From A Working Mom’s Worst Nightmare to America’s Supernanny
Whoever said necessity is the mother of invention, was telling the stone cold truth. And nobody knows this better than Deborah Tillman aka the star of Lifetime TV's new reality series, America’s Supernanny.
This accountant turned lawyer faced every working mom’s biggest fear: bad childcare. No matter how many interviews, no matter how rigorous the vetting process, Tillman and her husband just could not find the care they were looking for. “We went through 7 childcare providers in three months,” America's Supernanny says.
On one of her trademark “pop up” visits, she caught the unsuspecting nanny giving her son, Zeplyn, a bottle with cereal in it, even though she was breastfeeding (yayyy Supernanny!) and left explicit instructions to only feed her son the expressed milk she provided.
On the straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back “pop up” visit, she found her baby in the bassinet which had been pushed up against the wall. The wall was holding up the bottle and her baby was sucking air.
“I quit my job the next day,” Tillman says.
I can certainly relate to nanny horror stories.
My “straw” moment as a working mom was when I was sitting in my office in New York City, a one and a half hour commute from my home in Long Island and received a phone call from a neighbor, who was outside with my five-year-old daughter and her bus driver banging on my front door and ringing the bell. My nanny never came out to meet my daughter at the bus and my toddler son was also at home.
Sitting at my desk, far away, calling the home phone while the others banged and rang the bell was the most terrifying moment of my life. I had no idea what had happened to my son inside my house and my daughter was outside with relative strangers. I felt helpless and scared. When I got off the phone from that ordeal (turns out the nanny took some pain medication and had fallen into a deep sleep), I vowed to never be in that situation again. I knew that I had to transform my life to find work that allowed me to be home for my children. As a single mom, I didn’t have the luxury to quit the next day. But from that day, I crafted a six month plan to leave my job, write a book and launch my business.
Tillman’s post childcare debacle trajectory has been phenomenal. From starting her child care centers in her apartment, she eventually expanded to bigger site with a staff of six serving 45 children, called Happy Home Child Learning Center, in Alexandria, VA. Because of Tillman's winning program, the childcare center quickly developed a six-month waiting list. In 1998 Tillman opened a second site, with 102 students and 16 full-time staff members. Tillman opened a third site in 2009, and she also wrote the book, Stepping Out on Faith: How to Open a Quality Child Care Center. Today her businesses generate more than two and a half million dollars annually.
She says her secret to success is giving parents the care and attention she wished she had and being a perfectionist at heart (even when her childcare center was her apartment, she treated it like a real school, providing parent handbooks and calling parents during the day to tell them how their child was doing).
“I always remember how I was feeling when I had poor childcare and my worse fear is that another parent would feel like I did.”
And now, after 20 years of experience working with children and families and after two weeks of extensive auditioning, Deborah Tillman is the star of the new Lifetime TV's new reality series, America’s Supernanny.
I can’t wait to watch her techniques and pick up a few tips. Hey, every mom can always learn something new.
Don't miss the premiere of "America's Supernanny" Tuesday, November 29 at 9/8c. Watch a preview clip:
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