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Am I alone with my nightmare nanny experiences?

48 replies

lilylove · 16/08/2007 01:19

So far I have had eight nannies - and in my experience dealing with childcarers has been the most difficult thing about having kids. One was a compulsive liar who it turned out pushed my daughter round the local shopping centre with her friends every day while telling me she was at baby groups, one kept calling in sick because she was "depressed" over her love life, two went off because they got pregnant....etc etc.
Have I been unlucky - is it me? - or are there are other mums out there who have racked up as many as I have? Is my experience common?

OP posts:

CristinaTheAstonishing · 16/08/2007 01:27

Did you check references beforehand? Eight sounds a lot.


SittingBull · 16/08/2007 04:05

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

eleusis · 16/08/2007 07:50

Eght nannies in how long? Eight nannies in 4 years is a lot. Eight nannies in 10 years is not, especially since two left sue to their own person circumstance (being pregnant).

We have had 4 nannies in 3 years... oh I don't look very good either.

The first one resigned / was fired after a couple of months. The second one was way overqualified and moved on to a more rewarding career than being a nanny. The third one's visa ran out. And the current one has only been with us for a little over a month. She is only planning to stay with us for about a year. So we'll probably be looking for nanny number 5 next summer.


lilylove · 17/08/2007 08:45

Its eight nannies in five years. About half were from agencies - the rest were sourced from places like the Lady etc and I did reference checks. My latest one left after three weeks as it was only two mornings a week - so they don't feel that much responsibility towards you and aren't dependent on it - so they go when a more convenient job comes along etc

OP posts:

jura · 17/08/2007 10:45

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Issy · 17/08/2007 10:58

We've had four nannies in five years and are four days into our fifth. Each one of them has stayed at least a year. No. 1 left because we moved out of the area, No.2 to go and teach autistic children in the ABA programme, No.3 to become Operations Manager of her huge evangelical church in Aukland and No. 4 to go back into primary teaching. The recruitment process and change over is inevitably hard work and stressful for everybody, but ultimately do-able. I think two years is just about the perfect duration.

And to get back to the OP: Yes, I think you have either been unlucky or there is a flaw in your recruitment or retention.


nannynick · 17/08/2007 13:18

lilly, I suspect that with the job being only 2 days per week, that it is a filler job for someone working 3 days elsewhere, or someone looking for full-time but finding that hard, so accepting your job until a full-time job came along.

Not sure there is much you can do to weed out those who are looking for a short-term filler job, other than to ask a lot of questions about why they want a part-time job.

To avoid the 'pregnant nanny' issue, employ a male nanny - though expect they can claim paternity leave.

I would also suggest looking for the 'older' nanny, rather than younger, as they may not want to change job as regularly. Just my view of course... being an older nanny about to start year 3 with my current employer.


Issy · 17/08/2007 13:42

I should have added that 2 years is the perfect time for us because our nannies live in and by that time any tiny domestic niggles, on either side, have probably started to grate.


Anchovy · 17/08/2007 13:51

Interesting Nannynick - I have an "older nanny" (43) and I think you are right about them not wanting to move around so much: she was with her previous employer for 8 years and we told her we were recruiting for the longer term. I think also older nannies are better at choosing what they want.

Also agree that live out ones tend to last longer than live in ones for the reason Issy gives.


WanderingTrolley · 17/08/2007 13:52

I think if you're averaging 1 nanny a year, you're doing ok.

A job that's only 2 mornings a week is going to be hard to fill. You'll always play second fiddle to other work, unless you find someone who only wants to work two mornings, by some miracle.


Issy · 17/08/2007 14:00

Oooh! Hello Anchovy! We're just coming to the end of the first week with our new au pair couple. It's been rather wearing, as one would expect, exacerbated by the fact that she's very, very anxious about getting things right and she pranged the car on Day 3. After a long drive with DH, he confirmed that she is a safe and cautious driver, she just got unlucky by losing her way and her concentration at the vital moment in a huge and scarey intersection (NannyNick probably knows it - one of those nasty ones in Guildford that run under and onto the A3) and driving into the back of the car in front. Ladeda!

DH has booked her some sessions with the Institute of Advanced Motoring, we've come to appreciate that Romanian and English culinary expectations are not necessarily compatible and everyone is beginning to get into the groove.


GroaningGameGirly · 17/08/2007 14:08

Bad luck, Issy! I know exactly which intersection you mean - someone ran into the back of me there 2 years ago.

Lily, as others have said, I suspect it's the short hours which means they don't stay long. I'd be inclined to try someone older, or what about a childminder?


EricL · 17/08/2007 14:13

Yeah - age is an issue. Try and get an older woman because they tend to be more reliable, have less 'crisis' and are more settled in their life and less likely to leave.

I have only had three, but it taught me that hiring a youngster was a bad idea. One of them was forever phoning in sick for really stupid reasons, and with the state of her some mornings we were sure we was doing something dodgy in the evenings.

Our middle-aged nanny was brilliant. Never phoned in sick and was always on time and bright as a button.


Anchovy · 17/08/2007 14:19

Issy - you do not have good luck with nannies and cars!

