When Your Child Goes to College: Looking Back on Childcare Decisions
I have owned and operated Safe and Sound Nannies for 19 years. Like many career moms, I was ecstatic to finally become pregnant after six agonizing years of trying. Even after my pregnancy was confirmed, I was petrified I would miscarry. When my doctor finally assured me that I would keep this baby, my first thought was, “I will not miss one day of this baby’s life!” But the harsh reality was that we needed my income and I had put too much time and money into my education and training to stop working. I currently work with many career moms who admit that school debt drives much of their decision to continue working full time.
I arranged to work part of time from home but still maintained my therapy practice for the next several years. I decided to hire a nanny for 30 hours per week although it was a big expense. I did not want her in a daycare with changing caregivers or caregivers who were overwhelmed by too many babies. (I interview nanny candidates now who are leaving daycare positions because they sadly feel that the children don’t get enough attention). The shared germs at such a young age also concerned me. But most of all I wanted my baby to be loved, nurtured and stimulated in the familiar surroundings of her own home, and my training as a psychologist taught me about the importance to the developing psyche of forming solid attachments during the early years. I wanted her to have a solid, uninterrupted emotional attachment to the best nanny I could find. I did not want a revolving door of nannies, even if that meant potentially paying less over the long run. With the help of my specialty in psychological testing, I ran personality screens on many candidates and was fortunate to find the right nanny for us. She had the best scores by far. The process was time consuming but well worth it. She was super dedicated, interactive, stimulating, loving, reliable and patient. She and I had a great relationship with good communication. She also socialized my daughter by networking in the neighborhood and arranging playdates at our home. This was important to me.
The reason I’m writing this is because my ‘baby’ is now a senior in high school and applying to colleges. I read her college application essays and see a young woman who is her own person and is not going to be significantly influenced by me much longer. I look back on those years and I am grateful for the personal decisions I made, both to continue working and to hire the best caregiver I could find although it was expensive. Every woman weighs her own priorities, personal goals and financial situation in making these personal decisions. Although innate personality and genes contribute to who my daughter is, her environment and caregivers played a vital role. (there is an ongoing debate about the role of nature vs. nurture in the mental health field.) Avery has an easy way with people, a trusting, confident nature, a great sense of humor and a huge fund of general information. She is articulate, inquisitive and sensitive to others. She’s a joiner and does well in groups, often taking the lead but comfortable taking direction. She’s a hard worker. I could go on… having a senior in high school spurs an ongoing review of the last 18 years! My point is that I look back on those early years and am glad I dedicated the resources to find her the best caregivers because I can’t take those years back and they passed quickly. I’ll never know exactly how much her early caretakers influenced her but they seem to have contributed significantly. I could see how happy, secure and stimulated she was back then. And they became a part of our family. I’m glad I didn’t scrimp on childcare because there were only a few years that we needed full time help and then she was onto elementary school and our expenses decreased. She entered school well equipped to handle the social as well as the academic aspects.
Partly because I kept working we are able to send her to the college of her choice. I made some difficult decisions back then, and every mom negotiates them in the way that best suits her priorities, personality, goals, financial situation and marriage. I take great joy in helping moms who make the decision to hire a nanny find the very best match for their child and family so that they can work (or stay home) knowing their child is getting the very best.