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advice please... nanny keeps giving unhealthy food to my children...

(78 Posts)
LadyLotty Thu 28-Feb-13 00:49:52

I need some advice I think so any helpful thoughts are appreciated..

Our part time nanny looks after our 2 toddlers 2 full days a week and usually I ask her to take them to play groups and children friendly venues in the morning. I always cook and provide a healthy packed lunch for the children. The deal has always been that the nanny provides her own lunch (she is fussy what she likes to eat).

The problem is our nanny always brings less healthy things such as sweets and sausages to "share" with my children and my little ones end up eating none of my cooked food. This is becoming a regular thing. To the extent that I get brought back everything I pack.

I am a great cook and my children have always been easy feeders until recent months.. Now they demand sausages and crisps and sweets.

Have already suggested not sharing food with the nanny but she insists. I also have told her not to buy food for the children but today despite my specific instruction she bought chips for them. Said its out of her own pocket as a treat for the children. I really don't want her to treat my children, I actually feel quite offended and undermined. Or am I just being unreasonable? I would really like to keep tight control over my children's diet and treat them myself once in a while. Instead of worrying about their regular diet. Last week she fed my children peanuts and one of my child is allergic to it!! Aaargh!

Any advice?
I dony want to fire her as the children do like her loads - probably mainly as she always gives in to the

KatieMiddleton Fri 01-Mar-13 12:47:34

Are you perhaps thinking about summary dismissal callthemidlife? In those cases you can dismiss without a disciinary process but there are some significant risks associated with this and it is extremely difficult to do this if you have not specifically detailed what summary dismissal is in the contract or associated policies. It would be a foolish person who would give a written warning without disciplinary proceedings because that is likely to be in breach of the employee's contract and can possibly give grounds to dispute if the dismissal was fair or not (depending on various circumstances). Or maybe you are thinking about if an employer can go straight to written warning without a verbal first? That's also fine but again, a disciplinary process should be followed to avoid future problems. You may want to have a little read here if it was summary dismissal you were thinking about and also for some information about the potential problems of failing to follow a process: https://www.gov.uk/dismiss-staff/fair-dismissals.

I'm sorry but I have no idea who you are so I don't know what you do/don't know so apologies if I'm telling you what you already know.

I wasn't posting to give specific employment advice so i haven't actually mentioned my background. I'm flattered you looked me up. But you are not quite right, I am an HR professional (I don't work for CIPD) and as such in my working life I am primarily concerned with avoiding problems and doing things in such a way as to avoid giving grounds for any action by a disgruntled employee/former employee. I'm on maternity leave at the moment as it happens. Just in case you want to update your spreadsheet.

As this is not my thread and I have a poorly baby to look after I'm going to duck out now.

LadyLotty Fri 01-Mar-13 22:35:29

..hmm certainly making me rethink now as to whether to keep employing my nanny, food for thought...!

I know what you mean Blondeshavemorefun - I really dont want to cook, clean, tidy up etc etc whilst employing someone, plus then worry about whether my children eat properly after all my hard effort!

And annh you're right - i go to great lengths preparing balanced meals that my children would otherwise eat at home, becuase with 2 children on her hand my nanny will not heat up food/clean after the mess of eating etc. Because I work from home in my own office, if the children is at home too then i'll be roped into feeding, playing, clearing away mess... Please dont get me wrong - I love my children and wish to devote my time to them, but I need to get my work done too. I already take on quite a bit of the 'nanny assisting' roles , I just can't afford to spend more time 'assisting' further.

At the interview stage - and we went through over a hundred CVs, a lot of candidate interviews - we concentrated on nannies that our children took instant likings to. Our nanny demonstrated that she is able to cook and clear up after herself etc (did trial days etc), but to be honest over time efforts just got cut back. I'm not sure whether other mothers of multiple young children would agree with me here - and this is especially the case with finding part time nannies with experience handling 2 or more young children - the general pool of candidates in london in our experience is just very very mediocre. So I resigned myself to finding someone whom my kids adore and I make up for the shortcomings. I really do like my nanny on a personal level very much and appreciate her work, I just wish she is (much!) more thoughtful and careful.

