I’ve had a nanny since the day my daughter was born eight years ago. I live in a metropolis city, where having a nanny is no big deal. Off the top of my head, my five best mommy friends (from various backgrounds) all have nannies and have for years. For each of them, NOT having a nanny wasn’t an option. Even my one friend, who steadfast refused to have a nanny for financial reasons, has just switched teams and hired a nanny once a week. I bet this will turn into two or three days soon enough. And so does she.
Personally, I don’t see how working women who are passionate about their careers can live without a nanny. In fact, when my brother told me how much daycare costs, I was like, “For that amount you could get a nanny!” Outside big cities, I’m guessing daycare is cheaper than $1,500 a month per child. People like my brother argue that daycare has other benefits, like children playing with each other, having a routine and learning, by example of other children, how to eat, go potty and share. Having a nanny, though, makes mommy’s life easier and hopefully will ensure that your child is treated with V.I.P status.
Or so I thought having a nanny was easier. But for how long? When I worked, and my daughter was just a baby and toddler, she was always properly dressed for winters, was always clean and received one-on-one attention. She rarely, if ever, got sick, because she wasn’t catching germs from other children. I understand that many Americans outside of large cities like New York or Chicago don’t have nannies and, in fact, nannies are not something parents even consider. Perhaps, unlike me, these people actually know their neighbors, or perhaps their parents watch their children. And you know what? This may be a good thing.
When I hired my latest nanny two years ago, I made it clear that her job description included keeping the house clean, doing laundry, and making dinners a couple nights a week. Since my daughter is in full-time school, and I drop her off and pick her up, my nanny has become more of a full-time housekeeper. As do most nannies, when the children get older, because they have to fill their hours. And here’s where having your child grow up with a nanny has a downside.
I got into a discussion with my boyfriend about his two girls, ages 10 and 12, after one weekend they spent at my place. By Monday morning, the place looked like a tornado had torn through the house. Their clothes were everywhere, including my bathroom. They didn’t make their beds. There were crumbs on the couch. Their shit was everywhere. Mess makes me highly anxious. I like clutter-free zones, and with their iPads and homework sheets and dirty underwear and hairbrushes everywhere, I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. So I said something to my boyfriend. I told him his girls were old enough to make their beds and pick up their clothes. And his response was, “They don’t know how. They’ve always had a nanny.”
Now, this may SOUND like the worst excuse in the world, but it made me start to pay attention to the relationship my daughter has with her nanny. I always sit with my daughter when she eats her dinner (prepared by the nanny). This time, after she was finished, I really paid attention to the fact the nanny had taken her plates and put them in the dishwasher. Then, I watched as my nanny gave her a bath. All the towels were picked up, and all the bath toys were put away nicely, as was the hairdryer and hairbrush. Not by my daughter, but my nanny.
When my nanny arrives, early afternoon each day, while I’m working, she’s upstairs making my daughter’s bed, doing her laundry and cleaning her toy room. So I can see how a nanny can ruin a child’s life in the sense that children with nannies may never learn to pick up after themselves. By the time I was 12, you can bet your ass I was doing my own laundry, making my own bed and keeping my room tidy. Then again, I didn’t have a nanny. If you don’t have a nanny then you can’t understand what a predicament this poses. You pay your nanny (in big cities, a lot of money) to DO these things. What’s the point of paying someone, and then making your child do it? It makes the job, as they say in the corporate world, redundant. And it also makes the nanny feel redundant.
And, of course, I can’t live without my nanny. We’ve become quite close, and she knows where my car keys are, and knows what I like and don’t like to eat and, most importantly, she loves my daughter and my daughter loves her. Make no mistake, I still need a nanny. Although my daughter is in school full-time, as a single mother, I DO need help keeping up with the house, and an extra hand with things like cooking and cleaning, because I have a job that has no real routine and, also, I’m just plain BAD at housework. I’m willing to give up designer boots for a nanny. But I do worry. Will my daughter ever learn to pick up after herself? Will she ever do her own laundry? Does she just think her clothes are magically folded and placed in her drawers?
I’m NOT giving up the nanny, but are those of us with nannies raising a bunch of children who can’t load a washing machine? I don’t even dare ask my 8-year-old what Tide is.