Something interesting happened this spring.
Our nanny quit.
Well, she suddenly accepted a new job out of state.
Someone we’d trusted with our children and household for nearly a year, who had been doing a fantastic job, who said she was happy, and who we’d rewarded with a higher-than-average salary, praise, gifts, and extra time off… gave NO notice.
As in, didn’t show up one day and sent an email.
I was devastated. It wasn’t that I didn’t know we’d be OK, but there was a feeling of immense betrayal, because this was someone who had become part of our family. And like after an unexpected breakup, I beat myself up thinking there must have been “signs” about her upcoming departure I’d had missed.
And, oh, we were a bit panicked with suddenly having to figure out what do with twin 2-year-olds while Brett and I were both in full work mode during the week!
The timing was terrible. I was about to host my Repower Workshop and was working more than usual, and preparing for this important event was not something I could do while watching the kids.
As an immediate measure, Brett called his boss and negotiated to use some remaining vacation time, which bought us a week while we figured things out.
We decided we’d just get through this week, and then start a full-on search for a new nanny via referrals and local agencies. If we had to import a Mary Poppins, I’d do it.
But over the course of the week, I saw something miraculous blooming…
Brett seemed really happy being with the kids, and they not only seemed happier, but they seemed to be developing at a faster pace than before. Both Jordie and Maddie were interacting and talking more than just the week before (and I mean a lot more).
And, life actually seemed a little smoother.
What? Life without a nanny seemed smoother?
A few examples…
In the past, mornings felt rushed and guilt-ridden as we tried to spend “quality” time with the kids but at the same time had to get ready for the workday, and then do “the handoff” to the nanny at 8 a.m., which often involved sneaking out so they wouldn’t have a breakdown (and I wouldn’t either. More guilt.)
But now there was a seamless transition in that the kids got to just keep playing with Daddy in the mornings. And often if they did see me leaving, they would simply say “bye bye!” and go back to their toys or puzzle.
Brett scheduled new and fun things for them all to do every day, and he really enjoyed the outings to the children’s museum, story times, play centers, splash pads, and more.
He could now also be home for appointments with contractors for some home improvements, which we’d been putting off since it was difficult for one of us to be home for a few hours on a typical weekday.
And evenings seemed to be more pleasurable too, as I’d come home to happy kids and an exhausted but happy husband, and there wasn’t any discussion of schedules, logs, supply inventory, or paychecks.
You have to understand how huge a shift this was for me, because for the past two years we’d had ALL kinds of outside help. (#FirstWorldProblems)
I’ve always been a great delegator in my business, and in the past have typically enjoyed having a good sized team. Of course I love the support, but also I love the privilege of giving good people good jobs. I’m told I’m a pretty awesome person to work for. (Even the nanny who quit told me that. Well, before she left.)
So back in 2012 when I learned we were going to have not only one baby, but TWO, the first thing I thought of was “Jeez Loueeez get me a LIST of people who can help us. We have no idea what we are doing! Haven’t babysat since I was 13! Takes a village, they say!”
So it was a wild first few months with various nannies, night nurses, and personal assistants, and it helped us get through the wild ride of my continuing to run the company and Brett working a fulltime job while we sold my (very child unfriendly) L.A. home and bought our new dream home in Arizona and then moved interstate with 5-week-old twin babies. (Looking back, this was absolutely f*cking nuts, but it just felt right.)
These gals who worked for me were awesome. I was healing from a C-section as well, so I desperately needed help and caring myself along with my babies. I also deeply appreciated the wisdom and advice we received from those I hired… from sleep training to even deciding to make our own formula after I’d stopped breastfeeding. (I did NOT see that coming! But it worked wonders for Jordie’s reflux issues.)
While all the help was a godsend, there weren’t many moments we ever just got to be… us. There was always someone coming or going, schedules to work out, people to pay, and systems to follow. I mean there was a log to record everyone’s food, poop, and pee. (One day I accidentally started filling it out for myself.) Everyone had to be on the same page. Good problems to have, of course. But there was always someone in my damn kitchen, parked in our driveway, or walking around the halls.
I’d always been a private person, and hadn’t realized how much I’d just gotten used to all the people around. I thought, “Well if you can afford it, this is just what you DO when you have kids. Right?”
By late last year, I’d whittled our “home team” down to just the nanny. Ahhhh. Much improved. And still much needed since we were both working fulltime.
