Monday, December 03, 2012

Mixed Feelings

Now, that I have finally found a  nanny after a long search, I find myself conflicted about the whole situation. The doubts are coming at me from both directions - her suitability and my desire to have a nanny at all. Let me tackle the first, easier issues first.

My other (part-time) maid spoke to me this evening about the nanny and mentioned two incidents that have me a little worried, and also a third one that happened on Sunday.

Incident One: It seems that she went up to my bathroom and used my toiletries to freshen up. The maid wasn't very clear about what she used but the whole thing feels like a violation of my privacy. I should mention that my bathroom is upstairs and there is a perfectly good bathroom downstairs near the dining area, which makes the whole thing even more upsetting. I should also mention that this is not a maid-employer thing either - the downstairs loo is what most guests who visit the house use as well (I often use it myself), again because I consider my bathroom my private domain and prefer not to have just anyone traipsing through it.

Incident Two: I had asked her to make some lunch for herself since I was making pasta for Tarana. The maid tells me she took out the organic basmati rice that I reserve for pulao for the kids (not only because it is pricey but also pretty hard to come by) and, even after my maid telling her that she should use the other jar of rice, insisted on cooking it for herself. Again, I should mention that the other jar contains the regular (organic but not basmati) rice that we ourselves eat so it's not like I am trying to palm off some inferior stuff on her.

Incident Three: She showed up for work on Sunday with her 6-year old daughter in tow. Again, this made me uncomfortable on multiple counts. I have had a bad experience with Ayaan playing with the kids of the help, which I had to finally shut down because I found that those kids were stealing stuff from the house (the last straw was finding one of the girls with her hand in my handbag!) Secondly, it bothers me that she would show up with her kid on her third day working for me without the courtesy of at least calling ahead and checking if it was okay to bring her.

There have also been minor issues on punctuality and attention to detail. But on the other hand, she is very good with the kids. They seem to really like her and enjoy playing with her. Hence, the confusion.

The complicated bit is how I am feeling about having a nanny at all and to be honest, it feels a little like I have a gun to my head. All this time, I complained to anyone who was willing to listen about my seemingly never-ending career break, using the lack of childcare options as a convenient hook to hang my (lack of) choice to be a stay at home mother. Well, that just flew out of the window. Now, I have to either start looking for a way back into the corporate world or accept that I am at home because I want to be. And if I don't go back to work and regret it somewhere down the line, I will have no one to blame but myself.

If I do decide that staying at home is what I want to do, then I don't know if I want or need a full-time nanny. I am a very hands-on mother, preferring to do mealtimes, naps, bedtimes, park-time, homework, etc. myself. And if I am home all day doing all of those, that leaves the nanny somewhat underemployed.

It also leaves me somewhat underemployed. Having a nanny without being at work leaves me with too much free time that I don't quite know what to do with. I don't watch daytime TV, I already consume more internet media than I think I should and I really do not see myself joining the 'ladies who lunch' brigade. So where does that leave me?

So, as you can see, it is all rather confusing. I don't even know if I am making any sense here!


  1. This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation Ro. First you have to decide if you really do want to go back to work. Assuming you don't want to immediately, maybe a year or two down the line, then knowing you i would say you don't really need a nanny at all. Maybe a cook who can come in once a day and make the dinner so you don't have to cook unless you want to. And you already have someone for the cleaning. And now that Tarana is older its really the interesting stuff you can do with the kids, you would probably want to do that yourself. Maybe a good babysitter, or nanny whom you can call for a couple of hours 2-3 times a week,if you want to go out and do something for yourself or if you and Jai want to go out together, but really no committed person coming in daily.
    If you do want to get back to work, then you'll have to see what is harder to get, a job, or a nanny. For me the job is harder to get so i'll get that first and then worry about the nanny. Of course its more organised here, but looks like you got some responses quickly for your ad, and maybe even a governess would be suitable. So maybe you try to get a job first and then look around for a nanny. Just saying, always easy to advise. Looks like my comment is getting too long...