Glad to hear au pair couple looking promising - that definitely sounds like having staff


Issy · 17/08/2007 14:26

Yes, the aupair was a little surprised when I saw the car, put my arm and around her and said 'It could have been soooo much worse'.

The couple do look promising. They seem to be fundamentally thoughtful, responsible people who are trying very hard. But I'm not sure that two au-pairs quite amounts to 'staff' on the PPH scale.


eleusis · 17/08/2007 14:45

Oh interesting. I'm not so keen on the older ones. I found a bit of the mother-in-law syndrome where by she though she knew more than I did. And ther I was think I was the boss and had the right tell her what/when/how my toddler could eat.

She was truly offended one day when not even 2 year old DD needed to go to the GP, she offered to take her, I said "no, it's ok I'll do it". She really wanted that to be her job, but as a parent there are somethings I want to do myself and a trip to the GP is among them.

So, I prefer the twenty something who I find is a bit more willing to let me boss her around... after all, I AM the boss.


Anchovy · 17/08/2007 14:49

You're probably just a slip of a girl though. My "older" nanny is only 13 months older than me - my MIL is 80 next week, so no MIL syndrome with us! Actually I've found that both of my nannies have known more than me - even the 23 year old!


WanderingTrolley · 17/08/2007 14:52

As an old fart who is no longer nannying, I wouldn't be interested in a two morning a week job.

Now I am ancient and boring, I want stability in a job, and shares/pt jobs tend be more transient. Were I looking for nannying work now, I'd only be looking at single, ft jobs, and I'd be intending to stay at least 2 years. I wouldn't want to be juggling two or more nannying jobs.

Not true of all old nannies, ofcourse.

Also, some young nannies are fresh out of college, or have looked after a 2 year for a few months and Know Everything. I am old enough to know how little I know, IYSWIM.


WanderingTrolley · 17/08/2007 14:55

What I'm saying is, there's is no upper or lower age limit on being an unsufferable know it all.

Hadn't read Anchovy's post when I hit 'post'


CristinaTheAstonishing · 17/08/2007 15:17

Issy - do your au pairs use a lot of salt in their food? Is bread part of every meal?


Anchovy · 17/08/2007 15:31

Can't work out if you think my post was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing WT, so I'll just give you a nervous


Issy · 17/08/2007 15:31

Cristina: I'm not sure. Is excessive salt and bread intake particularly Romanian?


MrsWobble · 18/08/2007 21:46

probably hijacking unfairly here and should start a thread but anyway....

We currently have a nanny who is good but dh doesn't like her. I think this is connected to her unfortunate health record - she has had quite a lot of illness over the year she's worked for us but I'm quite sure it's all been genuine and she's been very upset about the problems it's caused us.

Anyway, dh has decided to look for a new nanny and given that our children are becoming more self sufficient (the youngest is 8) thinks that we need a newly qualified nanny looking for experience. I'm not sure I agree but that's another story.

We interviewed someone yesterday who fits this description and I'm interested in other views on two particular points. Firstly she was sent for interview by the agency without a map/instructions to find us or our phone number. Our house is not particularly difficult to find (I think) but she got lost and had to phone twice because she got lost again after we gave her the first set of directions. Do you think her inability to find somewhere outweighs her initiative to call given she hadn't been given a phone number and had to get it from 118 118?

Secondly, one of her previous jobs had been working in a nursery (before doing her childcare quals) and it ended when she "walked out" (her words) because she was left alone in charge of a group of 5 year olds and didn't know what to do. How do you react to this?

I think it unlikely we will offer this girl the job, not least because I'm not convinced we need to change. However, I'm interested in other views from nanny employers and nannies.


Bink · 18/08/2007 22:29

Hi MrsW!
All serious nanny candidates we've seen have come clutching their own A-Z, dog-eared from being clutched on the corner of the street for the last 20 minutes until the exact hour of the interview. Getting lost twice (& presumably being a bit late in consequence?) is a little suggestive of not-great common sense (of the inadequate foresight variety), but I'd look for other evidence of that before deciding it was definitely a problem. Did anything else suggest common-sense problems?

Similarly, her response on the nursery qu. was not exactly professional in tone - a bit melodramatic (& defensive) - and I've found that people who do dramatic personal anecdotes about their former employers turn out, again, not to be the most level-headed generally. (On the other hand, she may by then have been feeling very comfortable with you, so you were getting an unguarded answer instead of the usual more careful sort: difficult to gauge in the abstract. Anything else to suggest one way or the other?)

(Issy: all the best with the settling-in of your new "help" - which is, I think, the technical term for whatever nearly, but not quite, amounts to "staff". We are settling-in a charming, but nearly-zero-English speaking, Slovakian teacher who's being our new cleaner. It is really hard making requirements about rubbish bins clear enough for her English level, while trying not to insult the patent intelligence of a fellow professional.)


CristinaTheAstonishing · 18/08/2007 22:31

It doesn't sound too good. It's easy enough to look up an address on Streetmap, she didn't need to have been given instructions on how to get to yours. As for walking out because she didn't know exactly what to do when in charge of the 5 year olds...Couldn't she think of something to do with them? Read them a story, get them to act out a story etc.

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