Most jobs have a use by date and in this day and age, nannying is one of them. Even today’s royalty don’t continue with the tradition of employing a nanny or governess who cares for the children from the time they are born until they are old enough to drive a car. One of the main, and probably pretty obvious reasons I decided to leave my position, was due to the unrelenting physical stress associated with the job. ‘I’m a little teapot short and stout, here is my handle, here is my spout’ was one of the earliest songs I ever used to entertain children and they loved it. Even the other classic, ‘Bend and stretch, reach for the stars….’ would give you a mini workout but this amount of physical exertion was chicken feed compared with the day to day lifting, bending, twisting and all done at top speed. It definitely took its toll.
The majority of well known people I have worked for, have been kind and generous enough to realise I am, like them, made of blood, bones and tissue and not high quality aluminum with a built in computer chip! I might at times act like a robot just to keep up to speed, but somewhere along the road, your body starts to give you hints.
Deciding to say goodbye to my day-to-day life as a nanny working for people who sometimes I wouldn’t see for months, was a very difficult decision to make. It wasn’t the ‘high life’ that kept me there as it truly is a novelty that wears off very quickly and it wasn’t the huge suite that came with complimentary washing, ironing and cleaning, (although it would be a real bonus right now!) and it wasn’t even the thought of being close to people whose faces were on magazines I would sometimes flick through, it was the children and only the children. Every morning being able to stare into the biggest blue or brown eyes and watch the smile bloom across those warm, pink cheeks, is something I will always cherish.
A Nanny’s job is rather underrated at the best of times. Nobody can really appreciate the responsibilities that are always attached to one of the largest job descriptions you’ll ever see. A nanny will never really know until she is ‘in’ the job, exactly what it will be and even then, when you think you have a good enough handle on it, it changes. Someone gets divorced and there is a new lady of the house or the parents decide to move to Moscow and your nanny friends and the doorman you would chat with every morning would probably never see you again. What I am going to say now involves only a tiny, tiny number of the many people I have worked for, but there are some very well known, ‘important’ celebrities who have absolutely forgotten what it’s like to be a human being. They see you and occasionally speak to you and perhaps, very rarely, even smile at you but you, yourself as a person, have very little value to them – it’s only what you DO for them that’s important. So if the children are happy and clean and well dressed and properly fed and LOOK beautiful with exactly the outfits that have been chosen for them (nothing to do with the children or the nanny), then everything is fine. And yet they couldn’t understand or didn’t have the time to consider that their nanny was building a relationship with their children that would often take the place of a parent, if not two! There have been many times when a child has asked me, ‘Can you be my mummy and Mummy be my nanny?’ The emotional side of being a nanny is probably the biggest learning curve of all.
Well, now that I don’t have to worry about all the frightfully busy airports, trying to hold hands and bags and strollers and still look totally in charge, it’s rather nice to take some time to relax and remember all the great things that being a nanny has brought to my life, mainly some incredible relationships that I have made over the years with other nannies, lots of different staff members from all over the world, some extremely kind, caring and generous employers, but more than anyone, the hundreds of children I have cared for and have had masses of fun with and have cried with and wished I could take all their worries away. The tiny baby faces that look at you day after day with complete trust in their eyes, the teenagers who ‘don’t need a nanny’ attitude can come running to you when someone has upset them, and the shy little toddlers who take quite a while to win over but then, will never leave you side. I will never forget any of them.
A nanny’s life is wonderful, strange, tiring, cool, exhausting, full of opportunities, never ending, surprising and very, very rewarding.
When I look back to where I began, and considering everywhere I’ve been and everything I’ve done, I wouldn’t change it for the world.