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Am I too soft with nanny? Help appreciated

(50 Posts)
Bobbiesmum Fri 10-Dec-10 20:18:12

Hi, I have also posted this in AIBU but would really appreciate other nanny/nanny employers' perspectives.
A bit of background...
My ds is admitted to hospital literally every 2 weeks with chest problems. We have exhausted goodwill from friends so employed a nanny who literaly earns more than me but is essential so we have no worries about looking after dd when we are in hospital.
Nanny has in her contract to do cleaning/ironing one day a fortnight and she has been doing the ironing at home and I generally have no problem with this.
Today she planned to take ironing home in the afternoon( but obviously I was still paying her as normal) but we were readmitted to hospital and I asked her if she could leave the ironing and care for dd instead. She flat out said no as she had to go food shopping (for herself) this afternoon. She then watched me try unsuccessfully try to get another sitter and still didn't offer to stay.
Dh finally said that as she was being paid we needed her to stay and she has but she is clearly not happy.
I think we are very good employers, always let her go early, paid time off no questions asked for family emergencies etc.
ThIs not an isolated incident,another time I had to take DS to docs in an emergency at 5pm and she is paid until 5.30pm. I said I should be back on time but was she ok if not (she has in her contract that she may needs to be flexible by 15 mins at begining and end of day)and again she said no.
Now I realise a massive part of the problem is my failure to address this, I am soft, she is older than me and frankly i feel intimidated. We have never had a nanny before and she has years of experience with good references.
SO, any opinions on the situation and how to grow some balls/handle situation greatly appreciated, specifically am I being out of order?

colditz Fri 10-Dec-10 20:20:36

You could sit her down and explain to her that you need someone to be flexible and that if she isn't able to do this, she will be redundant as she isn't able to fill the criteria of the job.

ChippingIn Fri 10-Dec-10 20:28:19

Frankly, I'd find a new nanny. She isn't the kind of person you need in your situation.

neolara Fri 10-Dec-10 20:30:10

I've just read a fantastic book called Difficult Conversations

I don't know exactly what you should say, but I reckon this book would help you work it out and come up with a workable solution.

Good luck

Sequins Fri 10-Dec-10 20:35:16

How old is your DD? Could you make nanny redundant for inflexibility as Colditz says and replace her with an au pair, then you would always have someone to hand?

Your nanny doesn't sound like she's understood the job description at all and just wants to do the job she has in her own mind, not the one that actually exists.

Hope your DS in on the mend, it must be terribly stressful for you.

nannyl Fri 10-Dec-10 20:38:39


you are paying her.
TBH id be wanting to tell her that all hours are worked in your house, unless she can follow suit and give as well as take.

I dont think i know a nanny friend (and i know alot) who would refuse to stay a few mins longer of you had to rush to hospital sad angry

foxinsocks Fri 10-Dec-10 20:45:03

no nor do I nannyl and we've employed a fair few nannies.

how much notice is in her contract? I would just end it tbh and look for another. Life is seriously too short to put up with people who aren't making your life easier.

Sorry this hasn't worked out. I really hope you can find someone who is sympathetic to both yours and ds's needs.

Blondeshavemorefun Fri 10-Dec-10 20:45:28

so you are paying her till 5.30pm and she wanted to go and do her own shopping during this time - and you allowed her to go while trying to find another sitter

you should have firmly said i pay you till 5.30 to look after my dd and thats what you will do please while i go to hospital


or dismiss her gently - you need someone who is flexible and there for you - yes obviously no one wants to work late, but in times of emergancy all us nannies/cm do stay later

i cant see why she couldnt have taken your dd shopping then both of you would have been happy - but obviously dd care comes before what the nanny wants to do

how old is your dd? do you employ this nanny every day, or pay her and then ring as and when you need her (ie when ds goes into hospital)

Bobbiesmum Fri 10-Dec-10 20:52:50

thanks guys, that book sounds perfect neolara, will order it asap.
Blondes - she is employed 3 days per week on the days I work 9-5.30pm (not that I get to work much as always in hospital!)
My dd is 3 and we thought the nanny would help as kids would be exposed to less germs than if they went to nursery as ds is admitted literally with every cold.
I thought that I was being unreasonable but am starting to think it may time to look elsewhere as although she is good with kids there are other issues too.

