Kids: Looking for Flexible Nanny on a Diet

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by Sabine Ehgoetz

Sabine says she has fallen in love with two much younger men. And her husband Will knows about it! The “men” she’s referring to are her newborn twins Tristan and Nathan. As far as we know, she is still actively looking for a nanny…

When you are expecting not only one, but two babies at the same time, you will quickly realize that you are not only in for double the joy, but also double the sleep deprivation, double the diaper changing and, inevitably, double the bills. Especially with twin boys, like in our case, it is also going to be double the toy trucks, hockey equipment and visits to the doctor to fix injured bones and cracked teeth. Even future mothers of singletons know that their lives are about to change completely – including their bank accounts and careers – at least until the kids are old enough to go to school but, in many cases, maybe until they become adults.

The most challenging years are those first few, when you really need to make a smart decision whether to stay home with the little one(s) or return to work as soon as you can.

In our situation, a quick look into the costs of daycare reveals that it doesn’t really matter all that much what I’m going to do. The bottom line of our calculations is always going to be the same big zero. The average cost for full time day care for a small child averages about $800 a month in Ontario, and even though there is often a “sibling discount”, we would be spending a fairly big chunk of my income just for that.

Money, of course, is not the only and probably not even our major concern in this matter. The question is: do we really want to drop our babies off at a public or private facility every day while they are still very young? Will they receive the amount of attention and care there that we feel comfortable with? Clearly, we need to find an alternative, but having a fully trained and certified nanny or nurse coming to our house every day is going to cost us even more.

So how about hiring a live-in nanny from abroad?

Canada doesn’t have an official “au pair” program like the States and most European countries, where any student has the chance to spend a year abroad and study the language while looking after the home and children of the family he or she stays with. The restrictions here have been mainly put in place by immigration laws to guarantee a certain standard of experience and training amongst the caregivers. There are many agencies, though, which specialize in live-in arrangements with nannies from foreign countries to stay with a family for periods lasting from five months to three years. According to “ABC Nannies”, a Vancouver based agency, families can expect to pay a minimum wage of $9 an hour for an experienced nanny who comes to live with you. Some employers also offer medical coverage for the caregiver which is about $50/month plus processing fee and registration fees. Since I plan to raise our kids bilingual anyway, maybe a person with child-care experience from back home would be a great idea for us?

There are, of course, other challenges involved. After all, it means we would have to share our house with a stranger for many months. As we regularly hear on the entertainment news, this may not only impose a threat to our privacy but, much worse, to my marriage.

If you are naïve enough to invite an attractive younger girl to stay in your home, you should never leave her alone with your husband. True, I’m in less danger than the wives of David Beckham or Jude Law – after all, what newspaper would buy or print a intimate story about a liaison with my husband? Now that I think of it, perhaps I worry to much. Although we live in a fairly large house, there is barely any free space left for another human being, especially after our babies are born. A quick check through all of our rooms offers only one solution. We do have a few fairly sizeable closets, so if she is flexible enough, maybe we could accommodate her in one of those? This means of course she can’t be any taller than five feet or bring any luggage with her. Then there is the problem that we would have to provide for her while she is with us or at least make sure she won’t starve to death. What if we end up with a 250 pound woman who lives on several thousand calories a day? This truly seems rather risky to me, since we couldn’t fit her into any of our closets or afford to buy enough food for ourselves, let alone diapers for the little ones.

I know that there is a thorough screening of all parties done before a live-in arrangement is made, in order to provide satisfaction for everybody involved; so asking for an unattractive, small, bendable au pair on a 1,000 calories diet probably wouldn’t get us very far.

Sarcasm aside, even though a live-in nanny may be a more reasonable option for us than putting our babies into a day-care facility or have a professional Canadian nanny or nurse come to our house every day, there is a lot of commitment involved, as well as a great amount of tolerance and trust, when you share your house with another person. On the other hand, we could give a young adult the chance to live abroad for a year or longer, to gain international experience and improve his or her English skills while our kids could grow up speaking German with someone other than myself and would be well cared for. An experience like this would be wonderful for all of us, but unfortunately not everyone gets so lucky and, occasionally, families and nannies simply don’t get along and both sides need to find other arrangements after quite a bit of stress and frustration. As it looks, I still have no clue what we are going to do in the end, but luckily we have a few more weeks to decide!

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