Sunday, November 18, 2012

The nanny life

I'm sure the duties of a nanny vary from family to family. Here's a little more about our nanny situation.

The nanny herself. She's from the Philippines, she's the mother of three grown children, and she has a college degree in finance. A young, childless, semi-English speaker was not a deal-breaker for us when we were thinking of desirable qualities in a nanny, but now that we have Carol, I am so grateful for what she is. I like having an experienced mom around who can take care of the kids even when they're sick. Also, it's so nice to be able to speak normal English to/around her. Plus, she can help the girls with their homework.

Her duties. It's hard to choose a favorite thing that our nanny does for us, but aside from the general housecleaning/laundry she does, I love that Carol gets up in the morning to help get the kids ready for school. When I was doing it all by myself, it was lonely to be the only adult awake, slicing apples and filling bowls with cereal and zipping up backpacks while trying to get myself ready, too. It's much more cheerful and efficient with Carol around. And yes, she packs my kids' lunches. That was a hard task for me to give up on an emotional level, but I've come to terms with it and I'm grateful for it every day.

Another favorite thing is when I come home from class at 8pm and the downstairs is tidied up, clean, dinner put away, lights dimmed, quiet. Upstairs, the girls have taken a bath and brushed their teeth and are tucked in bed with jammies on, ready for a story. It is the best feeling in the world.

Also a good feeling: those days when I have to leave for a meeting and Jeremy is working late and Carol is there to fill in the childcare gap. I used to have to trek them over to a babysitter's house, or trek over the babysitter to our house, or drag the girls to campus. It is so nice to be able to just have them stay at home so they're not always being pulled to and fro.

Her days off. She has every Friday off, but every once in a while she leaves on Thursday night after the girls are in bed. Sometimes I wonder if she's bored with us because we don't host as many social events as her previous employers, but I like to imagine she's relieved at the lighter workload. I'm glad she has a day off every week for her sake, but also for ours. It's a nice chance for us to just hang out and be ourselves, as a family.

Her pay. We pay her well. Could we have hired a nanny for a lot less, like half as much? Yes. But I wanted to pay a good living wage to Carol, who is a widow with three grown children to care about and lend money to :). Also, as stated above, she is experienced, educated, and she speaks English well, all of which up the asking price, as it were.

Challenges. I love the "nanny life," but that doesn't mean everything is perfect. Every once in a while, I wish Carol would do things differently. The key is choosing your "battles" - what do you care enough about to mention? For example, when I was in charge of the laundry, I had a very particular way of folding our undergarments (weird, I know, but Jen might know what I'm talking about). Carol doesn't do it that way, but I've decided not to care. Even trying to teach helpful details can come across as nit-picky and it's not a big enough deal to bring up. On the other hand, after a few weeks of her working for us, I noticed she was using hot water (90C) to wash all the clothes. That was important enough (to me) to bring to her attention.

If you have any questions, please ask!

14 comments:

Crys said...

Did you roll them :)

Susanne said...

Carol seems like a good fit for your family. I'm glad it's working out well.

Kathy Haynie said...

Wow, I would not have minded having someone else prepare school-day lunches. For some reason I always regarded that as a chore. Carol sounds like a gem!

Bridget said...

Yes!!

Susanne said...

I think I remember she lives there with you, correct? So I wonder does she have another residence where she goes on her day off since you mentioned you have the house to yourself? Or does she have a separate entrance/living space that she stays in so she is not interacting with you all? I'm trying to imagine evenings there with a nanny hanging around, and then her day off when she is suddenly not there.

Bridget said...

Her daughter lives in Sharjah, so if she spends the night away, that's where she goes. I'm glad she has a great place somewhere else to spend time on her days off!

Shannon said...

I like that you pay her more than the going rate. We want to do that too--except we're still poor. But once we've socked away a little and paid off some debt and bought a car(!), I'm excited about getting a helper. I know your girls are still little, but what will you do about teaching them to do chores like laundry, dishes, bed making, etc.?

Elena Saleem said...

I have always wondered how people with nannies handle things like meal time, etc. (i.e., does she sit with you guys to eat?)
I know that some people like their privacy while others are very open and don't mind having their nanny/maid around whenever. I have always wondered how I would be (if I ever got one) in that regard.
Also, do you talk to her about any personal matters, is your relationship strictly professional, or is it something of an in-betweener where you exchange comments about mundane topics like the weather, etc.
I was always curious. Hehe...

Jen said...

You're right. I don't know if I could handle someone else doing my laundry. (Though admittedly, if someone else's way is different--but still relatively OCD--I'm good with that. I can respect that.) =) Also? We're rollers, too. Saves so much space!

I was also wondering about meal time and if Carol eats with you. (Also, does Carol know that you've blogged about her?) =)

Timothy Browning said...

Good on you for paying her extra. When she quits, you can hire us.

Bridget said...

They already clean up the messes they make themselves, so that's a start. I promise I won't let them grow up without knowing how to wash dishes, etc.

Bridget said...

I think everyone does it a little differently. She sits with us to eat but I know some people whose nannies prefer to eat on their own (and sometimes their own food, separately cooked). We talk to her about personal stuff all the time but obviously nothing TOO personal.

Bridget said...

Sorry, Americans (along with most other western nationalities) don't qualify for "servant" visas here.

Liz Johnson said...

Um, that picture of Majd is the funniest thing I've seen in a while. I LOVE IT.

Our maid in Mexico became like a member of the family to us. We still keep in touch and write back and forth and send Christmas gifts and such. I'm glad you get to have Carol in your lives.

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