I recently had a chance to interview Florence Ann Romano, Windy City Nanny, about the stigma of having a nanny and why a nanny might be a good fit for your family.
Why is there a stigma for having a full time nanny?
There are many contributing factors to the stigma attached to having a nanny. People think having a nanny is exclusively for the elite, and parents don't want to be judged by society for "not raising" their children. Neither of these ideas are true, but because of the almost taboo nature of the topic, you rarely hear anyone publicizing their use of a nanny, let alone their love for them! Beyond that, there is a lot of "parent-shaming" going on out there - parent's pass judgement on one another for how they choose to run their family. And, guess what? It's no one's business! You don't know what happens behind closed doors, and it's cavalier to think that you know better than someone else.
How does a mother get over the guilt of having a nanny?
Moms need to focus on the fact that they are giving their children something to strive for—they're showing their kids what can’t be taught in a classroom. Working moms are living proof that you can be whomever you want to be, and you can keep dreaming, building and growing no matter your age, race or socio-economic status. You were given life to live it, and you are teaching your children—through example—to do the same.
Communication with your children is also key. No matter their age, language and the emotion attached to it are very important. As you sit down to explain to your children why they have a nanny, give them the chance to voice their feelings on the subject. Whether they are afraid, excited, nervous or anything else, it's crucial they know you're listening and have an answer. Always reinforce that you love them, and hate saying goodbye—but it costs money to buy clothes, put food on the table, go to the movies, go to the doctor and such. Explain that Mom and Dad work to give them all these things and love them enough to give them someone else in their life to love them too. Being open with your kids is a very helpful component in minimizing guilt. And, of course, ensure you are hiring a nanny you feel can be an extension of you.
How can we get the nanny conversation away from dinner tables and into the public?
Start talking! Social media; magazines; newspapers; news segments; talk shows - anywhere and everywhere! Let's ignite a national conversation about how nannies are influencing our lives in a positive way, and how they are being wonderful role models for children. It takes bravery to start this dialogue, but we need to rally around each other. Everyone has a platform and an opinion - use those strengths and make people pay attention to your message by forcing it to the frontline.
How to choose the right nanny for your family:
It's truly a family decision. Regardless of your family dynamic, the parents should have an honest conversation about what the "end-game" is regarding the prospective nanny. There are many factors to consider. For example, here are some sample questions you must answer before interviewing a potential nanny:
1) What is our definition of education? Does that mean just the things you learn in school, or also a cultural education (i.e. museums, theatre, etc)?
2) What are our values? Do we expect the nanny to be an extension of our values? Beyond that, will religion play a factor into the nanny's background, or our exceptions regarding the children?
3) What is our definition of discipline? Does that include spanking, grounding, etc? Will the Nanny have the right nanny discipline?
It's important to "know thyself" before the interview process. Once you've completed your evaluation of your family, have a one-on-one interview with the prospective nannies and dig deep! Get to know everything you can - background, personality, hobbies, marital status, religion - no question off limits when it comes to your kiddos!
After completing the initial interview, bring the potential nanny into your home to observe him or her with your children. Then - here's the secret! - ask your kids what they thought ... children are uncensored and have the best instincts - take advantage!
Take your time finding the right nanny for your family. It will be one of the most important decisions in your life. Remember: a nanny is an extension of parents' eyes, ears, and hearts.