We report, you decide.

This is the e-mail I received from one of my babysitters on Friday (I’ll call her Brianna):

I need to inform you that i do not think i will be able to work for you any more. I have tried to put V. down the way you guys have requested, however i spend 20-30minutes trying to get her to sleep and then she only sleeps for 20 minutes and we are back at it again trying to get back to sleep for 20-30 minutes. I have tried every trick i know to be able to calm her down when she wakes up, however she is so tired and wants to go back to sleep that she dose not want to eat, or play or have her dipper changed. This continues for 3 to 4 hrs. I feel like i am unable to give the amount of energy that that situation requires. I hope that you are able to find some one who can fulfill what you are needing.
thank you
Brianna [not her real name] 

 I called her immediately, and also sent an e-mail:

Hi Brianna, I really really don’t want to lose your help!!!!! If there is something else we can try I am very open to a different approach. I can stay around and be on nap duty if that works. Can we talk about it??? I mean if your mind is made up I guess I’ll try to find somebody else but I know she likes you… I’m sorry it’s been so frustrating. But I am open to trying something different, since it’s not working. Let me know if you’re open to give it another shot next week with a different strategy – but if not, I’ll have to accept that.
E

Then I cried for almost two hours.  After I calmed down, I wrote this follow-up e-mail:

Hi Brianna, now that my panic has subsided I thought I should write a little more. Again, I’m so sorry that the babysitting has been so stressful for you. I’ve pretty much abandoned the way we were putting her down, because I couldn’t sustain it either. That’s what I meant the other day when I said I wasn’t going to be the “nap nazi” anymore, but I probably should have been more specific about what I meant.

I also wanted to apologize for the unflushed toilet on Thursday. When I got home that afternoon I was HORRIFIED to realize that you’d been stuck in the house with that all afternoon. T. and I are both missionary kids, and as such we tend more to adapt to inconvenient or uncomfortable situations rather than try to change them – which is very different from how most Americans approach life. I was thinking that this might seem really weird to a lot of people, or hard to understand. I’m not saying it’s the ideal approach to life, it’s just how we are and we’re probably too old to change much at this point (that said, though, T. says he’s going to pick up replacement parts for the toilet today).

Anyway, I feel like we’ve had a communication breakdown. I had wanted to talk through the nap issues with you on Thursday afternoon, but what with the grant application taking over my life, it didn’t happen. If you’re willing, my first choice would be to try again, and I’ll work on being more communicative in the future.

On the other hand, it could be that we’re just not a good match – as a family – with you. If that’s the case, we can cut our losses and move on. But I wanted to take the time to at least try to explain.

If you are willing to try again, please let me know by Sunday night. If I don’t hear from you by then, I will start interviewing possible babysitters again.

Thanks,
E

 I didn’t check my e-mail or even open the computer again until Sunday night.  It was nice… I had some peace of mind for 48 hours.  This was her response:

Sry i have not been able to call you back, my phone is dead and i can’t find the charger.

First off I don not, by any means want to come off as being rude or critical.

I enjoy being with V, however i was very stressed this past week with having to try and get her down for a nap. In my experience over the years i have found it best to let the child put them selves to sleep. I found that if the child has a routine for bed, nap and food times they are more willing to go to sleep. I have also found that if you tell the child that it is time to sleep then lay them down, even if they are awake, that they will eventually fall asleep. I let them cry for 15 minutes and then come in, don’t pick them up, but let them know that they are OK and that it is time for a nap and you will see them when they wake up. I would do
this every fifteen minutes. Eventually they will realize that they need to put them selves to sleep. The first few times you try this it will take a while for them to fall asleep, however with my experience and talking with parents, they have all said that with in 3-5 nights the child was able to put them selves to sleep. If you have another idea on how to get her to sleep i would love to know, however i can’t repeat last week, it was very stressful.

The other thing that i have found in my past experiences is that were a child sleeps needs to be a place of comfort and joy. I believe V. needs a places that is hers, that she can play with toys in as well as sleep in. I believe that when V. goes in the bedroom she anticipates either getting her diaper changed which many children do not like, or going to sleep, something else children do not like. I also think that she might be confused as to why she is sleeping in this room with out you two because she is so used to sleeping in there with you guys.

I think she might needs some more toys that are age appropriate. I have noticed that she has lost interest in many of the toys that she has. You can find cheap toys at resale shops that are perfect for her age.

Thank you for fixing the toilet.

I would like to continue working for you guys if you are willing to try a new way to get her to sleep.

