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Would you think this was reasonable?

57 replies

Bluebear · 29/12/2006 20:08

I'm a bit upset with our nanny and trying to work out if I'm justified.

I work in a hospital and have to work between Xmas and new year (in fact also had to work at weekend this year but dh looked after kids). Dh also had to work (but from home as his job is computer based). Our nanny was aware that we needed her to work these 3 days months ago.
As well as having a lot of whinging from last week onwards (can't dh look after the children because he is in the house - I have found that for the last 2 days she has picked up my children from my house and simply driven them to her mother's house where they sat ' watching tv and eating lots' (quoted by 5 year old ds).
If she had asked about taking them home with her I might have said yes but I am really cross that she didn't ask - and yesterday when I asked where she and dd had been (since dh knew that they hadn't been at home) she was very evasive and didn't answer.
She also took dd and her ds to a soft play centre yesterday pm along with her dp who I know has a minor criminal record (she told me a while back).
To top it all, dd's hair smells of stale cigerette smoke which I guessing is from nanny's mum's house.

I can sort of see the - but it's christmas, kids should be watching tv and eating lots - but why not in their own house!

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nannyj · 29/12/2006 21:11

I think you are justified in feeling angry. I would never do this in my job as would probably get the sack. She's well out of order in my opinion. I can understand her wanting the days off but if you have told her well in advance then if she wasn't happy she should have told you so and not sulked. I personally would give her a written warning so she knows how serious the situation is and doesn't do it again.

nannynick · 29/12/2006 21:26

You are fully justified in being upset with your nanny.

Nanny knew she had to work these days months ago, so should have prepared better.

Being Christmas your children probably had plenty of new toys to play with at home, so going out should have been for exercise purposes, not TV watching.

I'm sure I sometimes do things that my employers would rather I didn't... but they know that I always put the children first. Sure I may need to do a few errands, otherwise my home-life falls apart and working 50+ hours per week makes it hard to me to do some things not in work time. But I do things like popping to the post office, letting the builder in, not sitting around all day at my mums house letting the children watch TV.

The Nanny Employer relationship involves a bit of give and take... a few compromises now and again. You need to talk with your nanny about how you are feeling, and make it clear if there are things you don't want her doing - such as children being in a smoky environment, your dd being with her dp.

Bluebear · 29/12/2006 21:28

Thanks nannyjo - I'm a bit calmer now - dh is going to 'have a word' with her Tues morning - this comes after I had to 'have a word' about her reliability ( turning up late and asking for leave at very short notice several times) A written warning is a good idea. Dh is of the opinion that we should look for replacement childcare in the new year

Any other opinions?

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Bluebear · 29/12/2006 21:34

Thanks Nannynick - I really appreciate having some nanny point of views.

You are quite right, I would have been happy if she'd taken dd to the post office or even shopping in the sales.
They got new bikes for xmas and I was hoping that they would be able to spend time in the park on them, dd got a little time on weds but none for the last 2 days.

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LittleMissPopular · 30/12/2006 00:14

OMG that is out of order.

I am a nanny and would NEVER do that or even consider putting a child in a smokey enviroment.

I have it in my contract that i dont work between xmas and new year but i would still work it if the parents had to.

the fact is your nanny knew she had to work this period and shouldnt have done what she did.

she would have had more than plenty of new things to do with the children after christmas, as you said , new bikes, could have gone on those for fresh air and played games , watched xmas film together etc.

Your totally justified in acting the way you have imo

Bluebear · 30/12/2006 10:09

So I've just had breakfast with the kids and they were asking for 'tea with sugar in' It seems that they have also been given cups of tea at nanny's mums. I'm now too upset to be cross.

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NurseyJo · 30/12/2006 10:23

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amphion · 30/12/2006 10:23

Isn't it rather nice that they are being included in the Nanny's family and being spoilt a bit? Reminds me a bit of when the kids go to grandparents and are given treats that you don't agree with - but you have to look at the bigger picture don't you? My DD1 used to come back from childminder's sometimes smelling of smoke as the husband sometimes smoked, I think it might not have been in her presence, but she picked up the smell from the car etc. - I didn't like it but overall the childminder and her family were lovely - no childcare is perfect imo. If you want total control you have to do it yourself.

