I Was a SAHM and Decided to Hire a Nanny—Here’s Why
Black mothers often feel like they have to work at 110% of their ability at all times, but prioritizing rest over production helped me to get back to basics.
People have often questioned why I hired a nanny being that I’m a stay-at-home mom. My answer has been simple.
I knew I needed help when I tried to walk my son to the playground while I was 5 months pregnant in the Florida heat, only to call my husband when we arrived to come to get us. I was dizzy and about to pass out. It terrified me. I would randomly become dizzy at the drop of a dime and it was becoming increasingly challenging to keep up with my active toddler.
There were other reasons, too. My initial plan was to stay home for a year with my son. He was born in June 2020, during the early days of the pandemic. By the time he was 18 months old, I was ready to enroll him in childcare and possibly re-enter the workforce.
Then came the surprising news that I was pregnant again and I nixed my plans to get a job. I desired to have the same exclusive, on-demand breastfeeding bonding experience with my second child that I had with my first.
But something had to give.
Having two children during a pandemic is a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone. For me, it meant leaving my job as a television reporter to stay at home for what I thought would be a year of loving on my son and a softer, less stressful life since navigating the pandemic was stressful enough. Boy, was I mistaken.
The Reality of Being a Stay-At-Home Parent
Instead, I quickly learned exclusive breastfeeding on demand meant waking up throughout the night to feed my son for a year and a half. That was a full-time job, the non-stop job of managing the home.
While I was living “the soft life,” in that I could often nap with my son during the day, I had woefully stopped my self-care—things I had done before like styling my hair, doing my nails, or even buying myself something nice to wear. I was proud of myself when I was able to work, take a shower, and floss my teeth.
My first trimester, pregnant with my second child, brought on a queasiness I had never experienced. Most days, it was hard for me to get out of bed. Yet, I had a teething toddler running around that I had to care for. All day. Everyday. He even kept me up much of the night because of the pain his teeth were causing him. I never had to work through such conditions ever before.
As clinical psychologist and wellness coach Rachel Andre Glenn, Ph.D. points out, stay-at-home parents don’t get any sick days.
“When you work outside the home, there’s a lot of benefits. There’s a lot of structure around that. You get breaks. You have lunch. You have sick leave. You have paid time off. All of these things that as a stay-at-home parent, you don’t have access to and you have to find ways to build that in,” says Dr. Andre Glenn.
Dr. Andre Glenn is a psychology professor who runs a wellness business called, “Mind Over Monday,” where she teaches women of color to trade burnout for a “more intentional, values-aligned life.”
The lack of sick days escalated my fear of getting sick, which wasn’t good for my mental health considering we were living in a pandemic.
While I knew I needed help, my husband and I initially struggled with accepting it. I grew up with this idea that as Black people, we had to give 110% in everything we did and we didn’t deserve rest. Dr. Andre Glenn says the soft life is obtainable for Black families and it’s the idea of privileging rest over production, as she came to understand from following Tricia Hersey and The Nap Ministry.
“For so long, Black women, our worth has been tied to production. There’s obvious reasons around that—capitalism,” Dr. Andre Glenn explained. “The soft life is more about privileging rest because we deserve it. We don’t have to work in order to earn rest. But also incorporating softness into our life. Incorporating things like self-care. Things that bring us comfort and leisure…Part of the whole soft life movement is imagining what life looks like apart from the work that we have to do. And that’s work inside the home and outside the home.”
Wanting to prioritize my self-care more, my husband and I began to search for daycares. But all of the daycares nearby were full with waiting lists months out.
How We Found Our Nanny
My husband and I decided to hire a nanny until we could get our son enrolled into daycare.
We worked with an agency to hire our nanny, which was nice because they handled all of the taxes and payroll. It took them six weeks to find someone. When she finally started working, it was such a relief. She came over 12 hours a week. We paid her about $17 an hour. I began freelance writing to help pay for her.
Once we hired our nanny, I didn’t have to worry about taking my son to the playground most of the week. I had a break from cleaning and doing chores that hurt my stomach as it was getting too big to bend over to clean it up. I didn’t have to fold my son’s laundry.
Instead, I had time to rest, shower, get my hair cut, and run errands for the family. I had time to eat breakfast and lunch uninterrupted, which allowed me to eat enough to nourish myself and my daughter. Masked up, I finally stepped foot into a store again for the first time in two years.
I had time to get back a slice of the career I left behind. I realized writing stories filled a void because it allowed me to talk to adults and debate the issues of the day, while also helping others, and receiving validation for my work. It became clear that it truly was my passion.
There were many benefits for my son, too. He had his own personal attendant and tutor on those days. His nanny read to him, played with him, and waited on him hand and foot as he ate. We started to see him flourish in his speaking abilities.
The Costs and Rewards
Dr. Andre Glenn says when figuring out whether to hire help, we have to factor in not only the cost of the service but also the cost or reward of what we’ll be able to gain from it.
“It’s so difficult for us to make that decision. Am I going to be doing this $ 15-an-hour task of folding laundry or cleaning my house or am I going to delegate that task? It’s going to cost me but that’s going to free up the time so that I can have more energy and more time to do the tasks that generate me more wealth,” explains Dr. Andre Glenn.
Hiring a nanny doesn’t have to be expensive. If you don’t have a lot of extra cash, find one who only wants to work part-time. Oftentimes, you can negotiate the rate. You can find them through an agency in your area or through Care.com. (Disclosure: Care.com is a division of IAC, as is Parents.) Make sure to do a background check as well as search their social media profiles so you know the type of person you’re bringing into your home. We also required our nanny to take a weekly COVID test to ease those fears; we provided the tests.
“People don’t hire help because they think they can’t afford it. Most people can afford it but it will come at a sacrifice,” says Dr. Andre Glenn.
We eventually enrolled our son into daycare but having the nanny in our home a few hours a week was the perfect balance of being able to continue my career on a part-time basis while also being able to spend my days loving on my son. Just knowing I’d have a break every week at the same time allowed me to breathe again.