Monday

Nanny for SAHM needs advice

Received Monday, April 2, 2007
Perspective & Opinion
I took a job working as a live-in nanny for a stay at home mom a month ago. I don't see her husband excepting the end of the day when our paths cross for about 10 minutes. He seems great. The pay is great. great perks and the little boy is a doll! The only problem is, and it really isn't a problem so much as a situation I am not used to- the mother follows me everywhere. I have friends that work for stay at home mothers so I assumed she would be out to lunch with the girls or playing bridge or playing tennis or doing charity work but she doesn't do any of that. She is home all of the time. If I am playing the farm toy set with the child on the floor, she will come in and just watch us. I don't have anything to hide, but it's hard to keep doing the farmer and pig's voices when someone is just watching you. What makes it worse is the child will always ask Mommy to play and she always says no. This makes it very hard to keep the child interested in what we are playing as the little boy then wants to follow her when she leaves. Mommy is also there when I get him ready for his preschool and he always wants mommy to take him. Her answer is always, "no. that is what X is for". This makes me feel terrible! There have also been times when we are knee deep in finger paint and mommy uses the home PA system to call us to come downstairs saying she needs X (the child) right away. So I clean him up and take him downstairs and she says something ridiculous like, "I need to know if you think you want to take karate next term". The child is not quite 4! Is she doing this on purpose? Is there any point in talking to her? I feel I will just offend her. I passed on 3 jobs with working mothers to take this one and my mistake thinking it would be easier. I also feel that despite the fact that mommy is home all of the time, the little boy is getting very attached to me. In which case, isn't it best to leave before he gets more attached? It couldn't be more difficult, harder, more awkward. etc. etc. etc. Any advice??

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leave now! I've been in a similar situation and it becomes stressful due to the always-growing tension and animosity.

Annie said...

I totally feel your pain and I wish I had some good advice to give you. Unfortunately all I can say is that you should make an effort to talk about your concerns, just be very careful not to make any pointed statements about what you think the mom should be doing. Instead, phrase things more in terms of how you feel during your day, and what might make things easier.

Just a few weeks ago I was talking to a mother who I occasionally babysit for about her nanny (she's a SAHM) and I admitted, sheepishly, that I don't think I'd ever work for a SAHM. Immediately she said, "I know what you mean, I couldn't either, if I were a nanny." She went on to explain that she understood that without being the person in charge, at least during certain parts of the day, it's difficult for a nanny to establish any authority with the kids. For their family, however, it's what they need, and luckily for them it seems to be working out.

I hope you can find a way to work things out, but if you decide that's not going to happen, I think your instincts to go sooner, rather than later, are correct.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I feel badly for you. Particularly because you are a live-in nanny. This living in thing can almost hold one hostage.

I do think that any normal mother would not "do nothing" all day long. The fact that you say she is not out and about with girlfriends makes me feel badly for her. Maybe she has her own issues. Agorophobia? Put yourself in the mother's shoes. Has she had enough time to reveal herself to you? Sometimes a situation is workable once you understand what is going on. I had a work friend who lost her second child at 5 months. She was a stay at home mother who dedicated her life to her children. After she lost the youngest, she didn't want to do anything with the older child. Her husband hired a nanny because the mother was so terrified of losing another child, she didn't want the child to be dependant on her or she on the child. I am not saying these are reasons for you to stick around. It does sound like a complicated situation.

I just think most mothers have children and wake up everyday with the goal of being the best mother they can be. Some people need help.
How wonderful for their children that they are not afraid to ask for help.

Anonymous said...

It sounds almost like the mom really wants to be part of the kid's daily life and playtime but she doesn't know how to do it...maybe she is trying to learn from you, the professional! Maybe you can try to draw her into your games? I would not be able to stay in a situation like the one you describe if something didn't change. I feel sorry for the little boy because it must be VERY confusing to have Mommy there but completely unavailable. In my experience this is MUCH harder on kids than simply having their parents be at work, or whatever. Out of sight out of mind operates to some extent in that case, and by age 3 they understand that mommies and daddies have to work. But to know that Mommy is doing - nothing - and sitting WATCHING you - but she won't interact with you - that is just bizarre, confusing, hurtful. I wish there were a way for this woman to understand that she is hurting her son by acting this way. Either participate and act like a mommy, or get out of the house, lady!! (Or at least *do* something, even if it's in the house!)

