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Advice needed - nanny friends/working arrangements (long)

(67 Posts)
bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 19:06:30

I need some advice. I have just hired a sole charge nanny to look after my two children - DC1 2.8yrs and DC2 16 months. The nanny is working 3 days per week and my partner and I are covering the other days between us. Up until recently one or other of us has been at home full time with the children so this is our first experience of any formal child care, and our first time hiring a nanny. We have had our nanny for 3 weeks so far and we are all adjusting to the different world of both of us working full time and having someone else looking after the DC.

When we interviewed our nanny she made a point of checking whether or not we minded her seeing other nanny friends while looking after our children. We said that this was fine, but this is where problems are arising for us, as we presumed this would be occasionally but it seems to be practically all the time.

Our nanny seems to be spending the majority of her time with another nanny who works up the road. This nanny also looks after two children. The two seem to plan their days together; they go to the same groups in the morning, have lunch together with all the children and then spend the afternoon together in the majority of cases. On two occasions we have come home to find them all in our house - last week, my partner came home at 5.45 to find the two nannies doing dinner in the kitchen. Dinner is usually round 5 and our nanny normally finishes at 6 so the day had obviously run late. The other nanny's mindee was sitting in DC2's high chair and DC2 was sitting on a corner of the table being fed by our nanny. DC1 was outside. The children were all being fed the same dinner which had been prepared in our kitchen. Today I came home a bit early, at 5.30 and saw a strange woman come up to our door with an empty buggy. She turned out to be the mother of one of the other nanny's mindees - they had all spent the afternoon at our house in the paddling pool. The mother thanked me for having them all - I didn't want to tell her I had no idea. All the children had eaten lasagne for dinner which once again must have come from our freezer. On another occasion our nanny mentioned that they had all spent the afternoon at her friend's place - she has a flat. It had been the most beautiful day and I knew they had been to an indoor playgroup in the morning so I asked if her friend had any outdoor space - she said only a roof terrace.

I have thought carefully about this. I have no problem with the concept of our nanny having playdates with other nannies and their mindees. I do have a problem with not knowing who is in our house and when; not knowing when our children are spending lots of time in other people's houses; and having the children share food - in particular regularly feeding other mindees in our kitchen, without me knowing. I also worry that if the nannies are always together then the priority is not spending time and focusing on the children, but rather planning time socially as a priority. In addition it seems tough in our first month together to have the children get used to not just a nanny but all her friends as well. It feels like a nanny share by default. I also worry that the days are massively stimulating for the DC with no opportunity for quiet one to one time or activities just planned around them.

Am I being unreasonable/unrealistic about this and if not then how to address with the nanny? In other respects she seems great - friendly, experienced, and I really want this to work.

PowerPants Mon 08-Jul-13 22:53:11

I would be concerned about this. What would happen if the children don't get on - would they still be forced to socialise because the nannies like each other?

I am all in favour of nannies meeting up and enioying playdates together but this is too intense - I would limit it to twice a week.

LatinForTelly Mon 08-Jul-13 22:54:31

Blimey, forgot she was only working 3 days! I'd want fewer play dates than I said in last post!

2plus1 Mon 08-Jul-13 22:57:07

Wouldliketobethere I think you have read my mind, as you say the children need their own space, time and outings too. I just didnt convey it aswell! Ours now spend 75-100% of days with other nanny so has increased from the initial days. OP I would have a review with your nanny so you can put your thoughts to her about this. She must be coming to the end of probationary period so a good time to have a chat. I would also watch your eldest being unsettled. Could be nothing but one of ours have a severe dislike of our firstnanny and worryinf things have since come out.
Chipping our nanny is not young but likes theme parks which is an issue with young ones and only a 2 to 1 ratio on rides so who looks after child 3?

PowerPants Mon 08-Jul-13 22:59:15

Good point Latin, am advising once a week now grin

Your nanny should also be bonding with your children on her own if she has only been working three weeks.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Mon 08-Jul-13 23:09:03

Agree with the posts above about scaling back the joint time/outings. Plus I personally would want to know who is going to be there when I walk back into my house at the end of the day. If it's my DC and my nanny fine. If it's another nanny as well and a set of extra kids, then I wouldn't feel it's quite as much my home; I would feel almost like I was entertaining visitors, and that's not how I want to feel at the end of the working day. I want to be able to relax in just my family's company.

Nannyowl Mon 08-Jul-13 23:12:28

Hi another nanny here. I think that's parents employ nannies to give bespoke care to their children in their own homes. The children should be kept in the routine the parents dictate. Obviously this may be relaxed a little but generally what the parents wants re naps structure of the day. They could send their children to a nursery or childminder but choose instead to employ a nanny. Spending all day with other nannies/ and their charges is something that should happen occasionally, and I personally would always consult the parents first. Attending one activity each days eg park, group to meet other nannies/mums is reasonable. But spending the whole day is over the top.
I think it is very disrespectful to invite other families and raid the larder without first seeking permission. It is not a question of trust but just good manners on the Nanny's part.
Sorry if I offend other nannys but this is just my opinion. I appreciate it can be lonely working without adult company but it has to be a balance.

bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 23:13:38

Thanks for all the replies, this is really helpful and there are some good suggestions about how I can approach this constructively with our nanny. Snazzy, that's true and that's actually how I felt when I came home today.

bluechik Mon 08-Jul-13 23:33:29

Nannyowl, thanks for your perspective. It's true that we did choose a nanny because we wanted care that was bespoke to the children. It has crossed my mind that we might be better off with a nursery as at least in that setting the focus is on the children rather than the interaction between the nursery staff, albeit at less favourable staff/child ratios.

