What’s my Secret? Her name is Angie.

I have a dark secret I’ve been keeping from you. Well, actually…she’s more like a warm, brown secret.

You see, earlier this year we hired a live-in Nanny from the Philippines.

Now before you jump to conclusions about either my ego or our income, let me say this:

I pride myself on being a hard-working and down-to-earth gal.

Being raised on a farm, I learned early the humility that comes from shovelling manure and tending to a dying animal. And in terms of work ethic, my problem’s never been how much work I do – but how well I’m doing it. It’s a matter of execution: try to do too much and quality suffers. So when it comes to the endless list of domestic chores I don’t question if I can do it – but rather, if I’m the right person to do it.

Let me Introduce You to Angie

She is a slim, youthful beauty with wide, sweet eyes. She has shiniest, shoulder-length black hair you can imagine and, what’s more, she is the perfect remedy for our chaotic lives. The best way I can describe it is that Angie is like a veteran waiter in 5-star restaurant: she anticipates your need and is working toward the solution even before it registers in your brain. <sigh> And she does it all. In exchange for a modest salary (equivalent to the price of 2 fulltime childcare spots) and a private place in our home, she pours her heart out to cook meals, clean the house, and help manage our complex lives from the command-post we call home. She is, just as her name implies, heaven-sent.

Why have I been reticent about something so good?

Well, I’ve been busy; busy navigating the irrationally complex process of hiring a foreign worker in Canada – and busy wrestling with the larger existential question of what it means to have a Nanny. I’ve been weighing questions like, “does having a Nanny mean that I’m a suburban Princess living a charmed life?” Or, that I’m an inadequate mother that’s relinquished control of her home to a stranger? Or does it mean that I’m a Pragmatist that’s given up the female fantasy of doing-it-all?

The Benefits of Losing Control

Inviting a stranger to join your family is a big step and leap of faith for everyone. But what I’ve quickly learned is that having help is far better than having control. Close friends have asked, “How can you handle having someone in your house all the time?” as if being supported was an imposition or a burden. The truth is I’ve never felt stronger as a mother, a wife, and a professional.

First, she’s way better at housekeeping than I’ve ever been! Before Angie, neither our walls nor our cupboards were regularly washed. I mean, who had the time or energy?! But our domestic reality has changed. Now there’s someone in our lives that has both the time and the energy to execute these annoying but necessary tasks. With the minutia of household management & meal preparation taken care of we’ve been given the gift of presence. Now when my husband and I come home at night, we have the energy to really listen to one another and the time to connect with our children in a truly meaningful way.

Second, my kids are showing more gratitude, thanks to Angie. Gratitude, not just because they aren’t being yelled at to do the dishes and take out the garbage (which- for the record- I believe are morally cleansing activities), but because they are learning about growing up in a very different world. A world where, for example, there wasn’t electricity until Angie was 12-years old (and all the modern gadgets it comes with – like a fridge and a stove) and a world where she was fortunate to receive a single, modest meal a day. To share our lives with someone whose earnings support a family still living in that world and who works with as much joy and gratitude as she does is both humbling and expanding. Angie’s stories about growing up in the Philippines have given my kids an appreciation for the spectrum of human experience.

Finally, there has been a financial benefit to hiring our Nanny. Since hiring Angie my business income has increased by 30%. It’s a surprising outcome I can only attribute to the fact that I’m able to concentrate more fully on my work and feel less guilt about what’s not getting done at home. But what’s even more valuable to me is the experience of being truly cared for. Things at home are not only getting done – but getting done well. Proof that execution is easy then you’ve got the right people doing the right job.

The Hidden Cost of Control

The Nanny experience has made me question where else in our lives we could use support. As an entrepreneur, there’s often a financial imperative to the DIY’er approach. But I wonder, is it profitable over the long run? What’s the financial (and emotional) toll, for example, of maintaining your own website or managing your own bookkeeping if this isn’t your real strength? What income opportunities are you missing by trying to do it all? What momentum are you losing in your business by trying to control all the processes yourself? These are questions I am weighing more seriously than ever.

What does it mean to have a Nanny?

I’m beginning to realize that being a DIY’er is overrated, in business and at home. Angie is the perfect Nanny for our family; dedicated, generous, and optimistic. Her involvement in our family has improved us all. My kids are developing a deeper social conscience, my husband and I are better connected than ever, and I’m a better mom because I can focus on work without the guilt.

Now, does that make me a Princess or a Pragmatist?

I’ll let you decide.

Heather

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One Response to “What’s my Secret? Her name is Angie.

  • Rebecca
    6 years ago

    This is a beautifully written piece of true honesty Heather and I am proud of you.
    I had to look up the meaning of “Pragmatist” to make sure it meant what I thought it did as I had always thought it had negative conotations. But upon review it does indeed describe your decision and actions perfectly, I think anyhow.

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