Anonymous said...

This is why many experienced nannies won't work for SAHMs. It is difficult to keep the children from not feeling that you are keeping them away from mom, especially if she spends very little time with them.
Are you in a city, where you can go out to playgrounds, parks etc.? Also I wound try to make as many play dates as possible with his classmates.
A nanny

Anonymous said...

i think it's very strange that she is on you all the time. what was her reasoning for hiring you? it seems that she doesn't have anything else going on.

if there was some certain circumstance going on in the family, i would hope that they would have disclosed that to you at the beginning. being in the dark about something that could be going on isn't going to be helpful to any of you.

were you hired through an agency or did you get this job on your own. if it is through an agency, maybe they can offer you some insight into the situation. at the same time, they should have done that when you went to interview.

if you enjoy the job, figure out a way to speak with the mother (or maybe talk with the father when you see him at the end of the day). ask her how she feels your job performance has been. treat it as a mini review. then bring up feeling a bit uncomfortable in the watchful situations. see where that takes you.

Anonymous said...

There are too many normal, well functioning people out there, why work in a situation that is so sketchy?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with one of the previous posts. I am currently a sahm mom battling depression and a possible MS diagnosis. I look totally normal but am having a really difficult time with the whole full-time mom of a three year old and 18 mos old. We also don't have family here and I am constantly having to go for tests and appt.'s I do feel for you though. I think the mom should give you some space. Even though I am still in the house, I try to make it clear when "I am around" and when "I am not around". We are pretty clear about who is doing what when. I would also agree with the other post about bringing your concern to her. Tell her how you feel and ask her for a solution.

paola said...

Hmm. I think I would pack up my bags and leave without saying a word. Don't get sucked in to a situation that eats you alive!

One long shot; talking to the husband?

Anonymous said...

906,
What animosity?

Annie said...

Animosity is "a feeling of ill will arousing active hositilty".

Did you know that you can go to Google and put in the search terms "define:" and the word you want a definition for and you'll get back all the dictionary listings for it on the web? It's a great tool for when a child wants to know the definition of a word but you're having trouble verbalizing what it means. You can also text "define:" plus the word in question to GOOGLE and get the answers back on your cell phone.

Anonymous said...

annie,
I know what animosity is. I don't understand how animosity could grow in the situation as explained by the OP.

Anonymous said...

The mother sounds like a spoiled, rude unsatisfied woman. And you sound like a great Nanny. Go where you are appreciated and not STALKED!

Annie said...

Oh gosh, I'm sorry, I totally misread your comment.

I guess it was somewhat inevitable that I misread it, though, because for me I find it hard to imagine how you could work in that situation and not develop strong feelings of animosity. Being watched over, having your efforts of engaging a child constantly interfered with, being subverted in your attempts to build rapport, not being supported by your boss and made to feel confidant in the job your doing. These are all things that would lead me to feel significant ill will toward the woman who should be my partner in creating a warm, happy, healthy environment for the child we both care for.

Anonymous said...

848:

Because in a situation like that the OP is being treated in a way that would create a fair deal of resentment and add difficulty to her job.

Yeah, you're great as a nanny, but when your charge is age 4 Mommy trumps you Big Time. It also sounds like Mommy isn't talking to the OP so much as she is talking to the child in front of the OP. Like a pet, who can do really neat tricks like raise your children. At the very least Mom is a terrible communicator, or the OP would know what the heck her DEAL is. And this woman for sure has some kind of deal.

Nanny B said...

