Lessons Learned from Being a Stay-at-Home Auntie

I have the best job. I like to call myself a stay-at-home auntie. A few months ago, my sister-in-law started working full-time after finishing her maternity leave. I was lucky enough that she and my brother asked me to take care of my nephew while they were at work. That was the plan since Michael was born, and I was so excited to spend more time with my nephew. I’ve spent a lot of time with kids in the past, through babysitting when I was a teenager, and especially since becoming an auntie five and a half years ago, so I didn’t think watching Michael would be a challenge whatsoever. Now that I’ve been doing it for nearly three months, I’ve learned a few things and thought I’d share them with you today.

  1. Even good kids are a lot of work. Michael is one of the best babies I’ve ever known. He’s happy the majority of the time, and even when he’s upset, he’s not inconsolable. He’s good at telling me what he wants (with pointing and grunts) and can say “please” and “thank you” in sign language, so he’s got good manners too. Plus, he’s so cute, and I’m not even biased on that one. Strangers will stop to comment on how cute he is, and he just flashes his winning smile. Because of all of this, I thought spending my days with Mikey would be a breeze. Sometimes they are a breeze, and honestly I’ve never had a really terrible day with him (there were a few days when he was teething badly and had a cold when he wasn’t very happy, but it wasn’t terrible), but I didn’t expect to feel so tired at the end of our days together, or hope that nap time lasted a little bit longer.
  2. I get why parents eat treats out of view of kids. I used to laugh when moms talked about locking themselves in the bathroom to eat a chocolate bar, but thought that it was silly and didn’t really understand it. I get it now though. Michael’s a smart kid and perks up at the sound of a chip bag, gets to me as fast as he can from the other side of the room and is saying “please” because he wants what I have. Now nap times are the time to eat a treat I don’t want to share.
  3. Moms work much harder than I could have imagined. I know that I only spend about 8-9 hours with Michael a day, and he’s 14 months and past the trying stage of being a newborn, but I have a greater appreciation for all that moms and dads do. I still haven’t quite figured out the balance between having a child in my home and cleaning my home. I like things clean and mostly organized (still working on that one), so not having time to do as much cleaning as I’d like during the day (I prefer to read or blog while he naps so the house is quiet since we’re in tight quarters) has been a challenge for me. I’m learning to work through my controlling nature though, and realizing that things don’t have to be perfect for people to be in my home, so that’s a good thing.
  4. Love for a child never stops growing. I love all of my nieces and nephews, and know that the more time I spend with them, the more that love grows, but I wasn’t anticipating how much it would change in the last three months. I’ve been able to catch a glimpse of what parents must feel for their children, and it’s incredible having that small measure of unconditional love for a child. I’m pretty sure my heart has grown at least five times its normal size in the last three months, and I imagine it will only continue.

I’m so lucky that I have the opportunity to spend my days with such an amazing child and that his parents trust me enough to leave him in my care while they sacrifice to provide for him. I’ve always known that being a auntie was special, but now I know for sure that it’s the best.