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Nannies, what motivates you and how to keep you happy?

(12 Posts)
PartyintheKitchen Tue 22-Sep-15 11:00:09

Our first foray into the world of nannies it has been a baptism of fire in lots of respects. We ended up in a situation where we were employing a morning live out nanny and afternoon live in nanny, this so that the live in nanny would get a chance to work in a nursery. The whole messy arrangement happened a few weeks before I returned to work from mat leave whilst abroad on holiday so it wasn’t our choice but one we were left high and dry with. Within days it was blindingly obvious to us that afternoon live in nanny saw working for us as a reprieve from the madness of the nursery (she said as much when I gave her notice). The morning live out nanny is actually a babysitter, few additional nanny duties get attended to. I got to the stage where I was asking both of them to do the most straightforward of tasks, cooking for children, tidying up after children, laundry, all of these things were clearly outlined in their contracted duties before they started. They have not done one laundry load between them in a month. I have asked nicely that they do x jobs in the week but they continuously ignore me. Luckily it is the last week of this arrangement and I am biding my time for it to all finish up. Live out nanny is moving on and live out nanny is moving out. Both lovely people and thankfully nice with the children but nannies they are not. It has been more than a bit stressful and knackering to deal with. We have a new nanny starting on Monday next and I really want to make this work so that everyone is happy. She did some temp nannying for us over the summer and I already know she is a different class of nanny, motivated and interested in the children. The days she worked for me I came home to a hub of activity, clean and healthily fed children, laundry dealt with and generally a calm and happy environment. A world away from two nanny situ. I felt that my two nannies called themselves nannies, agreed to all the nanny duties, happily take their salary but are not nannies. I feel terrible about it but I couldn’t have known beforehand as their references (who I called) backed them up.

It begs the question in my mind, what motivates a nanny? New nanny has come from a role with quite a wealthy family, large house and a very busy timetable for the children. We are not a wealthy family but can just afford a nanny. I wonder does a nanny want to work for a wealthy family? I think we are fair employers and nice to those who work for us. Maybe that is the pull for the nanny too? Our boys are generally well behaved but of course they have their moments. I hate to micromanage and think that too must be attractive, to be allowed to enjoy your week with your charges with your employers’ trust. I simply want to know more from nannies about what motivates you, I want our new nanny to be happy with us and us with her. Any advice and nuggets of info would be greatly appreciated! Thanks smile

Alanna1 Tue 22-Sep-15 11:21:14

I don't think there is a perfect arrangement or a perfect solution - a lot depends on you, your setup, and the person who is caring for your children. I guess being clear is important, but also understanding what your priorities are. It is important to me that my kids get outside a lot when they are with our nanny, as the spend part of their week in nursery which is more structured. If she goes off to the local nature reserve for e.g., she won't be doing the laundry. If I really want laundry or some other piece of housekeeping done on a particular day, or some other household task, I make this clear. And I have also made clear that I understand that some days don't get to plan, so she might have great intentions of doing the laundry as I asked, but (to give an example from last week) in fact she met one of the girls' friends in the playground who told them there was going to be a special children's show at a nearby leisure centre soon, so she travelled to that instead, my children had a wonderful time with their friend, and then it was time for one of their classes, and then it was tea time and she just didn't get a chance. I'd rather that she used her judgment spontaneously like that. But I think a large part of why it works is because her judgment matches mine smile

Janeymoo50 Tue 22-Sep-15 15:21:16

I never wanted to work for a wealthy family, I just wanted to be paid on time and be respected. I had several families and actually the "richer ones" were the worst with money (not leaving my pay cheque on a Friday morning or money for shopping, I ended up using my own and asking for it back).
But the most important thing for me was not being undermined by the parents - i.e: children would be sitting nicely eating dinner and mum or dad would come home, they'd basically stop eating, get down, be naughty etc etc, parents simply encouraged them and no food was eaten after that. I started feeding them earlier, that worked in the end. It's always really hard when two people are trying to "parent" at the same time, so if mum and nanny are sharing charge there needs to be clear information on whose word is golden on things like manners etc because the kids simply play off one against the other the whole time, second biscuit, not wearing a bib, having a nappy put on to do a poo (when quite happy to sit on the potty when nanny is there and no mummy), refusing to have a sleep etc, all that sort of thing becomes very tiring and soul destroying for the nanny (or the mummy when the shoe is on the other foot).

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 22-Sep-15 20:37:46

Tbh a lot if the families I've worked for have been very wealthy but lovely I pick well wink

But money isn't everything tho obv we all need enough to to pay our bills

Being paid on time and parents backing up and respecting me comes up high on the list. I always discuss what if situations - and would they would do and react - boundaries are there for a reason and I would always back up a parent of something happened on their shift - and expect the same

I hate being micromanaged. I've been a sole charge nanny for almost 25yrs and also a night nanny past 5yrs. I know what I am doing

The fact you are asking means you will be a nice employer smile

featherandblack Tue 22-Sep-15 21:36:35

I've found it works best when I do micromanage in terms of explaining how I like things done. I'm the one who is raising the children at the end of the day. The person I'm paying is implementing it - something I have the highest respect for but also have clear boundaries around. I will sit down and explain what language I use, what I don't use, how I discipline, when I do chores, the routine, the priorities, the things that are not priorities but still desirable. Everything. If the job is not a good fit, I would rather we all had the chance to end things early. Once it's begun, when things are going well, DH and I comment on all of it and make it clear that we want to see the good stuff and appreciate it, because we do. Our position has always been live out and we take the time to run her home each day (only twelve minutes driving) and give seriously good Christmas/birthday gifts. They've always been happy.

