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How do I grow a pair and deal with this?

(72 Posts)
lobsters Wed 30-Sep-09 20:41:22

New nanny started this week, and overall it's going well, she gets on well with DD and looks after her well. However there are a few things that are niggling me aand I need to check I'm being reasonable to deal with. For background, I'm off all week to do the handover, and trying to stay in the background as much as possible and go out a lot. Examples are:

- she seems to show no iniative. One of the main things I was looking for and thought I had got was someone who could get on with things. Everyday this week I've had to tell/ suggest activities to do so it's not endlessly walking to the river to feed the ducks, as DD doesn't really enjoy this as it gives her no opportunity to roam (DD is 8 months, and only crawling). I've had to drive her round the area to show her where everything is, I guess I'm just used to in my job, if you want to know where somewhere is (and I'm out of the office a lot for meetings) you just get on the internet and find out.

- she seems to get an idea in her head and not think it though. She was wittering on since she got her about some special soup she makes and how we would all love it, and it would be great for DD. Today she brings it in to taste, despite me not being able to eat for 24 hours due to medical tests (which she knew about) and we then discover it has a normal stock cube in it, so I don't let her give it to DD due to salt levels. There have been other examples, where she is determined to go out somewhere, regardless of impact on nap or mealtimes. Sometimes I've had to stop her, but surely she should think about this for herself.

- I don't like the way she drives, went out in her car today, and thought she made a few right turns I wouldn't have. DD was screaming in the car, even though I was in the back with her and I think that was getting to the nanny.

- I'm trying to be generous with hours, but not feeling I'm getting it back. Her hours are 8-6, last 2 days she's been 5-15 mins late, there was a reason today, but still...... On Monday, she said" I know my hours are 8-6" but what time do you want me to start tomorrow. Everyday I've let her go a little bit early, as by 5.30 she's almost like a school kid hanging a round at the end of the school day. Also and this is probably where I'll get less sympathy, I had to go for medical procedure today that involved sedation, I found out about it last week. Both DH and my parents are abroad this week. Medical advice was that I needed someone to stay with me overnight, so I asked the nanny, making it clear we would pay her overtime. She seemed to say yes quite happily. Anyway today came back from the hospital, I was quite a lot more with it after sedation than expected, so nanny jsut kept aksking if she could go home as I was fine. I felt she was asking in a way I couldn't say no. I'm feeling fine now, but I guess I could have a funny turn in the night, and now it's only me and DD at home. I'm quite annoyed about it now.

- she keeps going home without doing all her jobs. I don't think I'm that demanding, but one task I'm very clear about is to make up bottles so we have some ready for overnight and early morning. Also clear up all the tea stuff. I was upstairs putting DD to bed when she left and came downstairs to find lots of things not done.

Just had a chat to DH, he suggests I have a "what went well, what went badly" chat with her on Friday, Am I overacting to these points? How do I address them best? Next week is my first week at work, DH is the busiest he's been at work for a year, so I'm going to need her to do some overtime. I need to be able to rely on her.

Very sorry this is long an rambling, I'm trying to be clear on the issues (and failed)

sunburntats Wed 30-Sep-09 20:49:59

No i dont think that you are asking the earth.
I think that you maybe need to actually write down your expectations for her in black and white, to be crystal clear.
What about your contract with her.

At the end of the day you need to be 100% comfortable with leaving your child with this person.

OnlyWantsOneFartleBerry Wed 30-Sep-09 20:50:53

I think what you are feeling is the inability to let go - not that what your suggesting isnt a real or valid problem, but is it more that you are leaving your DD at 8 months in the hands of another person?

If you are paying her - and she has tasks to do, then she should get them done. I think your DH's idea of a chat on Friday is good - or you could write a list in the morning of things you want doing that day and stick it on the fridge.

hope you are feeling better x

sweethoney Wed 30-Sep-09 21:05:48

Set out a daily routine for her and emphasise what is very important and must happen i.e set times for naps, lunch etc. Do a little bit of research for her on toddler groups, music groups etc and ask/tell her to try them out. I find in the few few weeks of employing a nanny, if they have an exact timetable to follow according to the normal routine, they get used to how you like things done and you are comfortable knowing exactly what they are doing. After a few weeks and you feel more confident, things can get a little more relaxed and the nanny often takes mroe control

Buy an Annabel Karmel cook book and ask her to cook the babyfood from the book and highlight particular ones your DD will like (she should also be making baby food in batches to freeze) Make sure all the ingredients are in or ask her to get them in on an outing with DD.

State that her hours are 8-6 and when you start work they may even be a bit longer, but she will be paid for it.

How old is she, is she v experienced? She sounds young?

frakkinpannikin Wed 30-Sep-09 21:17:15

Chat on Friday definitely.

