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How easy do you find it to work from home if you have a nanny?

(21 Posts)
Issymum Mon 05-Jun-06 11:53:50

Is anybody else out there in the same situation? We have a full-time, live-in nanny. She is excellent, professional, responsible etc. We get on well, although we are probably far from natural soulmates. The one contentious area seems to be around me working from home. I live in Guildford and work in the West End of London so, whenever I get the chance to do so, I cut out the 60-90 minute commute and work from home. Normally it's for two days a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. This was something we mentioned in the original advert and again at interview.

I try hard not to interfere, not to undermine, not to upset her routines (our nanny is by her own admission something of a control freak) and generally keep out of the way in my home-office. But my nanny still hates it and finds it difficult to not let her feelings show. I appreciate that my presence probably makes the children a little harder to control and that there is a sense of her 'boss', even if remotely, looking over her shoulder. In turn, I deeply resent feeling unwelcome in my own home. I also increasingly miss my children during the working week and feel frustrated at not being able to capitalise on this opportunity to spend a little extra time with them.

Thoughts? Any nannies out there who can comment?

I know that anybody who responds to this post is going to say that I ought to talk to my nanny about it, but my heart sinks at the prospect.

lottiesmummy Mon 05-Jun-06 12:27:54

I've been a nanny for parents who work from home and its ok, unless they interfere but as a parent I would find it hard not to, what was nice was that the parent would come down at set times for cuddles and coffee breaks/ lunch etc

lottiesmummy Mon 05-Jun-06 12:30:44

It can also make the nanny feel concious of "telling off" the child as the parent is "listening" but you shouldnt be made to feel unwlecome in your own home, thats not right at all

its a difficult one and yes you should talk to her, maybe encourage more outings?

Issymum Mon 05-Jun-06 12:45:24

Thanks Lottiesmummy. It shouldn't be this difficult should it! Anybody else.

nannyj Mon 05-Jun-06 12:46:45

To be honest as a nanny it's not something i enjoy. My boss sometimes has a day working from home and we have a lovely relationship and she doesn't interfear at all but i still feel i can't carry out my day without looking over my shoulder.

But if you mentioned it at the interview then she took the job on knowing that this would happen. And i would never let my boss know i felt this way that would be unprofessional.

Lots of nannies work with a parent from home and don't mind so i understand that it's my problem. Definately talk to her and maybe you just need to define how you expect the day to go. [smlie]

Issymum Mon 05-Jun-06 12:50:50

Thanks NannyJ. I think your reaction might be closer to that of most nannies. Although we mentioned it at the interview, our nanny hasn't nannied before (she's a primary school teacher) so she probably just didn't realise she wouldn't like it.

childminderjanet Mon 05-Jun-06 13:03:11

Remember you are the employer and they are your children so you ultimately call the shots! I have been a nanny for the past 19yrs and it can be a nightmare when the parents are home the children always play up.I must admit my families have always been good at not interfering/undermining me if nanny says no then no it is! and sending me home if they are off or staying out of the way if working from home. I personally would'nt take a job if the parents worked from home, but as this was mentioned in the original ad and at the interview it's not as if she didn't know.If you would like to spend time with your children when you're working from home how about getting all your work done then letting your nanny off early and having tea with your children.I know it's hard but you do need to TALK to your nanny she not a mind reader.I'm sure it would make things easier if she knew when you would be appearing.Maybe ask her when a good time would be so as not to upset her routine,a good nanny will do everything she can to help parents spend a little extra time with there children.I do understand where she's coming from but she sounds like she needs to become less of a control freak and more professional.

muminaquandary Mon 05-Jun-06 13:09:49

Just wanted to add to this really quickly.

Nanny came to us on 1st job after qualifying, knowing that I would be at home 90% of the time. It worked OK, eventually, but was more a process of trial and error.

I think what you could try to do is suggest times to nanny when you & she are both around, eg lunchtime / coffeetime / playdates when your friends bring their children over.

