Everything is humming right along for us. We are back into our grooves at work, I’ve been able to work out some flexibility with my job, and we’ve become comfortable with a wonderful nanny who loves our son almost as much as we do. We’ve got this!
Until my nanny, horribly, experiences a death in the family and needs unplanned time off. And it hits us: We have no backup plan.
Let me be clear in saying that this is absolutely our miss, nobody else’s. Our nanny is everything we could ask for, and besides the logistics of child care during her short absence, we are hurt for her and the loss she has experienced. Add to that the awkwardness of trying to negotiate time off via crazy work and business travel schedules, and it makes for some uncomfortable conversations that we as the parents could have avoided had we been more strategic in our thinking.
We knew, of course, that potentially one day she could call in sick. Need a day off. Have to leave early. And we figured, well, we would just take the day off too. Alternate between Mom and Dad. So it is fair.
But it’s so much more than that. We didn’t account for business trips (as was the issue during this recent occurrence), mandatory meetings, a recent string of unplanned days off for our own family emergencies; all of which make more unplanned time off extremely undesirable.
Fortunately, in this case, we were able to quickly work out a plan with my sister. Although not ideal (she and her husband had to modify their own work schedules, and then she and her two kids were needing to leave their place at 5am to get to our place in time with traffic), it was actually the best option available. I am thankful to them for helping out.
But it’s not realistic over the long term. We need a better, more solid, backup plan.
So I’ve started looking at “Backup Nannies” (AKA “Babysitters”). Ugh. The term alone fills my head with thoughts of a precocious, gum-snapping, text-happy teenager who twirls her hair and invites her boyfriend over. I’m not feeling it. And I keep stalling. We don’t need anyone NOW…. We worked out THIS situation and now we’re good….
But I know that we’re not. As much as I dread it, I’m not so naive to think that we will never have another adults-only event to attend. Or that we will never, dare I say, want to have another date.
But the Mommy Guilt is eating me up. It took me months to become comfortable with our nanny; months before I would even leave her alone with my son. And now we all love her and she is almost like part of the family. But to introduce yet another stranger into my son’s life?
And the process itself… It’s exhausting. The job posting, vetting, interviewing, background checks, vaccination requirements, CPR/First Aid certification classes, job offer, negotiation, etc, etc, etc. All this before I even begin the arduous process of simply spending a lot of time with the individual before I leave that person alone with my son. Some say overkill but, for me, it’s simply what the process is. And it’s a lot.
So what do people in these situations do? Outside of my sister, who doesn’t live particularly close to me and has child care challenges of her own, we don’t have any local family to help out. Being a new older mom, many of my friends are childless and certainly not interested in watching someone else’s kids. Those who do have kids have already figured out their own child care arrangements. And to complicate matters, I am SUPER picky when it comes to child care providers.
My nanny has tried to help. She has given me, so far, four recommendations. The first is a nanny who watches a local infant girl during the week (so who would be available for evenings and weekends). I was and still am interested in this person, but as time has gone on, my nanny’s comments on her have cooled a bit… So I’ve become a bit more tentative.
The second is a family friend of my nanny’s who attends her church. I called and left a message. No call back. Nanny asked her about it later – she said her phone “wasn’t working” and to please provide my number. Nanny gave her my number. The potential caregiver never called nor mentioned it again.
The third is someone who watches a local toddler one day a week. My nanny hasn’t known her very long, but feels that she is really good with this toddler when she sees them. I call and leave her a message. No call back. A week later, she texts my nanny and says she accidentally deleted my message and needs my number. Nanny provides. She calls me a few days later and leaves a message. I call her back and leave a message. Ball now in her court, although I must say that I am a bit concerned at the difficulty of getting in touch with her.
The fourth is a home-nurse who cared for my nanny’s grandmother. Nanny doesn’t even know if she is looking, just imagines that she might be since she recently lost her job. I am not so sure about this one – seems like a bit of a stretch.
So I have now started bugging my friends for recommendations. A few are checking with their respective churches. A few don’t have anyone besides family members. And a few recommend some online sources.
So far, not a whole lot. And I must admit that my heart’s not in it. It triggers feelings of guilt beyond just what I felt when I originally left my son with the nanny. So now – he will have a nanny AND a backup nanny?? When will he ever be with his parents??
My husband thinks I’m overreacting. He cites the hours each evening and all weekend that we spend together as a family. He mentions all the days I work from home, and my ability to wake him up, see him, spend breaks with him, take him to Gymboree. Maybe he’s right. But I’m so worried that my son’s memories will simply not include us. That most of his memories will instead center around paid caretakers. And it’s heartbreaking.
So Moms, what do you do? I do, for the record, have a job posting out on Care, but am not receiving too much other than very young women looking for after school work. I suppose the quality of caretaker response is a bit different when you can’t guarantee a full time job or even a minimum number of hours. But there’s simply got to be a better way.