When Susan Loveridge saw a classified ad in the Star Tribune for Minneapolis-based Nannies from the Heartland three years ago, her initial reaction was, "Nanny? Nah." But the ad drew her back over several weeks, and she finally decided she should call to find out more. As it turned out, that ad launched her on a new career.
Loveridge had spent 38 years working as an RN in newborn intensive care and the emergency room. "I was getting dissatisfied with the job," she said. "From 75 percent wonderful and 25 percent stress, it had gotten to be the reverse."
Her first long-term assignment from Nannies from the Heartland was with a newborn; she stayed with the baby for eight months until the family relocated. She did a temporary assignment for 11-year-old twins. Currently, she's in another long-term placement that started when the child was three months old; he's now 10 months. "I've kept in close contact with all my families," Loveridge said.
The hours, schedule and tasks vary by assignment. Her current schedule is three 10-hour days, but she's also worked from 9a.m. to 1p.m., with some Saturdays. When she tended the 11-year-olds, she said, "I was the nanny, but I became the household manager -- shopping, getting the kids where they needed to go." On her current assignment, "We walk two or three hours a day. We go to the park and do things together." She also keeps a journal that updates parents on the day's events.
If she has downtime, "I like to be active, doing dishes or laundry. Some nannies won't do that." On the other hand, an occasional break is welcome because of the intensity of the work. "It's constant one-on-one," Loveridge said. "You're teaching and inventing with this child."
She has been able to travel "a bit" -- Boston, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Florida. "Those are fun because you have some time for yourself," she said. She's seen ads for international assignments. "That would be fabulous to me, but I don't know how my husband would feel."
All of her engagements have come through Nannies from the Heartland. "They have a very high standard," she said. "They do a background check, make sure you're current in CPR. They know both sides, the nanny and the family, and they try to match you up. They make sure you're safe, too." (See nanniesheartland.com for more info.)
Could anyone who is a good parent become a good nanny?
No. There's a big difference from being a parent. The two biggest things you need are kindness and patience.
How do you begin a new assignment?
We draw up contracts and talk about everything important. I want them to be honest about how things are going. If they're unhappy, they should tell me. We talk about their family values. I may have my own ideas, but I will do what the family wants done. When you meet with a new family, you're both interviewing.
What's the best part of the job?
I like the autonomy. I know what's expected of me, but nobody is looking over my shoulder. The parents can tell whether their child is happy. It's a privilege to watch a child grow. It's a blessing to be involved.