Family

Our Nanny Saved Our Marriage

You don’t hear THAT every day.

Let me explain. Our marriage was never in jeopardy… but it would have been had we NOT hired housekeepers prior to having our daughter and then hiring a nanny once we had Dottie.

Hiring help was a preventative measure and worth its weight in gold.

 

“I have housekeepers”, I whisper in shame.

“I have a nanny”, I mumble with guilt.

You know what. Enough. I’m going to shout it from the rooftops. WE HAVE HIRED HELP!

And dang it. So should you.

 

Oh yea, Amanda… easy for you to say. You guys are “rich”. Yes. My husband does well. He also owns/operates his own company, which is a 24hr job. It’s a job he LOVES, but it comes with great responsibility. I was not always married to John Wesley. I was a 35-year-old woman with a car loan, a student loan and a mortgage not that long ago (a mere four years ago!) So. While I had a good career with a good income, my budget for *wants* versus *needs* was quite small as I was chipping away at my debt. I lived very frugally, buying much of my wardrobe at thrift and consignment shops. I meal planned, cooked in huge batches and took my lunch to work. I saved money for what I valued – travel and hired help: housekeepers, snow removal in the winter, dog walkers from time to time and landscaping when needed.

Why?

When I was single, why did I go to ALL this effort to be able to afford hired help? Why do JW and I prioritize it now? Why should YOU consider hiring help? Because hiring help is an INVESTMENT! Invest your time and energy in what you VALUE!

 

 Building your village

When it comes to my daughter, I am SO in love with our nannies. Katelyn helped us our first year. Now Chelsea lives with us, helping with house & home, pets & Dot. They are part of our family. They are more than “hired help”. JW and I are limited in family to help hands-on with our family. My step-son will watch Dottie for an hour from time to time. JW’s brother helps with household projects. My mother visits us here or we visit her in New Brunswick, but there’s physical distance between us. Many of my close female friends live far from us. I’ve worked HARD to make mom friends but have yet to impose on any of them for childcare. We don’t have a village!

I daydream often of what it must have been like in the past for women/families that lived in smaller communities, knew one another, cooked for each other, cared for each other’s children when needed. When Dottie is older, I’m going to dream of the days when parents would kick the kids out at dawn, asking them to drop in for food during the day and be back when the street lights come on.

So. We hired our village. Our village is pretty great.

Family and Friends

Investing your time in family and friends is an important investment indeed. Would you rather go on an outing with your family Saturday morning or clean your bathrooms? Would you rather hire a babysitter to watch your children for a night out with friends or never indulge until they are old enough to be home alone? Don’t get me wrong, perhaps you have family or friends that help in times of need! I hope you do! Though I’m still not sure if they would clean your bathrooms… maybe let you get a date night in… smirk.

Health

We need downtime. Between work, family, responsibilities, it’s hard to find time to relax, create, or be physically active. Are your mental health and physical health worth the investment? Would you be saving money in the long run if you were able to care for yourself – mind, body and soul? Would the health of your family also improve greatly? When I was single, the time I didn’t spend cleaning I spent running with a local running group. Or practising lines for a local theatre production I was in. Or going into the city to see friends for a night or two. Or just taking me time to savour coffee, watch TV or read a good book Saturday mornings.

I’m prone to depression. I know how to manage it. JW and I agreed that the best way for me to manage the first year of motherhood was to not attempt it on my own day-to-day while JW was running his business. Having Katelyn around that first year with Dottie to care for me while I cared for Dottie was integral to my survival. I did not struggle with postpartum depression because I had daily companionship, a healthy diet, rest and time to exercise.

Local Economy

Support local people and local businesses. When I hear people speaking of their shame in hiring help to clean their homes, it bothers me deeply. I truly feel that they must not respect and admire the work that housekeepers do. I do NOT feel “badly” paying my housekeepers as I do not believe they are a “lower class” of worker that I am somehow oppressing. Cleaning homes is a legit job/career. Many of these people run their own businesses. They are entrepreneurs. Go-getters. And in many ways supporting our economy. The same for hiring someone to mow your lawn, walk your dogs or nanny your children.

Your relationship!

Within the top 5 conflicts in relationships – CHORES! CLEANLINESS! (I’ll leave sex and finances for another day)

I’ve had many conversations with peers around housekeeping and their partners not being comfortable with hiring help. Yet, the division of household chores was causing conflict in their relationships! Ummm. What?

JW is a broad strokes kinda guy. He’s all big picture. This is what makes him a creative genius and he gets sh*t done. He doesn’t get held back by the details. I admire him for this… but… it can be problematic for our home life. I have high standards for myself, our home, cleanliness and organization. I was an uber bitch the first year JW, my step-son Jack and I lived together. I was max stressed with the state of our home and took it out on them. Thank god I was taking a family therapy course at the time – I applied everything I was learning to my own reactions and improved our dynamics. The only person you can change is yourself! Though it did lead to improvements overall. JW and Jack improved their standards, and I lowered my expectations. It was HARD work for all of us.

Instead of losing my mind about the garbage overflowing, the dishes being put into the sink vs the dishwasher or nagging him to help me clean on weekends – we hired help. Because neither of us was going to change and I couldn’t do it all. I had certain household standards that he just couldn’t meet, there’s no shame in that. I didn’t drive myself crazy by trying to maintain my cleanliness standards in this HUGE house by my lonesome, resenting him all the while, and he doesn’t have to live with a stressed out bitchy maniac of a wife because WE HAVE HELP. It’s a hella cheaper than therapy, y’all. Or divorce. I mean, seriously. AMIRIGHT?

