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Nanny - am I expecting too much ?

(80 Posts)
Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 10:00:30

So we have a nanny who is not the fittest or healthiest of women and I wonder whether the job is too much for her.
She's an ex secondary school teacher, drama who I thought would be brilliant for my older very dramatic girls and she was most recently working with a family with preschoolers so my toddler seemed well catered for too.
So two months in and it's school holidays here, she's very kindly put together an activity timetable of events and stuff to do with the kids over the next month which adds up to over a grand. Her petrol will be on top and a lot of driving seems to be included to places that are really walking distance - hence my worry about her health.
The problem is once I've paid for child care I have literally a grand left in a month so I was kind of hoping quite honestly that the nanny would be the entertainment, there would be a fair bit of chilling at home, park, beach etc.
The money I have left I was hoping to spend at the weekends on family days out and things we would be doing together.
My other little gripe is that looking after the children is all she seems to be able to manage, cooking for them never seems to happen, tidying away toys never happens, I come home to unlidded felt tips all over the dining table and piles of paper. I've heard of other nanny's doing the children's washing and ironing, tidying bedrooms etc, should this be part of the role ?
I don't know whether the nanny is crap or i'm just looking for a way out, I'm not loving my job but wonder if I might if the burden was less at home.
What do you think ?

apotomak Sat 29-Dec-12 10:33:40

You really need to spell everything out and not expect anybody to have mind reading skills. Do a list of the jobs that should be done. Like for example tiding up mess she and the children made should be one of those. Ironing and washing children's clothes could be there too ... but that just depends if she will have time to do those for example if your little one has a nap. These things should have been discussed before you took her on as she might have declined the job if she knew she was required to do these. Also with regard to petrol expenses make it clear you prefer they walk where possible. You should have a kitty for outings so that she knows how much she can spend a week/month ... if she doesn't spend it all she can save it up and do a more expensive outing at a later date.
I think it's time for you to get a pen a paper and write everything down then sit down with her to have a chat about this.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 10:36:56

We have a german au pair as well so literally the writing is on the wall - pinned to the kitchen cupboards, please empty the school bags of their lunch boxes, wash and put away for the day that the au pair has them, the nanny almost doesn't seem to think it applies to her.
Good idea about the kitty, I suspect she isn't going to be keen to work for us when she see's how creative she'll need to be.

annh Sat 29-Dec-12 10:59:12

Did you not discuss at interview stage what you expected the role to include - children's tidying, etc? Also did you not discuss kitty money and what you expected typical expenditure would be? If not, time to sit down now before you become trapped in a cycle of expense and tell her nicely but firmly that you cannot afford, nor do you particularly want, your children to be doing so many paid-for activities. Lay out clearly the kind of things you DO want and what level of expenditure you can afford.

Not tidying up after activities is ridiculous, as is not cooking. Who feeds the children? Is there some kind of mis-understanding on her part about her role versus what the aupair is doing? You do seem to have rather a lot of help for school-aged children, although perhaps the nanny is not full-time?

RobinSucksInTheSnow Sat 29-Dec-12 11:22:14

All of this really needs to have been laid out before you took her on- she is your employee, not a service provider (like a childminder). Every nanny role is different. For example, in my current role I do all of the children's washing but the cleaner does all the household ironing. In my previous role, I did everything. A nanny friend of mine, on a similar wage, does none of the laundry as they wanted her to focus on the children solely.

You are expecting way too much if you expect her to read your mind! Every role is so different there is no way of knowing what is expected of you. She has no way of knowing your financial situation, I've worked for families hat would be horrified if I took a packed lunch to soft play when you can buy (expensive) food there, and others who would be horrified if you bought all the food there!

As to the nanny thinking the lists don't apply to her- well if you've never told her that they do, then they don't! I've had jobs where roles within the house were very separate- cleaner changed all the beds, employer was unhappy if I did it as it took time from the children. And at the nursery I worked before I began nannying, a qualified member of staff doing the jobs that the unqualified assistants were supposed to do got you in trouble- I got called into the office once for doing the washing up because the assistant was busy! Very, very extreme but she may have encountered this kind of attitude in the past.

Have you considered the schedule? In my current role I sometimes struggle to get the playroom tidy for the parents as the schedule is so tight- I'm cooking while the children play, then feed them (Can't tidy then as the baby is weaning), then strait up stairs for bath then parents usually home while they're in the bath. So I end up tidying on my own time, while MB finishes off the bath.

Again with the driving, have you spelt it out that you prefer her to walk? In the past I interviewed with a family that preferred you to drive even very short distances as they didn't want to children outside too much- yes I turned that one down, I walk everywhere and kids need to be outside! It may be that she has gotten used to a particular way of doing things.

Of course I'm only speaking from the nanny's point of view, as that is where my experience is, it may well be that you laid out the roles in the contract and she is ignoring it in which case you need to have a meeting. Sitting her down at a time when the kids aren't there and having an honest chat. You may find she is unhappy with certain things but as it's been two months doing them, then she feels that's how it must be done. That's from experience! Nothing can change without communication.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 11:29:46

I've had a look through the contract.
It states £50 a week in snacks, outings etc. I'm guessing she feels this will increase during the holidays as all 4 will be with her all day rather than just the toddler. She has been told very clearly our financial situation and if you saw the house we are living in it's clear we aren't in great shape having just arrived in the country 6 months ago, she also knows DH has been out of work in this time.
I will put together a schedule, so what's reasonable for a nanny of 4 children, three over the age of eight and one toddler to achieve in a 10 hour period of time, usually ?

