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I feel like the worst nanny ever.

(48 Posts)
WorkingAbroad Sat 27-Dec-14 20:20:57

I have posted this on a another forum, but I know here is more traffic and really need to know if it's me or the family. I am talking to the mother tomorrow and I want to leave.

I have just started a new position abroad, working for a VIP family in a fully staffed household. In London I worked three years for a family with two children aged fifteen months and three and a half years when I left. I was part of the family in my old position, we were very close, but I needed a location change and a new challenge. I didn't rush to find a new position, I wanted to wait for the right family and when I thought I had found a great family, I handed in my notice.

It's now my first week and things aren't going well. The child dislikes me, is rude to be and on Monday became so violent towards me that I had to cry. He kicked and smacked me, I could cope with that, but getting hit with a (thrown) billiard ball from behind onto your head is just incredibly painful. This has never happened to me before, I was shocked. Yesterday he smacked me several times in my face, I also got kicked a few times. The child clearly has no boundaries and while parents are aware of his behaviour and find it unacceptable they don't do much. I set very clear boundaries, however, he then runs off to either his mother or other staff who do what he wants. There is no backing up, which is essential to me. The child goes once a week to a pedagogue and the mother sticks to everything she says.

The mother told me a few things I had to do, but not everything in detail. I work 24/6, but I have time off during the day, so only work two whole days (weekends) and four half days plus one day off during the week. I also have to get up during the night, waking the child up twice to go to the toilet. I knew this when I started, but was told he sleeps well during the night otherwise, however, he is actually getting up several times during the night and I also have to sleep with my door open, as there is no babyfon. I can't sleep with my door open, my room is at the end of the hall and several staff is walking around during the night, for example one housekeeper and the maternity nurse. That means six nights of the week I have no privacy at all. I also find it very hard to fall asleep, as I worry, I will not hear the child. You can imagine how tired I am in the mornings, I find it very hard to get up. Two times I actually didn't hear the alarm. This never happened to me before. I am always punctual, if not early.

I can't believe I gave up a secure job, left my friends behind and I moved to another country. I am not a quitter, but I feel like the worst nanny at the moment. I am seriously thinking about leaving. This position is incredibly great on paper, but in reality not so much. I usually get on great with people, children and animals. I never had problems. I know it's just a week, but his behaviour is far beyond the usual behaviour you would expect from children who have to get used to you.

I travelled a lot this year when my old boss was on maternity leave, so I have no savings. I don't talk to my family and friends could help me financially until I find a new job, however I don't want that.

AngieBolen Sat 27-Dec-14 20:39:06

I'm guessing the oat in this job is quite high?

If so, set yourself a time limit, save what you can and if you are still unhappy leave.

The child's behaviour will improve with time. You might not see it for six months, but with time and effort the child will come to trust and respect you.

The sleeping arrangement can't continue, though. Insist on an intercom to you can hear the child. Explain to the mother that this is a must. A previous nanny may have been happy with the arrangement, but you aren't, so it needs to be sorted. I'm sure the parents would rather sort this than loom for another nanny.

This is obviously a very different type if family than your last post, but posts like this can be fun and rewarding, although hard work, and realistically you probably won't stay years even if you learn to live it, as after a year you will be drained.

I'm surprised you agreed to start just before Christmas.

AngieBolen Sat 27-Dec-14 20:40:06

That should be pay is quite high!

WorkingAbroad Sat 27-Dec-14 20:49:46

Hello Angie,

Thanks for your reply. The family never had a foreign full-time nanny. The mother always had housekeepers and if she liked how someone got on with the child she gave them less housekeeping duties and more childcare duties. However, she wanted an educated nanny and someone who can set boundaries. The pay is good and everything else is fine. If the mother would work with me a 100% this position would be a dream position. During the week I have lots of free time, e.g. only work a maximum of one hour in the morning and then usually start between 3-4pm in the afternoon. He goes to bed during at 20:30 during the week and then only the weekends from the morning till the evening. I am off one week day.

