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Why You Should Hire a Nanny (if you can afford one)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

6:30 am, the alarm rings, snooze, snooze, please 5 more minutes! Okay, time to get up, I have 45 minutes to get ready for work, unload the dishwasher, prepare my son's snack, launch the laundry, and then rush off to catch the GO train. And in the winter, it's even worse, because you need time to defrost and clean the car. Sounds familiar? This is my daily morning routine. And then full day at work. Then 4:10 pm, rush, rush, rush, run to get on the GO train again, and make sure I'm on time in rush hour to pick up my son from daycare. And then, the day just begins.

I pick up my son from daycare, then drive home; sometimes we get groceries on the way home as well. We get home. My youngest is so excited to see me. My mother in law watches him during the day; she lives with us during the week. Time to change/load the laundry again. Then I run out quickly to walk with the dog (he hasn't been out since 7 am this morning); my oldest is hysterical because he doesn't want me to leave. OMG... I can't handle these tantrums anymore!

Dog walk is over. Time to bathe the boys. After bath time I set the table and heat up the leftovers from the night before or maybe my mother in law cooked something fresh. In the mean time, the boys are fighting over toys again in the playroom. My husband is working late again, probably will need to put the boys to bed on my own.

We have dinner, I play with the boys for about half an hour, then it's bed time. Diaper changing, brushing teeth, milk bottles, bed time story, and sit with my oldest for a bit until he is half asleep. Now that both boys are in bed, it's time to clean up. My kitchen looks like a disaster, the floors are dirty, there is dog hair everywhere, laundry is not done yet, and the list just goes on and on. And there is nothing to eat for tomorrow. I clean up the kitchen, then vacuum downstairs, it's 10pm now. Then, it's time to unload the laundry. My husband rolls in exhausted around this time. I may cook something quick and simple for us to eat the next day. Then, I take the clean laundry upstairs and pour all the clothes onto our bed. My husband flips as I make him fold laundry at about 11:30 pm at night.

Now, imagine all of the above being pregnant! This was my schedule for the past year, of which 9 months I was pregnant. The last month and a half I couldn't lift my boys anymore and couldn't bathe them either physically. I was on the verge of having a nervous break-down. And so, we hired a nanny. If you don't have grand parents who can help look after the kids and help to take care of a busy household with kids, hiring a nanny is a great solution, of course, if you can afford one.

When my husband and I decided to have a third child, we agreed that we will need help. Staying home for me was not an option as we need two salaries to provide for our family. My mother in law could no longer take care of my energizing toddler, and I definitely could not keep up with the cleaning, cooking, laundry and walking the dog. And since we cannot afford 3 daycares, it made sense to keep 2 kids at home until the oldest goes to public JK at least; this way we would only need to pay for one daycare and a nanny (I wasn't going to take our oldest out now that he has been accustomed to it). But how can you find a good nanny? Some of my friends hired one through word of mouth or referrals, therefore locally. A popular means is to go through an agency, if you would like to sponsor a nanny from abroad. We decided to sponsor a live-in nanny. She is from the Philippines and was working in Hong Kong before she came here. We looked at different profiles and interviewed over Skype. I wanted someone who is married and has a child of her own already; I think if you have a child of your own, then you really understand how to take care of small kids. Although I didn't have any kids when I worked as a nanny, and I thought I did a great job:). I just turned 20 and went to France to do an exchange program during my third year of undergrad. I was lucky to work as a nanny working for an amazing family who became my second family, and took care of two kids, ages 6 and 8. Several years ago, I took one of them out to a bar for a drink; funny how time flies. And, we still keep in touch. When I worked as a nanny, I thought, when I'll have kids, I'll do everything myself because I want to spend as much time as possible with my kids. And also, I'm a control freak, a net freak, and a perfectionist, I'll admit. But, three kids later, a big house, a dog, and a full-time job, I realize that as much as I would like to be a super woman and a super soccer mom, I can't do it all. Therefore, better to have someone help with everyday chores and errands so that you can have more quality time to spend with your family.

