Woes and Worries of an Indian Mom with a nanny
I coined a new mommy category – ‘Indian Mom with a Nanny!’ I really think this is a category of us! I mean I know it! I see so many around me, just like me, so many before me and many more who will get here, after me! So were here to stay and despite having this huge tag, let’s get to why this leads to worry us!
Just because I have a nanny, judge me not to be lazy, unbothered, or snooty – I am just in need of help and I don’t see a reason to shy away from asking for help. The truth is I need help to care for my baby and run errands related to my child’s clothes, food, cleaning, bathing and she is covering up for me in all those areas! Why? Because like me and many of my co-moms I pass on some less preferred, less-productive and high-voltage tasks to my nanny, because this helps me as a person, as a mom and often as a working professional, wife, daughter or family caregiver. But most importantly, it doesn’t make me any less of a mother!
I have abundant reasons to worry, as a ‘Mom with a nanny’. I worry about: Is my child more attached to my nanny? Is my baby going to stop considering me her mother? Will I be able to handle my baby if my nanny goes off? Does my nanny know more about him than me? Will my baby listen to her and not to me? Believe me this is just the start.. I have much more to add to this list.
But truth be told, I feel better after talking about it to other moms like me! It makes me turn off that panic button and realise, I’m OK! So here’s a quick run through of nanny-related woes and how you can navigate them.
- I have accepted that my nanny is co-rearing our child with us because she spends a lot of time with us and our child and therefore she has a profound impact on my child. So I should choose wisely. This is one area where I shouldn’t compromise on whom I let my child be with!
- With my nanny rearing my child, I need to clear some practices, e.g. shifts in sleep routines are not permitted, no giving food between snacks and meals, reminders for toilet visits every 60 minutes, use oil for every diaper change or whatever your non-negotiables are, as a parent. I keep them clear, consistent and in-my-control!
- Keep your nanny in close supervision for at least 3-6 months with enough surprise visits and instances to check on their hygiene habits, food eating and feeding habits, conversations with the child, safety checks with the child. You may choose a CCTV, another family member’s supervision, an agency record or past employer checks as options but this is so important! A quick cheat sheet on nanny checks is here (Happy Nanny – Happy Baby checklist).
- Be specific about the language in which they speak to the child. Preferably keep the language neutral (e.g. Hindi if you are from a dominantly Hindi-speaking family). Do not allow excessive interaction in native language, unless you are comfortable with that language becoming a dominant / second mother tongue with the child.
- Set thumb rules regarding the child and the nanny’s interaction. Some thumb rules I follow are: the child calling the nanny “Aunty” so that he knows she is not his agemate or sister (Didi doesn’t work!), the nanny calling the child “aap” and not “tu” (for children definitely role model) and the nanny coming down to the child’s eye level while talking, not using a stern tone, not answering calls when the child is around, etc.
- A game changer is setting the child’s environment and toys by yourself, every fortnight. These toy rotations and organisation drills make it much easier to control what the child is exposed to, interacting with and how she is engaging on a daily basis. If time permits setting 2-3 activities like rajma pouring, or paint a shoebox today or today is the day to bathe the dolls, gives a much needed positive direction to the nanny and child’s interaction
- Have nanny-free, grandparent-free, gadget-free time, preferably every day! Oh I cannot insist enough upon this technique. This gives the child and you some breathing space and one-on-one interaction, which is absolutely irreplaceable!
With over 1 year without a nanny (due to preference, judgement, cover-19 scenario) and thereafter a near year with a secondary caregiver, my nanny, I really believe I have chosen to make my life simpler and added support, for me to go back to the workplace. It has worked for me as a parent and my formula to go over the nanny woes are:
- Everyday an hour of nanny-free time,
- No nanny accompanying to birthdays and playdates and outings and
- Every 6-months a staycation / short trip / few days without the nanny!
This gives me time to build back the relationship, own the tasks and establish autonomy. It also makes me realise, I can manage and do it all by myself, when I need to and want to!