I can't believe I gave up a wonderful position in London, it was really hard work at around 1/3 of the pay but the parents worked with me 100%.

WorkingAbroad Sat 27-Dec-14 20:53:19

I am unable to look after him. He doesn't want me to eat with him, get him dressed, play with him and so on. I spend a lot of time in my room at the moment and I just feel I can't be the nanny I usually am.

jendot2 Sat 27-Dec-14 20:54:53

I would say 'hang on in there' a week is no time at all to settle into a new job for you or your new charge.
You don't say how old your charge is? If you clarify some of us may be able to advise on best ways to cope with challenging behaviour.
Sit down with mb for a chat and explain that you need a baby monitor in order that you can close your door at night, I would even buy one myself it it wasn't forthcoming from mb. It's important that you sleep well. It could be charge is waking more often than usual as you are new.
The key to working in a fully staffed household is to be on the staff. Being a nanny is tricky as you are in limbo between above and below stairs. It's very important to be friendly and approachable and try and fit in. That way when charge goes to other staff you should be able to get them to back you up.

rootypig Sat 27-Dec-14 21:01:32

OP that sounds tough, but you're only a week in. Changing any job is hard, let alone one in which the emotional ties are so strong. Some of what you are feeling

Agree with pp that there are a couple or practical things that need to be tweaked, e.g. getting a monitor for the child's room. I daresay it sounds as though they can afford it. Be a little clever about how you present it to the mother - that this will be in the child's best interest for whatever reason - less disturbed sleep, perhaps. (Incidentally, how old is the child? old enough to be out of nappies but not sleeping through - this seems odd, unless he is being potty trained right now?)

As for the rest, while the child's behaviour, and the parents' unwillingness to set boundaries could both be a deal breaker if they continue, you could reasonably expect to see progress in a month or two as you all get used to each other. Talk to the mother and try to educate her about the boundary setting. (Again, frame it as in the child's interest - which it is!) She says she wants it, but perhaps doesn't understand how to achieve it. So be totally specific about what you expect.

The kicking and hitting and throwing by the child is not on and utterly dangerous, apart from anything else - make this clear to the parents, and set out a way of dealing with it that you all commit to. Then if they deviate from the plan, you have grounds to discuss it with them.

I hope that helps, steel your nerve, in a month you'll know more. This might turn into the dream position that you had hoped for, or you might feel the same, in which case you'll know that you tried and will feel better about moving on. Good luck!

AngieBolen Sat 27-Dec-14 21:02:37

Being the first nanny puts you in an excellent negotiating position.

Tell the mother that a professional English nanny has certain expectations....and say what you would like re night time arrangements. The taking the child to the toilet twice a night is not necessary, and indeed inadvisable when trying to get a child dry at night. You have been employed to care for this child to the highest standards, and you will need to be professional and firm dealing with the parents, explaining you know best.Ultimately they will respect you for it, as long as you do it nicely, and even if they say they disagree initially.

Moving to another country is hard anyway, and when the situation isn't ideal it's even harder.

Do the other staff speak English? What are you able to do in your time off? Can you see yourself making a go of this for a while?

Your not a bad nanny, you've just found yourself in a difficult situation, with a child you have no attachment with yet.

WorkingAbroad Sat 27-Dec-14 21:04:11

The child is 4. The staff and I get on very well, despite the language barrier. They don't speak my language and I don't speak their language. It is actually weird, that they serve me, but I try to be very friendly and also their culture is very welcoming and helpful. They know that he is always like this and they are very supportive.

AngieBolen Sat 27-Dec-14 21:05:14


WorkingAbroad Sat 27-Dec-14 21:13:48

Angie I am not English, but worked many years in London as a nanny. I can do lots of things in my time off, I am in Istanbul and the driver can take me to the gym in the mornings, otherwise it's just a short bus ride away. Even taxis are very affordable here. I have four weeks trial here, however, before taking on this job I had a another job offer and the family is still interested. Should I not want to stay I need to make a decision soon, as they need somebody to start in January.