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 11:34:19

Should have said, the au pair and the nanny work different days, so there's no reason that the instructions clearly written out for the au pair on the kitchen cupboards wouldn't apply to the nanny, who else would empty out the lunch boxes, put the tea on that sort of thing. I thought that was as clear as it could be.

juneybean Sat 29-Dec-12 11:50:04

She should be getting them to tidy up after themselves, I don't see why she isn't able to cook, the older ones could play by themselves whilst she prepared a meal with toddler in kitchen. The older ones could even help prepare a meal.

RobinSucksInTheSnow Sat 29-Dec-12 12:29:57

~Sorry, didn't realise you had 4 children. How old are they?

Again, didn't realise she had different days to the au pair, that makes it different. Yes she should be doing the 'common sense' roles, no one has ever had to tell me to empty a lunch box or put a swimming kit in the wash for example. I had assumed from the previous comment that she was working alongside the au pair and was choosing to do her own role rather than the au pair's, if that makes sense. But emptying a lunch box should be just part of the daily routine if working sole charge! That's definitely not asking too much.

£50 a week is an immense amount of money! I get £10 if the parents remember, that's for 2 children one of whom is at home all day, the other does half days. I budget very carefully. That's for a 3 day role.

when I say schedule, I mean just the daily routine- In mine, due to activities, tea is at a certain time, due to the time MB gets home bathtime must follow tea immediately. I personally wouldn't want to work to a set schedule. I just mean- if pick up of child A, time to feed child B, etc etc leaves not much time to tidy it could be looked at. But if your children are older, they should be tidying. It'll be the nanny's role to get them to tidy, to encourage them to clean up after themselves.

If she isn't cleaning out a lunch box, maybe she forgot or didn't have time etc. It's something to be addressed but not immense. However- not cooking? No. that's something that is potentially leading to warnings, dismissal, it's that serious. I'm not a brilliant cook but my kids eat cooked food every day, I batch cook and freeze, I meal plan as I go.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 13:16:38

It's sorting of wearing me down though that I'm handing over 90% of my wages in childcare and they aren't even emptying out a lunch box so when I arrive home at 6pm she's out the door like a shot leaving me with hungry children who aren't in the slightest bit ready for the next day, not showered, not uniform sorted, lunchboxes needing washing out, letters not gotten from bags, all the stuff that needs doing.
I'm paying 30% more than min wage so i'd hoped by getting somebody experienced i'd be able to leave all that in her capable hands.
The au pair I expected nothing and to be fair got it too grin

giraffesCantFlyLikeReindeer Sat 29-Dec-12 13:21:37

Sounds a bit shit!

It doesn't sound like she is trying to do all that stuff but the kids are hard work (I mean that in a nice way, sometimes with 4 kids things just don't go according to plan!) and it occasionally isn;t getting done, more that it is not even being attempted?

Is she spending too long trying to entertain them and not enough time doing STUFF around the place?

JustFabulous Sat 29-Dec-12 13:26:37

Just because she has put together a plan to do activities that cost £1000 shock does not mean you have to agree to it! I used to be a nanny and have done ages from 10 weeks to 11 years so have had no holidays to factor in in some jobs and school holidays with the children at home full time. I barely asked for extra money as I was conscious of how expensive I was and didn't want to add to the burden of child care costs. Sounds to me like she doesn't know how to entertain either at home or out without an activity. I used to go out 1-2 times a week for paid things and the rest of the time was friends over/trips to the park/playing at home.

Chores wise I varied in all jobs but overall I did cleaning of all rooms used by the child, their washing and ironing, tidying of their rooms, light shopping, cooking.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 13:26:44

And this is why I wondered If I was expecting too much, with a 2 year old bouncing around, who will cling to his next oldest sister when she's around after school and the older two are glued to their ipads I do wonder what goes on for the 3 hours between school and my arrival. When you then factor in that the 2 year old sleeps for 2 hours - and I had to tell her to stopping him sleeping for longer and waking him up after 2 hours so god knows how long he was napping for prior to that conversation - that's 5 out of the 10 sort of doing nothing really.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 13:29:08

I can't agree to spending all that if I'm honest, I just can't.
I've agreed to swimming lessons for the little one once the older ones are back at school and some sort of dance class he apparently loves but that'll be it. The rest of the time is home made play doh for my lot and it's not like they are short of toys.

JustFabulous Sat 29-Dec-12 13:30:28

6pm and they haven't had their tea??

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 13:34:25

Which leads to them literally emptying the cupboards of all the food i've bought for the weeks lunches all the fruit, the rice cakes, biscuits get scoffed, they still need their tea and i'm out shopping again at 7am.
Hence i'm fed up with the whole thing.

JustFabulous Sat 29-Dec-12 13:37:45

Then change it.

Tell her X is not what you expect, Y is what you want and does she feel she can do that. If not you are happy to part company.

SamSmalaidh Sat 29-Dec-12 13:38:50

She doesn't sound great, but then you also don't sound like you have made the role and your expectations as clear as you could have done. Have a meeting with her, go through what you want and ask her if she is struggling.

