so nice we like to play outside, go to the park, or go to the play area at the mall. I try to get them out of the house and running around at least once during the day.
  • 5/6pm-It's either dinner or bath time.
  • A few days a week I make dinner for the family, so the kids like to wait to eat with their parents. Otherwise we figure out what dinner is going to be (similar stuff to lunch usually), I'll fix it for them and they are pretty good about eating on their own so I can get any last minute things done.
  • If they aren't eating with me, then I try to give them a bath instead. This is one of the more taxing jobs of the day. They like to take baths together so I start the water in the tub, get them undressed, S gets in his side of the tub and I put Baby A in her little tub (inside the big tub). 
  • I wash both of their hair and scrub down their dirty little bodies. I try to get Baby A finished and out first, because S likes to "make fights" with his dinos and other tub toys. 
  • So I'll pull baby out, dry her off and attempt to get her into her pj's. However, it tends to be more like, I take her out and she tries to immediately run and play. So she's often a moving target to get her dried off, lotioned, diapered and dressed. She likes to play in mommy's closet and look at herself in the mirror, so this is usually my opportunity to get her ready. 
  • All this happens while S is screaming and making dinosaur fight noises that echo in the bathroom. There is generally NOT more than a tiny moment of silence in any given day.
  • Then I have to convince S to get out of the tub, get him dried, lotioned and into his pajamas, which is also a struggle because he never wants to get out, and he like to play around in the closet naked also.
  • 6:30- make sure all my "tasks" are done for the day, finish anything up and keep the kids busy until mom and dad get home. 
  • 6:45- I generally head home about 15 minutes late. 
So that's what a basic schedule looks like. But here's the real meat of it all...

Monday- S has TaeKwonDo at 4pm and unless a parent is available, I have to make sure that A gets to bed early enough that she will wake up, we can be ready and heading out the door at 3:30.
(Mondays are a relatively easy day because mom is not working and likes to be involved, she takes him to and from class and likes to eat lunch with the kids.)
Tuesday- S has piano class at 3pm and just like Monday I have to make sure A goes down for her nap early enough. (Sometimes grandma/pa or their dad will be able to come and take him or stay with baby while I take him.)
Wednesday- S has Little Gym at 1:30 and TaeKwonDo at 4pm. So the same situation applies, unless a parent is available. Otherwise, I have to budget our time well and make sure everyone gets where they need to be.
Thursday- S has swimming lesson at 3:30 at the house and A has her little gym class at 4. Generally Grandma/pa will come to the house around 3 and stay while I take A to class. It's a bit more difficult to work out sometimes because I have to be in the class with her, so I can't just drop her off like her brother.
Friday- (generally the most busy day for me because help isn't available) S has TaeKwonDo class at 4 and soccer practice at 5pm. For this to work, A has to be napping by at least 1:30. I have to have everything and anything that could possibly be needed packed and ready to go. We go straight from class to soccer practice at his school. Baby A and I stay there and usually have a snack and play, then we all head home.We try to get home as close to 6 as possible and I either feed or bathe them.

Once a week:
  • Roll trash bins out to curb and bring back in the next day
  • Do A's laundry and change her crib sheet
  • Do S's laundry along with towels or misc. dirty stuff
  • Make a trip to the grocery 
  • Sanitize all kitchen and bathroom counters, doorknobs, phones, remotes, light switches, etc. 
  • I stay until 10:30 one night a week (for their date night)- that adds dinner, bath and bed time to my schedule for that night
  • Load/unload dishwasher
  • Wash and put away any other dishes
  • Feed kids
  • Bathe kids
  • Keep house tidy- aka clean up after kids
  • Bring in mail and receive any packages
When needed:
  • Take out kitchen trash and recycling
  • Empty diaper genie
  • Wash any dirty clothing from potty training
  • Restock diapers, wipes, etc.
  • Cook meals for family
  • Run errands such as getting gas, supplies from Walgreens, etc.
  • Any other cleaning or organizing job to keep the household running smoothly
Example of my daily notes from J (mom) for today- Wednesday:
  • Dishwasher is clean (this means I put away clean dishes and load it with any dirty dishes)
  • Please pick up kids at 11:45
  • Please sterilize kitchen sponges (in a bowl of water in microwave for 10 minutes)
  • I will need to you take S to Little Gym at 1:30 but I will pick him up
  • No need for dinner tonight, we are going to eat at my parent's house
Today was a pretty basic, easy day because their mom was available to help. Everyday is a lot of the same but also can be very different and difficult. That's one thing that makes this job so rewarding.

So... you've read into my daily grind and still think you can do this...
  1. You have to remember that at any given time 2 children are wanting your attention. It is a constant, LOUD battle between them and me. It is extremely difficult to get anything else (laundry, dishes, etc.) when you have 2 young children that you need to be in the same room with. 
  2. You can't simply tell them to behave and go fold a load of laundry or wash dishes. It takes a lot of patience and planning to get everything done in a single day, let alone the spare hour you might get to yourself.
  3. Just because there is time between major daily activities like eating and sleeping, doesn't mean that it is free time. If the kids are awake, I play with them. If they are asleep I make sure all my other responsibilities are taken care of before I tend to personal stuff. That's not to say that there aren't people who just turn the TV on and oops forgot to get the dishes done. I'm sure there are, but that's not how I operate and that's not how a good nanny should. You have to remember that this is a job, the parents are your boss, and you must live up to what they expect. Like any job, you can't slack off and expect to be treated like you're doing just fine. Like any job, you have to have a good employee/boss relationship otherwise your lives will be miserable, and you must hold up your end of the bargain.
  4. Just because the majority of my day is spent playing, doesn't mean that it's not exhausting. It is. Really. And maybe the playing part isn't so much the hard part as is all the other aspects of watching children- it's constant. Nonstop. You can't turn your brain off and check out for a break. It means you are keeping a constant watch on them, keeping them safe, teaching them, correcting them, breaking up fights, reminding them to go to the bathroom, changing dirty diapers/underwear, keeping them fed and happy and about a million other things- all at once.  
  5.  EVERYTHING is a struggle. It may seem like all I do is make lunch and drive the kids around but I'm telling you, EVERY SINGLE THING is more difficult because kids are involved. It takes twice as long to complete a task- just imagine it taking 30 minutes every time you put your shoes on and got in the car. With kids, it does. Because of their ages, S and A are difficult in their own ways. Both want to be independent but also still need help with a lot of things. S has figured out how to use excuses like "I'm tired" to try to get out of things, so generally getting him motivated is a battle and he needs to be asked about 5 times to get something done. A has been very independent from the beginning, which in the long run I hope becomes a good thing. However, right now it just means that she wants to do everything herself and I often cause problems when trying to help. She is extremely strong willed and has become very sensitive and temperamental lately (she's got the terrible 2's a little early). If something is not perfect, it often results in a tantrum, which can vary from a little crying to completely losing it- screaming and crying and kicking and rolling on the floor. So patience and persistence are key. They are must have qualities for a good nanny or you'll have a miserable time. 
Being a nanny is difficult. Tiring, exasperating, trying, frustrating, irritating, loud, crazy, challenging, irrational, and nonstop are just a few words I'd used to describe my job.

But so are- rewarding, loving, caring, fun, laughs, inspiring, magic, love, sweet, smiles, hugs, fabulous, and exciting. And the positives far outweigh the negatives in my book.

For all the tears and no's- there are a million more hugs and smiles.

I wouldn't have it any other way :)

And this is why I wouldn't trade for any other job in the world... I mean, what's not to love about this outfit she put together all by herself :)

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