  2. Hmmmm, I get what you are saying about the getting back to work part and keeping the nanny part too. IMHO get back to work now if you think you really want to and if you feel that a few years down the line might be too late. Things fall into place once the big decisions are taken care of.
    Are you against formal day care options? If not try using those for the kids. I personally am a little scared of leaving the kid with a stranger nanny at home, no matter how many months she has spent with us. A place with more people and kids around (like a day care) makes me more comfortable. B'lore had some really good day cares, dunno abt Hyd!

  3. Woah! You have a lot of 'Thinking about yourself' to do over the next few days.
    Its always a dilemma stay at home or go back to work! I think about it every day and postpone my decision.

  4. Nanny scene might be worry-some. She somehow sounds like the maids at Delhi. They have utter disregard for boundaries :(

  5. Baap thats a total confusing situation na..

    I dont know what I would have done at your place...honestly, I am not very keen about househelps who bring their kids without prior warning..that may make me sound snobbish, but I am bit wary of small kids coming along...I feel its unfair to get small kids along and then insist that they sit at one place while their mothers work :(

  6. From the incidents you have put down here, I'd be a little iffy about the new nanny too. Specifically, if you're planning to step out of the house leaving her alone with the kids.

    About going back to work, your case sounds a bit similar to mine. I had a reason for a while to stay on a sabbatical and then one day I suddenly didn't. When I thought really hard about it, I was still not ready to go back to work and my main concern was having to explain that to people without the crutch of the erstwhile good reason. So that could be happening for you right now.. maybe you really need this break to continue. A few months after that point, I felt that even though I did want to go back to work, the inertia of having been home for so long took a while to shake off. Hope you are able to decide soon.

  7. Its difficult to come to a decision, well if you ask me even I don't prefer sharing my bathroom with anyone else, no I would like anyone enter those areas without my consent.

    Well I think nanny job is like any other job we do for our living, I can't take my daughter and go to work whatever the reason be. So there has to be a displine and ethics from her side.

    Good part is kids are liking her, may be a 1:1 with her could sort the above problems?

  8. Why don't you just confront her with this issues? Better to clear it in the begining itself.

    As far as my experience (which includes my Mom's & MIL's experience is concerned)you can never trust the maids blindly. COme what may they take your goodness for granted & go in for misues. So be vigilant and upfront.

  9. Anonymous12:37 pm

    The issues are certainly real - IMO it is better to very clearly draw the lines and nip it in the bud. Polite but firm always works - with everyone including family bits you don't particularly like - but I digress ;)

    Second - I don't agree that a few more years later will become too late. I am the best example. This is especially true in India - you can always find work that you like, you might need to compromise on the pay but that I looked at my initial years of getting back (when I worked for almost peanuts) as paying for a second MBA. The one thing this low pay bought me was flexibility that i still needed. But the amount I learnt was invaluable, and also it showed up on my CV. Now there are several good offers, and I haven't really lost out even on the pay front if I compare with my contemporaries who never quit work.

    Especially with your alma mater - both education and work, and the number of years you already have put in, it is no big deal. Just hunt around for the right thing. For me, it literally fell into my lap - but I did know very clearly by then what I really wanted and what my non-negotiables were.

    Choxbox (signed into another account, so posting as anon)

  10. Hi Ro, good to see you writing again.. and hope you do continue. I've faced similar issues with Nannies, and strongly believe that you need to draw the line somewhere. In fact I've had to quit a couple of jobs, and stay at home only because the maids lacked integrity and honesty. It is not just about using your bathroom, stuff and rice, rather reflects on the maid's character. I would suggest you have a 1:1 with her, and try using Ayaan(just casually) to verify if she is following your instructions. Pari informed me the last time our maid slept in our bed!

  11. {Ro] Easier said than done, Ro. That is the issue at hand. I am really not sure what I want. Not having a nanny took the decision out of my hands. Now I have to figure this out for myself.

