Dr. Britten Cole's Blog: How to Be Prepared in Case Your Children's Nanny Suddenly Quits
In a new blog for PEOPLE, Dr. Britten Cole talks "the gravity of letting a complete stranger take care of the most precious and loved person in your life"
Please welcome back our new celebrity blogger, Dr. Britten Cole!
Dr. Cole, an anesthesiologist and mother of two, splits her time between Orlando, Florida, and Los Angeles, where she’s starring on the inaugural season of Married to Medicine: Los Angeles. Aside from appearing on the hit Bravo series’ new spin-off, she is currently working on finding permanent medical employment on the west coast.
Before she became an anesthesiologist, Dr. Cole worked as an officer in the Navy alongside her best friend, Married to Medicine: Atlanta star Dr. Contessa Metcalfe.
Cole and husband Mack Major share two children: Mack Jr., 7, and Ivy, 8. You can find her on Instagram @brittencolemd.
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When my husband and I moved to a city where we knew absolutely no one, we didn’t anticipate how difficult we would be making our lives. We were new parents and completely underestimated the importance of having an extra pair of hands would be in raising our children. With two working parents and no close friends or family to call on, we did what many parents in our situation have done: We hired a nanny.
If you happen upon a good, reliable nanny, consider yourself lucky. Our experience was like playing Russian roulette — you just never knew what you were going to get. To find one that fit all our criteria was difficult on its own, but to have that person maintain reliability was damn near impossible. Just when you think you’ve found the most reliable, fun-loving, responsible nanny, she does the unthinkable: She tells you she won’t be coming back … TOMORROW!
Unfortunately, this has happened on more than one occasion but for some reason, I’m always surprised. The only saving grace for our family when this has happened is the fact that my husband works for himself and maintains complete flexibility during his day. When you own your own business, you own your day. This has saved us several times. By the second time this happened, I was actually quite glad. Finally, I had the catalyst I needed to get my husband on board with daycare.
My husband enjoyed having a nanny. He appreciated the one-on-one attention it provided our daughter. He didn’t want her to be surrounded by runny-nosed kids housing little germ farms, and he liked the idea of having her safe at home. I, on the other hand, liked that she would get to interact with other children and hone her social skills. I saw how coming into contact with germs to build her immune system could be a plus. I also feel an early introduction to education rather than playing and watching television all day is a plus. The only thing that helped my case was the unreliability of having a nanny.
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The process of finding a nanny can be daunting. Though my search preference was via referrals, it wasn’t always possible, so I had to heavily rely on references. I’ve found most moms I’ve spoken to are very candid and forthcoming when telling me about a potential new hire. Like me, they understood the gravity of letting a complete stranger take care of the most precious and loved person in your life.
I can’t tell you how much information I’ve gotten from references that helped me make better decisions in who I hire. This behind-the-scenes information gathering was immeasurable. What I’ve found to be the most important part of my search was that I had to make it unequivocally clear to any new nanny what my expectations were and what her responsibilities would entail. I learned this after many failed attempts in assuming all nannies are reliable. Having this dialogue before hiring is, I think, what ultimately helped us maintain a successful working and personal relationship with our nannies.
But just in case my nanny plan fell through, I still had to come up with a contingency plan. I registered our daughter at the nearby daycare, and made sure her medical forms were filled out and emergency contacts were listed. She didn’t go every day. She attended just enough to keep her name on the roster in the event our nanny called in sick or just plain tapped out at a moment’s notice. I also made sure I had contact with other nannies from various babysitting websites that were already interviewed and ready to jump in, should we have need.
Our last resort, though, was the grandmothers, both of whom live out of state. My husband’s mom was retired, so could come at the drop of a dime. Though this was a more costly route, it did save us on a few occasions, particularly when my husband was out of town and a nanny decided on a Friday that she wouldn’t be able to make it the following Monday. And with my schedule being as inflexible as it was, we were forced to bite the bullet and shell out the money for an airline ticket. Kids are expensive, after all.
As it now stands, we seem to be managing well without a nanny. The kids are older and in elementary school. And with before- and after-school care, it appears we may never need a nanny again. Hopefully, those days are behind us, but for those who are just embarking on this journey, vet well, interview candidates, call all references and communicate your expectations and goals well. Hopefully you’ll find that incredibly reliable and super-awesome nanny you desire.
Catch Dr. Britten Cole on Married to Medicine: Los Angeles, which airs Sundays on Bravo at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST.