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Have I been unlucky? Nannies don't stick around.

(67 Posts)
CrispyFB Sun 31-Jul-16 23:58:03

I went back to work in January after nearly 8 years as a SAHM. My new job is full time (sadly, it's not compatible with part time) and fabulous.

I have four children, 9, 7, 5 and 2 and the youngest is in full time nursery so it's only the older three to care for after school and full time in the holidays.

The 5 year old has ASD/PDA but if he's handled "right" he's actually less hassle than the older two! Unfortunately after school club was too much for him when I first went back because so many of the older children didn't give him the space he needed and one of the teachers didn't always follow the guidelines we had given (according to our reliable oldest) and was ordering him about. As a result he was excluded after a week following a meltdown which is why we've gone down the nanny route.

Our first nanny was the first one I interviewed (although I did interview another who seemed okay) and I just knew she was "the one". She was perfect, too good to be true. The children loved her and she loved them. My son never melted down for her because she treated him as we told her to. Unfortunately after three months she had to move out the area because of her husband's work. We are friends on FB and she regularly posts on my posts about the children saying she misses them.

I hoped we'd find somebody again really fast but it took over a month and although I interviewed lots of nannies, it was awful. The first one seemed keen, a bit critical of her current employer but as soon as I asked for references basically said it wasn't for her. The second one wanted £15/hour in an area that pays £10/£11 at most. The third also seemed keen, said she'd send over her paperwork and then never bothered. Then there was nobody because I'd exhausted all the possibles and no new ones showed up. Finally somebody we know through the school happened to spot my profile on childcare.co.uk and said she was becoming available and got in touch.

She is lovely, the children like her, and she's been working for us three weeks now. Our son has been fine with her too, no meltdowns to report, or at least nothing serious. Today she handed in her notice (one week - we are SCREWED) because her grandfather needs looking after in his home full time and nobody else will do it. I think it's genuine because she hasn't seemed unhappy at all and I am a very easygoing person who gives them a lot of flexibility, and our children are usually very well behaved aside from a bit of normal sibling bickering! Neither nanny has had anything other than praise about them (their teachers say the same - it's not just mummy-goggles - ASD son improved immensely at school too once first nanny took over). And I personally try and be the employer I would want to have. If anything I'm too much of a pushover.

Have we just been really unlucky? Because there is NO WAY I can go through this with a third nanny. My ASD son was already really unsettled at the change of nanny the first time, it's going to be horrendous a second time and if it happens again, well, yeah. I've stated in my job advert VERY clearly that we need somebody long term too.

Going back to work has saved my sanity (I was seeing a doctor for depression and anxiety until I got my career back) but with unreliable childcare like this I don't think I can keep working. It's not fair on my children to keep flipping nannies like this, plus my anxiety means I get so stressed and upset with the interview process as I am so shy.

We've asked agencies in the past but they only seem to cater for full time nannies, and we only need after school plus holidays.

Is it normal for nannies to just not last more than a few months at best? When I take on a job in my career I intend it to be for the foreseeable, at least a few years. Because if so, I am going to have to hand my notice in and my dreams will be shattered. I'm already feeling sick and a wreck over having to do the nanny search yet again, especially as there's such a rush now, but to do this a fourth time this year if the next one falls through - I just can't. That'll be it.

venys Mon 01-Aug-16 02:17:31

Oh gosh I feel your pain. I have 3 kids. One with GDD too. Last 2 temp part time nannies haven't worked out and I am using emergency cover now. I think it's luck of the draw if you get a great match and a person who wants to stay. But it seems awfully common that there are a lot of flakey people out there. Or there are a lot of family crises. Cynical I know. I hope you are able to find a "stayer' for all of your sakes.

FloraFox Mon 01-Aug-16 02:31:45

Hi OP. If your first nanny is still friends with you on FB it's probably not you but maybe you can ask her for some candid feedback? You have 4 kids including one with ASD. If a nanny can get a job with just one or two kids for the same money, I'd say they'd probably take the other job. If you can afford more, I'd suggest advertising with a bit of a premium and see who applies.

selly24 Mon 01-Aug-16 07:03:22

A good nanny will handle four children no problem. Perhaps they just see the jobs with one or two children as 'easier' : even though a difficult single child can cause any number of hair tearing challenges!

Can I ask about how you are structuring the salary? The job is part time so ?? number of hours a week in Term and significantly more in school hols? Do you need the nanny to be available to cover emergencies/illness during any non-contracted hours? Babysitting/proxy parent care?
If not already I would think about your childcare needs through the whole year and come up with an annual hours that you agree as a gross annual salary and pay the same each week/month to the nanny. This would give the nanny stability rather than a fluctuating wage according to when the school holidays are! If you are feeling defensive perhaps word the contract so that if nanny hands in notice within the first 4 or 6 months salary due will be based on hours actually worked?..

