Making the decision to go back to work or stay home with your child is not easy, to say the least. Emotions pull you every single possible way. You love your kid, why would you want to leave them? At the same time, you feel compelled to return to work. How do you find someone who can provide your child with the same love and attention that you do?
Whether it works best for you to have day care or a grandparent or relative watch your kid, I somehow was left with no options apart from hiring a nanny. It was the only solution that worked with our family’s crazy schedules. In all honesty, though, I put off the decision probably a little too late.
I had intended to hire someone before I ever delivered, but there was a holiday and then no sleep and then infant life… The excuses mounted quickly. By the time I got around to looking for a nanny, I had also Googled way too many “nanny horror stories.”
(Please, do me a favor and never Google that. You won’t sleep for weeks.)
Still though, the time came when I could no longer procrastinate. And I’m so glad I finally bit the bullet. Our daughter’s nanny is her best friend and second mom, and just a wonderful person. She has helped our family in ways too numerous to count. I can never repay everything she has done for us.
It was not easy to get to that stage, though. Hiring a nanny (or any caregiver) brings with it a lot of mixed emotions: jealousy, fear, grief over leaving your little one, gratitude. Here are some of the ways I made the adjustment much easier.
Your nanny is a person.
A person in charge of your child. Just because you are paying them does not mean they do not deserve a ton of respect. If you are not there, they are the ones changing dirty diapers, wiping pureed prunes off your furniture, and trying to calm your screaming child when the bath is too cold.
They are a part of the family, though it can be hard to admit that to yourself. If you can accept that, they will feel more welcomed and hopefully will keep working through the piles and piles of infant laundry.
Your nanny loves your child.
Well, of course! Your little one is an angel—or a hellion—but still, it’s hard for any daily caregiver not to love their charge. It may be a different kind of love than the one you have, but they love them.
Include your nanny in big celebrations: birthdays, baptisms, first doctor’s visits or whatever you think they would like to join. Try not to feel hurt if your kid calls your nanny “mama” or “dada.” It is a term of endearment for people who are important to them, and over time they will learn the distinctions.
Discuss your expectations up front.
You can’t get mad at someone if they don’t do what you did not ask them to do. You also cannot really expect someone to do something if you did not tell them what to expect.
Think of your work situation. Would you like it if your boss tells you in a performance review that you need to start cleaning the toilets even though that was not in your job description? If you want them to help with laundry, ask. Make reasonable accommodations.
Your nanny has a life of his or her own.
As hard as it is, we need to respect that. Do you like it if your boss hands you a new project at 4:45 pm and tells you it needs to be done ASAP? Of course not. You have groceries to get, dinner to make, kids to hug. Well, your nanny has those needs, too.
Maybe they are trying to break into the music industry or start a new business. Maybe they have a second (or third) job they need to get to immediately after they leave your home. Emergencies happen, but try to respect the schedule. Make a plan where they get paid extra if you are late.
Discuss major changes as early as you can.
If you are cutting back your hours (or extending them), tell your nanny. They may not be able to accommodate these changes. If you are going on vacation, decide whether or not they get paid sick or vacation days. Honestly, you really should do this. Ask yourself if you want them to come to work when they have a fever and the flu because they need to work.
If you have a disagreement, talk to them. Again, they are a person. If they are doing something you don’t like, don’t fire them without telling them why. Give people an opportunity to change. And talk to them honestly about social media sharing. They should not be sharing anything about your kid publicly without your knowledge.
Mary Poppins aside, there are many wonderful nannies and caregivers in the world. If you are trying to decide how to make this initially challenging but ultimately rewarding relationship work, you will. The important thing, as always, is that your child is loved.
Featured Photo Courtesy: T. Carrigan via Flickr
These Are the Most Expensive States for Childcare