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nannies - friends visiting and food - long, am I being unreasonable, type post

21 replies

motherpeculiar · 12/10/2005 13:53

as some of you know we have a new p/t nanny looking after DD1 (3) and DD2 (6mths)

I've had some issues which I discussed with her on Monday and we have agreed ways forward on most (will wait and see if this works)

last week she took the DDs off to visit a friend of hers nearby - she told me she wanted to do this and I didn't argue but afterwards felt I don't want it to happen again - I think DD2 is a bit young tbh and didn't really like her taking them off in a car. WHen we spoke on Monday I said I wanted them to stay local ,park etc.

Anyway, when she arrived today I asked her her plan for the day - stay home in am so DD2 could sleep in cot, then go out after lunch. Sounded fine to me. On monday we had agreed that I would come down from office everday at 12 for lunch to try to get DD1 out of habit of coming up to see me all the time. WHen I came down today there was a friend of nanny's in the kitchen and a little boy I'd never seen before sitting at table eating lunch. This hadn't been mentioned to me when I asked about plans 3 hours previously. They seemed perfectly pleasant btw.

I was very taken aback. WOuld you have been? If you have a nanny/are a nanny can you tell me if this is common practice?

the other thing that is niggling me is that she had cooked up all the fish I'd left out for both kids (whereas I had planned to have what wasn't cokked for DD1 later) and also two organic chicken breasts from the fridge for her and her friend (which were expensive and which I had definitely envisaged DH and I having sometime this week) - again - is this normal nanny behaviour? don't know whether I should feel really irked or what

hadn't really laid down any rules about food, other than to tell her to help herself for lunch etc but I honestly didn't expect her and friend who I knew nothing about to be eating my 6 quid chicken breasts.

I just don't know whether this is normal and to be expected or whether I am justified in feeling a bit, I don't know, miffed maybe...

what arrangements do you have for entertaining other nannies/kids and wrt food?

btw - this is the first time she has had anything much from the fridge afaik, and it isn't that I don't want to feed the woman at all (in fact had been worrying she wasn't eating enough!)

I think this is my first "am I being unreasonable" type post. I've arrived!!!

OP posts:

koalabear · 12/10/2005 14:07

I think it is reasonable to agree with her when people can visit your house (ie. "I was surprise to see X here today. Next time, can you make sure you mention it to me first")

I think it is reasonable to agree with her which food is ok and which is not (ie. "Please help yourself to anything in the fridge, unless it is on the x shelf, because that is where I keep the food for meals for later in the week)


uwila · 12/10/2005 14:25

I have dd (2 1/2 yrs) and DD 4 1/2 months -- so not too far an age difference from yours. I am actually quite happy for them go out and about and if that means meeting up with outher nannyies and their kids, that's fine with me. I think it's good for kids to get out and see other people. For the 2 1/2 year old it helps to buld social skills that she wouldn't be exposed to in my house. And for DS, well I can't see it does him any harm. Besides, it cuts down on the heating bill if they aren't there.

When other nannies come over they and my nanny split the food (i.e. we provide one day, then they provide next time, and so on...) The only thing I don't like about this is that the other nanny buys junk food and I don't really like my kids eating junk for lunch. But I don't feel it's my place to say what another nanny can buy. So, I suppoe I live with the junk food.

Also, sonce we both work out of the house full time (and then some), I actually like that my house is occupied and has lots of people coming and going -- it's an added security for the house and it's occupants.

However, there is some food that's off limits. When nanny arrived she asked me if there was any food that was off limits. To which I replied "umm... never drink my last Diet Coke" But, also she knows that the ready meals are for my lunch so she pretty mush steers clear of those as well.


bakedpotatooooowoooh · 12/10/2005 14:29

My guess maybe overly charitable? is that she had made the arrangement with the other nanny just after you went to the office, and decided to ask them round without disturbing you. Personally, I wouldn't get worked up about it but then I'm also a last-minute panicker when it comes to sorting out playdates etc. Also, I think it's a good thing for nannies, and their charges, to see each other regularly.

