IF YOU HAVE A NANNY TRUST IS NOT ENOUGH.
Your nanny’s qualifications look good. All references check out. She is dripping with kindness. What could go wrong, right? Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong and – often does.
No matter how thoroughly you check out your nanny or babysitter, you can never fully know someone or how they will behave around your children.
When I had my second child, my husband and I decided it would be a safer and more comfortable option for us to hire a nanny, instead of placing our child in daycare. I already felt guilty that I had to work two days a week and I wanted the best possible care when I was not around.
FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY
Being relatively new to our area, we decided to use a nanny placement service to guarantee we would be getting a safe, well-qualified nanny. We spent hundreds of dollars for this service. We met the nanny and she delivered everything they had promised and more. The background check came back good. The references all checked out.
We felt confident. We felt safe. We welcomed her into our home and our world.
She arrived on time. She arrived with a smile. My child seemed attached to her. Everything seemed perfect. Time went on.
We eventually had our third child. We continued with our nanny. I had never seen ANY signs of concern. As a child therapist I need to read people for a living and my warning bells had not gone off.
Several months after my daughter was born, little red flags suddenly started popping up – and then bigger red flags.
It looked like there had been someone else in our home other than the nanny – but I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt that way.
A few days later I found small bottles of liquor hidden in our pantry, but neither my husband nor I drink. I called relatives who had visited, but no one had placed them there.
In our web browser, I found porn sites and searches for treatment centers during times we weren’t home.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
These red flags popped up within days. We were very concerned. We felt she must be letting her twenty-year-old son visit when we weren’t home. We were not okay with this and thought we needed to have a firm talk with her and set some clear boundaries.
As an additional precaution, we purchased a nanny cam. We placed the nanny cam in clear sight on our kitchen counter. We still felt she was a great nanny, but we were concerned about her allowing her son to come over. I was going to have a talk with her that evening when I came home and we were going to keep an eye on the issue – literally, with our nanny cam.
In the morning she greeted me with a smile. She oozed with her usual kindness. I left for my 45-minute drive to work. Half way to work I couldn’t contain my incessant itch to pull over and watch the nanny cam. I thought I was being ridiculous. I sheepishly pulled out my iPad and pulled up the app. I felt guilty for not trusting her (a feeling I will never have again).
What I saw made my stomach drop. My son was nowhere in sight. Where was he? He was only a toddler so we gated his bedroom at night so he wouldn’t roam the house, but it was past 9am. He was an earlier riser and should have been up by then.
The nanny was sleeping on the couch. My young baby sat in her swing crying. I felt a wave of nausea. “Get up!” I was screaming at the screen. “Get my son! Feed my baby!”
After a few minutes of wanting to vomit, I turned my car around and headed home. It was a very long 20-minute drive. Eventually, I saw my son in the video. She was yelling at him and kept him gated outside of the living room and out of her sight. He threw a ball over the gate to engage her. She yelled and threw it at him. She grabbed a bottle from the kitchen and bottle propped it near my infant daughter’s mouth. She went back to sleep. The baby continued to cry.
Needless to say, she never came back. But the waves of guilt that followed were palpable. What had I missed? What else had happened while I remained clueless? Was this the tip of the iceberg?
I started to revisit situations that I had not thoroughly questioned in the past. The time my son was covered in hundreds of ant bites because she “ran inside to get the phone” and wasn’t watching him for a minute. The time I came home and she wasn’t there – and neither were my kids. Where had they gone? Who had been around them? My confusion about why my baby jumped sometimes when I held her. Had she been handled too roughly or hurt?
These are questions that will never be answered. I am thankful that my kids are okay and that, thanks to the nanny cam, we eventually saw the reality of the situation.
A WORD OF CAUTION
As a child therapist, I hear stories like this all the time in my practice. Parents who are shocked by physical and sexual abuse from people they knew and trusted. Babysitters who not only neglect the kids, but traumatize them as well.
When kids are very young they don’t have the language or skill to tell their parents everything that goes on when they are not around. Unfortunately, this makes our youngest kids the most vulnerable.
I would encourage any parent of young children to never leave their children without a nanny cam. Every nanny (even those that are related to you) puts on their best face when you are around. What you see is not always what you get.
If you feel comfortable, you can tell your nanny that you have cameras in the house and you always keep them on. If you do use a camera, some states only allow you to use video, but not audio without the permission of the person you are recording. You can call your local police department to find out the laws in your particular state.
Have you had a bad experience with a nanny? What do you do to keep your kids safe? What are your thoughts about using a nanny cam? Leave a comment and share with other parents.
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