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New nanny - worried I might have made a mistake

(43 Posts)
Kooza Tue 26-Feb-13 17:56:04

We have a new nanny who has been with us for just over a month. The first 2 weeks of her employment involved a handover with our old nanny who left us after 2 years together to go back to school.

At the time of interview she seemed fine, keen, kind and trustworthy. Her references were good, the odd issue about little things like snacks but in general they were really good.

The problem is that I am now worried she isn't up to the job. She's trying very hard and is keen but is displaying some serious lack of common sense in several areas and hasn't really showed much initiative with regards to my youngest DS's (3) care. She's supposedly had loads of experience.

Couple of examples:
Today my 2 oldest DCs came home in the freezing cold from swimming with wet hair and no hats on despite me specifically asking her to make sure they wore them to come home because it's SO bloody cold.

There have been several instances of burnt mouths from food being served scalding hot (with no warning)

Took over 2 hours to make spaghetti bolognese yesterday.

All the play mates my old nanny had cultivated for youngest DS have not been seen or heard of since. I have asked her twice to arrange things but it seems to go in one ear and out of the other.

Correcting my DS's spellings wrongly. ie. "no, definitely has an 'a' in the middle not an 'i'. [Stand up all pedants!]

Unable to explain the meanings of even simple words in their reading.

As of September my oldest DS will be at a different school to my middle DD and I am having a hard time imagining her coping with the level of organisation required.
I work from home 3 days a week and so am around about 50% of the time. I am trying to take a step back and let her find her feet but I worry when she doesn't seem to remember simple instructions or show basic common sense.

I am probably sounding like a bit of an ogre but honestly I have always been a very relaxed and friendly boss. Our old nanny was in floods of tears when she left and said it was the most wonderful job she'd ever had.

I am thinking of having a '6 week review' to go over some of this stuff but don't want the poor girl to feel like I'm just sitting there churning out criticism!

I really want to give her a fair chance to make this work and get up to speed. I guess my main concern is that even when I make a specific point of asking her to do something she still forgets. God forbid there should be any kind of emergency situation.

I feel like I interviewed a bright and experienced nanny but seem to have ended up with someone else? sad

Lostonthemoors Tue 26-Feb-13 18:01:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Kooza Tue 26-Feb-13 18:06:37

Unfortunately the probation period was only a month and that has passed. I suppose I could just give a month's notice and start looking for someone else. A new nursery has opened up nearby so I could say we're going to send DS there.

I just feel really bewildered! Surely she can't have been like this at her other jobs?

Earlybird Tue 26-Feb-13 18:09:40

How upsetting.

Where did you find the new nanny (if agency, is there recourse)? Did your old nanny give any indication of misgivings as they worked together in handover period?

forevergreek Tue 26-Feb-13 18:15:43

It does sound a bit strange

(ps it takes me 6 hrs to make bolgnaise! I leave it cooking that long according to Heston smile )- but I wouldn't be looking at it the whole time.

Kooza Tue 26-Feb-13 18:40:53

Earlybird yeah she did unfortunately. She commented on how the new nanny wasn't really mucking in with anything, just wandering around letting our old nanny do everything. She was also the one who noticed the wrong spelling corrections.

I wanted to give her a fair crack of the whip and thought maybe she would find her feet a bit more once she was left on her own. Unfortunately it looks like I was wrong.

Lostonthemoors Tue 26-Feb-13 18:45:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeChatRouge Tue 26-Feb-13 18:46:14

I think you might have to chalk this one up to experience unfortunately. She might be better suited to younger children (although the burnt mouth thing is worrying).

Give her her notice, let her go, move on, get rid. I don't think it will get better if you chat.

AhCmonSeriouslyNow Tue 26-Feb-13 18:51:00

I think I agree with LeChatRouge up there.
I had a live-out nanny/childminder person and there were several little issues - eventually she lost the trust of my husband completely (there was a minor accident which she reported as happening very differently to what our DD was saying...and changed her story a couple of times) and we looked elsewhere.

I think I smothered my gut feelings when hiring her as I was under pressure and really wanted to find someone. My husband had reservations from the start.

Lostonthemoors Tue 26-Feb-13 19:02:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Levantine Tue 26-Feb-13 19:06:26

I don't think this is something you can manage through chats really - if someone doesn't have the commonsense to make sure a small child's food isn't scalding then I don't really know what you can do. I agree with the others, I think you will have to let her go

Kooza Tue 26-Feb-13 20:26:41

You are right, I was ignoring the alarm bells that started to ring during the handover. I think like Lost and Cmon I just ignored them and hoped she would improve.

I am relieved that there seems to be general agreement that the points I mentioned are worrisome. I wasn't sure if I was being overbearing or a horrible boss.