Give her a list of everything you need her to have done by the end of the day (including having the children fed, everything ready for the next day) - put the nanny's name at the top of it.

Remind her of the duties that are in her contract (laundry, cleaning of children's rooms etc) - write them out and ask her to have them done by the end of each week, she can do them whatever days she wants when the toddler is napping.

Go through activities and finances - remind her of the £50 kitty, list some suggestions for activities at home/free things to do in the area. Put a limit on her mileage.

Is she still within a probation period? Maybe set another review meeting for the end of the probation period.

Snog Sat 29-Dec-12 13:40:58

I think you need to be clear about your expectations.
Your nanny is showing you a plan, so if you don't agree with it you need to tell her.
If you want her to spend £200 on activities or £500 or an unlimited amount you need to say, and if you would prefer different acitvitites you need to say so, surely?
If you want her to walk not drive then again you need to be clear.
I think a nanny should usually cook for her charges, keep the place tidy & wash and iron the clothes too but with 4 kids perhaps this is unrealistic - if so you should decide what gets left off.
So far it seems like you are being a very poor boss and it isn't possible to tell how much of the problem is simply down to this imo

I do symathise with you but communicate your expectations clearly before writing off your nanny would be my advice.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 13:47:21

So realistically in people's experience what would be reasonable to put on this list ? That's kind of the crutz of the matter. I know what I can do but I'll often Hoover with the bub hanging off my hip and I appreciate that's not for everyone.
I'll also stick the Washing on before I head off to school and get the little one to pass me the pegs before we head out the door, is that realistic for a nanny, making sure the kids put the tops on their felt tips and tidy them up before dinner all that stuff that mums do automatically.

SamSmalaidh Sat 29-Dec-12 13:55:05

Realistically she needs to provide all meals for the children during the day, and clean up afterwards, wipe surfaces.
Clean up after herself/the children during the day, and tidy up before she finishes - when she leaves the house should be in the same state she found it in the morning.
I would say she needs to hoover/sweep/mop floors if they have made a mess on them (spilt paint, crumbs from lunch etc) but I wouldn't expect her to routinely do cleaning unless it is in her contract.

Other duties like children's laundry, ironing, cleaning bedrooms depends on whether they are in her contract.

Pendipidy Sat 29-Dec-12 13:57:53

Yes, she should be doing everything that you would! Why isn't she cooking the tea? Have you asked her to? Have you asked the older ones what she actually does when they get in from school?
You should be coming back to a house of calm and things done. Not it all waiting to be done!

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 14:01:06

I suspect the scenario goes something like the kids race in from school raid the cupboards she doesn't stop them, at 5 they are offered tea they don't want it too full of apples and crisps by 6.30pm they want a spaghetti Bol whipping up with side orders and desert.

SamSmalaidh Sat 29-Dec-12 14:02:35

Have you told her that they aren't allowed to have snacks between school and 5pm? Maybe if they have told her that they are, and you haven't said differently, she thinks you are happy with the situation?

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 14:06:02

She probably does think its fine. It has been a bit rushed and the Christmas period has been the first real chance for me to sit and take stock of the whole situation.

cansu Sat 29-Dec-12 14:41:08

I would definitely sit down with her and make it clear. It would seem to me to be reasonable for her to have fed children and tidies up before you got home. Putting washing on and sorting ironing for children should also be possible while children nap. I have never had a full time nanny but I have had a temp for odd days here and there and even then I was just amazed at how fab she was. Laundry had been done, kitchen was clean and tidy and dd was fed, clean and happy. Remember thinking how brilliant it would be to be able to afford a nanny as it would make working much less stressful. Focus on what are top priorities for you. For me it would be that kids were fed and clean, kitchen clean and tidy and washing under control. Uniform and lunch boxes laid out ready for next day. I would also expect her to spend much less on entertainment. Soft play, local parks and swimming are all cheap activities which should be easily available close to home. This should make up the vast majority of trips out. If your dc like animals or something in particular maybe buy some kind of family membership that can be used year round so there is always somewhere she can take them?

RosemaryandThyme Sat 29-Dec-12 14:47:49

Its not the Nanny who needs to learn to put pen lids on.....

Seems that your children, even the toddler, have not been brought up to tidy their own stuff or plan their own holiday schedule, this is parenting no ?

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 14:54:09

DH and I nag them daily .... And we throw pens in the bin to make a point but unless it's followed through they aren't going to do it willingly I'll be honest and yes it is parent hence I'm wondering if I should be going more of it

dinkystinky Sat 29-Dec-12 15:03:48

Set out for your nanny the after school routine you expect to be adhered to - in our case it is home, small fruit based snack, play, homework, dinner, tidy up time, bath - the kids are just finishing their bath when I get home. Our nanny has a 20 quid kitty a week for stuff with Ds2 he does one music class a week and they sometimes do outings to soft play or city farm. In the holidays I will arrange a couple of special outings for them (zoo, plays, etc) but not every day. She should be able and to stick a load of washing on and prep the evening meal while your toddler naps and have plenty of time for lunch and downtime too.

MrsDeVere Sat 29-Dec-12 15:12:31

I have NO experience and am unlikely ever to have any. Please feel free to ignore me.

But I would absolutely expect a nanny to be able to entertain children without spending a grand.
I would also expect lids to be put back on pens and paper tidied away.
Children should be fed.

