Updated: Sep 25
We raised our first-born, Rachel, without a nanny, in the States. Then we moved to Indonesia, where the culture is to have nannies for the children. Our two sons are 12 months apart. When Daniel turned three and Joseph turned two, we said goodbye to the nanny who watched both of them. They shared a nanny because she did not have to watch them full-time. I was mainly with the boys and she only helped when I was unavailable. We hired a house helper who mainly did house work and helped babysit only when we were unavailable. When Joseph turned five, we said goodbye to our house helper. This year, 2023, is our 6th year without any helper.
You might ask, why? Why the hassle? Can't we afford helpers? How can we possibly have three young kids with no outside help? The answer is, why not?
You might also say, it takes a village to raise a child. Yes, I do agree with that! However,
it is not implied that it takes a group of helpers to raise a child. A helper will always have a helper mentality. Unless that helper is your own parents, grandparents, sibling,
relative or friend, the mentality is more similar to yours. That too, is not a guarantee. If we want to be honest, we do not necessarily share the same values and beliefs with our own family. When we allow a nanny to spend more time with our child than ourselves, they will pass on their values, beliefs and mentality. A helper has a duty to 'perform' as a caregiver to your child. They will make sure the baby is perfect in feeding, dressing, sleeping and playing. The baby will never be allowed to fall, cry, be hungry or even angry. That is what many nannies try to achieve, whether they realize it or not. We have tried to train our nanny to 'perform' based on our values and not hers. Not easy. She did not understand nor agree. There was constant struggle and frustration between us and her because we had to constantly remind her of our values.
Pay attention the next time you see a child with a nanny. Does the nanny run to protect the child from falling? Does she cover the corners of the table when the child is running near it? Does she give a shriek when the child accidentally falls? Does she feed the child even if the child can already feed himself? Does she quickly give in to his requests the moment he is irritated, starts to cry or show anger? Does she pacify him the moment he starts to cry, without even finding out first, why the child is crying? Does she pick up after his every mess, carry his things, helps him put on his clothes and shoes, bathe him, pick out his clothes, comb his hair? Fast forward ten years later, when the child is now bigger, stronger, and taller. Does she still do most of the things for him, because by now, he is used to being helped, it becomes natural for him to be helped? What happens if suddenly she is not around or available? How does your child act or function without her for a few days, weeks or months? Do you or your spouse then become the nanny? Or do you succumb to getting a temp to help while she is gone?
So here are the top 3 benefits of raising kids without nannies:
Your kids will think, talk and act like you
Monkey see, monkey do. Your kids will absorb everything you do. Your actions will speak louder than your words. The key is to spend more time with them. Let them be with you in all types of situation; work, study, play and rest.
Your kids will develop a strong bond with you
How much time do you need to spend with your child? Quantity, not quality. That is the key for bonding with just about anyone. The more time you spend with your kids, the stronger the bond. Having a strong bond will encourage smoother communication. That will be very important as the child is entering his tween and teen years, where he needs you the most to navigate through his years of discovering his true self.
Your kids will be more independent
Without any additional help in the house, naturally, each family member needs to do things on their own. This will help your children develop more life skills and be more independent. As a young toddler, he will be less needy because you will be near him but not fully paying attention to him. He will learn how to play by himself.
What if you are a full-time career woman? For me, I decided to be a full-time mom until my youngest was five, before I went back to work. Even then, I worked part-time and gradually added more hours as my kids grew up. Maybe your situation does not allow you to stay home. However, I would like to challenge you to see your child as the greatest asset you own. You will reap a great harvest if you invest your time, energy and money in your asset. Did you know that the first 5 years are crucial development years for a child? If you are willing to invest 5 years of your life to raise your child, the rewards will be a lifetime of joy and happiness for you and your child.
If you are planning to have a child, or more children, or just trying to transition from having no nanny in the household, do weigh in on the 3 benefits above and I hope that you will find them rewarding and worth every 'hassle' and effort you put in to make it a reality in your family. Enjoy the new freedom of family without strangers!