• Fri, Feb 17 2012

My Nanny Left And I Became A Guilt-Free Supermom – Temporarily

superhero momWhen our nanny of three years announced she was going back home to the Philippines to see her family, I was truly happy for her. When she told me she’d be gone for six weeks, I panicked.

How would I cope? It was December, the most hectic time for my gourmet gift business. It was the holiday season, and I had  three kids off school looking for action. And it was winter, with an old black lab who needed lots of walking. My husband was swamped with work, my parents were away on a cruise, and my mother-in-law was heading out of town.

Did I mention I’m a neat freak?

So I did what any sane, work-from-home mom would do: I looked for a temp. But after many missed interviews and awkward phone calls, I decided to take charge and reclaim my life. Aside from not wanting to pony up the cash while my nanny was on her paid vacation, I reasoned that I could handle my own family for a measly month-and-a half.

Friends told me I was nuts. Random moms in the school pick-up line offered me the numbers of cleaners and babysitters. Some even offered to pimp out their own nannies. The more other people insisted I couldn’t possibly handle it, the more I knew I had to at least try.

Proving the naysayers wrong was no mean feat. The first casualty was the dog.  The poor guy soon learned that, while the world may be his toilet, he was now confined to the back of the house. As the snow fell on our poop-filled backyard, I learned to trust my kids out front. The oldest took pride in keeping his two younger brothers in check – and on the driveway.

While they played happily outside, I re-jigged my workout. Who knew vacuuming could be such a great workout? Racing up and down stairs, constantly in and out checking on the kids, and frantically scrubbing toilets required as much exertion as a step ‘n pump class.

By the second week, I started getting cocky. I was managing. And despite extra screen time and a less-than-spotless kitchen, I was loving it. Baker by night, writer by midnight, cleaner/chauffeur/cook/confidant by day, I felt like a real domestic goddess.

My kids made their own beds. They entertained themselves and sorted out their own issues. We played together – on the floor instead of the computer. My man was no slouch either. He gave our dog the love – and walks – he needed, while taking on more driving duties. He was coming home earlier and ordering in more.  We were all loved up with no place to go – after all, we had no babysitter.

The icing on the cake? I’d shed all the mommy guilt I’d been harboring since the birth of my first child. Instead, I had new guilt – did I need the extra help in the first place? Maybe I didn’t. In which case I felt guilty about my nanny returning to the county jobless. I started stressing about her return, vowing to maintain the “new us” we’d forged during her absence.

When her return was delayed by a week I was relieved. Until I noticed the roots on my hair – and my bikini line. Several doctor appointments loomed and I’d had to cancel at least four meetings. When she finally came back there was an adjustment period. For about 36 hours. Now it’s like she never left. Except for one thing: I now know I can be supermom. But only if I have to.

(Photo:  Kakigori Studio/Shutterstock)

Share This Post:
  • Anne-Marie @ Do Not Faint

    I needed to read this today! I am a nanny and I *just* found out I’m pregnant (as in–positive test this very morning). I know that I want to wait to tell the family anything until after 12 weeks, but when would you want to know?
    One baby, 11 weeks old, both parents are doctors, but she’s on a prestigious fellowship, so Mom has crazy work days. Any advice that could help me make this as easy as possible on them would be much appreciated!

    • Amy

      Congratulations!

      I don’t think you need to tell them sooner than your current 12 week ideal. That gives them plenty of time to sort something out before your due date.

  • Caroline

    A fantastic and amusing piece — and a very realistic one. Many parents go through that chaotic, “What do I do now?” moment when their nanny is away for an extended period of time. An easy solution? Ask your nanny if she would recommend any friends or family members who could replace her while she’s away? If she doesn’t know anyone, then you can start exploring other options.

    • Beth

      Agreed– this was a funny piece. I enjoyed it.

  • Candi

    My nanny is a seasoned professional. She really knows her stuff, and I have learned a lot from her. Here are a few of the many lessons learned from someone who has experience raising a variety of kids.

