What's It Like To Have A "Real" Nanny?

I work one day a week, part time, in a very ritzy private club.

A lot of the members have Nannys, au pairs, and full time baby sitters.

What surprised me, is how un TV like they are. OK I don’t have kids and I’m no longer even middle class, but when I see Nannies and such, I always think of Mr French, Nanny of Nanny and the Professor, or the Nanny, from the show of the same name.

But these Nannies, Au Pairs, and full time baby sitters are like, “I’m sorry, it’s 5pm, my day is over, find someone else to watch your kids.”

OK I realize it’s a job and a tough one, but it clearly is not a job like TV sitcoms present it to be. They don’t seem to be Mary Poppins. And I am certainly not being critical of the Nannies, as I don’t know what’s really going on.

So if anyone here has had a Nanny or such in real life, what’s it like to have one? How vastly different is it from real life?

One thing to keep in mind: Good nannies are difficult to find, and often even more difficult to keep for an extended period of time. As such, good nannies hold a great deal of power in the relationship.

I don’t know much about the fictionalized portrayal of nannies, so I can’t really speak to the difference. We’ve always treated ours very generously, and both sides have generally been happy with the deal.

My wife just spent a few months nannying for a baby. The mother is a teacher and the father is a deputy. The baby was about 9 months old when my wife started to watch her, so she (the baby) was too young for pre-school.

Lauren (my wife) would go to their house in the morning and watch the baby at either their house or bring it to ours. When the parents got off of work, Lauren would take the baby home.

Essentially, it was like mid-day babysitting.

ETA: The reason she is no longer a nanny is because the infant got a bit older and is now in some kind of daycare with other children. Socialization and all that.

A bunch of my neighbours have nannies and they’re all friends. They’re all Filipino and they typically gather in one house and chat amongst themselves as the kids all play together. In the summer, they’ll gather in a park or playground and do the same thing.

They also clean and do laundry, so I think the parents are getting their money’s worth. None of them are live-in, so I think it’s pretty much a 9-5 (or so) thing.

We had a full-time nanny for 3 years.

As has been noted a good nanny is very hard to find. We had an understanding that she would be to work at 7:00 unless there was a true exception she could not avoid. she was technically on the clock until 5:00 but we often needed her to stay late, usually no later than 6:00.

In exchange for her flexibility we were (in my opinion) fairly generous with her. She got at least 2 paid weeks vacation each summer when we would be home with the kids or taking them somewhere and she got pretty much the whole month of December off with pay because, again, we were home with the kids anyway but we knew she needed the money. The first week in December we always made sure to give her a little something extra, usually like $500, to make sure she could at least get her kids a little something for Christmas. We knew her kids (they were older, high school age) and they were always welcome at the house and used to hang out in the summer and soak up our AC and raid the fridge while their mom was watching our little ones :D, we didn’t mind, they were good kids. If she wanted to take the kids to the zoo or something we’d make sure she had plenty of cash to cover food, gas, any incidentals and if she wanted to bring her kids we’d spring for them too.

We actually developed something of a friendship and there were a few tears when it cam time to get the kids into a full time daycare (socialization and all that).

We had a nanny (two different ones, actually) from 1997 through 2008.

The first one, who was born in the US, was good about proactively taking the kids out and about on outings, but also did a lot of lugging them along on her own personal errands. Admittedly this is what a stay-at-home mom would do, so we didn’t worry too much about that.

She also had a lot of medical problems and was highly unreliable, and we found reasons to question her judgment. All of this contributes to why we only employed her for a bit over a year.

The second one was not as proactive about outings, though anything we suggested she do with them, she was happy to go along with. Reliability was less of an issue with her (she was often a little late getting to our house, but she usually at least showed UP). She did light housework (as in, kids’ laundry and later ours, some meal prep). Not a lot of child-enrichment activities, though we did start both kids in preschool by age 3.

She was an immigrant (though naturalized). Around here it’s very rare to find a US-born nanny. My own prejudice and bad experience, but around here, if someone is US-born, there’s a small part of my mind asking “what’s wrong with you? why are you willing to work this job which doesn’t pay much? can’t you get anything better???”.

One very hard part about having a nanny is that you’re at her mercy, schedule-wise. If she’s a few minutes late… so are you. If she gets up and is sick as a dog and can’t come to work, you have to cover at the last minute. If she has to leave early, you have to dash home. It’s not always terribly convenient!

Her daily schedule was something like 8:30 to 6 PM. We did our level best to be home promptly, recognizing that she had her own life (and probably wanted to get away from our hellspawn). We did pay overtime if we were stuck or had to work late or whatever (which was fairly rare). She also occasionally babysat the kids on the weekends when we wanted to go out - we paid that separately, in cash, and well over her regular hourly rate.

