Armonk Nanny Elvina Greenaway on Kids, Parents, and Everything In Between
After moving from Montserrat to the United States, Greenaway built on her degree in childcare by starting a career in professional nannying for Westchester’s families.
Photo by John Rizzo
Tell us about your current job.
I’m a live-out nanny for a family in Armonk with two boys, 8 and 5.
Do you have any formal training as a nanny?
I received a degree in childcare from St. John’s Ambulance Brigade in Montserrat and, after I came to the US, I took some classes at Bronx Community College in childcare. My first employers were two pediatricians and so they taught me a lot. I am also certified in CPR.
How does child-rearing differ between your native country and the US?
It’s a little more strict there—kids go to be bed earlier and don’t have late nights with the parents. And, in Montserrat, kids first go to school at age 5. Here, they start much earlier.
Do you have any kids?
I have one son, who is 30. He was 4½ when I moved here. He stayed with my mother back home until I was able to bring him here when he was 13.
Wasn’t that difficult, raising someone else’s kids when you couldn’t be with your own?
Yes, it was very hard, but I knew he was well taken care of and we spoke on the phone two or three times a week. The sacrifice was worth it, though, as I was able to come here and make a better life for him.
What are your main duties?
Driving the kids to school and their activities—I use one of my employer’s cars—doing their laundry, and preparing dinner for them.
What’s the going rate for live-out nannies in the County?
Usually about $20 to $30 dollars an hour, with extra for overtime.
What do you think about reality shows like Nanny 911 and Supernanny?
The one thing I differ with is that the nannies usually get the kids to sleep by putting them down and letting them cry. I don’t like to see toddlers crying themselves to sleep. I prefer to soothe them and rock them to sleep in my arms until they are at least 2½ or 3.
How have parents changed in the 25 years you’ve been doing this?
Every family is different, but it seems like parents are more involved now, in things like what the kids eat. The technology has changed with cellphones so they are in contact with me more.
And the kids?
Kids used to play with toys more. Now they are in many more activities.
Do you think Westchester moms and dads are ‘helicopter’ parents?
It depends on the parents. Some parents, if they are at work all day, may hover over their kids a bit when they come home, but that’s natural; they want to be involved. And, of course, the world is different now and more dangerous, so you’ve got to watch your kids more.
What’s the most satisfying thing about being a nanny?
Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they are happy and how excited they are to see me in the morning.
And the hardest part of the job?
Leaving a family and the kids. You have a relationship with the kids and so it’s painful when you have to leave.
What surprises you most about Westchester parents?
A lot of the moms are at home; they don’t have to go to work.
And their kids?
They have a lot of technological toys, especially more computer games and educational toys and iPads. When I started, it was not so much.
What are the most common mistakes parents make with their kids?
I’m not going to say that in print!
What’s been the best gift you’ve received from a family?
One girl, when she was learning to write at 5, wrote a little book about how she loves me. That was 20 years ago and I still have it.