My husband and I both work outside of the home, so when it came time for me to return to work after having our daughter, we hired a full-time nanny. I’ve said this before, but our “well-oiled machine” of a household runs the way it does because of her.
My daughter is just about to turn two. My mom tribe- who I love and trust with everything- suggested it might be time for our toddlers to start a drop-off program to get the kids used to being apart from their regular caretakers. I was on board, and so I followed suit. I enrolled Brielle to begin her drop-off class for this fall.
While talking to friends/colleagues/clients and telling them about Brielle’s “first day of school,” (because that’s what a one-a-week 75 minute program is, right? School? Warranting a new backpack and pictures and me making a huge fuss over it? Ok, good.)—many people responded with "Oh, it’s so good for her to be with other children. She will learn to be social. That’s great, she’ll get out of the house. This is essential for her social development."
Those people have never met my daughter.
Brielle is your typical toddler. She throws tantrums and knows how to get a muffin for breakfast no matter how much I insist she should eat her eggs. But she also says “please” and “thank you” without prompting and although she doesn’t like it, she knows what it means to “share.” Why did people assume she wasn’t already immersed in social situations? Why did they assume it would be her first time “out of the house”? Is it because we have a nanny and she’s not in daycare or home with me?
Why is what we choose as care for our children so quickly scrutinized and judged by others? (This is of course a much larger question going back to why we judge others at all…) Whether you chose to stay home with your child, utilize a daycare, hire a nanny, or some hybrid of these options, I trust you made that decision based on what was best for your family. No one turns over the day-to-day care of their child on a whim.
So, to set the record straight- in my humble opinion, nannies can offer just as much stimulation and socialization as a daycare or a mommy-and-me playgroup. My daughter spends most of her days with 5-10 kids across a wide range of ages. She goes to music class, gym class, and art class every week. She visits every park in town regularly. She knows other nannies by name. She often comes home with a new word she’s picked up that day—whether it’s from one of her classes, friends, or our nanny. Some of this may be thanks to the nature of our little city, but I know a lot of it is thanks to our nanny.
I know that all nannies are different. Just as all daycares are different. I can only speak to what works for me and my family. Right now, that is a full-time nanny. A nanny who cares for my daughter as if she were her own and teaches my daughter things like social skills on a daily basis. So please, let’s quit the assumptions and judgments and skip right to the point: her first day of school pictures were adorable!
Ashley Vallillo Manzi lives in Hoboken with her husband and nearly two year old daughter. She is a family law attorney with Ziegler Zemsky & Resnick in Hackensack, NJ. With focus on prenuptial agreements, divorce, alimony & child custody, Ashley sees her role as "helping someone arrive at a new beginning." On the weekends, Greg, Brielle, and Ashley love to go out for brunch, playing in Church Square Park, or chasing the birds along Sinatra Drive. With lots of friends and family (her siblings live here too!) this family is always on the go.