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Live in nanny - etiquette?

(41 Posts)
Lulabel27 Tue 08-Jan-13 01:03:16

Our live in nanny moved in yesterday after a one week trial in december. She's had a great first day and dd loves her.

We've never had a nanny before (never mind live in help) but we now have newborn twins and it's our best option. This is the Nannys first nannying job she was previously a nursery nurse.

During the trial she ate with us in the evening as we chatted and got to know her. But I think she's now expecting that every night as it gets to 8pm then asks what we're having for dinner... Dh and I are sporadic eaters and don't plan (sometimes have full casserole, other times just cheese on toast, sometimes take away etc) - especially now we have 3 children under 2. I feel quite pressured knowing she might be expecting me to cook for her and plus dh and I would like to eat alone and catch up.

How do I deal with this? On one hand I feel bad asking her to sort her own dinner out (and to maybe watch tv in her room rather than sitting with us in living room) but on other hand dh and I want some privacy and chance to chat/relax.

I should also add she has a nice big double room with ensuite, sky+ tv and Internet. Any help or advice greatly appreciated.

HuffAndHufflepuff Tue 08-Jan-13 07:31:09

In my experience as someone who used to do live-in, this is a bit odd! I never wanted to eat with my boss. I never expected her to cook! I used to escape upstairs as soon as I could.

My advice would be to sort it as soon as possible, try sitting her down for a quick chat and lay it out. Don't let it become a habit. Has she lived in before? An aupair would expect to eat with the family as they are treated like a big sibling to the kids- has she been an aupair before?

Perhaps put aside one evening a week to eat together, have a chat about privacy and evenings. You could even choose a day like Friday and take it in turns each week to cook then eat together, and the rest of the time seperate? I don't know if that helps, as I say when I was live-in I couldn't wait to have my own alone time!

fraktion Tue 08-Jan-13 09:45:45

I find that a bit odd too. She should know to give you space really.

Does she feed your older one? If so start saying 'oh I thought you ate with X, if that's too early just lwt ys know what tou like to ear in the evwnings and we'll put it on the shopping list'. Now is the time to nip it in the bud - trials are always slightly artificial - but it's only been a day. Maybe she feels that's what you expect?

fraktion Tue 08-Jan-13 09:46:22

Wow bad typing! Let us know what you like to eat in the evenings...

mrswishywashy Tue 08-Jan-13 09:57:14

Agree with the above, you need to sort this out now. As she's never lived in before and she had the inclusive experience with you in the trial week she may not no of another way - always best to talk about this at interview stage.

Just make it clear that she can eat with the toddler or later on and let her know she can add things to the grocery list. If you get take away it would be nice to offer to get her some too. And as for sitting in the living room just mention that you need to have time with your husband alone. Am sure in a few weeks when she's met some friends she will be out a lot more.

MummytoMog Wed 09-Jan-13 14:20:44

I was going to ask this! We have a lovely live in for the next couple of months. She's got some unusual dietary requirements, so we give her £50 a week to sort out her own food/travel etc. The first night she was here, we ordered a takeaway for us all to eat and watched a film together but since then she's disappeared up to her room to eat/watch tv. Now I'm very happy for her to do that, but I'm worried she feels unwelcome sad was thinking of maybe inviting her for a regular takeaway (our treat) and film night with us? Or would that be pushy?

Strix Wed 09-Jan-13 15:08:04

If she is happy disappearing, let her.

Wow you have a lot of firsts going on here. There are bound to be some issues that just need a bit of polite communication. She probably needs a bit of a nudge in the right direction. I would give her a helpful hand by suggesting a variety of dishes she might like to cook your older DC (and herself) during the week. A polite little nudge that she will be doing the cooking....

Susan2kids Wed 09-Jan-13 15:31:38

Live in nannies often eat with the family now, not uncommon. However its also not uncommon for them to also cook for the family as well. You need to define duties strictly in her contract, not doing so can leave you financially damaged should action occur at a later point.....she may be unsure of ettiquette and whether you would be offended if she just cooked for herself without asking.

MrAnchovy Wed 09-Jan-13 15:39:03

All our live-ins (10 years now) have cooked for and eaten with the children, but you are in an unusual situation for a while with the ages of your children.

You need to discuss together how it works now, and also when and how it is going to work when the twins are older and eating selected "adult" food.

MrAnchovy Wed 09-Jan-13 15:42:30

@MummytoMog you need to come up with a different arrangement for the nannys food and travel as the way you say it now it is liable for tax and national insurance. You can give your nanny board and lodging, and pay for travel that she is required to do for her job, but you cannot give her the equivalent cash without it coming within PAYE.

MissNJE Wed 09-Jan-13 17:08:42

I'm a live-in nanny and usually I eat with my employers. At the weekend I am usually at my BF's place but when I am at home my employer cook for us all together and I eat with them. During the week we swap making dinner, I prepare one meal during the day and on other days my employer prepares a meal. However we don't cook fancy meals during the week. Mostly roast chicken, with steamed vegetables and quinoa for example. Or fish etc.

What did you do during the trial week?