Callaird Tue 22-Sep-15 22:37:54

I've been a nanny for almost 29 years, I've worked for very wealthy families and less wealthy. It's all about being compatible! If you have similar views on life, work and child rearing it works well. Like blondes says, I choose wisely! I have a lot of questions I ask at interview and I have my own contract.

I don't like to be micro-managed, I have never worked for a family who want to be 'in charge'. If they say that they'd like them to go swimming or a music class, then of course I will take them, but I'll source the classes and decide which days we go. If they'd like them to have an oily fish (plenty of oily fish is important to me, for children!) 3/4/5 times a week then I would cook that for them but I'd choose what they have with it, what day they have and also what meal.

A thank you/you are a star/I don't know how we managed without you/you are amazing/you are wonderful (the last two were messages from both my bosses this morning!) go a long, long way. maybe the odd little gift and if it reflects things she is interested in, it shows that you are interested and listen when she talks (I got a palette knife a few weeks ago, she knows I like baking, heard me mention I needed one ages ago walked passed one in a shop and bought it to say thank you, it's nice when they do things like that)

Be respectful. If you are going to be late home, let her know as soon as you know, not when you are supposed to be home. If you are home early and can be with the children, let her go early, then she won't mind reciprocating if you are late. (Don't say you can leave now and then a week later say, you know you finished 45 minutes early last week, well you have to pay them back on Friday night!) Don't leave last nights washing up on the side and the dish washer full (unless there has been a disaster, apologise, then explain, then apologise again!) if she does a job that is not part of her duties, say taking the recycling to the recycling centre, do not get grumpy with her if she doesn't do it one week! If she has a busy week of entertaining the children and leaves a pile of ironing (but enough is done for the weekend) don't leave a stroppy note about it. Do not leave your laundry in the washing machine every Monday morning for her to dry, fold and take to your room. All of these things have happened to nanny friends and I now discuss these at interview. If you want any/all of these things done, discuss it at interview and have it in the contract.

I'm sure there's more but I need to go to sleep, being a nanny is exhausting!

featherandblack Tue 22-Sep-15 22:56:33

Caillard I am watching and learning, please tell me how you get children to eat oily fish?

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 22-Sep-15 23:55:55

Explaining how your like your family run isn't micromanaging - it lets us know what you Expect - and whether we feel we could work for you grin

callairds list says it all

And homemade fish cakes or fish pie work well wink

Don't also say one thing to us and another to the children - ie don't ban TV and sweets on our shift but always allow them on yours

Moderation is the key in many things

PartyintheKitchen Wed 23-Sep-15 09:18:34

Thanks everyone for the fantastic input. Love it. Here’s what you all are saying:

1. Be clear with the nanny on what is expected, this seems to be the undercurrent here, totally understood and will have a proper sit down with nanny pre start to do that.
2. but…. Let nanny do the job we are trusting her to do, don’t micro manage her every moment. I’m doing it at the moment with two nanny situation and honestly it’s driving me bonkers!
3. Pay her on time and if she’s doing a great job, tell her and buy her the odd small thing to show appreciation.
4. Discuss approaches to discipline (very important), I think our new nanny is all over this but no harm talking through it again.
5. Don’t take the mick with non-nursery duties. I would never expect our nanny to do our dishes/laundry, I want to keep her happy – not piss her off. But all the same point taken!
6. Be consistent with the children, don’t make her be the “bad cop” and then have all out madness/sugar high/tv sessions with us. Absolutely fair, I want the children to love the nanny, not hate the fact that she’s the law enforcer.

Apart from that we’ve got a weekly kitty for nanny to use on outings/classes/bits and bobs, we’re going to pay for her travel card (we’re London based) and I’m keen to ensure that she has input to the grocery shop so she knows what’s what for the week food wise when she walks in on Monday morning.

Thanks again! If there’s anything else please keep it coming.

Cirsium Wed 23-Sep-15 12:34:32

Sounds like you will have a very happy nanny. Just a note on nursery duties /housework. I found it really easy to do everything required as a nanny/Housekeeper and have a good balance of doing chores/things with children in my first job which was 55 hours + a week and live in. It is far more difficult to fit everything in when working part time.

Girlsville Tue 06-Oct-15 21:59:39

I'm following this thread with interest. I have three DC (2 school age, one baby) and currently recruiting for a nanny after our old nanny of 5 years left. We employed one nanny who left after less than a week saying we weren't for her, and since then the only nanny who I thought was suitable for us told the agency that our job wasn't for her following the interview. I can't work out what about our job is unattractive! Feeling very very disheartened.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 07-Oct-15 04:36:08

Sure there is nothing wrong with uour job. Some nannies don't want older children / where as I prefer it as means hopefully mum less pfb with no 3 wink

What days /hours /salary are you offering?

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