I would love to stay here for a while. Everything is wonderful, I can learn the language (I have Turkish family, so should make an effort.) but if I don't get on with the child there is no point. The mother goes to a pedagogue and she recommends waking him up at night.

I need the parents support. Today I should get him dressed and he wanted me to leave the room. So I told him, no I won't leave the room. He starts kicking and hitting me. Then the mother comes into the room and says I can wait in my room. He basically gets rewarded for his bad behaviour.

Quitelikely Sat 27-Dec-14 21:14:09

What a brat! You need to outline with his mother why you think your approach to disciplining him won't work if everyone else refuses to set the same boundaries.

Children need that stability, reliability. They need to know everyone's responses are going to be a zero tolerance response to his ways.

Have you thought about confiscating his favourite toy or something similar?

WorkingAbroad Sat 27-Dec-14 21:23:16

He doesn't have a favourite toy, but I would switch off the TV and minutes later it would be back on for example. Nobody sets boundaries and then they are surprised about his behaviour. The way he talks to the other staff is shocking. I would enter the room and he would go uff! uff! uff! - he is just so rude to me.

AngieBolen Sat 27-Dec-14 21:24:46

If the mother is always going to be hovering and undermining you this will never work, as the child will learn behaving dreadfully gets his mothers attention.

If the mother is likely to go to work or be out all the time when you are working, there could be hope. It sounds like she mainly wants a night nanny though....

I think you know you'll be more comfortable in the job in London...but there are always nice jobs in London coming up, so don't panic. smile

FlorenceMattell Sat 27-Dec-14 21:34:45

Re waking the little boy up to go to the toilet at night that will not help with bladder control.
If he is four he may just be too young and still need nappies at night.
To help bladder tone he should drink plenty during the day. Cutting back on fluids doesn't help.
When he is older there are alarms that can be used to wake him and help train his bladder.
See Eric

rootypig Sat 27-Dec-14 21:51:18

So you need to talk to the mother. Explain this all to her perfectly reasonably, and make your choice based on her reaction.

jendot2 Sun 28-Dec-14 09:03:23

Istanbul is amazing, I am very jealous.

Are the family Turkish? If so you may be fighting a losing battle! From experience I would say that boys in Turkish families are treated like little gods. They are the ones in control of the family, especially if the father of the family is not actively involved in parenting (which often they are not). The mothers, housekeepers etc will let a male son rule the roost, they believe that 'men' who become the head of the household need to learn this role from a young age.

I think if son is used to having rule you need to integrate slowly. Let him have his way the majority of the time, pick your battles carefully initially and only battles you are sure you will win! Once you get control over the basics you can start on the more minor issues. You must get mb on board with this... Go with the earlier suggestion of what a professional nanny expects. That she must back you up and not undermine you.

At 4 he should not be woken in the night. Possibly as you go to bed lift him and pop him on the toilet, but not again.

I would suggest that this may be a difficult battle to win sad maybe if the other job offer is still open it may be worth consideration....

Blondeshavemorefun Sun 28-Dec-14 09:47:37

Sometimes you just know a job isn't going to work and as you live in no escape either. Being on call at nights is wearying - I do nights and days and it's tiring but I have a monitor and sleep with door shut for privacy

Life is too short to be in a job you are miserable in and sounds like you get no back up or support from parents

Having a child of any age violent to me is a no no and from what you've said parents don't tell him Off and he has no

Out of curiously did you meet the child before you started? How was his behaviour then? You can tell a lot about the way a parent is with a child at interviews

Sounds like she wants a glorified night nanny - as you don't workamu day hours - no point waking a child up to wee. He obv isn't readu to be dry at nights and should be in nappies

Up to you if you want to try and stick it out and see if things improve - personally I wouldn't and would look for another job

WorkingAbroad Sun 28-Dec-14 11:07:19

Yes, I flew over for one weekend. The child was ill when I came for the weekend and I knew it would be difficult. However, I assumed the mother would support me more. She seemed to be on the same boat, but while she has the same ideas she doesn't act. I spent some time this morning with him and he was much better. Once the parents are up and walk around the house I have a very hard time. I will try to do this for four weeks and see how my trial period goes. If it doesn't work out, I will leave.

jkdnanny Sun 28-Dec-14 12:41:56

You need to sit and chat with the mum and see if she expects you to follow her rules ie letting him do what she wants or whether she really wants you to change things. Be very open about what you want to change and how you would do it.
Its always hard leaving a long term job and starting another. I left a job i had been in for 7.5yrs and i still wonder a year later if i made the right decision.

