This blog, written anonymously by a nanny, is part of an ongoing series of blogs written by caregivers across the country as they share their experiences of navigating the pandemic. If you have a unique point of view on the pandemic and how it has affected your career or job, please email shenandoah@adventurenannies.
I’ve been in the industry for well over a decade, dappling in different niches to keep boredom at bay. Travel nanny, by far, has been my “thing” – often my home away from home. Between the ever-changing chaos, catching planes and waking up in different countries I was committed to the permanency of the role. For the past several years, I booked gigs every couple of months until March when a family asked me to come on the road with them for the foreseeable future.
I was stoked, planning out the year ahead of me. However, we watched as the pandemic quickly unfolded, flipping everyone’s plans upside down. I remember flying home in the beginning of everything, overthinking everyone’s coughs and sneezes. Overnight, I found my career indefinitely decimated and just like everyone else hunkered down at home to wait out the upcoming weeks.
“We should shop for 4-6 weeks and make sure we have nowhere to go”, my partner said after making a split-second decision to stay at our homebase. “I’m not sure you should go back to your regular job”, they also announced. I do, in fact, have a ton of jobs so you can imagine it was an unnatural feeling for me to cease working. They abandoned their apartment back in NYC for six months, something we just recently returned to (it was a dissociating-like feeling trying to pick up where we all left off as the virus continues to run rampant).
Weeks have turned into months which have left me constantly questioning a new career path. I would find myself pacing most days, asking my partner out loud what I should do. “What decision should I make?”, I would ask multiple times a day, standing in my living room. Now our living room as they had returned home from the epicenter that first week of March.
As the weeks continued to pass by, finances became a dark, looming cloud that seemed like it took forever to lift. Unemployment took just under nine weeks to be approved and I was unfortunately unable to work outside of the home due to being immunocompromised. It’s not something I share very often unless the topic arises or I have entrusted a fellow friend within the industry. This just posed more questions than ever. What if I go back to work, even traditional nannying at home — will I get sick? Was that family following the same strict guidelines I followed every single day?
I did make the decision to work with a family I wholeheartedly trusted, we even had a very candid conversation about hygiene practices and social distancing. They promised “we have barely left the house”, “we aren’t seeing anyone”, “we only grocery shop and run errands as needed”. “No shoes in the house.” Within less than a week, that all became glaringly untrue and I had to part ways immediately with them. It was an emotional event, one that left me sad and full of anger. I just found myself constantly thinking, “do you not care about others’ safety?” I remember breaking out into a sweat after they announced they had spent the weekend away with friends.
After this event occurred was when I really pushed to start working from home as much as possible. The peace of knowing that I have more control over my environment while still being able to participate in the household world was a true blessing. As this slowly unraveled itself, I was able to pick-up some hours with a trusted friend – parents who I knew were being cautious given our current climate.
As an individual who finds themselves with their heart invested in the industry, I find myself not being able to leave. Instead, within that puzzle, I am now working 2 roles; as part-time nanny and an ad-hoc administrative assistant. I can promise I never have less than two jobs! This worked out “well” for the workaholic in me. I have found myself doing administrative work in the past, as well as ad-hoc projects for a variety of agencies and slowly fell in love with it overtime. In some ways, ironically, COVID-19 has opened a lot of doors for me. There are a lot of opportunities that may not have arisen otherwise, all of which I am extremely grateful for.
I’m unsure of what the future holds, just like many of my fellow household employees, but I find myself rethinking nannying entirely as time goes on. I work with my one lovely family at my home base, but it never quite brings the same enjoyment that travel work did. You can imagine, it has surprisingly not been a difficult decision to make to pursue working “behind the scenes” of the household industry.
Even though it ended up being a no-brainer to take steps to switch my career, I’ll always have a special place in my heart working as a nanny. As you can see from a small look into my current life, I’m still at it twice a week! Mostly, I am still “grieving” not actively being a travel nanny. There’s always a nostalgic moment mixed with sadness and happiness when an employer reaches out or a picture pops up. Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself at it again when the pandemic “runs its course” — whatever that may look like. Until then, I hope whoever reads this knows they’re not the only one who may be contemplating a career change. Even if it’s just you and I (which it’s definitely not), making a career change is not easy, so be gentle on yourself. Give yourself room to contemplate, to be sad about everything happening in our world and know that at the end of the day you’ll make a decision. The reality is it may not always be the right decision, but you’ll choose a path and everything is going to be okay in the end.