As for food, I'd work on the assumption that neither of you are mind-readers. Explain what's for the DDs, ask her what sort of stuff she would like you to get in for her/them, make it clear if there's something in there that you've put aside for you and DH. It can be tedious but until you and the nanny understand each other's rules, it won't hurt to air everything.

Bear in mind there will be days when the DDs eat someone else's mother out of house and home .


crunchie · 12/10/2005 14:32

I had a nanny for a couple of years and they often/always visited each others homes. It was never an issue for me. On the food side I seemed to remember the nannies all used to do packed lunches for their charges and the kids all ate their own at lunch time. If they were somewhere for tea-time they would usually have whatever had been planned that week. My nanny used to make vats of cassorole/pasta/lasagne and freeze in portions. Or on occassion they would have the junk food option of fishfingers and chips. Because this was regular and sometimes they were at our house and sometimes at others houses the food worked itself out in the wash IYKWIM Also our nanny did the food shopping for the family, I left a list of our stuff and she added to it dependant on her plans for the week (how many packed/cooked lunches etc) She used to feed the kids a sandwich type meal at lunch, so ate similar herself, and didn't eat her evening meal with the kids, so there was never an issue.

This is my experience, as to what I would do in your situation. I would suggest that the kids have their main meal in the evening and a simple sandwich/pasta thing at lunch, therefore the nanny would be expected to eat the same (unless she is live-in) This means you will be feeding the main meal and the expensive meat/fish won't need to be used. Or if you want a main meal at lunch you cannot expect her to eat differently to the kids, eg, if the kids are having fish, she would expect to aswell, hence they ate teh chicken. IMHO.

Other ideas would be to get the nanny to do a menu for the week, with main meals that are easy/less expensive and can feed a lot of people (Lasagne, Shepherds pie, pasta, fish pie)

Sorry for the epic.


eemie · 12/10/2005 14:33

Ours takes it in turns with nanny friends to have tea together in each others' employers' houses. They are obviously used to doing this. I had to set limits, eg

  1. getting her to tell me where and when they are going,
  2. refusing to let her leave dd at the other nanny's house while she goes to collect her own son (!) and
  3. insisting that she keeps visiting children out of my study.

    I do check with dd that she enjoys playing with the other children.

    I haven't worried about the food - when they go out they are both fed by the other family, when they're here we feed them.

    I have to be very explicit about what I will allow, because the nanny tends to assume that if it was okay with a former employer it will be okay with me. She is very part-time with us so my rules and priorities are not uppermost in her mind. I'm persevering because dd loves her and her son.

binkie · 12/10/2005 14:34

Hello again, mp.

Entertaining other nannies (with their charges) is a Good Thing in my book - regular playdates with familiar faces very good for the children, and I have strong preference for nannies who are sociable (not all are). We even put it in the contract "we would encourage you to have friends round who are also working as nannies and bring their charges with them" - which of course then means I don't get a surprise, as it's all expected. But of course I don't work at home, so I do realise it's different. I think you might have to decide in principle whether, from your work pov, you mind the bit of extra disruption in the house. Was going to suggest a notice system, but sometimes these things are just ad hoc - they run into each other at the park eg.

Feeding other nannies/charges - I'm OK with that too, it sort of makes for a nice atmosphere to go with the entertaining (as above). But since an early Diplomatic Incident when a nanny ate dh's king prawns, we've found the solution is simply to label stuff, or have a shelf which is ours only.


motherpeculiar · 12/10/2005 14:41

thanks guys - you all sound very reasonable.

I was just surprised to see her friend here, I think it was good for DD1 as she was much more entertained than just with nanny and DD2 and tried to interrupt me far less. And I agree that it probably got arranged at the last minute and she didn't want to interrupt me. Will have a chat with her later about it.

