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Friday, August 17, 2012

Pros and Cons of Divorced Parents Sharing a Nanny

Even the most amicable divorce is likely to leave your children feeling confused and disillusioned, especially if that divorce contributes to a shift in economic status or is the driving force behind a move from the home they’ve grown up in. Because a divorce may facilitate the need for a previously stay-at-home parent to return to the workforce, it may also leave parents in need of a full-time childcare provider. Sharing a nanny with your ex certainly has its pros and cons; however there are a few things to consider before making your final childcare decision.
Pros of Sharing a Nanny with Your Ex-Spouse

If your nanny was an established part of your kids’ daily routine before you separated from your ex, then she’s likely to be one of the few remaining bits of stability they can cling to. When so much else has changed in their life, being cared for by the same person that they’ve known and loved since before their family and household dissolved can make the transition easier for some children. Nannies that are able to remain neutral and avoid choosing sides can also prove to be very valuable mediators in times of tension, which are unfortunately quite common, especially in the earliest stages of a divorce.
Maintaining a stable and reliable schedule can be particularly difficult for parents that share joint custody, as children are forced to split their time between two separate homes and adapt to the changing personal schedules of the two separate parents that once functioned as a unit. When Nanny accompanies kids from one home to another, and sees to their needs and well-being just as she always has, the transition from one home to two can be made significantly smoother. Parents can also avoid scheduling confusion regarding picking kids up from and dropping them off at after-school activities, sports practices, or lesson rehearsals by delegating the task to one neutral party. Few things add insult to the existing injury of a divorce in the family like being lost in the shuffle between them and left at school or forgotten at practice, but it can happen when two people are still in the process of ironing out the proverbial kinks in scheduling that accompany joint custody.
Nannies that spend the majority of each day with their charges are also intimately familiar with the comfort objects, favorite toys, and other details that might be forgotten when bags are packed by parents for shuffling between homes. These aren’t as likely to slip Nanny’s mind making them less likely to be forgotten. She can also offer reassurance to kids by being nearby despite the relative unfamiliarity of new homes and neighborhoods. If you’re both forced to move from the home that your children grew up in, your kids may also be separated from the neighborhood playmates that they’ve maintained friendships with for most of their lives, and neither you nor your spouse is likely to have time for ferrying kids between play dates. This is another situation in which your nanny is worth her weight in gold: by making herself available to both you and your ex, she will be able to help your kids stay in touch with the friends that they might otherwise grow apart from.
Finally, sharing the expense of Nanny’s salary may be the only way to make the arrangement financially feasible; a major plus if you’re committed to avoiding center-based daycare.
Cons of Sharing a Nanny with Your Ex

Despite the stability and familiarity that your nanny provides to your children during the tumultuous divorce proceedings and their aftermath, there are a few drawbacks to sharing her with your ex-spouse. The biggest concern is her ability to remain neutral, because she will be in the unique position of either quelling or fanning the flames of continued conflicts by sharing sensitive information that she’s privy to through her regular contact with both parties. This can be particularly damaging if you’re still in the process of finalizing your divorce, especially if it’s a bitter one.
Sharing a live-in nanny could also create the necessity for an additional private bedroom, which may create a financial strain for parents that are already cash-strapped as a result of their divorce. In post-divorce dwellings, on both sides of the fence, space can be at a premium. Still, the days of Nanny sleeping in the same room as her charges are long over; if you intend to retain a live-in nanny, you may both need to provide a private space for her to decompress in and relax away from the demands of her job. Those demands may be exponentially increased when she’s forced to play intermediary between battling divorcees, which also increases her risk of burn out.
Ultimately, the decision to share your nanny with your ex-spouse is one that must be made by the three of you, and with full disclosure by all parties about expectations and responsibilities.
 P.S. This post was  proposed to me for publication by  Maryanne Williams. I'm therefore publishing it by her invitation and under her permission. See also the link below fore more information:

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