She did mention that it had taken her a long time to find this job so maybe other prospective employers had their radar on a higher setting than mine! I was just so relieved to find someone who seemed competent and kind.

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 26-Feb-13 21:18:18

Could you re-check her references and ask specifically about common sense?

Tbh it doesn't sound great and I agree with everyone else about listening to your gut instinct but to play devil's advocate;

wet hair and no hats on - how old are the older two? Old enough to know they're supposed to wear a hat? Old enough to refuse to wear their hats? Any chance they're giving her a hard time because they miss old nanny/know they can get away with it?

There have been several instances of burnt mouths from food being served scalding hot (with no warning) - can't really defend that one, but how do you know there was no warning? Are you listening out to everything she says?

Took over 2 hours to make spaghetti bolognese yesterday - was she stopping to see to the children in between? Does she know where everything is?

All the play mates my old nanny had cultivated for youngest DS have not been seen or heard of since - has she tried and they don't want to? Nannying can be very bitchy/clicky, I've seen it happen where a group shut out a new nanny when their friend leaves.

Correcting my DS's spellings wrongly/ unable to explain the meanings of even simple words in their reading - some people are not very good at literacy, maybe because of specific learning difficulties e.g. dyslexia, maybe because of poor education. What were her GSCE's like? This is a very specific issue, if help with homework is needed then she clearly can't perfom that part of the job (without a dictionary at least). However, it has absolutely no bearing on common sense, reliability, trustwothiness, kindness, work ethic etc, all important in a nanny. If help with homework is not essential and a nanny was good in the other ways I mention I would maybe overlook this.

Kooza Tue 26-Feb-13 22:44:09

Hi Outraged.
I really appreciate your points; I'll try to answer:
Wet hair - oldest are 6 and 8 and would never dream of being so defiant or they know they would have me to face! Plus they don't mind wearing their hats! Maybe they should have known for themselves but it was her I specifically spoke to about it just before she left.
Burnt mouths - I am around for some meals when I'm home, by no means all. I don't listen out for everything as I'm trying not to interfere and to give her space to figure things out where possible (whilst still helping if she needs it). I happened to be making a cup of tea in the kitchen in the last 2 weeks when 3 of these events happened. Now that I say it 3 times in 2 weeks is a lot.
2 hours - pretty much chopping, stirring and staring at the pan...very slowly! grin
Playmates - she had not contacted anyone, despite repeated reminders. I actually had to say today, "please call her now" as every time I ask she just says "oh yeah I keep meaning to do that".
Spellings etc. - I agree. If everything else were fine I could potentially overlook this and try to make sure I am available for the homework assignments. (She is not dyslexic). it's just another issue I am disappointed about.

All in all I think I know the answer is staring me in the face, I'm just so disappointed and sad that I got it so wrong.
Thank you very much for the viewpoints and advice, just needed to think it all through with someone! smile

forevergreek Wed 27-Feb-13 07:35:34

Hmm personally with children 6 and 8 years some of those factors are up to them. I thought you meant 1-2 years/ baby.

They should put a hat on their own head, yes she should on courage but they must know they usually wear one. Also re food, shouldnt that age be testing for temperature? I don't think my toddlers just put any food in their mouth without seeing if it's hot/ cold first on edge of mouth ( and I check too)

Cooking- sounds like she might not have made before / and with another nanny aroun and children of that age they can entertain themselves for a bit or just come into the kitchen if needed ( I would have thought)

Maybe the homework is a sticking point but could a dictionary be brought? I suppose it depends on her attitude to learning also.

Playmates could you call to arrange first meet up if it's important? Or children help introduce her

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 27-Feb-13 12:35:57

she sounds a little wet behind the ears, is she young?

but to a certain point i agree with leeds, children 6 and 8 should know to wear a hat and blow on food etc

2 hrs to make a spag bol is a bit extreme

and yes you need a nanny who can spell

fedupwithdeployment Wed 27-Feb-13 12:54:17

I had some of those issues with an AP, and we struggled through for 5 months before she gave me notice. I was so delighted. I wish though that I had gripped the situation earlier and told her to go. She definitely upped the stress levels.

My DSs are 6 and 8, and one issue was allowing them to scoot back from swimming (a mile) without gloves when it was minus 3. They aren't used to checking food temp - if it is v hot, I would say so, so I can understand why this is an issue for you.

Kooza Wed 27-Feb-13 14:27:02

Thanks ladies,

I agree to a certain extent that children should know to wear hats/gloves/etc, and they do a lot of the time. However, if they forget (as children do) then the responsible adult, who has been reminded to make sure they don't come home in the freezing cold with wet hair, SHOULD have reminded them.

Equally with the food, I don't think the responsibility for something as potentially serious as that lies solely with the child. If I put something out and it's steaming hot I either tell them to wait a while before coming to the table or just shout "careful it's hot!" and they know to blow on it. My DS (3) actually screamed in pain.