Initiative you can't do much about - either people have it or they don't - but you can work with this by giving her a timetable and lists. Nor can you do much about the set ideas other than a) ignore them or b) have your own set ideas she has to follow. Make sure she's familiar with the local area and activities - she may not want to look stuff up on internet while she's working and you're there.

Make her work contracted hours and dock her pay if she is late, assuming she's paid by the hour. She might be thinking that as you're at home she may not be needed the whole time - I know that in my last job if one boss was going to be around in the morning and it was school holidays they'd say I didn't need to come in until X time. Likewise with the leaving early - as long as my jobs were done if my boss was home I could go BUT this wouldn't happen during a handover week and I wouldn't leave stuff undone.

Make sure she knows the overtime's coming (and if she refuses to do it then have a backup, possible a MNer who's near you to babysit because going back to work needs to be as stress free as possible) but that she will be paid.

Would you be prepared to pay for refresher driving lessons?

Having said all that the one thing I would be REALLY annoyed about (and I think is v. unprofessional) is the fact she asked to go home, against the advice of your doctor, because you 'seem' fine to her expert eyes, having agreed to do the overtime. I know this isn't helpful right now but it's a serious thing because you may sleep very deeply and not hear your DD, or a smoke alarm (unlikely but that's the risk). I would be calling her right now to come back.

lobsters Wed 30-Sep-09 22:17:02

Thanks for the advice, I do appreciate. Definitely having a chat on Friday, I'm being a bit unreasonable I've realised, it's not that I'm not letting go, I just want her to do exactly what I do (or better), without me having to run through in detail what I do every minute. It's take me almost 9 months to work out what I'm doing, and it still changes everyday. I will write down more clearly the essential tasks.

I am annoyed about tonight, but can't really call her back now. I'm going to explain that I'm disappointed that she put me in a position where I couldn't reasonably say no.

I have been showing her some of the local groups, I wanted her to find some herself, but you are probably right about not wanting to use the computer while I'm here.

She's in her late 30's and has nannied for a number of years, but not so much recently.

Anyway I'm now off to tidy up the kitchen as it wasn't done before she left.

Summersoon Wed 30-Sep-09 22:32:48

She doesn't sound terribly enthusiastic about her job. Or, to put it another way, she sounds (slightly?) lazy to me. This should not be happening in the first week in particular when people generally put their best foot forward in anew job. You obviously think that you will need her to do quite a bit of (paid) overtime and, just on the basis, of what you have written, it sounds to me as if this could become a problem in that she won't really want to do it. You'll end up feeling as if you are asking her a huge favour every time you want her to work overtime and that is not going to make you feel good.

I think that you do need to have a very open talk with her to see whether your and her expectations of the job are the same.

Hope you feel better tomorrow!

frakkinpannikin Wed 30-Sep-09 22:34:01

It's understandable, and not entirely unreasonable, but it kinda depends whether you're willing to let go so she can feel her way OR run through things in detail.

I'm sure it will settle down - handover is the hardest time for nannies and employers IMO!

lobsters Wed 30-Sep-09 22:37:38

Summersoon, thanks for that. One problem is that every time I ask her to do something, she says yes and seems very keen and enthusiastic, I'm only just beginnng to learn now that it doesn't always equate to action.

I'm also beginning to panic that if I have chat with her on Friday, she will decide it's not for her and leave, leaving me completely up the spout for starting work on Monday.

DH's idea is that we get my mum to come and stay for a few days to do the overtime bits and keep half an eye on the nanny, but I think my head would explode if I had to deal with both of them and starting back at work in the same week.

argento Wed 30-Sep-09 22:42:21

I find handovers a bit difficult as a nanny, especially long ones (a week is quite long imo). It's hard taking iniative without stepping on the mum's toes, I feel a bit self-conscious finding my own way/making mistakes with the mum watching, and there just isn't enough work for two people.

Not staying the night after she agreed to was wrong though. Did you make clear upfront that overtime would be required as part of the job?

Summersoon Wed 30-Sep-09 22:49:04

Hi, me again.

Based on my own experience, I would not recommend that your MIL comes to stay as your nanny might well resent that and it might also confuse her as your MIl might have slightly diferent ideas about what needs to be done when than you.
But I do think that you need to have that chat. Put it to you this way, if her and your ideas are really very different and she is willing to walk away from the job on the basis of that talk, it is better that it happen now, rather than after months of not being really happy. You don't have to and shouldn't make this confrontational but I do think that you need to be very clear as to what your expectations are. You can layer the criticism with praise for what she does well and also find out what she really thinks.

theoriginalmummypoppins Wed 30-Sep-09 22:52:08

Lobsters it is a very stressful time for you and I do sympathise. I went back to work full time when DC's were very young ( weeks old ) and I have done nurseries , prep schools , nannies and au pairs. I still post for advice because the whole concept of trusting your loved ones to another is horrible but here are some words of wisdom.

