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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.

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