Anyway. I had a chat with my nanny today - in the nicest possible way, that I would like to see serious cutting back of treats (chocolates, sweets, chips, crisps, biscuits) and no more sharing of food. Said its so that my children can get used to my cooking and and eating healthily. She neither agreed nor disagreed......... (deep sigh)

LadyLotty Fri 01-Mar-13 22:58:16

Thanks all - yes I sense the (overwhelming) suggestion here to consider get rid. I'm going to have to put some serious thought into that, as well as how to go about doing it the correct way...

Thanks for the tip re. childcare.co.uk, I also searched long and hard on that site...

p.s. Just to clarify and not that it is going to change the discussion much - but I accept some background info is helpful - i am british but nanny isn't; it really is not a cultural issue; I pay £10 net per hour (the going rate in London); the nut allergy was diagnosed and confirmed by a paediatric allergy specialist from Cromwell hospital along with other allergies (diary, white fish etc) after blood tests.

MajaBiene Fri 01-Mar-13 23:35:49

Why on earth are you having nice chats about what you would like??

It seems you are totally failing as a manager I am afraid, which is why your nanny is not doing her job/following your requests.

LadyLotty Sat 02-Mar-13 00:07:35

hi MajaBiene - because it will have negative repercussions on my children if I am blunt/firmer. But also as I think Nannynick is quite right - underlying problem is that my nanny doesn't take instructions, it's more of a trust issue, so it's not quite a matter of spelling out specifics to her.

... am calling nanny agencies next week

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 02-Mar-13 00:24:43

Bluntly your nanny isn't doing her job properly as she is disobeying your orders

Have you asked her to cook tidy up / do nursery duties - if not then tell her - they are standard duties for nannies

You are exhausting yourself by trying to do it all and working

Though you may work at home you need to make it clear to your children you are working - so dont interfere come out when should be working - gives nanny and children mixed signals

Maybe this is why your nanny goes out all day / for meals

Sit down and make clear you expect

1) home cooked healthy meals
2) general nursery duties
3) nanny not to give 'her' food

Or find a new nanny or carrying on 'woofing' wink

mathanxiety Sat 02-Mar-13 04:27:21

Glad you are going to start looking for someone else. When I nannied (for one baby from 2 months to age 2) I was responsible for all the baby's and the father's laundry and occasionally the mum's, taking care of the dog's needs including administering meds to it plus all cleanup associated with the dog (hair indoors and poo outdoors), keeping a curious and increasingly mobile baby and energetic dog from getting on each other's nerves, pureeing and freezing fruits, veggies and meats, and choosing the baby's food daily with good balance of various vitamins and minerals in mind and as time went on paying attention to texture and helping baby negotiate self feeding, as well as prep and proper refrigeration of bottles, initially handling expressed breastmilk properly, all feeding and bathing of baby, management of play, activities away from home and napping, cleaning up after baby and myself, indicating when we were running low on essential baby supplies, leaving the house neat as a pin by 5 pm every day (this could include cleaning the stovetop and running and emptying the dishwasher, clearing snow, hosing down the high chair and periodically sanitising the toys and board books). I also filled in a detailed journal of daily activities, naptimes, poo events... That was standard nanny job description for the area I worked in (though many families didn't make their own baby food and most didn't expect a nanny to handle frozen breastmilk).

What you need is someone who is basically You while you have to work. Not necessarily someone your kids adore but someone you know will get the job done. And you need to not feel apologetic about this enterprise and try to make it up to your children out of guilt. And you also need to stop yourself from apologising to a potential nanny for having her work - you need to be the boss here and assert yourself. No need to be abrasive or bossy, but you need to be clear about your expectations.

If you need to work for whatever reason then you need to work and the next best thing you can provide for your children is a nanny who knows how to get the job done as you would do it if a day had 45 hours. If you were a sahm you would have to get all the daily household stuff done while the DCs played or watched a DVD or however you chose to manage them. A nanny should be no different.

mathanxiety Sat 02-Mar-13 04:35:17

because it will have negative repercussions on my children if I am blunt/firmer.

This sort of problem should absolutely never come up. You should never employ or continue to employ someone who would take out any sort of frustrations on your children.

ZuleikaD Sat 02-Mar-13 06:19:46

I think it's nice that you want your children to take to a new nanny immediately, but tbh I don't think that should be your number one factor. Someone you can trust to look after them properly and in the way you want, as well as doing a proper job (I can't believe that for £10 NET this creature can't do a bit of laundry!!) is more important.

