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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.

sunshinenanny Thu 18-Jul-13 17:29:53

It is perhaps the most important part of hiring a nanny to make sure you have similar parenting styles.

I have always been very careful not to take a job where I didn't agree with the parents views on child care.

Don't mean to be rude nomdeclavier but your idea of a diary sounds a bit like a Janet and John reader.hmm Nanny changed babies nappy, baby has puried vegetables for lunch, nanny and baby go to the park. Sorry it doesn't take 15 minutes to talk to the returning parent and good verbal skills cannot be replaced by a list of ticked of tasks grin

Murtette Wed 10-Jul-13 21:37:28

When we were interviewing for nannies we tried to really ask them about this as a couple of friends have really struggled to get their nannies to do the routine the parents wanted rather than the routine the nanny wanted to do. One nanny we interviewed had no hope after saying "well on a Tues morning I always go to X with my friends and on a Weds afternoon we always do Y" as it seemed as though she'd completely disregard whatever we might have wanted her to do.
I think the issues I'd have with this arrangement are:
(a) the fact that your DC1 doesn't have any similar aged playmates - yes, that might be the case at a childminder but you have chosen the bespokeness of a nanny
(b) the fact that the children are always at your house. Not only are you hosting but the children and always at home so not going to the park, farm etc or even getting to go to someone else's house and get to play with some different toys (although query if your DC1 would have suitable toys at this other family's house). I emphasised to the nannies we interviewed that we wanted them to go out so, if we have a weekend spent mainly at home, the children haven't spent days and days at home
(c) the fact that she's not having any one on one time with your DC1 whilst DC2 naps.
If I was in your position, I wouldn't be happy and would definitely have a word.

sweetsummerlove Wed 10-Jul-13 18:01:03

just read the bit about the diary. Whaa! I manage a quick low down at the end of tje day but still find time tojot down a daily diary...they slept at 10...enjoyed this and that at park..visited xy and z for afternoon. Tea was..charge has been happy/cuddly/etc. I usually perch on the toilet while they are in the bath to get it done lol. Takes ten minutes max.

I think the way you found your children during a visit speaks volumes. Why was the other nannies charge in your dc chair while yours perched on the table? im not liking the sound of this.

Yes, it can be lonely but I find I get to see a few adults at groups and classes so cope. She is taking the piss imo.

im surprised how many say this is normal behaviour. .I reckon id have been sacked by now!

NomDeClavier Wed 10-Jul-13 15:59:09

One of the things about a nanny-employer relationship is you can say you don't want as much socialising. You're not in the same position as a parent using a childminder - even if it's a nanny share you still have a greater degree of control which is why many parents choose a nanny.

It also means you can match your parenting style and therefore replicate your home environment more accurately. Your house, your routine, your rules. Any good nanny should a) appreciate that and b) know not to take a job where the parents don't have the same style.

That said she did ask about activities, it's the fault of both of your for not defining what that means. Happy for her to meet up with friends can mean once or twice a week or it can mean whenever she likes. Maybe in nice weather, given that the other nanny only has a terrace (IIRC), they might be at yours more often. I'd also be inclined to trust her judgement when it comes to people if you, and by extension who comes over and where the DC go unless you have a reason not to.

As for diaries it takes 2 seconds to note down when you changed a nappy, 1min max to write what they ate/whether they liked it, 30 seconds to write 'went to toddlers then the park, met Mindy and Mandy, went to Mandy's for lunch, home for nap, painting in the afternoon'. All meaningful and valuable info to parents of pre-verbal children.

Ragusa Wed 10-Jul-13 14:06:56

I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. It's a really difficult adjustment period for you - leaving your kids for the first time and going back to work etc - and I would expect a good nanny to be sympathetic to this. It'll be a big change for the kids too, and it would have maybe been kinder to them to stick with their routines for a while before introducing changes and lots of new people.

The fact that you discussed the 'meeting up with other nannies' at interview thing....well. It's good she asked, but just because you said yes it doesn't mean absolutely anything goes. If you don't think it's appropriate, then there has to be some sort of compromise. Your understanding of 'meeting up' might have been totally different from hers - no-one's fault but it needs sorting.

The thing that concerns me most is that she started doing this from the off. She really needed to get to know your kids and for what it's worth, I think it's true that you can't give them full-on attention with adult friends around. With babies this mightn't be a problem but IME 2-3 year olds need lots of one-on-one, unless they're very chilled out.

On the other hand, I can see advantages in having a nanny who socialises a lot and has a close, trusted friend - e.g., the socialising for your children providing the socialising is age-appropriate and one child is not bored of course. Also, if you get to know your nanny's friend, you might have ready-made sickness cover if you can agree it with the other nanny friend's client.

We have a childminder and so aren't paying for care in our home so I can't comment on that bit. Our CM does sometimes look after additional children on an ad-hoc basis, and also meets friends but this tends to be occasionally, rather than all the time. Usually, it's age-appropriate too. I think originally, she asked if meeting up with others would be OK, and I said yes, no need to inform in future, because she's generally sensible and I trust her.

I've never been totally sold on the diary concept. We used to get one from DD's nursery and I often wondered wehther it was largely fabricated grin. It wasn't a crap nursery, not at all, but I couldn't see how they could have time to do it meaningfully with so many kids to care for. same goes for childminder, but the main difference is my two children are old enough to tell me what they've been doing.

