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Nanny running personal errands while on duty

(35 Posts)
bookien Tue 01-Sep-09 22:58:26

Here is what happened this morning in my household (3 children, 2 in school, one baby):

I was discussing plans with my nanny, who said she planned to take the baby out in the morning. I asked her to please take the oldest child out also, as the middle child had a playdate and I wanted her to be able to play at home without her siblings (you know how it is, by the end of the summer they have seen enough of their siblings). The middle child and her playdate would be watched by the housekeeper. I mentioned the idea of taking the older child & baby to a local museum (something fun for the child as only 2 days left to school start), but left exact plans up to our nanny.

In the middle of the day, my older child calls me to complain that he is bored, and explains that the nanny took him and the baby on a long bus ride across town to a bank to wait for a long time. That was the outing. I got home and asked the nanny how everything was. No mention of the outing until I specifically asked, at which point she mumbled something about helping a friend at the bank and having to go today as the bank was closed yesterday (the bank holiday).

This comes after another incident a few weeks back, where I left my middle child and baby with the nanny around 10am, suggesting they go to a nearby playground for some fresh air and exercise. Instead I found out later from the middle child that they went to Marks & Spencer to buy the nanny a dress.

I have had this nanny for many years, I have a lot of faith in her, but recently I have felt she just cares less.

So my question is:

- Am I justified in saying this behavior is unacceptable? I am usually lenient regarding personal errands, but this seems like too much.

- What do you do when a long time staff member starts disengaging? When do you give up and decide its time to move on (much harder question, I know....)

happynanny22 Tue 01-Sep-09 23:19:20

From a nanny's perspective - I do sometimes bring my charges with me to do personal things, they are 5,7,9.

Sometimes I can't do something I really need to do while they're in school (e.g. last week I needed to pick up a book from my university library for the next day), so I took them with me. However, because I am doing something I realize is actually only benefitting me, I am sure to make it as fun as possible for the children, by playing games along the way, letting them have a look in the library to see what it is like at 'big school' etc.

So I guess because I make a special effort like that, they don't mind so much - and they are a good sight old enough to complain about things they don't like!

Would you feel better if when your nanny needs/wants to do personal things while at work your children enjoyed themselves, or would you prefer she just didn't at all?

Yurtgirl123 Tue 01-Sep-09 23:23:17

I think a few errands that dont take long (and are important) are fine - anything that takes ages or involves shopping for dresses isnt!

TBH Im more interested in the fact that you have a housekeeper and a nanny

IOnlyReadtheDailyMailinCafes Tue 01-Sep-09 23:26:26

I don't have a nanny or a housekeeper but surely the point of having a nanny is to recreate a home situation. In real life adults have things to do and children sometimes get bored. So this would not bother me.

alarkaspree Tue 01-Sep-09 23:30:51

I imagine it's hard for a full-time nanny to fit in things like visits to the bank in their time off, so I'd say important errands like that are acceptable, but I wouldn't expect the nanny to do too many of them. In this case it would have been better if she'd asked you first, there might have been a better time for her to do it. I think the dress-buying was out of order, but popping into the chemist for something would be fine.

It may be that your nanny is used to being able to do personal errands with the baby while your older two children are at school, so she's got into the habit of it and needs to be reminded about her priorities.

Northernlurker Tue 01-Sep-09 23:32:30

What is your exact arrangement with the nanny regarding how many children she looks after - it sounds from your post as if her primary duty is to care for the baby and you rather landed her with the older child. If she had stayed at home who has the primary caring responsibility for the older children - the housekeeper or you or the nanny?

Tbh - she had to go to the bamk, she has to go during working hours - is it really that big a deal? I'd be pretty irritated if any of my children rang me to complain about being bored in these circumstances. I think it's good for children to know that the world doesn't exclusively revolve around them and you didn't tell her what to do, you left it to her discretion.

IOnlyReadtheDailyMailinCafes Tue 01-Sep-09 23:34:35

I agree with NL, I would be rather shocked if my child phoned me to say they were bored in such circumstances.

Merrylegs Tue 01-Sep-09 23:37:10

housekeepers... staff members... playdates....child furtively phoning to tell you he's bored grin


Kids get dragged to boring errands at banks and tedious shopping trips to M+S all the time. It won't kill them.

I don't believe this is really a dilemma for you.

