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Bugger: Nanny handed in her notice - how to replace her, present it to DS and remain serene and unruffled all at the same time

15 replies

Anchovy · 27/10/2005 13:32

We have had the same nanny for 3.8 years - ever since Ds was 5 months old. She is the only nanny Dd (2) has ever known. TBH I suspect neither of them really know that she is actually paid for what she does as she is so very much part of the furniture for them - and for us all, really. Anyway she has just handed her notice in - she now wants to travel and thinks, having settled DS into school, that now is the right time to go. She is probably right and it is great that the change has come before we all started thinking we needed it and can part on absolutely the best of terms (she is a brilliant nanny for weaning; potty training and finger painting, I suspect would be less good for homework and incessant questions on how electricity works).

Firstly, can someone tell me that I WILL find a new nanny - am in serious need of reassurance at the moment. I'm such a planner that the thought of hurtling towards Christmas/New Year (leaving date) without knowing what will happen afterwards is making me a bit lightheaded. I have spoken to a couple of agencies, one of whom was spectacularly non-committal, told me my hours were too long (hmmmm), pay was a bit on the low side (definitely not true)and anyway "most" nannies like working 4 days a week (surprising, if they are living in SW London, unless of course they inherited their property or have no mortgage).

Secondly, does anyone have any idea how we tell DS about this, bearing in mind that he is very attached to her? My gut feel is that I don't want to tell him too far in advance as he doesn't have a very clear idea of time. He's also a bit of a "thinker" and I would much rather dress it up a bit and present him with a "fait accompli" where we say that A is going on holiday to Australia [true] for a while [true'ish] and that X will look after him in the meantime (in the same vein as this weekend's conversation that his 2 new goldfish, Nemo and Grommit, are currently in the pet "hospital"!)


Fourthly: Is it ethical to "tap up" one of our nanny's mates who doesn't particularly like her current job, is a great nanny and who the children know well and really like?

OP posts:

katierocket · 27/10/2005 13:34

oh dear what a PIA

  1. you WILL find a new nanny
  2. I think your plan is a good one, leave it until nearer the time to tell DS
  3. see 1 above
  4. yes!

katierocket · 27/10/2005 13:34

4. Yes!


binkie · 27/10/2005 13:45

Anchovy - it will be fine, all of it. Promise you. (CAT on way.)


Marina · 27/10/2005 13:46

Oh dear Anchovy, I am sorry. She will leave a big hole in your lives for all sorts of reasons from the sound of things.
As I have always been a nursery user I can only commiserate with the bulk of your worries but personally I would be honest with a child of your ds's age about the fact that nanny is leaving for good, when the time comes to tell him. He may be watching the door all the time, especially if he takes a little while to get used to X. Maybe supernanny can send him postcards or digital snapshots from some of her travels to remind him that she still loves him even though she has moved on?
PS You might want to liaise off-board with motherpeculiar to make absolutely sure you don't somehow get saddled with the flake she is about to sack...


Anchovy · 27/10/2005 14:00

Thanks chaps. Feeling a bit wobbly about all this (which, of course, is a direct result of having been so smug about having had the same nanny for so long!)

My current nanny lives a 6 minute walk away so we never have any problems with start up and hand overs. And, obviously, she knows all the toys names (I CAN'T leave DD with someone who doesn't know who Boa, Ollis, Lolly and Ned-cow are!). Think I am in dire danger of over-romanticising how good my current nanny is (when in reality she completely lacks a "detail filter" and if I have to hear another long story about why X doesn't like Y because of something she repeated to Z or of some obscure medical ailment again I will have to shoot myself).

I laughed to myself when I was thinking how DS doesn't like change or uncertainty and needs to know in advance exactly what is happening....because where, of course, does he get that from?

OP posts:

Issymum · 28/10/2005 10:37

Hi Anchovy

We have had a disturbing number of nanny changes, although all of them have left on incredibly good terms. Right now I'm working from home and I can hear the kids playing with Nanny #4 downstairs who is doing her first week. Some random thoughts:

  1. Generally I've found the transition harder than the girls (4 and 3) Issymum blubs . It's not that the girls are fickle, they just tend to live in the moment and if they are happy with the new nanny, then life is fine.

  2. We've tried to make sure that the reasons we've given the girls for the nanny leaving are true and comprehensible by them. Our first nanny left because we were moving, so we explained that our nanny didn't want to move away from her home and her friends. The next two came from Australia/New Zealand and we explained that they wanted to go home to be with their mummies and daddies. The children have accepted these explanations without question as they make perfect emotional and logical sense within their world.

