Before my child was born, both I and my husband naively promised ourselves that we will never hand over the pearl of our lives to a baby sitter. We decided that we will do everything ourselves. Given that we have enough sources of information including the internet, the elders in the family, friends and doctors, we believed we can be the super-parents to our new born. But not even a week into the business and reality was laughing back at us. We had our parents staying with us then. Friends came over to see the child. And everyone had a solution to everything; just that most of them didn’t work!
Life had changed fundamentally in the last 30 years. Now you hear of weird diseases and infections that were unheard of even a few years ago. And you have to be careful and protective. Even if you are chilled out, peer pressure will inject that panic in you. Sometimes it happens that the solutions of parents sound obsolete, simply because what they successfully implemented 30 years ago can today be the budding grounds for yet another infection!
At such delicate moments when the baby is just too young and you are thoroughly confused, you might need external help. We needed. With everyone bathing us with myriad information from all directions, we needed someone trained and well knowledged, and who knows the rules of the game as it appeared right then! Eventually we turned to the agencies who offer trained nannies. The logic was simple. At times we didn’t understand why the baby was crying or why he wouldn’t sleep or what kind of massage would be appropriate for him. At such times, by still struggling with our idea of super-parenting and servicing him with our novice ideas, we were only causing him discomfort. He needed expert handling.
Soon nannies came in for interviews and they seemed to be talking a lot of sense. We hired one. The next course of events are something that many women would relate to. Managing the nanny was a bigger task than managing the baby. They came with high egos and higher tastes; wasted food and other stuff in the house as if they are available free of cost; expectations were sky high with a new demand every other day; were emotionally bankrupt (or so they showed) telling stories about how they have been wronged by relatives/brothers/sons in life – which is a refined way of telling you the lifestyle they expect to continue; would tell you on the face that the food your family eats and serves is substandard for them; etc. You try to correct them on something you don’t like and their advises/shock/displeasure pour in explaining that you have no business in doing those. So basically, you lose your peace and take it all, because with all their nuisance, you can see that your baby is in good hands and he is being treated extremely well. Hence, though you detest her for many reasons you take all her rants because the child is happy with her.
Trust me, even the nannies know that they have caught you by your weakness and that they have become your SOS!
In Mumbai, with my experience and those of some others, I got to know the game that agencies play. They take a lump sum saying that you are entering into a yearly contract with them, and in that one year they will provide you with two replacements in case the nannies leave or you don’t like their work. So initially they would send a lady who would be extremely good with her service. Barely within 2 or 3 months she would run away siting some reason or the other. The two replacements post that would be awful. And the moment they have provided you with three nannies, the contract is over and you are expected to pay again! There are also some agencies who ask for advance payment before you even get to see that nanny. Many of such agencies had also been detected with fraud, for not servicing as promised and for disappearing after collecting client’s money!
With the nannies we hired, one seemed shady. She refused to submit an address proof, her words were self-contradictory (who on earth confuses between whether she has two sons or three), her husband was a carpenter on one day and a tailor on the other.
With the nannies we hired, one seemed shady. She refused to submit an address proof, her words were self-contradictory (who on earth confuses between whether she has two sons or three), her husband was a carpenter on one day and a tailor on the other. Finally we put our foot down claiming to see where she lives, purely for security reasons. She fled.
Twice after that, I threw out the nannies overnight because I got to know about their involvement in rackets. There’s a sad pattern here. Many of these women are either widowed or divorced/separated/abandoned. They work as a babysitter in urban locations and are available for “other services” if approached. I even got to know from another friend, how her nanny would invite her boyfriend when the couple was not home and she threatened the kids with dire consequences if they opened their mouths over that. Another friend said she threw out the nanny when multiple times she caught her wearing her expensive clothes when she was away. Internet also shows you reports of nannies who rob, steal, indulge into wrong activities. An ex-colleague also told us funny stories on the tough time she had in correcting the pronunciations of her child, who had started echoing her nanny’s diction!
The point I am trying to make through the last couple of paragraphs is about the security and development of our children, along with our own well-being, so that we are reasonably and fairly involved with our baby’s upbringing. That is an extremely important aspect that suffers when we place the child in wrong hands.
After my peace was massacred for about 10 months, my solution finally appeared by luck and through reference. This was a young girl who was experienced with handling babies in her family. She came with innovative technics to keep my child engaged, planned nice games for him, took upon herself a target to make him utter the first few words, and my home seemed happy. This girl was extremely punctual; she came in time and left around 7 in the evening. Seemed, people at her home were strict with the timings of when she left and when she entered. She treated my house as hers and loved my child.
This taught me a few lessons.
- Hire your child’s caretaker through reference. Often house-helps come up with good options.
- Hire well in advance, before the baby is born, so that you have enough time to adjust and understand whether sensibilities match.
- Ensure that they come from families which are strict with their codes of conduct. Then you have less shocks coming up your way.
- Instead of hiring a help for 24 hours, prefer someone for 12 hours. These women are human beings after all, and though they work for money, their system at times give up. Managing a child is a tough job as it requires physical and mental presence all the time. They too need to disconnect from everything else and spend some hours in leisure. Only then they can return afresh and stay happy with their job.
Finding an appropriate support system works wonders for our families and for our child. While we have our friends and family to hold our hands when required, it may not always be fair to ask parents to come and manage the child on our behalf. Our parents have given their lives to us and this is the time they should be left to enjoy themselves the way they want, even if it means that they don’t wish to come and take care of our babies. That certainly doesn’t mean that they love any less. Thrusting our responsibilities at them may be too unfair. In such moments if we have to look for professional help, we need to take a rational decision such that the child’s well-being and security isn’t compromised at any level.
Whether we parent ourselves, or we pass a few responsibilities to others, we have to make sure that we are receiving the best returns.