Surely they are basics? It sounds as if you are paying for childcare twice over. She seems more like an events manager than a nanny.

But I do agree with others, you need to be explicit. Totally up front about what you want.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 29-Dec-12 15:12:59

Right. grin She needs to clear up and tidy away the toys/craft stuff etc before you get home. There is nothing worse than coming back to a messy house. Washing done and school uniforms ready too, yes. Get your school age children to empty their own lunch boxes and rinse them out when they come in - they should be helping more. And tidying their own rooms (although this is easier said than done).

Re holiday activities - can she get them to write and rehearse a play, putting on a show for you after a few days? My cousins and I used to do this all the time. She could also get them to make some simple scenery with paints and cardboard boxes. Cost will be nothing or negligible.

Re the food - during the winter can you put a casserole in the slow cooker before you go to work, and ask her to prep the veg to go with it so that the children can eat this when they get in? (And you can eat the rest later.) On other days, get her to prepare easy food - fish fingers, peas and potato wedges one day, spag bol with salad, chicken and veg curry and rice, and feed them when they get in, to avoid snacking.

She sounds lazy to me, anything for an easy life, so easier to go to paid for activities where she can sit there with a book while the children do their stuff, rather than interact and do stuff with them. And I would ask her about walking as well.

She sounds very like a nanny that we sacked - she just got worse and worse, despite our efforts to instigate some change.

RosemaryandThyme Sat 29-Dec-12 15:21:40

Ah - so if you have a rule, like tidy stuff on the table before you go off to play with something else, then you guys stick to it but the Nanny doesn't - is that some of the problem ?

That would nark me off too to be honest, a Nanny situation should (I think) mean that the parent's wishes are adhered to, otherwise smart children will bend your rules and play Nanny off against parents and vice versa.

Nanny role should be surely to support the parents in the raising of children, so if you want your children to tidy as they go along, to be able to spend say a morning at the beach supervised but esstentially playing freely, then yes the Nanny should be enforcing that too.
It's not for the Nanny to decide what the family rules and values are, but she absolutley can not undermine them.

As others have said - is the Nanny clear what is expected of both her and the children ?

Sorry to get back to tidying but for example here we care for both our own and several community children, we have a lot of space but I can not abide mess, after many failed attempts we now have a system of open drawers, where children chose what to play with and leave the drawer, cuboard, cabinet etc open, then must put it away and close before they open another, my youngest is 3 and even she sticks to it, BUT if au pair had choosen to do a different system, say everyone play and we'll all tidy up be fore tea, it would never work, we do all need to follow the same idea.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 15:30:31

Things aren't as organized as they could be we've just emigrated so a trip to ikea probably is over due but honestly I have her #50 to go and buy arts and crafts stuff and most of it has gone in the bin due to lids off pens, glue drying out, paper having a little scribble on then into recycling. Combined with the playroom door being left open and the bloody puppy sneaking off with Lego I've carried around the world for 12 years and chewing it, I thought that sort of stuff didn't need spelling out to an ex teacher if I'm honest I figured if they can dirt out 30 kids my four would be a walk in the park.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 29-Dec-12 15:51:31

I think your children's age is important here.

With regards to tea, it is absolutely a nanny's job to feed them, but there comes an age where children transition from 'kid's tea' at 5pm to dinner with mum and dad at 7pm. I would say at 8+ it is reasonable for the nanny to assume that they eat with you. She should feed the toddler though.

I would also assume they are able to put a lid on a pen, tidy stuff away, empty their lunch boxes, hand letters from school over, get their uniform ready for the next day etc. The nanny obviously needs to chase them up, but it sounds like you need to talk to your children, not a constant low-level nag, but a sit-down 'this just isn't good enough' conversation. Maybe make them a chart similar to the au pairs one? Take away the ipads they're stuck to so they're able to concentrate on doing what they're supposed to?

£1000 for holiday activities does seem a lot, though you don't day how long the holidays are? I think the important thing though is that she has made the plan and showed it to you in advance, so you are able to say yes/no to the different activities. I don't really see what the problem is? If she'd done the activities with them, then given you a bill for a £1000 you'd have a point.

Is there any chance the differences with regard to food/nap times etc are cultural? Does she have different expectations?

A big mistake,when employing a nanny is assuming that the way your family does things is 'normal'. There is no 'normal'. It may seem obvious to you that children eat at 5pm/should walk to X/drive to Y/not watch TV/eat X for snack/do free activities etc, but there will almost certainly be families that do the opposit. How are we supposed to know which sort of family you are if you don't tell us? We're not mind readers!

Ebb Sat 29-Dec-12 15:55:27

£1000?! [Shock] What planet is she on? Perhaps look in to getting annual membership for a local farm/zoo/arboretum so she has somewhere to go on a regular basis? There are plenty of low cost / free activities if she looks for them.

In terms of nursery duties, what does your contract say? Most nannies would wash/dry/fold kids clothes ( I iron, many nannies don't ) and bedding , clean children's bedrooms / bathroom / playrooms and tidy any areas the children have used ie. Hoover sitting room if we'd made it dirty, wipe down kitchen surfaces after cooking, load/unload dishwasher. Obviously in the holidays she might get less done with four kids but it sounds like they're old enough to help a bit.

