Monday

Menacing Housekeeper...

Received Monday, November 26, 2007-Perspective & Opinion
Hi. I have been working as a nanny for the past 4 months for a great family. They are really nice and things are going better than I ever expected. The only thing is the housekeeper; who has been around for 7 years has made it clear that she doesn't like me. I get the feeling that the reason she doesn't like me is because I am doing a good job and everyone seems to like me. Not Just the two boys, but mom and dad both do. We have a good rapport. My mind is starting to play tricks on me because I am starting to fear this housekeeper making trouble. I know you are doing a survey on what people get their employers. I might have got them a little something but the housekeeper has already told me at least 3 times not to get them anything. And she says it in a menacing way. I am 23 and the housekeeper is about 46. Has anyone dealt with anything similiar?

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

The housekeeper is not your boss and you don't need to take orders from her. If you want to get something for your family, go right ahead. Sounds like she is trying to sabotage you. Don't cow down to her; it doesn't matter how much older she is than you. Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

My thought is that she doesnt want you to get them anything because a) she will feel obligated to if you do and she doesnt want to include them on her holiday buying list b) she is getting them something and she wants to make you look thoughtless and boost her own ratings!

Follow your heart - if you were planning to get something for them (or the boys) do what feels right.

Kate in PA said...

You said you have a nice rapport with the parents, right? I would suggest talking with them about the issue of the housekeeper. Not the gifts, of course, but the attitude in general. If this is a full-time housekeeper who is around pretty often, she could make your life miserable (as it sounds like she is already starting to do). Little problems become big problems when you let them fester and don't address them. Ask your employers if there is anything you could do differently when dealing with the housekeeper. Don't make it sound like you are attacking the housekeeper for anything, but just bringing it up with the parents may get them to see what is going on and help you out. Don't let this lady run you out of a good position! Good luck, OP.

Sue Doe-Nim said...

I'd put out feelers for another job...

Since the housekeeper has been there a long time do you know if she was previously caring for the kids? Sounds like she's territorial enough to get you fired.

emily said...

The best thing you can do is to make sure you are above reproach. As long as you know there's nothing that she can go to the parents with you won't be worried that she'll be able to sabatoge your job.

Definitely follow your own feelings about a gift, and I think it might be a good idea to at least broach the subject of how you're feeling with the parents. You can say something like, "Did the previous nanny get along with the housekeeper?"

Meme said...

I would surely get them a gift if you want to and I would also consider talking to the parents about it. It may seem crazy but have you considered just asking her outright what her problem with you is?

Anonymous said...

I would make a real effort to establish a rapport with the housekeeper. Be sure you coordinate your activities with her. For example if you want to do a cooking or art project in the kitchen, ask her if she needs to get in there first. Don't expect her to work around you. Make sure you clean up after the children. That is your job, not hers. Ask her for advice, she has known this family for seven years. If she sees that you are treating her with respect and consideration, she may warm up to you. I had a similar situation, and we eventually became good friends.
I would not go to the parents, unless the situation becomes clearly unworkable. Since she has a long tenure and you are new, chances are they will see you as the problem. Good luck.
A Nanny

toonces, that cat who would drive said...

