Childcare is complicated. It’s leaving your precious little baby in the hands of a stranger and hoping everything will be okay. I know many don’t believe in this type of parenting, especially if you aren’t living in Asia where nannies are available in abundance. Movies such as The Nanny Diaries and Uptown Girls (yes I love both) paint a picture of horrible, absent parenting when it comes to hiring full time help, but I’ve found here in HK the opposite is true. Most of the families who have helpers actually have more time to play with their children, spend the majority of their day taking their little ones out or spending time with them at home. Nannies, or helpers as they are called here, just make it that much easier to have a spotless home and semi active social life while being a full time parent.
The boy and I are lucky enough to work from home so we spend our entire day with Ever, and she sleeps in our bed each night. Saying that, I do have a moment to write this blog post, and there is never a dirty dish in my house. I haven’t washed up any bottles, cooked a single meal, and probably have only changed a handful of diapers since our amazing nanny DD arrived two weeks ago. I have however done almost every single feed and kept up breastfeeding despite any busy schedules, play with Ever most her waking hours, and carefully choose every cute outfit she wears.
We have had two different nannies since Ever’s arrival and here are my tips for how to deal with full time help living in your home. I know it’s probably more personal and everyone will want something different but for us this has been the way to go.
1. Be clear about how personal you want her to be. I don’t want a nanny to be part of our family or really be too friendly with Dan and I. I want Ever to understand the difference between family and her nanny so after our first temporary nanny who was a little too loving for my taste I have made a strict no kissing rule. I don’t want them to kiss Ever on the face or tell her they love her. No co-sleeping with her even though she co-sleeps with us in our bed. In the day she sleeps in a crib in the nursery not in the nanny’s arms. For us there needs to be a distinct separation between Mommy and Daddy and her nanny.
2. Priorities and being clear about what is most important on her list of things to do. Cleaning is not the top of her list. Ever is her top priority, so washing Ever’s bottles, clothes, and making sure her play area is clean and tidy is the top priority. Cleaning the house and doing chores for Dan and I come second to Ever’s need. That way I know the baby has everything she needs at all times.
3. Schedules have worked extremely well for us and the baby. Because Ever is a great sleeper and stays with me in bed until almost noon most days, I make sure DD cleans the house and does the laundry/dishes before we wake. That way she has less to do for the rest of the day and can concentrate on Ever. The boy and I are usually out each evening so I tell DD to get more rest in the afternoon as she takes care of Ever until we get home at night. After we leave, DD keeps to Ever’s bath, snooze, eat, snooze schedule until we get home. This way both DD and Ever know what to expect each day and our daily chores always get done.
4. Personal space. Because DD lives in our home, we like to have a place that just for our little family. Where we spend alone time. The boy and my room is where we spend time with Ever. We always close the door and have alone time with her. We made the mistake of letting the first nanny into our room and telling her to take care of Ever in there while we were out. This blurred the lines of where she should be, and made her more comfortable to come in when we were spending time with Ever. Now it’s clear that when we are in our room, its just us.
5. Know what you are looking for before you hire someone. We wanted someone quiet and kind. DD is very gentle with Ever and is so quiet we generally don’t even realize she is at home. She keeps to herself but is animated when playing with the baby. Our first nanny voiced her opinions about how Ever should be taken care of each day, and wanted too much involvement for my taste. I am now happy to have someone that follows instructions seamlessly, interacts with the baby, but is shy and quiet in our home.
These are all personal choices and it is always hard to choose a person who will fit into your family, so make sure to cover all the bases when you interview and find someone that suits your home and baby.