1. Nobody is perfect ( including us parents ) and most childcare is a compromise

2. If a nanny is good and gels with your children that is 90% of the battle. I recently parted company with a nanny because although she was fantastic at most things she did not gel with my ds and in the space of 2 months my ds withdrew into his shell.It was not her fault but it was not good and it will always have to be a family fit.

3. Be more prescriptive about what you expect.My nanny job description has 29 paragraphs and my 2 are school age. You can always bend the rules at a later date when you realise you were just being paranoid ! If DD has a set timetable then tell her. Set out what jobs must be done everyday so that you have a yardstick to measure her by.Make sure you have a house diary and that everything is recorded.

4. Is she really a bad driver or are you just a bad passenger ? Get her to have an assessment with a BSM instructor at your expense. They will be a better judge. Just ask the question I did with all my au pairs......would you trust them in the car with your children.

5. Be realistic about your expectations. Worrying about a stock cube in home made soup is ridiculous IMHO. You talk about bottles so are happily chucking artificial milk down DD's neck. My parents were brought up on a diet of sugar sandwiches and bread and dripping. Still happy and healthy in their 70's. I know all the advice and rules but be realistic. Write out a menu and ask nanny to stick to it. That is not unreasonable but be sensible. Make sure you shop to the menu too.

6. Look after yourself but that is not nanny's job. I cannot imagine within the first few weeks of employment expecting nanny with or without pay to cover an overnight for mums' health issues. Maybe that could have been done differently?

7. Stick to the contractual hours for at least the first 6 weeks. In the real world nobody I know doesnt' work at least their contracted hours every week. Why should nannies be any different. They earn the right to time off occasionally if there is a crisis or as a gesture of goodwill in return for over and above the call of duty.

One of the hardest things I have found over the years is emphasising to nanny that she is employed to make my life easier. You need to manage the situation and goodness knows its hard from both sides. My last nanny told me on several occasions that she was delighted to have secured a job looking after school age children as it gave her more " me " time ! Working an average 60 to 70 hour week I did not see it the same way !!

Good luck Lobsters.

frakkinpannikin Wed 30-Sep-09 23:17:00

If she decides to leave you will be able to find a temp at short notice for Monday. If you are completely screwed CAT me. I'm free for at least the week and wasn't planning to work but will help a MNer in dire straits as BoffinMum will attest.

nannynick Wed 30-Sep-09 23:55:19

It's late, so I'm going to quick post and run.

I feel that the arriving late for work is a major problem that need nipping in the bud immediately. If 8am is the start time, then your nanny needs to be aiming to be at work, ready to work at 8am. I start at 8am, typically I arrive around 7.50am, so if Mum Boss or Dad Boss are needing to dash off, they can.

Arriving for work late should happen once in a blue moon - sometimes things happen on route that make it unavoidable. But most of the time your nanny should be arriving Early.

>went out in her car today, and thought she made a few right turns I wouldn't have.

Not sure what you are meaning by that... would you prefer she had turned left?

HarrietTheSpy Thu 01-Oct-09 00:03:19

Original mummy poppins
I don't understand why, if OP was having medical treatment, she couldn't ask the nanny to stay and be in charge of the children while she recovered?! How would it be different if she had to go into hospital and organise emergency overnight care? It isn't any different. It's just another form of childcare. OP I think it's outrageous you agreed this with her and then, as FP says, she took a look at you and judged you fit and left.

HarrietTheSpy Thu 01-Oct-09 00:05:35

I am assuming that the idea wasn't that she was physically looking after YOU, bringing you tea in bed etc (although I have to say our nanny would do this for me I'm sure!!), but watching after the kids so you could recover and rest.

nbee84 Thu 01-Oct-09 00:34:35

I wondered about the car thing and turning right too?

Yes, sit down and have a talk and run through of your expectations. I think you would be better to make more of a judgement of her after she has had her first week of sole charge. You may find she is much better and uses her initiative more when doesn't have mum 'watching' over her shoulder.

Was over-time clearly discussed at the interview? Was it mentioned that it could be quite a lot and quite regular? An overnight in her 1st week (though she was wrong to badger you into letting her leave) and, as mentioned, more in her second week, is quite a lot of over-time that she may not have been expecting? I find when you are new to a job (and have Mum around) the days feel long until you get used to them.

From what I've read, on the one hand you want her to use her initiative and not need your guidance, on the other you seem quite prescriptive of what she can and cannot do. It maybe confusing her and with luck she will be better when she is by herself.

At the end of the day though you are your dd's Mummy and you are the nannies employer, so what you say goes and nanny has to respect your wishes over duties, routine, food etc. Even if your nanny has other ideas she should respect your wishes first and foremost.