To me, these things should just be automatic to someone very experienced in working with children?

The play date thing is annoying but by itself would be manageable. She has been introduced to everyone several times, she just isn't making any effort to arrange anything.

I'm conscious of not interfering and looking over her shoulder but the last few weeks have led me to have reservations about her general judgment. She also seems, for want of a better word, bored when she's at home with the DS3. From what I see & hear the times when I'm at home she's just sitting on the floor staring into space while he plays by himself. I don't hear much by way of reading stories, nursery rhymes, games or anything like that.
I appreciate that we can't all maintain a hysterically cheerful persona every minute of the day with our DCs, but this is her chosen profession.

I have asked her if we can have a chat/meeting tomorrow to review how things are going (from her point of view and mine). I'm going to give her the chance to improve but if things remain as they are then I'm probably going to have to look for someone else and give her notice.

I'm grateful for the viewpoints, helps me make sure I'm seeing both sides for our chat!

MGMidget Wed 27-Feb-13 16:14:11

I would definitely want to have another chat with her referees and look at dates she worked for them - how long and are there gaps unaccounted for? You mention she took a long time to find the current job - might she have left a previous job off her CV? She doesn't sound very good to me. I would have expected that of a very mediocre Au Pair, not someone who is presumably being paid nanny rates and supposedly has experience. I would be a bit suspicious about her references. And I would agree that warning about scalding hot food and reminding children to put their hats on in cold weather when they have wet hair ought to be automatic. Regardless of their age, kids can forget and she's presumably had experience with a range of ages so would surely do these things automatically even if they aren't toddlers?

Regarding the spelling, I think quite a lot of nannies are poorly educated, especially if they have been through the British system where young girls with poor grades are often steered into childcare (apologies to any reading it who have good educational grades but I suspect you are in the minority!). If she is from overseas then having English as a second language may account for the poor spelling. Either way, for her to help your children with homework she has to accept that she must consult a dictionary rather than correct them without checking first!

Playdates can be a bit trickier if the other nannies aren't being friendly but it sounds like she hasn't tried.

Good luck with the chat.

wickedwitchofwaterloo Wed 27-Feb-13 17:46:02

Steered into childcare because of poor grades?

wickedwitchofwaterloo Wed 27-Feb-13 17:47:54

I know you apologised, but still. Every British nanny I know has had a decent education and went into child care because they wanted to work with children. Not because they were steered into it.
Not helpful to this thread but felt I had to comment.

forevergreek Wed 27-Feb-13 17:56:52

Same, apart from the odd few, every nanny I know is highly qualified ( usually degree level).

KateShmate Wed 27-Feb-13 18:06:50

All sounds strange OP, and I can see why you seem so upset about it - is not what you were expecting at all!
I think that it's understandable to get a few things wrong every now and then - she is a human being, after all; but I just think that it seems a bit strange. It doesn't sound like she is particularly enjoying the job? Has she been a nanny before?
Our nanny sounds similar to your old nanny, and is just wonderful! We employed a nanny after I found out I was pregnant with triplets - we had 2 older girls (just 2 and just 3) and husband works long hours. We've recently had to cut her hours because our triplets are 3 now and at pre-school 2 days a week. She and I are absolutely gutted because we've all been so close the last few years, and she has been amazing. I hope this doesn't sound really harsh OP, but I'm not sure I could carry on employing a nanny like the one you are explaining?
I think it's the lack of warmth towards the children? I can't imagine our nanny just staring at our girls, not wanting to engage with any kind of communication or play; it just seems strange?
I honestly feel like I would be able to trust our nanny as much as I would trust my own mum, or even my husband - I think that if there isn't any trust, then it's hard to make any kind of relationship because deep down you feel like you are watching everything she does. Understandably so, of course!
Sorry OP, I forgot that you had a previous nanny, so know what to 'compare' (for want of a better word?) her to.
If you had chucked her in at the deep end - i.e. employed her and she started the next day with no instructions or anything, then her behaviour would be more understandable, but the fact that you even had a 2 week over-lapping period so that she knew what she had to do, shows you what you need to know, I suppose.
Sorry if any of this sounds harsh towards her OP, but you are trusting her with your children - sometimes if it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be.

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 28-Feb-13 09:58:03

Ditto www

I became a nanny as I wanted to work with children from a young age - I have good gsces and then went to college for 2yrs to do the nneb - not because I got crap grades in exams and thought what the hell that's be a nanny

I'm rather insulted at your comment mg

FlorenceMattell Thu 28-Feb-13 17:36:16

I'm a nanny with a degree. Very rude to say nannies are uneducated. Not being able to spell is not a sign of intelligence, could be dyslexia.

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