WideWebWitch · 30/12/2006 10:29

I'd be cross too, you're not being unreasonable imo. If I decided, instead of doing my job in between Christmas and New Year, I'd spend it say, in the shops or the pub, my employer wouldn't think it acceptable. Not on, not at all. If she had a problem with working she should have discussed it with you ages ago, not just taken the easiest route for her. She's being paid to do a job, she should do it.

NurseyJo · 30/12/2006 10:36

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Bluebear · 30/12/2006 10:43

Yes Amphion, there is that thought which is why I titled this as a 'do you think it's reasonable' rather than 'oh my god what a bad nanny'. I think she will have justified it to herself as keeping the children out of dh's way (he was working in an upstairs office and isn't normally disturbed by the kids but he did ask them to calm down a couple of weeks ago as there were 5 kids downstairs and they were having a shrieking contest whilst he was on the phone)..and also that she was 'sharing her family christmas' with them. She does have a young ds who often comes to work with her and I'm guessing that she wanted to be with her ds and dp over this time...which is fair enough but then she should not have agreed to work the days. children do go to their grandparents and get spoiled rotten but I don't pay them most of my salary for it. (ds was at the gps on thurs which is why nanny only had dd to look after on that day)
Also ds has asthma and really should not be anywhere near smoke.

We will def be discussing this with her on tuesday - and to be honest at the moment I am making a pro and con list of keeping her....It's complicated because I know that she is great with children and she was doing a great job until 3 months ago, and because I work part-time so only need someone for about 40 hours per week (so it will be hard to find a replacement) , and because I share her with another family (my kids are in school/pre-school during the week so I agreed to sharing with another family - she gets paid more and isn't bored)
There are a lot of issues that have happened in the last 3 months that make dh think we should look for someone else...but it's such a big disruption I'm hoping that we can all get happy again at least until we get around to moving house this summer.

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Bluebear · 30/12/2006 10:47

If there was a childminder in the area who would take ds and dd and be able to do the school/pre-school runs I would jump at the chance - but I've been looking for one for years and not found one - have emailed a couple on the off-chance but we don't really fit their criteria.

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nannynick · 30/12/2006 12:21

I think you are right to consider your childcare options. You've been thinking about alternative arrangements for a while now, if my memory recalls rightly, such as having an au-pair, changing to nursery/childminder combination etc.

Not sure if you meant to put 40 hours per week (as that would be considered full-time really) but if the hours are dropping, then looking at other forms of childcare, or even another nanny who would work less hours makes sense.

Also you have mentioned moving a few times, not sure how your plans for that are going, but if you are moving outside of the local area, it may be worth changing childcare provided to coincide with the move. Bit of a shock to the children, but with luck they will get over it.
When you move house, lots of things change, such as school/pre-school, so why not also change the nanny.

nannynick · 30/12/2006 12:23

Do you have a childcare co-ordinator at the hospital/trust at which you work? Could be worth approaching them and seeing what they come up with.

Bluebear · 30/12/2006 13:38

Hi nannynick - yes we have a childcare co=ordinator type person at the hospital but they are not so great on the specifics.
I have been looking into using an au pair when/if we move house - for two reasons mainly because it should co-incide with my youngest attending pre-school 5 half-days a week rather than the 3 half-days she does at the moment. and secondly because childcare will have to change at that point anyway. Although I have been worried by the au-pair employers thread on here!
At the moment we don't have a room spare for an au pair and it would be more than 25 hours work so not suitable.
Don't think I've looked at nursery/childminder combo (not that keen on putting dd back into day nursery), but have looked for childminders since ds was born - never found one with the right type of vacancy (very short supply round here - and most seem to only want toddlers and don't do school runs)
Re: my hours - i haven't done the calculations recently but I am back from work at 3, 3 days a week, and by 5.45 on the other the moment I pay for childcare cover from 8-6 every day, but this is mainly because I share our nanny so the cost isn't that bad. If I ended up with a non-shared nanny again I would only want to pay for hours used really, and so it will be slightly lower wage than standard pay. Although, since I also don't ever ask for babysitting it is a job that would suit a nanny with their own family or other evening commitments (and I am very nice - honest!)
The sensible thing would be to muddle along until we move - but dh is not being very pro-active regarding the house move (haven't even got ours on the market yet), and occasionally trys to come up with plans to stay here (despite him working 70 odd miles away). As I said, there have been quite a few things in the last 3 months that have made me think 'if it wasn't for the house move then I would look for someone else' but have soldiered on due to the move..will probably do that again over this but will make sure I have a list of options.