  3. As far as is possible our nannies have stayed in touch with the girls. The first two nannies live close enough to visit. Our first nanny has 'faded out' by unspoken mutual agreement, but our second nanny still visits. It will be tougher with our third nanny as she's back in Auckland, but we'll exchange postcards, photos, emails, presents (a big winner that one!)and we'll see her when we go to Oz in 2007. All three nannies have made the girls photo albums documenting their time with them and we frequently look at them.

  4. We thought our first nanny was fabulous, but looking back at it, I'm quite glad we were forced to move on. She too was fantastic with potty-training, feeding, toddler stuff, but would have been much less suited to looking after the girls as they headed towards and went to school.

  5. Amazingly we've never had a problem finding a nanny. However, we have a lovely self-contained flat at the top of our house and the lure of that, free accommodation for their partner and a nanny car, is probably what does the trick. None of our nannies have had relevant qualifications, but they have all had experience of looking after children and the last three have had degrees. We seem to have adopted a strategy of employing wildly but laterally over-qualified nannies (the current one has been a primary school teacher for the last eight years) who are fantastic while they last but tend to move on after a year or so. We've got our last three nannies by placing an advert on For the current one, I actually put the advert in the primary teaching section, hoping to pick up a NZ/Oz/South African teacher who was fed up with supply teaching, which is exactly what happened.

  6. I think it's OK to headhunt another nanny if you know that she is currently unhappy in her job. Nannies are independent employees (just like bankers or bond traders) and it is up to them to make a decision as to whether to take up a new job opportunity and up to their employers to make their current job sufficiently attractive that they don't want to.

  7. If you can persuade your current nanny to write a briefing note for your new nanny, that can be extremely helpful. Our last nanny wrote a 30 page A-Z about us, the children and the job. Its detail betrayed such a depth of love for and intimacy with the girls that I sobbed whilst reading it on the 7.18am to Waterloo (it reminded me of the chapter in 'I Don't Know How She Does It' where the mother dying of cancer leaves a handbook for the father). You may not get 30 pages but anything you can get - addresses and phone numbers of friends and their nannies/parents, names of toys etc. - will help.

  8. You may get a couple of weeks of rough behaviour from DS. Depending on his temperament that may be after you've told him, immediately before the departure or immediately after the departure. It passes and, fortunately, tends to be reserved for us rather than the departing or arriving nanny.

    If I think of anything else, I'll add it.

GhostofNatt · 28/10/2005 10:49

Just another point Anchovy re pay. It's possible that the agency you spoke to is right - it's easy to lose track of the market rate if you have had a nanny for a long time and my sense is that the rate has gone up over the last couple of years and that if you are not "keeping up" the better nannies don't look at you...


bambi06 · 28/10/2005 11:10

try looking in the lady or advertising in simply childcare magazine which is fab for advertising as well as looking,[ in a friendly sort of way] ive found jobs in there and had a lovely family to work for.. its a lot more flexible than an agency as you can search yourself through ads and can call and have a chat with a few to see how you feel about them plus it doesnt cost a lot of money unlike agencies whom i loathe [ from a nannies point of view..they used to send me to interviews that were completely wrong for me and i had explained what i d wanted..grrr!!] children will and do get over it far quicker than the parents think because usually the new nanny has new exciting things to bring with her to play with and new ideas... chin up .. youll find someone else just as super..but in different ways but at least you have experience of finding and keeping a nanny for a long time that will stand YOU in good stead for finding the right nanny as thats important for a nanny to look for in a position as it shows the last nanny was very happy there.. the address for simply childcare is [email protected] 16 bushey hill rd london se5 8qj 0207 701 6111 plus you can call them to ask advice and they are very friendly ..a couple of moms that set it up a while ta go to provide an informal site to help parents and childcarers alike..good luck and hope it where in sw london are you and if i know anyone in that area i can let you..


Issymum · 28/10/2005 11:31

And another thing....

9. We haven't had to pay agency fees, but we have paid for the new nanny to spend at least 5 days with the girls whilst the current nanny is still around. We've generally spread those days out and they've been a mix of joint care by both nannies and sole care by the new nanny. It's an opportunity for the children and the new nanny to get to know each other and for the current nanny to pass on as much information as possible about routines etc.. And, not that this has ever happened to us, you will probably realise during those handover days if you have made a terrible recruitment error whilst you still have time to look for another nanny.


Anchovy · 28/10/2005 13:36

Issymum - as ever, thanks for your considered input. I think the real problem is that it is the first time all this has happened. Once the inital tie has been broken, I think we can all be a lot more business-like about it. Its not that we aren't business-like with our nanny, actually, its just that in 3.8 years she has moved very much into the fabric of our life (my mother sends her christmas presents, her mother comes up from Dorset for the occasional day to see the children and her grandfather made a fantastic hand made wooden toy farm for Ds and shop for DD both of which our nanny spent literally weeks hand painting!) Its going to take time before we have that sort of relationship with someone again, even if they are absolutely fantastic on day 1. She will obviously stay in contact through phone and email but will be in Australia for the next 2 years.

