February 1, 2011
I went out to breakfast by myself the other day on my day off. I sat next to two women, having a girl-brunch; one a new mom on maternity leave, the other a working mom, away from the office. They were seated only a couple feet away from me, so I couldn’t help buy overhear. They discussed, at length, some standard Calgarian hot topics: a blow-out trip to Las Vegas, maternity leave, and finding a good nanny.
It was only then that I realized that having a nanny in Calgary seems quite common. One of my co-workers at Holt had one, but I just assumed it was because her partner makes boatloads of money. Then I looked around at more co-workers who had them at my next job, and realized that many Calgarian moms who work have nannies. For some, the nannies likely cost equal to or more than the moms made at work, so it seems that some Calgarian moms are into getting out of the house. Rumor has it that the government subsidizes this national habit, but I have not looked into it.
Anyway, I learned a lot more about it at breakfast that day. I couldn’t help but listen, it was like that accident-watching reflex. According to the two women who were catching up, there are ways to get nannies that are both legal and illegal, and to the credit of these two, they seemed to want to stay above-board and to want to pay a fair wage. They did, however, definitely discuss which types of nannies would do more for less ($12/hr for three kids plus light housework, instead of $15/hr for one small child and no housework). The woman with the nanny advised the one on the hunt that she was having very good luck with her Philippine nanny, who was loving and effective and hard-working, and whose English was good enough.
I learned that she pays $2000 a month for her nanny. I tried to imagine a financial scenario in my life where I would find good value in paying $2,000 a month for someone else to perform daily household tasks with me or for me, or where I would feel comfortable with a new paid household resident. I don't question the decision or the need to hire one; it sounds like a great solution for some families; I'm merely startled to notice how common it feels here compared to other places I have lived (so far).
April 28, 2017 Update...
While reviewing my blog posts, I came across this one, as a now-parent, spending a ton of money to send one of my sons to day care so that he can do interesting things while I take care of the new baby. So now I understand better...
I remain very intrigued at how we make the priority decisions we make culturally as we navigate caregiving versus working, taking care of home versus taking care of our adult lives. Maybe nannies are more common than I realized also in Minnesota, not just in oil towns with skewed economies?