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Newborn (ish) and Toddler, Nanny reluctant to leave the house

(60 Posts)
oscarwilde Mon 04-Mar-13 10:14:45

I am back at work working half days, from home 8-12, and our nanny is looking after my 4 month old (mix fed) and toddler during that time. In the afternoons, she just has the toddler but I'll be full time in 2 months and working from the office so I'm getting concerned now.
The baby is taking a long time to drink a bottle of milk/resisting it and therefore, our nanny is reluctant to the point of refusing to leave the house in the mornings as taking the toddler to an activity and giving a bottle to the baby seems to be an impossibility. She will only do it on a playdate at someones house in the afternoons on the odd occasion that she does a full day. (I have occasional meetings/deadlines)
Now I get that it's too cold to be sitting around in a park bottle feeding a reluctant baby but my toddler is used to getting out and about in the mornings and it has come screeching to a halt. She's more tired and cranky in the afternoons. I don't understand if I hand over two breakfasted and fed children at 8am sharp, why she can't adjust her routine and just get out earlier and be back for the 11.00am feed.

She's generally an excellent nanny but is extremely rigid in her approach and I'm getting all sorts of excuses like the baby will sleep longer than her requisite Gina Ford 45 mins and then won't sleep for 2 hrs at lunchtime. She keeps talking about getting out as soon as the baby is in a routine but that will all have to be adjusted every couple of months anyway.

I figure that if it were me looking after my own kids, I'd just bite the bullet and get out. The toddler will have to learn not to stray too far, or sit and have a snack and do some drawing in a cafe while her sister faffs about.
Am I being unreasonable, especially since it is not me looking after my own kids - are there any nannies on here and how did you adjust when a second child came along?

fraktion Tue 05-Mar-13 07:54:30

I think there are a couple of complicating elements. Firstly the baby is mix fed, so not going to be super keen on a bottle to start, and secondly the toddler is used to a lot of attention from a helicopter style nanny so isn't going to easily take to amusing herself quietly at nanny's feet/on a chair beside her.

If nanny is typically exhibiting helicopter style behaviour anyway then she may feel quite anxious about leaving the toddler 'unattended' (by which I mean not in arm's reach).

Is she worried about safe formula prep/heating the bottle? Can you just use cartons and give her a list of cafes who will heat milk?

Building up gradually is probably key. What are her strategies when at home? On a play date? Does she have someone she can go to for advice - local or Internet nanny friends or someone who can act as a sort of mentor?

Can she get out for a walk with baby in a sling leaving hands free? Does DD1 use reins/a buggy board/a double? Is there a nearby park that's fairly safely contained?

While we all have to learn it becomes more difficult the more you put it off. She does need to do try it a few times and show some improvement or the OP may need to reconsider childcare. To that end I would look at putting all these chats on record as disciplinary evidence.

RosyRoo Tue 05-Mar-13 08:08:16

You might find she is more prepared to be adventurous when you are back at work properly. Speaking personally, I would be reluctant to risk messing up a baby's routine when a parent was at home. It is horrible dealing with a crying and difficult to settle baby when Mum is in the house. Often the parent will try to help out, disrupting their work time and leaving you feeling inadequate. If I knew that in the current routine I could guarantee the baby would sleep easily and be generally happy, I would try hard to stick with that, until I could deal with any changes on my own and in my own way.

oscarwilde Tue 05-Mar-13 10:42:30

Wow - lots of replies and some really helpful thank you. I'm not naturally a very empathetic person and would naturally tend towards Blondes way of thinking smile but I've been on enough management training/fluffy HR courses in my time to know that it's not always the best approach to just lay down the law. I also agree with Outraged that while it's irritating the hell out of me, sacking a very good nanny who has an excellent relationship with my children and is utterly reliable is a little OTT.