As someone with long term experience of employing 'staff', you sound perfectly articulate and able enough to tell her yourself what your expectations are, without seeking the counsel of random strangers who are far more likely to be interested in your domestic set up and the use of your term 'playdate', then they are about your nanny's shopping habits.

annh Tue 01-Sep-09 23:37:21

I think running some errands is fine. When my children were younger I would have seen the nanny taking them to the supermarket for some groceries, to the post office, dry cleaners etc as being just as good for them as going to the park on occasion. It's all activity, meeting people and lots of things can be made fun - talking about stamps and Postman Pat in the post office, how many colours can you spot on the dry cleaners rack etc. But I think it's a question of timing - I would be reluctant to take my own children dress shopping which is not fun for them (or for me!) and I certainly wouldn't expect someone whom I was paying to work for me to do so either! Obviously, lots of nannies don't get formal breaks so I think it's important to be flexible and accept that the nanny will need to try and run some of the errands that we use a lunch hour for during the day! ong bus rides to a bank on the other side of town don't come under that category however.

StressBat Tue 01-Sep-09 23:42:04

I also like the idea of children experiencing normal "home" life, which would include running errands, other jobs you get lunch hours to nip to bank etc, but with the longer hours that nannies do it is harder to fit things in.

As for the dress buying I think she must be a very brave nanny to have contimplated dress shopping with 3 children in tow, perhaps with it being M&S it was pre ordered and she went in to pick it up, perhaps tried it on to make sure it was OK.

When I nannied we traveled all over on buses and trains for all sorts of daft reasons, it was an adventure.

madameDefarge Wed 02-Sep-09 00:30:45

. Nanny been there for years and dares to take children on an errand?

Christ almighty. Maybe you need your housekeeper to wave burnt feathers under your nose to rouse you from the shock of your children doing something as plebian as going to the bank.

You must be a troll. Or totally up you own ass.

juneybean Wed 02-Sep-09 00:43:52

My bosses encourage me to live a normal life when looking after my charge, I'm allowed to go shopping and run personal errands.

nannynick Wed 02-Sep-09 07:19:38

Going to the bank for a meeting (rather than just using the cashpoint/paying-in machine) and spending time shopping in M&S without visiting the in-store cafe for tea & cake, I do not feel are suitable activities.

I am wondering if you are micro-managing a little too much though. Does your nanny need to be given suggestions on where to take the children?
Is it up to your housekeeper to be doing the day-to-day management of your nanny... rather than you? (In household staff hierarchy, isn't your housekeeper above the nanny, thus the nannies line manager?)

Does the nanny get a lunch hour (as you have other staff who could care for the children)? If so, then it's completely unreasonable for these errands to be done during working time, rather than during lunch time.

I think you need to keep an on the situation, as you already appear to be doing.

SixtyFootDoll Wed 02-Sep-09 07:53:26

If she works for you full time Mon-Fri when else would she get chance to go to the bank?
I presume you do such things in yoour 'lunch hour' why shouldnt she?

BonsoirAnna Wed 02-Sep-09 07:59:39

As a (step)mother I don't do long personal errands with the children (2 DSSs and DD) during school holidays, so I certainly wouldn't agree to my nanny doing her errands unless it was urgent and unavoidable and she had told me that she had to run a personal errand (in which case I would probably want to organise an alternative activity or some form of compensation for the children).

Gidleigh Wed 02-Sep-09 08:26:49

I don't think its acceptable that the nanny does personal errands while on duty. If it is important and must be done whilst on duty then she should have told you in advance and gotten permission.

I would have a meeting with the nanny to discuss your dissatisfaction and ask her to keep activities which are for the benefit and the development of the children and make it this clear to her.

