Beverly Hills Nannies, a reality show on the ABC Family channel, follows a group of nannies who work for affluent families to give viewers an inside look at the life of a Beverly Hills nanny. While many of the situations are a bit exaggerated, a lot of the situations parallel the life of a real nanny. Here are the realities of Beverly Hills Nannies.
Parents may judge a nanny on the way she looks. On the show one couple rates a nanny on several different factors, including her cuteness. Other nannies spend a huge amount of time trying to figure out what interview outfit will show that they can fit into the family’s prosperous lifestyle without making them “too beautiful” to be hired.
While most families aren’t specifically looking at a nanny’s cuteness factor or the brands she’s sporting during the interview, they are judging her by her appearance. Families often shy away from overweight nannies, assuming (often incorrectly) the nanny doesn’t have the energy needed to keep up with kids, that she’s a poor role model for healthy eating, and that she’s going to pass on her unhealthy food habits. Parents are also leery of nannies who have multiple tattoos and piercings, wear heavy make-up or skimpy clothes, or otherwise fall outside the middle-of-the-road look. Parents worry about giving their kids the idea that those things are acceptable and appropriate. They also imagine having to explain why it’s OK for Nanny Kim to have her nose, eyebrow, tongue and belly button pierced but it’s not OK for their 8 year old daughter to get her ears double pierced.
Dressing in khaki pants or jeans and a polo shirt or blouse and ensuring that your hair is neat and your nails are clean can send the message that you care about presenting yourself as a professional.
At some point, you’ll have to do something way outside your job description. Beverly Hills Nannies has lots of examples of nannies doing things outside the typical nanny job description. While most nannies won’t be asked to pick up dog poop or massage her employer’s feet, every nanny will at one time or another be asked to do something that’s not in their job description. It may be walking the dog, watching the neighbor’s kid, changing the sheets in the guest room, or sending out holiday cards. Families get into tight spots and need something done right away. The nanny is often the quickest and most convenient option. While most nannies will pitch-in at crunch time, they’ll also make it clear those favors are a one-time deal.
Having a written work agreement can prevent job creep and help to ensure that everyone understands what the nannies duties are.
Nannies and employers often say one thing when they’re thinking something completely different. Throughout the show, viewers get to hear conversations between nannies and employers. After the conversation, each side adds private commentary. It’s no surprise that when talking with each other, the nanny and parent are in complete agreement about the topic, but they have a completely different take on it once the other person is out of the room.
For example, when talking to the employer the nanny agrees to take on a task completely outside her job description with a smile and a cheerful “No problem!” Privately she scowls and blasts, “That so isn’t my job. Is she crazy?”
Or, when the nanny asks for a day off to take on a side gig, the employer says “Of course you can!” Privately she fumes and asks, “What is she thinking? She knows I need her to be there that day!”
This doesn’t happen only on reality TV. Nannies and parents routinely hide their true feelings, concerns and needs from each other, afraid to rock the boat. This only leads to an accumulation of bad feelings, unmet expectations and a shaky employment relationship.
Keeping the lines of communication open and addressing issues as they arise can help prevent resentment and help to keep nannies and parents on the same page.
The job is hard because of the parents, not the kids. It’s clear the nannies on the show love and enjoy the kids they care for. Their feelings for the employers, however, are less positive. This is often the case in real life too. Most nannies are fired or quit their jobs because of problems within the nanny / family relationship, not because of an issue related to the children.
Choosing a family that has a similar parenting style and communication style can make a nanny’s interaction with the parents easier.
Part of the job is winging it. On the show, one cooking-challenged nanny has to Google the kid’s favorite recipe before she can make dinner. Another meat and potatoes kind of nanny has to decode the ingredient labels in a bakery to make sure she’s giving a hungry toddler a vegan snack. Again, every nanny watching can tell a similar story.
Every nanny receives instructions from an employer and thinks, “How am I going to pull that off?” Because every job, every child and every employer is different, it’s a guaranteed part of the job that at some point you’ll have to wing it. You’ll have to be resourceful and quickly and creatively find a solution to a challenge before it becomes a problem.
Knowing your employer’s parenting philosophy and being in tune with their needs and expectations can help you wing it successfully, when the time comes.
Beverly Hills Nannies gives its audience a ringside view of the life and times of nannies working in one of the most famous cities in the country. While most real nannies don’t share the 90210 zip code, they do share many of the nannies’ experiences.
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Debbie Denard – all rights reserved 2012