Thursday

Housekeeper and Nanny at Each Other's Throats

Received Thursday, August 16, 2007 -Perspective and Opinion
I have three children, one in school part-time, one in school full-time. I have had this particular nanny for 8 months. We recently replaced our 2x housekeeper with a full-time housekeeper that works from 9-5 each day. Now it seems, the nanny and housekeeper are non stop at each other's throats. Anyone BTDT?

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe, you are going to have to set up a meeting with them. One on one. Just for 10-15 minutes. Try and keep it relaxed offer coffee, tea, etc. Praise each for their good work. Ask them how is everything, if theirs any qualms they have. See if they can open up to you. Get both sides of the story seperately. If you have time maybe have them both sit down with you. Then discus the problems at hand. And let them know its causing stress to you and your family. If they are still fighting, you may have to let one or both go.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Unless you are a SAHM, you should have considered the personalities of the housekeeper and nanny before you hired the second. Maybe you did. In which case, you should approach the nanny first and tell her just that and ask her what the problem is. I would set myself on fire to keep my nanny here, but the housekeeper's job is much less personal. A good nanny is too hard to find. If you have a good nanny, listen to her!

Anonymous said...

Is it a space issue? As a nanny, the housekeeper who only comes twice a week, asks us (me and the kids) to stay out of blank areas while she is there. Usually I take the kids out but with a full time housekeeper that could be really difficult.

Anonymous said...

I agree, having our housekeeper everyday is nothing but a pain in my ass, they want certian rooms off limits and that doesn't make for an easy morning....

op said...

OP That is not it. That was one thing we have always been clear about with the housekeeper, even the part time ones. She works around the six people in the house, we don't work around her. I don't say that to sound obnoxious, but when children are on a routine, a smart housekeeper can figure out a schedule that keeps her four rooms away from the ruckus.

Anonymous said...

Oh the old Nanny - Housekeeper power struggle! Trust me, it goes on far more than the employers know. A lot of times it is a question of respect - on both parts. A good idea would be to sit down with both of them and detail their job responsibilities and makes sure neither one of them is stepping on the other ones toes - especially if there is an age difference. I have seen it go both ways - The Nanny disrespecting the housekeeper, and the housekeeper thinking the nanny is too young to know how to proper do her job. If you set the boundries between them that should settle a lot. Remind them that this might be a private home, but it is their professional work space and they must respect it and each other and get along as co-workers. They are'nt making your life easier (and that is what they are PAID to do) if they are causing tension.
Signed, A NAnny who cares about and respects ALL of her co-workers.

amy said...

In my experience, you are better off mediating their quarrels than having the two solidify as one powerhouse against you.

chick said...

Sounds like you need to speak with them individually, and remind them that they need to work as a team, even if they have apersonality conflict.

I honestly doubt that will work, but it's worth a shot. I think you have to be clear you can't tolerate any conflict because of the nature of their jobs.

If you can't help them make peace, then one of them will have to leave.

I would suggest that whoever remains with the family have a small part in picking the new staffer. When my employers hired a HK, I met each candidate briefly, got a rundown from my bosses on the interview, and interviewed the final candidates myself. It was a big help, and as the nanny, I appreciated having some input. Obviously I didn't MAKE the choice, but I felt I had a part in the decisions.

Since I would be working side by side with HK, I needed to feel comfortable with her, and I needed to feel sure that she would respect my space as I respected hers.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You didn't say how you feel about the nanny, or what the conflicts are about so it is hard to advise. I do think it is important to hire a housekeeper who likes to work in a house with children. Otherwise, she is going to feel constantly inconvenienced, and resent the fact that the children make her job harder. I discuss my plans to make muffins in the kitchen or do a long messy art project in the playroom at the beginning of the day, and we work out when she will be able to get into those rooms. We try to accommodate each other.
A Nanny

Beth W said...

OP again (heretoafter Beth): The nanny is perfect. She is wonderfully efficient and so capable, I never have any cause to worry about my children. She is absolutely on top of her job. The housekeeper does a great job cleaning. I haven't spent much time with the housekeeper but I have with the nanny and I think she has a very nice personality.

Anonymous said...

Are the nanny and the housekeeper of the same race? It has been my experience that in all working environments, coworkers must sometimes ask another for help with this or to direct them to the right way to do things. I think that certain people, particularly Black employees are very sensitive to this. In my experience, they tend to overreact. When in reality, a new employee learns by listening to suggestions from those around him/her.

