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CM - how to solve a communication issue when you can't communicate??(13 Posts)
Hope someone can advise as I'm going around in circles with this.
I've had a couple of CMs in the past who were brilliant, great relationship all round, then we had to move. There was no choice of CMs in the new place, but the one I found seemed okay. This was a year ago. She has been okay, in the sense that my DC are happy there. Well, the little one is happy. The older isn't keen. But we have had a few problems. The main one is, and I hope this doesn't sound silly, that I just don't think she likes us. She is briskly polite, gets us out of the door asap, never tells us much (does a diary but very minimal info) and whenever we have to raise a query, about miscalculated fees say, she's positively frosty. This makes us scared to raise bigger issues, e.g. the food is consistently bad. I know people would say just talk to her, but how do you tell someone their food isn't good enough when they get defensive about much smaller matters?
I have started to look around for a new CM, now that places might be free, but part of me just wishes I could sort out the issues with the current one. Is this possible, do you think? Or is it a fundamental personality clash that it's pointless trying to solve? How would I even go about solving it, if the problem is with our poor communication?
I think she just sees me as an annoying (honestly, I am so easygoing!) customer/paycheck, and when I feel like that I just want to take my 'business' elsewhere, but CM is more than a business, isn't it? I don't need her to be my friend, just to have a better relationship where we're able to discuss things without feeling fearful, irritating or misunderstood.
And now I'm paranoid she's going to read this! If so, please don't cross...
It may be that you just don't hit it off and never will.
But do you only ever raise niggles, big or small? Do you ever tell her you appreciate something she has done, or how she has done it? Have you ever just taken time to chat and get to know each other a bit better? Perhaps she is naturally a bit brisk and businesslike, but that could also be a front to disguise shyness or insecurity. Maybe she finds you critical, or feels you don't like her? Maybe you are unwittingly doing something which puts her back up. It might help if you asked how she is finding your arrangements and if she has any issues which she would like to raise.
I think you have to appreciate that some things are as they are - for example if she is a rubbish cook, the food isn't going to be transformed by you criticising it. But if you said for example that you like the fact that she is encouraging your little one to try foods you don't often have at home, but would like him to have more fruit, or would she support you in trying to steer clear of crisps/sweets/ice cream (whatever you are most unhappy about) you might find you can bring about some improvements.
this is a difficult one! I can see it from both sides. It's very hard to get the balance right, i feel with a cm/parent relationship.
it's not like in a nursery, where you can normally go in at drop off time and you can mention concerns/niggles without it seeming you are having a go at one person. With a cm, this is the woman's home, she may have her own dc to get ready for school and at the end of the day if she's anything like me, the last thing she wants is a long drop off - i do it at the door as i don't want parents in my home - not in a nasty way - i just don't have the time for it after i've been looking after their dc all day.
do you discuss positive things with her? if you are overly critical it will be hard for her. As for the food - I'm sorry to ask, do you pay for it? If not, then really, imo, as long as it's not unhealthy,you have to take what you are given, much the same as school/nursery dinners. Perhaps you could provide your own?
Most cms earn very little and then to make meals out of it can cost a lot. What kind of food is she giving?
Hope this doesn't sound too negative - just trying to put her side across. As for the being frosty about fees, she may just feel accused and/or embarassed. I hate discussing money with parents, would much rather it be done by email/text.
Thanks for your responses. It's good to hear your points of view. I do discuss positive things and try to compliment her on the good stuff. And I do pay plenty for the food, but know that she doesn't have any other regular mindees (which may be significant?) so cash may still be tight. However, I know she cooks much nicer stuff for herself, but always just opens a tin (of soup or beans) for the kids and they always come home hungry. I wouldn't mind this sometimes and know I was spoiled by the other CMs who were all homecooking, but I'm feeling like a bad mum just letting it slide. Like you say though, it's much trickier when it's not a nursery as you're effectively criticising what they feed their own dc.
This is the difficulty, trying to be constructive without sounding critical. Perhaps I am unwittingly putting her back up. I know she has been more friendly with other parents who are closer to her age (she is a fair bit younger than me). This again makes me feel like we'll just never 'click' so I'm as well to look elsewhere. But then I feel like she'll be hurt and angry if I give notice without having raised and tried to resolve the issues. Sigh. It's such a minefield and it really shouldn't be. Am even considering a long drive every day to go back to the old CMs. It'd be less convenient but much less stressful in other ways.
I can sympathise to a degree about her not wanting to chat at the end of the day but otherwise she sounds rude & lazy IMO! And if you're paying extra for food I really don't think it's being demanding to expect a proper meal. How much do you pay per meal? If its 50p/75p each then I guess you're getting your monies worth (iykwim) but if it's the price of a proper meal (ie £2+) then she's being cheeky & I'd either ask for a reduction or the appropriate food be given. Good luck findings new cm is probably most helpful in your situation
I personally would change to a different CM if you don't have a good relationship with her, her food is bad and one of your children does not enjoy going there.
On the point about CM being frosty over miscalculated fees, I have had this too but I think this is only because CM run a business and so if they have miscalculated they are embarrassed or if you have miscalculated they are a bit annoyed at being questioned. In any event I don't think this in itself is enough to write her off over how she would handle any other issues you raise with her.
Maybe you could suggest that you provide your children's food? My CM never used to provide food for the very reason that they always had certain parents complaining it wasn't what their DC were used to etc etc. Your CM might prefer to not have to feed them.
That's what my mum thinks, lechat. I won't go into exact prices as I'm already wary of outing myself, but in total it's £65 a day for one full-time and one after-school (2 hours incl tea). It's more than I paid at the other places where the kids got roast dinners, which I know is right at the other end of the scale so am not expecting that. You're right though, I think I might have to bite the bullet and make the move. I really hate conflict.
Actually if go with Timothy's approach at least until you find an alternative & say you'd like to send in food & ask her what reduction you'd get at least until you find someone new.
Does she cook your youngest who she looks after all day a meal?
I do a proper dinner e.g spaghetti bolognese, jacket potato, tuna and veggies, chicken dinner or sausage z mash at lunchtime for my son and my 3 y o mindee.
I only provide a light tea at 4pm. I found they needed a snack before tea if i served it at 5pm. And then didn't eat tea!
I found that the children didn't all like the same food, I ended up throwing more away than was eaten.
Parents picked up early so children were half way through tea.
So I only do sandwiches or toast and a pudding - yoghurt/ homemade cake/ biscuit.
Most if mine have school dinners so have already had their main meal.
Thanks again for your insights, everyone. I've decided to definitely make the move. It'll be worth the extra cost and inconvenience not to have the ongoing issues. I appreciate what you say about the different meal arrangements but think the food thing is just a symptom of something bigger. Whether she is just rude and lazy or we just don't connect, the stress of changing is at least only short term. Now I have to work out what reason I give for handing in notice...
You don't need a reason.
Sounds a lot of money to be honest.
Sounds like you've done the right thing. I had a childminder who just seemed disinterested in DS & who just "babysat" at best. The quality of care was questionable but people used her as there were no alternatives locally.
I moved him & the relief was huge. Don't doubt yourself.
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