MummytoMog Wed 09-Jan-13 17:52:40

I think it's probably ok, as it's part of a larger sum which she uses for housekeeping (she does the shopping as well while DD is at nursery). The £50 is just the amount that we expect her to need spend to keep herself in bizarre vegan food. If she needs more, we've asked her to let us know.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 09-Jan-13 18:40:03

£50 a week sounds a lot in food for one nanny - there have been debates for a family of 4 to live off that grin

some families want the nanny to join them once a week, i think thats quite nice,but from the few live in nannies i know, they want their own peace and quiet in evening, so maybe as she ate with you in the trial, she thinks that what is expected of herself

a quick chat is all that is needed smile

Lulabel27 Wed 09-Jan-13 20:42:52

Thank you to you all for your advice and I agree I think it might just need a chat. Things have been really hectic in last few days as twins were sent back to hospital so I've not done it yet but am planning on doing it via a "first week review" on Friday where I'm going to tell her all the great things she's doing and then suggest she makes a proper meal plan for DD1 and she eats the same thing.

As for suggesting that she watches tv in her room in the evening rather than sitting with DH and I in the living room - is that unreasonable and if not do you have any tips on how to suggest this? Thank you!

MarshmallowCupcake Wed 09-Jan-13 21:10:32

I've been a nanny for many years and have never say with parents on a regular basis to eat. I always ate with the kids and then disappeared to playroom (where there was nice sofa and big tv/DVD/cable) to watch telly or my room if I wasn't going out. I occasionally joined them for a dinner cos it was nice to sit and chat without kids around. Inviting your nanny to come join you for a takeaway is nice. But give her the get out option is she is busy/tired/can't be bothered! No reason why she can't be off in her own room at night times, she has to understand that you and hubby need time together as a couple. Maybe at her review, tell her that she doesn't have to sit with you guys every night, you provided her with a telly so she can escape and slob out. Make it lighthearted but stress how nice it is for you and hubby to chill together at the end of the day.

Strix Wed 09-Jan-13 21:48:59

Honestly? I don't think id tell her to go to her room... But I've never had one who wanted to linger. And I get home from work quite late so it's a quick bit to eat, catch on school stuff and off to bed. And DH is usually away during the week.

If you and DH center your evening activity around dinner and she has already eaten, perhaps she will naturally migrate elsewhere?

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 10-Jan-13 14:40:03

It's very waring over time not getting any time alone as a couple. We have only ever had any live in au pairs - we expect to provide some component of this but this year it has felt like we only get time as a couple basically at the au pair's discretion - i.e. when she doesn't feel like hanging out with us and this will have to change for next year.

OP it would drive me round the bend to be paying professional nanny rates and also providing social life/family integration that au pairs expect.

I see what Strix is saying about being reluctant to ask her to go upstairs but we have also been in the position of just hoping things will change - and they usually do by month two.

You can definitely ask her to cook and eat the meals with the DCs. Also ask her, as part of the review, if her room is comfortable, if there is anything she needs, does she need help meeting people as you're keen for her meet people and enjoy her time in the area socially. Is her room big enough to have a friend round to watch a film? Are you willing for her to do this? I would suggest this would help. THis may do the trick.

I do think you need to think through what you might do if she doesn't want/need more of a social life which is what has happened this year to us. I'm assuming if she's a nanny you are also hoping she'll stick around for at least a couple of years so you need to get it right now. Because how would you say it after six months if she doesn't change?

I think you may just have to say to her that you want to put a date in the diary every week for a catch up but that in the evenings given how busy you are your expectation is that you and your DH have some private time in the sitting room. I woudl just apologise too and say that you're new to this so sorry for not making your expectations clear earlier...

It's really tricky and I would be curious from the nannies who have posted if they've ever been in this situation and how they would want the message communicated.

ethelb Thu 10-Jan-13 14:45:22

Um, did people miss that the OP set a precedent at the beginning? The poor nanny isn't telepathic and needs to be told what they want her to do.

She might be resenting that fact that she is expected to eat with the family and this is the only thing she has been todl to do.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 10-Jan-13 15:47:16

ethel the question is what to say.

Strix Thu 10-Jan-13 16:18:24

I dont think the OP is having a go. She is simply seeking advice on how best to communicate and steer the expectations in another direction. And as a first time nanny employer, she is also looking for the more experienced nanny employers and nannies on here to let her know what would be reasonable.

Nothing wrong with any of this. She has had some good advise, and I'm sure will implement in a a kind and professional manner. If she doesn't, we'll set her straight no doubt. wink

Strix Thu 10-Jan-13 16:21:04

First time nanny
First time nanny employer
First time live-in for the nanny
First time having a live-in for the employers
Brand spanking new twins

There is an awful lot here that will no doubt require a lot of managing and communicating in the months to come. I dare say we'll all be getting know Lulabel27, her nanny, and the twins, and the older DC quite well in the months/years to come. grin

flubba Thu 10-Jan-13 16:36:37

It may be that after the trial week, your nanny thinks that's how it should happen or even how you want it to happen. I would say something along the lines of "don't feel you need to hang around here with us when your working day is done, I'm sure you want some time to yourself too" so you're letting her know you don't expect it, and also hinting (if that's enough?) at your need for some privacy.

FWIW as an au-pair (many, many moons ago), I would eat with the family (older kids though, so we all ate together and dad came home later and ate later), and once we'd eaten and I'd helped clear up, mum put the kids to bed and I scarpered. Worked well for us.

MissNJE Thu 10-Jan-13 17:12:39

When I was an au pair I was told on my first day that I am expected to spend my evenings either in my bedroom or the children's playroom but not in the dining or sitting room. I found that a bit harsh.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 10-Jan-13 18:01:34

sorry to hear that.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 10-Jan-13 18:02:47

what I asked though was how to make it work for both parties.

Do you think that the parents forego all rights to time alone or only when the au pair doesn't feel like hanging out with them?

I don't want to derail the thread though. We should be trying to answer the OPs question.

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