Anonymous said...

Uh, no, I have not BTDT, since I raise my own children and clean my own house. But hey, good luck with your problem. Must keep you up at night. Say, am I right, you are a SAHM?

Anonymous said...

I can understand taking pride in raising your own children, but do not understand people who take pride in scrubbing their dh's shit stains out from underneath the rim of the toilet. You can train a monkey to do that.

Anonymous said...

I would have hired a housekeeper with great references, but one who didn't speak a word of English. And the nanny outranks the housekeeper, regardless of how long the nanny has been there. Just like a corporate manager has to control his employees, you are responsible for yours. So make sure they know the pecking order.

Nanny Lexy said...

I think calling attention to the fact that the nanny is "higher on the pecking order" will only increase tensions! What is it that they are fighting about? If you don't think they can resolve it, sit down with the housekeeper and tell her. "I really love having you here. Your a big help, ect. But, your putting me in a weird situation, because my nanny has been here for 8 months now, and my children love her and have become attached. Having the two of you constantly fighting is not good for my family. If you can't find a way to work together, I'm going to have to let you go."

Just be honest with her. And make sure to list a lot of good things about her too!

Anonymous said...

Okay...seriously. My question here is why on Earth would anyone need a full time housekeeper? How messy are you people?

Anonymous said...

With a ft nanny and a ft housekeeper, I bet she gets plenty of time for her manis, pedis and Botox shots!

Anonymous said...

10:21, I think it's the same kind of pride that most adults feel at not needing someone else to wipe their ass for them.

Anonymous said...

I've been a nanny in New York for 7 years and only once have worked with a house-keeper where there was a difficult atmosphere. When I started the job the already established house-keeper took an instant dislike to me as she had previously worked with a nanny from the UK(where I'm from) who had been rude and unpleasant to her. This house-keeper assumed from the beginning I was going to be just like this other nanny and so things got off to a bad start. I only stayed in this job less than a year as I like to be on friendly terms with my co-workers and I couldn't work in that kind of atmosphere. So, my advice is if you value these two employees maybe try and step in and pave the way for some communication otherwise you may end up losing one of them.

Anonymous said...

10:21 and 1:12 100% well said...
so what do you do???cant clean your own house...
i am a sahm and clean my house and watch my 4 kids at the same time..thats what it is all about..
lets get real...why do you people have kids ....for show ( should of got a puppy)
clean your own shit....
get a life....

Lauren said...

I'm a working mom (although I work 75% of the time from home) with a nanny and a live in housekeeper.

Any pride to be had in scrubbing floors or cleaning toilets, I find instead in having a professional career. Really... it doesn't move a hair off of my head that someone else does those lowly tasks.

As for raising my children, I find an appropriate balance so that I can have both. I want to raise both of my babies to know that women can be important outside of the home as well as inside of it. I also wouldn't want seven years of postsecondary education to go to waste, so I'm happy to work in a career (mostly from home) that grants me the flexibility to work, contribute to the household income, be a role model for my children, AND be their primary caretaker. Nobody spends more waking hours with my children than I do, even if I have a nanny to help for the 30 hours that I spend in my home office each week.

Am I the only one who believes that the mommy wars are largely brought on by jealousy and guilt?

Anonymous said...

the comments bashing someone else's life are just ridiculous. how you choose to live your life has nothing to do with anyone else.
OP was not asking for judgement on having help in her home but insight into a situation.

Heidi said...

Very obviouly illustrated is the jealousy expressed by the sahm who also cleans. I know many nannies who do not clean. I know many sahms who get pissed at that notion. Why? Because they HAVE to. Emphasis on the word have to. Who in their right mind wouldn't have a housekeeper or housekeeping help if they could? And especially if I had four children and wanted to care for them myselves, I would take comfort in delegating the thankless tasks like laundry, changing sheets and cleaning bathrooms to an employee.

I happen to have a nanny and housekeeper that I am grateful for and to. Perhaps I should also be grateful for the fact that this is the norm in my area. :)

So SAHM with no nanny and no housekeeper, are you the rebel rouser on every post?

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, I was thinking the jealous moms would have come out sooner. If you DON'T have a nanny, why are you on here?

