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07 June 2011

Guest Post: On Being An Attached Nanny with Birth Routes' Amber Morrisey

I'm really honoured to share this beautiful post with you today, mes amis. As an attachment parenting mama, I know that when I was searching for someone to care for my daughter, many aspects of my parenting style became my reason for choosing the wonderful daycare that she now attends. It's not impossible to find a caregiver to mesh with the way you enjoy raising your children. Read on as Amber Morrisey of Birth Routes gives an in depth look into her life as an attachment parenting nanny. She's also included some wonderful tips for finding an AP style caregiver for your own children. Brilliant!


I'm not a huge fan of labeling people in general, but if I must, you'd hear me say I'm an attachment parenting style nanny.

Attachment is a natural process of bonding with the children I mind, but I'm talking a bit past just the attachment of being close to someone day in and day out, I'm talking about the entire way of caring and treating the children I mind.

As a nanny, I treat the children I mind as if they were my own (or, as close to that as one can imagine, since I do not have my own children to contrast to). I strive to achieve a deep bond with them, form strong relationships based on trust, and "parent" to their cues. This to me is just normal, so I find it hard to describe in some ways.

I am recently in a new nanny job, and at the beginning of our relationship together. As a care provider, I have so much catching up to do - learning to identify subtle cues, what they like and what they don't, sleeping styles and personalities. So much to learn about these two new children in my life, and it takes a lot of attention and hands on loving care as possible. I babywear my nannybabies as much as possible, including wearing both at the same time (they are 8 months and 12 months), I love to undoonesie snaps and get in some good skin-to-skin back rubs, I rock them to sleep in my arms or lay with them depending on their moods. One is bottle fed by me during the day (breastfed by mom when together), and I try to simulate the environment of closeness, holding him for feeds and talking to him. He isn't one to look at me when feeding, and I respect that, we hold hands instead.
The sun is high in the sky, this Friday afternoon, as we curl up together on the bed.
You are cuddled in as I wrap my arm around you, patting the belly of the baby on your side. Some fussing, like usual as you drift off to sleep, eyes popping open to ensure I am still here even though I'm singing and we are touching. You always take a bit longer to let go, as your sweaty hair curls against the pillow. I lay here next to you both wondering if you dream together as you fall asleep within ten minutes of each other. Watching as you both enter stillness, then later restlessness of sleep. I know one of you has to pee, as you often do about 45 minutes into dreamland, waking only slightly, then back to sleep. One of you wakes before the other, with a stretch and wide eyes, I take you for a pee and when I return the other baby is stirring awake also. Ready for hugs, and a new diaper, and a snack and a play. Just another sleepy nap, midday.
So why do I bother being all attached and connected? What is the big deal?

Simple - these children are away from the warmth of their parents arms, put into a strangers. That is a lot of stress on their systems already. My goal as an attached caregiver is for the children to feel loved and cared for, and trust me fully so that they can bloom as close to as they would with their parents - I want them to be in a state of peace. I want them to know I understand them, or I am trying my very hardest. To feel validated, respected and heard. Sometimes part of being attached is just easier I couldn't imagine trying to provide care to 2 children without the help of my many carriers. And sometimes I assume it's harder (although, I can't confirm this, since I've never been not me, so you know), I don't prop bottles, or ignore cues, or close my ears off to them. I don't let them cry to sleep alone, or care for them in any way that is all that more convenient for the care provider, but difficult on them. I do allow them room to grow, and crawl, and gain independence away for me, of course. It's beautiful to watch.

Sure, I push a stroller (with two carriers in the bottom just in case), I cannot always answer every cry immediately if I'm busy with the another (but I talk through it, letting them know why and when I will be able to), and sometimes I know the 8 month old is popping and I'm not able to take him to the toilet because I'm otherwise busy. I'm not perfect. But who is, right?

I get asked a lot how to find someone who is like me....or people trying to hire me. In my experience, it can take time to find someone who lines up well with your belief system and also what you can afford and what you need.
  • I post ads on Craigslist and Kijiji. I often rotate different ads, one more generic ad and one more detailed including words like "attachment parenting", "cloth diapers", "babywearing", in hopes that people using the search functions on the site will find it.
  • Do the same, search the site for similar key words and try to not only find caregivers, but also families that pull up those words, tell them you are looking for an AP nanny or whatever you are looking for.
  • Tell your friends that parent in a similar way that you are looking for a caregiver, most of my nanny jobs are nanny-shares where the families split my wages 50/50, making it more affordable for them.
  • When hosting your interviews, try to not tell them your whole philosophy of raising your child, ask them open ended questions like "how do you discipline", "what do you think of bed sharing", "do you know how to heat and handle breastmilk", "what do you think of cloth diapers" etc. This will give you a better insight into what they actual believe, then just landing a job.
  • Check references! Ask previous families specific questions as well, not just did they work there, for how long etc. Nanny references are more than just checking on employment, they offer amazing insight into how the nanny helps to raise your family.
  • Consider a co-parent co-op childcare share. Find like minded families and organize alternating care amoungst yourselves for more part-time relief, it can also work on a full-time basis, but I've seen it work much better part-time.
  • Join parenting groups online that align with your beliefs, and tell them you are looking for childcare. Spread the word.
At the end of the day, I'm not an "attachment parenting nanny", I'm just one caring person in the village that raises them. Warm arms ready to snuggle, fingers for tickling, and a shoulder to sleep against. I'm just "parenting" in how I'd like to be treated, fairly, with compassion and with love.


Amber Morrisey is a nanny, birth & postpartum doula, Reiki practitioner, placenta encapsulator and babywearing educator. You can read more at her blog, Birth Routes.

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