surpriseme Fri 10-Dec-10 20:55:08

So she is employed because of your need to be able to take ds to hospital at moments notice yet she is being difficult and refusing to do her job? I would look around for new nanny.
If you are flexible with her she should be flexible with you too and understand that there might be times it might go over 5:30.But to refuse to work the actual time she is paid for is shocking.If she tries that again I wouldnt even have a discussion or ask her if its ok.She is being paid to be there so she should be.I'd prob stop allowing her to take ironing home and make her do it at your place.That way she is around anyway

MoonUnitAlpha Fri 10-Dec-10 20:55:46

She sounds awful - sack her and get someone else (and be tougher next time!).

cinnamondanish Fri 10-Dec-10 20:59:04

I'm a nanny and I totally agree with the postings so far. In my line of work I know it's not a 9-5 job and flexibility is a key to a good working relationship.
If it says in her contract that flexibility is required and she has signed it then she should be holding up her end of the agreement.
Also couldn't she have taken your daughter with her to do her food shop if it had to be done then and there. I often take my charges with me when I have to run personal errands if I have to do them within my working day. I can't believe that she was so heartless to sit there and watch you pull your hair out trying to make other arrangements.
If you feel intimidated by her and uncomfortable then I really think the best thing is to have a talk with her and discuss things.
It is so important to have a clear working relationship that both parties can feel comfortable with and talk about issues if they arise.
At the end of the day it may end up with you having to find someone else who is more willing to meet your needs.
As I'm an older nanny myself I know that we do get set in our ways and like things done a certain way but never would I be so heartless as to not help out in the situations you've described. I've often worked later off the clock when parties run late or picking up children from after school playdates and have also come in early when my bosses have had to catch early trains out of London.

cinpin Fri 10-Dec-10 21:26:21

Your nanny sounds awful and really selfish.
Why should she do her shopping in your time?

I always think it is give and take but your nanny is just a taker.

nannynick Fri 10-Dec-10 21:38:22

Why are you paying a nanny to iron - would it not be cheaper to contract that out to a ironing company?
If your nanny was caring for your DD at the same time as ironing, then it makes more sense... but how you explain it, your nanny is doing the ironing whilst not also doing childcare.

Either drop the ironing completely (do lots of things really need ironing? Decide what items are important to iron and contract those out to an ironing company) or insist that ironing is done at your home, at the same time as providing care.

When you had to take DS to the doctors at 5pm and she would not stay past her 5.30pm finish time... I'm wondering what she was doing that was so important that she could not stay on until say 6pm. Any nanny plans their day out such that if they are doing something after work, they have a gap between finishing work and starting the next thing (be that babysitting for a family, going to the gym, going out with their partner etc) as timings can vary a bit.

You could have asked nanny to take DS (and DD would have to go to) to the doctors... it would be part of her job if you were at work at the time. Would she have done that if you had been at work?

>paid time off no questions asked for family emergencies etc.

I am getting the impression that this nanny may not have been working for you for several years. Instead that their time with you is countable in months, possibly even weeks.
How long have you had this nanny? Have there been many family emergencies she has had to have time off for? I'm wondering if this nanny is taking quite a bit of time off... or is that not the case?

Bobbiesmum Fri 10-Dec-10 22:38:28

Thankyou for all your replies
Nannynick- Nanny has been with us for nearly 3 months. She is our first nanny and she does cleaning/ ironing one day a fortnight as I work 2 days one week, 3 days the next and it just seemed easier to offer 3 days work every week. Nanny Was very happy with this arrangement.
She did have a genuine family bereavement and needed time off and we did have an issue with her getting in with the snow but when I said I couldn't afford to pay if she didn't work she came in.
She never gave a reason why she couldn't stay when I went to Docs and I am so soft I let it go.

nannynick Fri 10-Dec-10 23:55:02

So 1 day a fortnight she does cleaning/ironing and no childcare. Maybe she thinks that on that day, childcare isn't something she is to do. Could the cleaning/ironing not be blended into the job as a whole... so spread over the working days?

>we did have an issue with her getting in with the snow but when I said I couldn't afford to pay if she didn't work she came in.

Hmm... watch the amount of time off being taken. Nannies tend to come in to work regardless of what happens (sure they may be slightly delayed if journey to work takes a lot longer than usual... but they will still make the effort).