 

“HELP” IS NOT A BAD WORD!

I will NOT continue to feel shameful for hiring help to save my marriage.

 

Ok. How many of you hire help? C’mon! Spill it! Tell me all about it.

 

 

16 Responses

  1. We have had a cleaner come in every two weeks for a couple of years now. It’s been a huge marriage-saver because we used to always fight about chores. I do feel strange talking about it with people because it still feels like something “rich” people have, and we are not rich.

    1. Funny right? Why this stigma that it’s a “rich” person privilege? If a family can budget the funds, go for it!!! Especially if it reduces conflict. ?

  2. I am in a season of life that help is required if our family is to thirve and be connected. With 3 littles under 5 we have a house cleaner , snow removal , we had a post partum doula for several months and still have a wonderful “mothers helpers” from our street. If we have a home repair we hire someone. We have no family close. No villiage. We live a wonderful but often difficult military life where deployments regularly loom. Hiring help has decreased stress and increases togetherness. A very worthwhile investment in my opinion.

    Wonderful writing Amanda’s. Proud of you!

    1. You had me at “three littles under five” and “deployments” ? Take/buy all the help you can!!!

  3. I really enjoyed this blog!

    We hired a cleaner 2 months ago and it was the best money spent in my opinion! In doing so, I was able to take care of ME as well as our Son and our 3 doggos. At first it was awkward, especially because I had to be here to control our dogs. I first felt a little shame in the fact that she was downstairs cleaning our home, while I was upstairs reading, eating, planning my next workout, or just relaxing while our Son napped. I quickly realised how important self care was as a new Mom, and the shame subsided. There is nothing wrong with asking for help! I too am working on this struggle, and reminding myself it is okay and pretty crazy to think I can do it all on my own, even with a helping hubby.

    1. Good for you! What a relief to have help, especially when hubby’s away!

  4. No need for a Nanny but sending my doggo to doggy daycare or having a walker take him a couple times a month is really helpful to relieve me from daily duties. When we get a house cleaner every now and again it’s also so much appreciated. No shame in getting help when and where it’s needed!

    1. I used to feel like a terribly doggie mama when I would get a walker or kennel her to get a night away. But best for her AND me! Dog help is LEGIT!

  5. We have a cleaner come every 2 weeks and just recently hired a nanny for two days a week. It’s lovely, but now I have guilt that I still can’t get anything done around the house! Oh us women and our guilt :/

    1. Yup. I’m a SAHM with a full-time Nanny AND housekeeping. I should be freed up to do SO much… but still feel I’m coming up short.
      Take in a breath & breathe out the shame. You can do it! ❤️

  6. Nice. Amanda is dishing on the dishes and sharing the dirt on the dirt at the Jubilee House.

    How did we get to a place where a family would spend gigilion on kitchen appliances and yard machines, but is embarrassed, or just doesn’t even consider, spending money on local labour? Nothing hurts the economy more than households spending on stuff that does not come from or stay in the community.

    There are other ways to to do home economics…

    Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), It follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—the novel details their passage from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.

    As the book opens: the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth, are in the middle of an epic complain-fest about poverty. Papa lost the family fortune when the oldest girls were small, he’s now far away from their “plain, but comfortable” New England home serving as a pastor for Union soldiers in the Civil War. The older girls work to help support the family, there is much talk of the drudgery of housework and chores, and worse, Christmas is coming and their mother “Marmee” has suggested they will be getting no gifts.

    Just after you’ve really gotten picture that this family is not doing so hot financially and has a whole lotta work on their hands, another character enters the scene: Hannah, the family’s live-in servant.

    Whaaaa?

    The Marches weren’t unique. Many–perhaps most–“ordinary” families had some kind of hired help back then, even those who weren’t very well off: whether it was a teen girl helping out in the kitchen, a boy to work on the farm or a local woman “taking in” the wash or even live-in cooks, nannies and other servants, having “help” was just an accepted fact of life among the middle classes.

  7. OK…finally got some time to read this…and I love it. I have struggled FOREVER with this. It’s on my dream list…and I know it sounds ridiculous. I use to think…if I work full-time…then I am hiring a housekeeper…I am definitely working full-time now…and still haven’t done it. My husband would want us to deep clean the entire house before letting someone come in. I honestly have thought about doing it in secret…and then tell him 6 months in. LOL! Oh my…this has made me think…On the other hand…when my twins were 12…I went to work for about 6 months-9 months, as a night-time nanny for a family with newborn twins. It worked perfectly for me at that time…and I still occasionally…like once or twice a year…go over and stay with the kids if they are in need. We are friends now…I see myself…and my kids…as part of their village…as they have no family here. The Mom and her …now 3 children… come visit us for coffee…my kids will play with hers (they LOVE my older kids)…etc. It’s been such a nice connection and a blessing for both of us. Good for you Amanda…great post. xo

    1. Awe. Nighttime nanny sounds wonderful for newborns. How the family must have been soooo grateful to have your support and help. I’d love to be a postpartum doula in the future when Dottie’s older.
      Now get out there and hire a housekeeper, dang it!!! Silliness. ?

  8. […] help is a huge saviour to my marriage, as it reduces conflict regarding household responsibilities (click here to read that article). What is one of the other areas of potential conflict in relationships (ie. my relationship)? SEX. […]

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