The process of sponsoring our nanny took 10 months. So, if you're thinking of sponsoring a nanny, and are relying for her to start working for you by a specific date, I suggest you start the process a year before and have a back-up plan as well just in case. Some of our friends who tried sponsoring a nanny waited for 8-9 months to find out that she won't be able to come after all, and had to find a daycare solution last minute. Others also waited but the nanny couldn't come for the requested date, and so they had to hire a nanny locally. And then there is the concern of what if the nanny doesn't fit in well with your family. If you are very concerned about not meeting the nanny personally, then maybe hiring one locally is an alternative for you. And, if you think you cannot handle a stranger living with you and sharing the kitchen, etc., then maybe a live-out nanny is the best option for you.

We were lucky in terms of timing and that it all worked out in the end. Now, I can't imagine managing every day life without our nanny, with 3 kids under 4, including an infant, and a husband who works late hours. The endless laundry is probably my biggest pet peeve, which I rarely do nowadays. Cleaning up after dinner and finding time to clean the house is no longer an issue. Our nanny often walks the dog as well, since I'm nursing most of the time still, and don't get out much. And most importantly, she can look after the kids as well - bathe them, dress them, feed them, play with them, put them to bed - if my husband or I cannot; and our kids love her and get along with her real well. She also helps with cooking, but I prefer to cook myself most of the time. And, she also helps me with groceries; we go together (with my infant and toddler) during the day when it's less busy (for now, while I'm on mat leave).

In a nutshell, having a nanny is a one-stop shop for the busy mama. If you have 2 or more children, it's definitely worth it to save on daycare costs. For most Canadian households with kids, childcare costs is the biggest concern. Although, for a working mom or dad, so is taking care of the house and every day chores, errands, and driving kids to different kinds of activities. And, even if you have one child, you'll find that a live-in nanny's fees are cost effective if you consider time and cost savings on meal preparation, housekeeping, taking care of pets, and more. For a 12-month baby, expect a price tag of about $1,200 minimum for a full-time daycare, and in more 'elite' neighbourhoods (such as downtown Toronto), at least $1,800 a month. And for a good daycare, you have to register your child before he/she is born to get a spot! This is why many moms don't return to work after maternity leave; it simply is not worth it. But, the biggest benefit of having a nanny in my opinion is that your child is not sick ALL the time. My husband and I took so many vacation days with our oldest because he was sick all the time as soon as he started daycare. Another major benefit is to help you as a mother, wife and yourself. My husband and I used to fight over the smallest things such as doing and folding laundry late at night, who is going to clean up the kitchen after dinner, who is going to vacuum and so on. The smallest things over which we (okay, maybe I) created the biggest fuss, are gone. Don't misunderstand me, we still fight over other things;). 

Benefits of hiring a nanny include: saving costs on daycare, kids are not sick all the time, house is clean, laundry is done, dinner table set for dining, you can ask the nanny the activities you want her to perform with your kids (e.g. going for walks, taking you child to a music class if close by) or what you would like her to teach to your kids each day/week/month (e.g. teaching numbers 1 to 10, teaching colours), having a babysitter available anytime, more quality time for your family and yourself, as well as someone cooking for your family (if you'd like).

How to sponsor a nanny?
In Canada, you can hire a nanny who is not a resident of Canada through the Live-In Caregiver program (LCP). The Government of Canada website states all the requirements for each province under the program. This includes, minimum salary requirements, room and board fees, vacation entitlement and more. The benefit for the caregivers coming to Canada through the Live-In Caregiver program is that after having worked for 24 months in Canada (with minimum number of work hours), they can apply for permanent residence here, and then eventually bring their immediate family here (which is something that most of these caregivers do). If you're wondering about costs, live-in nanny costs in Ontario are about $380 for a 40-hour week on average (including various deductions). (For a live-out nanny, who  may drive, the average cost is about $2,500.)

If a live-in nanny is the right choice for you, then check out the Live-In Caregiver program at http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/foreign_workers/caregiver/index.shtml.

Disclosure: All opinions are my own.










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