Here’s how I explained the benefits of a nanny to my husband. And reasons why a nanny would be an advantage for our family over other forms of childcare.
I loved being a nanny. I worked as a nanny for years when I was younger. I know deep in my soul how special the connection between a nanny and the children she cares for can be. I know how children thrive socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically under the care of a nanny.
My husband had a different background and experience.
So when the time came for me to return to work and we had to decide which childcare option we could provide for our son, like many parents we gave the process a lot of deep consideration. It wasn’t just the financial cost we had to weigh up, although that was a big factor, it was of course also a very emotional decision.
My husband had three main points he wanted us to consider before making our decision. Firstly, he highlighted the need for social interaction; meaning exposure to lots of children, such as in a nursery setting. He had a point, I agree children gain valuable benefits from social interaction.
Secondly (and you can see who’s the saver and who’s the spender in our relationship), he pointed out the cost difference. And thirdly, he said that “nursery” is what’s always been done. Although when I challenged him on this last point, he said actually he doesn’t really know what most people do.
As we laid our cards on the table, we looked at our son as an individual and factored his needs as well as our own. And then we considered the benefits of a nanny, and how having a nanny could directly impact our family routine and dynamics.
This is how I explained the value (and therefore the benefits) a nanny would offer our family, to my on-the-fence husband.
1. The Benefit of A Nanny Means Individualised Care and Attention
I wanted that same level of care and attention for our child that I had given so many others. The kind of attention that naturally engenders a beautiful bond of connection and kinship. I’m now lucky to count one of the children I cared for as my god-daughter. And proud to see another accepted into University last month to study science and medicine.
I do admit I was anxious that someone else might experience some of our son’s ‘firsts’. I wanted the reassurance that someone would really notice and recognise the significance of these moments. To me, that meant smaller ratios – the kind that a sole-charge nanny caring for a baby or toddler would enjoy, as opposed to the traditional nursery room and keyworker arrangement.
Having a nanny would mean that our child will be seen as the individual he is. It means he will enjoy personalised care. If he is particularly clingy one day, or if he is teething, or going through a sleep-regression, we know he’ll still get the loving care and attention he needs at that moment. I wanted for him to be cared for with love, and if he needs a cuddle, for him to be picked up with kindness.
Knowing, in these all-too-regular seasons of illness when he’s poorly, that he will have all the care and attention he needs in the loving comfort of our home puts me at ease.
2. The Benefit of A Nanny Means Not Having To Expose My Child to an Adult’s Schedule
One of the most impressionable moments from my days as a nanny was when I was the Nanny / House Manager for a professional family in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. They had two children at the time (7 and 3.5), and a boisterous dog named Buzz.
I remember one particular day when I arrived at 7.30am (like usual), that except for the over-excited Buzz greeting me, the house was silent. Already dressed for the day, Mum was sitting at the breakfast bar with her laptop bag and her coffee ready-to-go.
But the boys were nowhere to be seen. It turns out Dad had already left for work, dropping Mr 7 at school for orchestra practice on his way. And Mr 3.5, well, he was still in bed. They’d all had a late night prior, and Mum had decided, you know what, ‘let him sleep’.
I remember tidying the kitchen and thinking, ‘This is how it’s supposed to be. How beautiful is it that this child has the benefit of a flexi-schedule. He’s catching up on much-needed sleep. And in allowing this to happen, the family routine didn’t take a hit. The world didn’t end.” And even more so, both parents made it to their work as usual.
I wanted that same flexi-schedule for my family. I wished for our son to be spared the adult’s daily routine for as long as possible. I didn’t want him dragged out of bed and dropped at a nursery (evidence of his breakfast still on his face) simply because I had an early meeting. I didn’t want our day to begin with frustration as, unsurprisingly, at 10 months old he simply does not understand the need for urgency.
For me a nanny represents the possibility of slower, simple mornings, minimising stress and frustration. Mornings where I can enjoy 20 minutes of unhurried, fully present playtime with our baby before leaving him for the day. Mornings where I didn’t do my makeup in the car and pick the porridge from my clothes mid-meeting.
3. The Benefit of A Nanny Means Not Having to Worry About Traffic, Or Meetings Running Over
Now, this is not as cut and dry as it might read. One thing to note is that regardless of your childcare arrangement, as a mum you’re probably always going to worry. I’m coming to accept that I now always think ahead to the dinner plan. Or run to the shops in breaks between projects. And that I plan my day in half-hour increments as a way to play out the success of how smoothly it’s going to run.