In my job I happen to work for parents who both work at home. While I loved this situation becuase they were both available in case I needed something, it was rather difficult when they would take over for me without asking my permission or knowing the situation. For instance, when the baby was napping and woke up, I was always able to get her to go back to sleep, however, if mom or dad went into the room and tried the same techniques, it didn't work becuase then the baby wanted mom or dad to play with her. Or if she cried, they came running to find out what was going on. This was their first child so I expected this to some degree but it started getting worse. Until I spoke up and voiced my opinions and concerns. It made them realize that they weren't doing the baby any favors by switching between parent care and nanny care and that the baby needed to learn who to depend on and go to and when. Now at 3 she knows that nanny is in charge at certain times and that mom/dad is in charge at other times. And mom and dad will say to her during my time, "you need to ask nanny, she is in charge right now". And vice versa. I think you need to open the lines of communication and point out to mom how this situation could become much worse down the road and that you want her to spend time with her son and maybe see if there is a way to include her in interactive play. (maybe doing something like play doh or coloring would be enough). Don't just leave without communication.

Katie in Colorado said...

Girls!!....Let's get back to the issue.......WHY ON EARTH does a mother hire a nanny when she's HOME ALL THE TIME???????? I could never work in such an atmosphere. Another case of an inept parent........which seems to be the case with MOST of the parents on this board!!!!

Anonymous said...

She has ONE child and has a full time nanny? How does she look herself in the mirror every day?
What must her husband think of her?
She is no kind of woman! No kind of mother.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god. Run away, girl RUN AWAY!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:05. There must be more to the story. By the way -- 1:05 I hope you feel better. I was experiencing some MS-like symptoms last year and thought I was going to lose my mind. I was also depressed because of the uncertainty.

Personally, if this mom has some sort of physical or mental issue (whether she has shared this or not), I think it's good that she has enough brains to call someone in to care for her son instead of taking on something she knows she can't do.

I don't think any of us should be so quick to judge.

If I were the OP I would simply have a chat with the mom. That, to me, is a no brainer. Put all the cards on the table and see if she takes the hint. If she doesn't, then give her proper notice and leave.

Anonymous said...

11:30 and 11:51

Shame on you. You have no idea what a mother's issues are. We all have them and if a mother feels that it is better to have a nanny that's her choice.

nanny in Chicago

Anonymous said...

You can have sympathy for the mother, her "issues" and the child she is f-cking up without staying and fighting a losing battle. Think of yourself!

And shame on you OP for chosing the job that looked to be the EASIEST!

Katie in Colorado said...

"Shame on you. You have no idea what a mother's issues are. We all have them and if a mother feels that it is better to have a nanny that's her choice.

nanny in Chicago "


YOU'RE KIDDING....RIGHT???! The mother is following her around all day!......I think the OP would've stated what the Mom's "issues" were if she had some. SHAME ON THE MOTHER if she has issues and hasn't been up front with the nanny as to why she needs the nanny to care for HER CHILD when she's RIGHT THERE! GEEZ....

Anonymous said...

The underlying problem is that the mother lacks social intelligence. Any normal human being knows and understands that a person will become uneasy when he/she is watched all the time. I try to stay out of my nanny's way when I am home unless I want to participate in what the children were currently doing.

If this SAHM cannot put herself in your shoes and see that she is making your working environment very uncomfortable and stressful, then you should leave. This lack of empathy may lead to future misunderstandings.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad that my kids don't attend katie's daycare in Colorado. She's too judgemental for my taste.

Those who have never been sick before are all quick to judge.

The mother may be ashamed or perhaps she hasn't come to terms with her illness herself.

We just don't know.....

In any case, the OP should tell the mom how she feels. If the mom doesn't change knowing how the nanny feels, well then she should leave.

Anonymous said...

I have worker for a family in an extremely similar situation except it was the dad. It was a temp job for 3 weeks and I found out on my last day that he had been in a car accident a couple of years earlier and had never been the smae since mentally. You would never have known anything was wrong unless you knew him, just that he seemed a little odd but he could not be left alone with the kids. Had I known that at the beginning of the job it would have emotionally been a lot easier for me. I think you need to talk to the parents together. Let them know that it is confusing for the child to have you both around when mom is just watching. Mom may not be able to tell you why she is doing it or she may not realise it is such a problem for you or him. Having the Dad be aware that there is a problem too without having seemed to go behind her back to him means you can all work together to make it better. And by the way I would NEVER choose a job with a stay at home mom instead of a working one because it sounded easier. In my experience they are almost always harder.

Anonymous said...

