Friday, April 16, 2010

My Search for a Nanny (A Perfect One!) - Part I

I spent 9 months home with my son after he was born. I landed a role as a stay-at-home Mom (though not by choice) and I kind of liked it. It certainly was hard work and I filled every minute cleaning something or someone. Unlike a job outside of the house, there was no end time where you pack up at 5pm. My work clock ended somewhere around midnight. However, there was something appealing about being able to take my son to music and art classes at noon on a weekday and visit 3 different grocery stores to find the right ingredients for a gourmet meal. So when an opportunity to re-join the workforce came my way, I didn't exactly jump at it. For one thing, it meant I wouldn't be able to spend every moment of the day with my son. Uh, hold on, that's a big deal, a Major deal.

Well, the opportunity was a really good one and in several ways - money, commute, project type, company reputation - not in that order. Ok, ok I needed someone to kick me in the rear anyway to get me back into the world of suits and heels and my husband thought it was a VERY good idea that I get back to work. I caved. I negotiated a 6 week delay in my start date in order to find childcare. The company obliged. I knew immediately that I wanted to find someone who could come to our house and watch our son - a nanny. My husband is home during the day so we only needed someone for about 15 hours over 3 days per week when we both wouldn't be home. The search began...

I did everything a careful mother would do in trying to find the perfect nanny, someone who was a "good fit." I've done a lot of recruiting in the corporate world, so I thought I would attack this in similar fashion. I read books, called local resources, researched internet articles, talked to other moms, etc. I drafted a list of the qualities I wanted this person to have and from there I created my job posting. Besides having the right kind of experience, she or he had to be energetic, loving, sing a lot of songs, make silly faces, get down on the floor and play, willing to do whatever it takes to make my son smile. It was also very important that this person be a communicator and share with me the details of each day and in both a verbal as well as a modern format - Text, MMS, Email. I anticipated how nice it would be to get random text messages about what my son was doing or a picture of him asleep. Every time I pictured this person, I thought "young." They've got to be young so that they can keep up with him. They've got to be someone I would like as a friend so that I could communicate well with them. They've got to be somebody like me. Weren't they a Mommy stand-in?

So after sorting through a myriad of resumes, holding tons of interviews, and calling reference after reference, we found her! She was a very young 20-something, but her experience was superb and her references were stellar. Heck, I'm 30-something and she had way more experience than I did. She still had relationships with some of the kids she nannied for (some even long distance)! Now, I could return to work and find comfort in knowing that my son was going to be well taken care of. Can't you just tell that this isn't going to end well? Yeah, it didn't.

On the first day, I came home to a very happy baby. The Nanny had outlined for me on a notepad I bought her what had taken place at various times of the day. On the second day, he was still very happy and that made me, well, very happy too. On the third day, oh that's when the trouble began. On the third day, she texted me to say that she was sick and wasn't going to be able to watch the baby. A few days later, she called to say that she had been diagnosed with mononucleosis and it could take up to a few months to recover. After, I ran to the computer and googled the heck out of 'baby exposure to mono' and found out the chances of a young child catching it were slim to none (exhale), I realized that I had no childcare and I had a job to go to the next morning. NO CHILDCARE PEOPLE!

I was heartbroken. I had invested so much. This is the one area in my life that I really needed to go well right now. Where did I go wrong? I know that catching mono wasn't anyone's fault (if you believe her story) but this sucked! I would have to find someone new and fast. I suppose there were a few people that made my top 5 list that I could call back, but I already knew they didn't make the cut for a reason. Settling was not an option.

Then, I came across an article online about the pros and cons of nannies by age group. While settling wasn't an option, what was an option was changing my perspective of what and who this nanny should be. Maybe, the nanny didn't need to be "young." Maybe "young" sometimes also means unreliable since most are still going to school and this was not their long-term career goal. I quickly eliminated the "young" filter and my list of qualified candidates got quite a bit longer.

Now, this was going to be interesting...

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