Thank you
Brianna

 And finally, my response from last night (I had T. read it over and he took out a couple sentences that sounded kind of defensive, he said):

Hi Brianna, I just checked my e-mail for the first time since Friday, I was jut giving myself a break and trying to decompress a bit.

We’ve been trying really hard to establish a more regular routine/schedule for V. since we got back to H. 6 weeks ago, and in some ways I think we have been successful, although I know we have a ways to go yet. I’ve been trying to follow the Baby Whisperer’s “EASY” (Eat, Activity, Sleep) pattern and most of the time I think we do pretty well. For a couple of weeks I was fixated on establishing a 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. naptime but got too stressed out with that – more on that in another paragraph below. But I do try to keep the EASY thing going.

We did try a 15-minute let-cry one weekend… We decided never to try that again. I know it works, and I know it takes 3-5 days, but we aren’t strong enough for it. So what we have been focusing on, our top priority, has been getting her to sleep through the night. And as soon as we moved our bed out of her room, she did. It’s been a full week now and we’re happy with how that is going. I think we have a good, solid bedtime routine in place – which includes storytime in her room, so there are some positive connotations as well.

I know it’s best when babies put themselves to sleep – that’s precisely what we’ve been working on with night sleeping, and the pick-up/put-down strategy (again, from the Baby Whisperer) has worked for that. It takes longer than the let-cry method for sure. It took us two miserable weeks and only worked when we moved out of her room.

I think the hardest thing with establishing a consistent nap routine has been that she has SIX different people who put her down at different points during the week (including Grandma and Grandpa, at their house, every Wednesday – and they often let her nap in their arms). For awhile I was being really strict with the times and place for naps, but I couldn’t enforce consistency with my in-laws and husband and the other babysitter too so I kind of gave up on that. I don’t know that we can do a 15-minute let-cry. I felt completely traumatized the one day we did it.

I talked this all over with T, and we’re thinking that one strategy for establishing consistency with naptime would be if I’m the only one who puts her down for naps, and re-settles her when she wakes up. This means that during the times when she’s awake/playing/eating, I’d be upstairs working (we finally got our office set up there), but I’d come down for naptime and you or Helen [a pseudonym] or whoever is babysitting at that point could study or whatever. Does that make sense?

Also, with food, just FYI, I’ve gotten in the pattern of starting her out in the high chair, then holding her on my hip to finish feeding. I know I should be more disciplined about keeping her in the high chair but it’s a compromise I’ve ended up making and I don’t see myself being able to really be more strict.

I agree that we need new toys for her, I just haven’t had any time to go toy shopping. Well, I did pick up some blocks at Target today, but I don’t know how engaged she will be with those. Would I be able to pay you to do some toy shopping for us? I think you’d have a better idea anyway what would be good for her.

On a downer note, T. tried to fix the toilet on Saturday but wasn’t able to, and now we have to flush by dumping a bucket of water down the bowl. We are going to call a plumber on Monday.

So that’s where we’re at. I don’t know if this is agreeable to you or not. We have to figure out our own way of doing things, and believe me I’ve read all the books I can get my hands on about infant sleep, and talked to all my friends who are moms. I have no doubt that cry-it-out would work, and would take 3-5 days. Everybody is in agreement about that. But there are also many who can’t or won’t do it because it’s too emotionally difficult, and I’m afraid we fall into that category.

So, I’m happy to have her room be a play place too, in fact we do often hang out on the bed there with her books – so it’s cool with me if the sitters do that too, take other toys in there too, I don’t care! Whatever works! And if I’m in charge of naps then at least you won’t experience the stress of trying to get her to sleep.

I don’t know, we’re doing the best we can, certainly we’re not perfect, but there it is. I don’t know what more to say without starting to ramble. Let me know what you think.

E

 So… I’m waiting for her to respond to that, but in the meantime I’m realizing how much hurt and anger I feel over this whole exchange.  I feel judged, and I do feel criticized.  I’ve been sort of non-directive with Brianna, simply because she does have a lot of child care experience – that’s why I hired her!  But it does intimidate me too.  And now I find myself besieged with self-doubt.  When I went to play with V. this morning I started crying about how inadequate her toys are for her.  When she wouldn’t go down for her nap right away, I started wondering if we should  CIO. 

What would you do?  Keep trying to work it out, or just move on and start fresh with someone else?

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5 Responses to “We report, you decide.”

