We have a nanny.
Well…kind of. She’s mostly a babysitter, but she’s old enough to be the girls’ grandma, so we’ve taken to calling her a nanny. Doesn’t it make me sound rich?! Heh. She doesn’t live at our house, she doesn’t do the laundry, she doesn’t do the grocery shopping. But she’s our version of child care. She wears flannel pants and keeps a pair of slippers at my house. She’s adorable and charming and not afraid to crack the occasional dirty joke. No, not to my kids. Sheesh.
With three daughters, only one of whom is in school full time, child care became a huge financial burden to us. For far-too-long we abused family members and friends, shuttling the girls to and from various houses at differing times with no schedule and no real plan in place. It was a nightmare, for everyone involved. Shortly after our youngest, Maëlle, was born I went from working part-time pretty much from home to commuting to a full time job. Since we’re Canadian, we are able to transfer or share 52 weeks of parental/maternity leave between parents. My husband gladly took a year off from retail management and stayed home with the girls until May of 2011. You can imagine how the angels sang and how grateful I was living in a dream world of dinners made when I got home…to say it was a shock to my system come time for Ryan to go back to work would be an understatement. We knew once the summer was over & our babysitting nieces went back to school, we needed to figure out a permanent solution.
With Ryan in retail management, there is never a guarantee on when his days off are going to be. Day cares are not only expensive in our area, they are very rigid with how many days your child can attend and what those days of the week are. So we knew it wasn’t an ideal situation for us. Instead, I sent my husband’s Stranger-Danger radar off when I said, “Why don’t we look for someone to watch them here?” And then he hit the roof when I followed up with, “and let’s look on Kijiji.” (<- like Craigslist)
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! We majorly lucked out and within days had an interview lined up with Marcie. When I asked Ryan to come up with some questions to ask her, he brought me only these three:
- Are you a pedophile?
- Are you a kleptomaniac?
- Are you a drug addict or a drunk?
He’s very…helpful. And also? Wildly suspicious of “Others.” I perused the ads offering childcare, struck out anyone who spelled the words: cuz, b4, (PS? WHY are there so many of you who do this?) or displayed how “responsible” they were by saying they were 19yrs old with three kids of their own. No. No you are not. I found Marcie’s ad, sent her an email with the details of our family and our needs and she called me back within 30 minutes. Impressive, no?
Long story short? We loved her. Our girls loved her. Our pets loved her. We all continue to love her to this day. Having a nanny/in-home babysitter has made our lives easily 80% more manageable. We joke all the time that as we’re pulling out of the driveway in the morning, we can spot Marcie sweeping up breakfast crumbs. Maë gets her regular naps in her own bed, lunch is dictated by the kids & what’s in the fridge, school bus pick ups and drop offs are (mostly) a breeze, our dog gets to roam the house freely all day & we don’t have to pack anything or add to commute times…the list is almost endless. When my girls get sick, I don’t have to take a day off from work, Marcie takes their temperatures and gives them meds and gives me regular updates. In fact, when things go horribly wrong she calls Ryan because she knows he’ll handle it better. Smart cookie.
What we never suspected was how much peace of mind we would get from having her there. She takes our family entirely to heart. She shows up early so she can see the kind of morning it is and respond to their moods. She pays attention to our rules & which buttons we refuse to have pushed. She calls when something seems “off.” We have her every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, and she will usually call on Sunday to see how the weekend has gone & if anything happened she should know about. She unpacks lunch pails, and she once apologized to me for dusting. SHE APOLOGIZED TO ME FOR DUSTING. ::crickets::
Yes, there are opportunities for socialization and activities that the girls are missing by not being at daycare. I do wish they played outside more, and were able to get used to a more structured day before starting school. But we are confident that the girls would be getting the same style of care if one of us were home with them…in fact, they’re getting way more attention than they would get if Mom or Dad were playing zone defense all day long. Our dog gets supremely more excited when Marcie walks in the door than when we come home. Marcie jokes with Ryan, makes cracks about how long it takes me to get ready in the morning, sends Annika to her room if she pulls attitude about chocolate milk (oh my sweet jeebus the chocolate milk debacles with that kid!), and often engages Isabella’s ahem…active imagination with more questions.
I was worried at first because the girls rarely talked about her when we were home. Sometimes Annika would say she didn’t like her. Not surprisingly, those were the days when Annika had to sit in timeout. Score one for the nanny. What I soon realized is that Marcie has become such a fixture in our home that the girls found her as unremarkable as the cat. Which suits us just fine- we wanted stability and it’s exactly what we’ve got. She is cheaper than day care for our trio, but still our most expensive bill every month. But, to be honest, I don’t mind at all that I put out the highest amount of money on who is caring for my children when I’m not.
We adore her. Plain and simple, she is the best decision we have ever made since we became a working parent household.