For the past three years I’ve steadily worked as a life and career coach. That’s what you’ll see on my website and mostly hear from me on my blog and in my speeches. It’s work that I adore completely and feel extremely fortunate to have been able to create for myself.
I haven’t been completely forthright about how I spend the entirety of my work week though.
What you probably don’t know about me is that in addition to working as a coach for the past three years I have also worked, and am currently working as of this writing, as a nanny.
It’s not something I usually lead with because caring for small children is far from a prestigious and glamorous job. My mental image of a career coach in particular connotes power, savvy, and corporate success. So I feel slightly embarrassed to tell you about my days spent baking cookies, going to the park, and managing tantrums.
But increasingly friends have begun talking to me in hushed tones about wanting kids or not wanting kids. About balancing career and family. They are both curious to hear my perspective on parenting and fascinated to gain a glimpse into what life just a few years down the road may look like for them.
These conversations have begun to cue me in to the value my experience as a nanny provides.
Having kids is a huge decision and commitment, yet for many adults in their twenties and thirties it can be a real blind spot. First time moms often confide in me that they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. And how could they? It’s like we’re all still in grade school. The fifth graders don’t play with the twelfth graders, which means knowledge of what life is like for another ‘year’ can be obscure.
Perhaps, like my friends, you too would lean in to hear about what life is actually like when kids enter the picture.
And perhaps you’d be interested in hearing my particular perspective. Because in addition to being a nanny I am a coach. Working with kids is a challenging proposition that can tax anyone’s patience and ability to keep their cool. You can bet I’ve coached myself on tough situations and bad days many times over.
The result of my time as a nanny is that I’ve come away with a Mary Poppins-like knowledge of not only how to cope with tears, disobedience, and messes, but also how to fill lazy afternoons with fits of uncontrollable giggles. I’ve learned how to enjoy the experience of working with kids with all its frustrations, tedium, and demands. (I readily acknowledge that the fact that I get to go home and re-set each night and weekend plays a huge role in any skill I’ve gained in raising kids.)
It occurred to me recently that my two jobs are fundamentally identical. They involve creating a loving, safe, intimate environment for people I cherish that supports their growth and maturation. The aptitude I gain in one workplace directly affects the quality of my work in the other. And the knowledge of how to create a life full of joy with kids is very similar to the knowledge of how to help you create a life filled with joy of your own.
So, yes, I am a nanny. And, yes, I am a coach. And yes, I’m damn good at and damn proud of my work in both arenas. It’s high time I acknowledged the truth of who I am, what I do, and what I know. I look forward to incorporating the entirety of my experiences into our conversations in the coming months.