Nannyowl Wed 10-Jul-13 13:34:34

I agree with you, as a nanny I try to keep to parent's routine. Admittedly I only work a couple of days per week and am happy to not have adult company, as have this at other times.
I do find more time to do children's activities than I would as a stay at home mum. Because even though I do children's housework and cook/prepare meals I don't make own telephone/emails or do other household stuff/Internet shopping etc.
As a parent I would not be taking my own children on long car journeys so do the same for my charges.
I suppose it depends on parenting styles. A lot of posters are correct; when you pick a nanny you need one with similar parenting style to yourself.
Hope the OP can reach a compromise with her nanny, as the children sound well cared for just a bit more respect needed for parent's home.

redcaryellowcar Wed 10-Jul-13 07:01:41

Hope your conversation on Thursday goes well.
Just wanted to add that I have a friend who has a nanny and not be100% happy with her, but she feels stuck as nanny is looking after her children and children like her. I think her issues are similar to yours although she tends to like to take children on long journeys to facilitate meeting up with nanny friends .
I am sahm and work my days around a rough timetable where we usually do something in the morning back home for lunch and a sleep. Afternoons usually spent having a play at home, once a week we might have tea with a friend. If I employed a nanny in order to go back to work I would expect that a similar pattern was maintained. I do take ds on longer days out maybe once every three weeks as I have family who live about an hour away but I realise that two hours in the car isn't much fun for him do limit this and tie in with trip to beach or park etc.
Think what I am trying to say bit longwinded is I would hope a nanny would do what you usually would and perhaps even better as not trying to juggle other household tasks too, just focussed on the children!

nkf Tue 09-Jul-13 18:33:29

I would have thought that the diary business is how many families start off and then it tails away once trust and face to face communication has been established.

You are not there, yet. I would have thought that her priority at the moment is to connect with the two very young children in her care.

She's not making a good start and I agree with others that you need to discuss it. Some nannies operate like this. They prefer group activities. Some parents do too, but that's beside the point.

Xenia Tue 09-Jul-13 18:30:05

I think we kept our nanny for 10 years because we never objected to that mind of thing.

In fact with the last nanny I was so pleased she went out with them almost every day to other nanny friends because I think worked from home I positively encouraged it. Yes, the children then have different influences but I am not God and others are often as good with my children as I am and their ways can be just as good if not better so I always thought the fact a nanny had a different view or friends did was good for the children as long they were not smacking the children or anything like that.

MissStrawberry Tue 09-Jul-13 18:26:32

Few nannies want to spend 15-30 minutes giving the parents a low down on the day and I suspect few parents want the nanny there for ages after they get in. A diary solves the dilemma of getting the messages across without taking family time.

sunshinenanny Tue 09-Jul-13 18:12:51

I think if your nanny talks to you at the end of the day then the diary isn't a problem and remember a nanny could write whatever she wanted or thought you wanted to hear. I know a nanny who did just that! I do think it is important to put it in writing if the children are ill or medicine is given or the details of any accidents.

It does sound as if the nanny is putting her own social life first and I would never think it all right to feed other children on a regular basis without asking the parents fot permission. You must talk to her about it before you let it grow into real resentment. Think carefully about what you want to say and be matter of fact and calm.

Good Luck

ZenNudist Tue 09-Jul-13 17:41:38

Agree with lots of other posters that you should come back to a quieter house. A diary I think well I'd rather time were spent with the kids not writing up what they did... Mind you I'd still want a sleep, toilet & food update at the end of the day.

If you like your nanny then you could let her down gently by acknowledging that maybe the excessive socialising is just due to the good weather, hopefully come colder weather other nanny will go elsewhere.

bbcessex Tue 09-Jul-13 17:40:47

completely agree with wouldliketobethere.. Have the discussion, be specific about what you'd like / what is/isn't okay, then take it from there.

She's not a mind-reader. I know you don't like 'confrontation' but most people don't like conversations that they feel are awkard.. however, they get easier with practice(!) and it's your children / your home / your way (which if she's not in agreement with, is fine - she's not the one for you).

wouldliketobethere Tue 09-Jul-13 17:37:12

I am glad you are going to talk to her OP. There is no point in seething quietly with her totally unaware you are not happy. For example if you were friendly with the mum who turned up to collect her DC and didn't say anything when you came home to find your baby sitting on the table to be fed, she will (reasonably) assume you are totally okay with it all. She may well be telling her friends "oh you can all come over here - my employer doesn't mind at all". So unless you speak up, things will get worse. You need to be quite specific about how much "socialising" you ARE happy with and then see how she responds and if things change.

MissStrawberry Tue 09-Jul-13 17:11:31

For me it is about having the maturity to realise this is someone's home and not just her work place and making sure the house is just occupied by children and nanny when the parents get in from work.

MGMidget Tue 09-Jul-13 16:28:36

Socialising with other nannies (and the children) is fine in moderation provided that the children are of similar age and get on. The focus should be on organising playdates for the children and if that means the nannies get to meet their friends as a result then fine. If they eat in your house one time then they should be eating in the other's house the next and hence there's a balance and you aren't eaten out of house and home. Diary important for accountability so you know what's going on and perfectly reasonable to expect it. Our previous nannies did this (we don't have one now). I became aware, over time, with our last nanny, that the focus was more on what suited her and her social life than our son. Definitely you need ground rules here as soon as possible especially since this is how she is behaving in the first three weeks!

bbcessex Tue 09-Jul-13 16:11:16

And to add... with very few exceptions, I HATE to come home and find my nanny mid-way through an activity / chaotic game / craft with my children...

I always let her know what time I'm leaving work, when I'll be home etc., and then text to say that I'm on the train... I expect things to be calm when I get in, tea done, kitchen tidied etc. That's part of the job imho...

If there were random others there, eating MY food, messing up MY house, I'd go bananas!
<insert mad raving mother ranty icon grin>

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....

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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