Feeling guilty leaving your child with a nanny? That’s perfectly normal and is experienced by many parents every day. You naturally have a deep emotional attachment and sense of responsibility with your children that the thought of someone else caring for them could cause distress and anxiety. This guilt may be the hardest part about going to work (or returning to your job after maternity or paternity leave). You may even feel selfish by putting your professional needs before your family.
But that’s ok. As we’ll explain, it can be a good thing that you’re working, and your child is with another loving caregiver. So try to relax and know that you and your child will be fine.
Here are five things to know if you are experiencing child care guilt.
1. You are not alone
Did you know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau 61 percent of children under the age of five are in “some type of regular child care arrangement?” At the time of the study, 12.5 million children were in the care of someone other than their parents during the workday.
On top of that, a poll on Workingmother.com showed that 57 percent of respondents feel guilty every single day, while 31 percent feel guilty at least once a week.
That’s a lot of guilt to go around! But it gives you an opportunity to talk with other working parents on how they manage child care guilt or separation anxiety. Listen to their stories of crying babies and clingy toddlers and get their advice on how to get through it.
If feelings of guilt or anxiety persist over several weeks, you may want to seek assistance. Child care guilt is not uncommon so a good mental health professional should be able to help.
2. Feel confident in your choice of a child care provider
How your child will be cared for while you work is a big decision with many factors involved in ultimately choosing a provider. Take your time in choosing the right nanny for you and your children. Ask yourself these questions:
- Will my child be happy with this nanny?
- Will my child grow, learn and develop with this nanny?
- Will my child be safe in their care?
- Does the nanny’s approach to child care align with my parenting style and goals?
- Does the nanny communicate well with me and my child?
If you answered “yes,” to all these questions, then you should feel confident that you made the right choice in a caregiver. Your child will be safe, happy, and well-cared for.
Hiring a nanny on your own may be difficult especially if, during the hiring process, you already start to feel guilty about leaving your child with someone else so you can work. If that’s the case, try connecting with a nanny placement agency. They work with many parents who experience the same type of guilt or separation anxiety and have lots of experience matching caregivers with families. An agency will only present candidates that would be a good fit for your situation giving you even more confidence in your choice.
3. Preparing for the transition will help ease your emotions
Once you have found your nanny, go through a couple of trial days before leaving your child in their care for an entire day. On the first day, walk your nanny through your child’s day including meal times, nap times, pick-up/drop-off times, and more. Go over screen time, snacking, playdates, and other house rules. On a following day, “shadow” the nanny as they take the lead in caring for your child. These trial days will help you start to build a relationship with your nanny. It will be much easier leaving your child with a caregiver you know and trust rather than someone who may seem like a stranger.
4. Always remain positive
Going to work and leaving your child with someone else can bring on feelings of sadness. Especially for parents of newborns who may see going back to work as a return to life as a working parent. For parents of toddlers and older children, you should stay positive around them even if you are feeling unhappy. If your child senses that there is something wrong about having a caregiver while you work, their anxiety levels may increase.
Let them know that having a nanny can be fun and exciting. Their nanny may take them on visits to the park, library or museum. They may ride bikes with them or do art and crafts on a rainy day.
For you, positive affirmations can go a long way. You’re making all the right decisions. Your child is safe, happy, and loved. You are a good parent and these feelings of guilt are normal and temporary.
5. Being apart from your child can be a good thing
Spending time away from your child has benefits for you and your child. Not getting a break from your children can leave you feeling burned out. But working can help you feel valued and fulfilled. Your family will enjoy these benefits too if come home happy and full of confidence. It’s contagious!
Your child also becomes more independent and learns how to function without you around while experiencing the love and care of another nurturer.
It may also make the time you do have together as a family even more special. You’ll both have experiences to share and stories to relate. You may even want to set a date to do something special on the weekend. That gives everyone something to look forward to during the week.
Hiring a nanny?
Download Your Guide to Hiring a Nanny. In this new guide, we lay out the steps on how to hire a nanny the right way and maintain a strong relationship with your employee.