by Caroline Cassard
I’ve seen all of the food allergies, the gluten-free diets, and the bee sting reactions. I’ve run a mile in the rain, rushing the stroller and the nonchalant toddler back to safety. I’ve dealt with the exhausted protests at naptime, the hide and seek champion who refuses to resurface, and the moms at baby yoga sessions who steal side-glances at me and my employer’s infant. One of those teen moms, what a shame, I overhear someone whispering. But I’m not a teen-mom. I’m just the nanny.
Everyone had babysitters growing up. Whether they chased you around the backyard in a game of tag and played one board game after another like Trouble, Monopoly and Mouse Trap, or simply let you watch your favorite Disney movie every Friday night – they were somehow able to distract you from the dreadful fact that yes, your parents had gone out once again, and left you behind.
I’d been babysitting in my neighborhood for a few years when I came across McLaughlin and Kraus’ The Nanny Diaries, a satirical novel about a college girl whose wealthy employers and their spoiled children never fail to put her through hell. Is this where my summer career path is leading me? I wondered, both horrified and entertained by the book. And now, in a time when Beverley Hills Nannies airs on ABC Family, revealing ridiculously high salaries from equally ridiculous employers, I realize there may be a few misconceptions about childcare that need clearing up.
A babysitting position requires plenty of energy, but it is also extremely rewarding when making a connection with the kids. Having served in a country club’s dining room, and catered weddings and events in high school, I can attest to this aspect of childcare that you won’t necessarily find in any other job. Pleasing guests and large parties at a restaurant can be difficult, but bringing a smile to a child’s face can be as easy as putting together a blanket fort, or allowing them to stay up a full ten minutes past bedtime. And at the end of the day, or late at night when their parents come home, any of the previous evening’s mac and cheese-covered struggles are forgotten when you hear, “Thanks so much- we’ll call you next time!”
After working as a full-time nanny in the summer, I thought I’d be leaving babysitting behind when school started this past fall. But I’m able to continue babysitting in my free time in Boston. I can attest to the fact that childcare websites – the ones that allow you to connect with families looking for part-time and full-time child care – are really effective. For college students who like kids, babysitting is a reliable part-time job with flexible hours. No matter where you live, there will always be a parent looking for some free time and a child who would love your company.