Tuesday

Conflicting Feelings About the New Nanny

Tuesday, March 11, 2008-Perspective & Opinion
We hired a nanny who had previous experience working as a nursing assistant in a hospital. She has many fine attributes. She charts our dc's activities throughout the day, including what dcs ate, drank, minutes of television watched, if dc had a bm and the size and consistency of the bm. She's that thorough. As working parents, we appreciate that detail. On the negative side, she lets dc eat in other rooms beside the kitchen, shows up late and has already been out sick twice. My husband suggested that we put the nanny on probation. His plan is to go over our rules again, put everything in writing and put her on probation for a month. I was curious to see if there are other families that have utilized this probation plan of action. The nanny is a live-in and because two of the days she called out were Mondays, my husband plans to state that the nanny needs to return home Sunday evenings. She has family in Brooklyn and her previous call outs just seemed like long weekends away to us. To reiterate, she has many fine points.

41 comments:

mnanny said...

I think your husband's plan sounds good. Don't attack her, just reiterate what you expect. Good Luck

D said...

I get the feeling she is under appreciated? How do you show her she's appreciated?

You also need to understand that in a successful nanny/family relationship you BOTH need to be flexible.

If I was at a position where I felt unappreciated and where flexibilty was demanded but not reciprocated and THEN I was put on "probation" I would start looking for another job immediately.

My suggestion is a convo about the rules/expectations. Dock her pay when she is late. Pay her a bonus when you are.

She IS human and will make mistakes, sometimes- you just have to get over it.

nyc mom said...

What seems to be missing from your post is a basic description of her as a kind, honest, likable person and a loving nanny. Is she good with your kids (apart from the charting)? Does she play with them - arts&crafts, trips to the park, reading books, whatever is age appropriate? Feed them healthy meals? Is she affectionate and warm? What about towards you - do you like her as a person? Does she have common sense and use good judgement? Does she show initiative? Does she do the job outlined in your work agreement if that includes keeping the kids rooms organized, cleaning up after their meals, laundry, etc?

I don't mean to give a long list of questions (even thought I just did!). But you post only about one positive (keeping a detailed chart of the day) and one real negative (lateness/calling out sick). I mean letting the kids eat in another room is a tiny thing and seems really simple to address. How is she late if she is a live in? If all the sick outs and lateness are related to Monday morning, it seems reasonable to request that she be back Sunday night.

You also did not state how long she has worked for you which might influence how you approach this. I do not think I would "put her on probation." It think that term is full of negativity and very unlikely to have a positive outcome. I find you need to be direct in these situations, but also frame them in a positive manner. How about, "You've been working with us X amount of time. We like to do a formal sit down review at this stage so we can both give each other some feedback. These are some things you do great. These are some things that really need improvement. Just so there's no confusion, we'd like to put it all in writing so it's easier for both of us. Please tell us things that you are happy/unhappy with and we can work together to make this a good fit."

Anonymous said...

Do you have a work agreement? If not, you might want one. Or, you can take the approach I did and create something a little less formal, but still very detailed. I created a notebook where she can jot things down during the day (like the logs she keeps), put in days out (vacation and sick) and wrote out a detailed description of all the tasks in a typical day and a rough schedule so what is expected is very clear. It would have been better to have this when she first started, but if you don't have such a thing, do it now. Pesonally, I like having things written down, because my memory is not the best. Then, you should plan on some scheduled "touch bases" to go over how she's doing. Have your husband take the kids or plan to do it sometime where they won't be there. Make sure you praise her for what she's doing right and be clear but kind about the things she's not. I did this the first and second week my nanny started and then monthly and at this point we do a short discussion every 3 months with a longer review once a year when she gets her raise and bonus. (Doesn't mean you shouldn't complement in between, but I find calendaring it helps me not to skip doing it). Be clear if you feel something is a serious issue (lateness), and let go the small stuff since no one is perfect. If she wants and likes the job, you shouldn't have to point out the negatives too much. Probation seems silly and harsh. Since any employee is an employee at will, technically everyone with a job is on probation.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a work agreement? If not, you might want one. Or, you can take the approach I did and create something a little less formal, but still very detailed. I created a notebook where she can jot things down during the day (like the logs she keeps), put in days out (vacation and sick) and wrote out a detailed description of all the tasks in a typical day and a rough schedule so what is expected is very clear. It would have been better to have this when she first started, but if you don't have such a thing, do it now. Pesonally, I like having things written down, because my memory is not the best. Then, you should plan on some scheduled "touch bases" to go over how she's doing. Have your husband take the kids or plan to do it sometime where they won't be there. Make sure you praise her for what she's doing right and be clear but kind about the things she's not. I did this the first and second week my nanny started and then monthly and at this point we do a short discussion every 3 months with a longer review once a year when she gets her raise and bonus. (Doesn't mean you shouldn't complement in between, but I find calendaring it helps me not to skip doing it). Be clear if you feel something is a serious issue (lateness), and let go the small stuff since no one is perfect. If she wants and likes the job, you shouldn't have to point out the negatives too much. Probation seems silly and harsh. Since any employee is an employee at will, technically everyone with a job is on probation.

just anonymous said...

