When I gave birth to my first-born, I was blessed with the opportunity to work from home. From birth to 5 years, I was the only one caring for my son without any help. So when my husband and I agreed that it’s time for me pursue a new career that requires me to report for work in an office, I had no choice but to hire a nanny for my 5-year-old son.
At first, I had a hard time accepting the fact that someone else other than me will be taking care of my child. I couldn’t even bear the thought of another person spending more time with my son than me, his mother. I feared that my son will like his yaya so much that she might soon take over my role and significance as a mom in my son’s life.
For most career women like me, getting a yaya to care for our kids while we are away at work is the most practical thing. Every mother would definitely wish for a caring, dependable, and trustworthy yaya, but the reality is, there will never be a “perfect” nanny. This is why it is such a relief if -- and when -- we do find a good one.
However, in the long run, some of us may experience insecurities that yaya might be doing a far better job than us in caring for our kids. Others may even get jealous of the attachment they develop with them.
Does your child feel more comfortable and secure with yaya than with you? Does your child instinctively go to yaya when she needs something even if you’re around? Does yaya know about your child’s preference in food, clothes, TV programs, etc. more than you do? Are you finding it more difficult to make your child follow your rules, when he easily responds to yaya’s instructions? If your answers are mostly yes, read on.
Because yaya spends more time with our kids, it is natural that she gets affection from them, too. Thus, we need to be ready to deal with the consequences, and find the balance so as not to strain your relationship with your yaya.
Here are some tips to strengthen and reinforce our role as a mother while keeping a positive relationship with our nannies:
1. Set the right expectations and limitations by establishing specific roles and responsibilities. “Our yaya assists me and my husband in caring for and rearing our children. Since we both work, there are times when my children are left with her, so for tasks that we cannot physically do, that's where yaya comes in,” says V-anne Kabigting, 38, a Real Estate Broker and mother of two (Javi, 13 and Julia, 9). “She is aware of the rules and why we have these rules. In our case, yaya always comes to us and asks. She is not the type who over-initiates without asking first.”
Right from the start, be sure that your yaya understands her role in supporting you as the mother. Set the proper limitations so that she’ll know if she’s already going beyond what is expected of her. It is also important for you to be consistent in whatever guidelines you have set for your kids and the household, and be firm in your decisions.
“I understand that yayas develop a certain bond with my kids along the way and I appreciate that. I just don't want them to have the impression that they can override my decisions for my children,” says Beverly Badilla, 33, an Events Manager and mother of two (Tiara, 4 and Edric, 1). “I decide what my child would wear, what to eat and how much or how often, where to go or who to play with. If I'm around, the yayas don't get to decide to give or not to give things; they tell the child to go to me for permission.”
2. Try not to delegate everything to yaya. As busy parents, it’s often tempting to just leave everything to yaya’s care that sometimes, it may seem like she's doing all the caregiving and child rearing by herself. When this happens, our kids will rely more on her than us. To avoid this, be more involved and try not to delegate everything to yaya.
3. Schedule family time regularly. Let your nanny know that you value quality time with your family and that this is the perfect moment for her to take some time off as well. Make her understand that there are occasions when you and your family need to have some privacy without making her feel alienated. During these bonding moments, you don’t exactly need her services, so relieve her of her yaya duties and allow her to do other things for herself.
This is also one way for your kids to learn to appreciate your effort in making up for lost time with them. More importantly, let them know that these are opportunities to reconnect as a family, do things together and simply enjoy each other’s company.
Perhaps your yaya is only trying to do her job well and doesn’t even realize that she’s already crossing her boundaries.
4. Create special mother-child bonding activities and routines. If your child already has established routines with yaya that doesn’t include you, then create your own special bonding activities and routines as well. Don’t be pressured into doing everything that yaya is already doing with your kids. Instead, come up with new and creative activities that only you and your child can share.
This can be as simple as a bedtime story with mommy every night, or a set of movies that you can watch together on weekends. You can also set a day for playtime with mommy or go out on a date! Be as creative as you can and be sure to “own” this moment with your child.
5. Keep communication lines open. Whatever you may be feeling, try to resist the urge to express your frustration and resentment towards your nanny. Perhaps your yaya is only trying to do her job well and doesn’t even realize that she’s already crossing her boundaries. However, if you do feel that yaya is intentionally taking over the household and your role as a mom, talk to her as calmly as possible and remind her of her specific roles and responsibilities.
Try to encourage an open communication with her and use this chance to discuss household concerns. Ask her to constantly update you of any developments or concerns your child may be going through under her watch. Be sure to inform her that she can get in touch with you even when you’re at work so that in cases when important decisions have to be made in relation to your kids, she can consult you first instead of being forced into making her own decision.
Inspite of everything that we need to do, we need to consider that we still have a major role to fulfill for our kids – even if yaya is around. If possible, be the one to care for the kids when you’re home from work, like helping your kids brush their teeth before bedtime or preparing their milk at night. On weekends, try to do something special with them.
Our kids need love and attention, that is why they get easily attached to people who care for them. Make them feel that it is still mommy’s no. 1 job to take care of them and that, while yaya is around, there is still nothing that can replace your mother-and-child bond.
Leave all doubts and insecurities behind and always remind yourself that you are a good mother who knows her children’s needs better than anyone else. Nothing and no one can ever replace a real mother’s tender loving care for her children.