I think you need to quiz the nannies quite deeply at interview and ask why your particular role is of interest to them? Eg. Perhaps they are doing a term time course which fits in? Or want some to learn a new skill, follow a hobby. Need time for their own family. All these are good answers.The job being in a convenient location, them being used to bigger families is not enough. Say directly that
"There are possibilities to work for Mr& Mrs Smith down the road for a full time salary, would that not appeal? " They need to be actively seeking a part time role.

Part time roles do tend to pay slightly more per hour than a full time role. Can you check with a few local agencies to make sure what you are offering is the going rate (or ideally to attract top candidates, slightly more....?)

Another incentive could be to offer a performance related bonus after 6months successful service? A couple of perks - early finish/half day on a Friday once a month, generous petty cash in holidays (whatever you could manage).

If you know of good nannies in your area, approach them and ask if they can suggest someone.

Good Luck with everything. Your career keeps you sane. Don't 'throw the baby out with the bathwater!' This is a blib. There is a great nanny waiting to support you! Go find them!

silverduck Mon 01-Aug-16 07:11:32

selly24 has some excellent answers. I expected you to say that you had a full time Nanny, perhaps doing kids laundry, meals etc when the kids weren't there, not that you were looking for someone only for after school and in the holidays. That just isn't going to appeal to many people. Could you switch to a full time Nanny and take the 2 year old out of nursery?

I also expect that people will take a two children role over a four children role unless pay compensates.

InTheDessert Mon 01-Aug-16 07:15:28

Maybe a silly suggestion, but what if you take the youngest out of nursery, and then have a FT nanny? Might attract more applicants?

Dozer Mon 01-Aug-16 07:17:38

Sorry you've had some bad luck. I think it can be hard to find after school / holiday nannies as they earn less than those in all day roles, and that you might well need to pay more per hour and/or use an agency to help find someone.

Also think you need to accept that there are no guarantees so this could well be an ongoing challenge, and that your partner should assist with sorting out childcare, especially since you find it stressful and have MH issues.

Giving up work seems drastic.

Dozer Mon 01-Aug-16 07:18:09

Yes, FT nanny for four DC might actually be easier to find.

BoaConstrictor Mon 01-Aug-16 07:33:20

We've also had our fingers burned on the nanny front & are now too scared and scarred to try again although we know it would be the better solution for our DC. First time, interviewed loads, found a wonderful nanny and, a week before she was due to start, had a tearful vm to say she couldn't start due to a family situation so I had to scrabble around and sort out an alternative. Second time around, the nanny had so many domestic & family issues in the settling in period that I wasn't comfortable relying on her so she finished almost before she started.
I would much rather my DC had personal care from a nanny but the problem with a person is that they have a life & things change in that. It took me a while to grasp that my nanny wasn't going to be some devoted servant of the type you come across in novels! Instead, my DC go to wrap around care which is no where near as warm and loving as a nanny could be but is reliable.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 01-Aug-16 07:58:49

As others have said I would take 2yr out of nursery and have a ft nanny

I assume they are Not on call daytime while at school?

What is the jobs hours 7-9 3-7 roughly? Those hours don't pay and many can't afford to live off that salary as can't easily get a job that fits in these hours

You've had 2 nannies not work out but for good reasons

Have a longer notice Period in contract to give you some time of happens again

Agree some nannies want one baby rather then 4 children esp if pay the same. Saying that I would prefer more children as means more unlikely to to be PFB helicopter Parent if several children

selly24 Mon 01-Aug-16 08:20:18

Another option might be to approach colleges (speak directly to tutors who could re) where people are studying an advanced diploma, Cache level 5 in childcare or similar (so they have experience under their belt and need a part time job to compliment their studies). Someone might be an experienced nanny but undertaking special training eg SEN or Montessori... They might be an ideal fit for your family.

Solasum Mon 01-Aug-16 08:25:25

Do you have space for an au pair?

Solasum Mon 01-Aug-16 08:29:08

You could treat the afterschool and holidays as two different problems? Or Nanny with own child just wanting a bit of extra cash not a full time role?

Karoleann Mon 01-Aug-16 09:24:38

Before and after school care is notorious for being difficult to find, especially outside London. As blondes says most nannies want to work full days.
I would look for a full-time nanny and drop nursery for the time being. Your youngest will be eligible for their 15 hours free at some point and then you can combine that with the nanny (and the nanny can get lots of batch cooking/sorting out in that time!)