In practical terms this used to mean that I would take a back seat & let nanny stay in charge, as this is what she preferred. However, it gave us both some visibility as to when we were "sharing" the space. I know lots of nannies find it hard, I don't know why, it seems a shame that they don't always empathise with our desire to get the +ves out of working from home.

WE used to have a system whereby we would text each other if there was any change to the timing of our days, as a courtesy to the other. HTH.

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 13:12:42

I had someone working for me last year who used to be a nanny. I was around all the time - and I found that we used to split, so i would go off with ds1 and she would do something with ds2 and ds3- we got on quite well as well though, which helped. One day when ds1 was unexpectedly not there she sent me out for a coffee

I can't understand why your nanny doesn't just go out more. If she knew beforehand its tough really.

Bink Mon 05-Jun-06 13:14:07

Dh works from home quite a bit and it is definitely a prickly area. (He said plaintively the other day that he'd seen our nanny making a Spanish omelette for the children's lunch but she didn't seem to have made any for him. I didn't know quite where to start with the explanation.)

I think only the most flauntingly confident and elastically flexible of nannies would sail through the effects of having a parent occasionally (randomly? - do you have a routine about your home days?) present. It comes down to things as intangible as atmosphere: one of our nannies confessed to me that though she loved singing to the children she couldn't bring herself to do it if there was a chance she'd be overheard. I know that sounds over-sensitive but I was completely on her side on that.

So, though I am going to boringly tell you to talk to your nanny, I think it can be done from the angle of accepting that it is a tricky situation, and so on that basis is there anything in particular that she can suggest that would make it easier for her? I do think that if you offer her a little bit of control over things she might be less prickly about the whole situation. Eg: if dh would agree ALWAYS to put his dirty coffee cups in the dishwasher and NOT on the side, and KEEP to that deal, our nanny would be just that bit cheerier about him being there. Not that I am suggesting you are a coffee mug gremlin.

FloatingOnTheMed Mon 05-Jun-06 13:16:00

I have a friend who is a nanny and sometimes the father is at home, not working but trying to stay out of the way (for a break). She says she finds it very, very hard because his little boy is impossible when dad is home - constantly wanting to disturb him, refusing to listen to my friend etc. She also finds it hard because the dad does do things differently to the way she does things so she can feel undermined sometimes. I don't think she has talked to the dad or intends to talk about it, i think she just views it as something she has to get on with (after all when you're a nanny it's your "job" but when you're a parent it's your home & family), but she does try to go out as much as possible when he is around. Of course this is in the dad's interests as much as her own.

It must be horrible not feeling relaxed or welcome in your own home. In the case of my friend, the dad is home & wants a break to himself, so the answer is simple - she stays away as much as she can. in your case you want to be able to spend time with your children, not to send them out when you're home presumably, if I've understood correctly? If that's the case then of course you have to talk to her to find a way around it. If you are working some of the time and don't want to be disturbed, perhaps it would really help your nanny & your children to be really firm & clear about those times, and equally clear about when you want to join them & do something with them? It must be hard for a nanny to keep the children from disturbing their parents when the parents are giving the children mixed messages.

Earlybird Mon 05-Jun-06 13:24:11

Issymum - what specifically causes you to know that your nanny "hates it" when you are working from home? Have there been specific incidents that could/should have been handled differently on both/either of your parts?

I also dread those "difficult" conversations, but could it be time for a "I know we talked about this in theory at the interview, but let's talk about how it works/what would improve things now that we both see the reality of me working from home"? Sort of a re-evaluation and perhaps re-setting of groundrules now that the abstract has been real for a few months. Also, if she's never been a nanny before perhaps she had no idea of how this aspect would play out for her practically, and is now struggling to adjust.

And I'm going to take a shot in the dark here, and ask if the situation has got more strained all the way around since you spent 2 weeks at home without the nanny? (How did that go, btw? Wondered if we'd see desperate postings from you!) My guess is that you and the girls got even closer, and now perhaps it's difficult to have the nanny (third party) back into the household mix? It's also possible that the simple fact is that your girls probably prefer you to be around instead of the nanny (and perhaps you'd prefer that too in a perfect world?), and once they had a two week taster, they're not reverting back to old routines so willingly??