I think you need to have a chat and do a review. Set guidelines such as one piece of fruit or a biscuit when they get home from school then tea on the table at 5pm. That gives her plenty of time to wash up / load dishwasher / empty lunch boxes and have the place tidy for when you get home.

As has been said before, a nanny should make your life easier not harder. Good communication is essential so talk to her and tell her what you expect.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 15:56:18

I suppose I thought writing it all out and pinning it to the kitchen wall cupboards would be enough. The au pair doesn't always do any tidying or washing up either but she's a kid herself and on min wage so I wasn't expecting as much.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 29-Dec-12 16:04:36

So, neither the older DC's, the nanny or the au pair are following what you want them to do/the routine on the kitchen cupboards?! Maybe there is something wrong with the way you're communicating? What exactly is on the kitchen cupboards?

BranchingOut Sat 29-Dec-12 16:17:16

Maybe she could take a healthy-ish snack on the school run so they could eat it on the way home, then you set out the expectation that all DC then eat together about 5.30.

You are the boss and can set the rules!

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Sat 29-Dec-12 16:43:10

Notice she's an ex teacher - very different role from being a nanny and not a sign that she ll be a good nanny either! I've interviewed & trialled a huge amount of people before I found one that is working out... It's something that us hard to get right when you re new to the nanny thing! Especially if you need them to do alot, like looking after 4 kids which yours will have to do some of the time.

I've found that good nannys tend to have nannying experience with a couple of families (not just one as they could be expecting your house to be the same)... The 'risks' I've taken with trying out people from different careers have def been risks & one is amazing & the others ruddy awful!

Worst people I've had were an ex children's entertainer and an ex teacher! I thought great! Lots of transferable skills, but actually, being a nanny is a whole career in itself and I needed a nanny, not an entertainer or a teacher. I found the entertainer didn't form a bond with my son or really look after him, more keeping him occupied than seeing to his basic needs. I found the ex teacher didn't want to get her hands dirty or get stuck into the housework aspects of the role - I would have needed a cleaner & cook on top of her to function daily! I think the ex teacher thought a nanny job would be easier than teaching & hadn't considered the more household & caring role a nanny has. This was even with clear job description agreed including her doing tidying, cooking & some hovering/ laundry! Just turned out she hadn't really thought it through.

Obviously not saying all teachers etc make bad nannys, but if you are an inexperienced nannying family (as I am/was), I'd go for a more experienced/ professional nanny rather than assume that there is a skills cross over from other jobs. Just easier to manage & agree expectations when someone knows all the different things the job may entail... BUT that advice is not much use now as perhaps first you should try getting your current nanny up to speed before looking for another!

Will post some practical thoughts too in a mo!

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Sat 29-Dec-12 16:46:09

Right here's some practical stuff too - sorry it's really long, I am feeling for you and got carried away!

I did a 'book of everything' with all the house stuff, routines, job description, childrens do/ dont s etc in. Went through it over a coffee & really discussed it, made changes as I went so the nanny felt involved & listened to.... Then revisited the month after to reiterate stuff & problem solve. I thought I was being incredibly anal but it does work as long as the 'book' is kept up to date & you make sure it doesn't feel tooo prescriptive. I should say I am very ill so it's vital things get done a certain way, but it sounds like you need it too!

The 'book of everything' (actually a pretty folder) made me do alot if thinking over how I needed things to be done, & what assumptions I make about my household... Which is really helpful in making it easier to manage the nanny/ cleaner etc. I was worried about being too authoritarian/ controlling, but it seems not to scare people away, the nannys I've had like knowing things are written down & helpful.

Made me realise lots of assumptions I have though! Like, I want my child to help with cooking/ housework, as I want him to learn that these things don't magically happen... Nanny expressed surprise as previously she had to do housework stuff when the kids were napping.

I also want Ds to help tidy, be polite etc, so having a list of what he should be doing & how she should involve him is key - may sound obvious to you but all families differ so good to be clear.

Also I'm like you, can't afford endless 'entertainment' & don't think it's necessary either. I had to write a schedule which puts in paid activities like... Tues am, swimming, but also a whole list of free/cheap activities to give the nanny ideas, also suggesting a few to do each week works well.

The only thing I've had a problem with (now I found a lovely nanny) is tidying at the end if the day, which is due to timekeeping rather than laziness, so am in the process of working that one out. Will probably write a detailed end of day schedule and trial it, make adjustments & make it a habit when I know it works. It's that dinner, bath, bed with tired children & nanny that makes it so hard I think.

ohfunnyFRANKENface Sat 29-Dec-12 16:58:44

It sounds like you expect a lot, but ask nothing.

You need to say to her: I want you to do x y and z at these times, this way, everyday.

You need to be clear when communicating to your children what the nanny should be doing.

You need to pull the au pair up when she doesn't do her own washing up etc.

It isn't the nanny's fault- it is your fault.

JustFabulous Sat 29-Dec-12 17:08:55

Mine are 7. 9 and 11 an no way are they ready to eat tea at 7pm. They eat around 5pm every day.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 29-Dec-12 17:16:39

but it wouldn't be unreasonable/complete madness to think that they might eat later would it JustFab? It's a 'different strokes, for different folks' type issue isn't it? So, the nanny would be justified in thinking that they might eat later.

SamSmalaidh Sat 29-Dec-12 17:24:51

Exactly - my 2 year old eats at 7pm and I am often suprised by how early other children eat, so nothing is obvious!

