In a series we call “Help A Mom Out,” we’re getting answers to moms’ biggest questions. Because after all, it takes a village—and someone has already been through and has an answer to the questions that keep you up at night. Here’s our first request, from a mom we’ll call Gina who’s having nanny issues. She’s a first-time mom to a 20-month-old boy, and wondering how to navigate communication issues with the nanny she and her husband hired when their son was 4 months old.
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We are lucky, but have run into conflicts around pay. She wants more after we’ve already bumped her up a few times from part-time to full-time, and she wants to be paid off the books while we’re trying to cut expenses (so we can keep up with hefty mortgage payments after buying a new home).
There are also some cultural differences. She’s older than me and shares my husband’s cultural background, so addressing conflict or unmet expectations escalates quickly. I’m working my raggedy high-school French overtime because she’s a native French speaker, which leads to inevitable miscommunication no matter the intentions. Finally, we keep running into conflicts around screen time.
How do other moms with full-time caregivers navigate this tricky situation of having someone in your home who is “like family” while also holding the line on boundaries and expectations?
And for moms who sent their kids to daycare, what were some of the factors—besides cost—that went into your decision?
We heard you, Gina! And we knew just who to talk to—Tiffani Johnson, a wife, mom of two boys, and the founder and director of Eya’s House Preschool, a licensed preschool and childcare program in Cedar Hill, Texas. You can follow her Instagram.
First you can begin with having a conversation with your spouse to make sure that you are both in agreement with the boundaries and expectations that you want for your home and in regards to your childcare provider.
Then you can schedule a time to meet with your provider to address your concerns. You can explain that while you enjoy having a caregiver that helps to provide a “family” experience, you and your spouse also have work boundaries.
Creating a contract that outlines the responsibilities that you all desire for your child can create the professional boundaries that you are seeking.
To address your screen-time concern, I’d suggest making a chart to display in your home or a magnetic dry erase board that is visible on your refrigerator that includes the screen time schedule you would like to adhere to.
Seeing the daily gentle reminder could be a great way to enforce the boundaries that you would like set. Writing and receiving notes on the erase board may be a way that can assist with the communication barrier.
If you’re not willing or able to increase her pay, you can explain that while you highly value her services, you are just not able to at the time. If this is something you will be in a better position to do in the future, you can consider setting a future date for the increase, and share with her the possible date or range that this will occur. Or you may be able to offer a three-day paid vacation to show your appreciation for her while offsetting the cost of raising her pay.
One factor besides cost that may lead a mom to send their child to daycare is that they often have a firmer routine in place. A daily schedule is enforced and television is very limited unless it helps to enforce a learning concept.
Another plus to daycare centers that parents consider is that many now have instruction time so that children are able to benefit from learning while under the supervision of someone else. Parents also enjoy the socialization and interaction with other children their child is able to receive in daycare settings.
“[Are there places] in her area—like museums or libraries—that offer experiences like story times? Or even if their nanny could implement screen breaks to go play outside or take nature walks. Sometimes after a screen break, the child may lose interest in the screen. Not sure how much older the nanny is, but possibly asking if she could provide a small lesson plan with simple activities. Since she is French speaking, incorporating that into the child’s day could be beneficial for both of them.” —Tracy Ramey, mom of a 10-year-old girl
“I put my son in daycare when he was 9 months old because 1) we moved further away from my parents and it was a hassle to keep picking up and dropping my mom off. 2) I wanted him to have more socializations with other kids his age [and] 3) my mom was unable to meet his growing educational needs. It worked out better for me because his needs were being met although I did miss having that in-home help.” —Brenda Fadeyibi, mom of a 5-year-old boy