Leaving On A Jet Plane

I kept searching for the next thing to write about since I am trying to post regularly (or as regularly as possible for me) and I was too distracted by the upcoming vacation my 2 year olds nanny is going to take. So I decided to write about that!

I got verbally attacked once when I wrote about having a nanny and having help around the house and as I said then frankly I don’t care. I am blessed to be able to have this help and I truly think I would not have had 3 (4 in April inshallah) kids by 32 had I not had this help. Or at least I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it as much as I do.

Now a negligent mother will be negligent if she was in a fully staffed house or in a locked room with her child. Having help does not mean not doing anything for your children. It does mean however that your time is not taken up with the washing and the ironing and that it is possible to not have to run around like a mad woman, 6 months pregnant, when you take your 8 year old, 5 year old and 2 year old out for the day.

Having said that, I have made a mistake. It is a common parenting mistake I have seen made here in my community. It being common doesn’t make it less of a mistake it just means I saw other make the mistake and wasn’t able to or active in trying to avoid it as I believe I could have been.

I was lucky enough to be able to get a nanny for my son when he was born. She took care of him from his first week of life.  She is from the Philippines and before coming to work for us as a nanny she was a nurse. She has taken really good care of my son and I am grateful to her for it.

In 3 weeks she is going on her first vacation since arriving here. This is where my problem lies. My son is very attached to his nanny. He is dependent on her and used to her hovering around him all the time. I think, from observing other nannies form the same part of the world, it may be a cultural thing. I am constantly having to ask her to let go of his hand if we are in the garden. Or to sit down when he is eating and let him feed himself. and to not jump and pick up every toy he drops, or worse throws.

I have seen kids with a worse dependency than he has as he can go the whole day on her days off without fretting and is even happy to go to sleep without her being back. The problem is he does keep asking about her and checking on her when she is around. And the first few nights she took off he did freak out at her not being there to do the nigh-time routine. Unfortunately he is not used me doing the night-time routine as my older kids were for many reasons that are too long and boring for me to list here but in short it was easier to do it with the other two. (example of one of the ways I could have tried harder and not had him be so dependent on her).

Now I know that when she leaves he will be anxious and upset for a few days and I know (Inshallah) that he will get over it. In fact it may be a good thing that this is happening now. Although a lot of the research I have read says that children naturally dis-attach around the age of 3 when they gain more independence and confidence. I guess I could offer her extra pay to not go see her family for another year (kidding).

What I am trying to figure out is how to explain to a 2-year-old who is about to move from one city to another. To a new house and eventually, shortly, get a new baby brother, that his nanny is going away for a couple of months? Is this even possible? The question I have is how do I make this as pain-free as possible?

Here are my thoughts: Get him used to other people to do the things his current nanny does. Check, we have an “it takes a village” attitude here and that’s how it’s working out when she had been sick or had some time off.

The other idea I am having is trying to get her to back off as much as you can back off a 2-year-old. Example, If he is playing with me during the day I’ll ask her to go have a cup of tea or watch some TV somewhere else away from us. Asking her to back off enough to let him feed himself without her wiping his mouth or scooping up his food for him.

The third thing was to try to prepare him that she is leaving but how do you get that through to a 2-year-old? like show him a picture of a plane and tell him “nanny’s going to see her family for a while”. Yeah… I don’t see that working out so well.

Someone recently pointed out to me that maybe my daughters nanny up and leaving without notice and without saying good-bye when she was the same age as B might be the reason she has some anxiety issues. Pile on the guilt.

So, my lovely readers, Any ideas? Suggestions? Comments? And don’t let one of them be “Don’t make the same mistake with the baby on the way” because I know… I won’t inshallah. 