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Bluebear · 30/12/2006 21:27

Ok - I have spoken to the family who I nanny share with. The mum think I'm over-reacting a little but did not want the situation to happen again so we are going to go with nannyj's suggestion of a chat on Tuesday with some clearer guidelines..including being informed of where she is taking the children before she does it and reminding her not to take them into smokey environments.

Trouble is, one of our problems (don't think it's seen as a problem by other family) is that I get so little information about what they have done, and what they have eaten..I have tried asking her directly each day..I have given her a lovely book to write a short 'diary' in..I have tried giving her a tiny notebook and just asking for key points (like Rice, or Pasta rather than details of meals)...she tries for a week and then it stops.
Really don't think that she will change...but going to give it a go.

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uwila · 31/12/2006 10:17

Hi Bluebear. I haven't been on much over Christmas so I've only just seen this. I think a nanny diary is what you need. How about these ? As a parent, you want to be informed, and that is certainly within your rights.

Also, I completely agree that a paid employee does not have the same rights a grandparent has.

Let us know how it goes. Good luck.

1- I don't think Bluebear is looking for "total control".
2- If you want to control where they go and what they do, set thier schedules, choose their activities, define their nap times, etc. then the appropriate course of action is actually to hire a nanny. As an employee, it is her job to do as instructed by her employer (within reason of course).

Judy1234 · 31/12/2006 10:55

One thing I found having stuck with one nanny for many years is that it was not as hard as we thought to find someone else (although a huge hassle) and did not affect the children as much I thought.#

Another comment on tea with sugar... I found the people who have looked after my children over 22 years have often introduced them to different things (as my virtually grown up children do to their younger siblings) but that really it doesn't matter that much and in fact is good for the children to see things are done differently (although sitting in smoky atmosphere is not on). There are quite a few foods all my children eat that they never would have except for their nannies etc but I don't think that is a major thing.

The being late for work, the smoky atmosphere, the problems over between christmas and NY are major. Some people just don't realise that between Christmas and NY is a working week for a lot of companies apart from the bank holidays and the whole country doesn't shut down and many working parents don't get the time off. I worked except for one day.

uwila · 31/12/2006 11:12

Xenia, yes, I too have found that changing nannies has never been as traumatic on the children as I expected. I've learned to take it in stride and everything seems to fall into place just fine. There is a bit of transition and the kids do tend to miss her. But, they get on with it and grow to love the next one just the same.

WanderingTrolley · 31/12/2006 11:27

I suspect that once the nanny got wind of her pals getting time off between Christmas and New Year she was less inclined to work herself.

Seems the other family have different priorities than you do - worth stressing this to the nanny, I think. She may not have thought what she did was so wrong because the other family were/would have been fine with it.

The diary is a great idea - I think you have to just push her gently into filling it in. I'd go for a "New year, new idea" chat and ask her to fill it in from now on. She might be very nervous about her writing skills being on display.

But she has been bluddy cheeky. If I were her I'd sack meself.

Bluebear · 31/12/2006 14:49

Hi Uwila - I almost put up a UWILA*** thread - but then thought - if she's around she'll post on this one

I have tried the beautiful type nanny diary - got filled in for a week and then bits and pieces for another week then ignored....which is when I tried a small notebook that was more portable...same thing happened.
Been talking to dh and he's hit the nail on the head, a big part of our problem is that we don't know what she's been doing so when we get occasional things that we find she's done that are against our wishes we extrapolate from them and think she must be doing it all the time.

