I remember how shocked I was when I learned how much childcare would cost us. Daycare for the two girls was about as much as our mortgage per month – and we weren’t alone. This article from Yahoo! Finance is one of many that describe the daycare situation around 2015 when my kids were born. A full-time live-out nanny was not much cheaper. In the end, there wouldn’t be much left over after paying other bills for anything else – no saving for the future, no vacations. We even considered an au pair, which I mentioned in a previous post, before we had family graciously step in to help us out.
Moving to Thailand opened up the opportunity for us to affordably employ domestic help as we settled in and created our routines. At first, I was convinced that we would only need part-time, live-out help. I mean, if I was going to be home, why would I need someone full time? I was quickly proved wrong. The first few weeks were overwhelming. The apartment looked like a pack of Tasmanian devils had been set loose. It felt like I would never travel farther than a 100-meter radius.
It turned out to be crucial to have someone around, while my husband worked, to help keep things in order and watch over the girls as I navigated the first months abroad. I needed to figure out how to get around, where to buy things, places to go with the girls before we found a school and they were ready to go (since they hadn’t gone to school before). It was a tremendous relief knowing that I would have someone with me to ensure that meals were cooked, laundry was done, and so on. Her presence also made it possible for regular date nights in our newly adopted city.
Even though I had always been open to exploring live-in childcare options before we moved to Thailand, I still worried about how we would adjust to having a stranger live with our family. By all accounts, we were extremely fortunate to find someone in our initial search; a person who has been such an excellent fit for us. Still, I couldn’t shake the perceived dynamic of nanny-family relationships I grew to understand over the years. This story in The New York Times from last year and this opinion piece from 2014 in The Guardian offer glimpses into the tension, and at times inequality, that can exist.
Any doubts I had have subsided seeing how quickly she became part of our family and how much my kids adore her.