op, ask your husband about the importance of dallas's offense. or simply read the art of war. this bitch is messing with you and it isn't cool. she is a housekeeper? help her not to do her job so well. when the employer is around- say something, like "let me just mop the bathroom and i'll be out of here". the employer should know it isn't your job. you should then say things like "i am just trying to get along with her, she's been here so long.". employers hate sticky kitchen floors. make sure they are. sticky. put a paper cup of mayonaise in the microwave for a minute. it will smell bad. hide it somewhere where it won't be found. the employer will have the housekeeper clean the area, say like the master bath. it will still smell. tell the employer she was only in there for 2 minutes. then after the housekeeper has to clean it again, remove cup of mayonaise. take no care in your peeing or bowel movements and use all toilets. stop the washer mid cycle. stop the dryer. turn the dryer to high. get a can of sardines. put two in the vaccum canister. hidden. housekeeper will smell the house up like sardines when she vaccums. unruffle the beds. make them look sloppy. let the employer catch you remaking a child's bed. organize a child's room. think of a better way. make it the opposite of the housekeeper's. have your friend's call the housekeeper before she gets to work and after she gets off. they should be rude to the employer. what size is the housekeeper or what does she like? if she has a child and you dont, steal things for her child. drop them at a toy drop. you will never be suspected. go to a rental car and rent the same car the hk rents. follow your boss around in it at weird times. what does your boss like or not like? tell other parents that all playdates are supposed to go through the housekeeper. that she told you that. have a kid over for a playdate and tell them they arent allowed any food. tell them they cant play with toys because it will make a mess. leave something like lye laying around and save some kid from near death. start a buzz about the housekeeper behind her back. work the other nannies. get in good with people of whatever ethnicity she is. if she is hispanic, learn spanish and start handing out chicle. compliment every housekeeper you meet and every house you go. tell them, 'wow this is such a clean house' and be like, 'sometimes i am scared for x to crawl around on our floor'. compliment your housekeeper. tell her she is underpaid. tell her about other housekeepers you know that make twice what she does. she is old. does she have retirment? tell her everyone else her age does. eavesdrop. and then "accidentally" let something slip she told your employer so the housekeeper things the two of you talk about her behind her back. it's risky but you can put sandpaper or fiberglass in a broom or map. it will surely ruin the wood floors if they have them. employers dont like streaky glass. is your glass streaky? make it so. the housekeeper wont know what hit her. tell her repeated, "i think you do a great job". emphasis on I. don't let on that you are smart, if you are. fake cry and let the older housekeeper catch you. tell her your mom did x or y. she will hold you to her bosom and see you as a daughterly type. when you call the housekeeper, every now and then slip and call her mom. make sure to get her a really nice gift for christmas. follow my advice and she will be out of your hair by groundhogs day.

Anonymous said...

toonces,
you are scary

Anonymous said...

toonces
You are funny, you should write childrens books. not.

Anonymous said...

The housekeeper Is not the parents or anyone her job is to clean. If she says anything tell the mother what going on.

Anonymous said...

Toonces is one wicked cat!

Anonymous said...

You need to just confront the bully head on. Be firm and just a bit superior in your demeanor. She'll step back.

Anonymous said...

What was your employer's previous nanny history? My housekeeper has been with me going on six years and is very protective of my family and children. I have had one very bad nanny and one so so nanny experience before finding the right person (letting them go had nothing to do with the housekeeper and everything to do with how they cared for my children) and I know my housekeeper was reserved with my current nanny for a long time. She was suspicious based on the prior nannies and forming an opinion on whether she thought this nanny was worthy of her respect. It took awhile, but a year later, they get along well and my housekeeper has commented several times how well my nanny treats the children. Respect the housekeeper and the job she needs to do by keeping out of her way as much as possible and focus on caring for your charges. You should get your employers a gift if you would like, especially the boys

Anonymous said...

Housekeepers can be scary, with their well-muscled arms and taut calves, hardened by lots of bending and squeezing out mops and such, and with their faces grimaced and glowering as if actually going into some kind of battle against dirt. I had one in particular who sent chills up and down my back every time she passed behind me. She wore the tightest bun in her I'd even seen and yet it still wasn't quite tight enough to hold up that one drooping eye, the one that seemed to always be blood red.

I'm just sayin'.....
housekeepers, a scary lot you might not want to rile.

marypoppin'pills said...

I know you must feel like you're in a difficult situation, but try not to alienate the housekeeper. She's been there 7 years for a reason ... they like her, and she's good at what she does. I think she may also be "flexing" ... she sounds territorial, and wants you to know she has tenure. Hopefully she will soften up after awhile as she gets to know you better.
Another reason could be you might be making more money than her and she's jealous. She's all over that house, trust me, she probably knows what you're making.
As for the gift, I think you should. Why would you not want to let this family know you're thinking about them, they've obviously been good to you.

mkay said...

This may sound a bit harsh, but I've dealt with nasty housekeepers in the past and my advice is---find another job ASAP.
The housekeeper has her own (probably very personal and possibly dysfunctional) reasons for being rude and cold toward you...but she's probably feeling displaced and threatened by your role in the family dynamic and if she's that immature and petty, there is really no reasoning with her. Don't waste your time trying to reason with her, trying to discuss it with your employers or trying to deal with her nuttiness...just give notice and find a healthier, calmer workplace situation with a NORMAL housekeeper who understands that household employees must be supportive of eachother.
Never fear---there are plenty of great nanny jobs waiting for you. You do not have to tolerate this kind of stress!!

Anonymous said...

Toonces

You left out the part where the cat drives itself over the cliff. Start your engine.

TX Nanny said...