Will think about the meals thing, I do like DD1 having her main meal earlier as she probably eats a bit more but I am sure we can instigate a "hands off" shelf if we need to. It might even make me a bit more organised, which would be no bad thing.

OP posts:

motherpeculiar · 12/10/2005 14:44

Hi Binkie

you are reasonable as ever. Without MN I'd never get through this nanny lark. There is soooo much that you don't think of beforehand.

Had our review last Monday a la your suggestion and she seemed amenable so will wait and see.

She does seem like a very reasonable person and I hope I am so we should be able to make it work.

at the king prawns, that would have made me weep that would

OP posts:

binkie · 12/10/2005 15:18

(I have to admit that with subsequent nannies (with senses of humour) the labelling has mostly gone the other way - things in fridge that say "DADDY! HANDS OFF!")


jura · 12/10/2005 21:47

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jura · 12/10/2005 21:48

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NannyL · 13/10/2005 09:44

Have to say ive been with my current family for bearly a year now and would NEVER invite any nanny friends back without at least mentioning it to my boss

(the reality is in term time we dont have any time anyway, we do 'constant school runs' IUKWIM!)

My boss always knows 'roughly' our plans.... if we are having a nice day out 'where we are going etc' if we have arranged to meet any friends (my nanny freinds with their charges or friends of her children with their mums etc!)

As for food, i do the supermarket shop for me and the kids at the beginning of the week and any food we need fro things i get in, along with anything my boss specifically asks...

she always says we can eat ANYTHING in the fridge / freezer / cupboards etc so i wouldnt worry if we did, but equally i generally get it all myself for the week (except for staples, butter / eggs / soft cheese / ham etc)

Equally i have the theory that anything i put in the fridge / freezer i dont mind if THEY eat... ie if a make a bolognese sauce i split it in 2, each half would do me AND the 2 children or 1 'daddy size' portion IUKWIM!

Howver i am their full time mon - fri, and i think lifes easier if we all get on and share whats their... THEY pay for the food after all!

Also i can buy whatever i like, however i NEVER feed the children ANY sort of crap at all (honestly they rarely even have a biscuit with me!) and i do buy pretty much all organic meat and veg and dairy for the children... parents dont have a probelm with that either!


bigdonna · 13/10/2005 10:33

when i was a nanny,my boss who worked from home actually encouraged my friends who were nannies to come around and as i had sole charge i did not have to tell her in advance .i would tell her were we were going.i was encouraged to take kids out and about and my bosses said the more the merrier.As for food i would cook for freezer for kids and my bosses would eat for supper,i would have to ask them not to eat the lunch for next day.if my boss came down from her office and we had nannies and their charges there she would always make them so comfortable and sit down and have coffee and invite them for tea as well.If i needed different food i would go shopping and give bill at end of week.sorry its long and boring but everything works both ways.its the same in any relationship its give and take!!


soapbox · 13/10/2005 10:40

I have always encouraged my nannies to have friends round and to visit their friends too. The point of having a nanny to me, was to try and recreate the same 'scene' that they would have if I were at home. And I would certainly be socialising as part of my day!

Some of my first nannies friends have their own children who are still very friendly with my 2 - we still invite them to parties and are invited to their's too!

I also think that the nanny's day can be long and boring if they don't get to mix. I certainly think you were being a bit harsh telling her she couldn't take your DD to visit her friend! Don't really understand why???