CrispyFB Mon 01-Aug-16 10:44:27

Thank you all, it's all very helpful!

To be clear, it's only an after school nanny we wanted, not a before school one. It's 3/4 hours a day, depending on if they wanted extra for coming an hour before pickup to do some of the children's laundry etc. Our first one wanted that, our second didn't - either is fine. Also to clarify we never expected our nanny to be on call outside hours, and whilst there's the option for extra babysitting, we've been happy with sitters.co.uk for that.

I've not specified a salary in my adverts - is that something I should do? I'm a little wary because so much depends on experience and whether they bring their own child. I don't want to have something fixed and then tell them I want to pay them less! That said, we're more than happy to pay a bit more for a decent nanny that sticks around. Both our nannies have been more than happy with pay - in fact they specified their salaries themselves.

I've always been very flexible when it comes to pay in terms of structure. Right now both nannies were on a minimum of 15 (or 20) hours per week with "overtime" for the holidays - they were totally fine with it. But if they wanted it averaged out over the year that would be fine too, although I am now very wary we'd have to ask for money back. As for nanny holiday, we've worked it out based on the expected number of hours in a year including full time holidays, so they're not missing out there either.

It may well be we need separate childcare for term time and holidays, but my worry with that is my ASD child who may perhaps not have bonded as well with the holiday nanny and if it all goes pear-shaped at the start, we're then screwed.

No room for an au pair unfortunately, not living this close to London with four children! Already two of them share a room.

We've considered taking our youngest out of nursery, but it's a REALLY good nursery, and she loves it there. She has anxiety issues, so being exposed to other children is doing her so much good for her confidence. Also having the nanny look after four after school is a big ask, especially for the after school clubs and so on. It was my life before January so I'm very aware.. and it would be even worse if the nanny brings her own child which our last two did.

Also my salary only just covers the childcare as it is - we would be paying for me to go to work if the nanny looked after my youngest during the day at their usual rates.

I'm tempted to insist on at least two weeks in the first month now, as we've really been left high and dry by this :-( It was a month's notice after a month which is what our first one gave.

The perks idea is a good one - we've already left a nominally unlimited (but within reason!) kitty so the nanny does get to do all sorts of fun stuff in the holidays! A cash bonus every six months is not a bad idea though - that could help encourage people to stay. Or would it make them think we're a family to avoid if we have to offer that? Ugh.

Honestly, I swear we're good. We're always being complimented on our children's behaviour by strangers and by those who look after them. Both nannies have always told us about any negative behaviour in detail and it's never anything serious.

It could just be the hours are a problem but for some people (especially those with young children) they may not want to work full time and this is just a nice little earner for a few hours a day. That seems to be the sort of people we've attracted at interview.

I wish my husband could help out with this more, but he just wouldn't be any good with the interviews (and would probably scare them off as he's not really a people person!!) He's contacted agencies but never had any luck. Also he's been the one jeopardising his job by needing to "work from home" during our gaps in childcare :-( And we need his job to pay the mortgage - he's the big earner.

Asking the local college for higher level students is not a bad idea actually - I hadn't considered that as I thought they'd all be teenagers with no experience. Whilst my son isn't difficult if handled properly, they need to have the experience to handle him properly if that makes sense. And not panic. Then he's fine.

Just about to post my advert up again. Wish me luck..!

LightTripper Mon 01-Aug-16 12:34:12

I hope it goes well! I know my sister has been struggling to find somebody part time (she works 3 days), compared with my full time search.

I was advised on here to put a pay amount on the advert, just to make clear that you know what it should cost (and that you are willing to pay tax and do it all by the book). We've just been advertising again and we put on a salary that was good (above the minimum people pay around here, as we wanted somebody with a bit of experience) but not top-whack, and have found that people with more experience have still been applying but saying their rate is a bit higher - so it doesn't seem to put more experienced candidates off (not all of them at least!)

Otherwise the college is a good idea I think. Some young people have amazing maturity: it really just depends on the person, and as you say some of them will have life experience even if not nanny experience. And if it works well with their college hours that should hopefully help make for a happy time for all of you.

Good luck!

LT

CrispyFB Mon 01-Aug-16 12:53:28

Thank you! :D I hope your sister has some success soon.

I've now put a salary on the website. Both my nannies have reliably told me that locally £10-£12 is the going rate, and most charge £10 unless they're really experienced, so I've put in £10-12 dependent on experience and negotiable. Hopefully that should help! Sadly we can't go above £12 as it's just not cost effective and truthfully we're hoping for £10 again for that reason.

