Babysitting Stories · General Ramblings

Criticizing Criticism

In any job, you’re going to get criticism from your boss. This isn’t new, nor should it be – constructive, kindly given criticism helps you improve as an employee, lets you know where you’re falling down, and can even open your eyes to things you didn’t even know you were doing. I’ve gotten a lot of criticism from my nannying clients over the years which I think has helped me to be a better nanny. However, some criticism can be hard to take, and other bits of it might not make sense at all.

So how do you deal with being criticized while remaining professional? It can be hard, especially since your boss in a nannying job is not like your boss in an office job. You become part of the family, almost, when you are nannying, which can make it harder and sometimes a little hurtful to receive criticism from someone that you become quite close to. However, there are ways to deal professionally with nannying criticism without showing your true feelings, making a gaffe, or missing the point – which is to improve.

I’ve gotten a lot of little reminders that help me when I go through my day – this morning, for instance, Glo-Worm’s mother reminded me not to use the vegan margarine because her husband has Celiac disease – oops! But sometimes little notes can help me stay on track, and I always ask my clients to leave me written reminders for my day so that I can read them in a quiet moment and take them to heart. It can be anything from “don’t eat this food we have for supper” to “please make sure that you are cleaning up all messes and using the correct bins for garbage!”.

I also like a nice face-to-face chat with the parents I work for to air any concerns or reminders. For example, SaraBeth, Diva and Footballer’s mom, and I have many a funny and odd face-to-face chat at the end of the day when I babysit. One such funny moment was when I told her that the bottles I used for the twins’ formula were all in the dishwasher, but I used them anyway, and her face drained a bit of colour before she burst out laughing and told me that they were bottles to be washed, not clean bottles! Now she reminds me every time she goes out – “The bottles are in the dishwasher. They are clean/not clean!” LOL!

Occasionally, I have gotten odd or slightly hurtful criticism that can be hard to deal with. One such mother that I worked for back in university would tell me that she felt I was being rude to her, but couldn’t bring up any examples of my rudeness. I learned quickly that she was trying to find a reason to fire me – and I stopped babysitting for her. After a few terse emails about this supposed rudeness, I figured out quickly that the problem wasn’t me, it was her. But how do you remain professional in the face of strange criticism? I simply responded to her emails politely and asked for examples to know what she meant so that I could work on it. When it became clear that she wasn’t really interested in working on whatever problem she had with me, it was time to go. I found another family that made me much happier, and who was willing to work with me.

Nannies aren’t perfect. Nor are parents. But harmonious relationships happen when communication remains open. I welcome constructive criticism because it helps me do my job better – and thankfully, the people I work for are interested in helping me become a better nanny for their children, too.

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