Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nanny LJ by LJ Schroeder

(pictures of my alagas)

Name: Love Joy "LJ" Schroeder
Occupation: Nanny/Home Organizer 

Who would have thought that I will be back to my very first job? Taking care of kiddos! A.k.a. nanny, babysitter, caregiver, yaya, katulong, kasambahay, alipin (ibang era na 'to).  

I remember being the one in-charge of my younger cousins as early as grade school days because I'm the oldest among them. By high school, I led/taught Sunday school for kids and also volunteered as counselor for youth camps. In my last year in high school, I struck a deal with my aunt. I agreed to be the primary caregiver  of her sons (my cousins who were then toddlers) in exchange she will help me pay for my tuition fee in college. You can read an article I wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Youngblood about my previous nannying experience through this link

So after 12 years in media, 4 short months in the hospitality industry, I am back to my roots and I am loving it... well most of the time.  

I've always adored kids and my training when I was younger helped me developed the skills and character that I am putting into great use. But man, things have changed a lot.

When I was younger I knew nothing about CPR or first aid or peanut allergies. Nowadays, especially here in the US- nannies, babysitters or caregivers whether part-time or full-time are mostly required to have a certificate/training to be even considered for the job.

Some employers look for applicants who already have insurance, bond, specific trainings/certificates, references related to the job, licenses and even their own transportation! 

Twice I was turned down because I'm not a mother (yet.) A few times I was told I was overqualified and the employer assumed I might get bored with the job. (Perhaps I should take that as a compliment.)

But I kept the faith and kept on looking. After more than a month of sending applications and a number of interviews- I finally got a full-time nannying job! Since end of November, my regular workday runs from 8-6, Mon-Fri with occasional Saturdays. I also accept part-time housekeeping/babysitting/organizing jobs mostly on weekends and at night. Like most occupations, there are certain things that I love about nannying and things that just makes it a job.  

The perks of being a nanny: Always casual Friday because I don't have to dress-up or wear make-up or even take a shower (not that I don't like cleaning myself or being presentable). No deadlines to beat and lesser stress. Additionally and surprisingly, it pays better than my previous job as a front desk officer. Plus, it's been something I've done or been doing (house chores) for many years. No additional trainings needed, college diploma is optional but you do need to be able to communicate well with your employers and the kids.

The challenges: Caring for two toddlers (one a cancer survivor), teaching them the basics (it's like going to kindergarten all over again) and the long commute. We (my hubby still drives for me) travel about 40-45 mins to work and back, and double that for my loving husband. 

In my previous jobs I talked to celebrities, leaders and politicians now I am teaching a toddler how to s-p-e-l-l and form a sentence. I used to play popular songs as a radio host, now I sing nursery rhymes all day long. I used to produce, travel, attend events, research, write, give awards but now I feed, play, read, clean-up poo poos/pee pees, look for missing socks, organize, put them to bed and put up with their tantrums and break fights.

I have discovered new BFF's too- Dora, Diego, Mickey Mouse, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Train. 

The first few days I felt I was demoted. I was a little demoralized and on the verge of writing myself an invite to a pity-party. 

Then I realized I am living one of my childhood dreams of becoming a teacher, an influencer, an inspiration. I never expected that when my alagas learn the difference between dark blue vs light blue, or that 2+2=4 or that hearing the word PLEASE would give me so much delight and pride. 

The kids hate it when I say my favorite expression C-A-R-E-F-U-L, but could you blame me? God forbid something happens to them, I will not only face the wrath of their parents but also the court. It's a life, a person, his well-being even his future that I am entrusted with. Unlike businesses, customers or products lives can not be replaced. I always have to be mindful of this important fact every single day.

I was having a conversation with another Asian a few days ago. She was complaining about her husband not being a sipsip to the bossings so he would get a promotion. She then asked me, "How about you Lj, have you learned the art of kissing someone's behind (she actually used the a- word)

I answered, "Nah, it's not my personality."  Looking back, I would have answered it differently. I'd probably say, I'd rather clean someone's behind (hopefully a baby's) than kiss it.

It's not the most glamorous job (like the previous jobs I've had) but I can certainly see myself doing this for long and possibly to my own soon... maybe this year? God-willing. :)