Mothers and Nannies

Any mother who has just made the decision to return to her previous job and leave her child – or baby – in the care of a nanny, is going to go through a lot of inner turmoil. Allowing a stranger to bring up your kids would be a big issue with any mother, and the decision is usually arrived at only after many days or weeks of agonising analysis.

The first piece of advice I would offer is that once you have made the decision, you must learn to accept it and concentrate on making your new arrangement work. Ignore the nagging voices in your head, forget the inner conflict, and get on with the business of ensuring your baby is well looked after by your surrogate.

What about the very natural doubts you may have of what could be going on in the house when you are not there? One way to help calm yourself is to spend a few days together with the nanny going over the routine of food preparation, play-time, afternoon-sleep time and any chores which maybe required. Knowing the timetable and having seen the nanny in action will be comforting, as will a few phone calls during the day.

Ask for, and always check referrals. Most nannies will have them. Preferably they will be previous clients, but if not, they could be her neighbours, friends or relatives. Ten minutes of chatting with all of the people in her contact list will give you a quite a bit of information, and probably a degree of “feel” for the person you are considering hiring.

Watch how your child responds to being with the nanny when you leave for work in the morning. Of course a great deal of resistance and almost certainly tears will be the normal response of a child watching her mother leave, but after a week or two you will be able to tell if your child really dislikes your nanny and if that is the case you will be better off to find a new nanny as soon as possible.

Another way to reassure yourself is to realise that the nanny you have hired is quite likely to be more qualified to look after babies than you are. She is perhaps looking for this type of work after having left a career in order to bring up her own children, and now finds the whole business of looking after children at least as rewarding – if not more so – than whatever she was doing before.

Business is a key-word here. The nanny should be thought of as a professional in her field, and you as her client need to be clear in defining your expectations. Similarly the nanny should clearly define the boundaries of her nanny’s job. Do not expect “extras” from your nanny, or push her to do beyond what is reasonable, or what was originally agreed to.

Apart from the business side of the relationship, it is usual that, as trust has been established, bonds will grow. It is very likely that the situation will end up being similar to many other families with nannies, with the nanny becoming an indispensable (almost) member of the family. The respect and love that can grow in these situations is real, lasting, and can only be good.

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