As you know, the world pretty much sucks financially these days. Little families like mine can rarely get by on a single income. When Thing 1 was little we were at our wits end trying to juggle night shifts and the colicky-baby-from-hell. So what was a new mommy to do but guilt-trip her younger sister into becoming her Nauntie in exchange for free room and board? (I may have also promised that the Tyrants will care for her when she is old and decrepid…)
Nauntie: (non-tee) A childless Aunt who fills the role of Nanny to her nieces and/or nephews while being paid in room and board.
And yes, I just made that up.
Now I know what you are thinking, how can my life possibly be so crazy if I have 3 adults raising 2 children? That is an excellent question. (Unless you have met the Tyrants, or their Father, it is hard to explain just how much energy they have and how much chaos they can create.) It can be a tricky situation. I have broken down the basic pros and cons of having a live-in Nauntie:
1. Trusted nanny. Since she is my sister we have a common language when it comes to raising children, which is awesome to me and slightly annoying to my partner. But ultimately the girls are bonded to someone who is going to be in their lives forever and who actually loves them in a non-inappropriate way.
2. In home childcare. Tyrants are possibly healthier, and in a comfortable familiar environment.
3. On-call help. Technically Nauntie’s day is done when I get home from work, (ha!) but lets face it, if Thing 1 comes running up to her at 7:00 pm and wants to watch “Kipper the Dog” for the hundredth time on her computer, chances are Nauntie will say yes.
4. Food! Nauntie can cook like nobodies business, as my non-shrinking waistline can attest.
5. Cheaper (in some ways) than other childcare options of equal value.
- The back talk. Since Nauntie is my little sister, she has on occasion felt compelled to comment on my parenting methods. Normally this would get a nanny fired, but under the circumstances I just remind her that I am older than her and always right, and if she isn’t nice to me I will tell our Mom. That shows her…
- In home childcare. Yep, this made BOTH lists! This means that my children are always home. ALWAYS. No playing hookie and having the house to myself for me. I haven't been home all day alone in YEARS.
- I live with my baby sister. That means that when both babies are napping and my partner and I are home and feeling a little frisky THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT, because my sister is in her room trying hard to pretend she didn’t just see us making out in the kitchen. Trauma for all.
- Big people = big messes. While Nauntie is an amazing cook and does more than her share of our laundry, in general she tends to leave a trail of chaos in her wake. Add that to the clutter of 2 babies and an ADHD man, and my inner neat freak dies in screaming agony a little more each day.
- Cozy Quarters. As I said, times are hard, which means we all still live in a two bedroom house. So we have Thing 1 and Thing 2 sleeping in our bedroom for the foreseeable future. Privacy? What’s that?
Regardless of pros and cons, I am incredibly grateful that I am such a master manipulator and convinced her to move in with us, especially when Thing 2 informs me that the moon and stars live in OUTER SPACE, and I know I didn’t teach her that. Not to mention her ability to count to 10 forward and backward, know her ABC’s, be gentle with animals, say please, thank you, and I’m sorry in English and sign language, and in general be a fairly awesome almost-two-year-old kid.
When she graduates Magnum Cum Laude she isn’t going to mention her father or me. Nope. She’s going to say, “I would like to thank my Nauntie for teaching me everything I needed to know to be a super AWESOME person.”
And you know what? I’m kinda OK with that.