2plus1, it sounds as though you are working through very similar issues - hope you find a good resolution.

ChippingInGoAndyGo Tue 09-Jul-13 00:02:27

Blue - I (obviously) haven't met your nanny or her friends, but I think this 'we might be better off with a nursery as at least in that setting the focus is on the children rather than the interaction between the nursery staff' is a bit, misguided.

You don't know that the nannies just ignore the kids - your two might not have her to themselves but they, in turn, have the other nanny's attention too.

Also, they aren't just taking them to Starbucks every day, they are going to toddler groups etc

I think that as the nannies see each other so much, they are less likely to just 'chat & ignore the kids'.

It would not be at all unreasonable to give the nanny a time of day when you want everyone else to be gone - so the earliest you are normally home for instance... most people don't want to come home to a housefull. If this means there isn't time for a shared dinner - then so be it.

I don't know - you need to work out if you have a nanny who is only really interested in seeing her friends and getting paid for it, or if you have a nanny who loves kids and is just a 'more the merrier' type of person.

Her 'style' wouldn't be for me, but, I think you should spend some time thinking about what your issues actually are and seeing if they can be addressed with this nanny and if you couldn't resolve things to your satisfaction with this nanny, you could get a nanny who is very different and that would be much better than a nursery. It is mad to choose 'nursery' in order that your childs needs are met, when you can afford a nanny - just sort things out with this one, or get a new one smile

I know it's hard at first, but when you have the right nanny, it is brilliant.

bluechik Tue 09-Jul-13 00:48:34

Chipping, yes, those are very valid points. In regards to the quality of care I really hope that things are as you suggest, and acknowledge that this is a real possibility. It's just that (especially with our working relationship being so new, and the children being unsettled) that I fear that things are being organised to facilitate the nannies' social contact rather than the focus being on the children.

What we would really like is to work things out with this nanny, who on a personal level I like enormously, and I think your thoughts about styles are relevant here - it may be that her style is not something that will work for us, in which case you are right about the long term options, but hopefully we can find a middle ground that works for all of us.

MissStrawberry Tue 09-Jul-13 07:40:38

Feeding my child while perched on the table would have annoyed me.

I also wouldn't like to come home from work to find the kitchen full of strangers.

I was a nanny and am now a mum and I do find it strange how many people seem to give nanny complete free reign to do what they like.

I would always ask before having any one over for lunch/tea. I wouldn't just assume the parents were happy to feed other children. Some jobs people would just come to play, others for the odd meal. I was focussed on what was best for the children and sometimes having extras over at meal time wasn't the best idea for that particular day. For me it was about respect for the fact it wasn't my house.

A nanny works for the mother and father and should do what they want them to do. A nanny doesn't have the right to dictate to the parents imo.

Socialising all day every day is too much. A child needs time to just be in their home without other people there.

The OP's children could be feeling unsettled because this nanny is wrong for them, could be too many strangers around too often or could be just getting used to the new situation but with the nanny going in full on so quick it will be hard to know.

Trusting a nanny to look after your children and keep them safe does not equal giving them free reign to do anything they want.

MissStrawberry Tue 09-Jul-13 07:45:33

Saying she can't find the time to write a few lines in the diary is ridiculous. I kept a daily diary for all my parents and would usually write an A5 sheet each day. It would list all meals and sleeps taken. Where we went, what we did, who we saw and if they particularly enjoyed anything that day. What it wouldn't say is if they took their first steps or said their first word. Once they were talking more than a few words I would write new words in.

nkf Tue 09-Jul-13 07:53:35

When she aske if she could get together with other nannies, that was a red flag. Lots of nannies do this. Endless plsydates that.suit their need for adult company. If you don't like it, then you have to be clear. Only so many playdates a week etc.

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 09-Jul-13 08:37:14

Asking to see other nannies isn't a red flag imo - she was checking

I've had friends who employers said yes go out then change their mind and nanny is lonely and leaves

Op you say you are happy for nanny to see people - that's good smile you don't need to limit and say can only see xyz once a week - but make clear you would like some home alone time just the 3 of them

Your eldest could be unsettled as not used to you going to work and having a nanny - but is she happy? many children say to parents they don't want to them go to work etc

Not filling in a diary seems weird - takes a few mins and may make you feel happier as know what your children have done

The late tea may have been as children playing and having fun in the garden etc - and least you have met one of her friends employers but agree nice to come home and have house to self - tho if you arrive early and a friend there then not a problem ie come home at 4pm instead of 6pm

Have a chat and see if you can find an equal balance of seeing friends that have similar ages children and time at home with the nanny

ActionLog Tue 09-Jul-13 08:49:22

OP I wouldn't feel comfortable inyour position either. Some socialising is fine but in the way you've described I would be unhappy.