  1. I have always wondered what your approach on nannies was. Mashallah I look up to you when it comes to raising children but I see the children of our region being attached to their nannies more than the parents has affected your household as well. I’m due next month with my first and FREAKING OUT about it.
    My whole family thinks I am insane for refusing to have any help but I grew so attached to my nanny growing up (until today) that I want my children to need me as opposed to a total stranger. I was lucky enough ilhamdulilah with her being trustworthy but It kills me when I see children, including my nieces and nephews, run straight to their caregivers rather then their parents when they fall for instance. (keep in mind both parents are standing there but they run to the their nannies </3)
    The closer the due date is the more I feel like I have no clue on how to care for a new born and doubt my maternal instincts will suffice with my baby.
    I wonder would you have done things differently with your children if you could? I know our society does require a lot and as you've written in your previous posts that living abroad gives you more time to focus on your children and spend more time with them but when you look back at S and J and B's lives do you feel like you would have done things differently?
    Sometimes I feel like maybe I should get a French or British lady to help out when he's big enough as opposed to having a "nanny" but more of a governess or baby-sitter/teacher to give me time during the day while still nurture my baby. As opposed to someone caring for their every need.
    I look up to you 9ara7a when it comes to raising children and wanted to know what you thought about the whole thing.
    Sorry for the rant!!

    • Hi Sarah, I am extremely flattered that you look up to me and a little nervous about that lol. I don’t think you should worry about you child being too attached to the nanny. I honestly think having help will make you calmer and happier. Just don’t make the mistake I made. I feel like my biggest mistake was the night time routine, I feel like if I had him used to falling asleep on his own it would have made a world of difference! My problem with him is not that he doesn’t know who his mama and baba are, it’s that he is more dependent on his nanny for his needs (sleeping mostly)and that he is so used to her hovering around him all the time. I don’t hover around my children. And as I said, I truly think it is a cultural thing as all the filipino nannies I have seen treat the children in the same over protective, mothering way.
      I don’t know if I would have done things differently. I had B when my mother was getting treatment for cancer and we were not living in our own home but rather my mothers. Things weren’t stable and I didn’t have a clear mind as I did with my eldest 2. Had I been living in London and, for example, had British nanny I am sure things would have been different as I am sure she would not have been so over protective and over emotional with my son. But this is the situation I am in and I can’t change what led us here. And while I am worrying about it now I know it will be resolved sooner or later.
      I do strongly recommend having help with a new born, either from family or from help at home. She doesn’t have to do everything for the baby but an extra pair of hands is such a huge help and lets be honest, we don’t live in a culture where the men are going to be mucking in like the women do. Get a nanny and make sure the baby is used to being in a room on his (or her) own from the first months. Or, if you are up for it, in a room with you.
      I also think getting a european or professional nanny for older children, especially here in Saudi where they are very sheltered and lets face it pampered, is a huge benefit. They promote more independence and make the children rely on themselves more than we do as Arabs. I have seen a huge difference in my children when they got a British nanny in London. But that’s a whole other subject. Hope this helps.

  2. Hmmm,, toughi! well, I would think it’s best to get him used to not seeing her or spending as much time with her for the time being ,, and I also think making a big deal out of her leaving and trying so hard to explain it to a 2 year old will result in actually making it a big deal to him and this may cause anxiety. so don’t stress it too much,, maybe just a little say bye to (…) because she’s going to see her family every now and then should get the idea into his head.
    Also, make use of the move! New place, get him busy with his new room, start a new night time routine (where the nany is not there) and if you’re lucky he’ll get excited about it and forget that she’s not around. Good luck

    • I am trying to do that now. Have her not physically be in the room as much. But I worry about making a huge change to his routine when we have 2 moves ahead of us (friday to my mothers house and end of the month to our new house) and then his nanny is leaving. So even if I try and get him used to sleeping on his own starting tonight we move in 4 days then again in a few weeks. I worry new place + no nanny + new routine will make the whole thing more stressful. But you are right, making a big deal of her leaving will probably make it worse. I will have her say bye as she usually does on her days off and then leave.

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