Why We're Hiring Help After Two Kids
When we first had Bodie I got a lot of advice to hire a full time nanny to support our home. So I did and subsequently, let go of her within two days (which I’ve written about before, here). I felt protective of my time and space with Bodie as a new mother. When I ultimately returned to brand consulting two days a week for a previous client, I hired V for those days as our regular babysitter. She was young and well traveled with a background in maternal healthcare and interest in holistic medicine. She has grown an integral part of Bodie’s world in the two and a half years since and we’ve yet to tell him that she is heading back to Europe in the spring of next year.
Her moving, while emotional, also presents us a chance to actively re-evaluate our needs. A lot has changed since Bodie was a baby - namely that we now have two kids at very different developmental stages. A year into having Bodie, I started my own small venture with Mother Untitled that I care deeply about. While client work demanded time, it was structured and somewhat finite, Mother Untitled demands headspace and warrants attention at random hours. Finally, in my three years of growing as a mother, I’ve come to understand and value care of self and for my marriage, both of which makes us stronger as a family. That’s something I remember Dan constantly reminding me when I was blind to it in the early six months with our first. So while Bodie had my somewhat undivided time three years ago, I’m much more apt now to restructure our village to support the home and family we have now.
So what does re-evaluating our needs look like?
Over the last two months, I’ve been making note of the things, big and small, that throw wrinkles in our day. Simultaneously, while I’ve had the privilege of having my mother and a baby nurse here, I’ve noted where they add the greatest value. Emptying the dishwasher in the morning. Managing the endless loads of the baby’s laundry. Getting dinner prepared and on the table for Bodie so I can be on the floor playing with him until the last minute and he doesn’t end up eating Dr. Praeger’s for the fifth night in the row. Entertaining or calming one of the kids while I’m with the other. Tidying the toys so that my mental state is intact.
When you’ve shifted your whole career to be present with the kids, it can be very hard to let go of all those little jobs that all seem to fall under “my job”. Not so dissimilar from the immense amount of ego once wrapped up in my title and my salary prior to parenting, I was able to extract a fair amount of pride and accomplishment in being able to care for my home and family. But like paid work roles, if you have the the resources, teams can make you more efficient and healthier. I’ve spent the last eight weeks accepting that our home will be more calm when I’m more calm. And that our kids will feel just as secure and loved having an extra hand in our home besides me. And that just because a nanny two days a week worked at one point, our needs are evolving and likely, they will evolve again.
I’ve done a combination of reading (Tammy Gold’s Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer), sifting through local online mom’s groups (on Facebook) and interviewing referrals to start to assemble the ideal person. Sometimes it felt excessive but I slowly fine tuned my expectations over the course of the last month. Initially I found it quite jarring meeting with nannies who were used to ruling the roost. It was enough to turn me off again on the ideal of more help. I quickly learned I needed someone who was more open to working in tandem with a work-from-home mom. Second, I realized I’m quite happy handling both my kids except for tricky times like drop off or meals and bedtime routines. So I need someone who can be useful to our family with other things like cooking and cleaning. Based on that I kept adjusting my job description for interviews to more of a Mother’s Helper or Housekeeper/Caregiver role. I didn’t feel quite settled until I met the first person who felt squarely centered in what we need.
Timing & Transitions
For us, we didn’t want full-time help right away especially with V still here until Spring. To do right by her for all she did for us, I want to keep her hours intact. For now, I wanted someone part-time to augment V’s babysitting hours and grow familiar with Bodie and Lyla so that when V leaves, the kids (especially Bodie) can feel the weight of that without also having to meet someone new on the heels of her leaving.
Finally, I’ve done a lot talking. I’ve reached out to my friends to ask what works in their house or for their ideas and reccomendations. Discussion about help can feel taboo but the idea that we’re all staying healthy and creative and keeping our kids and home happy without support can feel like an unattainable myth unless we open up and give each other permission to ask or admit the help we need or crave for.
Do you have support in or outside of your home? Have your needs evolved as your family has grown? Would love to hear.