We did always give her at least 2 weeks off with pay (in addition to 10 holidays). And as another poster mentioned, we gave her extra cash at Christmas.

When the kids started school, we had a dilemma: let her go and put them in daycare, cut her pay because of the reduced hours, or keep paying her fulltime. We did the latter. This of course gave her rather a LOT of free time on our nickel, but we rationalized that 1) her expenses didn’t go down just because our need did, and 2) she was basically “on call” if one of the kids was sick and needed to stay home. Ultimately, we kept her on until we just couldn’t afford it any longer.

I was a nanny for 5 years, to my dear friend’s daughter. She’s a single mother and couldn’t pay me much, but I didn’t really care. That little girl enriched my life so much; I raised an awesome son of my own, and now I know something about what it’s like having a daughter too! Both experiences I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

As for how it’s affected the child herself … well, she wants to be a scientist when she grows up. <snif!>I’m so proud!

I grew up with a nanny. My parents employed her for 17 years, from the time I was 10 months old until I left for college (I have a younger sister).

She was like a third parent, or the grandmother I never had. To this day I still stumble upon some piece of the woman I’ve become and see her in it-- the way I take my tea or the french braid my tomboy mother doesn’t know how to make. The wacky Gin Rummy house rules I’ve now perpetuated to my own family. My odd urge to cross myself when I hear an ambulance-- despite not being catholic. I loved her to bits. She died in 2006, and I still miss her. I have a picture of her up along with the rest of my family.

Is that Mary Poppins? I don’t know. But she was an awesome person and i’m very grateful I got to have her in my life. My mom and I had lunch not long ago and she was discussing how unbelievably lucky they got finding her. I’d have a nanny for my kids in a heartbeat if I thought I could find another her.

The classic nanny was almost like a third parent and the child was usually very very attached to her. When WS Chruchill became PM in 1940 (at the age of 66) one of his first actions was to have his nanny, Mrs Everest’s picture placed in his office; this is about 45 years after the death of the lady.

Do you work overtime? Do you expect to get paid for it? When I had regular babysitting gigs, I did it because I needed the money, not because I wanted to have a relationship with the kids. I wanted to do my job for the scheduled time period, and when it was time for the job to end, I was ready to go home. Just like being a clerk in a store, I didn’t do it because I enjoyed the work and the customers (though sometimes I did), I did it because I needed the money, and when the workday was done, I wanted to go home.

TV sitcoms are fiction. NOBODY acts that way in real life, no matter what role they’re playing. In a sitcom, a nanny is there to introduce various setups and plot elements, not to portray a realistic nanny. Some situations might be based on reality, but exaggerated for effect.

Also, Disney’s Mary Poppins was quite different from the written version, just like everything else put out by the Disney studio.

I could never stand having that horrible nasal screeching around the house all day.

Like any other job, I’m sure that nannies want their hours well defined. After all, they’re working in a very informal environment (usually a home) and their duties are probably relatively fluid (as some have mentioned almost a second wife). I imagine that having a firm stopping point is important to them - kind of a light at the end of the tunnel - especially when dealing with small children all day.

Plus, the pay is hourly. I’m sure overtime is welcome, but there are a lot of assholes out there who are probably not so good about showing up on time to let them go home and who probably try to stiff them, especially if they’re paid in cash. Even at our rather large daycare, several parents (luckily not us) have been so unpredictable about when they pick their kids up that they’ve instituted a $10 a minute policy for people picking their kids up after the daycare’s closing time.

My sister-in-law had live-in nannies growing up (60s/70s). The basement of her childhood home has a bedroom and bathroom, so it was more of a room and board with some money thing. Her parents were a cop and a nurse so the shift work was why they needed a nanny. From what I can tell, the nanny was always a college-aged kid who wanted to make some money and save on living expenses.

What’s it like? Very, very convenient, and makes life easier for everyone.

We had a nanny for our kids until both were in school. She worked roughly 6am to 6pm, and ferried them to Dr appts, swimming, etc. We had only one, and she was extremely punctual and trustworthy. This simplified mornings, as we just got ready and left (without having to pack a youngster for travel), and came home usually to a meal on the stove. Like above, we provided money for events and extras, and we provided her with a credit card for gas. She even accompanied us sometimes on the boat for weekend outings. This allowed everyone to waterski since one person could always be watching the kids. She usually brought her BF along so it became a fun outing for everyone. My youngest was ringbearer in her wedding, and when she had a baby, it joined the group and she cared for all (hers and ours).