Let me start this off by saying I am not a parent (yet) so no I do not understand exactly what being a parent means. I am aware of this. I really have no room to tell people how to parent. But I am a nanny and have been for nearly 7 years now. While I do not know the 24/7 lifestyle that a parent must endure I do come pretty close. On average I am with the children that I care for from the minute they get out of school until the minute they close their eyes and fall asleep. That is a lot of time to be with children that are not your own.
This is my plea to parents.
Please come home to your children.
As I am writing this I am listening to the four year old cry from his bedroom, “I want mommy”, over and over and over again. I have sat in there and read him books, I have turned his night light on, I have tickled his back, I have told him repeatedly that mommy will be home soon and yet he still can’t fall asleep because he doesn’t know when she will be home and that scares him. I cannot calm that fear. Only you can.
I understand that sometimes work keeps you late. Friends have birthday parties. You and your husband / wife need a dinner alone every once in a while. Sometimes you want to go shopping without a little kid pulling at your leg. That is all fine. You are human. I can handle that. What I can’t handle is parents who decide that they would rather spend every night together outside of their home, away from their children.
You may be wondering why. What harm is it really causing? Here are a few things you don’t realize are happening with your children when you choose to stay late at work more nights than you choose to come home and tuck them into bed:
1. They act out and become unruly, not only for me, but for every adult that they encounter because they are seeking attention that I cannot give them. They are wanting me to tell you about their bad behavior because maybe then you will give them the attention that they are craving from you. Please give them this attention. They need it. They crave it. They are begging for it.
2. You are missing out on little moments that they share with each other. The moments when they are all finally getting along. The games that they make up together. The movies that they are laughing at, the books that they are reading, the pictures that they are drawing. I think back to my childhood and some of my favorite memories are when my dad would come home and play kickball with us in the front yard or when my mom would actually join in our dance parties or when we’d have an air hockey tournament in the basement. Your children are making those memories with me, and while I do appreciate them, I will not cherish them like you would.
3. You are unable to fully grasp how your child is advancing in school. I know the areas your kids are struggling in. I am the one talking to their tutors, sitting with them while they work on their homework, listening to their questions, helping them solve problems. I am fully aware that helping with homework was part of the job description, I do not mind helping with this, but if you never see them do it, how will you ever know what they’re learning?
4. They are coming to me for advice more often than they are coming to you. I don’t think this is because they trust me more, I think it’s just because they see me more. I am there right away to hear about what happened at school, who was being mean to who, what they didn’t like in a certain class, etc. I wish they could confide in you more. They need it.
5. They don’t like eating dinner together because they’ve never been shown that family dinner is important. How could they? You’re never here to eat it with them.
6. Lastly, you are keeping me from my family. You are deciding that I don’t get to go home and be with my family and make memories of my own. Overtime, this will wear me down and that will start to affect my performance while at work and neither of us want that to happen. I cannot sit in your living room wondering what time I will get to go home every night of the week. That is not something you’d want for yourself so please don’t make it something that you expect me to be OK with. Getting home at 10pm, 12am, or 2am Monday – Friday is not a lifestyle that anyone would willingly walk into. Don’t make me regret my decision to give you my flexibility.
This is not written to shame you for being hard workers or for loving your career. It is good that your children see that in you. This is simply written because I honestly do not think that parents are aware of all the things going on when they are not home. I’m writing this because I don’t want you to look back when your kids have moved out and it’s then that you realize that you don’t have these memories with them. You will beg for that time back and you won’t get it.
Come home and be with your children. They need you more than they need me. I promise.