Unfortunately, the daycare we intend to use, as well as any other local daycare, does not have openings right now for our children and will not be able to get them in for two months. So, we have two options for interim childcare: my mother who lives nearby or hiring someone.
My mother is willing to keep my kids at her house, but we have a few hang-ups. She is keeping my sister’s infant all day and her school-age child in the afternoons (and driving carpool), so we worry this will be too much for her. She would have to load and unload two infant carriers and a three- year-old (who can’t buckle himself yet) every time she ran carpool. Her vehicle will accommodate all the kids, but managing this many kids would be hard even for me, and I’m not in my 60s. Also, she has a dog that my husband doesn’t trust. The dog has been known to be aggressive, but only with adult males. Finally, my brother stays with my mom off and on, and he has a history of drug problems. Although he is supposedly clean right now, I am not 100% certain.
I am struggling with the idea of bringing in a complete stranger, our only other option, on such short notice. I would have, at most, a week to find someone. That isn’t really enough time to get to know someone and let the kids get to know that person, too. Also, who would take a job with a known end date? If it were summertime, I’d think maybe a college student. But, it isn’t summer. (I have tried to find someone we might know and trust through church and friends, but to no avail, which leaves me finding someone via the web).
So, do we ask my mother to keep the kids and hope that she can handle it? Or do we hire someone we aren’t sure we trust? I’m leaning towards my mother–and my husband towards the nanny. What should we do? — Mom Needing Childcare Help
You honestly think that leaving your senior-citizen mother alone with two infants and what sounds like an additional two to three school-aged children, an aggressive dog, and a drug-addicted adult child, every day for two months, is a better idea than leaving your two children in the care of a professional nanny? You’re tempted to go with that scenario without even trying to find a professional first? I hear a lot of excuses — you only have one week, you don’t have enough time to get to know the nanny and have your kids get to know her, no one is going to want to work for two months, etc., etc., but none of these excuses sound like valid reasons to not even try an online search (which you could even start through various neighborhood parents’ groups, perhaps on Facebook or Yahoo, which is how I found our part-time nanny over four years ago).
First of all, how many professional nannies do you really think spend time “getting to know” the kids they’ll be paid to watch before committing to the job? Do you think teachers “get to know” their students before the school year begins? At most, there might be a meet-and-greet before a paid professional is charged with caring for and/or teaching your child, but the relationship-building “getting to know each other” happens on the job and not before.
Second of all, plenty of nannies would be happy to have full-time work for two months. Maybe they have a summer gig lined up — you know, when most kids are out of school and in need of childcare — and would be happy to have some interim work until then. Maybe their employer is about to go on maternity leave and is suspending the nanny’s employment for a couple months. There are plenty of reasons that a nanny, whose work schedule and lifestyle is much different than a typical 9-5 employee, would welcome temporary work.
Finally, you actually have more than a week to find someone. Maybe your job starts in a week, but if you’re leaning towards having your mother watch your kids — again, on top of watching the multiple children she already cares for, plus an aggressive dog and a drug-addicted adult, then why couldn’t you have her watch the kids for a week or two until you can line up alternative care? Even having her watch your children under those circumstances only one day a week or half days is better than all day, every day. Speaking of flexibility and piece-work childcare, which is how many modern families approach childcare, you could also look for a nanny to do afternoons with your kids so that, when your mother has to pick up the school-aged children and run the carpool, she’s not juggling four or five young children at once.
In arguing for the nanny route, I haven’t even touched yet on the multiple relationship conflicts that could arise when fielding full-time childcare to a family member who is already overburdened with the task of watching another family member’s multiple kids. There’s no way your mother will possibly be able to give each child personal attention and meet his or her individuals needs the exact way you would prefer. Sure, that’s not going to happen in a daycare facility either, but interpersonal relationships aren’t on the line the same way when you’re paying professionals to watch your kids and you have the managed expectations parents should have going into group childcare situations.
Will the world end if your mother has to watch five children every day for two months? No. But the risk of harm to her, your kids, and certainly the inter-family relationships is greater, in my opinion, than if you found a nanny to take on all or some of the childcare duties during that time.
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