You have absolutely no right to pass judgement on how other people raise their families. I have a friend w/ full a full time nanny and full time housekeeper. Ok, on the surface sounds cushy. Here's the deal, her eldest son has SEVERE autism (he's non-verbal). She also has a toddler and 3 kids in between. They have two home school teachers for the autistic son. Add the teachers, nannies, friends, etc and you easily have 15 people a day thru the house, it gets trashed. Frequently, I'm over there and my friend is mopping her floors and the housekeeper is buried in laundry. Her nails are a mess and she IS considering botox if anyone cares. SO WHAT? Her husband is successful!

I have another acquaintance who is disabled and unable to care for her OWN baby. So she works in order to pay a nanny to take care of her baby. It's either that or no baby.

I have a f/t nanny and p/t houskeeper. So what? It works for our particular family situation. Which I won't bore you with here.

You have NO idea what others are going through. You need to walk about 3 years in their shoes to even get a clue.

Now, to help OP which is what all of us should be doing. All I can suggest is perhaps figuring out a way so that they can both have some power, if that's some of the struggle? How about if the housekeeper can say what she will be working on in the morning so she feels some control. And have the nanny dictate something else? It just sounds like a power struggle where both or one feels powerless.

Good luck, I know it's hard to find good employees.

cali mom said...

Lauren/8:59, no. A lot of people on this board seem to have that same silly misconception.

I could say that alot of the misuse of the "jealous SAHM" label comes from "career" or just plain lazy snob "moms" who are secretly jealous they can't raise their own children, either because their neighbors and frenemies would think they were too poor to pay someone else to do it, or because they just can't cope with the realities of parenthood. If you can manage to successfully balance work, family and alone time, that's great. But please don't assume that all SAHMs w/out FT nannies and FT housekeepers are "jealous" that we can't put our feet up and eat bonbons while we recover from our latest plastic surgery, get our in-home pedicures and order the hired help around.

Anonymous said...

I really am curious, though, what your housekeeper does all day? I am not saying this out of judgement - if I could have a housekeeper I'd do it, too, but I used to clean houses in about 4-5 hours (for a big house) and I just can't for the life of me think what I would be able to do to fill up a 40 hour week? What does yours do? Again, I do not mean this judgementally at all - it is pure curiosity.

Anonymous said...

re:cali mom you have too much time on your hands you should maybe send more time with your kids instead of posting ALL over the place.

Anonymous said...

My housekeeper works all day. In the morning dishes, stripping beds. Other days it's parent laundry. other days it is the children's laundry. She unpacks the peapod and other home inventory orders, irons clothing, cleans 8 bathrooms, mops, vacuums, dusts, polishes silver, cleans out the fireplaces in the winter, keeps the refrigerator and pantry organized, in fact keeps all of the closets in the home organized. She keeps busy.

And to the bitter SAHM. I am still not buying your argument. I have friends who are stay at home moms who are so awesome, I sometimes feel I pale in comparison, but they have full time housekeeping help. I don't buy your allegiance to cleaning. Not at all.

I don't eat bon bons or get in home pedicures (how gauche). I have a face full of botox, work out as often as I can, am very involved in parental activities with both of my children's schools and volunteer about 10 hours a week with a breast cancer charity. I work as a team with my nanny to provide our three children with the best care.

cali mom said...

Anon at 3:35, same to you.

Anon at 1:19, my point was basically in agreement with you, in that there are a whole lot of stereotypes being thrown around. By SAHMs, moms with nannies, and nannies.

Funny how everyone gets so up in arms at the slightest hint of percieved racial or ethnic stereotyping but they sure don't mind jumping to outrageous generalizations when it comes to family and household roles.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong...as a SAHM, I would love a housekeeper and have employed one in the past; however, I cannot imagine what kind of slobs (or obsessive compulsive neat freaks) my family would have to be to need full time housekeeping! Unreal!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you have a tiny house?
Stop judging.
Start loving.

Darfur.

A said...

I just want to say that I grew up in a home with a mother who worked from home AND I had a nanny, too (For when my mom needed to go out.) For all the SAHM's who think they are holy because they stay at home without a nanny: get over it. And for all the working mom's who feel guilty and horrible for not being at home: get over it. Kids just need consistent love and good supervision. The whole idea is to raise happy, healthy kids, right? I know that when my parents split up my nanny was there for me in a way that my mom couldn't be because she was so sad. My nanny saved my life simply by being a wonderful, kind, loving, and extremely decent woman. I love my mom, of course. But, it's okay to have more than one role model in one's life. There is infinite room in a child's heart for love. There is no competition.

