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How to Handle a Bossy Nanny

A cautionary tale of a new mom versus her caregiver.

How to Handle a Bossy Nanny

Being a new parent is scary, intimidating, exhausting and wonderful in every other kind of way. Then a mere 3 months after giving birth, you must decide who is going to fill your shoes and care for this new little treasure of yours. Hiring someone with a style of care that’s similar to yours is a good place to start. But you only have a few months of parenting experience under your belt, and though having a caregiver with years, sometimes decades, of experience can be reassuring as you fumble through what to do with a newborn, it can also be intimidating.

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My first nanny experience scarred me. It was the Devil Wears Prada version of the nanny world, but I was the one paying someone to boss me around. Yes, my nanny was bossy, and she added undue stress to my early days of motherhood -- something that, now that I look back, could have been avoided. So I’ll take one for the team and share my cautionary tale, in hope that other parents can benefit from my harrowing experience.

At first, I found relief in my nanny’s extensive knowledge in infant care. She cut my baby’s nails without flinching while I was scared to death that I would accidently cut him. When it came to diaper change, I was still such a rookie. I’d double and triple check the tightness of the tabs to get the correct fit. But she was a pro, taking a diaper from the caddy and whipping it out with force and confidence to then quickly unravel it into a flexible garment conform to his tiny body. It was comforting, I thought, to have such an expert to show me the ropes.

But after a month, her suggestions stopped being a relief and took an intimidating and forceful path. Yes, I still had a lot to learn, but by then I had combed through an entire bookshelf of Parenting Literature and was using and trusting my own intuitions. That’s when things started to clash.

“Why do you and your husband always wear your baby?,” she asked in a condescending way when my son was 4 months old. This question was her not-so subtle way of saying he cried too much when she wanted to go on one of her epic strolls and visit with her friends. Then, she warned me that she would know if I didn’t do rigorous sleep training -- something we decided we weren’t interested in doing. But she thought it took him too long to fall asleep for his nap, so she kept pushing and pushing. When it was time to start solid foods, she insisted on giving him cereals. “All babies start with rice cereal,” she said when I told her I wanted him to start with vegetables.

Eventually, I grew more confident and knew exactly what I wanted for my baby and what was best for him. Though perhaps we were ill matched from the start, our nanny didn’t seem willing to do the intricate dance that I think is necessary for this kind of relationship to sustain itself -- a relationship that relies on mutual respect and on a common goal to do what’s best for the baby. For this relationship to be successful, the parents need to feel supported, the caregiver valued and the baby happy and well cared for.

One day, I texted her from work to check on him. Her response was brief and dismissive: “Well, what can I say. He is not having a good day!” Of course, I panicked and was unable to concentrate on work. I was worried about my baby and wanted to make sure she’d do what she could to make him feel better. “He loves the song B-I-N-G-O,” I texted back. “If you sing that, he usually cheers up.” She once again disregarded my suggestion and wrote: “You need to get him an iPod with his favorite songs.” That was her last day with my son.

Though I was relieved not to have our nanny around to tell us about everything that is wrong with us, I was angry. And then depressed. I was rattled to the core as a new mom. Was there something wrong with my baby? Was he already a problem child, and was my parenting style to blame for it? I knew that the character of my child and my parenting would likely come into question again, and this was undoubtedly a stepping stone in parenthood, but having to deal with such incertitudes only six months postpartum felt way too early!

When my husband and I started looking for a new nanny, the interviews went very differently. We still payed attention to the applicants’ years of experience and recommendation letters, but not just. First, we asked for recommendations through parent friends in hope that it would help us find a better personality fit. Then, we laid out our baby’s preferences and discomforts, as well as our own. And though not much had changed from when our son was 3 months old, this time we knew what we wanted and needed, and we put it on the table right away to avoid ambiguities in the future. For instance we said, “He does not like being in the stroller for long periods of time. Is that going to be a problem?” “Apparently we fall into the category of attachment parenting, if you find this absurd, let us know.” Lastly, we acknowledged the value in their experience and made it clear that we wanted to be aware of their ideas and opinions, but wanted to make it clear that we what we wanted most was to keep a dialogue going.

When we found the right match, we could finally put our “Miranda Priestly” behind us. Knowing that our baby was being cared for in a way that made him comfortable and without having to apologize for his needs gave us the support and peace of mind we needed to then do our other jobs.

Original illustration by Shanequa Simpson for Well Rounded NY.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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