Overcoming Your Fears
It was after nine months that Abby started feeling uneasy about her child's first nanny. Without any concrete reasons for her uneasiness, she installed a nanny cam to observe her nanny's behavior. "That evening, I put in the videotape and within two minutes I was hyperventilating ... She would leave him in the crib, she fell asleep on the couch, doing everything except taking care of the child," she says.
After witnessing the horrors of child neglect and consequently firing her nanny, Abby struggled to reconcile her feelings of anxiety. By insisting on open communication and being very involved from the beginning, Abby was able to build a trusting relationship with her current nanny. "If you notice the nanny bringing her trouble from home to your home it's a bad sign ... [Our first nanny] would talk about how her marriage was falling apart, and her kids called our home all the time," she says.
From the beginning, Abby asked her new nanny more pointed questions about her children's day and even had her mother drop by the apartment unannounced to check in on the children.
While it is very natural and understandable to fear leaving your child with a stranger, you should raise these issues with your nanny so that she feels comfortable and confident enough to perform her duties. Some mothers find it helpful to be present the first week of the job and monitor the nanny and child's interaction. Other mothers may experience feelings of guilt or even jealousy toward their nanny's relationship with their child.
Lisa, a full-time working mother of a 19-month-old daughter in New York City, experienced the initial pangs of guilt when she first returned to work and placed her daughter with a nanny. She thought, "What if my daughter doesn't love me, she loves the nanny more, she doesn't know who I am anymore?"
Ann Leone says that it is perfectly normal for mothers to feel this way. "There's always the initial 'Am I doing the right thing?' A child knows her mom. A child loves her mom," she says. "And if the child loves the caregiver, then you, as a mom, made a good decision because it's all about the child's satisfaction." The mother and nanny are both in a partnership for the child's well-being. If your child is happy, then you are doing the right thing.
Lisa's feelings of guilt were relieved once she settled into work, but the feelings of jealousy occasionally resurfaced. "After a week of getting back to work I liked using the left and right side of my brain, I liked the responsibility ... but I still feel jealous at times," she says. "[The nanny] gets to take Madeline to ballet class and I just get to hear second-hand information about it ... but they have a great camaraderie and I wouldn't want them not to."
It's important for mothers to be reassured that the caregiver will do what is in the child's best interests at all times. If your child is happy, it is easier to relieve your fears and jealousy and allow yourself to appreciate the nanny's role in your home.
Harmony in Your Home
As with any business relationship, it is always encouraging to let your nanny know when she's doing something positive, not only when issues arise.
By developing your relationship with your nanny and working out conflicting emotions and formalities, you and your nanny are creating a positive situation for your child. Your child's happiness is the fulcrum of any mother-nanny relationship; it is the commonality you both share.