I have been sitting on this post for a while now and was unsure if whether I should post it or not because I don’t want to come across as being presumptuous on this topic due to my current situation as a stay at home mum. However, regardless of me being in an office outside of my home or me sleeping in to catch up on my previous night’s sleep, both situations require my nanny to look after my children, and in turn, my quality time has been taken away from them.
I’ve spoken about having two live in nannies in my household and the constant balancing act. It’s tough being a mum here in Jakarta as an expat! I would never dare say this out loud to my friends back at home because I know it’s even harder for them doing it all without having any household help…working, cooking, cleaning, driving family around, grocery shopping, school/childcare run and taking care of their families on top of all this! To me, it’s actually impossible to imagine! But I believe that our situation also has its unique challenges and I will expand on my challenges in another post.
I think as mothers, we can unite and agree that no matter what situation you are in as a mother, you will always feel that dreaded ‘mother’s guilt’. Working mothers, stay at home mothers, mothers with or without nannies, single mums…we all feel that same guilt. Whether it be thinking that we are not doing enough for our children and neglecting their needs. Or we are doing far too much for them and harming their independence. We are spending too much time with them and spoiling them. Or not spending enough time at all. Sometimes I feel all of these feelings simultaneously!
A friend recently spoke to me about how difficult it was for her to balance her child with being a working mum. She felt that she wasn’t spending enough quality time with her son and felt that he was always with his nanny. She asked me how I manage my three children and how do I spend quality time with each child? So I told her this.
Do the MINIMUM required amount with her child so that she no longer feels guilty! What?! I hear you say? Am I advocating lazy parenting or minimal parenting by passing on most of my parental responsibilities to my nanny? No, of course not! What I am advising is that, if you are time poor, or in my case with three children under the age of three (tired, burnt out, frazzled and lost!) share the load of tasks and responsibilities to your nanny that you feel comfortable with delegating to her. And keep the least amount of tasks for yourself to do WITH or FOR your child that still keeps you feeling CONNECTED to them. No matter how tiny it is.
I categorize them into two areas because I still feel connected to my child if I do something for them without doing it with them. Like preparing their daily meals, even if I can’t be physically there to feed them.
Here are some other examples, it could be anything…A chore like bathing, dedicated tickle time, recreational activity, telephone or video call, cooking their favorite cookie, choosing their daily outfit, story telling, secret handshake.
Here’s how I do it, and I know, I’m very lucky to have unlimited time throughout the day because I don’t work in full time employment.
I feel extremely disconnected from my children if I don’t bath them myself and give them a kiss goodnight before they go to sleep. So I make sure that I do all of these things with them each afternoon. After a LONG sleepless night with my children, tending to their needs, I feel that I’ve given them enough of my love and attention, so I happily hand them over to the nannies! I go back to bed to sleep in a little, guilt free! I then make sure that I get up and take them to school or at the least, say goodbye. Mummy quota fulfilled! Tick ✅I can now go out for coffee, kid free and guilt free!
I also make sure we get some afternoon play together outdoors but if I can’t, no worries, I’ll prepare their dinner instead. Tick. ✅
And if I’m not around for all of these tasks on a particular day, I just make up for it the next day or days. It’s a constant guilt negotiation but it works because I choose the tasks that help me to feel connected and having a nanny allows for that.
When I have a really bad guilt attack, I try to remind myself that my children are very lucky to have a doting nanny by their side. If were back at home, my kids would be getting a much rougher deal from me. I would be working and traveling up to 60 hours a week in my old profession and I would be incredibly busy and overwhelmed. I could not physically offer them the undivided attention that my nanny is providing them and I would be so much more tired and cranky.
My last line of defense against fighting guilt is acknowledging that I grew up with a single parent, working mother in Australia and I never felt neglected by her absence! Tick. ✅
I know it’s easy for me to say because I’m currently a stay at home mum. I have the most respect for working mothers and know that they have very limited time. I’ve been there myself having run my own company in Singapore when I had my first born. It’s heartbreaking arriving home from work after your child has already fallen asleep and tucked away by your nanny. Or in my case, she had already bathed him. I really felt like I was missing out. But I think that if you do that one thing or things, WITH your child, or FOR your child, that makes you feel connected to them, it’s quality time and those are the special moments that you will both remember and cherish.
What are the things that you do with or for your child that helps you to feel connected to them?