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Advice needed - nanny friends/working arrangements (long)

(67 Posts)
bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 19:06:30

I need some advice. I have just hired a sole charge nanny to look after my two children - DC1 2.8yrs and DC2 16 months. The nanny is working 3 days per week and my partner and I are covering the other days between us. Up until recently one or other of us has been at home full time with the children so this is our first experience of any formal child care, and our first time hiring a nanny. We have had our nanny for 3 weeks so far and we are all adjusting to the different world of both of us working full time and having someone else looking after the DC.

When we interviewed our nanny she made a point of checking whether or not we minded her seeing other nanny friends while looking after our children. We said that this was fine, but this is where problems are arising for us, as we presumed this would be occasionally but it seems to be practically all the time.

Our nanny seems to be spending the majority of her time with another nanny who works up the road. This nanny also looks after two children. The two seem to plan their days together; they go to the same groups in the morning, have lunch together with all the children and then spend the afternoon together in the majority of cases. On two occasions we have come home to find them all in our house - last week, my partner came home at 5.45 to find the two nannies doing dinner in the kitchen. Dinner is usually round 5 and our nanny normally finishes at 6 so the day had obviously run late. The other nanny's mindee was sitting in DC2's high chair and DC2 was sitting on a corner of the table being fed by our nanny. DC1 was outside. The children were all being fed the same dinner which had been prepared in our kitchen. Today I came home a bit early, at 5.30 and saw a strange woman come up to our door with an empty buggy. She turned out to be the mother of one of the other nanny's mindees - they had all spent the afternoon at our house in the paddling pool. The mother thanked me for having them all - I didn't want to tell her I had no idea. All the children had eaten lasagne for dinner which once again must have come from our freezer. On another occasion our nanny mentioned that they had all spent the afternoon at her friend's place - she has a flat. It had been the most beautiful day and I knew they had been to an indoor playgroup in the morning so I asked if her friend had any outdoor space - she said only a roof terrace.

I have thought carefully about this. I have no problem with the concept of our nanny having playdates with other nannies and their mindees. I do have a problem with not knowing who is in our house and when; not knowing when our children are spending lots of time in other people's houses; and having the children share food - in particular regularly feeding other mindees in our kitchen, without me knowing. I also worry that if the nannies are always together then the priority is not spending time and focusing on the children, but rather planning time socially as a priority. In addition it seems tough in our first month together to have the children get used to not just a nanny but all her friends as well. It feels like a nanny share by default. I also worry that the days are massively stimulating for the DC with no opportunity for quiet one to one time or activities just planned around them.

Am I being unreasonable/unrealistic about this and if not then how to address with the nanny? In other respects she seems great - friendly, experienced, and I really want this to work.

cansu Mon 08-Jul-13 20:19:06

Well tbh it sounds like your nanny is doing age appropriate things and your dc are socialising and learning to share with other dc. The only thing I can see is that you may wish your dc to have a nap in which case you need to communicate this to your nanny. It sounds as if your major beef is that the nanny is enjoying looking after your dc a bit too much by socialising with her friend at the same time. If you were looking after your dc would you perhaps socialise with other mums, or with a relative? as regards the food that really depends on whether you can afford to feed others or not. If you can't then it would be fair enough to tell your nanny this. in the end it boils down to two things for me - are the dc happy and well cared for? Do you trust your nanny? If the answer to these two questions is yes then for me this would be a non issue.

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 08-Jul-13 20:26:27

I wouldn't be happy with feeding lots of other people and having lots of other children round my house without either my knowledge or consent.

If you are sure you want to hold on to this nanny, you have to be Frank and say that you are pleased that she is providing good social activities, but you would like to see more of a mix with other, more focused activities, like the library (or whatever). You could also say that you want to be asked before the other nanny comes over with her charges for dinner.

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 08-Jul-13 20:27:09

frank, obviously!

sweetsummerlove Mon 08-Jul-13 20:35:20

Um- she asked in the interview if it was ok to arrange activities with other nannys.
She did not ask if they could visit your home. ..or feed them fro. your kitchen.

I ask each and every time If I want to invite anyone.

Nip this in the bud asap.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 08-Jul-13 20:46:27

Yes you may have fed extra children but sure another day they will go to theirs - so swings and roundabouts with food iyswim

I would object to your dc not being in her high hair if she needed it - but fine for another child to use it of had finished tea iyswim

Nannies do meet up with other nannies and mums and arrange play dates

It is lonely seeing no one and also good for your children to share and play with new toys

Having all at yours can be daunting and it is hard to let go and have strangers in your house - but if your children were happy and well cared for then try and relax

You could suggest a play date in either am or pm and then quiet time / at home the other time

grabaspoon Mon 08-Jul-13 21:01:08

I am a nanny - over the course of the week I may have nanny friends over for 2 out of 10 meals a week and go to nanny friends houses for a further 2 - however some weeks we don't have anyone over.

My bosses trust me with their children and trust that when people come over its for the childrens benefit, and it is - the children make friendships, learn new skills, have more 1on1 attention etc.

