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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.

MarshmallowCupcake Sat 12-Jan-13 14:05:38

I've never felt confined to my room in any of my live in jobs. If I didn't go out, I was more than happy to chill in my room/playroom. My alone time was just as important as their couple time. Can't talk for other nannies but I needed to make that 'break' from work - and it's not meant in a bad way!

JustFabulous Fri 11-Jan-13 18:44:13

No you didn't confused.

splintersinmebum Fri 11-Jan-13 18:25:10

Thanks for your reply, Zoo. Think I might have touched a nerve with JustFab.

ZooAnimals Fri 11-Jan-13 16:19:48

tbh splinters live-in nannies often work 7am-7pm or later sometimes, so by the time they finish work and eat it's going to be 8ish and then they're only 'stuck in their room' for a couple of hours before shower/bath and bed at 11/12 so they can be up again at 6/6:30am.

The weekends are the tricky bit I think. You can't expect them to eat with the kids on the weekend and if they don't have plans and are not allowed to use the rest of the house they could end up stuck in their room quite a bit.

JustFabulous Fri 11-Jan-13 13:32:03

I am sure she isn't held prisoner. She could still use the kitchen, bathroom, garden in the summer. Some bosses want alone time with their partners and that is only right. Or do you think they should be "confined" to their bedroom each evening and the nanny have the whole rest of the house to use?

splintersinmebum Thu 10-Jan-13 23:20:50

Not a huge house, snootyfox, but big enough not to confine myself to one room all evening.

SamSmalaidh Thu 10-Jan-13 22:38:46

I usually spend my evenings in the living room watching TV or on the laptop - I could just as easily do that in a comfortable bedroom.

thesnootyfox Thu 10-Jan-13 22:32:11

You can't imagine being confined to one room all night? Do you live in a huge house then? I'm confined to my living room because that's the only room in the house, the kitchen isn't big enough to sit in and ds is in our bedroom. I hardly think it's a hardship.

TeaOneSugar Thu 10-Jan-13 22:25:01

Presumably they can also go out?

splintersinmebum Thu 10-Jan-13 22:23:40

not an odd question. As an adult I can't imagine being confined to one room all evening!

whois Thu 10-Jan-13 21:48:03

what do nannies do stuck in their rooms all evening?

The same thing that other people do in their sitting rooms? Or that people who love in house shares do? Or students in halls?

Read, TV, phone friends, Internet, listen to music?

What an odd question!

JustFabulous Thu 10-Jan-13 20:50:18

It is hardly "stuck" as the rooms will have tv, dvd player, maybe a computer and some peace and quiet is lovely after a day of chasing toddlers around!

splintersinmebum Thu 10-Jan-13 19:54:47

what do nannies do stuck in their rooms all evening?

SamSmalaidh Thu 10-Jan-13 18:18:57

I think generally with an au pair you should treat them as you would a teen child or younger sister - which to me suggests you eat together and probably spend some evenings with them.

With a nanny though I think it is fine to say they should eat with the children or sort their own dinner out later, and make clear that you want some privacy in the evenings.

Having said that, when I was a live-in nanny I did eat with the parents in the evening as that is how they liked things!

In the OP's situation it would be fine to say that you would like some time alone with your DH in the living room in the evenings. Food is maybe trickier as most adults aren't going to want to eat their main evening meal at baby/toddler tea time - I would say that you don't always cook a meal in the evening, but she can use the kitchen between 7pm-8pm (or whenever) and let her know which food she can/can't use. It might be easier to phrase it as what she can do (use the kitchen, help herself to this food), rather that what she can't do (eat with you).

noviceoftheday Thu 10-Jan-13 18:14:03

Our nanny eats with the dcs (now) when they were babies, she still ate before we got home. She does scarper upstairs when we get home even though I keep saying she doesn't have to. She says we need our own time as a couple so that's why she disappears.

JustFabulous Thu 10-Jan-13 18:10:15

I had a live in job as an au pair and one as a nanny. With the AP I ate with the family on my first night and last night only. I got my own food when I wanted. With the nanny job the mum sent out for food for me and the nanny I was talking over from on my first night and we ate together once in the 18 mnths I was there. I can't remember what I did about dinner the rest of the time, I don't recall eating with the baby and preferred it when the parents went out for dinner so I could eat without feeling uncomfortable. I worked 12 hour days and would go to my room as soon as I had put the baby to bed.

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.

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

sorry to hear that.

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.

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.

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

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

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

ethel the question is what to say.

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 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.

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