I think you should handle this in a professional manner. Talk to the parents without getting emotional or personally attacking the housekeeper. Tell them that you love your job but you feel like you've done something to upset the housekeeper because she isn't very warm towards you. If you got hired through an agency e-mail them about your situation and ask for advice, print out the e-mails so if the shit does hit the fan you have proof that you tried to work things out and had the family's best interest in mind.

mom said...

Can't stop laughing at the thought of all this! And what will happen if they have a nanny cam and see this poor girl taking all of this really great advice and she ends up in prison?! The thing about the cat driving itself off the cliff is also hilarious! What if she just loosens the giant chandelier above the dining room table and takes out the whole lot of them at once? (After having craftily tricked them into adopting her...naturally.)
Seriously though. I have met people like this and you are somehow threatening to her. There is probably no need to quit your job or sabotage the housekeeper. Just try doing a really great job with the kids and also every now and then (don't want to come off like a brown noser)find subtle ways to let her know you respect her position with the family. Ask her advice about something when it is appropriate to do so, or compliment something...and not how clean the floor is. Find something real to complimnet or don't do it at all. Don't suck up...you'll be at her mercy forever and she will never respect you if you do that. Be a professional and treat her like one and the territorial wars will likely end in time.

marypoppin'pills said...

OP
While were are all grasping at straws here, could you please let us know if there had been other Nannies before you? If so, what happened to them?
(Provided Toonces wasn't around).

Anonymous said...

I think you should definitely stage a confrontation with the housekeeper, knowing that your employer will overhear. Make it so that it is obvious you're the nice one and the housekeeper is the bully.

I'm Just Saying said...

Going to your employers should be your last resort - if you are confident in your abilities as a nanny and comfortable with your employers and charges, you should have nothing to worry about. Allowing her petty mind tricks to impact your ability to perform your job or letting her immaturity drive you to an uncomfortable and most likely awkward conversation with your employers would be unprofessional and, most likely, embarassing. What are you going to say? The housekeeper is hurting my feelings? Keep doing an excellent job and until and unless she crosses the line, stay out of her way and make it clear that you aren't going anywhere.

ML said...

You need to talk to the parents. I was in a somewhat similar situation with my last nanny family. I'd only been there about half a year and things simply were not working out between me and their current housekeeper, who had been working for them for about 7 years also. I told them what was going on and they immediately started looking for someone else. It really means a lot to the family when their nanny connects with their children, much more so than the relationship with their housekeeper...

Anonymous said...

Buy them a gift! Sounds like the housekeeper is jealous of you and trying to sabotage you! You WiLL look bad if "your family" hands you a gift and you have nothing to give in return!

I would speak to your employers in a calm pleasant way and discuss your concerns! Communication is key, and it's very important in nanny parent relationships!

mom said...

Did you ever wonder why the housekeeper is telling you so many times not to get a gift? Because the normal thing to EXPECT is that you will get them a gift, so she has to keep reminding you to make sure you won't do it. You will look bad if you don't. What if she gets them one and you don't? (Which is the most likely scenario.) How will you feel then? I liked the idea of a nice box of candy. It isn't too expensive and yet it is a classy gift that they will all enjoy. Books are always great gifts for children, and also not expensive. Best of all, you can get it all in one stop next time you are at Barnes and Noble. They sell Godiva chocolate there, which is always nice.

Anonymous said...

You are never obligated to buy a gift for an employer. If you'd like to get a little something or offer something you made, that's very sweet, but unnecessary. I'd feel awful if my nanny bought me something expensive, but anytime she wants to bake some cookies, I'm thrilled.

As for the boys, if you want to do something nice for them b/c you care for them & want to show it. That's great, but don't think you need to spend too much money on them either. Spend more time in thinking about something they'd LOVE -- maybe it's something you can do together.

Screw the housekeeper. Yea, she's been there 7 years, but you're hired to care for the children. Big dif.

Anonymous said...

I had the same exact problem and I don't have that job anymore. My problem was that I didn't say anything to the parents or the house keeper. She had to be jealous of me because I did nothing wrong. I treated those kids as if they were my own and they LOVED me. they would hide my coat and shoes so I couldn't leave. I don't know what she said about me but I know the mom would hint around about things that happened while the housekeeper was there. I was ironing on the ground while the kids were eating lunch and she made it sound like I was ironing in the middle of the children playing. I don't know what advice I can give you but you better do something or you will be in my place. I loved those children so much and that is something most parents don't consider.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest looking for another job in a home without a housekeeper. This also happened to me at a daycare center with an older teacher and I was the one who ended up getting fired even though I was doing a terrific job. She sounds very, very catty and territorial.