I’m a nanny. Now, I know that a lot of you sit around thinking, “I wonder what that’s like?” Well, here’s your answer, folks.
I usually start my workday somewhere between 7 and 9 am. The family that I work for has a different schedule every week, so I don’t usually have the same schedule two days in a row. When I first arrive in the morning, I am usually greeted by a chatty 4-year-old and a giggly (if I’m lucky) baby. The baby only has a few real words in his repertoire, so everything is referred to as “ball”, “cat”, or “mom.” Personally, I prefer being called “mom” over “ball”, but I never really have a choice in the matter.
We usually play inside in the mornings, where activities include crawling through a tunnel (this elicits giggles of glee from both children), rolling a truck around the house, and climbing bookshelves. I really try to discourage the climbing, but it seems that I’m surrounded by daredevil children who will climb things and then just let go. This has resulted in a few tears and many lucky saves by me, nanny extraordinaire. After a few hours of playing with toys that make all sorts of interesting noises (do they even make toys that don’t require batteries anymore?), along comes my favorite part of the day: nap time.
For those of you who have never spent much time with children, nap time is a little bit like heaven. It’s quiet. It’s spit/spill/poop-free. It’s the only time to clean up the peas that have been squished into the crevices of the highchair. When I’m only watching the baby, nap time is even more blissful, as there is no other child to entertain. That has been the case most of the days this summer. But if the 4-year-old is home, we spend the baby’s nap time doing art projects (so that the baby doesn’t swallow beads and googly-eyes or stab himself with safety-scissors) or playing dress-up.
Once nap time is over, it’s time for lunch. Lunch is one of my least favorite events of the day. This is because generally I get to eat very little of my own lunch, as I am spending time with two children who steal my food (or cry until I give them a taste of whatever I brought for lunch). This is also a painful experience for anyone who enjoys cleanliness. There is no way to neatly feed a baby who sticks his hands in his mouth and then rubs them all over his face and clothes. Food generally ends up all over the floor, table, highchair, and, of course, the baby.
After lunch, we usually go play outside. This is the really fun part, as going outside on a hot summer’s day requires sunscreen. If you’ve never attempted to put sunscreen on a baby, imagine putting sunscreen on a rambunctious puppy. It usually involves me chasing a screaming baby around the kitchen, wiping sunscreen streaks off the floor, fridge, and dishwasher. I can’t say I blame the kid, as having a thick, smelly paste rubbed all over your face isn’t fun for anyone. But I try to make it more exciting by singing “The Sunscreen Song,” which is a little diddy I composed about saving yourself from a sunburn by using sunscreen. The 4-year-old loves it, but as the baby does not yet understand the English language, I think my talents are lost on him. Anywho, eventually we fight through the screaming and tears (some of them my own) and get sunscreen on the children’s skin. At last, we can go outside.
Playing outside is an adventure with children. I’ve found that swinging and singing is a glorious combination that can keep them occupied for at least 10 minutes at a time. I know what you’re thinking. “Ten minutes isn’t a very long time.” Yes, yes it is. If I can get a child to stick with one activity for more than 10 minutes, I feel like I’ve struck gold. Obviously that activity is awesome, and I’m super awesome for having suggested it. Some of my all-time winners have been swinging, the hula hoop toss (in which I roll the hula hoop away and the 4-year-old chases it), dancing to the Disney song playlist on my iTunes, and most recently, the creation of robots (more on that later). I try to spend as much time outside as possible, as it gives the kids some exercise and wears them out a bit. Sometimes we collect bugs. Sometimes we blow bubbles. And sometimes we just play with the broom (the baby’s favorite “toy” of the moment).
And then we head inside again, where the baby takes an afternoon nap, and, if I’m just incredibly lucky, the 4-year-old takes a nap, as well. If this is the case, I generally clean up our lunch mess, wash some dishes, tidy up the huge mess we’ve made in the playroom, and then spend some time reading or blogging (today’s activity of choice). If the 4-year-old doesn’t nap, we usually play some game involving our imaginations, where she always plays the princess and I play the evil stepmother, or the witch, or some other horrendous character that makes me think Disney has ruined imaginary games for adults. Earlier this week, we made puppets. I decided that my puppet would be a robot. So I named it “Robot Number One” and talked in a robot voice. This was a serious success. Robot Number One carried on a conversation with the 4-year-old for 45 minutes (a world record, I would say). In this conversation, Robot Number One informed the child that he only ate bacon and that he very much enjoyed the green shirt and tie that his creator (me) had given him. The robot was such a huge hit that he even came out to play the next day. That, my friends, is a success story. I’ve had many more failures than successes. My suggestions of coloring, working puzzles, and playing board games are almost always rejected.
And to end the day, sometimes the parents come home while the kids are still asleep, and sometimes the kids wake up hours before I leave. Then we usually play with toys or go outside and swing again. Of course, all of these activities are interrupted by frequent diaper changes, requests for snacks, an episode of Curious George (or, if it’s just a terrible day for me, Dora the Explorer), and many, many trips up and down the stairs (the baby’s favorite form of exercise). It’s a fairly exciting life, folks. And at the end of the day, I (usually) still think kids are ridiculously cute, if not a little smelly.