Have you ever considered, really considered, the viability of hiring a full-time nanny? Or do you immediately dismiss the idea based on the assumption that it is too expensive. A luxury item that only the super-rich can afford. A scenario reserved for women who have decided to outsource their child-rearing to a stranger.
The cost/benefit analysis I did on sending my first baby to a daycare center made my head spin. So I decided to figure out a way to make having a nanny work for my family.
Yes, it’s true. I have a full-time live-in nanny.
“Well some of us have the life, don’t we!” exclaimed an Aussie baby-boomer who visited me in Seattle recently.
Yes, I have the life. The life of a dedicated, passionate, devoted, exhausted mother of two beautiful girls.
Thankfully I also have a wonderful, sweet, talented, empathic, playful, energetic 23 year old who lives in our house. She exchanges a rent-free living arrangement and a modest salary for 45hours a week helping me take care of the little people that still haven’t let me sleep through the night more than a handful of times. Her scope of work includes cleaning up after the girls, cooking for them a couple of times a week and doing their laundry. They adore her. She adores them. Life is good.
The bonus? I would be spending at least $15,000/year more if both girls were in daycare.
But it’s not just about the money saved. This arrangement is more valuable because I get to spend more focused time with my children. I am able to utilize my energy for time with the girls, or time doing things like writing this article, instead of picking up toys. Meanwhile, my girls have the opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with someone other than mum and dad.
While our nanny unpacks the dishwasher in the morning, my husband and I sit with our girls to eat breakfast as a family. When they’re napping, she stays home while I get out of the house to teach some yoga or do the grocery shopping (although I just discovered my local supermarket does free home delivery!)
With a schedule printed at the beginning of each week, we all know who is on point with the girls at all times, so our days flow and everyone is typically pretty relaxed.
But the stigma of having a nanny is hard to shake off.
The stereotypes perpetuated by the media aren’t helping me feel good about this childcare arrangement. According to Orange is the New Black, my decision to hire a nanny is going to ensure my children become heroin addicts. According to Outlander, I will hand off my baby to the nanny every time she cries or needs a diaper changed. Yes, both shows are representing actual scenarios of previous eras, but surely we should see this balanced with stories representing modern mothers too?
Modern mothers that are exhausted, yes, but not necessarily highly strung work-a-holics handing off their screaming baby to the nanny as they run out the door to a meeting. I was that mother for the five minutes it took me to realize it wasn’t fun, or sustainable.
Modern mothers that can be polished and put-together, but that aren’t necessarily wealthy, emotionally-vacant, self-centered parents (aka the Dad in The Nanny).
Have you considered that you might be the kind of family that would benefit from an extra pair of hands on deck? Have you done the math?
It took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea of having a live-in nanny. I was the first person to roll my eyes when friends brought their nanny with them everywhere in the few years that I lived in Singapore.
But if you could find someone who shared your family values, who wanted to live rent-free while they saved some money, and you could give up one of your bedrooms to this person to avoid sending your little one to a daycare center all day, and actually save some money in the process, would you consider it? Would you do it knowing that the nanny may actually end up with more money in his/her pocket than if she worked in a daycare center? And imagine if the Government gave both the family and nanny a tax break for this arrangement (as suggested in this Women’s Agenda article)?
If having a live-in nanny could be more affordable than full-time daycare, then do we still consider it a luxury? In my case, it is an absolute necessity. It was necessary while I was working full-time, and still a much-needed expense now that I am not working full-time. It’s good for me, my husband, my girls and our nanny. Everyone wins.
If you could make the economics work for your family, would you do it? Share your story in the comments…
Blair Fillingham is an Australian marketing professional working for Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.