NannyGR Sat 02-Mar-13 09:06:37

I used to look after 4 children all 5 and under, 2 were at school but with two toddlers during the day and 4 after school I still managed to get all the childrens washing done, a cooked meal on the table every night and the house was tidy at the end of the day! Your nannys having a laugh! £10 an hour to not do anything!! I think you could find someone much better suited out there, good luck!

annh Sat 02-Mar-13 09:50:06

OP, in the nicest possible way, you do not have "multiple young children" (which sounds like a small army of ankle-biters!), you have 2 toddlers! Although you say you have had difficulties recruiting, I am still really struggling to see that in Central London and paying a good salary you cannot find someone better for this role. However, you can't just recruit a new nanny and get rid of this one without following correct process so as a first step, I would follow up your chat with the nanny with a letter to give to her next week, reiterating in writing that you do not wish her to buy "treats" for the children, share her own lunch or feed them anything which she does not find in your house. You also need to tackle the whole business of being unable to cook lunch for the children which is frankly ridiculous. What happens when the nanny is not there - YOU cook, do laundry and manage keep your children safe and occupied! It's not rocket science!

Tau Sat 02-Mar-13 11:04:06

Ehm... If she knew about the allergy I would fire her immediately over the peanut incident. If she thinks it is okay to feed an allergic child peanuts, she is putting the child's life at risk.

MajaBiene Sat 02-Mar-13 12:00:09

So £10 net for 3 days a week - I am guessing you are paying her around £375 gross a week? Maybe £400 if she has another part time job? So £19k-£20k a year for a part time job. You realise that is getting on for what nurses and newly qualified primary school teachers earn, and all this nanny has to do is mind 2 kids!

Tau Sat 02-Mar-13 13:06:56

Oh... for that payment I'd LOVE her job! grin
Pity that London is too far for me.... but I shouldn't think you'll have trouble finding a more sensible Nanny if you pay her £375 to look after 2 toddlers for 3 days a week.

Can I work for you My job comes to an end in a few months and I could do with a nice easy one to keep me busy Monday's to Wednesday's, wouldn't even mind the commute to London ;)

Seriously though, I agree with the others and am glad to hear that you're looking at agencies next week. Your nanny sounds dangerous to me actually. I look after children with multiple allergies and gut reactions (so not as 'serious' as an allergy but still will cause pain/discomfort/vomiting/diarrhoea for the child!) two days a week and wondered if your child/ren had the same as it seemed that way.

WRT my job: I know exactly what each of the three children can and cannot eat, what is an allergy and what is a gut reaction. How serious those reactions are and what I can do to help is they accidentally consume something. I cook meals I fancy cooking for them based on that knowledge and due to alternative treatments the kids will also have things not allowed for 24 hours so will adapt to that as well. This is because that is what my employer wants, and therefore I do it. Just like a nanny should do!

There are nannies out there that would be brilliant for you, an agency might be the way forward.

mathanxiety Sun 03-Mar-13 19:25:09

As a wohm you need to get yourself into the mindset that what you do for money is your work. You are still the mum, and everyone knows that and appreciates you for that, but you need to close that door of yours firmly behind you when you start work in the morning and stay there until you have got what you need to get done accomplished, leaving a nanny to get on with his or her own work too. If you will be seeing the DCs at some point during the day that should be scheduled and not ad libbed.

Because I work from home in my own office, if the children is at home too then i'll be roped into feeding, playing, clearing away mess... Please dont get me wrong - I love my children and wish to devote my time to them, but I need to get my work done too.
This obviously has to stop. Loving your children doesn't mean doing someone else's job with them. You are being their mother while you provide for them and for their futures. You are devoting your time to them. You need to see yourself more clearly as a loving mother and not be guilty about the time element, learn to draw a line around yourself while you work.

When you are searching for the next nanny, I recommend you seek someone who has solid experience with a family like yours where there is a parent working at home. It isn't the same dynamic as a situation where the nanny is alone with the children all day. You need to ask detailed questions of the references when you check them. You don't want someone who is not really comfortable with a parent somewhere in the background.

KristinaM Sun 03-Mar-13 20:04:33

Ive no experience of nannies but would like to comment on the food allergies.

