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nannies & parents - could use your input pls on new nanny --sorry, very long

(37 Posts)
theory Wed 14-Oct-09 13:30:52

We started a nanny share with our neighbors (two babies, around a year old) this fall, and although in some ways, the arrangment is working really well, we're having some problems communicating with the nanny. Or at least I think it's a communication problem?

Nanny is very kind and loving with the babies, friendly to us parents, and has a positive attitude overall -- all good. She has problems with time management, though, and we sometimes question her judgment. She's promised to call us and forgetten (when she'd been ill, to say whether she'd be coming to work the following day, for example). This week, she was late in coming home at the end of the day with the babies and didn't phone us with any warning. As it turned out, they were on a slow bus in rush hour, having been out all day at a friend's house about an hour away. (Friend has a baby, who was having a birthday party.)

I don't want be unfair-- she had our permission to go to this party, and she has gone to visit people in this area before. (She used to work there.) But I do wonder about her going out there for the whole day, coming home at rush hour...not to mention not calling! The little ones were exhausted, and we ended up waiting almost an hour.

What do you think of this? We've had a nanny before (for just our girl), and I never had to spell things out: "Yes, you can go to this party, but you must leave after two hours" or "you can meet your friends in your old area, but only twice a week" or "you must phone us by 9PM if you are ill"-- this feels demeaning. But her behavior so far makes me think that this is necessary. She's very apologetic when we point out the problems, but she doesn't seem to SEE the problems on her own. Thoughts on how to handle this? We like her and really want to make this work.

FABIsInTraining Wed 14-Oct-09 13:38:55

How old is she?

Does the other family feel the same?

Does she expect to get paid for the hour she was late getting home?

Did you ring her to see where she was?

theory Wed 14-Oct-09 13:49:02

She's 20. Yes, the other family feel the same way. (One of the great things about the share is that both families have been on the same page. And we chose nanny together.)

She was apologetic about being late, so I can't imagine she expected we'd pay her-- this didn't come up.

We (both mums) phoned her and couldn't get through right away. She said she had network problems with the phone reception, and I have them, too, sometimes, so I believe it.

FABIsInTraining Wed 14-Oct-09 13:50:52

So what do you intend to do?

claricebeansmum Wed 14-Oct-09 13:54:07

I think there is blame on both sides...

When you discussed the party did you check what time you thought she would be home? Did you specifically ask her to be home at a set time. So if our nanny had said I a going to the party and will be home about 5 I would have probably questioned was that going to work in the rush hour. And always have the rule - phone. If you are late leaving, phone. If you are stuck somewhere, phone.

On the phoning about ill...maybe she was fast asleep ill? I would have said if I don't hear from you by, say 7pm, then either I will call you or I will assume that you won't be in.

I think you need to be more explicit with your communication.

theory Wed 14-Oct-09 14:02:00

I asked her when the party was (noon), and it honestly never crossed my mind that she would stay so late--mostly because if I were in her shoes, it would never occur to me! (both for my sake and the babies' sake) Same thing about phoning when she was ill. I didn't set the rule--call us by XYZ time-- because it never occured to me that she would need that. (When I did talk to her, finally, she was having a late supper, not sleeping.)

I completely agree about explicit communication-- the problem is I'm having a hard time anticipating what I need to be clear about, if you see what I mean. Lots of rules?

FABIsInTraining Wed 14-Oct-09 14:04:47

Some nannies just need more spelling out than others.

Feelingoptimistic Wed 14-Oct-09 14:27:34

Theory - just wanted to say that I've had two nannies, and had a similar issue with one of them. It was exactly the same kind of issue - me feeling that a lot of stuff was common sense, and that I should not have to spell it out.

I think all you can do is just see how it goes. Try setting a few more rules - e.g. "we would prefer for the babies not to be out all day, as it is too tiring for them", etc. It's likely that she will still do things that you are not happy with (because you can't spell everything out !) but it may be that you can overlook those things, so long as the babies are happy and safe. That was my experience.

argento Wed 14-Oct-09 15:07:16

Sounds like she lacks iniative/common sense - some people do. Doesn't necessarily make her a bad nanny, just one that needs more management.

