5 Tips for Visiting Former Nanny Charges
By Michelle LaRowe
Recently I had the opportunity to visit with the twin boys I cared for from the time they were born until they moved cross-country when they were 6-years-old. It’s been about six years since I was their full-time nanny and this is the third time I’ve had the joy of visiting with them since then. This visit was especially sweet since it was the first time they’ve met my children, who are ages 2 and 4. It was truly magical to see the boys, now teenagers, interact with my children as they played ball together and direct them to be careful while running on the concrete, things I did with them when they were a similar age.
The night before our planned visit I felt like a giddy child myself. I couldn’t sleep, my stomach was in knots, and I was battling anxiety and excitement at the same time. Questions raced through my mind as I tried to force myself to sleep. Did they hold more than a passing memory of our time together? Did I make a difference in their lives? Would they have questions about our time together? What would they remember that I remembered? Did they miss me? Did they know I’ve missed them?
As soon as the sun rose, I was dialing the phone number of a longtime seasoned nanny friend who has stood in my shoes many times before. I was desperate for her advice and here’s what she shared.
- Don’t have any expectations. Go into your visit expecting the unexpected. You can’t control how the visit will go. Just show up and everything else will take care of itself.
- Enjoy the moment. Every long-term nanny / family relationship has ups and downs. Everything that happened then is water under the bridge now. Focus on enjoying the time you have to catch up and reconnect.
- Be yourself. Nannies become a special part of the family because of who they are. When you’ve worked a full-time nanny job for several years, the family has seen the real you and accepted you anyways. Just be you.
- You’ll probably be emotional. Visiting can be bittersweet and bring up a host of emotions. You’ve tucked that chapter of your life in a neatly wrapped package and have carefully and lovingly placed it on a shelf. Now you’re opening it back up again. It can be wonderful to see the children but at the same time sad to think it will be awhile before you get to see them again.
- They want to see you too. Scheduling a visit takes effort. If they didn’t want to see you they wouldn’t have set aside the time to do so.
Nannies play a significant role in the lives of the children and families they care for. They serve as role models, mentors, companions, confidants, teachers, playmates, and disciplinarians. When a nanny transitions out of a position, especially a long-term one, what does she become? A former nanny, of course, but how does she relate to the children once that daily relationship has ended?
Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a one-size fits all answer to that question, but what I do know is my friend’s advice proved true and the questions I had were answered. The kids remembered me and the love I had for them, and even after the years have passed, there is still a special bond that exists. The same will likely be true for you too.