Nanny Or Not...
This vital subject would definitely come up at least once in every new parent's mind, especially working mums.
I mean the 3 months maternity leave (obtainable in Nigeria) flies by so very fast, faster than Bolts.
And then the anxiety would begin. How would my baby cope? Will s/he feed very well while I'm away? Will s/he adapt and adjust to my absence fast enough? Will s/he cry the whole time I'm gone?
For me, the questions were endless. I mean, I had barely adjusted to my new role than it was time to go back to work. The first time was hard and the second time wasn't any easier too. In fact, both times left me seriously considering giving up my job to take care of my babies.
We worked with two different nannies for both kids. Two kids with different personalities. Two women from different backgrounds yet alike in a significant way.
To this day, a part of me still blame myself for my first son, D1 being 'light-weighted'. It so happened that his nanny would mix his milk with lots of water, going against the instructions given her and I was none the wiser as I only got to know after 2 years when she came visiting!
I went back to work after 3 months but still wanted to try the exclusive breastfeeding method for my son. So I invested in two breast pumps -an electric and a manual one. Serious business indeed.
I would express breast-milk overnight and preserve in the fridge against the next day. As I never could pump enough due to stress and some other factors, this had to be supplemented by formula on exhaustion. After a month, I couldn't keep up with the pace and stress and switched over completely to SMA Gold for him. Now breast-milk is lighter in color and consistency to the eyes than formula but my nanny felt both should have the same consistency through and through. Dunno where she was trained.
She would then dilute the SMA milk with water and feed the boy. I just observed he was always hungry and not gaining weight as expected apparently because he wasn't getting enough nutrients. I felt something wasn't quite right and asked questions but couldn't pin-point exactly what. He would latch on to the breast from evening till morning, he practically slept with it in his mouth and now I don't blame him at all but then it wasn't funny. No kidding.
The poor boy was just subsisting on slightly colored water from morning till evening. So much for doing the right thing by him and getting him one-on-one care.
Got noone to blame but me. I made that decision, right?
Employing a nanny to take care of your precious child is serious business and should be treated with the gravity it deserves. I mean, you are putting your trust and faith in a complete stranger, in most cases and you would agree with me that the times are terrible now. One cannot be too careful.
An article I read on Daily Mail just brought it all back and made me re-examine the choices I made years back. Maybe this would be useful for someone in the middle of making that all important decision.
Having a nanny to provide one-on-one care for your baby at home is great, awesome even, but it is not without its merits and demerits.
For us, our reasons were not far-fetched- we wanted our babies to enjoy the undivided attention of a carer for the first one year of their lives, we wanted to minimise exposure as much as possible to germs, etc
Plus it really made life easier for me as a working mum, the mornings were less stressful on me as well as them as I didn't have to wake them up very early to bathe and prepare for the day or subject their tender lives to the hectic traffic situations everyday.
Hint: In Lagos State, Nigeria, we get up as early as 4am in order to beat the morning traffic in order to get to work on time.
Advantages of having a nanny
- Employing a nanny to care for your baby at home ensures your child stay in familiar environment, there's little or no disruption to their system when you return to work. S/he plays with his/her own toys and there's a sense of security that comes with the familiar surroundings - the home s/he has come to know and love.
- Your baby eats, plays and sleep on his/her own schedule, they develop at their own pace at home
- Your baby is in contact with few other kids and as a result is exposed to less germs and may rarely fall ill as a result
- Your baby has the undivided care and attention of a carer and doesn't have to compete with anyone. I visited a daycare center in the early days and met just one woman taking care of about 15kids! She claimed they were two working with the kids and the other lady just stepped out. But she didn't come back in the 15mins+ I was there. The woman was busy rocking a baby while 3 toddlers were lined up before her, seated on a carpet with their plates of food before them. She was feeding them one after the other, one spoon here, on to the next one..a spoon...and on to the third child...a spoonful of food and back to number 1 again. About five kids were sprawled all over the room in different postures while about two kids were whimpering without attention. Needless to say I never went back there. Would rather give up my job, I thought to myself.
- Having a nanny gives room for flexibility. Cant recall how many times I had to get home late from work to meet my baby already cared for, fed and bathed for the night. With a day care, you have to do a lot of pleading, explaining and negotiating if you exceed the time expected for pick up.
- You needn't wake up your precious bundle early, they can sleep as long as they want in the mornings except you have a routine you stick to regarding bedtime and the likes.
- Nannies are mostly unsupervised which brings the issue of trust and security to the front burner. You want to be sure they do what they say they do in your absence. Abuse Stories abound like the one that triggered this post. Your baby still cant talk, remember?
- Nannies are not cheap to hire. Won't even mention how much we paid monthly for the two we worked with but our peace of mind cant be quantified, ever.
- You may have to subject yourself to a lil bit of 'inconvenience' by occasionally visiting home unannounced or having someone check on them in your absence. If you live in an apartment / block of flats, you may want to implore people around to be vigilant and obtain feedback from them. For instance, if the pattern of crying of your baby in your absence differs greatly from when you are around, then this tactic may come in handy in nipping whatever is brewing in the bud.
- You may have to get another nanny as a back-up, standing by just in case your current nanny leaves or something unexpected happens. If yours decide to leave for whatever reason, then you may be left in the lurch and you have to start scrambling to get another one within a short time.
The nanny we got for D2, my second boy was involved in an accident on her way to work when he was just 7months old. I was already dressed for work, taken care of my baby and waited endlessly for her to show up before I got the call. I crumbled on the floor and cried my heart out before thinking of the next line of action.
We did not bother to get another one, I just braced up and enrolled him at the daycare center at D1's school and we've never regretted that decision since. Needless to add that I was effectively 'useless' at work for the rest of the day.
- You have to consider your child's social life. Having a nanny isolates a child to a large extent from his peers or age-mates. There is usually limited contact with other kids and this may affect the social skills of the child adversely. It took D1 some time before he adjusted after we enrolled him in a proper school but he soon got over his initial shyness and reluctance to associate or share things with other kids.
- To some extent, there is lack of privacy as you have a stranger in your home everyday, using your things, etc
There are countless stories about abusive nannies as well as about day care centers giving kids sedatives without the parents' knowledge or permission.
These kids are precious so if you are going for the home care option against daycare, please choose wisely.
Weigh the options, consider the pros and cons carefully.
Prayerfully decide and ask questions. Lots and lots of them.
Get referrals, carry out background checks before employing anyone and talk extensively to people who know them.
It is also a very good idea to install a camera in the house to monitor activities and keep abreast of happenings in your absence, remember the kids can do no more than babble at this stage.
Always trust your instincts and intuitions. Mothers' gut feelings rarely misfire. If you think something isn't right, it probably isn't.