I think my nanny and baby are too attached.
I’m afraid my baby won’t know who I am.
My child loves his nanny more than me.
Why does my child behave better for his nanny than for me?
I feel like she’s doing my job.
Regardless of why you are returning to work, leaving your child in the care of someone else is bittersweet. On one hand, you may feel satisfied that you are returning to work, providing for your family and building your career, but on the other hand, you may be mourning the loss of being the primary, daily caregiver for your child.
For many nanny employers, the thought of being jealous of their nanny seems like a silly one. Of course they want their children to love their nanny, so when nanny-envy hits, it often takes them by surprise.
Fortunately, there are steps nanny employers can do to prevent, or at least minimize and properly direct any feelings of jealousy towards their nanny that may arise.
Step 1. Understand child development. It is vital that babies and young children develop a healthy bond with their nanny. While you are at work, your nanny is charged with meeting the needs of your child. The need for affection, love and acceptance are real and it’s in your child’s best interest to have those needs met. And when you hear your 8-month-old call your nanny “mama,” you are hearing more than you think. While it sounds to you like she’s calling your nanny “mama,” the reality is she’s likely practicing one of the first syllables she knows.
Step 2. Foster a healthy child/nanny relationship. Allow and encourage your nanny to build an independent relationship with your child. For your nanny relationship to work, you’ll need to allow your child to love and be loved by someone else. You’ll also have to back her when she does things a little different or disciplines your child when he makes a poor choice. While you may want to be the one comforting your child after every tumble, isn’t it good to know that your nanny can calm and soothe your hurting baby?
Step 3. Spend time doing something special with your child each day. Whether it be reading a special book or giving your child a bath, spend a few minutes alone with your child doing something special with him each day. Reconnecting after a day apart can help ease any sense of feeling disconnected.
Step 4. Accept jealousy is normal. When you employ a full-time nanny, chances are you are going to miss out of some of the milestones that you’ve looked forward to as a mother. You may miss out on your baby’s first steps and it’s okay to feel sad that someone else got to experience that milestone with your child (although an experienced nanny may say “I think he’s about to walk” instead of “He walked and you just missed it”). When these feelings do crop out, acknowledge them and talk through them.
Step 5. Brief and debrief. It’s easier to be jealous of your competitor than it is to be jealous of a teammate. Reinforce your team approach to parenting by briefing and debriefing each other upon the changing of the guard. Remember, for your child to feel all the love and get all the nurturing that he deserves, you’ll need to work effectively together as a team.
Part of a nanny’s job is to nurture and encourage the parent and child relationship. Seasoned nannies are aware of the intense struggle that many mother’s battle and accept without judgment, their choice to return to work and the feelings that may come along with that choice. If you find your nanny is more of a fierce competitor that a teammate, perhaps it’s time to look for a new nanny.
By Michelle LaRowe, the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year and author of Nanny to the Rescue!, Working Mom’s 411 and A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists.
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