Good luck with the chat. I hope it goes well and things settle down for you for your first week back at work. smile

frakkinpannikin Thu 01-Oct-09 00:51:25

I interpreted the right turn thing as nanny was turning right, there were cars coming, OP wouldn't have risked it but nanny judged there was enough space.

nannynick Thu 01-Oct-09 07:12:43

"I've had to drive her round the area to show her where everything is"

Is she not a local? How far away does she live?

I don't know about some things local to where I work, as although it is only 8 miles away from my home, it isn't an area that I had been to much before. However I do use local guides, search the net, post on Mumsnet asking about things to do in the area.

Are you giving her a budget for activities - is that budget realistic given the cost of places in your area, particularly indoor places (as winter is approaching)? Children's centres are quite good (usually, it does vary from place to place) with regard to free/low cost baby groups/toddler groups.

nannynick Thu 01-Oct-09 07:21:08

Sorry to hear that it isn't going that well so far.

If she arrives late this morning, then I feel you need to have a chat about working hours, importance of being on time, then and there... as you can't have her coming to work late next week - you have to get to work yourself.

Romanarama Thu 01-Oct-09 07:44:47

Tbh she sounds like she'll be no good, if she's that bad right at the beginning. I so agree with mummypoppins about the 'making your life easier' part. A nanny should be able to handle a routine and appropriate food for a baby without you planning it for her.

But, if you want to keep her you have to tell her that her hours are 8 to 6, there is no question of leaving early or arriving late, unless she asks well in advance for a particular reason. And give her a timetable, a list of foods, and a list of jobs that she must check and sign to show she's completed all of them before she leaves every day.

And if she agreed to stay then of course she should have done. She's an adult too and could have said 'no' at the beginning if she wasn't prepared to.

And don't let her drive your baby without having a driving assessment if you're not happy about it. If she has a crash you will never forgive yourself.

ScummyMummy Thu 01-Oct-09 07:46:50

The poor woman's probably been miserable and wanting out from the moment that you rejected her special soup! Honestly, if I took a home made dish into work out of the goodness of my heart and my boss acted like I was trying to poison everyone, I'd be totally gutted and looking for alternative employment. I'd start your Friday chat with an apology, if you don't want her to run for the hills.

Hope things get better- agree with those who've said that it sounds like these problems may be connected with you making the difficult transition back to work and feeling that no one is quite good enough to look after your gorgeous baby. Total sympathy on that one and hope next week goes well.

lobsters Thu 01-Oct-09 11:03:39

Thank you for all your comments, they are appreciated. I think you're right, I hadn't fully let the realities of going back to work sink in, i think it has today and I've had a good old cry about it.

I was probably wrong to ask her to stay last night, at the time it seemed like the ideal soultion and she did say yes. I almost came on here to ask advice before I asked her, but didn't, maybe I should have. I am a bit annoyed she she didn't stay in the end, and will mention it tomorrow.

With regards to meals, we had a bit of a discussion this morning and she suggested some thigns she was going to cook, which all sounded fine. I'm not going to change my mind about the stock cubes, everything I read says don't give them to babies until they are 1, and I'm going to stick to it. I would have happily eaten her soup yesterday, it did look nice, but I really wasn't allowed to eat for 24 hours. TBH at that point I was so hungry i would have eaten the cat biscuits.

Overtime next week, she has said yes and seems OK about. It is sooner than I had hoped, but I think we were clear at the interview that the possibility existed, and we would need flexibility. It's jsut unfortunate that after not really travelling for a year DH has to be away just as I go back to work.

I'm going to be very clear tomorrow about the bottles and clearing up after herself, that bit is non-negotiable.

Nanny and DD are at toddler group now, and then we're all going to go to soft play this afternoon, but I'm going to go out for lunch in the meantime. Nanny wants me to go to soft play so I can show her where it is. i did suggest it earlier in the week, but she turned it down saying it was too sunny.

I'm thinking about buying a cheap sat nav for her, so it will be easier for her to find places at the beginning. What do you think?

argento Thu 01-Oct-09 12:57:33

"From what I've read, on the one hand you want her to use her initiative and not need your guidance, on the other you seem quite prescriptive of what she can and cannot do. It maybe confusing her and with luck she will be better when she is by herself."

Agree with this. I think either you need to give her instructions for timetables, food that is/isn't allowed, activities to do - or you need to leave her to get on with it.

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 01-Oct-09 15:01:17

am i the only one who thinks lobster should seriously think if she wants to continue with this nanny?

the first few weeks in a new nanny can can be stressful and always harder when mb is there doing a handover-tbh most of my jobs havent had a handover, i just get thrown in deep end(which im happy with)

being late is a no no,esp on first week when you try and make a good impression( tho always should tbh)

her duties should be done

if asked and agrees to stay over (esp after having medical treatment) then she should have stayed with you even if you felt better

if your nanny is like this now, what will she be like in a few months?

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