Maybe yopu could put together a little handbook for her - I've been given similar in nursery jobs. Spell out all the procedures you want her to follow - "if you are ill, call us by 7am, and then again at 7pm every day you are away to let us know if you will be back the next day"/"if you plan to travel out of the area, please seek permission in advance"/"please have the children home and ready for their parents by 5pm".

Sounds like she needs clear guidelines. Maybe both sets of parents and the nanny could get together and draw up these things collaboratively?

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 14-Oct-09 15:38:45

what time should she finish/you are back?

if at the party at noon then suprised still there 5hrs after

but maybe all were having fun and easier to give the 2 babys tea there, then come home - rather than battle travel for an hour with 2 tired, wingy hungary babies

she may have not had signal - but for the entire journey?

she should have called you when she reliesed she was going to be late

sone 20yr olds are sensible and have common knowledge = others dont - same goes for some 30yr+ nannys i know smile

theory Wed 14-Oct-09 15:59:26

Thanks, everyone. I like the idea of a handbook. We're meeting (all parents plus nanny) tonight after work to talk things over, and maybe I'll suggest that we put things in writing. I'm wondering what other problems we need to anticipate!

It does seem to be a common sense thing. And that does makes me trust her less with the babies on her own (will she have her head on her shoulders if there's an emergency?)

Perhaps I should ask for a daily midday check-in phone call or text?

FABIsInTraining Wed 14-Oct-09 17:04:43

Nothing to stop you ringing her whenever you want.

Two of my bosses rang me every day to check all was well and I could phone them any time I wanted.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 14-Oct-09 17:16:55

tho fab , theory doesnt want to have to keep keeping tabs on her nanny when she is meant to be at work working

you do need to trust your nanny and her common sense

hopefully after tonights chat, things will improve

my mb and often send little texts to each other through out the day, tho more mb asking if i could take out something from freezer and me telling her no 3 poo's are foul and what on earth did she feed her yesterday grin

FABIsInTraining Wed 14-Oct-09 17:19:37

It was never about that with my mum's. They liked to see how I and their child were and it was nice to talk to them in the day. If they felt I needed keeping tabs on I wouldn't have been looking after their children.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 14-Oct-09 17:21:54

true - there has to be trust

but how to you trust someone you dont know, who doesnt seem to use their common sense?

i also send pics of what we have been doing to mb/db - which they love getting

swimming, tumbletots,at park, partys etc

nannynick Wed 14-Oct-09 17:26:57

You have mentioned two occasions... but I'm wondering if there are other occasions as well... as you say you have had some time management issues. Is it just these occasions you have mentioned... or have there been more?
Surprised that on a slow bus journey there was no point at which a text message could be sent - is reception that bad in your area? While calling may not have been possible given reception difficulties - a text I find can get through if the phone gets a connection at some point.

For sickness I feel you need to have some kind of procedure in place... so that it is clear on both sides what is expected. Someone won't always know at say 8.55pm that they won't be in work the next day. They may well plan to be in work, then get sicker overnight. So dealing with sickness is tricky. Luckily nannies don't tend to be sick that often - we tend to work even if feeling a bit under the weather. If you find that your nanny is taking days off sick on quite a regular basis, keep an eye on that, track the sick days, see if there is a pattern.

HowlingAtTheMoon Wed 14-Oct-09 17:26:59

We do a nanny share and for the first few months it was about all of us just getting used to it and to everyone's expectations, we have done it for a year now and most of those initial problems have disappeared, the ones left over are more about me and my particular ways grin. Give it a while, if she is generally doing a good job and the kids are happy then try and make things work.

theory Wed 14-Oct-09 21:22:17

We had the talk this evening. Not sure how it went. She clearly feels bad and told us she's finding the job stressful. Fair enough -I'd find taking care of two babies stressful, too! So she apologized again and said she wasn't quite herself yet on the job, was more distracted-harried than usual, is adjusting etc. Also, she said she wanted to take care of everything and not bother us with possible problems (like running late). We all talked about some clearer guidelines, and I'm hoping that will help her, and us. I asked her to text me everyday at midday with a little update.

(The phone thing has been a problem before-I have called, and texted in the past, but she doesn't pick up. And then forgets to call back. So, yes, there have been other time management/responsiveness issues...)