Anonymous said...

8 bathrooms that need to be cleaned daily? Get real

Anonymous said...

There is value in having both a nanny and a housekeeper so it is clear the nanny focuses on the children at all times but the house is still in order. If I could afford to have a top notch nanny and a full time housekeeper, I would, but I choose to invest in a top salary for my nanny. However, as far as "pecking order", my housekeeper has been with me for six years since I was pregnant with my first child. I trust her 100% and I know she is a lovely wonderful honest hardworking caring person and I have great repect for her work ethic. I fired a nanny after she made a disparaging remark about how she dresses (it was obvious she felt she was better than my housekeeper). Anyone who displays such snobbish behavior is not someone I want my children exposed to. OP, talk to both of them to get to the root of the problem. It may shed some light on what the people you have selected to be in your children's lives will teach them.

Anonymous said...

10:39 Darfur?

Anonymous said...

Come on...how big would your house have to be to need FULL TIME housekeeping?

Kelly said...

Dear OP,

Do you have both the nanny's & houskeeper's job descriptions in writing? maybe nanny is making too much of a mess for the housekeeper, or vice versa. Make it clear who is supposed to do what & when. If their issues turn out to be just plain arrogance, they may have to just grow up and refrain from creating a hostile environment for you and the kids. Not everyone likes who they work with, but they have to learn to work together. I hope all works out :)

Anonymous said...

10:39: Peddle your politics somewhere else. There is a time and place. This is neither.

Anonymous said...

Love Yourself.
And also, Darfur.

Make sure both the HK and nanny report to you and not to each other. That will end any problem.

Anonymous said...

OMG...it's George Freakin' Clooney. Save me!

Anonymous said...

I wish stupid, ignorant actors and actresses would stay out of politics. It really points out how dumb some of them are. Not all, but Georgie boy Clooney just looks like a fool when he gets his political mojo going and then the idiots Sean Penn, Barbara Striesand, Susan Sarandon, Rosie O'Donnell--the stupidity just spews forth from their mouths.

Anonymous said...

2:11...thank you! I'm glad someone around here has some damn sense.

Anonymous said...

To 4:37pm: why do you think in home pedicures are gauche? Please share. I think they are far more sanitary than at the salon! Who knows what can be picked up there, with all kinds of people's feet sharing the equipment and no 100% foolproof way of eradicating fungi and other icky things. To me it seems like in home pedicures are not gauche at all! I would love to find someone in my area who comes to the home.

Botox injections (which you mention) seem far more gauche to me.

Anonymous said...

11:38: I completely agree and was thinking the same thing.

Lindsay said...

I know I'm commenting a bit late, but I'll put in my two cents anyway:

When I was in college (21 years old), I spent a summer and a semester as a part-time live-in nanny, I guess you can call it. The family had a part-time housekeeper (in her 50s). The woman was very pushy and overbearing. She would take out all her frustration with the family on me and was constantly critical of my work (I obviously wasn't qualified to watch the kids because I didn't have my own or the life experience that she had). At one point, she told me that I need to exercise more because I'm gaining too much weight! Anyway, I would tend to shrug it off or make up some excuse to get out of the room. Later on, when I told the parents my concern with the housekeeper, they said much rather fire her than lose me. The way they saw it, their children are much more valuable to them than the cleanliness of their house.

I don't know if this is of any help to you, but if they're both at each others' throats, more likely than not, you will need to get rid of one employee. I guess it all depends on who you like better, or whose services you value more.

Anonymous said...

Well if you have a house keeper and a nanny then what exactly are you doing with your time??Do you work? if not then fire one or the other and take over that job...
or fire them both and save the money and stress and do it yourself. The kids want to be with you anyway not a mom substitute..
Nobody can replace a moms love...

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't believe in having kids if you plan on working full time. I have degrees and a nice house but if it comes down to someone else raising my kids or myself.. I'd chose me any day. As for cleaning.. I don't mind it. I look down upon people who use nannies to raise their kids. I agree with the poster who said "should of got a puppy".