For the first year and a half after my maternity leave, I had what we call around here a “nanny share”, which means two babies from different families and one caregiver. The cost is a little more than half of having ones own nanny, and a nanny share is a common childcare solution for working families in the Bay Area.
The care took place at my house on a daily basis. Taddy was a nurturing middle-aged woman from Eritrea and she had many years of experience. She took the boys for walks in the stroller — we bought a used side-by-side double stroller for her to use — put them in our high chair and the exersaucer to feed them at the same time, and put Julian to sleep in his crib and Paxton to sleep in the Pack ‘n Play in my bedroom.
While we were at work, leaving the feeding and napping of our baby to the nanny, we asked that she capture all the details in a notebook we left on the kitchen counter. Here’s a page out of it, filled with a couple days worth of notes from the nanny.
I’m guessing there’s an app for that now.
I had a short commute — about 15 minutes — while Taddy worked for us, so I had her come 30 minutes before I started work and leave 30 minutes after.
I asked that Taddy do Julian’s laundry, but she did all the laundry in the house, exceeding my expectations. She also transformed our lazy-ass bed-making into crisp, smooth sheets each day. Coming home from work to a happy, well-rested baby, empty hampers and hotel-like beds was dreamy and worth every penny.
She washed all dishes used by Julian and any that were in the sink. We didn’t have a dishwasher at the time. She also kept the floor in the dining room and kitchen clean because she swept up after the babies ate and played.
I kept a spreadsheet on my computer of hours she worked for us and wrote her a check each week.
On the advice of a full-time working mom friend who is a lawyer, I printed out an informal contract for us both to sign before she started working for us. Although it was awkward, it made me feel better to have said aloud and gotten agreement on rate of pay, vacation time, and some common sense things like that use of drugs and alcohol during work hours was not permitted.
Included in the agreement were the details that pertained to supporting my breastfeeding relationship at the beginning of her employment. Ideally Julian would not be fed for the last hour of my workday so that when I arrived home he would be ready to nurse.
Google “nanny agreement” or “nanny contract” to find some samples if you are in need of one.
Eventually, some things came up in Taddy’s personal life that forced us to end our relationship. Unlike having one’s child in a day care, employing a nanny means that you are subject to her sick days and schedule conflicts. But all that clean laundry might be worth it. I suppose it depends on your workplace and how taking a day off or half-off would impact you and/or your partner.
Since Julian was about 18 months old when Taddy left us, we definitely mourned the loss of her in our lives, but not as extremely as those who are lucky enough to have the same person with them for many years.
We hired a new person, a recent college graduate with plenty of childcare experience. Because the boys were now toddlers, I felt good about having this fit, energetic person around them. This transition was stressful, but what I realized is that once you have children, arranging childcare is an ongoing project. After hiring Taddy, I mistakenly thought, “Okay, we’re settled”, but now that I have big kids in school, I know that constantly worrying about and making these arrangements is part of the new normal. There will always be exceptions, days that you need more coverage and school vacations. Having an arsenal of childcare solutions is critical for working parents.
At age two, we moved Julian and Paxton into a small school setting where they were with a group of two to four-year olds with two or three teachers.
Have you ever hired a nanny? Did you have a different experience?
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