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January 01, 2013

Care Changes and Challenges in the New Year

Dear Care.com Readers:  As many of you know, I’ve been the main Care.com blogger for the past six years. But new years bring new changes. And as this company grows, there are so many diverse and interesting employees within Care.com who have unique stories and care challenges themselves. They are moms and dads to kids of all ages, adults handling senior challenges with loved ones, pet parents, military families….sound familiar?  I get to hear their stories – and challenges – all the time and as a working mom, have always found great comfort in knowing so many others wrestle with the same questions.  I’m guessing you feel the same way so I thought it was about time I introduced them to you.

Today, I want you to meet Danielle. Danielle and I used to work together at Upromise. And she joined us at Care.com last year in the Technology department. Shortly after that, Danielle surprised herself (and her husband!) with their third child, though she and I can both tell you that’s the best type of surprise you can ever get! She's got a pretty full plate and could use some advice from other parents out there.

 

Blog-grandparentsFirst of all, if my mother ever read this, she would probably throw me through a window.

See, my 61-year old mother is the nanny for my 3 boys.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought I would stay at home.  However, I was extremely lucky as my mom volunteered to watch my oldest so I could help support my family.  Since then, we have added two other kids to the mix and I’m starting to wonder if she’s losing steam. My oldest, is 6 and my youngest is 10-months. And 2013 brings challenges I didn’t realize it would.

Here’s what’s changed:  My grandfather is now in his 90s and is a great distance away.  I don’t want my mom to have regrets about not being able to be there for him. And then last summer my Dad started having some health issues. And suddenly all of us need my mom’s attention.  I realized two things:

1. She was spreading herself way too thin – even for my "Super Mom."  

And secondly, my kids are spending their days with a burned-out nanny! Oh no, something needs to change. So, I’m thinking about adding a new nanny to our lives. And use Mom as our back-up and "special attention nanny." One of the downfalls about her being their nanny is that she hasn’t been able to be a typical grandmother – spoil them rotten.  She has had to provide discipline and structure to ensure her grandchildren would be raised properly.  But now I think it is time to let her enjoy them more and spoil them as much as she wants.

Now, how do I let Mom know?

Here’s how I imagine the conversation:

Me: "Mom, Poppa and Dad could use more of your attention and I have some more money now [note: this is a lie] and I’m thinking of hiring someone to help you out, but still ask you to do things with the boys every day."

Her:
"Are you joking? Save your money. I’m their Grandma, it’s my pleasure. End of discussion."

And that’s my mom in a nutshell. But the thing is, I feel like my little guy needs more of a challenge these days. He is getting more and more active and starting to climb into, over and under things. Soon he’ll be walking and running and jumping off the furniture with his crazy brothers. And with three boys, having two care givers around all day wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

The new "energetic" nanny could be in charge of all activities and play dates. And Mom could take charge of 1st grade homework and putting the baby down for naps. She could also take my middle guy out for a little bonding time. It’s tough being the middle.

Any ideas on how that conversation could go a little differently?  Have you ever switched caregivers – what made you decide enough was enough? And if your caregiver was a parent, how did you tell "granny" she’s no longer prime "nanny"?

 

Guestspot-danielle


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Comments

Ann

I agree with Danielle that her mom might need some help. I, too, am a 61 year old nanny (of just 1, tho) and because I have her pretty much 24/7, there just is no time for the other 2 or to just be a plain old grandma to any of them. I would LOVE to have all 3, with a helper. I think once your mother has time to think this through, she might agree, too. As for how to tell her that, I'm not sure. I think if my daughter presented me with this, I'd think she was trying to "ease" me out completely. You might tell her to just try it for a week or so and see how it goes.

Marissa

Tough dilemna for you. I used my dad until he developed Alzheimer's Disease. My sister was a f-t nanny-grammy and was recently "retired". There is no way to do it without hurting them at least a little. I won't lie, though. You could explain that the age difference of 6 years between kids requires you to address different needs for the boys. Therefore, you think it is best for the kids to have 2 nannies. The new nanny will have (list duties). Tell your mom you would love it if she could do (list duties). Then tell her this will also allow her to spend time with Dad and Poppa. Then plan some grammy time with the kids where she can spoil them rotten!! Maybe a grammy sleep over for the older boys or a special outing. Good luck with it.

