YOUNG NANNIES (AU PAIRS, COLLEGE BABYSITTERS, RISING STARS) PART 2
Harnessing the Power of Youth
When hiring a younger Nanny, whether she is a College Babysitter, an Au Pair or even a Rising Star Nanny, be aware of your Nanny’s ability to be emotionally present to the task in hand. Taking care of children when done badly can be really easy. Some College Nannies choose to ‘baby-sit’ on the side and off the books because it’s easier to fake than waiting tables, dog-walking or house-cleaning. But faking care of a child or children can be dangerous. Employers who suspect that their Nanny is hung over or sleep deprived might feel awkward asking whether this is the case. But they should ask anyway especially if their Nanny drives the children about the neighborhood. Be sure to check all references even if a prospective Nanny reminds you of a dear niece.
On the plus side younger Nannies bring excitement, energy and passion to a home. They can provide wonderful role models for children. The majority of the younger Nannies I have observed were deeply engaged with their charges and extremely physical: digging in sandpits, climbing jungle gyms and playing all kinds of imaginative games.
If your Nanny is an Au Pair away from her country and family for the first time, watch out for signs of reckless, juvenile or depressive behavior. Being young and fancy-free does not excuse poor behavior. But be supportive, while avoiding the temptation to mother another child. Most Au Pairs bring a splash of culture to the job. They can be brilliant, inspirational life coaches in your children’s formative years.
Rising Star Nannies can appear to be friends disguised as childcare. This Nanny will breeze in and out of your home with inspiring stories or riveting ‘career’ reviews. You may even feel yourself living vicariously through her. A Rising Star Nanny will probably be educated. She may be aligned to your social peer or ethnic group. If you are lucky, a Rising Star Nanny will be sharp enough to balance the needs of your children with her own career aspirations. If you are not, this type of Nanny will simply amuse you and when out of sight will allow the children to do what they want. Her magnetism might simply be an elaborate form of manipulation.
Most mothers and Nannies attempt to maintain a cordial working relationship with one another. But as with any intimate relationship the ‘Mother-Nanny’ partnership can be thwarted by unspoken rules, unkept promises and miscommunication. In the next blog I’ll explore the complex relationship between mothers and Nannies.