JustFabulous Sat 29-Dec-12 17:31:07

Well, I would have thought that a 7pm eating time for toddlers was quite late so really she ought to have known that. I suspect most 2 year olds eat earlier than 7pm.

I can hardly feed my youngest his tea at 7 when he goes to bed then.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 29-Dec-12 17:42:04

She ought to have known what time all toddlers the world over eat? Did you read Sam's post? The one where she says her toddler eats at 7pm?!

Copied and pasted from above;

A big mistake,when employing a nanny is assuming that the way your family does things is 'normal'. There is no 'normal'. It may seem obvious to you that children eat at 5pm/should walk to X/drive to Y/not watch TV/eat X for snack/do free activities etc, but there will almost certainly be families that do the opposit. How are we supposed to know which sort of family you are if you don't tell us? We're not mind readers!

nannynick Sat 29-Dec-12 18:35:52

Puppy! So is the nanny also caring for a puppy as well as the children? It's another thing in the mix and something that has lots of energy to wear off - so puppy will need exercise, just like the children.

Daily To-Do lists may be needed, a list for the nanny, a list for the au-pair, a list for child1, child2, child3 etc.

fraktion Sat 29-Dec-12 18:41:05

Some people find that a nanny is too much management. These people are usually either expecting a much higher level of proactivity (and my have been 'spoiled' by an exceptional nanny) or are unable to let go and want to micromanage so the nanny can't do anything right. In general nannies are neither mind readers nor clones of their MB. As such there will be differences. However they are also not morons and as such shouldn't need constant surveillance and step by step instructions.

A teacher is essentially trained in crowd control. They may be strong on the academic and education side but it's not an indication of how they'll deal with the domestic part of the arrangement.

If you're having to spell it out repeatedly you're on a losing streak with this nanny. Cut your losses, reassess and write a lessons learnt so you know what to say upfront to your next nanny if you have one.

An agency will not necessarily improve things perhaps you need to reassess what you expect from a nanny and whether the profile you recruited to is able to deliver that. Or maybe another childcare solution would be better. How's the au pair working out?

RosemaryandThyme Sat 29-Dec-12 19:33:19

Is it possible that Nanny sees her role as teaching toddler and is spending lots of time on pre-writing skills, early maths, music ed and the like ?
I have an education schedule that I run with several parents and a varying group of children and this could explain why she struggles to fit in sensible meal planning, puppy training etc - might she be better viewed as a tutor ?

MarshmallowCupcake Sun 30-Dec-12 02:23:38

Regardless of how much you pay out in childcare and expenses, you should come home to a house in order. All nanny jobs are different and you need to be clear what you expect her to do but to be honest with her being an ex teacher I would've expected more!

AllThreeWays Sun 30-Dec-12 02:36:57

am I correct in thinking you are in Australia OP? If so, walking to activities in 30 + degrees is unreasonable I'm afraid. The rest is not.

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 02:42:05

Those saying I should be spelling it out, honestly imagine A4 sheets similar to the book thats been mentioned in colour coded AM checklist, PM checklist, house rules, potential discipline, child 4's exact routine with timings.
There's even one for the dog.
The Au Pairs days I literally just expect everyone to be alive at the end of day so from that perspective it's fine. I suppose when it comes to the nanny days I hoped she would display as much initiative to the basics as she has the fun stuff.

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 02:44:51

I'm not kidding when I say the activities are accross the street and 250 meters, the park is 5 mins away it takes longer to get the four of them in the car, plus this is the first week it's hit 30 degrees it's been really mild up until now.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 02:58:06

6 of one, half a dozen of the other I think!

She sounds a bit out of her depth/lazy/disorganised/unsuited for the job, you sound like you expect her to be a mind reader or follow various random instructions taped around the house.

I'm not sure how old your children are - but it sounds like they need a good talking to as well. Old enough to use felt pens, old enough to put the lids on and tidy up. They should be doing other things too - no matter how old they are they can empty their bags (have a place to put newsletters etc) and their lunchboxes.

A nanny should generally be feeding the children, either tidying up with/after them (if little) or reminding them to tidy up and doing all the 'mummy' things you'd be doing if you were home - but 4 children is a lot and depending on their natures possibly leaves little time to get much done once they're home from school - which means come 6pm the house can be a mess and dinner dishes not yet done etc. OR she could have the place tidy, but your kids sitting watching TV?! What is the house like at 6pm if you are home with them?

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 03:03:26

No there arent random instructions there are clearly laid out lists taped to the kitchen cupboards at eye level.
The house is generally ok when I have them but then DH is there too so I tend to tidy whilst he occupies.
Four kids is a log for anyone I'm under no illusions there. She's not really coped with three at school given its the holidays now I'm wondering if she'll cope with out bankrupting me by having them out of the house from dusk until dawn.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 03:22:11

Just tell her that you do not have the money, nor wish the kids, to do what she has 'scheduled'. Tell her she has x amount of money for the holidays and that's it (frankly, as she sounds a bit crap, I'd ask how she intends to spend it before handing it over - which I wouldn't normally do).

You are just going to have to talk to her about meals etc and walking v driving - but also, how often do you walk all 4 of them anywhere? (obviously the place just down the road is a no brainer, but given you were worried about how much petrol she was going to be using, there must be other places further away she's takes them that you think she should walk to?!).