Sorry there's not much practical "here's what you do" stuff here. It's a tough and emotional situation for all parties.

thechocolatemonster Mon 05-Jun-06 13:37:33

I work from home 20 hours a week and have a part time nanny. Basically I stay in my office and don't go out when the nanny's around. DD plays up if I do that - I've even gone to the extent of locking my office door so that DD knows it's nanny time and not Mummy time - also stops her coming in when I'm on the phone to a client .

If I see/hear things going on that I don't like then I bring them up at the end of the day, or talk to my husband about them to check I'm not overreacting and then bring them up a day or two later.

Now on second nanny, who I think is great. Realise that earlier nanny wasn't so great and that I would be quicker to change in the future if I felt things weren't working out.

Not sure if that helps. Ultimately if you're not hitting it off and she won't take your direction/management - have you got the right person?

Issymum Mon 05-Jun-06 13:44:53

"And I'm going to take a shot in the dark here, and ask if the situation has got more strained all the way around since you spent 2 weeks at home without the nanny? (How did that go, btw? Wondered if we'd see desperate postings from you!) My guess is that you and the girls got even closer, and now perhaps it's difficult to have the nanny (third party) back into the household mix? It's also possible that the simple fact is that your girls probably prefer you to be around instead of the nanny (and perhaps you'd prefer that too in a perfect world?), and once they had a two week taster, they're not reverting back to old routines so willingly??"

Very wise Earlybird! You are absolutely right. Yes, much to my enormous surprise, I loved my time at home. I felt like I'd reclaimed my children and my home and, great job notwithstanding, it's been hard to relinquish them. I didn't post about it because I felt so desolate about returning to work and there was/is really no option but to do so and so nothing on which MNet could really advise. I think the children are back in their routines, helped by the fact that on the last Sunday of those two weeks I left for a trip to the US for a week. But equally I think that both of them would prefer to have me at home with them, even though I shout much more and am shockingly unprofessional when compared to my nanny!

I think it's been hard all round - my nanny found it very hard to return from her holiday at home and then her mother got ill which made her question why she was so far from home in the first place. She's already said that if she were to leave this job she'd go back to teaching rather than take another nannying job, which makes me wonder whether she is in fact reaching a natural end with this job, but is reluctant to move on as all the other stuff around it (accommodation, location, car, hours) suit her and her partner so well.

My inclination is to express how much I resent her making me feel unwelcome in my own home. How do I know - sighs, niggly remarks, you know the kind of thing? But this thread has made me realise that I need to approach this from a 'it's tough on both of us, how do we make it easier' angle.

edam Mon 05-Jun-06 13:49:31

I largely work from home and have a live out nanny. Our set up is that I do a mixture of working from home/commuting into London. Think she likes those days as I'm out of her hair, but equally they are longer days for her as I'm commuting. I do regularly check with her whether it's working OK, anything I could do to make it easier. And I stay out of her way - don't interfere when she's telling ds off, for instance. Mostly hide in my study and come out at lunchtime/when they come back after a trip out.

She knew about the working from home when she took the job on but had never nannied before (nursery assistant). The only time it got really tense was when dh was unemployed - I was working on a contract in town but the days I was home dh had nothing to do and nowhere to go to get out of her way. And she did come and tell me that he was interfering, taking over stuff like putting ds down for nap (and making it much more stressful for everyone!). I had a word with him and he pulled back.

I know you didn't want to talk to your nanny, but think it's unavoidable really. This about communication. Agree with people who have suggested saying, we agreed this when you started, but let's review how it's working and whether we need to change anything.

mummydoc Mon 05-Jun-06 14:00:19

I don't work from home but often finish earlier than planned and come home, it is awful the children play up awfully, I try to let nanny carry on but kids get more and more attention seeking and i end up letting our nanny go home early as I am embarressed about the childrens behaviour , she in turn starts apologising for them if their bad behaviour is her fault ..ahhh ( sorry hijacking thread rather ) anyone have any ideas ...can imagine how tricky situation is at your house it would never work at mine.

motherinferior Mon 05-Jun-06 14:14:21

Oh, Issymumfit. I'm so sorry. I didn't fully realise how stressful you'd found going back to your job. Don't have massively helpful suggestion, I'm afraid, but wanted to be sympathetic...