Diane

With the additional needs of both your grandfather and your father, your Mom might not know how to tell YOU and you might find she'll be somewhat relieved! Regardless, you're thinking is with her best interest in mind and ultimately, that tone will come across.
Good luck!

Jennifer

i still don't get why she wouldn't want to raise her own kids. What's the point of having them if you constantly and by the looks of it permanently farm out your responsibility. I can do the calculations, and there is no way that the mother (meaning the person who gave birth) is spending the majority of her time with her kids (the grandma is doing the mothering). it is a tragedy. And those little guys are up and out in no time. By the time they are 10, 11, or 12 years old they are hanging with their friends and then off to college... sad that the mom wouldn't want to spend those first few precious years with her children.

Allison

Jennifer, I hope you realize you are being judgmental and unkind. All types of mothers can be successful and raise happy, well adjusted children.

Danielle, I think clearly defined duties might help. Maybe she would also like to help you find the right person to join the team. It would probably really help if she liked her new assistant!

Gigi

You never know - your mom maybe relieved as another commenter said. She may protest feebly but if you point out the other constraints gently she will be happy that you considered her priorities!

Miranda

Marissa had some great suggestions. I wish my folks were in the same timezone to be able to help at all.

I think addressing how great it's been for her to be around is the start. Keep the focus on your father and grandfather needing more of her time/attention in the coming months that way you can minimize any "it's getting harder for her" thoughts/discussions from coming up.

Christine

Wow Jennifer - Really? First of all Danielle never said that she "didn't want to raise her own kids." Some of us working mother's don't have the luxury of being stay at home moms; we have to sacrifice spending time with our children to make money so that they are fed, clothed, and have a roof over their head. Second, it is sad that Danielle is reaching out for help/advice and you choose to judge a situation you may not entirely understand and attack her decisions. As Ellen DeGeneres says "Be Kind to One Another!"

Danielle, I am with you on this and actually had to do the same thing. My mother-in-law started watching my daughter when she was 5 months old and she wouldn't listen to our requests (what to feed her, how much to feed her, etc.). So once our daughter was a little older we said that we thought she would benefit from being socialized and now we have a nanny that watches her and my best friends daughter (they are a month apart) and things have been great for us! You have a different situation where you are truly putting your mom's needs first. I am sure she will see this although it may not be at first. I would explain that you are grateful for everything she has done; however, you would like her to focus attention on your dad right now because he needs her more than your boys do. That your boys will be there whenever she is having grandbaby withdrawls. I am sure it will all work out! Happy New Year!

Beth Puddy

I am soon to be 56 years old, WAS an empty nester for 15 yrs. when I suddenly find myself mothering an 11 yr old and 3 yr old grandsons. I have raised 3 children of my own and have the benefit of experience. When dealing with the mom & dad I always followed their rules. Now that I have custody of both the 11 yr old & 3 yr old boys, I have to be thier mommy, as their own mom is a drug addict. It has been a challenge to undo my daughter's mothering style if you want to call it that but we are making great progress on what is expected of them and how to be respectful, etc. It is very hard on me as an older person (as opposed to being 23 -30 raising kids)and having lost a job because of all of this, but what a blessing. It has taught me that children live in the moment. They don't worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Bless this woman who wants to care for her grand children, but she can use a break here and there. Lord knows I could use one! Hang in there!

Tanya P.

Danielle, you know your Mom and how she might react, but opening up to her honestly about your concerns and the options is my advice. This way both of you can work together on the same end goal, perhaps finding a new nanny and your mom gets to spend more time with your grandfather. I wish you the best!

Stan

Your dad is lucky that your mom will take care of him. However, who will take care of your mom when she will need it? You will have to figure it out. We all face challenges like this.

I think that we all should ask our grandmothers how did they raise their children, how did they take care of their grandparents/parents, how many resources did they need and what kind of challenges did they face. I think that, in general, we are using much more resources to live, which throws us back into workplace.

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