I think the whole nannying business only really works if you are prepared to be a bit flexible and accept that there are more ways than one to skin a rabbit. If you listen carefully and respect nanny as a professional, then you can learn an awful lot from them! I know I did


lucysmum · 13/10/2005 10:55

Absolutely normal in my view. My nanny has people over all the time (but always people with kids of similar age,not adult friends on their own) including some of my friends and their kids. She has learnt to phone and ask what she can use in the fridge or tell us she has used something so that i can buy something else for my and DH to eat. she also goes out to other people's houses for lunch/tea quite a lot. she has a kitty and within reason can replenish stuff/buy stuff when people are coming round. as long as its not rubbish i am happy for her to feed kids what she likes. but i am a relaxed employer and she has been with us 5 years so i trust her. re your issues of working at home and kids wanting to see you - absolutely understand that issue - i could work at home a lot but tend to go to the office (obviously not so easy if you are self employed) or work in a local starbucks/motorway service station as i know i'll be pestered at home. nanny tries her best but the kids want to come and see me and kick up a fuss if she doesn't let them.


Anchovy · 13/10/2005 11:20

I don't think my children would actually have any friends if it wasn't for the socialising they do with our nanny!

We have a reasonable size garden - and a climbing frame! - which makes us a destination of choice in the nannying community, which is fine by me. Agree re eating - it all tends to come out in the wash: some weeks there are no bananas or yoghurts to be seen - other weeks they eat out a couple of times and I'm left with more eggs than I know what to do with.

The eating together really socialises the children and also our nanny picks up lots of recipe ideas. I absolutely take my hat off to the nannying community our nanny mixes with (largely early to mid twenties Aus and UK girls) that the food they prepare is excellent - easily thrown together, nutritious and really tasty. Current favourites from other nannies are spring onion and scrambled egg in wholemeal pittas; egg stir fried rice, and soy and honey marinaded salmon. (When I was brought up in the 1970's by a then SAHM it would be sardine fish cakes made with Smash followed by Angel Delight!)

If there is something in the fridge that I am planning to have for supper, I will usually tell our nanny, just because its a bit annoying to be planning something and then it not be there. But I've forgotten before and is not the end of the world. DH did write "DAD'S" in very big letters in felt pen on a mango once!

The other thing that is good about your nanny having other nanny friends who you have met and who the children see quite a lot of is that you have a very good supply of babysitters. When the children were a bit younger they would not have been put to bed by their grandparents, who they adore but see less frequently, but they would be by one of our nanny's friends, who they see a lot of and really like.

And, if it ever comes to it, I suspect I could get a new nanny quite easily without having to pay a recruitment fee!!


motherpeculiar · 13/10/2005 22:12

thanks guys, good to hear this is all normal. It's my first time having a nanny and we hadn't discussed people coming round to the house, I guess she just took it for granted.

Think I have a lot to learn!

For us it is less important that the kids socalise a lot with nanny - I have a lot of friends with kids the same age and we socialise a lot already. DD1 also spends two full days a week at nursery (so gets LOTS of socialising there) and I/DH have her the other three days. So she is just with nanny for 2 days and I am happy for those to be quiet enough. Do take th epoint that it is a loooooooooong day for a nanny to spend just with kids and have no problem with them socialising if the opportunity presents itself, it's just not of absolutely primary importance to me. While I am still getting to know the nanny I feel better not having her take my kids off to other people's houses (call me over precious ) but I am sure once a bit more time has passed and I am confident she and DD1 are getting on well that will be ok too.

Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences.

OP posts:

callaird · 15/10/2005 00:12


I'm a nanny and have been for almost 20 years, we do need some adult company during the day, we'd go stir crazy if we just had the children to talk to all day!!

I have always taken it for granted that we will go to nanny friends houses and have them back to ours, but with my present job, after dad found out that we had friends over, he asked that I asked first. Which I did for the first 5 or 6 times then he got bored of it!!

If it helps when going to her friends house, ask if she can invite them over to you first so that you can meet them and the children, or even go to their house to see the set up, you don't have to go for long, just 15-30 mins, we usually go to a select few friends houses so shouldn't take up too much of you time, might put you at ease a little

Uwila - My charges eat a completely organic diet and so if we go out to a friends house we take lunch/tea with us, if there was something that mum didn't want the boys to eat, then we just wouldn't! Could you not ask your nanny to find out in advance what they will be eating and make appropriate arrangements?? They are your children after all and you know best! I have to blow my own trumpet here and say that I make chicken nuggets, pizza, fishfingers, sausages, oven baked chips etc, so they do not feel like they are missing out on anything.