She hasn't been with you long... consider if this is working out, or not.

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 11-Dec-10 00:12:31

So as she cleans/irons one day as you are there and not working she obv feels that she shouldn't be doing childcare hmm

Hence her refusal of having dd

She sounds no help and tbh you would be better off with someone else

Regards snow - so when faced with no pay she manages to get in biscuit

I struggled every day for past 2 weeks to get in and had one day off as so snowed in that wouldnt have got out of my road let alone up works road let alone their hill or drive - but every other day I've made it to work by leaving an Hour earlier than usual etc (full version on snow thread)

Bobbiesmum Sat 11-Dec-10 08:40:53

She does have it in her contract that she may be required to do childcare on her cleaning/ironing day if required.
It has been really good to get your replies and some perspective. I do think I am a lot
To blame in being too lenient and allowing her to think this is acceptable. We still have a few weeks of our 3 month trial period left and I have asked her to come for a meeting to discuss everything when she comes back to work next week.

rubyslippers Sat 11-Dec-10 08:45:58

When you get your next nanny, make sure her contract reflects the ironing/cleaning/housework as part of her daily tasks

I am very flexible with my nanny but she is the same with us - it has to work both ways

euracantha Sat 11-Dec-10 09:01:18

You must put your foot down now,YOUre paying her for a certain period, in that time she is not allowed to do personal shopping like this, if im picking up bits for my boss I may pick up bits for me too but she can t say i m not looking after your DD because I m shopping.I can`t believe a so called experienced well paid nanny is acting like this ,I am paid to be in their house not out shopping,or at my house even if doing their ironing.I am older than most nannies here and probably alot older than you but if you were paying me you tell[ask] me what to do I dont tell you.I think she is walking over you so put your foot down now certainly before you decide to hire her [which I wouldn`t]

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Sat 11-Dec-10 09:18:08

I wouldn't even consider going on after the probationary period tbh.

Normally I'd be telling you to give her a warning now to pull her socks up and if she doesntnthen get rid bug her attitude is just all wrong. I don't think she will ever give you the flexibility you (reasonably) need and it cones accross that it's her way or the highway when YOU are the boss.

nannynick Sat 11-Dec-10 09:25:34

Do you feel able to tell her what to do?
If the answer to that is no... then seriously consider a new nanny. You are the boss and there are times when you need to be able to tell your employee what to do, when to do it.

Bobbiesmum Sat 11-Dec-10 11:18:20

I do ask her to do things but often meet with resistance. For example due to my sons poor immune system we have been advised to avoid busy play groups over the winter. I suggested numerous alternatives but she continued to go, kept telling me it's ok as he sleeps/she carries him/takes his own toys etc.
On another occasion she was due to clean on the Friday but I had to change my day off to the thur ( when she was also working) and asked if she could therefore clean on the thur instead of the fri. She refused as she had arranged a play date at my house with another nanny. I ended up saying I would clean while she had the play date?!!
I wonder if I am asking for too much flexibility but I think this is probably fairly reasonable if a bit annoying for her?

nannynick Sat 11-Dec-10 11:42:11

You should not be met with resistance... you are the boss, you know what's best for your children. Even if nanny disagrees with you over what is best, they are the employee and do as they are told - unless being asked to do something illegal.

Play dates can easily be cancelled... I often rearrange plans via sending text messages, as with children you can make plans for what will happen the next day but come the next morning the child is unwell, tired, or anything could have happened to mean a change of plan.

This isn't about flexibility... it's about her not doing as she is told. You are the boss, not her!

Bobbiesmum Sat 11-Dec-10 11:57:22

I think I have decided that we do need a nanny who can be more flexible for us and I need to be absolutely explicit from the outset.
There are other issues such as we have a dog and I was explicit that any nanny should be comfortable with him being around( it is also in the contract that he must not be locked away).
Somehow we have ended up agreeing to her son coming one day per week (again despite saying at interview we did not want a nanny to bring her children for various reasons). Her son is terrified of dogs and she ends up locking the dog away or my husband has to take him to work and leave him in his Van (not convenient).
Going to have a very difficult but necessary conversation I think. Am worried now she may have blacklisted me with other nannies and we will struggle to replace her.

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