I have to say - lists taped to kitchen cupboards is really 'odd' - no-one should need these and surely it makes the place look really messy and like a classroom not a home??

It's often easier in the holidays without the school runs and all the stuff you need to organise for school, DC being tired when they get home etc, holidays are generally more relaxed.

(How old are yours now? I can't keep up and all the MN kids seem to grow like watered weeds!! grin)

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 03:44:38

The German au pair needed the lists. It's not ideal and I'd hoped to take them down once everyone knew what they were doing but that didn't seem to be happening.
The kids are 12,10,8 and 2 old enough to tidy up, I get that but there's limited places they can put things it is a bit chaotic right now with only having half our stuff here and not necessarily the half I need.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 03:54:34

Moving so far away is hard work!

I think you need to sort the wheat from the chaff really.

Take some time out to think/get organised/decide what you want. What you want to do about your job, whether you want to be at home with the kids or working, if you want to work - is she the right nanny for your family, what storage you need etc

Decide whether this nanny can be what you need or whether you need to find alternative arrangements. I think she's probably a bit crap, but is not really the problem here.

When will you get the rest of your stuff?

Is the house permanent or just 'for now'?

How have the kids settled in at school?

Most importantly - are you enjoying living near the beach?? grin

How long are you stuck with do you have the pleasure of the Au Pair for?

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 30-Dec-12 04:03:27

I find this thread confusing. You're annoyed that the nanny doesn't have the place tidy. We all suggest that the children tidy up. You say the children can't tidy up because 'there's limited places they can put things it is a bit chaotic right now '. So where were you expecting the nanny to tidy things up to? Were you expecting a Mary Poppins style bag with endless space/click her fingers and everything tidies itself up?

If the nanny can put the pens in a drawer. The children can put the pens in a drawer.

If there is no place for the pens neither the nanny, the children or the au pair can put the pens away!

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 04:56:02

There are places for the pens, the packets they came out of for example would be a good start, the paper could be piled up. It's not impossible for a 28 year old to think of this, the 2 year old might struggle where as previously he knew where the crayon tin was.
I'm not annoyed I'm concerned that this "job" is too much for anyone actually and if anyone should just be muddling through it should be me rather than somebody who I am just going to get frustrated with.

you keep talking about lists, but have you actually spoken to your nanny about these tasks?

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 05:55:47

Yes I mean she commented on the routine for the year old in a whoops I've let him have more than two hours nap, so of she saw that is it reasonable to suggest she saw the lunch at 12 and tea at 4.30 either side of it ?

ohfunnyFRANKENface Sun 30-Dec-12 07:13:34

Did you say that to her though??

Snog Sun 30-Dec-12 08:29:36

It doesn't sound as though you communicate much with the nanny in words as to what you expect, neither does it sound as though you make her aware when your expectations are not met - this should happen on a daily basis, surely?

Snog Sun 30-Dec-12 08:30:25

When the nanny said the toddler had overslept, what did you say to the nanny for example?

Snog Sun 30-Dec-12 08:40:06

what does the nanny give the kids for lunch?

minderjinx Sun 30-Dec-12 08:45:39

I don't know about Australian incomes, but I wouldn't want to look after four kids and a dog in a messy house for only 30% more than the minimum wage. Perhaps your expectations are too high for the calibre of applicant you will attract. It also sounds, reading between the lines, that you are looking for a pretext to give up work and take over - maybe this is why you are not giving adequate guidance and setting your nanny up to fail?

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 09:04:29

I agree with you but that's all we can afford right now, that will improve and then I guess I can pay for somebody with more experience.

SamSmalaidh Sun 30-Dec-12 09:44:09

OP, is the nanny still in a probation period?
What duties (other than childcare) are in her contract?

OK, I'd accept that she isn't a brilliant nanny but she should be doing the basics. You need a sit-down, face-to-face, child-free meeting/review with her though!

I would ask her to:
Follow the 2 year old's routine (give her a copy)
Ensure the older children empty bags/lunchboxes after school
Feed everyone a meal at 5pm with no snacks beforehand
Get everything ready for the next day while they eat
Tidy-up with the older children at 5.30pm everyday (sit toddler in front of TV for half an hour at this point if necessary)

Tell her that at 6pm, you want to come home to everyone fed, house as tidy as you left it, and everything ready for tomorrow. Forget any other nursery duties for the moment.

As for money/activities/mileage - say no, set limits.

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 30-Dec-12 13:34:00

There is clearly a problem with communication. I don't understand how you can have got two months in and she isn't giving them their tea? That's a first day problem surely?

You've shown her the timetable, talked her through it, explained what she needs to do/where everything is.

You come home first day and they haven't had tea.

What happened next?

If you've been telling her every evening for two months that she needs to give them tea and she is just completely ignoring you then it sounds like she needs to be sectioned tbh. If you've been quietly seething about her not giving them tea, but haven't actually ever said that to her then.....

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 14:01:32

She's often gone by the time I get home and they are eating tea which either the au pair has knocked up or DH has pulled something together.
It is communication of course it is, with relocating and work I've been muddling through ANC it's not really worked.
I'm off work and she's in for two days so we can have a good chat then and see what happens after that.

