My two-year-old is blocking the front door. My six-year-old is screaming, “Don’t gooooo!” It’s 6pm, time for our nanny, Maria, to go. My kids aren’t happy about it. They’re doing everything within their power to make sure she can’t leave.
This happens every night.
It’s every Mum’s concern when she hires a nanny. When we’re not worrying that our nanny isn’t taking good care of our kids, we’re worrying that she is taking good care of them. In fact, we Mums often worry that our nanny will do such a good job the kids will like her more than they like us. We want our kids to be happy in our absence, just not as happy as they are with us.
So, I’m chatting with a friend and relay the story of my kids’ daily 6PM ritual of barricading Maria inside our house. She immediately assumes that meant I was firing my nanny. “I’d never put up with that,” my previously well-adjusted friend suggests. “I don’t need someone in my house that my kids like more than they like me.”
Truth is, I’d never considered my kids love of their nanny as anything other than fantastic. She’s been with us for three years. Why shouldn’t my kids feel a deep connection to someone who’s been an integral part of their lives? So I ask around, polling some of my Mum friends to see what they would do. Most of them reluctantly admit they’d consider firing their nanny if they felt like the kids liked her too much.
Yet I’ve been feeling pretty grateful that my kids are happy in my absence. I’ve never been that Mum who wanted to be the sole person who could make my kids happy. In fact, I’ve found it liberating to know my kids are taken care of by a good Mom-substitute, but hearing my friends’ reactions makes me think I might be missing something.
This lasts for about two seconds before I remember the four nannies I had before Maria. The four before were flaky, negligent at times, unreliable and lax with rules. One nanny use to try to scare my son every day with the vacuum, thinking that was funny. Another nanny had a thing for my husband and assumed he did, too. There was Dalia, the nanny who came to work every third day she was scheduled and Francesca who once forgot to pick up my kid.
The options for bad childcare providers are endless, but the options for good ones are few and far between. Trust me, I’ve had both. Personally, I’m thrilled my kids are sad when Maria goes home. That means they love her and feel loved, which is more than I can hope for while I’m at work for the day. And let’s face it, Mum is irreplaceable.
So I’m going to relax and enjoy watching my two-year-old strong arm a grown woman into staying five more minutes. It’s better than the alternative. Trust me, I’ve had both.