Ready, Aim, Fire: Bye bye Mary Poppins

With a heavy heart, we served notice on our Nanny last week.  She’ll leave us at the end of March after almost two years of service.

Justifying the Nanny is something that rubs against Financial Independence and frugalism but hopefully this is the right way forward.

I’ve not really written much about our childcare arrangements but it’s safe to say that if you do have children, then you probably need to take care of them.  Without proper care and attention, an unattended child is unlikely to make it to adulthood.

The phenomenon of paid childcare is relatively new and with modern life which involves working career parent(s), long commutes and remote/dispersed extended families, the raising of children has been generally outsource to nurseries, childminders and nannies.

The choices around childcare are complex.  You might have preconceived notions over who looks after children in a relationship.  But I don’t think that it’s a simple question of balancing up how much childcare costs, how much each partner earns and if the lowest paid (normally a woman) person is worth less than childcare costs, they are to drop their career and become a stay at home Mum (or Dad).

We went down the route of a Nanny on the back of doing some research, thinking about how our lives would work out, how work was working, the travel for my job, the cost.  On the research front: Oliver James wrote a great book called “They F*** you up” which is well worth reading out of general interest or if you have children (or are thinking of it).


What worried me was the idea that if my wife took a couple of years off on maternity leave/full time Mum, that she’d permanently lose out in career terms.  It’s a horrible idea that if you are a woman in the 21st century, you need to choose between children and career – but that’s where we are at.

So we went out and searched for a Nanny and since June 2016 when the Little Master was 8 months old we started the Nanny with a 1 month handover before the Lady went back to work after 9 months maternity leave.

The experience of having staff/help/employee was a bit new to me.  The burden of not only the salary but the tax/NI contributions meant that it was financially trying.  She cost a lot of money to have but she was good at what she did.

More recently, like any relationship that goes passed the honeymoon phase, we found things about her that we could complain about.  She got married/had a honeymoon last September when our Little Lady was born in October.  She’s lacked a bit of creativity when it comes to playing with the Little Master – an example was that for Christmas she didn’t make any Christmas decorations with him.  She hasn’t focused on developmental goals that we have talked to her about – the Little Master can’t through or jump and most of the things that he’s learnt, we’ve taught him, not us.  Also whilst she is not a skivvy, she often doesn’t even tidy up after herself let alone after us.

We were thinking of letting her go after the Little Lady was born last Autumn/Winter but she ended up getting pregnant, her husband was actively looking for work in another city and we thought that they would leave where we live to move either elsewhere or back home.  In the end, nothing changed and we’ve been forced to end the employment at the end of March.

It was not an easy decision – and I feel bad for her (and him) but they’ll bounce back.

Although we were pleased with the Nanny allowing us to go to work and for me to travel for work and felt raising our son in our home was preferrable to sticking him in a nursery at the crack of dawn. Essentially, she was less Mary Poppins and more of a childminder.  We had very high standards maybe or didn’t manage her well enough to let her know that she should be more involved, more creative, plan more, have a development plan.  Maybe her saying she was going to leave us at some point meant that she stopped trying as hard – who knows.

On child development: our understanding of nurseries are that they are tightly regulated and inspected and need to creative development plans for all children.  Our Nanny didn’t do that and now with the Little Master aged 2 years and 4 months, she sort of just follows him around and doesn’t lead him.

mary poppins

Hey, my Son is very highly developed and his speech is amazing for his age.  He’s a great kid and I’m so proud of him, he’s my greatest achievement (and he did it all himself).  Although maybe the Nanny can’t have done all that bad a job and considering we were paying her just a bit more than the absolute legal bare minimum (we’d like to pay less but legally we can’t) she’s sort of value for money.  As an aside, we like to think that we care about children or people in general, but wages in the caring industries are terrible.  We paid a decent above average wage but Nanny could have probably earned more at Tescos with less responsibility and stress.

But it’s a lot of money that we’ve paid her – over £29,000 in total!  Even working 3 days a week she makes up about one third of our outgoings.  We can’t even think of FIRE when we are paying over a thousand pounds a month for childcare.

Our next stage is to cut out that spending as part of our Ready, Aim, Fire process. You might think that this is all First World Problems – but if you don’t have children you won’t understand how important they are, how much you love them and how you’ll do anything (and pay stupid money) for them.  Nanny was part of that plan – she allowed the Lady to get back to work and for me to keep my job which involved travel.  The cost was high but we had lots of savings (which is another benefit of having money in the bank – it meant that we could run cash-flow negative without going broke.

Thanks, GFF



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