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 30-Dec-12 14:27:03

I think a chat is a good idea. It'll also be good to observe what she's doing during the day and maybe pinpointing where she's going wrong with timing/planning issues. She's known your family and routine for two months, you've known them much longer I'm sure you can give her some timesaving/efficiency pointers.

I think your DH needs to take on some responsibility for dealing with the nanny, if he is the one coming home to find them unfed/not ready for bed/house messy.

A firm chat is needed with the older three children with regard to tidying up etc.

Do you have a nanny diary? That could be a good tool for communication if you don't always see the nanny. I often don't see my MB, but we communicate a lot through email (sometimes 3/4 a day). Is that a possibility?

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sun 30-Dec-12 14:41:09

THis nanny is getting a ridiculously easy ride on this thread. I can't believe there is anyone that seriously questions whether a grand is too much to spend on entertainment activities and that the OP is negligent in providing feedback, and it's mainly kids' fault re the tidiness. Sorry but to me it seems like this is what is being said. OUr nanny would NEVER have let this situation unfold and if you've got pointers up all over the kitchen with various 'tips' most would cotton on that you had some expectations. FFS seriously.

SHe is clearly very inexperienced AS A NANNY though and behaving more like an au pair. So, you will have to sit her down for a chat and then take it from there. But I wouldn't give her more than six wks to sort herself out.

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 30-Dec-12 14:53:35

'I can't believe there is anyone that seriously questions whether a grand is too much to spend on entertainment activities'

I don't think anyone has questioned that have they? Except to ask how long the holidays are. If they're 12 week summer holidays it seems more reasonable than if it's a week half term.

'and that the OP is negligent in providing feedback'

From what the OP has said, it's either this or the nanny is mentally ill. If the nanny is truly driving to an activity opposite the house, refusing to give the children tea despite being told every evening etc, she's got a serious problem. The fact that the OP is still employing the nanny 2 months in suggests the OP knows the problem is with feedback/communication/disorganisation and not the nanny being unstable.

I stand by the tidiness being the kids fault. A 12 year old who can't empty a lunch bag or put pen lids on! Really?

I do agree that 6 weeks is plenty of time to fix things though. Once you've made it clear what you want I would expect immediate improvement.

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 15:17:49

The 12 year I'm pretty sure isn't leaving the lids off pens but if she was all I'd ask of the nanny is "hey did you forget something" type comments.
I don't have another 6 weeks before I'll have some sort of break down too be honest it'll be case of everyone - kids included shapes up or somebody will be out of a job and the kids luxuries will disappear with the income drop.
I don't think the nanny is mentally ill, she did leave teaching due to a break down as it happens but I do think her other experience has been in the world best job, taking two preschoolers to various activities.
I'm also aware that you get what you pay for, she's kind to the kids and you'd be surprised how many aren't.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sun 30-Dec-12 15:24:10

The 12 year I'm pretty sure isn't leaving the lids off pens but if she was all I'd ask of the nanny is "hey did you forget something" type comments.

This is a reasonable expectation from an experienced nanny. Of course parents need to provide feedback too but it's the nanny who is there, in loco parentis, to provide it when you aren't. This has to happen as well.

I'm also aware that you get what you pay for

My take on this is that the OP isn't necessarily NOT providing feedback as such but there is something about the situation that the nanny doesn't see any consequences if she doesn't follow up or follow up consistently. And OP maybe a more experienced, ie. costly nanny would be a massive financial stretch? So part of the issue is how much you can tolerate relative to how much more another nanny might be?

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 15:33:46

Mosman - is there a reason you have gone for an au-pair and a part time nanny, rather than a full time, possibly live-in, nanny? I think one person doing 'the job' is better than 2 part time. Part-time nanny is quite a hard job, things aren't where they were last time (especially when you have just moved), it's harder to get into a routine, the kids have 4 adults looking after them... it's all a bit 'messy' and harder to feel the same level of responsiblity for routines etc.

Also, what is the au pair doing when the nanny is there? Surely they are often both there?

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 15:41:43

Long story but the nanny was working alongside my MIL who was meant to stay for 20 weeks but with less than a weeks notice decided she was going home to the UK, fair enough but it meant some pretty quick decisions were made. The au pair doesn't live with us she's literally around the corner with an elderly last who justikes company in the evening so this girl saved our bacon and we were able to help her earn some extra cash.
The nanny was meant to go full time this week but given my feelings about work and how this arrangement is going I've persuaded her to just do two days with us and two days with somebody else - she only wants to work a 4 day week - which is another problem but anyway.
There's not a lot of options in Perth for childcare, so it's almost best of a bad bunch, import somebody good but costly or take your chances with an au pair but given the little ones age I'm not comfortable with that, plus I need more than 30 hours.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 16:58:50

Bloody hell. It's a wonder you haven't all had a nervous breakdown before now!! Far too many people involved in the day to day caring for the children - it's no wonder it's all very hit & miss. You need to start afresh.

I really believe you need to either get someone full time or do it yourself full time. There needs to be some consistency & stability. Be honest with yourself, what do you want? Do you want to do it yourself or do you want to find a great nanny & go to work?

If you want to go to work - then find yourself a good, full time, nanny. They are worth their weight in gold, so you need to work out what you can afford to pay and pay that. Once you have a good nanny in place, life will be much, much easier.

Mosman Mon 31-Dec-12 14:45:26

That's the million dollar question. I don't know right now unfortunately.

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