LouLovesAeroplaneJelly Wed 02-Sep-09 08:34:18

I took my charges with me when I went to vote. When else can I get things done. I work 7am to 10pm so of course they have to come with me.
Do you never take you children on errands? I totally agree with IOnlyRead.
Get over it.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 02-Sep-09 10:06:54

i do personal errands in work time such as go to bank/po/get milk etc

i am also happy to pick up mb dry cleaning or pop into town and get her bday pressie from db (thats tomorrowa plans wink)

its give and take

tbh a child sense of timing isnt great and a 5min ride and a 5min queue in bank could SEEM ages to a child where it is really long iyswim

i personally would be a bit miffed if my mb said take charges to park/museum etc - she lets me decide what to do - and as long as the children are happy then both mb/db leave me to my own thing

their view is happy nanny, happy children=happy parents

though i do understand that you are annoyed as your dc didnt do anything - a visit to band *AND park/museum etc would have been better

sounds to me that your nanny isnt sole charge and doesnt always have the children, so prob does make plans with the baby

does the housekeeper often have middle/eldest?

maybe you need to make guidelines clearer

annh Wed 02-Sep-09 11:24:47

There's a difference between running errands and taking your charges dress shopping or to a meeting at the bank though! My rule of thumb - as always - is, would I find this acceptable if I was doing this with my own children? Post office, going to vote, picking up dry cleaning, quick supermarket shop - all perfectly fine. That's what I used my lunch hour for or sometimes even ran out of the office during "work" hours to get money from the ATM, buy a bunch of flowers, whatever. If I needed more time than that, then I would have to negotiate with my boss or other people in the office in order to take more time out. I think the OP is righly upset that the nanny wasn't honest about what she was doing that day and didn't mention in advance that what sounds like a good portion of the morning was going to be spent on helping the nanny's friend.

PuppyMonkey Wed 02-Sep-09 11:35:34

I think the older child is a right squealer.. grin

AtheneNoctua Wed 02-Sep-09 11:56:04

I think the OP is getting some undeserved harsh comments here. She is talking about a nanny she has had for years who appears to be disengaging now. What would annoy me about the day is that the nanny hadn't said boo about the bank when asked to go to the museum. If this was me and the nanny said "I have a bit of a problem. Would it be okay if we went to the bank today?" I'd say oh ok, fine. Do what you need to do. But the lack of forthcomming information described here would annoy me. And if it was common practice it would begin to errode the trust in the nanny/employer relationahip.

I recently had a nanny who little by little spent more and more of the day doing the things she chose to do and neglecting more and more of contractual duties. I now have another nanny who does all the things she didn't do and things I haven't even yet tthought to ask her to do. If old nanny came to me with yet another reason why she had to do something other than what I asked her, it would grate on my neres. IF new nanny did it, I wouldn't even hesitate to say yes of course go ahead. So I think a one off is very different from a recurring pattern. And I get the impression the Op might be tlking about the latter.

frakkinpannikin Wed 02-Sep-09 22:03:44

Re: household hierarchy housekeeper can be nanny's 'line manager' or they can be on two totally different streams. Our housekeeper would never tell me what to do and I only tell her what to do when I'm relaying a direct instruction from my boss (and even then I feel really awkward) so it's enitrely possible that the issue doesn't arise.

Personally I only run errands in work time if I really, really have to and I can't arrange something else for my charge to do so he doesn't have to come with me (a workshop I can drop him at). If I had a baby charge I might be slightly more inclined to do things like popping to the bank quickly but school aged children are tricky to handle when they get bored so it's simpler all round if I don't!

On the disengagement issue I've never had that as a nanny but my current boss fired a nanny after 3 years because she felt she wasn't putting her heart into it anymore and it was having a negative impact on her child. Which is fair enough. Fresh blood is not necessarily a bad thing.

bookien Wed 02-Sep-09 23:28:16

Well - what an outpouring, big thanks to all. There are many good points here, and yesAtheneNoctua - you've got the situation perfectly. As for those who trashed me - it's OK, I have thick skin.

I have always been fine with a certain amount of personal errands during work hours and agree with posters here that it's good for children to spend some time experiencing life as it is. However this arrangement is based on trust - that the nanny will still make an effort to make it amusing or educational (as I do, when I take the kids on errands), or at a minimum not abuse the practice (constantly running personal errands). There was something about these two situations that made me think the line was being crossed. As was pointed out, a lot could have been avoided if she had simply been more open with me.

As for those of you who think the child was ridiculous for calling me to express boredom, you are totally right, he was acting spoiled and I didn't indulge him (I never indulge a child who calls me to complain about something happening at home with the nanny - it would totally undermine the nanny). But the bad behavior of my child does not absolve my nanny.

MissSunny Thu 03-Sep-09 10:37:07

Message withdrawn

BonsoirAnna Thu 03-Sep-09 11:02:03

No, none of that stuff. I wait until I am on my own.

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