Over the course of the week/month meals all work out as the meals we serve to friends are meals that we then eat at their homes so it doesn't mean 1 family get left with a large shopping list and the other children eat for free.

ChippingInGoAndyGo Mon 08-Jul-13 21:01:09

Your nanny has a particular 'style' of nannying, not all nannies are the same - as far as she is concerned she asked you about this before you started, however, it might not be quite what you thought it would be.

Happy kids & a happy nanny are worth their weight in gold - so think carefully about what you want to happen before you talk to her.

Re the highchair - if the other child was a baby it makes sense for that one to go in the highchair and the toddler not to... the same way you would do if you had friends visiting.

I think, that sometimes if nannies are more relaxed/social than you are yourself then it's hard to accept this style of nannying and you might be better to find someone who is more like you in 'style'.

I think it's hard to 'find a balance' if you are polar opposites - and you all have to be happy.

Good luck

bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 21:06:26

Thanks for the replies. Cansu, it is not correct to say that I have a problem with the nanny enjoying herself too much. I would like to think that she is enjoying the children. It is true that I would socialise while looking after my children, but I wouldn't socialise all day every day. Firstly, I think that would be too much for them. Secondly, tbh my own experience is that while it is always nice to spend time with friends, it is actually quite hard to socialise with another adult and still give the children the same quality and level of attention.

Families and Sweets, yes, I am not comfortable not knowing who is in my house when, or when my children are in someone else's house, and would prefer to be asked each time.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 08-Jul-13 21:33:30

Asking permission each time isn't always possible - ie say a friend calls up and says can we come round/come to ours etc - would you really want your nanny to contact each time and call you at work

If you trust your nanny then trust her judgement in who she sees

Maybe have a coffee morning at yours and work from home that day /go on late and you can meet some of her friends and children

It is hard to let go and not know where your children are

You can have a diary but plans can change

Maybe your nanny can text you so you know where she is going but not need to wait for a reply?

ChippingInGoAndyGo Mon 08-Jul-13 21:43:10

When I read these threads I always think 'You either trust your nanny or you don't'.

What difference does it make if you meet Sarah/Kate/Jane/James or not, you still wont 'know' them?!

What difference does it make if you know that they are at Sarah/Kate/Jane/Jame's house or that they are at yours?!

Knowing something is happening doesn't change what happens when they are there...

What are you trying to achieve by getting your nanny to ask permission?

mikulkin Mon 08-Jul-13 21:51:18

We all are forgetting that this nanny has been with the family for 3 weeks only. I find it a little bit too much to ask OP to trust her nanny fully after 3 weeks to let other children to come to their house any time.
Cansu, it is not about whether OP can afford feeding other children or not, it is about nanny feeding other children without permission.
I would find nanny's behaviour fine if she has been with the family for some time, made OP comfortable about delegating all such decisions to her and actually gradually introduced the other nanny and her mindees to the family.
Blondes, I appreciate asking each time can be difficult to arrange but maybe that is the clue - she shouldn't be arranging this so often at least in the beginning. I'm sure after a while Bluechik will be fine with her doing things without asking but I can understand she is cautious now.

BlackSwan Mon 08-Jul-13 22:02:18

Nannies do this so that they can share the load with others. It's a more communal approach I suppose. It appeals to nannies because the kids entertain eachother and the nannies take turns (get a night off) cooking. Personally I wouldn't like this happening a lot, but a communal meal once a week would be fine. It's different if it's a play date with one other family's kids. When the point is for the nannies to get to hang out (with kids your children don't know well) then it's not quite the same thing to my mind.

bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 22:02:28

Hi everyone, thanks for all the replies and there is food for thought here. To those asking about the food/highchair, my DS2 is the same age as the other mindee and they were both still having dinner. I have no problem about playdates with other children and agree that it it great for socialisation and sharing/etc. What I am questioning is whether it is appropriate for my nanny to socialise for the majority of the time that she is caring for our DCs. Also, whether it is normal to have an open door policy in our house, without any communication with me, with other nannies/children/parents spending significant time in my house without me knowing? I would like to set some reasonable boundaries but without micro-managing or cramping our nanny's style. We have asked our nanny to keep a brief diary outlining activities etc but she is not managing to fill this in.

With respect to the trust issue, I hope I can trust our nanny, and we did the best we could to find the right person at our interview. However, I think real trust grows over time and we will probably need more than 3 weeks to establish it.

I think/hope the children like our nanny but it is still early days. They are both unsettled at the moment - the younger is very clingy, and the elder has been asking me to stay home instead of going to work sad

2plus1 Mon 08-Jul-13 22:03:10

I can see where you are coming from as this something we are also finding difficult to accept with our nanny. Our nanny always spends time with another nanny. We feel our children are not necessarily getting the same level of care one to one activities would provide. Yes our children can share and have all their lives as multiple birth children do. However more of an issue to us is the time spent out of the house with preschool am then pick up in the car to go and spend time at other nannies house before getting home just in time for bed. The routine has been relayed many times but things slip again. Additionally we have annual passes to things locally ie zoo, beach, farm, parks etc but our nanny wont use it as the other nanny doesn't go there, yet the children enjoy these places. We have also found our car being used to ferry everyone around too which was a step too far for us. I appreciate it can be lonely but I also want my children to come first. Taking them out and having someone else mind them while nanny pops off for 10mins or goes on a ride etc is surely pushing boundaries?