    [Simran] I have frankly not been to impressed by the day care options available in Hyderabad. If I do leave her with this nanny (or any other), they will not really be alone with her since between the cook and the part-time cleaner, there is almost always another lady in the house. That was my system in Bombay too - always two people at any given point of time. Also, most day cares take kids up to the age of 6, Ayaan is. 7.5

    [Sirisha] Exactly! The lack of nanny was helping me postpone my decision. Now I can't procrastinate for much longer.

    [Pallavi] You said it. It is not the rice or the loo that bothers me as much as the disrespect for boundaries.

    [R's Mom] Totally agree. Also, I feel like I am rubbing my kids' privileged upbringing in their face. They must feel bad to see how much stuff our kids have.

    [Soul...] I think for me the inertia is a big part of the deal. Things are so comfortable right now...

    [Little Finger/ Smita] Yup, planning to have a detailed chat with her about my rules and expectations.

    [Chox] The right thing is a biggie. I really am not in a frame of mind where I want to go back to work for the sake of it. It has to be something worth my time away from my kids. Which is why I think I should start looking otherwise the whole thing is just hypothetical.

    [Violet] Ayaan will totally tell me too - he is such a tattle tale :)

  12. Ro, sounds like a difficult situation....

    If I were you, I would break it up....

    1. Do I want to get back to work or no?

    2. If I want to, then I would look for day-care service. Mumbai nannies are a class apart, boundaries can be listed out and they will stick to it. There will always be small issues that you might be better off turning a deaf ear or a blind eye to.

    I went through 3 years of post second baby phase where I was wondering if I want to get back to work and if yes, part time or full time or from home.... But I finally got fed up of the limbo-tic situation and decided, I will have the cook, the nanny cum house-help and still stay at home and do nothing...........and be happy!!!

    I have a battery of maids, and a driver and I do nothing.... 2 years of bliss. Totally deserved, since am moving out of the country in April, and I know I have to get into many pairs of shoes simultaneously.....

  13. [Sai] Number 1 is the million dollar question - if only I could answer that, the rest would fall into place. :) You are moving? Wow! To where?

    1. Ro, Dubai in March after school year!!! Please visit with the kids!!!

    2. Dubai.... in march.... visit me....

  14. Anonymous5:22 pm

    Hello! I'm new here, but Im going to butt into to say maybe the lack of a reliable, trust-worthy nanny could be contributing to the feeling of not being ready/wanting to go back to the career world? The incidents you have stated are beyond worrisome, I would confront the nanny immediately, to avoid any further issues. I think sorting out the nanny first, getting that time to yourself, properly and fully, without having that gun to your head feeling will give you the space to consider the options, and figure a plan to move back to work. Whether one step at a time, or the whole hog, I'm not sure..

    I do hope you find the answers :) and most importantly I hope the concerns wrt the nanny have been put to rest.

  15. [Haathitime] There is also the worry that I might be trying to sabotage my own attempts to find a nanny and get back to work. :)

  16. Lovely post Ro and a dilemma that could rob ones's peace of mind. I went through it myself, tried employing a variety of types of maids from househelp to cooks to nanny material. I realized am far too finicky about cleanliness and the way maids speak to my son and violation of personal space (such as loos, in another instance asking me to show my marriage pics since she wanted to bide time until my son woke up etc.).
    What I did?
    1. Made peace with career choices. Work out of home as much as I can (not at all now, with an infant daughter)

    2. Made my life easier with 2 jhaadu-poncha maids for morning and evening, and a 8 hour one to do everything else, incl mixing rice for my son (which I feed) cutting apples, keeping the lunch boxes out for me to fill etc.

    3. Laid rules at the start - no visitors, no children, no holidays without prior intimation and Sundays off strictly.

    Good luck. If you want to give the nanny another chance, a frank and firm chat would help.

  17. Thanks for taking the time with the detailed advice. As of now, I am going to try the chat route and see how it goes.

  18. Do fill us in on how things went.
    I'd take the gentle, yet firm, chat route and maybe make some ground rules. (Speaking from experience.)