Reassuring Mom She is Still the Bomb!

opinion 1
So we have all been there, if you work with toddlers, you know there is a progression that is nearly always the same. I still don't know how to handle it.

Nanny shows up, Baby panics and clutches at Mom. This doesn't mean that Baby doesn't like Nanny, but she understands that Nanny's arrival means Mom's departure. As Baby gets older, she realizes that Mom will always come back, and will be there for her no matter what. At this point, she is delighted to see Nanny, and doesn't get upset when Mom leaves. Mom is sad. Mom thinks Baby loves Nanny best because she (Mom) is somehow lacking. When Mom gets home, sometimes Baby does not want Nanny to leave because she is having fun with Nanny. It doesn't mean that Baby likes Nanny better, it just means that she is living in the moment of whatever she and Nanny are playing.

My charge A and I have really bonded. I met her at 8 months and now she is 16 months old. MB has been saying things lately like, "Oh you don't care if I leave now that (Nanny) is here," and when she gets home, she is upset if A doesn't run to hug her instantly. Then when I leave and A hugs me a million times, MB looks upset, and I feel guilty. A and I have a lot of fun together, but what can I say to reassure MB that her daughter loves her best?


Wendi said...

This Mother has jealousy issues that have nothing to do with you. MomBoss should be so happy that her child has a wonderful Nanny (you!) that is so good to her daughter.

I would not change a thing. Continue doing a great job and hopefully this Mother will realize how lucky she is to have a gem of a Nanny.

MissMannah said...

Wendi, while that sounds all well and good, having that kind of attitude can get a nanny fired. You can't expect the mom to just snap out of it, you have to help her along. Example: if you are in the middle of a really fun project when mom comes home, figure out a way to transition her into it and transition yourself out of it. I would also cut out all the good-bye hugs--limit it to one and leave as quickly as possible. Also, prepare A for when you know mom is coming home and you'll be leaving, so she will be more excited when her mom walks through the door--though it seems a little forced at first.

OP said...

No, I don't think MB has any jealously issues, this happens to a lot of moms with toddlers. I know they still love mom best because I have seen this before. The new mom hasn't. All she knows is that her Baby loves someone else too. I can totally understand how that would be uncomfortable to any mom. There is no way I am walking away from this job, I just want to say and do things that will make MB happy and comfortable.

MissMannah, that was really good advice. I think I will try and make the transition better by talking about Mom. Thanks for the thoughtful answer!

Any moms who have been in this situation? What could your nanny said or done that would have been perfect?

Susannah said...

The only thing I would do is try to make my exit as quickly as possible. Without a ton of delay or transitioning.

Have my things ready to go when you see MBs car pulling get A excited for mom wave in the window etc. A quick cuddle & go.

You can only help mom so much

I had a mom start resenting me for trying to help with transitioning. I found out later she was embarrassed about her behavior.
But be prepared for things not to work out or for you at this job.

This will be a constant issue and it will come up again and again believe it. Just wait till the first time she asks for you on your day off.

Miss Annie said...

Yes MB does have jelousy issues and rightly so.
She's spent all day missing her baby and she comes home and A doesn't appear to feel the same way. Of course that's not the case but a 16 month old isn't exactly skilled in social graces.

While you can try to make things go more smoothly doesn't mean they will don't be shocked if MB happens to lash out at you.

Just out of curiosity did MB stay home with A until she was 8 months old or did A have another caregiver?

Bethany said...

Being a nanny is a funny thing if your charge doesn't love you enough you're damned if you're charge loves you too much you're damned.

LouLou said...

I am a mom with a 16 month old son. I'm a stay-at-home mom, but when I visit with family and friends (who all live 9+ hours away) its an extended visit where I get to go out and do things while my son has a babysitter. Normally, this babysitter is NOT a family member. (Not that I don't trust family, I just am usually there too when they visit with him.)

I have had jealous moments, but those were mainly related to things like "firsts"- swinging at the park, first steps, first time drinking from a sippy, sitting on a potty, etc. He just seems to do better with firsts when its not me trying to get him to do these things. I've recognized this, and it makes everything easier.

When I get home, his babysitter (who is one of his favorite people, and he is one of hers) usually has to pry him off her to hand him to me for a hug. Does it bother me? Sometimes. But usually, I'm just happy that he has such wonderful care that he doesn't want her to leave.

I think I'd worry more if he was upset when I walked in the door, wanting to get away from her. The person who babysat my fiance when he was little used to feed him ravioli from the can, put a plywood board over his crib so he couldn't get out, and pulled him up the stairs by his ear so hard that it actually damaged his hearing. He was terrified of her, but his mother didn't recognize that, instead thinking he was just excited to see her. If you are paying someone to spend time with your child, you want your child to enjoy it so much that they don't want that time to end. Just my opinion.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

Toddlers are notorious for not being good with transitions. It can be with a toy, a movie, an activity, a person or leaving a location but toddlers are often so engrossed in what they are doing that it is difficult for them to give it up. That is typical so it's no surprise that your charge is experiencing that.