You say your child/ren have multiple food allergies /intolerances eg peanuts, white fish, dairy. In that case I think you should prepare a detailed list of all the foods your children are not allowed to have , give a copy to the nanny and stick one up on your wall. You can't expect her to be aware of all the foods that could contain these things

I'm amazed that you have allowed her to give the children Any food at all without such guidance

annh Sun 03-Mar-13 22:09:30

KristinaM, the OP has spoken to the nanny, written the details of the allergies down and stuck a copy on the fridge. What more should she do to get the nanny to understand the seriousness of the situation?

MajaBiene Sun 03-Mar-13 22:09:47

Kristina - regarding allergies the OP said:

I have also specifically told our nanny this, as well as written it on paper and stuck it on the kitchen fridge as daily reminder

I think the nanny should definitely be aware given this guidance, and only give the children food that their mother prepared if that was her request.

KristinaM Sun 03-Mar-13 23:10:27

I apologise,I totally missed that bit

LadyLotty Mon 04-Mar-13 00:09:37

Hi blondeshavemorefun - lol "woofing" smile I should just put a padlock on my office door! I don't have a lock at the moment and my children opens the door when they get bored and are at home and the nanny then gets them out again (some times). So I arrange outings for the nanny to take the children to, to make things easier for everyone.

Mathanxiety - gosh such a good point re to look for a nanny with similar childcare arrangement experience as mine. Because the dynamics is, as you say, different to a sole charge.I know some nannies wouldn't be comfortable with a mum being at home, though i think our current nanny is a bit too comfortable and reliant..

Hey confusedpixie thanks for your post and if I am still struggling in a few months time I know who to call ;)

... Wish me luck with finding a good nanny (fingers and toes and everything else in between all crossed)...

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Mon 04-Mar-13 00:42:06

Another one saying you need a new nanny! Or actually, you need a nanny, not the incompetent half arsed baby sitter you have!

Don't go for the one your children take a shine to, be steered by what you need first. It's not like letting your children pick a toy, or even a friend, she has a job to do and you need someone competent to do it.

Btw, a good nanny shouldn't have a problem keeping your dc away from your office door, I am at home alot in a small flat & my wonderful nanny has learnt how to head off dc before it gets to a opening my door moment.

Obviously she needs to be able to cook healthy meals, respect your choices and rules, and generally be a help not a hinderance! She needs to listen and respond positively to your needs, and I'm shocked by the way she seems to have you over a barrel on everything!

I think when life is stressful and you're only just managing, it can seem better to cling on to what you know rather than make changes for the better. But change is just what you need in this case I'm afraid!

mathanxiety Mon 04-Mar-13 01:46:43

my children opens the door when they get bored and are at home and the nanny then gets them out again (some times). So I arrange outings for the nanny to take the children to, to make things easier for everyone.

My mind is boggling.
The DCs get bored? The nanny sometimes gets them out of your office? You have to arrange things for the nanny to do with the children? This nanny is taking the piss.

annh Mon 04-Mar-13 09:02:28

OP, I'm still not sure you quite grasp the situation you have landed in. You don't need luck to find a good nanny, you need to have a proper job description and clear expectations of her role, then interview carefully and ask specific questions of her referees - I think your current experience will have given you a good idea of the ones to ask smile. There can be an element of luck sometimes in finding somebody good if e.g. you are very rural, but in central London and paying a good salary, luck really doesn't come into it!

Equally important however, is getting rid of the current nanny legally. If the current situation has been going on for months, you cannot suddenly decide that it is unacceptable and sack the nanny. If you have allowed her not to cook, clean, have let the children interrupt you at work, have been forced to create outings to get them out of the house etc etc you can't turn around and fire her without giving her a chance to change all those things. You will have to follow proper process. The issue of feeding them food they are allergic to might have been an opportunity to take stronger action but that issue has been and gone now and been "dealt" with, I don't know if you can revisit it and take stronger measures. Do you use a payroll bureau to mange payment to the nanny? Perhaps they could advise?

nannynick Mon 04-Mar-13 09:36:15

You should not arrange outings, that's the nannies job to do. I think you are near the museums, so if children get bored nanny could walk them to see something... Sure they will have been before, but children do not tire of going to the same place multiple times, least not when young.

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