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Being Nannies For The Day

When Georgie was little, his parents lived on the Upper West Side of New York City. Both had jobs that were demanding and required them to be working more than 40 hours a week. Often it was quite a bit longer.

Liz, our daughter had 3 months childcare leave after Georgie was born. Toward the end of that time, I helped her interview prospective nannies. After speaking to several, one came with a particularly good recommendation from the friend of a friend. After spending time with her, we asked her to give Georgie a bath and watched her care for him one afternoon and decided that she would be fine.

She spent the following 18 months taking care of Georgie. During that time, Dan and I would commute to the city once, sometimes twice a week. She would get paid for the day but would go home, and we were thrilled to spontaneously spend time with our grandson. It was surely a win- win situation. We had the flexibility to visit when it suited our schedule and she had basically a 4-day work week and was paid for 5.

So, we got a chance to see what her routine was like. Here's what we found. The nannies would call one another and decide where they would meet that morning and Georgie's nanny was out of the house each day a little after 8:00. The babies and toddlers she met each day were all bundled in strollers and equipped for all kinds of weather with very warm snuggly blankets and plastic rain gear. They would meet and enjoy the day together and return to their homes between 5:00- 6:00 pm.

Each morning, depending upon the weather, the nannies decided on a meeting place. Sometimes it would be Central Park or the library. Occasionally, it would be at one of the nanny's Meeting Rooms in an apartment building. There were trips to a museum or Starbucks in the neighborhood. Each child had slightly different schedules because they often attended a music class or a gym program during the day and the nannies would catch up with the group at a later time. The point is that each day the children could be anywhere.

For folks like us who once worked in the public school sector, this was both fascinating and really scary. Teachers in schools need to be sure about where kids were at all times. So, it took us a while to get accustomed to the idea of a child leaving home each day and traveling to a different, random location.

As it turned out, Georgie was always safe and well cared for. He had other children around him, visited some interesting places and got outdoors nearly every day. Cell phones provided his parents the opportunity for almost instant access to his nanny.

I'm sure all parents and nannies have different arrangements and employ various feedback loops to stay connected and accountable for where children are.

Still... I was always a bit anxious. It may be generational. It may be "old school." What do you think?

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