I had a problem. Both my 6-year old daughter and 4-year old son were going to school five days a week – and we still had a full-time nanny.
I needed our nanny in the morning, and at noon to pick up my son from preschool. But from 9-12 she wouldn’t have any kids to care for. Should I still pay her?
Based on our nanny-contract, I owed her 40-hours worth of payment. And logistically, I couldn’t expect her to arrive at 7, leave at 9 and come back at 12. That wouldn’t be fair. I feared she’d get fed up and quit.
Panic began to set in. She’d been with us for 3 years, she was a huge part of my children’s lives and she made our life work. She was part of our family – and even loved my dogs as much as my kids!
Above all else I couldn’t imagine finding someone new. What would that do to my kids? What would that do to my stress level? Isn’t continuity of care critical? Would this be (another) reason my kids would end up in the therapist’s chair talking about how their childhood was troubled because their mom was away at work all the time?
I had two choices: do anything possible to keep my nanny for as long as possible, (provided it made financial sense for both of us) or look for someone else.
I turned to my husband for support. Not surprisingly, he overlooked the emotional aspect of the decision and simply could not get his head around why we would ever pay someone for time they aren’t technically working.
So I turned to my mom. Her response to finding someone new? “Are you nuts?” she asked. “Do you understand how often your kids get sick and have to miss school? You should do whatever you need to do to keep her!” Then she listed all sorts of chores she could do while the kids were in school.
That was a total “a-ha!” moment. I realized that my nanny had spent 3 years making our life as a family work—purely by taking care of the kids. But now, she could do even more. She could do laundry (I had to get over her seeing my underwear!), go grocery shopping, buy all the birthday party presents, and even take the dogs to the vet every once in a while. And on sick days and random holidays, I didn’t have to miss work. I also flexed her hours one day a week so my husband and I could have a much needed date night.
I learned two great lessons from all of this: trying to do everything means everything gets done half as well as you would like (so get some help!) — and, Moms are always right!
Oh, and by the way, a year and a half later, we had a third child, and needed our full-time nanny again. And who better than the person who helped us raise the other two?