ChippingInGoAndyGo Mon 08-Jul-13 22:23:11

Blue

As an aside, did you ask her about the 'nanny diary' before you employed her? I know for some nannies this would be a 'deal breaker'.

How long has she been a nanny?

How old is she?

Did you personally speak to any of her referees?

It does seem like she has gone from one job to another, keeping her schedule the same, just swapping children.

It doesn't seem like she has really taken any time to get to know your children and to get them to know and trust her (before introducing a lot of new people into their lives)... which I wouldn't like.

This 'style' of nannying wouldn't be the one I would choose if I was a parent, but I think it's horses for courses - for some families this would be perfect, just not for me (and quite probably, in all reality) not for you.

The fact that your children don't seem to be settling with her isn't a good sign - especially the older one.

2plus1 - I would be fine if the nanny was going to the loo, ordering lunch or popping into a shop for something quickly - but not to go on a ride or something like that. Is your nanny very young?

Ihatepeas Mon 08-Jul-13 22:25:41

I'm a nanny and I must say it all sounds very normal to me. I think you need to learn to relax and trust your nanny!

wouldliketobethere Mon 08-Jul-13 22:26:42

I would suggest that you deal with this in the early stages - at the end of the day they are your children so whatever other nannies might do it is up to you if you are happy with it and if not, best to sort it out now. I would have thought a "one month in" review would give you both a chance to chat over any issues. I would say you are not happy with so much socialising with the other nannies and although you said it was fine, you were thinking of no more than 50% (or whatever you think is acceptable) of her time being spent in this way. The children need some time just for themselves and some time to relax with their own things or their own outings and to have a nap etc.

bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 22:44:00

Chipping, we did not mention the diary because we hadn't thought of it. But we have been on a mutual months' trial and we suggested it at the beginning of the trial period - she doesn't seem to have a problem with the concept but is not finding the time to write in it. We specifically said we didn't want masses of detail but just to know in outline the key events of the day - a few dot points or a paragraph only.

I think you have hit the nail on the head when you say 'it does seem she has gone from one job to another, keeping her schedule the same, just swapping children... and it doesn't seem she has really taken any time to get to know the children and to get them to know and trust her (before introducing a lot of new people into their lives)' - yes! Thank you, that is exactly the worry that is underlying my feelings about all this. That doesn't mean that she isn't a good nanny at the end of the day, but I suppose I was expecting her approach to be tailored more to the children, and what they are like as individuals.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 08-Jul-13 22:44:15

I wouldn't be happy with this either. First of all, I would expect my nanny to get to know the dc and settle them in according to the dc's own usual routine, before making massive changes - lots of new people, new groups, new timings.

I'm afraid I also wouldn't like the almost shared care with another person I haven't hired/checked and don't know.

I would have a think about what you want - maybe this lady is just not going to be the nanny for you.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 08-Jul-13 22:46:11

Blue, we had a nanny who just tried to deal with my dc in an identikit way - there was no attempt to understand individual personality or tailor care, which is surely the whole point of having a nanny. My DH called her approach 'nannying by numbers'. It did not work out.

bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 22:47:48

I should add that she is about my age, so neither old nor young, and has about 15 years' experience as a nanny. She has worked in this area usually and wanted to stay in the same area although she doesn't live here - I presumed that was because she liked the area but actually I'm realising it's because her friends all work here. We did speak to her referees who were glowing.

lechatnoir Mon 08-Jul-13 22:48:30

Not a nanny but a cm so do sympathise with her in that it can be a lonely job & sometimes another nanny/cm can bring fresh activity ideas to share with the DC so not always true about not being as focused on the children, BUT, seeing nanny friend all day every day, eating your food etc just sounds a bit too much of a jolly IMO.

If she's working 3 days a week with you I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that she keeps the odd day or a couple of afternoons free from meeting her friend and does some more structured activities with your DC or a little 1:1/quiet time which wouldn't be possible with an extra nanny & 2 children on the scene!

Speak up now or this will grow from minor niggle into major resentment.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 08-Jul-13 22:51:30

The identikit nanny we had also had glowing refs!

LatinForTelly Mon 08-Jul-13 22:51:32

I wouldn't be at all happy with this.

I think it's fine in moderation, but what you've described in your OP isn't that.

Play dates are great for socialisation and sharing, but for me, with those ages of children, I would be happy with a couple of hours, a couple of times a week, with maybe a shared meal once a week, particularly if they're going to toddler groups etc as well.

I've not had a nanny, but have had au pairs. I assume one of the reasons people choose nannies rather than childminders or nurseries is that the children would get lots of settled home-time?

I think you need to think about what level would be right for you and set it out very clearly in some sort of trial period review, as other posters have suggested.

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