Couple of answers to questions:

Baby is mix fed due to weight and jaundice at birth, never got back to EBM. My approach has been to BF, then top up twice a day. She is now bottle fed either formula or EBM in the mornings but initially resisted the feeder rather than the food I think. She would battle the nanny, but if I turned up and tried, would accept it to everyone's irritation. Possibly picking up on tension - I take your point RosyRoo, it is difficult if the kids are kicking off regardless of how hands off the parents are. I'm using medela and tommy tippee but I don't think that the bottles are an issue. Our nanny just wants her to take in the full feed in one go and she is more of a snacker. We've altered the routine slightly so she has 170 ml after her early nap and another 100 just before the lunchtime nap and that seems to be working well.
Sling - a few people have mentioned this. It's been used a few times but she has some back problems and is not that keen. It's been soooo cold and windy here too that I've avoided it myself. It's a decent back support sling so changing it won't improve matters.
Swimming - I wouldn't take them both swimming personally. The toddler is due to start lessons on weekends so if they went well, she could in time but it's one child per adult in the interim.
There are tons of activities and groups in the area, and things to do. We live in a part of London with nice parks, open spaces and kid friendly cultural stuff [not Kensington sadly] so it's really not challenging to occupy them but perhaps she is just going through a bit of a rut on that front. Several of the groups are run from centres in parks or in areas where a toddler would have to go some distance to come to harm.

Our toddler (2.7months) is big for her age and walks everywhere but is still at that stage where she is prone to giving up/crashing out if you overdo things. I know that makes her nervous about having them both out at the same time but she is adamant about not reverting to putting the toddler into pram. Our nanny is quite short so can't manage to push the pram and the buggy board at the same time. I'm wondering if changing the pram to a Phil & Teds or similar will give her a bit more flexibility. Don't particularly want the vast expense to be honest but I will sound her out about it.

Routine - I'm not personally a Gina Ford afficionado. We certainly don't plan our lives around the routine at weekends and if I thought that either child was being left to cry it out for hours, I would sack her. That said, I do think that routine to some extent is a good thing and I've also found that most children will naturally fall into one so I don't think it harms anyone to be gently prodded into one. Baby whisperer and Gina Ford routines are not that dissimilar imo, just the methodology of implementing them from what I can see. Ultimately, I'm not the one at home all day so both my husband and I feel that it is deeply unfair to prescribe an in-loco parenting method that we don't have to work with. It's a long day to have two children with no structure to work towards

If I'm quite honest, our nanny could be described as quite high maintenance on a personal level and likes to be seen as the ultimate expert on all things child related. She is not enjoying being back on a learning curve and has run off with all my PFB (and now untouched) What to Expect the First Yr etc grin. It's quite nice to be marginally more experienced in this phase grin

She is quite strict about behaviour, and would be mortified to be sitting in a class or group with a toddler/baby playing up. She loves to tell me how my DD showed up other children/shone in some way. I suspect it has more to do with her inability to go with the flow and accept that things will not be perfect for a little while than much else. She has two nanny/friends who are the same nationality but with more badly behaved children and is quite happy to go on playdates to their homes and have the baby with her. Feeding a baby in a group environment though will force her to make conversation with other people rather than play with the toddler and I think she wants to avoid that at all costs. Probably why I would just bite the bullet and she does not. To be fair, there aren't a huge number of nannies in the area, despite the dire childcare on offer and she finds that once local mums find out she is a nanny, they tend to close down the conversation and move on. Horrid.

I had a couple of calls with work first thing so had to hand them over and run this morning, they haven't gone out again so I'll have to bite the bullet later today and insist that things change tomorrow. It's another beautiful day and they've had no fresh air. It's approximately 300metres to the park gate so I'm quite angry. I wouldn't be happy going back to work at present and it needs to be sorted.

ZuleikaD Tue 05-Mar-13 11:06:39

Just on the buggy front, I can appreciate that your nanny doesn't want to revert to putting your toddler in a Phil & Teds or similar, but I can thoroughly recommend a Joovy Tandem. The toddler is able to stand, or turn around and sit down if they get tired. It's much easier to push than some of the huge doubles around (largely because the bigger child is at the back - makes steering easier) and because the children go back to to back it only has the footprint of a single. The one downside is that the toddler can't really sleep in it, but it doesn't sound like that would suit your nanny's modus operandi anyway.