I work for a SAHM who does not have many activities outside of the home. I have been there for two years and I absolutely love it!! She and I sit down regularly to discuss the child's well-being and our respective roles. If I were you, I would examine just what your role is in this situation and decide if its right for you. "no. that is what X is for" would not be acceptable to me. Talk to her and explain how what she says about you to the child influences what role the child sees you as having in their life. As far as always watching you, maybe she's just trying to make sure she feels comfortable with you as a caregiver. Annoying? yes. Understandable? possibly. Are you her first nanny? Talk to her.

Anonymous said...

I worked VERY briefly (3 weeks) for a family with a SAHM. She did similar things, checking in on us a little too often, erratically planning activities for the children (needing to be in 2 places at the same time, worrying about something 6 months away.) I have a degree in psychology, but it didn't require that to realize something was up with her.

Come to find out, she had been in a car accident and had a head injury. It was not obvious in regular talking to her, but she had a lot of memory loss and trouble with organization. On top of all of this, she had developed major drug dependency (think Anna Nicole Smith amounts!), so the father did not feel comfortable with her staying with the children all day.

While I am sure there are people out there equipped to deal with that, I was not, and I ended up leaving.

I would talk to the mom and explain that you enjoy your job, but you don't feel comfortable with her micromanagement. If she truly needs you there, she'll back off.

Anonymous said...

1036,
I too worked VERY briefly for a sahm. Just about 3 weeks. I never did figure out what her damage was. She had SERIOUS problems. She was abusive to her children. She didn't know anything about being a parent. I never considered that she might have had a head injury.

Hmmmmmmm...

Anonymous said...

The mom I work for right now works at home. I gave my notice last week and I will never take a job where either parent is home ever again! I say leave now!

bft said...

well i could at least respect a mom who worked from home! Although in most of the cases they think they work a lot more than they do. Most of them just butt in all the time. I say, if she (the mom) was capable of working in an office and getting along with others- she would!

Anonymous said...

joe:
is 31 across PLURAL?

Anonymous said...

there could be an underlying problem you just don't know about.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a nanny, but if I were nannying for a "special needs" parent I would certainly feel entitled to know about it! I would hope the family would realize that to keep such information secret, be it a disablilty, psychological condition, or addiction, makes it very difficult for nanny, family, and child.

fg said...

The mom sounds kind of pathetic to me. Maybe there is a problem of some sort.

Anonymous said...

I worked for a WAHM/SAHM and it wasn't fun. I was hired 1 day per week to watch a then 6 month old, and after Turkey Day, it was 2 days per week with 2 kids, 3 1/2 and 6 months. It was OK with the baby, and with the 3 1/2 year old, it was worse.

I have no problem with a WAHM, yet I could never work for a SAHM/WAHM mom again. The 3 and 1/2 year old wouldn't dress himself, and she would let him choose a diaper or a pull-up. He wasn't potty trained, and had no rules/routine for either of her children. I could put the baby to sleep without her nursing him, and she then switched the naptime around everytime I worked, so I never knew what to expect. If he was ready to go down for a nap, she wouldn't let me put him to sleep by rocking him-he had to be nursed, and I would often ask myself, "why did you hire me, if you are going to do what you pay me to do?"

I feel for you. It's a tough decision to make, and I wish you the best of luck!

meghan said...

I had a similiar experience as 637 with a sahm. here is the deal. these women dont work because they arent capable of anything. giving a one year old a choice was something my lovely lady did on a daily basis. they stay at home and have kids because they think anyone can do that but it turns out they cant manage that either.
I was raised being told that everyone has something they are good at. These women are the exception to the rule.

Anonymous said...

i work for a SAHM and while it was difficult at the beginning, i really love it now. baby always knows that mama is close by, and mama has become comfortable enough with me to know she can trust me with baby while mom does her own thing. in the beginning, mom was VERY over protective, gave crazy step by step instructions for EVERYTHING. i thought she was totally crazy, until i learned of several extenuating circumstances that made her behavior perfectly understandable. it could be that your boss is just worried about baby and wants to be close by for awhile to make sure she knows how you'll be when she's not around. if things don't improve, then have a chat...say something like, "lets take some time to talk about how things are going. i notice that you spend a lot of time with baby and me--that's wonderful, baby loves having you around. but i'm afraid she might get confused about who to look to for guidance at what time. i'm also concerned you're not able to get done everything you would like to. do you have any ideas about how we can make this work the best for everyone? i've been thinking...." yadda yadda yadda.

if you give it time, talk it out, and it still doesn't improve? run like hell.

