Nanny Wars.

Childcare, like many industries, is getting crushed by the current economic recession. Recent Wall Street Journal articles estimate that nanny hiring is down between ten to thirty percent in "When the Going Gets Tough, Some People Lay Off The Nanny" and that demand for daycare for young children is declining too, as reported in Sue Shellenbarger’s "Families Cut Back on Day Care As Costs -- and Worries – Rise" and in The Washington Post’s "Squeezed on All Sides, Parents Forego Day Care."

 

Many of the cuts come from families where childcare is a luxury – albeit an important one that allows parents to delegate errands and household chores to allow greater quality time with children. But there are millions of moms (and dads) who know that you cannot go to work without someone you can trust (and afford) taking care of your children. That’s no luxury – that’s a necessity.

 

Which leads me to scratch my head at how badly some families treat their childcare providers. Forget the Mommy Wars. The real battles are the Nanny Wars.

 

I know firsthand how hard it is to get and keep good kid care. Most families I know treat their childcare providers like trusted partners. But if you are going through babysitters faster than soy milk, I wonder if it’s you who needs a performance review.

 

Some of the most ambitious women I know – moms who are justifiably proud of how hard they work – disdain their hardworking female childcare employees. They repeatedly sabotage family balance by treating their childcare providers poorly. At times it seems these smart, savvy women are blind when it comes to their childcare employees. These toughies would never tolerate a workplace filled with the kind of discrimination, low wages and unreasonable schedules they mete out regularly.

 

Now I’m no angel – I’ve made my mistakes and I’m sure my babysitters have a word or two on how I could improve. But over twelve years of motherhood, I’ve had longterm childcare providers, one for seven years straight. Some of my savviest friends, however, shock me with their reckless approach to childcare, the most critical foundation of work/family sanity.

krAko
01.06.09

childcare commandments are awesome! my mom is my caregiver and I still totally abide by these. makese life so much more harmonious!

girlmogul
01.06.09

Couldn't agree more with the post and the comment about valuing your daycare/babysitter/au pair. There women (mostly) have a hard job being with kids all day and they should be valued and respected - and also compensated more than fairly - all the better to ensure that they will want to do an excellent job spending time with my kids and that they will be in it for the long term

westchestermom
01.02.09

I live in a community where almost everyone has childcare whether they work 60 hours a week, or just need extra help as a full time mom. The issues you raise are all too common to me and I always know the moms that are horrible employers for the same reasons that you mention - including high turnover. We have only had two babysitters because we over pay, are flexible and we do not expect a babysitter to be a house cleaner when the babies grow up. At a recent holiday dinner, one of my relatives told me that I better "whip" my babysitter into shape about house cleaning when my child is in camp full time next summer. I replied how would you feel if I hired you to take care of children and then told you to clean my toilets. I just don't think it is right to treat someone in my home any differently than I would like to be treated in my work place. I have learned a lot from my babysitters and they are much calmer, and not as high strung as me. This has an extremely positive impact on my child. I know it is a job, but I don't want them to resent us - in the same way that I sometimes resent my manager or employer when they take advanatge of me in the office. One of us always shows up at the set time, or we pay overtime. We also give adequate notice of time off and we do not ask for hours back. For example, if our child is at preschool for 15 hours a week. Again - how would you feel if your pay was cut at work? COuld you afford to stay in the same job? I see my neighbors and even some friends make their nannies work at other people's houses, work at night or even weekends to make up time when their kids start school. We might ask for some food to be picked up at a supermarket after preschool drop off, but we don't expect heavy hosue chores or make up hours. I know a lot of people think we are 'too easy', but childcare is hard even if you get an extra three hours of time a day. You list should be distributed to everyone in Westchester because I can give you at least two examples of people that do the opposite of what you list here - especially with illegal immigrants that live in and don't drive. My simplest advice is - treat caregivers as you would like to be treated in your own job, and unless it involves health or safety - try to let your caregiver use their own child care skills instead of micromanaging them.