    1. No matter how much I want to be liked by my kids, I still need to be the parent. There can and should be a friendly element to the way I relate to my kids, but when the proverbial push comes to shove, my decision needs to stand. If one of my decisions makes them mad at me, then I can feel sad about that, and I can even express that sadness to them, but I have to do what I, as the parent, believe to be right.
    2. It’s ok for me to ask my kids’ opinions on what they would like while still retaining the ultimate decision-making authority. Asking their opinions makes them feel valued and gives them a sense that they can affect their outcomes.
    3. Everything I do and everything that happens is a learning opportunity for my kids. If I pay attention to what is happening, I can shape the lessons they learn from their daily activities. For example, rather than walking by the homeless man on the street, purchasing a fruit juice and nutritious sandwich and giving them to him instead may be a lesson in kindness and empathy.
    4. There are creative ways to address everything. Need a snack? Try a frozen slice of cantaloupe. Bored because you think there’s nothing to do since it’s raining outside? How about reading a story aloud to each other, baking favorite treats together, playing board games, or planning the family’s upcoming vacation?
    These are but a few of the many lessons I’ve learned from my nanny. I tell my kids that they didn’t come with an instruction manual, and I’d never been a mom before they came along. My kids are lucky to have such a wise, seasoned nanny on their team…. http://blog.nannies4hire.com/nanny/856

  • PO’d

    What a bunch of whiners! My mother got away from an abusive husband back when there was no help and no shelters, worked 2 full time jobs and received no assistance from anyone.

    “What will I do without my nanny”! You people are spoiled and the type who have kids for decoration. Get a life.

    • Anne-Marie @ Do Not Faint

      Not a single woman I have ever worked for as a nanny has been spoiled, unloving, selfish or lazy. Can we talk about how it sucks that there’s no universal right to childcare in this country instead of throwing insults around?

      I bet your mom would really have liked it if a nanny had been somehow gifted to her. Who doesn’t want help? Yes, it screams “privilege” to hire a nanny, but we all have privilege. Doing something incredibly difficult is admirable, but why is it better? I can totally admire your mom *and* totally admire the woman who loves her daughter and works 14 hour shifts at the hospital saving lives.

    • Beth

      @Anne-Marie. How wonderful to hear a nanny say that about the women she works for! I stay home and sometimes have a babysitter, or give the kids to the grandmothers so I can get a break and keep my sanity. I realize that I am EXTREMELY lucky to have the privilege to stay home and even luckier to have the grandmothers to help me. I am thankful for what I have and though I can get jealous of others or feel sorry for myself, I try to keep things in perspective. A great nanny is another person in the child’s love to love him/ her and to give parents a hand. Thank you Anne-Marie.

    • PO’d

      It seems to me women with nannies don’t care to be around their children when it’s inconvenient. Why bother having them then? Or perhaps your kids are just status symbols.

  • Beth

    Congratulations! Yes, telling them at 12 weeks is fine.

  • Kate

    ah, it must be nice to be able to AFFORD a nanny! I dont think I’ve dyed my hair in a couple months and our dog is often not getting the walks she needs ;)

    • Kate

      ps- that wasnt an insult, if i had the money i’d seriously farm out alot more of stuff at our house

  • happie

    Thank you for posting this. My nanny has been in the Phillipine’s on vacation for the past 7 weeks and it was the greatest gift should could have given my husband and me. We are both teachers and off in the summer but have had the nanny around and felt guilty about having to share the kids. There were struggles but we kept the kids out of camp most of the time and had amazing quality time. Everyone did more around the house and got involved. My nanny is amazing and part of our family and very needed since daycare is so expensive in our area (I have twins and a baby). I grew up with a nanny as my parents are both self-emloyed and could only take off two weeks when I was born.
    I think there is a misconception about having a nanny. It is not only for the rich my nanny is a live-in and trying to get her permenant residency, it is a win-win. She will probably only be with us for 2 years. If i paid to put my kids in daycare(if I could find spots) it would cost 3x the price and if I stopped work I would lose my job for the future and go significantly into debt, not smart for our future. I did take of a year. I am a bit spoiled i will admit but there is always another price to pay for it. I finally have given up on my guilt, don’t add more.