Anyway, I have to say, we had already set one guidelines--that she'd straighten up the dining area after afternoon snack--and it was a total mess today when I go thome...I didn't mention it, because I didn't want her to feel completely under atack, but it's frustrating.

Now I'm mostly venting. Thanks everyone for the input.

sofewbraincellsleft Wed 14-Oct-09 21:44:20

Just reading your last post; did your nanny say what, in particular, she is finding stressful about the job?

Has your nanny got previous experience of caring for two babies?

MatNanPlus Wed 14-Oct-09 21:56:46

Your nanny sounds swamped Theory, maybe a quiet chat to find out more about what she is stressed about as it might be fixable?

theory Wed 14-Oct-09 21:57:55

No, no experience of two babies. She's finding it hard to get them down sleeping at the same time (though this is getting better) - I think that's the main stresser for her. And getting them in and out of our flat isn't easy (live in a building with a lift that's too small for the buggy). But it seems like she's working that one out too. She says she finds it hard when they're "sad" and crying-- again, from what I understand,that's mostly related to the sleeping and to the normal baby protests that you get sometimes about nappy changes and things like that.

Twinkleys Wed 14-Oct-09 22:29:56

I find it difficult to read this and not be concerned about the safety of the babies when your nanny is quite clearly so stressed. She is not respecting you as a parent nor thinking about your feelings when you are entrusting her with your child. I too would be wanting her to phone and let me know when she is running late, surely she should know that you are going to be concerned when she is that late! It sounds as if this boils down to lack of experience. The fact that you are giving her clear guidlines in that you are asking her to undertake certain tasks and she is ignoring this does not bode too well. I am afraid it sounds like this nanny is out of her depth!

sticktoyourgins Thu 15-Oct-09 02:43:10

I agree with Twinkleys. In fact if I were you I would be taking immediate leave from work to care for my baby until I'd found a nanny/nursery that didn't get stressed looking after my baby and who didn't ignore my calls.

nooka Thu 15-Oct-09 03:43:49

I think it's very unhelpful not to give clear guidelines on how you want things to be managed. We all tend to think "common sense" is universal, but really it isn't, everyone has their own take. Nanny shares are tricky, and I imagine looking after two babies is much harder than looking after one, or two of different ages and the nanny might not have really taken that in.

Also with a nannyshare there are two sets of parents to keep happy, which must be quite difficult too, as even though you think you feel pretty alike, there may be all sorts of subtle variations in how you do things. I also wonder if you and your fellow parents have had a nanny before? Just because we didn't really learn how to manage the relationship properly until we had our second nanny and were much clear about what mattered to us.

I guess you need to decide whether she's going to get the hang of things, in which case you need to perhaps give her a settling period, and just be clear about the bare bones (non negotiables) whilst setting out when you expect her to have got the routine under her belt when your expectations will rise.

I really recommend writing your rules down, and getting her to take them home to look at, and asking her if there are any things that she is not clear about where a rule would help. Think about it as a job description or protocol. So long as the rules aren't too restrictive (in which case she may choose to leave) it really shouldn't be demeaning. So for example not "you must leave x party after two hours", but you must be back at (when ever you want her back), and nothing wrong with a time to ring about being ill, although most jobs would have that in the morning to be honest, with follow up calls every morning after that.

Hope it works out for you.

StillSquiffy Thu 15-Oct-09 08:14:43

She is not a 'natural' at the job and she does not have enough experience.

Now, in maybe a year or so she will have that experience and be great. Thing is, do you want your babies to be the ones she 'learns' with? TBH I wouldn't.

Her 'not quite getting it yet' etc all sounds like a newbie au pair, not a nanny. But it is fine with au pairs being a bit like this at first - if the kids miss having teeth brushed or have to be bribed to go to bed then the world doesn't stop turning and that is the kind of thing you can let go now and then with an AP, but nannies are there to set clear boundaries, be organised, teach your children, etc etc. If she is stressed she won't be able to do it. And any nanny that doesn't jump the minute you call is not one you are going to be comfortable with.

Is she qualified? Or is her previous work experience just the other family in the nanny share?

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