I've also mentioned we use Nannytax and keep everything above board. If nothing else that should weed out the timewasters, as two of the ones I interviewed before seemed to be expecting to be paid cash in hand and looked a bit concerned when I said we didn't do that (one of those never got back in touch..) And I've also listed lots of the other things that have been mentioned here that didn't occur to me before (e.g. we don't need oncall or babysitting)

I'll look into the colleges this evening :-)

Pearlman Mon 01-Aug-16 14:51:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NuffSaidSam Mon 01-Aug-16 15:03:13

'they may not want to work full time and this is just a nice little earner for a few hours a day.That seems to be the sort of people we've attracted at interview.'

This is your problem. The short hours mean you are targeting people who just want a bit of extra cash, not people who need to earn proper money doing a proper job. That's fine (no judgement), but they're not professional, dedicated career nannies (even though they might have been prior to having their own children). If you want real commitment you need to look for a full-time nanny with a history of sticking around long term.

Also, you should advertise your job as £9-11 and then offer £10. If you advertise £12 and then only offer £10, what you're saying is 'we were prepared to pay £12 for someone we really like, but we don't think you're worth it!'. That's not a good start!

Pearlman Mon 01-Aug-16 15:04:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CrispyFB Mon 01-Aug-16 15:38:42

Both our nannies have said he's exceptionally well-behaved for them. But that's because they know not to make demands of him, and allow for his foibles (like he needs someone to take his shoes off even though he's capable because it's part of his ritual, or not let people touch his Lego models) His issues are all frustration and anxiety-based.

They've both said I made him out to be a lot worse than he actually is, and he's actually totally fine and they were wondering what the big deal was. But that's because they've done as we asked. However, I know from experience with after school club that if he is dealt with in a strict fashion (which would totally work with some children including my older two as it's how we were with them) then he can sometimes react quite badly.

It's the reason we want somebody experienced, who would understand that concept, and that it's not just us pandering to him being crappy indulgent parents which I know some of the teachers thought we were. It's what works for him, and it works really really well.

You're right about the salary. I may go adjust that!! But there's nothing we can do about the hours, I just don't get paid enough. Which is why I think I may need to give it all up if this happens again as it basically means we can't get the right childcare.

Pearlman Mon 01-Aug-16 15:52:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NuffSaidSam Mon 01-Aug-16 16:00:22

Are you sure you can't make a full-time nanny work financially?

You'll generally be able to pay a lower hourly wage for a full-time nanny because the job will be far more desirable, meaning a greater pool of candidates.

You'll save in the holidays because instead of paying nursery plus holiday club/childminder you'll just pay one fee.

Nannies can be paid in childcare vouchers.

Next year the new tax-free childcare scheme is starting. I think it's supposed to end up being £2000 a year per child that the government will contribute. Although when and how that is actually coming into effect is still unclear I think!

What could you afford to pay a full time nanny as a yearly wage, taking all that into account?

CrispyFB Mon 01-Aug-16 16:10:55

Those are definitely major flashpoints for him - he's weirdly chilled about most other stuff. He does like to get his own way but only if he's feeling anxious, because then he can feel in control again. Although the Lego and shoes thing always applies! He can tolerate a lot when he feels safe and happy with someone which is why he's not a problem most of the time.

I have always encouraged both nannies to be honest with me, and most days they say the children have been fine. The times when they're not, they tell me exactly what happened, and usually it's my older two bickering ;-) I really don't think they'd be hiding anything. After all until January, looking after him was my job and he's improved immensely since then too. School have been so impressed he literally got a medal for "effort" for the whole year, the only one in his class :-)

CrispyFB Mon 01-Aug-16 16:18:05

Even if we could afford it financially (it would cost us around £200/month extra even at £10/hour) it's the practicality. Juggling four at after school clubs is no fun, especially if the nanny has her own child. I struggled with just my four. And it's really important for our youngest to socialise at nursery. She's made such huge improvements in her confidence since she started full time in January.

And also when the nanny is on holiday we'd be screwed for childcare for her too, as she's too young for clubs (holidays) and my husband can come home early and work from home for term time holidays. We'd have to take a whole day off. It just isn't practical.

That said, I have said in the advert I'd be happy to reduce her days to three a week at nursery if hours were an issue. So I'd be offering a maximum of 32 hours a week term time, 50 hours holidays, which isn't that bad, surely? Heck, having worked it out, it's only 50 hours less a year than I do and with inset days, maybe near enough the same. Plus if she still has her nursery place, they might be happy to cover nanny holidays.

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