The Great Nanny Experiment of 2012

Last May, when school was ending and summer time was rolling around, I realized I didn’t want to spend my mornings rousting my children out of bed to take them to daycare.

As far as I saw it, I had two choices:

1. Quit my job.
2. Hire a nanny.

We went with the second option. (The first is always very, very tempting.)

It was the right decision.

I’m not sure I will be able to adequately express the difference having a nanny made in my life. But I’m going to try.

Before I start to gush, I will state upfront that she wasn’t perfect. Kerry (not her real name) likes country music, which is probably about the only genre of music I don’t like. My kids learned some country songs over the summer, and also learned that “po-po” is slang in some circles for “police”. We’ll call it “broadening their horizons”.

Kerry also… how do I say this delicately? She could have chosen more modest clothing. Kerry is a big-boned, curvy girl, and likes short jean shorts and tank tops. I’m not sure if I had the right to say anything about this. (What say you, readers?)

Okay, the cons out of the way: OH MY GOSH, I WISH KERRY COULD BE OUR NANNY YEAR ROUND. SHE MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN MY LIFE AND THE KIDS’ LIVES THIS SUMMER.

I’m not sure how much my children appreciate the fact that they didn’t have to go to daycare this summer. They slept in every morning (except that one time Flora got up at 2 a.m.). They played with their cousins several times a week (my niece and nephew were over Bella and Tadone’s quite often). They were able to take swim lessons.

Kerry had no problem driving the kids around. We installed carseats in her back seat, and she took them to the zoo, the Aviary, the mall, the park, the pool, and so on. She bought them little gifts. One night, she even took the girls to the Butler County Fair — they had a blast, of course.

This is what hiring a nanny did for me, though:

First, mornings were a breeze. I got up, got ready, got out the door. I didn’t have to herd the children out of bed, to the kitchen table, back upstairs to get dressed; I didn’t have to hassle my husband about getting out of bed. I came downstairs, poured myself some coffee, and drove to work.

It was a lovely, quiet time.

Second, after work I got home an entire hour earlier than I do during the school year. I didn’t have to run around picking up the children from their school and daycares. We had an extra hour to play games, go for walks, read books or do crafts. Evenings were *relaxing*, not the usual mad dash to bedtime.

Third, my house was clean. So clean. Kerry guided the girls through picking up the house, putting clean dishes and clean laundry away, making their beds. She got them to vacuum, she showed them how to load the dishwasher. And so when I came home at 4:30 p.m., things were neat and organized. It was so… light to come home to a picked up house. I breathed more easily, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed.

Lastly were little odds and ends I could depend on Kerry for: tiny errands to pick up dry cleaning or groceries, having the kids bake or make pizza dough, running them to meet me at the mall when I had an eye appointment. It’s probably all these little things that assumed the most weight. The fact that I neither had to bug Dan nor do it myself — stop for milk, grab a birthday card, handle two children while the other one had an appointment.

Sometimes, moms joke about “having a wife”. Whether we work full-time or part-time outside of the home, or are home full-time with our children, sometimes we wish for another body to send on errands, another body to occupy one or two children while we do laundry or cook dinner — or conversely, a body to do the chores while we watch the kids. In most households, we moms still take on the majority of housework and childcare. Even though dads are more involved, it’s still not a 50-50 split in most households. So sometimes we wish for that third body. (Or telekinesis — just me?)

Having a nanny — a childcare worker who came to the house — was like having a wife for me. It was rather glorious.

Overall, of course, and most importantly, Kerry was great with the kids. She interacted with them, guided them through their day, keeping them busy with fun and with chores. Michael adored her. Kate and Flora listened to her (there was an end-of-summer dust-up) and enjoyed being with her. She really loved them (and has already offered to babysit when we need her).

So, I can easily forgive her for teaching my kids a couple of country songs. I’m not sure, if she weren’t a teacher and could work for us year-round, how we would have kept her on. It sure would be nice if she could pick up the girls from school and get their homework underway. But as it is, we’ll have to muddle along without her… (I have some ideas about that).

Do you sometimes wish for a wife?