Parent versus Caretaker

It wasn’t that Mrs. Birungi’s new nanny was unqualified or ill mannered. She had come with great references and a gold-star recommendation from her agency. She knew three languages and had philosophies about child development. She was nice and prompt and had an excellent driving record. 
Spend time with a child to strengthen your bond. Net photo.
Spend time with a child to strengthen your bond. Net photo.

It wasn’t that Mrs. Birungi’s new nanny was unqualified or ill mannered. She had come with great references and a gold-star recommendation from her agency. She knew three languages and had philosophies about child development. She was nice and prompt and had an excellent driving record. 

Still, Mrs Birungi, a work-at-home mum running a small catering business from her home, noticed that when the nanny entered the room, she was almost always just getting off the phone. Admittedly the nanny was doing a good job with the children - the meals were on time, they were clean, they listened to her and the older children always did their homework in time. But there was some tension with their 2-year-old daughter, or at least that is what Mrs. Birungi thought. 

As Mrs. Birungi told me her story I couldn’t help thinking about my own situation. What exactly should you do as a parent who really is in desperate need of child care? Often we have to learn to trust complete strangers with our children. It really is a leap of faith. On the other hand when the children seem to get on very well with their nanny then we, the mothers sometimes feel threatened. This is particularly true in my case. I have often had to consciously tell myself to get a grip and focus on the positives. It is easier said than done.

I am perhaps luckier than most in the sense that I do happen to have a psychologist for a sister who is such an invaluable asset to a worrier like me- she always finds the words or some other way to keep me grounded before I drown myself in dark imaginings thinking the worst. Are my children going to grow to love the nanny more than me…do they find me boring...what if she disappears with my children one day…is she too good because she is hiding something…is she the devil in disguise? Etcetera

“You need to take charge of your own mind! Learn how to separate your own issues and trust a little,” says my sister’s voice of reason. She went on to advise that I should write a detailed list of the priorities for my nanny, clearly noting the things I could accommodate and those I wasn’t willing to compromise on. This included sleeping patterns, eating timetables, meal plans, etc. She then asked me to check if the nanny met all my priorities. If she did then I should be flexible with the other things since no one is perfect. “Give it a chance,” she says reassuringly.

She says that so easily but it does make sense and I find that when I heed her advice I actually do have more peace of mind - much more appreciative of the work the nanny does - which is good for our relationship overall.

Ultimately, friction between parents and nanny will affect the children. “It’s a complicated relationship, but it doesn’t have to be,” she cautions. And she is right. After all, she is the professional!

 

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