The Difference Between Nannying and Babysitting

It’s finally quiet. Glo-Worm, after a morning of screaming over everything, lastly her diaper getting changed, is now peacefully sleeping upstairs. It’s been a rough week – I think Glo-Worm knows that I’m leaving her in less than two weeks. She’s overly clingy, she’s having a hard time transitioning from one activity to another, and she doesn’t want to do anything by herself. I spend most of my days with her balanced on my hip, trying to do things one-handed. Being 15 months old is hard, but it’s part of my job to do my best for her . . . despite my own frustration.

It’s also the difference between being a babysitter and a nanny. Both jobs are caregiving roles, but there are big differences between them. I often am mistakenly labelled as a “babysitter” when I’m out and about with Glo-Worm. It doesn’t bother me – I am a babysitter, but I’m not a babysitter to Glo-Worm. I’m her nanny, and that comes with other responsibilities.

So, what are the differences between babysitters and nannies? Here are five that I can tell you:

1. Nannies do it for longer periods of time: I consider a babysitter to be someone who mostly looks after children for a few hours or at night. There are night nannies, but they generally live with the family and get up with the children at night, performing all the feeding and changing and comforting duties that mostly fall to parents. As a nanny, I’m looking after children for eight hours a day or more, and my job involves a lot more than putting kids to bed and watching TV.

2. More is expected of a nanny: I’m not saying that not a lot is expected of a babysitter, but a babysitter is more of a respite job for the parents. I’m actually taking over for the primary caregiver as a nanny. I rock, comfort, feed and educate children in my care. Glo-Worm and I have a packed day, complete with educational play, outings, meals, naps, and more. I’m helping her transition between bottles and cups. If she was potty-training, I’d be the one potty-training her since I’m here with her in the daytime. That’s a lot more than what I do as a babysitter. I’m also in more trouble if she gets hurt or something happens to her than I normally am as a babysitter. Thankfully, nothing like that has happened yet and I hope it doesn’t!

3. Babysitting is easier money: And this is because I get to do a lot of hanging around and resting when the kids are in bed. I work for my money sometimes – Diva and Footballer can attest to that, with their dual screaming choruses sometimes – but for the most part, I get there an hour before the children go to bed, feed them a snack, get them changed, read a story, and the night is mostly mine. I also don’t feel as much pressure to make sure we’re doing something all the time, whether it be walking or playing or drawing or something. As a nanny, if I’m having downtime, it’s because Glo-Worm is asleep (thankfully).

4. Nannying is a career: I need to have credentials, including First Aid and CPR. People who want me to babysit normally don’t insist on these things as much. I am constantly looking for things to read and courses to take to further my childhood development education. As a babysitter, I’m there to play with the kids. As a nanny, I’m there for a lot more.

5. I’m a lot more tired at the end of a nannying day: Because it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Knowing I can go home at the end of any hard day is wonderful, but knowing I have five more hours of tantrums and crying is grueling, and saps my patience more. Knowing I have another hour before the child goes to bed for the night makes me a lot more patient and understanding with tantrums and crying. I work harder mentally as a nanny, because I need to conserve my strength over a long day to make sure that my care is never faltering.

Lastly, the pay is different between babysitting and nannying. I make a dollar or so less as a babysitter, and up to $3 more as a nanny (this is an average over the nannying jobs I’ve done). It’s understandable – I do more as a nanny.

I love looking after children. I love both the jobs I do, and they have their pros and cons for sure. But those are just a few differences between nannying and babysitting – and I’m sure as time goes on, I’ll have a lot more.

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