Micromanaging 101

As predicted, I didn’t sleep that well. I was up by 5:30, tossing and turning in bed, thinking of the conversation I am going to have with our nanny this morning. Last night, I made her a schedule to follow with Saige, including ideas for activities they can do together, suggested foods to offer, etc. I know it’s a very gringo approach but I need to talk to her very directly and concretely to see if there is any way to salvage the situation.

Armed with the schedule and a cup of coffee, I was prepared to talk to her when she walked in the door at 8:30 am. Esteban watched the kids while the nanny and I went out onto the upstairs patio for a heart-to-heart. Before I could say much, she apologized for all of the mishaps of yesterday, saying that she slept really badly the night before and was really out of it yesterday. I told her that I appreciated her being forthcoming about this and then I went on to tell her gently, but firmly, all of my concerns over the past couple of months – her lack of motivation and initiative (sitting around staring into space or playing with her phone rather than the children, etc.), and having to be reminded constantly of the basics, to offer the kids food or dress Saige appropriately for the weather. I also reminded her that we hired her because she has worked as a teacher and we expected her to take the lead in planning activities for the kids, not me having to micro-manage everything. I made it clear that I was afraid that whatever is going on with her in her life is impacting her job and that we need to see significant improvement in order to feel comfortable with her being  with Saige for any extended period of time once the older kids go back to school. What wasn’t said, but implied, is that we will have to look for other child care alternatives if things don’t get better quick.

As expected, she took all of this in stride. She told me that she was trying to follow the Waldorf methodology of not overstimulating the children and letting them play using their own imagination. She also told me that she has been feeling exhausted at the job because her own daughter, who comes to work with her, is having a hard time sharing her with my kids. She tries to explain to her that this is her job but that it has been very stressful and exhausting to navigate the situation. Again, I acknowledged my appreciation that she was honest with me and we agreed that once her daughter starts school in about 4 weeks, this will be a non-issue. We also went through the schedule and she said that she appreciated having it in writing because now she knows what is expected of her.

I also acknowledged that I hadn’t been as hands-on from the beginning as I should have been. Over the years, I have had three nannies in the US and I have always supervised everything very thoroughly until I trusted my nannies completely. Of course, I also always hired highly motivated and energetic people who absolutely loved being with kids. And here, in Colombia, there was so much going on all at once – finding a house, getting the girls settled into schools, dealing with the alarm situation, illnesses – that I haven’t been as on top of our nanny as I should have been. As Esteban says, she needs micro-managing. Unfortunately, I hate micro-managing. I find it stressful, but it needs to be done.  The nanny and I agreed to start over.

So I will micro manage and we will take this one day at a time. I am still not too convinced that our conversation will produce the desired effects: she might do what needs to be done while I am there or the girls are there but who knows what happens when nobody is around. That’s what worries me. I guess I can always switch our housekeeper’s hours once school starts so that they are there at the same time and the housekeeper can also keep an eye on things when I am not there.

Ugh, enough of all the worrying and strategizing. As my dear friend and wonderful coach reminded me, I do best when I trust the flow. When I go with the flow of my life, things always seem to work out for the best. When I worry and stress and strategize too much, I just get frazzled and stressed. Plus, it doesn’t do any good. So I took a break from my writing and went for a walk. It relaxed me immediately and, for the moment, I am back in the place of trusting that things will work out. Somehow, the childcare situation that is for the kids’ highest good will become apparent, whether with our current nanny or somebody else. In the meantime, I will call the girls’ school director to see if she knows any good childcare providers and I will check out a local preschool that I had a very good feeling about when I visited. I trust that things will work out in the big picture, but I am also a big believer in doing my part to help them work out.

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