While I was on maternity leave last year I was adamant about two things. That (a) I would be returning to my two day per week job share, and (b) we would hire a nanny to look after the kids. We’d used a local nursery first and second time around, but third time hubby and I envisaged needing more assistance and flexibility than they could offer, because day to day we don’t have any help. I am completely estranged from my own family and my in-laws are a two hour drive away, plus hubby’s mum works on the same days I do.
Although we had planned on me taking a full year off, as I’d done with the girls, money was tight and I ended up going back to work when our boy was seven months old. Once we started looking around we soon realised that an all singing all dancing nanny (the one I had in my head) was likely to cost the same as my entire salary.
Seriously, what was the point in going back to work?
As all this was playing out we had a recommendation for a local nanny who wanted to work school hours around her daughter, and also had a baby my son’s age that she wanted to bring to the job. It felt like a call to prayer had been answered, and on paper it seemed like a fantastic opportunity for us to all get the best of both worlds. She got to work around her own kids, and we supposedly got a sole charge nanny that wasn’t going to cost us the earth. It made going back to work totally worth my while.
Unfortunately it didn’t pan out as we’d hoped it would for several reasons. Mostly I was really naive to think that her having her own son on the job was fine, but in reality it meant that there were the needs of two babies to meet before my 3yo got a look in. Even though the nanny would get my son down for 2-3 hour naps, my poor girl was largely left to just get on with it from what I can gather.
My heart breaks to think about it if I’m honest, because it only properly came to my attention right at the end. When the kids came home after being looked after for the last time, my daughter told me that the nanny shouted at her, that she didn’t play with her, that she left my son to cry. It’s awful because I will never know what actually happened. Then again perhaps it’s best that way.
After tying myself up in knots over it that weekend, I knew we had to change things. Then out of the blue I got an email from the nursery asking if we still wanted a place for our boy, to coincide with 3yo’s pre-school hours starting two weeks later. We snapped up his place before someone else did, and bumped up her hours to cover my work days.
How to not F them up
Although this nursery is Ofsted Outstanding, 5yo went from 18 months until she started school, and Hubby and I are confident they are in safe hands and have lots of fun, I’ll be honest dear readers, it still doesn’t sit right with me. Ever since reading Oliver James’ brilliant book How Not to F*** Them Up, I have been very uneasy about the idea of putting a baby in nursery. He talks about the importance of your children receiving as good quality as the care you would provide for them (ie. a grandparent, relative or nanny that treated like them they were their own). It made so much sense to me, and totally put me off the idea of nursery when they are under three.
It’s one more thing for me to have to suck up at the moment, and all the sucking is leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. We’re back to having no flexibility, no additional assistance, and me wresting with my own conscience. Then of course there are the astronomical costs involved – all £850 per month of them. Ouch. Thank goodness some of it can be covered with pre-tax childcare vouchers, it’s just a shame the whole lot can’t be.
Are your kids in daycare? Where do you stand on the nanny vs nursery debate?