“Oh, You Are A Babysitter”

Matilda (Bluefairy Sarang)

I finally had a chance to finish reading “The Nanny Diaries” and watched the movie.  Despite some negative reviews, I found the movie reflects some views that are factual. I don’t mean those views are true. What I am saying is that they are based on someone’s experience, and are as valid as mine, even though my Nanny career is completely not like the one in the book/movie.

It can be frustrating sometimes to deal with people’s reaction when I say “I am a Professional Nanny”, and they respond, “Oh, you’re a babysitter.” (Didn’t I just say “Professional Nanny?”). After I clarify that a Nanny is not a Babysitter, I then get this long “Ohhhhh” with a particular facial expression, followed by “So that’s like a babysitter who gets a lot of perks, right?”

It really makes me laugh how people could not hear the difference between these two words, “Nanny” and “Babysitter”–they don’t even spell the same, or sound the same!!

If it is going to be up to someone to transform the view of what a Nanny is, it would be up to me, or us, the Nannies. Some of us do see being a Nanny as a job, rather than a career. A job that you would do before you land a career. And, there are people like me who are serious about being a Nanny. So serious that I feel the need to put a word “professional” in front of the word, “nanny”, hoping that people would respect for what I do. After all, title is quite important, right?

My dear husband said to me after watching the movie, “You should share your Nanny experience, so people know not all nanny-employer relationships are like that.”  True, not all are the same. I am not sure, however, if I write a book about my experience of being a Nanny, it would be “sellable”. It seems to me that people are drawn to dramas, rants, complaints, other than inspiration, or say, the good news.

I was interviewed by an ABC News 20/20 Primetime producer. She was working on a project that involves nannies and their relationship with employers. When she asked me how the conflicts were usually resolved between me and my employer given that I was raised, and came from another culture, I said, “If I experience any conflict, I always ask myself what am I reacting to. It is not my place to judge how my employers raise their children. Part of my job as a Nanny is to listen and carry out what is important to the family. If I don’t agree their parenting style, I would communicate that and not let it be a conflict between us. The conflict happens when I am being righteous about how they should raise their children. This doesn’t allow any room for dialogues or conversations.”  She said, “Oh. Huh, let me call you back.”  I have not heard from her since.

Maybe she got too busy and forgot to call me back. Maybe my story is too good to be true. It’s just not juicy enough to sell.


5 responses to ““Oh, You Are A Babysitter”

  1. Yes, the confusion between what defines a babysitter vs. what defines a nanny is an ongoing problem in our industry. And I agree, it’s our job (those that work in the industry) to continue to clarify what “nanny care” really is.

    But I’d like to make two points. One, even caregivers who view being a nanny as simply “a job” can provide a wonderful environment for kids. It’s what they bring to that job that matters. Even if they’re moving on to a different career.

    Two, not all press is out for the National Enquirer type story. The reporter you refer to in your blog post is working on a piece that takes an honest, thoughtful look at the intimate relationship that develops when working in a private home and how nannies and parents navigate conflicts in their relationship when there are cultural differences at the core. Having talked to her specifically about this project, I’d say your story simply didn’t fit her needs for the piece. But that doesn’t mean she’s only out looking for the “juicy” stories. She is one of the few reporters that truly does “get it”.

    • Thank you, Lora, for sharing your thoughts. For those who view being a nanny simply as a “job” before landing a career can certainly provides a wonderful environment for the kids. I was referring to those who view it as some kind of survival thing to “do”, like doing this because I “have to”, or, I am not happy working here, and I rather to be at somewhere else, or this is not what I really want to do/be, but I couldn’t find anything else. I am not saying those views are bad or negative. Though, it does have an impact on the kids when you go to work everyday with such mindset. You can call it job or career–name doesn’t matter. What matters is respecting what I do with professionalism, and what I provide for the kids.

      About the reporter…. I really thought my story is a successful example ( 🙂 ) of an intimate relationship developed between a nanny and her/his employer–there are cultural differences between us, and we work as partners to resolve the conflicts. Who knows… I might hear from her later!!

  2. I see this alot around here in the midwest, even nannies here are consistered “babysitter’s.” I get alot of smurks and eye brow raising when I say that I’m a professional nanny. Someone thought I’m there because I like to sit around. Some say, you have a lot of patience. I take pride on my job and I feel that I do a professional job and its my career. I had owned my in-home daycare for years and then we moved and I thought I would do a different job with no kids and I hated it, it wasn’t me and I truely missed the children. Its my calling and I’m proud of what I do and who I am. So at this time I’m starting a nanny placement /support group here in my area and the web site is almost done for publishing. Open the eyes to some more people of who we are. I agree on your article.


    • Thank you, Joan, for being the gift that you are!! Let us know how the nanny placement/support group going!! Isn’t that great to know and clear about what your life is for, and make peace with it no matter what others say!!!

  3. Love this and so thankful to have other nannies to speak the truth about our profession. We as the Professional Nanny Community need to stick together and help families raise respectable children and grow together!

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