Sunday, May 10, 2009

How I met your nanny

Most working moms stress about what they're going to do with their babies when they first go back to work after maternity leave. I was no exception. I had just made this beautiful, perfect baby and now I was horrified at the idea that I was going to leave her for even one second. But of course, I couldn't quit and let all those 30 hour calls be for nothing.

Initially, we were thinking about day care. A well established day care seemed somehow less frightening than letting a stranger into our house. However, most day cares in our very expensive area had a two year waiting list.... so basically, you had to get on the waiting list before you even were pregnant. And the prices were scary. The alternative was a "family home", where a registered person took a handful of babies in their home. They tended to charge less, have more openings, and fewer children.

I brought Melly to visit a family home in our area. I liked it immediately. It was very small: only two women and six children. But I still can picture the image of my helpless little 2 month old girl screaming on the floor of that day care. She was so young and I wanted her to have more individual attention. I couldn't leave her here. Not yet.

So I decided not to cheap out and I hired an agency to find us a nanny. I figured this way we'd get the absolute best quality nannies. The agency would check out the nannies, verify their credentials, and find us the nanny of our dreams. In exchange, we'd pay them $250 plus 10% of the nanny's salary for the first year.... pricey but worth it to get our "dream nanny". One agency guaranteed to find me someone in the four weeks before I went to work, so I hired them on the spot.

If it didn't compromise my identity, I would expose this horrible agency and how they turned out to be a lying bunch of scumbags. It took them over a week to send us one single candidate and she was the opposite of what we told them we wanted... for starters, she wasn't even able to work the hours we needed. I later heard an awful story about this particular agency: they instructed a nanny candidate to accept a job that she didn't want, then told her to cancel at the last minute (leaving the mother stranded), in order not to lose the client. We also read some news stories about nanny agencies who didn't check out their candidates as closely as they promised, such as one that sent over a nanny who was wanted for MURDER in another country. Scary. We lost our $250 deposit on this agency but at least we didn't end up hiring The Babysitter Bandit.

Meanwhile, my maternity leave was dwindling down and I was getting desperate...

With precious little time left, desperate times called for desperate measures: I advertised on Craig's list. I know you probably think Craig's list is just a way for murderous med students to meet their victims, but as it turns out, you can also get a nanny on Craig's list.

Several potential nannies didn't show up to their interviews and one even showed up on the wrong day (not a good sign). One was an older, very experienced and no-nonsense Mary Poppins type that my husband immediately liked, but I was wary, mostly because she wore too much perfume. Then I met Gloria. She showed up on time (score!) and the second I laid eyes on her, I immediately knew she was our new nanny. I just had a FEELING about her--this was the woman I had been picturing when I first started the nanny search. She seemed so loving, asked to hold Melly, and wasn't demanding like the more experienced nanny.

Unfortunately, my husband was stuck on Mary Poppins, so I had to convince him to give Gloria a chance. She also didn't have any actual nanny experience, but hey, the woman had three kids. We did a background check and called her (non-nanny) references, then did a practice day with her, in which she totally won us both over.

Two years later, I think Gloria was the best thing that ever happened to us. She was an amazing nanny, who took care of Melly like she was her own. I never had to worry about my daughter's safety when I was at work. One of the reasons we have been reluctant to move was that we didn't want to lose Gloria!

In the last year, we have mostly transitioned Melly to that family home we rejected when she was two months old. She's older now and we want her to have more social interaction with her "baby fwends" as she calls them. But I will always be grateful to Gloria for helping to raise Melly during that precious first year.

And that, kids, is the story of how I met your nanny.

(P.S. Happy mothers day!)

5 comments:

  1. I love this story! Not only because I'm glad that Gloria worked out for you and tat Melly was well cared for, but also because I'm in the process of finding a new baby sitter and have also resorted to Craigslist in our new city. When I tell people this, they have the "med student murderer" reaction as well, and previously I had no real comeback. Thanks for the ammunition!

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  2. Some day I'll share my horror stories of early child care but despite the initial problems, like you we ended up with a winner (who stayed with us for >10 years, as it turned out).
    A

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  3. We found both of the nannies we've had on craigslist! The first was also listed through an agency but also had her own ad. I also had a feeling about her - that I could trust her. She loved my daughter like her own but she had some other personal issues that made it stressful.

    Nanny #2 (current nanny) is amazing. Everything we were looking for- her former employers posted an ad for her on craigslist. We love her and she is like family.

    I'm not convinced agencies can do any better!

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing! Finding good care is such a challenge and it really does help to know that you're not the only one struggling.

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  5. I'm glad the med student murderer thing hadn't happened yet, because now I'm afraid to even sell my toaster on Craig's list.

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