I am a behavior therapist and work with kids on the autism spectrum and transitions are especially difficult for them so it's something I work on daily with the kids in my caseload. Some of the things we do to ease the transitions is give a ten/five/one minute warning of when the transition is going to occur so that the child is not blindsided and they can prepare. Obviously you don't always know the exact minute when mom will be home but if you know the general time, you could give some warning or an estimated countdown and then talk to her about what's going to happen. Make mom coming home sound like the best thing to ever happen and talk about what you can tell her about your day. Obviously she doesn't yet have the vocabulary to do that but you can do it for now. And lastly, I would suggest encouraging mom to have something to do with the child as soon as you are leaving. That's what we like to call "redirecting." You can say that its't time for you to leave, hug and then have mom tell her to say goodbye and then "oh (name), come help me (whatever)!. That way she is sort of distracted and not having an overdramatic goodbye. Hope those tips help!

Tina said...

It's blatantly obvious to me this mother has jealousy issues. Why else would she react in such a manner??!


I said...

I have a 3-yr-old who has been neglecting her mom lately lol. All she wants is daddy and she's always telling me not to leave when her mom comes home. So sometimes (when I can!) I'll watch for her mom's car and get all excited and tell her that "mommy's home!!" and I have go open the door for her mom. Since I"m excited for Mom, she gets excited too, and then Mom feels happy & welcomed home. Everybody wins.

OP said...

Thanks again everyone! Really great advice here. I just want to say again that I do NOT find anything abnormal in either A's or her mom's reaction. IT seems perfectly normal to me for a new mom to feel this. MB isn't lashing out or being rude to me at all, I just want to make her feel better. She is a great mom, I want her to remember that!

I really appreciate all the comments here, I have some great ideas now!

OP said...

Oh yeah, she did have another nanny before me. I never met her, MB said she moved away. That's all I know!

nycmom said...

Most moms with good nannies have been through this. Honestly, it makes me happy that my child loves his/her caregiver that much! It hasn't happened for my kids with all their sitters, only two long-term nannies. I really do not feel jealous or hurt. The alternative, as pointed out above, is a much worse option! It's been a while since I was a FTM. I do recall feeling a twinge of guilt at this, but never unhappiness.

I think Miss Mannah gave an excellent piece of advice: keep the goodbyes SHORT! Isn't this what you would want of mom and dad too? I know I did when I babysat. Drawing out the goodbye just teaches the poor child that clinging or being overly affectionate = you/mom staying longer. I also tried to have something particularly fun in mind to engage my child at that age after our nanny would depart (same thing I did as a babysitter).

I also acknowledged my kids' feelings for a moment -- it's okay to miss Nanny, I miss her too, we will see her tomorrow, etc. Then move on to whatever fun activity I could muster the energy for after work! If mom is clearly upset, ask to talk to her about it and suggest that you guys work together on a plan. When it happened with my last nanny, and my goodness did it happen daily with wails and tears, I asked HER advice. We talked it out. Sometimes, it was truly better for her to just slip away while I engaged dc in another room. Sometimes we transitioned.

I agree that it is normal and healthy for the child to be attached to you. I agree that it is normal for a new mom to be sorting out her feelings about this. It is not healthy for her to start saying the quote you gave to her child or trying to instill guilt. That's where she is crossing the line from normal mommy stuff to being selfish/insecure IMO. She needs to talk about her feelings with dc's other parent and you, not her 16mo! She also needs to adjust her expectations that dc will run to her the moment she enters. Some do, some don't, some stop and start. None of it is a reflection of not loving mom.

Bethany said...

I wonder if her preious nanny actually moed away or if mom fired her because her daughter was becoming attached, or if nanny quit because she could no longer tolerate mom.

Anyway you'e been gien some good advice here OP. Hopefully it will work out, but if it doesn't you know you've done you're best to make the situation better for eeryone involved.

N is for Nanny said...

I totally hear what you're saying - it's normal toddler behavior and also potentially normal parent response. Just to echo what PPs have said:
1.) Avoid high-enjoyment activities just prior to MB's arrival home
2.) Prepare A that MB is coming home - and how much fun that will be! Somedays you could have something A "did" that day to "show" MB when she gets home.
3.)Quick goodbye, one hug/kiss. Have your stuff packed up prior to MB leaving.
4.) If you do not already have a logbook or place to leave messages (e.g., BUY DIAPERS, leftover pasta for dinner) consider getting one, so MB can focus on A when she walks in the door, versus nanny-employer business.
5.) Mention to the mom "how much love" A has - did she hug her music teacher? Repeatedly smile at another kid at the park? Cry at leaving her beloved library? These are signs of a confident and loving child, which the mom should be proud of - and not just think that the reactions are personal between the two of you.
6.) With one kid who had a REALLY hard time transitioning, I used to take the last 5-15 min of my shift to "tidy up" or "finish dinner" while the kidlet played by herself. The parent came home to an independently playing child, who did not have to adapt her play based on the changing of the guard. 16 months might be a bit young for this (kid in question was 2.5yrs) but it's another potential option.