Whether there’s a nanny at home or your child is at nursery, I think we will always worry about the time, and about being late. Such is the nature of an internal worrier and a mum.
However, knowing our child would be at home with the nanny presented the benefit of us not having to worry as much about traffic, or my meeting running over.
When we reviewed our childcare options, I cast a 5-mile radius around our home, and also our places of work, and compiled a list of scenarios. Not to mention all of the other factors to consider, we questioned: (if not a nanny) should we go with the nursery that was closer to our home, or our work? And which location had fewer traffic disasters at 5 pm? We also considered a childminder that was halfway between home and work.
After weighing it up, and accounting for the cost of late-arrival surcharges. And sick days. I knew the greater benefit was to have a nanny at home. If we were to include a buffer into the start and finish times, then we wouldn’t have to worry as much about being late home or getting caught up in traffic. I’d also be able to pop in and out of the shops for ice cream and still make it home in time, without having to do that with a tired, grumpy toddler in tow.
Even more appealing, I knew the benefit of a nanny meant the evening routine could already be underway. Instead of battling to get to the nursery for 5 pm, and then singing rhymes top-note as you bomb it home in a desperate bid (likely to fail) to stop your toddler from falling asleep in the car. I knew that if our son were at home with the nanny, the two of them could have already got started on dinner. And perhaps be cosied up on the sofa reading books together.
I envisaged a scenario I’d been the facilitator of many times previously. I wanted to arrive home to a happy and content child. A child who was ready to sit at the dinner table and eat a home-cooked meal without chaos, before hitting the bath and off to bed.
4. The Benefit of A Nanny Means Greater Options For Activities & Classes
When my husband raised the point about the importance of socialisation, I thought ha! I’ll have you on this one too.
Just like my husband, it was important to me that our son has plenty of opportunity for socialisation. And perhaps I felt a bit of guilt in this area. I had not filled our days with baby classes when he was a newborn. And unfortunately, we didn’t have a circle of antenatal mums to bond with. So our son didn’t yet have a group of ‘friends’. Neither did I. So, for a fleeting moment, my husband almost had me here. I thought yes, ‘I want for our son to know the joy of playtime.’ Then I snapped out of it.
I remembered how as a nanny, I would fill our days with activities and classes. We’d schedule play dates at home. And we’d make friends with whoever we met whilst out – be it at the library or the playground, or even during our coffee dates at the cafe. I remember looking at the toddlers in my care and thinking, these children can make friends with anyone! They know how to play, and have fun.
I liked that notion. And I knew it was possible for our family too. I knew our very social baby-almost-toddler could have the benefit of both worlds. The familiarity, security and comfort of slower mornings and evenings at home. But also the benefit of getting out of the house, often, with the flexibility of a range of excursions, activities and outdoor play.
5. The Benefit of A Nanny Means Continuity of Care – Even in Sickness
As sleep-deprived parents to a 9-month old, we’re no strangers to the flu and sickness in this house. Unfortunately, it seems to go with the territory. And although we do our best to keep ourselves, and our little boy healthy (plenty of dirt and germs for this lot), the lurgy that is the common cold is a bit of a hanger on!
So knowing we’d still have the benefit of childcare, even when our little boy was full of cold, was a huge relief to me. It means we’re still able to go to work, and do all the things without having to find back-up childcare care arrangements or lose a day of work ourselves. For us this is a huge benefit.
Plus, as he begins to approach the transitional toddler years of learning and development, we’re really beginning to value the benefit of continuity of care.
And so knowing, in these all-too-often seasons of illness when he’s poorly, that he will have all the care and attention he needs in the loving comfort of our home puts me at ease. Together the two of them can have the perfect day, wrapped up warm, snuggled on the sofa. They can read Dear Zoo for the 100th time that day, eat vegetable noodle soup, and make a blanket den for the afternoon nap.
So there you have it: the benefits of a nanny (for our family) over other, more traditional, forms of childcare, as explained to my [new-to-this] husband.
It’s a decision we’ve not come to lightly. As you can see, we put a lot of consideration into it. In fact, of the 5 things to consider when hiring a nanny, we found it to be a careful balance between understanding what’s best for our child, our lifestyle, our values, our professional work requirements, and our family budget.
For me, and as it turns out, for us a family, there were many advantages to having a nanny. And in going through this exercise, we realised what matters most to us is that we benefit as much as possible from a stress-free life. Which means a tailored childcare solution such as a dedicated early years nanny.