Ever wondered why trusting your childcare provider (whether it’s a nanny, daycare, or babysitter) isn’t quick and automatic?  I hear the following concerns all the time from new mamas – and have felt them myself!:

  • “My nanny has been fully vetted, and she seems, amazing. Why do I still feel weird about leaving my baby with her?”
  • “I visited the daycare we’ve chosen a bunch of times, and my best friends’ kids go there and love it. But I’m still SO worried about how my baby will be taken care of.  What if he doesn’t get enough attention?”
  • “My great aunt is an amazing person. I trust her to the moon and back.  But yet I feel anxious about her watching my son.”
  • “My neighbor uses this same babysitter. I should just get over my worries about having her watch my kids.”

If you’ve ever wanted (desperately!) to get to the point of trusting someone faster, and you are struggling to understand why the trust isn’t automatic, keep reading.

The Two Pieces to the Trust Puzzle

A few years ago, I was in a learning circle at my office, where the goal was to read Steven M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust.  The key lesson I took away from this great book is that there are actually two different categories of trust:

(1)    Trust based on character.  This is about integrity and intent.

(2)    Trust based on competency.  This is about capabilities and results.

In some relationships, you only need one or the other.  Imagine, for example, your baby needs heart surgery.  In a moment of crisis, you may not care much about your pediatric heart surgeon’s ethics, but you sure as heck care about her skill with a scalpel in the operating room.

On the other hand, consider a friendship.  You probably care deeply about the integrity and intent of the person in whom you confide and with whom you spend your time.  Your friend’s competency (whether it’s in her day job, or how well she does yoga or washes dishes) probably doesn’t come into play.

In a Childcare Relationship, You Want BOTH Types of Trust

My theory on why we simply can’t trust most of our child care providers right off the bat is that at the start of the relationship, we often don’t have both pieces of the trust puzzle.

Take the example of the nanny, whom you’ve vetted extremely well.  Her background check is clear, she has worked for ten different families over the course of 25 years, and her references speak extremely highly of how she took care of their children.  You can check the box for “trust based on competency.”  But after one meeting with her, you can’t yet feel confident in her character.

Or, perhaps take the example of your great aunt.  She’s the most trustworthy, honest, upstanding person you know.  You’ve known her since you were born.  But she’s never had kids, and you really don’t know whether she knows how to change a diaper or distinguish between types of cries.  Or whether she’ll be vigilant with your toddler about staying away from electrical wires.  With her, you’ve got the character piece of trust down.  But you really don’t know about her competency when it comes to childcare.

Trusting Your Childcare Provider is About Consistent Behavior

It takes time to check both boxes of the trust equation.  The other reason it takes time to build trust is that, as Covey says, trust is about consistent behavior.  After one day, or even one week, you can’t possibly know whether someone’s behavior is consistent or not.  But with each subsequent interaction, there’s an opportunity for that consistency to develop and for your childcare provider to prove things to you.  For example, that they are honest and ethical.  That they care deeply about your child.  That they give the baby enough attention.  And that they are competent to help you raise a healthy, well-adjusted child.

You Are the Expert on Your Own Child

My first day at daycare with my oldest, I arrived (terrified) with a three-page single-spaced paper about him.  True, they probably didn’t need most of it, but I wanted them to know everything I knew about that little three month old.  And to be able to use that information to help care for him.

I did, after all, know more about him than anyone in the world, and I wanted to share my expertise about him to increase their competence in caring for him.

Patience, Mama, Patience

Trust takes time to build, mama.  You probably start with one piece of the trust puzzle more or less in place, but the other will come.  Not immediately, but in a good relationship, it will.

In the meantime, trust yourself.  Trust your own gut instincts about how things are going.  Trust that you did your research and homework as well as you could.  Know that there are other options out there, if Plan A doesn’t work out.  Take a deep breath into the growing and nurturing of some beautiful and long-lasting relationships.

And trust that the more you take the time and energy to grow a beautiful, supportive community for your little one, the richer and fuller a life you are building for your child.

For more help on the childcare front, check out: Transitioning Your Baby to Childcare, How to Have a Successful Nanny Relationship from the Start, and 5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Nanny or Babysitter.

Need help going back to work after maternity leave?  Join a supportive group of new working mamas in the next session of Mindful Return!

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