I think why I am having a bit of a wobble is that it also throws a whole lot of things into relief about the way we live our life: we really need our nanny to be excellent as DH and I work fairly long hours (hence also my touchiness re the agency who told me the hours were too long - it feels like a comment on my lifestyle, particularly coupled with the comment that we may be underpaying, which we categorically are not!) A friend of mine works part time and her husband works from home, so she always feels that if her nanny is a bit crap they can smooth it out (and interestingly all of her many nannies have been a bit crap, so its like a self-fulfilling prophecy!) We don't have the luxury of being quite so insouciant.

Interestingly, DH just sees this as a problem to be overcome - it doesn't seem to have any emotional resonance with him at all. Maybe I need to think more like a man (although to be fair to him he is off work at the moment looking after the children and when I looked in his new very expensive leather courier bag yesterday all it had in it was a Kandoo wipe and a lego catalogue!)

I'm sure DS will get over it - but he is quite a self-contained little thing and you can never be quite sure what is going on with him (unlike his drama queen of a sister). He could quite easily fret for some time over who is going to be looking after him so I don't want to tell him that she is leaving until we can also present the other side of the equation.

The nanny agency said that if we had another baby it would make the job more attractive - DH's ears pricked up at that!

The nanny friend who I am tapping up - let's call her "Ashley Cole" for the sake of convenience - is coming for a chat this weekend.

OP posts:

GhostofNatt · 28/10/2005 13:48

Ignore this nosey question if you like, Anchovy, but what hours do you have nanny for and what rate of pay? I ask because I feel like the quaility of nanny we had for our last round of interviews poorer than had been the case in the past and I did wonder if there were hours / pay issues. Our job is 50 hours p/w and £7.50 net per hour - I began to get the impression this is bottom of the bracket these days... I do sympathise hugely with your situation. We have had three nannies (two brilliant) and when they go it is like losing a limb...


Anchovy · 28/10/2005 14:03

I live in SW London. Our current hours (live out) are 8am to 7pm (although I am saying 7.45am to 7.15pm for the new nanny just so they know the worst case-scenario and are pleasantly surprised, not standing there with their coats on looking tight lipped when we get in at about 7.05pm). Current pay is (net) £415 per week. I think that is very slightly above market - the good agency said that we should start with £400 but be negotiable - the "problem" with having a nanny for a longish period is that you have to give pay rises and if they stay they do start to outstrip where you would start with a new nanny - for example it seemed obvious to offer a pay rise when we had a second child as her job had changed substantially, but if we had started with 2 we would not have offered much different from having one. If we do end up with our nanny's mate, I suspect she will "inherit" the same salary (as I know they all discuss these things!)

OP posts:

GhostofNatt · 28/10/2005 14:13

My impression last time we recruited was that a lot of nannies were expecting £8 net an hour (we are in East London, not exactly nanny nirvana, though) but it is hard to know whether that was aspirational or standard. Our nanny effectively gets a few hours off in the day to study whilst younger child at nursery school which is a sort of quid pro quo for the slightly lower rate. It's hard to know how much variation there is across areas.


Issymum · 28/10/2005 14:48

I agree Anchovy. The first change is the most disconcerting. We nearly stayed put in our house in Kew (too small, no off-street parking, planes roaring overhead, utterly impossible for DH to navigate round in a wheelchair, tiny garden) and didn't move to our house in Guildford (big, loads of off-street parking, great for DH, huge garden) just because we couldn't face changing a nanny whom in some respects we were close to 'out-growing'. It was totally crazy but it seemed compelling at the time.

The first change was the most disconcerting, but the most recent change has been the worst, just because I loved the nanny and her husband and was incredibly sad to see them go. And they'd been with us for only a year.

"I think why I am having a bit of a wobble is that it also throws a whole lot of things into relief about the way we live our life". I'm totally and completely with you on that, "emotional resonance" and all. Combined with the guilt of imposing a difficult change on the girls is the pressure of needing to get not just a good enough nanny, but a bldy brilliant one. But we have managed to employ three brilliant nannies and I'm pretty confident that our fourth nanny will be just as good. However, it does go deeper than the right recruitment strategy. Every time we change nannies I wonder whether I should plunge the family into poverty and mayhem and give up my job. I howled when I read our nanny's "A-Z of the Issymum Family" partly because of the our nanny's intense love for the girls but also because I was suddenly beset by doubts that I had mastered that much detail about my own children's lives. But it really doesn't matter if I don't know that you're supposed to take a piece of fruit to nursery every other week not every week. In between us and our nannies, the girls are happy, secure and flourishing and that's all that really matters.


jellyjelly · 28/10/2005 14:51

Think i might become a nanny, i had no idea it was so well paid.

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