Since I'm obviously not going to sack her this week I'll have a little rant on here and get it out of my system


The things I'm am getting fed up with include

  • feeding my vegetarian daughter chicken - at least twice (she told me the first time - I walked in on them eating chicken satay the second time)
  • having more days off sick than the average nanny (although not more than the average office worker if you know what i mean) - most of these have been because she was tired due to her son waking at night, so not death's door stuff
  • asking for leave at very short notice, especially when she had said that she didn't want any time off in December - she has had one day off for christmas shopping (asked on Tues got Friday off), half a day off because she read my calender and it said 'dd's xmas show, bluebear off' and assumed that I would look after dd for the day (I had actually only booked 2 hours off work and had to get MIL to look after dd), and then last weds pm she asked for friday pm off - I declined that it seems she took my kids to her place instead.
  • if dh or I are either off work sick ( we have had the vomit virus and dh has a chest infection at the moment) she assumes that we will look after the children and it is a battle to get her to look after them

- when I get home at 3pm she is already backing out of the front door with the 'share' children as their dad works shifts and if he is at home he lets her go home early - but this means that if I want to talk to her I can't and if I need her to look after the children for a little while (I pay her until 6) it becomes a big hassle.
  • Part of her instructions are to let ds veg out after school on fridays as he gets very tired with school etc, but nanny has brought home her nanny friend with charges so I come home to a freaked out ds.

I have talked to her about all these things - didn't think that the chicken thing would happen more than once but it did. I had to spell out to her that since dh works away from home it was up to me to cover all her short notice leave and it was making me look unreliable at work which is the last thing I need with possible redundancies this year.

Anyway, have spoken to the couple of childminders who do the school drop off and no vacancies - even tried one out of the area (she's a mumsnetter ) New Year, New start with this nanny...and once I get dh to decide on the house move and/or get a spare bedroom back I will be picking Uwila's brains on employing a live-in nanny.
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whatkatydidntdo · 31/12/2006 15:00

I am so shocked at the chicken thing alone. Is she qualified?
I am a CM and have different children and they have different needs, One cant have wheat so I am careful and can honestly say I have never given her anything she shouldnt have, (even to the point where I have purchased special ingredients when we cook make play dough etc)

Would she be as slack about it if your DC had an allergy?

Bluebear · 31/12/2006 15:20

She has NVQ3 and 10 years experience in nursery settings.

Funnily enough, one of the reasons we chose to have a nanny was because ds was suspected to have a food allergy (had to be rushed to a and e with breathing problems so not minor problem). We though one to one care would be the best way to ensure that he wasn't given any likely trigger foods.
He has now been tested for all 'common' food allergies and found negative so he is eating everything now...with an epipen on stand-by just in case.

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Judy1234 · 31/12/2006 15:22

We kept the first day nanny for 10 years and now I think we shouldn't have.
The staying to the fixed time is important. If I get back at 6, often I rush to get back so I have 30 minutes in my home office before she goes at 6.30 then I really want and need those 30 minutes. If the 8 year old comes in the office at 6.25 I tell him I need the 5 more minutes. The nanny we have now who is just part time is not at all a time keeper and always early so it's fine but those that think if you're at home you want the children are just not right. Often you've jobs to do or you want 10 minutes to sit down or whatever. If their time isn't up then they should carry on. It works the other way round too. I virtually never over run and if I do I pay for the extra 30 mins and always assume she couldn't do it unless she expressly agrees.

I found it helped lots with sickness if you don't pay when people are off sick, 22 years ago I would have thought that was heartless but it's a good starting point and then you could choose to change that if they were there a long while and reliable. (Obviously I think people get SSP after they have been off 3 days but not to be paid for the first 3 days off sick that helps persuade people in unless they are pretty badly sick)

NurseyJo · 31/12/2006 17:06

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