Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved children, so when I needed some extra pocket money, the natural choice was to look into babysitting. It always paid really well, and I got along with the kids. It never really felt like work, just a fun and easy way to afford a new outfit or a movie ticket.
When I went away to college in the faraway land of New York City, I didn’t have the portfolio or the street cred to get paid to be a writer. Becoming a nanny seemed like the obvious choice to provide a tax-free income. I had a great SitterCity profile and a host of references, so getting jobs was relatively easy.
The experience of being a nanny in the Big Apple turned out to be a very different one than I expected. There are so many different kinds of people here and, therefore, so many different kinds of parents.
There are a million different parenting tactics I encountered and an endless supply of rules and regulations placed on children that I had never even considered possible.
I learned a lot about what kind of mother I plan to be after all of the different babysitting and nannying jobs I’ve had in Manhattan. Here are a few life lessons and pieces of advice I've acquired over my years as a New York nanny.
Always check references.
I once showed up to a job interview for an adorable 10-month-old baby girl. Her parents were obviously rolling in the dough, considering they had a duplex in Chelsea the size of a house in the suburbs.
When I got there, her mom and I chatted a little bit; I told her about me, my family and what I was studying. Then, she left me with the kid.
You can’t just leave your child with a complete stranger you meet on the Internet. Always call the person’s references before leaving your kid with him or her. I mean, it’s not like I’m some crazy person, but this kid’s mom had literally no way of telling that.
Moms are fake as hell when you first meet them.
With every job I’ve had, moms seem pretty similar in the beginning: cautious and overly thoughtful in trying to make you feel at home. Like people, every mother is different, however. Some are truly awesome, and others are completely f*cking crazy.
Mothers will begin to show their true colors the more you time you spend with them. I’ve come to the decision that I’m not going to treat my nanny like anything other than a friend the moment she walks through my door.
I get that this is a person I’m going to be trusting with my children, but you have to give paranoia a damn rest. I interviewed this person; I talked to their references, and everything is going to be okay.
All hail the leash parent!
Look, this is a big city and there are f*cking enormous cars zipping by, and a zillion people gushing through the streets with all kinds of bad intentions, I’m sure.
Children are unpredictable. They have zero awareness of their own mortality or safety.
I know people like to throw mad shade at leash moms, but KIDS NEED LEASHES. At any given second, your kid could take off running into the middle of the street and become road kill. I’m 100 percent purchasing child safety leases for my kids. Judge me all you want; at least I know they’re safe.
Kids should be allowed to eat normal kid food.
I once babysat for a mom who only fed her children organic, free-range chicken and goat’s milk. Excuse me? Goat’s milk? Are you asking for your child to become lactose intolerant, never able to eat anything good with his friends and, therefore, hate you?
I had Oreos, Pop Tarts, Cheetos and all those other red dye #5, toxin-containing, artificial-coloring-contaminated junk foods, and I turned out just fine. I’m not going to be that parent who only feeds my kid weird, healthy sh*t all the time and freaks out when a classmate brings cupcakes for his or her birthday.
Kids like sugar, and they like sugary snacks. Get. Over. It.
Some moms in this city are F*CKING CRAZY.
Here’s one for the books: I had these four kids I used to babysit occasionally in the mornings and on date nights. They were from Texas, and their pregnant mother, while clearly a bit neurotic, did not jump out at me as a whack job.
I babysat instead of going out on Halloween because I was in serious need of some extra money. I couldn’t figure out their complicated television, so I literally sat on my phone on Instagram for four hours. The next morning, I got a phone call from this mom accusing me of stealing a bottle of wine out of the fridge.
WTF?! No, lady, I did not take your wine.
She creepily said things like, “I keep very close inventory of everything that comes in and out of the house.” What? I’ll bet you a cheap-ass bottle of wine her husband drank it just to make her presence bearable. Needless to say, I didn’t babysit for that lovely woman again.
Being a nanny is the ultimate birth control.
Nannying might seem like a simple task, but it entails a lot of responsibility. Considering you’re taking care of someone else’s child, for that amount of time that child is with you, that child is yours.
When you’ve reached the end of the day and realize how taking care of minimal responsibilities for just one child has worn you out, imagine having that responsibility forever, and it’ll make you never want to have sex without a condom again.
Playdates are either a blessing or a curse.
The kids will play with each other and leave you quietly, or need you to be involved with every aspect of their playtime. I once spent two hours judging a beauty contest entitled, "Pop Star," which, of course, had no real rules, only to have the girl who came up with the game win the entire competition... because that was obviously the point of the game.
After watching all three of these girls walk the "runway" in different outfits, I painfully sat through three different versions of the "Frozen" song. I soon understood the sincere pain amongst every parent across America.
DILFs are alive and out there.
They say New York City is the worst place to meet a guy, but I say that you might just be on the wrong playground. With the increase in divorce rate, single DILFs are searching for single gals all across the city.
The greatest part about meeting an older guy is that despite the fact that he’s already got a kid, he’s got a job and doesn’t have time to play games.
He knows how to treat a woman; in fact, that’s most likely the reason he ended up with a kid. So, enjoy the wining and dining, minus the immaturity. It’s quite nice.
At the end of the day, you’ve spent so much time taking care of this child, you realize he or she has become something like one of your own. The best thing you can take away from spending time with children is to live freely and curiously, just like they do.
Love without limits and spend your time with someone who wants to enjoy it.
This article was written from the experiences of Gigi Engle and Celine Rahman.
Photo Courtesy: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Uptown Girls