Ever taken two full bags of your bosses ball gowns to the charity shop instead of the dry cleaner? No? Just me then (hangs head in shame).
This is a true story.
A week later I got asked “oh Emilie, can you just pop to the dry cleaners and get the dresses you dropped there for me last week?”. My boss had been cleaning out her wardrobe and decided that four bags were to go to the charity shop two weeks prior, it was something I always happily helped with when caring for her children. I scooped the baby up and off we trotted to town. The baby (18 months old) helped me carry the bags to the charity shop then we would spend time at the park before a quick baby chino at the local cafe.
The week after she brought down two more bin bags full of clothes, this time full of beautiful ball gowns full to the brim. After placing them on the kitchen floor she asked if I could “drop these off?”. Happily I asked my assistant (18 months old) to help me do this job and off we trotted again. I didn’t think anything of it. Until a week later....
The look I gave the housekeeper when I was asked if I could collect the dry cleaning today must have been priceless. The housekeeper and I were really good friends and we supported each other. She knew me well and she knew something was very wrong. I walked out of the kitchen after telling my boss that this was not a problem and made a hasty retreat to the playroom to check on my charge. The housekeeper was soon to follow. I blurted “Jess I don’t know what to do, I took her dry cleaning to the charity shop". After she stopped half laughing half gasping, she replied “what have you done!!”, rather shocked. There was only one thing I could do....
“Mrs Boss, I took your dry cleaning to the charity shop". The ground sadly didn’t swallow me up and Scotty was nowhere to be seen when all I wanted was for him to beam me up, so I had no choice but to wait for the scream of horror. I was frog-marched all the way into town to the charity shop to help search for them all. The charity shop was so good and did all they could to help find them. My boss managed to retrieve the majority of them but there were some very happy ladies in that town that week walking around in ball gowns that were an absolute steel.
Yes, this was one of the toughest days I think I had faced so far but this leads me on to lesson three....
Nannying is going to cause heartache and at times heartbreak don’t sweat the small stuff. What happened was avoidable. It was a combination of many factors. Was it part of my job? Should I have asked for clarification before taking these away? Should she have done this job herself? The bottom line as far as I am concerned is very clear, your only concern first and foremost is the children in your care. Their well being is paramount. From the outset try to make things very clear. What is my role? what am I being asked to do, is this what a nanny does? There are so many questions.
Be your own advocate for yourself, only you can say what you can and can’t do within your remit. Interviews; these are not only for you to be interviewed but also for You to interview the family, ask questions and be as honest and open as you can. Ask employers what they expect from you from the outset, make It clear what you are and are not prepared to do. You are one person and cannot successfully and fully be the best at your job if you are being asked to be a Nanny, Housekeeper, Gardener, Dog walker, Chef, Chief taxi driver, authoritarian and all round awesome person if things are not made clear from the outset. Have things clear in your head what you want from not just the job but from life in general and what you are and are not prepared to sacrifice to do the job. None of this means you need to say ‘sorry that’s not my job therefore I can't do that’, I always like to try to help out any family in any way I can but I now step back and asses what I am being asked to do but also if it is not going to negatively impact my charges.
Aim for the happy medium. For the dream job you may need to give up some things but it’s a balance and achieving the happy place in between. If you can learn to navigate all of this before starting a job, then you will be on a good start. Caring for children is the best job in the world (well in my world it is) but be clear in your approach to the way you deal with your charges. Spend time with any potential children you will be caring for, so you really get a feel for who they are.
You want to be their nanny for as long as possible, so aim to do what you can and do that well instead of doing three jobs in one and ending up being so exhausted that you end up suffering exhaustion and finding another job. You are their hero so be the best you can be for as long as you possibly can. You will be in their hearts forever.
Twenty years later my ex-boss and I still laugh about the day I took all her ball gowns to the charity shop ........Top Tip; don't take the ball gowns to the charity shop.
My next Blog is going to focus on how it feels to be a person who is on the Autistic spectrum and how different the world really is to us, from how I process information to how scary life really can get sometimes but also the skills I hope I can offer you to help any charges you may have that are on the spectrum.
Emilie has been a nanny for 23 Years. She’s currently working as a Nanny/PA and lives in the South of the UK. Emilie lives with her dog. When Emilie is not working, she enjoys exploring local footpaths and camping. She also volunteers as a Community First Responder for the Ambulance Service in her local area which she does to give back to her community.