I see you, chick.
With your Petunia Pickle Bottom bag, your extra latte for our nanny, and your eyes brimming with, what you hope, is genuine friendship.
You stalk the nanny, following her with greedy gaze as she pushes my kids on swings and jumps into piles of leaves with them.
Then, like some suburban svengali, you swoop in…sly and superficially sweet. You try to lure her away with promises of better pay, or hours, or a yearly cruise, or weekly lotto tickets…anything you think will work.
And maybe it will, it is a free market.
The women (and sometimes men) who we entrust with our precious little ones often leave behind their own young ones in order to do their jobs. These caregivers are well within their rights to try and seek the best match in terms of pay, benefits, work hours, and family fit.
But, oh, how I wish a special pox on those who try shady, underhanded methods in an attempt to poach nannies.
And, in the D.C. market where monthly child care costs are often equal to a mortgage payment, the competition for a good nanny can be vicious.
I’ve seen moms slide over to nannies on playgrounds and pass on contact info. I’ve seen moms spot a great nanny at circle time and scoot over next to her…just to chat, mind you.
And, to be fair, I’ve also had nannies approach me at these places with boasts of their homemade smoothies guaranteed to cure infant constipation or their skills at getting babies to walk.
And, if I’m truthful, I’d kept our current nanny’s name mentally filed away over the years as time and again raves about her popped up on listservs.
When she had an opening I raced to interview her and tried my damnedest to make a good impression.
She, of course, did likewise.
Her try-out was the day I had to rush to the doc with a shoulder sprain. I paid her an inflated rate as a mother’s helper to pitch in the rest of the week while I recovered.
She, in turn, did the dishes without being asked.
And she declared it her mission to help our one-year-old learn to walk.
So far, this woman is a dream.
She’s highly experienced, nurturing, and fun-loving. She’s also legal, speaks three languages, and is licensed to drive–which makes her a highly sought after caregiver.
So, when I posted on local listservs at her request her availability for a morning position (she works for us in the afternoons), I expected quick responses.
But the poaching attempts were surprising in their brazenness.
One woman didn’t even try to finesse her poaching. She just launched right into her pitch to have the nanny leave us and come work for her in the afternoons.
The nanny politely turned her down.
But the poaching continues.
And, in an effort to keep our nanny, who has only been with us a month, we decided to give her a raise.
Mind you, she never asked for this.
But, she also does other household tasks without being asked. We felt the raise, which we’d planned on offering at the three month mark, was well deserved.
But now we’re maxed out and can’t afford to pay a higher salary until our own salaries increase early next year.
Still, I am quite aware that I am bitching and moaning about a completely First World Problem. There are lots of people here and abroad who must leave their little ones unattended and go off to work low paid jobs.
The issue underscores the dearth of and need for quality and affordable child care for everyone.
In the meantime, we will be brown bagging it and delaying plans to buy me a much-needed new laptop.
‘Cause both the kiddos and the nanny are well worth the sacrifice.