Heather Magill found the perfect babysitter to watch her kids when she hired Josh. He fit all of the criteria the Beverly resident was looking for in someone to watch her 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter on a regular basis: He was available when she needed him. He was super friendly. He fit her budget. And he had a lot of energy.
Then someone asked her thoughts on hiring a male babysitter. “I appreciate the fact that my children get to build a relationship with caring adult men, as well as women, and to see him doing childcare and dishes,” Magill says. “My 5-year-old son is very affectionate and loves to play ‘daddy’ to dolls and stuffed animals. I am glad that he has good role models in both Josh and my husband.”
While some people don’t consider hiring a male babysitter or nanny, other families find it beneficial for their kids to have good male role models who enjoy watching children.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that men may not be good at things like cooking and cleaning, says Lynn Perkins, CEO of UrbanSitter.com, a website used by many local families to find sitters. “I think [male sitters] are equally qualified,” she says.
Perkins says she has seen a rise in the number of men posting sitter profiles on UrbanSitter.com in the last few years, with 20 male sitters currently available for hire in the Boston area. It usually takes them longer to get jobs than the female sitters, she says, but that’s starting to change with a new feature offered on the site in which sitters post two-minute videos of themselves.
Benefits of a Male Nanny
Some families seek out a male caregiver for their kids for a variety of reasons. Perkins says she’s known single moms who sought out “mannies” because they wanted their kids to have a male role model.
Gail, who resides in Shrewsbury, was looking for a male babysitter for her two sons. She reached out to SeekingSitters.com and found Greg – it was a perfect fit.
He was a college student at George Mason University, had a lot of experience with kids and seemed like a really nice guy. Greg organized fun activities and Gail’s kids never complained while in his care.
“My boys are active. They like to play sports. They like to talk about things like cars and trucks,” Gail says. “I think a male sitter could relate to them, keep them active and talk ‘boy talk’ with them.” With her two boys in hockey, Gail understands how boys would benefit from a male nanny. “I just think that a male sitter would naturally be engaged during their practices and be able to debrief the game or practice with the boys better than I could.”
Greg says he’s always enjoyed being around children. In high school, he volunteered in an after school program for younger kids. “It was there that I realized how awesome it was working with kids,” he says. “I felt as if I was someone they could look up to and therefore, I tried to set a positive example of how to act and handle situations that may arise. It was a good feeling being able to give back to a school that I attended, and working with kids made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile with my time.”
Currently, he’s a communications and business major, and says he hopes his job with children will be helpful in that area. “Sometimes problems arise and arguments happen, but being able to calm them down and figure out a positive solution is the best. It makes you feel like you have made some sort of a difference, especially when working with kids who have some behavioral issues,” he says. “Being patient with the kids and becoming a role model of sorts makes me feel that I am not only doing my job, but going above and beyond. It’s a great feeling.”
Childcare Still Dominated by Women
While attitudes are gradually changing, childcare workers are still predominately women.
“There are just not a lot of men going into childcare careers,” says Stephanie Ackerman, co-owner of SeekingSitters.com, a nanny agency that services the Boston area. Of the 60 SeekingSitters.com nannies looking for work in this area, only two are men, she says.
“We had a family who had a son with Asperger syndrome, and the son responded well to a male,” Ackerman notes. “We also have families with boys, and a male sitter is a better fit as the family is looking for someone to play sports with them or keep them active.”
“I think that nannying and babysitting have such a stigma of being primarily ‘female’ jobs, however, I completely disagree,” Greg asserts. “In the current day, both sexes are taking on all sorts of occupations. It’s important to remember that kids need a positive male influence just as much as they need a positive female influence and I’m glad that I traveled outside of the social norms to give childcare a shot.”