Lavenderloves Tue 09-Jul-13 08:59:46

I'm a sahm, two days a week my life is like your nannys. It's great for the children, great for me/ your nanny. My DH pulls his face at all the fun we have twat

Maybe talk to her about balancing it out with some quiet/ home time. What does she do at home with them? Do they do lots of craft with her?

I wouldn't want mine at playgroups/ activities all the time, it's not enough one to one attention. They can also be stressful for little ones. It's all about balance.

Lavenderloves Tue 09-Jul-13 09:09:32

Are like!

MissStrawberry Tue 09-Jul-13 09:22:43

What is your husband's problem with you having fun, Lavenderloves? He sounds like he is no fun himself!

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 09-Jul-13 09:51:50

'it does seem she has gone from one job to another, keeping her schedule the same, just swapping children... and it doesn't seem she has really taken any time to get to know the children and to get them to know and trust her (before introducing a lot of new people into their lives)

^^ this

I think it is very disrespectful to invite other families and raid the larder without first seeking permission. It is not a question of trust but just good manners on the Nanny's part.
^^ this too

And the fact she's been with you all of three weeks and this is the state of play.

YANBU NOT wanting this to be the way things are run at your house. I woudln't go into a detailed explanation of why her way may or may not be fine/more beneficial to the children/etc etc. Just explain how you'd like things to go and leave it at that.

bluechik Tue 09-Jul-13 10:25:41

Thank you everyone, this is very validating. I don't want to be unreasonable or unfair to the nanny but I am not comfortable with how things are at the moment. Another small issue is that the other children are both the same age as my DC2 - 16 months - so DC1 who is nearly 3 will be spending all day with 3 babies and I feel that the overall level of activities will necessarily be tailored to them and this could be a bit boring for DC1. I would actually be happier if the other children were DC1s age. Anyway I have scheduled a monthly review with our nanny on Thurs, I do dread these kinds of conversations - don't want to make her unhappy but feel I must set some boundaries.
I will try to keep the conversation constructive and focus on what we would like to have.

MissStrawberry Tue 09-Jul-13 14:02:39

Don't worry about making her unhappy. She is there to do a job and if she doesn't want to do it the way you expect then she can freely look for another one. If she is made unhappy she goes.

ReetPetit Tue 09-Jul-13 15:35:52

I don't think you are being unreasonable op. she sounds like she is taking the p*ss tbh. it sounds as though, as someone else has said, she has gone from one job to another and has kept to that schedule, which is more about her and her social life than the children or their routine.

I don't think you are being unreasonable in not wanting an open door policy. feeding other people's kids from your kitchen on a frequent basis is out of order. she sounds like a bit of a free loader and as though she's doing the job for easy money and just to hang around with a mate.

Us childminders get a bashing on MN (very unfairly I think) and threads like this should bring it home to parents that paying more for a nanny does not guarantee you a higher level of care. I very rarely have anyone over to my house when I am working. My time and energy is devoted to the children. The only time I get to 'socialise' is for 2 hours at 1-2 playgroups a week - and when I say socialising, that is just a case of our mindees mixing and us getting to catch up while still the emphasis is very much on the children.

I really think you need to set some ground rules - I can see this getting out of hand and harder and harder to address. even worse that she has another parent picking up from your home - it sounds like it's becoming the local nanny hang out - nip it in the bud now while it's still early days imo.

ReetPetit Tue 09-Jul-13 15:41:37

not bothering with the diary is significant too. I am a cm and ALWAYS do the diary (with up to 6 children here at various times of the day of various ages and needs - and on my own all day)

it is very important and shows that she understands the importance of you knowing how your child has been/what they have eaten/how long they have slept etc.

I even list nappy changes! Not doing this shows a real 'can't be bothered' attitude imo.

(BTW, I know some cms/nannies don't do this but if its something which has been discussed and agreed and is then not done I think something is up - how long does it take? 5 minutes max?)

If she doesn't have time for this, what else doesn't she have time for?

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 09-Jul-13 15:56:25

I really think you need to set some ground rules - I can see this getting out of hand and harder and harder to address.

Yes absolutely correct.

bbcessex Tue 09-Jul-13 16:06:48

I wouldn't be happy with this either.

A nanny is supposed to be your children's primary carer whilst you are at work; if your nanny is with her nanny friend all the time, no wonder your two are a bit unsettled; they could well not know who their actual nanny is confused. Especially with the other mum coming and going.

Your home isn't a commune.... it's great for nannies and children to socialise, but socialising doesn't mean being joined at the hip. What would your nanny do if you asked her to start taking your children to an activity that the other nanny didn't attend? Would she agree or would she want to fit in with her friend?

If it really is all day, every day, I would say what another poster has said; You'd like your children to have some quiet time on their own in their own home during the day. This is a very reasonable request (seems stupid to even say 'request'!). If your nanny is unhappy about it, then she's not the one for you....

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