Who’s Your Nanny?
Journal excerpts from what I learned as a nanny before becoming a pediatric chiropractor.
What’s the first picture to come to mind when you hear the word “nanny”? Old? Weird? Mrs. Doubtfire playing air guitar?
Being a nanny is just one notch below parenting, but also one notch above “cool babysitter.” Sometimes, depending on how parents run the household, a lot of the stress can fall on the caretaker. It’s not enough to love being around kids (because I actually used to LOVE it); it’s about finding a balance between “Hey, let’s have fun today!” and “This is not how we were taught to behave, Henry.”
One family I just finished working for is incredibly free-spirited when it comes to raising their twin 3-year olds. Maybe a little too free-spirited…? Seriously. Their home is like the episode of Friends when Ross dates that attractive anthropologist who literally lives in a pigsty. I completely admire the family’s love for books and nature, though. They schedule time for family hikes, trips to the museum, the library, and arts and crafts. They have to be a special breed of parents. Every day the kids learn new words, such as dormant and collage, with their breakfast games. They have “word parties” where they spend hours spelling words out with magnets on the refrigerator or on a Scrabble board. The kids also have new art projects hanging on the walls every week. During our “nanny and me” time, we play “Museum” so they can talk about their art and what it represents.
Reminder: These kids are THREE. It’s beyond inspiring seeing how much these kids’ brains are developing with their constant knowledge-filled environments. At 3 years old, these kids can name and point to more states and countries on a map than your average 5th grader. That’s not a joke. My only thing is…well, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a clean learning environment. Maybe vacuum the place a bit. Maybe a little mop. I’ve never said anything out loud though. They’re busy. And they’ve asked me not to clean, so I can mainly focus on the babies. I digress.
If you take away the exploding diapers, the ear-splitting screams, and the constant parental texts asking, “Are you free to nanny tomorrow?” I’d say it’s been rewarding watching these little humans grow into who they are. Henry couldn’t properly pronounce “earring” when we first started, and now he can spell it and say the word in Spanish. Their brains are amazing. Should I be a professional baby brain development monitor? Is that a thing? I don’t know. Maybe the next time I’ll appreciate being around kids again will be when I have my own.
Did I mention I got into chiropractic school? I start in a couple months. I’m excited to work with adults again; I think I’ve played enough hide-and-seek and kid games. I’m ready for real adult stuff. Which reminds me: I should probably hold onto the cute cards they made me. You know, just in case.
I wrote that the summer before starting chiropractic school— having no clue there was a branch within the profession that focused on pediatric chiropractic and brain development. The amount of irony in the final paragraph is incredible. I still think about that family often. They never compromised their parenting principles. So simple, and it made a huge difference in how those kids developed in the year I got to spend with them.
Some of those beautiful principles any pediatric chiropractor, or any parent, can implement include:
Dirt don’t hurt. As healthcare professionals, we have to be mindful to maintain a tidy space. So this applies more to parents. When allowed to play in the dirt, your children are likely to be running, jumping, crawling, and cartwheeling through it. Add a parasympathetic chiropractic adjustment, and you have one balanced kid! Exploring outside also gives children the freedom to exercise their curiosity and develop problem-solving skills. And hands-on activities like gardening give young minds the opportunity to explore concepts about science, responsibility, conservation, and nutrition.
Scheduled blocks of family time. Family time is an essential factor that helps to create strong bonds, love, connections, and relationships. Spending quality time with family helps in coping with challenges, instilling feelings of security, inculcating family values, filling kids with confidence, and so much more. Plus, families who get adjusted together, bond together!
Books over screens. Reading calms the nerves, activates the language and reasoning aspects of the brain, and can even keep you mentally alert as you age. TV, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. Reading books, and even just being around books, increases the amount and level of communication.
Imagination. Let’s not take life too dang seriously! Imagination influences everything we do, think about, and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams, and inventions in any profession, from the realms of academia to engineering and the arts. Silliness is key!
The above listed are a few learned lessons from my time as a nanny, and how beautifully they can be applied to my profession. Whether you’re an aspiring pediatric chiropractor, a parent, or any other child development professional, I invite you to reflect on lessons you’ve learned in any past job and how you can apply them going forward.