Anonymous said...

well said, meghan!

Melissa said...

You should talk with the Mom. Maybe she just enjoys watching how you interact with her child. She might not realize that it makes you nervous. I know how you feel because it would make me nervous too, and I've been in that situation before! You should try and have a talk with the Mom about why they felt they needed a nanny - like other posters have said maybe she is dealing with an issue, etc., that you don't know about. Not necessarily because she didn't want to be honest and upfront but possibly because she's not comfortable with it herself. Who knows? You'll never know unless you sit down and have a talk with her and the Dad. You'll want to do it in a very respectful, gentle way, though - they may even appreciate it that you took the initiative to talk to them.

Anonymous said...

Here is another thought-Maybe Mom didn't want a nanny and Dad or maybe in-laws insisted it was necessary. Maybe Mom resents the situation, and even maybe you a little. You should talk to her, first, before you talk to Dad. It sounds like it is very difficult for you to do your job effectively in this situation.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a similiar situation for a mother with two children both in pre school. It took a long time for her to trust me and tell me what had happened but as it turned out she was convicted of her second DWI and lost her driver's license. She made a serious mistake and paid for it by losing her lisc. for 5 years. I don't think many people ever found out about that. She wasn't a bad person, either.

Anonymous said...

You know, here is another thought that I have-maybe Mom is jealous of your relationship with your child. Havw you ever thought of that?

Cindy said...

Ok my question is..... Why would a stay at hom mom need a nanny for??????? Whats the point of staying at home if you arent even going to take care of your kids i mean they are your kids not the nanny. And you said she does nothing but follow you around. Then why doesnt she take care of him and be a mom?

Anonymous said...

I have worked for some stay at home moms, some of who are very respectful and one of which spied on me all the time. It does make it hard to be silly and have fun with the kids. I finally had to quit this job because the mom was asking me to spy on her husband and lie for her. She paid no attention to the kids and when she was supposed to be watching them and the spilled shampoo all over the bathroom, she made me discipline them so the kids wouldnt like me more than her. You dont realize how much stress this kind of situation is causing you until you quit.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a live-in-nanny, not for a stay at home mom, but for the "workaholic" parents. Yes, this does seem like strange behavior coming from the mother, but (as I have had conversations with other nannies/babysitters) it almost seems like one of those situations that she had a child by accident or for social reasons (the latter being my case). If you can, I would stick it out for a while. Since the parents don't spend much time to teach their child anything, do your best to. Give him the care and nurturing he otherwise would not get from his mother. At the same time, try and encourage the mother to spend more time with the child. If she comes in a watches you play games, invite her to join in. Parents often don't see what they are doing to their children by being distant, or having a nanny, but seeing your own situation, you may be able to help teach all people involved. I don't know if this is any help, just a little encouragement.

Anonymous said...

That would drive me crazy!!!....No on likes to be watched. But I agree with other posters it sounds like she has a hard time interacting w/ her child and does it vicariously through you. Such behavior would drive me to quit...but if the perks are as good as you say otherwise....I would consider speaking to her first

Anonymous said...

Always, ALWAYS, Always! take the working mom job.

SAHMs are freaking insane! They are overcontrol freaks who can't "handle" their kids behavior, or schedule(here's a hint don't overschedule the little guys) so they farm it out to a nanny.

But the SAHM feels "GUILT" that she didn't want to have kids in the first place, her life is supposed to be a mommy martyrdom complex for her kids, and she is jealous of nannies who love kids, who enjoy playing with children and who can do her job 1000x better than she can.

A working professional values you. She will pay you what you are worth, she will not keep you overtime or she will pay you for it, and bonus, she isn't around-altough it seems like there are plenty of OlD biddies on this list who like to chastize you for feeding a kid a sip of Dr. Pepper now and then.

go with with the Working professional. Only take the SAHM job in the following:

Special needs case and make sure you charge at least 22.oo per hour for that hassle
Mom has some disease she is dying of.