They went to their first birthday party last weekend and wouldn't eat any of the party food, just ate rice cakes and fruit bars that mum took along. Well, until the crisps came out, then went mad!!!


bobbybob · 15/10/2005 01:44

Opposite will happen to my SIL, she will come down in the morning and then extra children will appear, asked home after a party or school concert or something and suddenly she'll be making breakfast for eight.


frannykenstein · 15/10/2005 08:49

I agree with everyone that it's best if the nanny has carte blanche to ask people back, as long as you are comfortable about this.

On the food front, definitely tell the nanny if something is off limits. I think she is trying to leave you in peace while you are working, which probably makes it hard for her to check that what she's doing is ok. When I used to start work with a new family I would often be on the phone several times a day saying "Is it ok if x comes round? Can we eat the chicken fillets? Where's the...." etc. etc. Maybe she feels she can't keep popping up and disturbing you.

I am remembering with shame something I once did while working. My employer had left one of those 6 packs of creme eggs in the fridge, and while the kids were asleep I went berserk and ate THREE of them, knowing I could replace them later when we went to the shop. However the local shop did not sell creme eggs, as I discovered 10 mins before my employer was due home, and too late to go to another shop. Was I embarrassed! Luckily she had a sense of humour and a forgiving nature


twinmummy04 · 16/10/2005 00:33

Hi motherpeculiar , I'm a nanny have been for the pass 10 yrs and I am now also a mummy of twins.

I think it's completely normal for a Nanny to go to other nannies and mothers houses for play or lunch etc, and for her to invite people back to yours, as others have said it can be a very long day for most nannies (most of my jobs have been 11hr days)so to go all day with out talking to other nannies/ mothers would be a nightmare. I can see your point about it only being 2 days but it can still seem a long time.

In my last job I worked for a first time mum , who was nervous and at the interview we sat down and she gave me a long list of do's and don't's about going out, driving the child and people coming around and I was not going to not take the job at first but I took the time to explain that there was no point in her employing me if she didn't trust me 100%, I told her that I was very fussy about who I chose for my nanny friends (which is very true) and I would never invite anyone to the house or to spend time with her DD who I didn't trust 100% because at the end of the day the buck stops with me and if anything ever happened etc ect it would be me that had to deal with the consquense. I didn't even used to let the organic veg man through the gates into the drive without seeing ID because you have to be so careful when it's other peoples homes and lives.

I think it's all to do with instinct and if you trust that person, after talking honestly to my employer everyting was fine I went where ever I wanted, when ever I wanted and with whom I wanted because she knew I would never do anything that wasn't benefical to her child, and I would always follow her routine, and only mix with people I thought were kind and caring Nannies themselves.

As for food , her DD was on an organic diet and I only gave her that, I took pack lunches if we were out because I knew thats what my employer wanted. I never really ate food from there their shopping as I didn't want to eat food they might need but I was given money to buy things for DD and myslef so I would sometimes buy bread and ham but not often as I didn't feel right spending their money on myself but thats a personal thing and the general rule is employers provided lunch.

Maybe it's different as I have only ever worked as a full-time sole charge Nanny but I have always worked on the basis that I look after them all day and do everything for them and when mum or dad comes home I tell them what we have done and where we have been and thats that, they don't ask me every morning where were thinking of going or who I might see as they had jobs to go to and things to do, and I would have felt like they were checking up on me if they asked every day, like they didn't trust me.

I'm really lucky in that when I go back to work I can take them with me, I imagine it's very hard to go to work and leave them if your worrying about what your nanny is up to, I guess I have been very lucky that I have always found the right jobs and employers for me.

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