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 05-Mar-13 13:12:48

OP you sound like a very good employer. I hope you can get it sorted out.

I think it's a good sign that she's taken the books to read, it shows she knows she lacks knowledge in this area and is working on improving. It really seems like a lack of confidence in dealing with them both under the watchful (and if mumsnet is anythig to go by, judgemental) eye of other people rather than laziness or fecklessness on her part.

There was a thread a few weeks ago about CPD for nannies. Do you offer her anything like that? Could your offer to pay towards a course or give her a couple of days off to attend a course that covers dealing with small babies or something along those lines to give her a bit of extra confidence/knowledge? In most jobs some sort of training precedes new responsibilities/roles.

I don't have 2 children, so I accept that I am no expert, but...

The idea of a routine for a baby seems like a good one, but I have always understood that a second baby's routine has to be adapted to fit with activities for the first, so it is not the priority. For that reason I think that a Gina Ford based routine may be too rigid to be practical. After all, your baby may not be a natural for the 45 min then 2 hr naps and it probably doesn't matter if the naps are 1.5 hours each. When I read Gina Ford's books I thought that the routines would suit an only child best and probably someone who is a bit neurotic as a parent and finds it difficult to go with the flow, so wants to be told what the routine is rather than working with the baby to discover the baby's natural routine.

anewyear Wed 06-Mar-13 09:47:25

Someone said up post about cartons, its been years since Ive used them, but I used to feed (5 wks prem, mixed fed) DS2 cartons at room temp in a pre sterilizdebottle when we were out and about?
Or is this not seen as good practice?

Op, have you thought about a change in teat, shape wise?

And as for the nap thing, babies IMO should sleep as and when they need to, not when its convenient for us adults..

anewyear Wed 06-Mar-13 09:48:38

sterilized bottle...even

ReetPetit Wed 06-Mar-13 11:07:45

do you mean your baby won't take a bottle at all? so are you breastfeeding her or bottle feeding her when the nanny is there?

i can kind of see how this would be difficult for the nanny,particularly if you are working from home, i've done this kind of job before and hated it (sorry) felt like i was being scrutinized and watched all the time.

i do think this will improve when you go back to work as your baby will then have to take a bottle and nanny can just get on with doing her job.

does she take toddler out in the afternoons? if so, i'd say that's good, it;s not like they are stuck indoors all day.

if you are happy with her care then i really do think this will improve when you go back, i don't think the problem is the nanny, its the fact you are around all the time and your baby won't/can't/doesn't have to take a bottle.

oscarwilde Fri 08-Mar-13 11:02:46

Hi Reet. The baby will take a bottle but is a slow feeder and does fuss. Ironic since she was underweight and bottle fed bm and formula for 4 weeks.
I've begun expressing during the day (so no mixed messages) and only BFing morning and evenings but she is resisting the bottle still but is happy to take it from me. If things don't improve over the next couple of weeks I will need to think about weaning to bottle completely. Irritating as I arranged to work from home specifically to be able to BF and work. Hindsight is great.
I take your point about feeling scrutinised. I would too but it can't be helped.
Toddler is getting out in the afternoons mostly but by themselves which gives her no practise in managing the two of them together outside the home.

The weather this week gave her a good opportunity to have a gentle introduction to taking them both out nearby and seeing how it went. She wasn't taking advantage of it which was p***ing me off if I'm honest. Unfair to her but that's how I felt. Happily its about to freeze over again so I'll have to hope that it all sorts itself out in the coming weeks. Our nanny is trying to relax and go with the flow a little (feed volumes, timings etc) so maybe that will help. I know it will be routine central here when I go back to work, and weaning will be starting then too to add to the fun but she will be on familiar ground at that point and I'm confident can manage fine then

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