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I just learned that my 20 month old son's nanny is pregnant, which means that she will stop caring for him sooner than we had planned (we were going to wait until he was three). I'm devastated, mostly because she is wonderful and my son loves her passionately, but also because I hadn't expected to have to face the preschool search quite so soon. If my calculations are right, he'll be two years and five months when the baby's born in December, but I don't know if his nanny will want to keep working right up to the last moment. I have many, many questions about how to face the transition and I'm wondering what others have experienced. Here are some questions:
- how do you prepare a toddler for the end of one of the most important relationships in his life? I'd always hoped that she would continue to babysit for him one afternoon or evening a week after he started preschool, because they love each other so intensely. But with a new baby, she's going to have plenty of other things to do, at least for the first couple of months.
- since many preschools don't take children under two and a half or three, does it make any sense to find a new nanny for a few months? I hate to have him form a new bond only to have it end as well, but I don't want to limit the choice of preschools either, or to send him to preschool before he's ready (of course I have no idea how ready he'll be 8 months from now). He's not a terribly outgoing person, although he's very relational -- that is, he really likes to play WITH other kids and is very interested in seeing what other kids are doing. At the same time, he's very gentle and cuddly, likes to be held a lot, and really likes a lot of one on one interaction, which is why I'd planned to wait until he was older to send him to preschool.
- I also wonder what to expect of his nanny as she goes through her pregnancy. I was pretty energetic during mine, and she's very young (23) but everyone's different. I wonder how well she's going to be able to keep up with him, how long she realistically will be able to keep working, etc.
I'd love to hear from anyone who's had a pregnant nanny about how it went, what a good employer can do to make things work, etc. Thanks for any advice!
I will say, however, that she did get tired toward the end. This was not a problem, because we had an infant and they would nap together on the couch. If your child doesn't nap and your nanny works long hours, you might want to think whether there is a friend that could watch your child for an hour or so in the afternoon in case the nanny needs to rest.
Another thing to think about as the date gets closer is to have a plan for what will happen if the nanny needs to go to the hospital while she is still working for you, both in terms of her, and who will be able to step in and watch your child on quick notice.
In terms of figuring out what to do next, my advice, having been through the stress of finding childcare three times since my 16 month old was born, is to be optomistic and also figure out what you want. If you think you would like the nanny to come back after 6 weeks or 3 months, let her know that and that you appreciate and value her. Obviously it would be a challenge for her, but that shouldn't mean that you shouldn't ask her if you think it could work. Others on the list would probably have info on how well it works when the nanny herself has a child. Good Luck, Amy
If the nanny will not be working once she has a child, then you are looking for new daycare, sooner or later. If you think your child is better suited in terms of his personality to one-on-one or small group care, then I would stick with the plan to postpone preschool another year. You also might consider something in between--a shared care situation with one other family (something that worked very well for us over the years) or a small family daycare. Remember, once preschool starts, you are most likely in for a year of frequent illnesses. We tried a pre-school type setting for our oldest at 18 months and I stopped it within two months (my kid averaged 1-2 days/week absent, and then I missed a business trip because of strep throat). I kept the younger ones with a sitter until they were 3, they got through their illnesses thanks to the older ones bringing it in, and by the time they got to preschool, they had much more resistance to illnesses.
The more advance notice you have for planning the transition the better for him. Once your plans are made, you can talk about it (believe me, he'll understand), and hopefully your current nanny can participate (being with him in the new situation at first, for example). Also, it really helps to have visits with the nanny after she leaves her working position, so they know she still cares, hasn't disappeared, etc., and more generally that people who leave can come back in another way. Good luck.
And I too thought she would go through withdrawl or something when her nanny left. She barely noticed it, maybe in my case because she was so stressed at the transition. She was verbal enough at the time to be able to tell me what she was feeling and she did not really mention her nanny. Who knows. Anyway, one thing I did was to have the nanny go with her before she started a couple of times, then the first couple of weeks, the nanny picked her up after "half" days until we went to full days. A side note; my daughter only goes three days per week, and I don't know if that might be a consideration for you.
You wondered about having another nanny before preschool at three....we did too, but felt that our daughter really was ready to hang out and socialize with other kids. We did pick a small school though to help. I think it would have been just as hard for her to transition to another person vs. another school, and like you, I didn't want to have to go through it again. You have to consider your child's temperment in this decision.
So like I said, it was a blessing in disguise, and we couldn't be happier with how things turned out! Good luck with your decision. hilary
One option that might suit your needs is to try a toddler program. I've heard good things about Tricia Winkelman's, and I know there are others. They're usually designed for 2 year olds, as a transition from home care to preschool. You might even be able to phase out your nanny over the course of the fall as you phase into the toddler program. Maybe try calling some preschools in your area and get their recommendations. Good luck! S. Martin
As to what I had planned for the ideal situation, we thought that our sitter should work up to a set point in advance of the due date and that we would agree together that she would stop at that time. This would allow us to plan for hiring of a new person. We thought 6 weeks before the due date would have been good with a 1 week overlap where we would pay both people but get the benefit of a smooth transition with sitter 1 training sitter 2 in which foods/toys/books/programs were their favorites. Although we were not able to do that, I still think it would have worked out great.
In terms of your preschool question, a lot of people send their kids to preschool at 2.5 years and they do fine but I decided to wait until they are 3 yrs, 3 months (so they will go this Fall 3 days a week for half days). I didn't see any reason to rush them into preschool when they are going to go to school for the next 20 years or so. This also gave me the option of sending them to schools that requrie kids to be potty-trained. At 2.5 years, I could not have done that so I had more options. Right now, most preschools seem to be full for the Fall so you may have a hard time getting one you like that is close by and has the hours you need anyway. If you hire a replacement nanny in November or December, she would be with your child for 9 months which is fine and at that point the child will understand that they're going to school now and only need a sitter part time if at all. Best Regards, Shannon
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