But now, it was so nice to just be US… our little family. There was no one in the house or coming or going. It brings a peace with it. (Besides the children of course.) And a freedom… which I realized during that first week of being “help-less” — I walked into the kitchen in my bra and underwear, and realized… I could. (Brett enjoyed that too.)
That weekend, we had a real sit down and we went over our options. We knew a new nanny search could take weeks, and we didn’t want to rush this, but we were in a pinch. We also weren’t a fan of dropping the kids off at a daycare either, especially since that would be a sudden change for them.
After a long discussion, we explored the idea of Brett committing to being with the kids fulltime – at least for the summer.
He liked his job, but never loved it, so he was open to it as a solution. I didn’t want him to lose his “identity” in all this, so we talked in depth on what was important for him to feel if he did this, such as having some time to get back to his coaching and consulting career and help me with some business development for my company.
We sat down and looked at the numbers. I mean REALLY looked at the numbers.
(I have to say one of the best things that’s happened to me since having the kids is becoming realllllly good at managing money. When you suddenly have a ton of new, unfamiliar, and unexpected expenses coming at you—including hospital and doctor bills, childcare, baby food and supplies (and with twins this was all double), a real estate purchase and an interstate move—you just have to get better at it. Otherwise you’ll be in the hole pretty soon, no matter what kind of money you make.)
We looked at what we were previously spending on childcare and then looked at Brett’s net take-home pay, and then added up everything from extra dry-cleaning of work clothes to commuting expenses and more. We had also been resenting how his standard two weeks’ vacation limited us from taking as many weekend trips and vacations as we’d like to during the year. (Especially being able to go to Australia, where Brett is from.)
We knew we’d also have to get our own health insurance for ourselves and the kids (which we previously got through Brett’s company). And there were even more details too.
And then we looked at my situation. I’d recently restructured my business so I could work less—not more—and I had to be very honest with myself in drawing a line in what I wanted to do and didn’t want to do. I had no desire to take this on if having to work harder was part of it… that just would cancel out the whole reason we’re doing this.
I was extremely happy with my current 3-4 day a week schedule and not spending every day in the office. I wanted to spend time with the kids too! Then I realized my brain was reverting to our default anxious formula of equating making more money with working more, which is not necessary. You just have to do things differently. I created a plan to shift a few more things in the business.
Then we also looked at cutting some expenses where we could, and negotiated a few trades. Brett would get to drive the new Land Rover since he’d be carting the kids around, and we sold the BMW and instead leased a little Prius for me to zip around town for business. (I had one before in LA and I loved it.)
While the kids napped each afternoon, Brett could also help me with some sales emails and take on a consulting client he’d been talking with previously but couldn’t move forward with because of his job.
It would be an experiment, but we could do it. We agreed to try it for a few months and then do an honest check in on how each of us were feeling. I said, “Listen, if suddenly this sucks for you, you tell me and we’ll change it. And if this suddenly sucks for me, I will tell you and we’ll change it. We just have to keep checking in with each other.”
Brett gave notice to his job, and we felt a rush of excitement we hadn’t felt in, well, since we found out we were going to have twins!
THIS felt like more of a luxury than having all the help we had before.
Wow… I had to take that in for a moment.
I used to think having a team of people taking care of us was a luxury.
Now I feel having our home and children to ourselves again was the greatest luxury of all.
It’s been three months now, and so far, so good. We have some kinks to work out, but overall we’d never go back.
I love coming home to Brett dancing with the kids to the Wiggles, or hearing him read them a new book snuggled up on the sofa. I love seeing photos of them all at the little gym class and running through the fountains at the park. And best of all, I love knowing my kids are with their father, and not someone else.
We only have a few more years left of these kids being at such a precious young age. I know this won’t be forever, and it’s not all sunshine and roses (especially with the “terrible twos”), but it’s worth it.
And Brett has said he feels he’s supporting us in a whole new way than before.
Most of all, I wanted to share this bit of my journey with you, because I love how sometimes going for what we THINK we want leads us to discovering actually what we REALLY want. Or even what we need… IF you give yourself the permission to go there. And what you want and need can CHANGE.
(And by the way, this has led to another HUGE revelation, that I’ll have to save for the next post. 😉 This is getting too long, and I’m hungry.)
But what I WOULD like to hear from you is… Ladies, if you’ve decided with your partner that they’ll be taking care of the kids during the week, how did you handle it? How did the decision come, and how is it going so far? Do you feel you work harder now, or is it all good? How do you split up housework and chores? Do you work at home or away? And anything else you’d like to share here…