It seems like just yesterday I was writing a post about how I was about to start maternity leave, and now maternity leave is almost over. How did that happen? I’ll be returning to my school at the end of the month, after Spring Festival, and while I’m trying not to think about it at the moment, I know it is going to be very hard leaving my baby and going back to being a working mom and letting my husband take over primary caregiver responsibilities once again.
To tell the truth, I think my husband is growing a bit weary with the stay at home dad bit. I don’t blame him, he has been a stay at home dad since our son was born in 2007. Prior to that he had regular gigs and shows around Kunming and other parts of Yunnan, worked at a guitar shop, and helped me open our school. He is used to doing stuff. And while taking care of children is of course a huge job, I know that he feels the monotony of it as well. The kids are young, it is cold right now, we (like most Chinese families) don’t have a car so going anywhere as a solo parent on public transport with one kid was a hassle enough, and with two it is nearly impossible. I also know that his manly man side wants to be the provider and while we are both careful with each other’s feelings about my being the breadwinner, neither of us feel like it is altogether ideal.
And so we’ve endeavored to take on our neice as a nanny. We don’t know yet whether or not she’ll accept our offer, it is something she and her family are still considering, but I really hope she does. With a nanny my husband would be free to do what he wants to do, which is, at this point, find some nighttime gigs and do some business buying and selling guitars on the side. We could go out just the two of us sometimes, which we never get to do now, we could go to the grocery store without worrying about how we’ll carry the bags and the babies, I could take the part time work that is occasionally offered to me without feeling guitly that my husband never gets a break from the kids … it is endless really.
It is odd though, because back home we’d never hire a nanny, it would just be an impossible expense I’m sure. But here in Beijing, and in most of China, all foreign families have a nanny, an ayi as they’re called here, a baomu in other parts of the country. Nannies and housekeepers are fairly affordable in China (although housekeepers for expats in Beijing make more than I paid our secretaries in Kunming, which is a whole different post in and of itself) am not comfortable at all with the idea of hiring a stranger to take care of the kids, mostly because I know that Chinese people have ideas about raising kids that just do not line up with my own, and also because of horror stories I’ve heard — nannies feeding the kids benadryl to keep them quiet, nannies stealing, nannies leaving the kids in walkers or bouncy chairs all day long while they watch TV. I would trust our neice because she is family and at the end of the day she’ll be accountable to her mom, my sister in law, who rules her family with an iron fist. I would also probably grudgingly be ok with someone from my husband’s village because everyone knows everyone there, and if we asked our sister in law to find someone she would not risk sending us some lowlife and losing face with us and losing face for the village.
What would you do? Does anyone out there have a nanny, or would you consider one if it were an affordable option in your country? How would you go about choosing someone trustworthy?