I’ve spent the weekend feeling anxious, nauseous, with butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat.
What did she think of us? Should I text her to say we liked her? Ok just one text! Why hasn’t she responded to my text? Should I call? Ok just one call. I’ll leave a message. Why hasn’t she called back? Didn’t she like us? Finally even though my husband told me not to, one last text practically begging her to text me back.
It’s just like dating, but all of this stress, heartache and waiting for the phone to ring is in fact over a potential nanny.
I felt like a teenager with a first crush desperate to try and play it cool but failing miserably even though I know it’s the wrong thing to do. But we need a nanny, and we need one fast.
We are now on our fourth nanny in just over 1 year. We finally landed a good one a few months ago but within a few short weeks I got that dreaded text known and feared by all nanny-employing parents. The text that read ‘we need to talk when you get home‘. I had that inevitable sinking feeling in my stomach and sure enough……she was really sorry but she needed to go back to New Zealand.
So, we are back on the hunt. But finding a nanny who fits in with your family, who you trust, who will be a proxy parent, who will be your kids everything while you aren’t there – well it’s not just tough – at times it seems impossible.
Like most working mums, I find childcare the most stressful aspect of parenting. And the more kids you have, the harder it gets. With mine now aged 6, 3 and 1 it is a full on demanding role but also a tremendous amount of fun. It’s obviously my choice to have a job, but I have worked really hard for my career which I love, and I’m not in a hurry to give it up. I do feel lucky though, because even though presenting on Sky news is very demanding and pressurised when I’m on air, the shifts I work mean I am around more in the daytime that a lot of working mums.
So back to the nanny hunt! In the past 6 and a half years we have had 10 nanny’s from all over the world; British, Romania, Slovakian, Italian, Kiwi. We’ve had a highly regarded Norland nanny (I’ve never seen anyone quite so miserable in a job!) to nannies with no childcare qualifications but who simply love working with children. The longest we kept hold of one was 2 years, but the others just haven’t last long.
I like to think I’m a nice enough boss (don’t we all?) and although my kids are spirited, they are a lot of fun.
But finding a good nanny who fits with you and your family is like the proverbial needle in the haystack. Do you use an agency and pay the exorbitant fee or go with one of the online sites such as gumtree or Childcare.co.uk and face the long and time consuming trawl through hundreds of emails many from random people such as the nanny “couple” – man and wife who work together as a team, to the 18 year old who is bored working down the pub and thinks childcare will be an easy alternative.
Agencies charge such extortionate fees, that we tend to use online ads. Once you’ve whittled the shortlist down to those who look like genuine candidates, the interview process begins.
All my friends tell me to trust your instincts, but my problem is I don’t. Last year, we took on our first live in nanny, a mature and experienced Slovakian lady. She clearly seemed good and her references were glowing. But after a miserable few weeks with my 2 year old shouting and crying if she came anywhere near him I walked in on her towering over him screaming at him to shut up and stop crying as he cowered in a corner.
Sobbing uncontrollably he told me she had pulled his hair – almost disbelieving I stroked his head to calm him down – clumpfuls of hair came out in my hand! It was all I could do not to start crying myself. Needless to say she was gone within the hour. Thankfully my gorgeous little boy has forgotten all about her, but I never will.
It is no exaggeration to say the episode has scared me. I think about her most days and feel terrible guilt I let her look after my children – even for just a few weeks.
But ultimately, I have no choice but to put my trust in a nanny and I remind myself there are countless fantastic, professional and caring nannies out there. So with just 2 weeks before mine disappears back to New Zealand I am literally hoping for a miracle. I have no choice but to carry on interviewing and hoping the ones that we like call us back. Now, let me just check my mobile again……