MadHattersWineParty Sun 28-Dec-14 12:51:54

I worked for a fortnight in Geneva as a nanny earlier this year and a lot of this is sounding very familiar to me, OP. The little girl was aged six and had never known boundaries or discipline in her life, she was the absolute epitome of spoilt. She would ignore me, scream at me, and run ro her mum at every opportunity, who would then take over and make me feel useless. Like you the lack of privacy was an issue as my bedroom was also where the housekeeper would iron, so when I had time off during the day she'd be in and out all the time.

The parents admitted to me that the girl was very challenging and wanted someone to be 'firm' with her. I had no problem with this in theory, I have a lot of experience and have always taken a firm but fair approach. However, there were absolutely no consequences to these girl's actions. The moment the tears came when told no or asked to do something, the mum would come running, and give in to her. Her appalling behaviour (running amock in restaurants, breaking things, being utterly rude and disrespectful) was rewarded at every opportunity- she was taken to a big toy shop three times during my stay and basically allowed to choose whatever she wanted.

I left after a fortnight because after repeatedly trying to get her parents on board with supporting me to set boundaries/consequences, nothing changed, they always gave in, and told me I simply hadn't been firm enough with her in the first place.

I'm not saying it's a hopeless case at all in terms of your job- but the parents have to be 100% behind you and absolutely not give in to any tantrums, in my experience it is often very hard for them to change their approach to raising a child, especially when other people are around to pick up the pieces/take the worst of the behaviour, if you see what I mean. I hope it works out for you but you must absolutely not feel like you've failed if it doesn't. I did for a little while after my experience but since realised I did my best in an impossible situation.

WorkingAbroad Sun 28-Dec-14 13:09:33

The parents admitted to me that the girl was very challenging and wanted someone to be 'firm' with her. I had no problem with this in theory, I have a lot of experience and have always taken a firm but fair approach. However, there were absolutely no consequences to this girl's actions. The moment the tears came when told no or asked to do something, the mum would come running, and give in to her. Her appalling behaviour (running amok in restaurants, breaking things, being utterly rude and disrespectful) was rewarded at every opportunity- she was taken to a big toy shop three times during my stay and basically allowed to choose whatever she wanted.

This could be written by me, but outside this house the boy behaves perfectly, in fact, it's not normal how well he behaves. NO child would be like him. He is quiet, quiet and quietly observes what happens around him. It's as soon as we pass the gates, he does an 180 and the difficult child comes out.

Tattiebogle Sun 28-Dec-14 14:18:01

Did your employers previously employ trained nannies or staff who were in reality domestic help expected to do the job of a nannie?

WorkingAbroad Sun 28-Dec-14 15:15:22

No, they never had a 'foreign' nanny. The family always had domestic help, they have four housekeepers and if one of them was good with the child they would eventually get more and more childcare duties to the point where they would be more or less the child's nanny. According to the mother's words, they were too scared to say something because they were afraid they would lose their job.

I see how the trial goes, if things improve with the child it would be a really lovely position. However, I can't oversee the child's behaviour. The relationship to the child always comes first for me.

WorkingAbroad Tue 30-Dec-14 10:55:41

Mother told me on Sunday night, that she feels her son is 'opposing to forming a bond' with me. The child is ill at the moment, though at school today, but I am off sick. I haven't had one day off sick in five years and now I am in bed with a sore throat, headache and my bones hurt.

I hope things get better soon.

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