Issymum Mon 05-Jun-06 14:23:54

Thanks MI. I'd planned to write a funny quasi-blog about my two weeks as a SAHM - all crazed school runs and missed playdates. But actually it was way too raw for that. Yes, there were days when it was frustrating and boring and I was probably within a whisker of ramming a Yummy Mummy in her Porsche Cayenne, but all of that was outweighed by a new sense of intimacy with the girls, of being back at the centre of their lives, by actually having enough time with them. I howled in the back of the Virgin Limo whisking me off to Detroit on the last Sunday and I wanted to howl again this morning when I waved goodbye to our nanny and DD2 going off to pre-school.

MrsWobble Mon 05-Jun-06 15:12:48

I'm not sure if it makes you feel better to know you're not alone or worse to know it doesn't get better - I'm in a similar position in that my live in au-pair/nanny went home for half term and because we changed our minds about holiday plans (having told her she could have the time) I ended up looking after the children with a mix of days off, working from home and our old nanny covering. I think we all loved having our home and family back to ourselves - our au pair is very unobtrusive but still "there" and given the chance I know we would all prefer to manage without live in help if we could. My children are older than yours - the youngest starts year 3 in September and we've all been fantasising about we can cope - my 9 year old told me that she could take her little sister to school and promised to make sure they held hands while crossing the road!

I've worked full time since the eldest was three months old with two further 4 month breaks for maternity leave - I coped well when they were little but now I find it so difficult - they don't just need physical needs met and I want to be their emotional support - I don't care who washes their clothes but I do care who helps them through teenage trauma.

We've not worked this through yet and are about to start recruiting for another au pair/nanny when our current girl leaves in August. It's very hard when we don't really want one, but for now, I think it's the best solution - although having read the thread about Milly Molly Mandy cooking tea perhaps I'm just being overprotective?

I love my job and think I'm good at it and it's certainly financially rewarding. However, I am aware that my current life comes with quite a high price tag and I'm not sure it's one I'm prepared to pay for ever.

Sorry this is probably no help at all but I think you've touched a bit of a raw nerve with your original post - Sorry

sunandmoon Mon 05-Jun-06 15:46:53

I have been a nanny for 12 years in 3 different families. I was a living nanny for the 2 first families and live out for the last family. My jobs always consisted to work part time as a office helper (!) in the same office as the parents (they all had their business at home!) and then collecting the children from school, then homework, cooking etc while the parents were at home in their office. Holidays, I would look after the children and not doing any work in the office. The comportment of the children was always very different when the parents were in the same room and I am sure it was due to my comportment (not as relaxed when being on my own with them!), so I use to find any excuses to take them out, even for picnics, swimming etc.
Nowadays, I am still working for my last family (8 years on!) without being a nanny but being the PA of their business. Their daughters are 16 & 17 years old, they babysit my DD (10 months old) and we all became the best friends...
So why not make your nanny part of your work too?

Issymum Mon 05-Jun-06 16:02:08

Oh no! Not you too Mrs Wobble? You've always been something of a MNet heroine of mine, holding down a 'big job', effortlessly parenting your children and dispensing hard-hitting but accurate MNet advice.

I absolutely agree that it gets worse. The girls' needs have become more complex as they've grown older, they are more fun to be with and, particularly for DD2, I can see the last of her 'little' phase slipping away for ever.

Ultimately it's going to be DH who retires or semi-retires, so that he's available for teenage traumas, homework and girly chit-chat, but he's not ready to leave the work-force yet. And even when he does, I still won't be there. But at least he can't complain about me working from home!

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