  1. tara Says:

    If you aren’t comfortable/ committed to CIO, I doubt it’s going to work. I suppose your other alternative is to let babysitter Brianna do the CIO for naps, as long as you leave the house.
    Dude, she is judgey mcjudgey pants & while I agree that working things out is preferable to just switching, I doubt that I’d be able to do so with her now. I’d be pissed off, ROYALLY.
    Some kids don’t nap easily. Wsk’s teachers at daycare asked for suggestions for him. I told them what usually works, but frankly it doesn’t always… and I felt judged at first. But then I thought… dude, they put some 12 infants to sleep right now (probably have worked with more than 12 kids in their careers) & whatever their doing doesn’t work with my kid… so perhaps my kid is just different…. not just that I’m a bad parent. even the director said during a particularly rough time, it was partially his developmental stage… she’d seen it happen with other kids.
    About toys, most of the time wsk doesn’t prefer to play with his toys, he’d rather explore. for the longest time I thought toys were a waste of space/ $! Kids prefer to learn about new things… and buying a bunch of toys isn’t going to change that.
    Do you want to borrow some toys from us to see what she likes? I’m rotating his toys now because most of the time he doesn’t play with stuff… except that spiral which has been a god-send. order one of those post-haste!

  2. Farah Says:

    This makes me so sad. You hire help to actually HELP YOU! Communication is a good thing. Yes. There is not a mold for all babies. There just isn’t. With this kind of Help – they need to know that some weeks are just rough weeks. Naps, No naps, Developmental Growth, toys etc. I don’t think it would solve much for you to put V down for every nap or buy her more toys. This is not the issue. It seems to me that You need a sitter/helper that is going to be willing to do what it takes to help Baby V feel comfortable. Not all babies soothe themselves to sleep all the time. I think the problem with this type of reaction is expectations. I know for my own self. I have preconceived notions and expectations. What I forget is that there are no exacts in babies, humans, parenting, etc. Sometimes I was lead to believe in and have expectations that lead me to frustrations. I will admit that MT is a challenging baby. He refuses to naps most days unless he is some how soothed to sleep. Does it frustrate me some days, Abso-freakin-lutely. But we just push through it. And so do you. BUT you need a helper that is willing to help you push through it. help teach Baby V that she is in good trusting patient hands.

    My heart goes out to you. I wish i was there to help

  3. Rachel Says:

    Based on what you typed here, I don’t think she was judging you. Of course I haven’t been there for other interactions, so I don’t have that background. When I get frustrated with SB’s parents, I fret and fret over whether to bring it up or not. It is so hard to tell another parent what you think they should do with their child because you don’t want to stop on toes.

    I don’t think telling you in an e-mail about the toys was appropriate though. You aren’t not a bad mom for V getting bored with toys, she is 9 months, if you put them away for a couple days she will probably find them interesting again.

    If you do feel like she needs more play things, LG loves to play with our kitchen utensils, empty formula cans (or coffee since you nurse), and empty boxes, he started playing with them around 8 or 9 months. I have 3 (small) baskets of toys that I rotate through, that helps keep him from getting bored with what he has. I had some recommendations for toys on a post awhile back. The under $10 ones are the ones I think V would like: shape sorter, ring stacker, and pop-up toy. I got all mine used. http://raspberrychip.blogspot.com/2008/11/rachels-recommendations.html

    As for whether or not to work it out or start over, that is hard. If you think you both can get on the same page with naps, it is worth it. If it is going to be a battle then it is time to find someone new.

  4. Caro Says:

    It sounds to me that she is a little to fixed on her way of doing things being the right way. I’m not sure that long term that will work if you have different ways of doing stuff with v.

    As for toys, I’m sure most children in the world develop fine without lots of “age appropriate” toys and there are probably plenty of things around your house that she could play with. Baby T loves a plastic bottle with some rice in it.

  5. Sarah Says:

    Hi there,
    I came over from Mels blog.
    I’m sorry, but as a former nanny I feel she is out of place telling YOU what your child needs. I understand her seeing things that she thinks need addressing,feeling certain ways and having “tricks of the trade”…but the bottom line is, V is your child and you are paying “Brianna” to take care of her. YOUR way. Not hers. I say let her stomp her little feet right out the door, and start interviewing new nannys. Be sure when you do, to bring up nap time. And see how they feel about it. Among other things.

    By the way, does she do anything else? When I was a nanny, I not only took care of the children…all 4 of them(the way the parents wanted me to!) but I cooked ,cleaned and did laundry as well. Keep that in mind with the next Nanny. =)

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