You and Baby have a very special bond, and there’s nothing in the world that can change that. There are, however, also other people in Baby‘s life who have special bonds with him: his caregivers. Babysitters, nannies, daycare workers, relatives…anyone who spends significant time with Baby is likely to form their own special bond with him. It’s natural, but it’s just as natural for you to occasionally get a little jealous. Baby is yours, right? So why does he look at his caregiver with love in his eyes? Navigating feelings of jealousy or competitiveness as a parent can be surprisingly emotional, but you can work through them.
There are many reasons you might have weird, conflicting feelings when you look at your caregiver with Baby. The two of them spend lots of time with together, they share experiences you’re not necessarily around for, and they will grow to really care for each other. In a way, that’s incredible, and most parents are torn between feeling both extreme gratitude for the love their children have for their caregivers and a little jealousy that this particular love isn’t directed toward them. Hearing fun stories about their adventures is going to fill you with joy that Baby had a good time, but that joy can have a shade of sadness when you think about how you weren’t there for it.
Remember, you’re not the first or the last person to experience this. If your caregiver has a lot of experience taking care of children, this probably isn’t the first time they’ve been in this situation either. And if you’re a first-time parent and your caregiver has been nannying, babysitting, or generally working with children for a while, it can be easy to feel like they know more than you do about parenting. If you find yourself feeling like they get more time with Baby than you do, that can be especially hard as well. But what are we remembering? This is normal, normal, normal. Every child is different, and every adult in a child’s life cares about him in their own way. And you’re both doing the best you can to give Baby the most love possible. Baby is just soaking it in! You’re still his number one, always.
There are ways to act on these feelings in a positive way. If you’re bummed that it seems like Baby gets to have all of his fun time with his caregiver, find ways to let yourself to be the playful one from time to time. If you work during the day, you might feel a little drained when you get home, but make a special effort riding the boost of energy you get when you see Baby to squeeze in playtime before he has to go to sleep can make the rest you get once he&;s settled down even more satisfying. You also don’t need to carry the burden of being the only disciplinarian. Work with Baby‘s caregivers to make sure that everyone is enforcing the same rules.
If you feel like you’re not getting enough time with Baby when he&;s awake, you can also talk to his caregiver about trying out an adjusted napping schedule. Some toddlers don’t take to it well, but others can adjust fairly easily to a schedule where they take their last nap a little later in the day, and end up feeling active and awake until later in the evening.
You can also talk to your caregiver about these feelings and see if there’s anything you two can do to help you feel better. Do you want to hear more about your caregiver’s time with Baby or less? Do you want to see pictures and videos so you can share some of their experiences? Do you want some messy details? Caregivers often gloss over the harder parts of their days so they can share the highlights with you, but maybe it could help to hear about the diaper explosions and tantrums every now and then so you understand that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you’re gone.
It takes a village to raise a child, and your caregivers are an awesome part of your little village. They’re the ones who can tell you all about how your baby smiles when he hears your voice and lights up when you walk through the door after a long day, hour, or five minutes apart. You and your caregivers are a team, and your mission is to make Baby the happiest tot in the world. And you’re doing a great job!