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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 ?

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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!

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