First off-you have to pick your battles. If she's a wonderful nanny, and her main fault is that she's a few minutes late (which is odd, since she's a live in), then I'd let it slide.
But, I am a nanny, and honestly, I never let the children watch any tv, unless they are really sick and can't do anything else. So I found that odd that she charts daily their minutes of tv. Are you really paying her to sit your kids in front of the tv?

jerseyxjacqui said...

11:02, I'm sure the children are only allowed to watch a certain amount of TV a day, which is why she charts it..most like per the parent's request.
That's what I got from that at least.

How long has she been with you that she's called out two Mondays?
I definitely think you and your husband should sit down with her and discuss the lateness and days out, but a probation period is a bit harsh...almost insulting considering the dynamics of a nanny/family relationship.
As far as letting the kids eat in the living room or whatever room it is that's off limits, just mention it to her again that they shouldn't have food in there. Don't make a huge deal out of it.

By the way, how does a LIVE IN manage to be late?

maggie's mommy said...

How long have you had this nanny? If she has only been with you for a few weeks, calling out 2 Mondays would make me very suspicious - however, if it's been months, it is certainly possible she was ill both times. Maybe you would consider an informal review, where you can raise your concerns in a non-confrontational way and address the situation before it escalated. If you have a work agreement, you could bring a copy to review with her and, if you don't, this could be a great time to introduce one. My employers and I used to try and sit down monthly and have a state of the union-esque chat about our concerns, both childcare and professional. It helped everyone stay on the same page and prevented misunderstandings. Quality care takes work on both sides - good for you for being willing to discuss the problem!

A Fabulous Nanny said...

I definitely loved nyc mom's idea of sitting down and just having a review type meeting.

I personally feel that you have no choice about whether she comes home on a Sunday evening or early Monday morning. If she starts Monday at 7 AM, and her last hours during the week are Friday at 7 PM, then what she does from 7:01 PM Friday to 6:59 AM Monday is her business. If you start requiring her to be home Sunday nights, then you need to pay her for them, and not make her watch your kids. You need to stick to the original agreement of your hours, but remind her that it's difficult for you or your husband to take time off when she's sick. Just let her know that you understand it happens sometimes, but to try as much as possible to stay healthy. She'll get the point.

Good luck!

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

Some very nice posts, especially 10:52.
I'm surprised you failed to mention how long Nanny has been in your employ. As stated above ... if it's been a short time, 2 sick days is unacceptable. If it's been 6 mo. or so, 2 days is not bad at all.

I also think it should be o.k. to request her home by Sunday night, then she's up and at 'em first thing in the morning and you're not left to stress about it. But I'm not quite sure how she'll feel about this, because technically it's still "her" time ... but see if you can work something out with her.

The Probation idea --- I'd let that one go. Save that for a Nanny you're having real difficulties with.
To be honest, it sounds kinda like you've struck gold with this one. A lot of Parents would love to have a Nanny of her caliber, and I hope you really do appreciate her.

Just have an informal sit-down with her (include your Husband so she knows you're serious) ... and reiterate house rules, let her know what needs improvement, and lastly ... don't forget to praise her at the end of the conversation so she's not left with any negative feelings about it.

Good luck!

JustMe said...

oh my goodness...do you really make her chart your child's bm? she charts the whole day!? am i reading this wrong? i am quietly going back to being thankful for my employers, the non anal retentive ones!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear more of this nanny's "good points" from the OP. Maybe nanny's feeling a wee bit under-appreciated, or taken advantage of if she's doing lots of extras (besides all that charting!). Lateness and calling out sick could be her passive-aggressive way of letting you know she's not perfectly happy with you either. Sound like you both need better communication AND a written work agreement...lots of good communication strategies already posted.

A Nanny who cares said...

As far as being sick twice, please remember it is flu and cold season. Just about everyone I know is sick, including myself. So, while you may think she is just taking "long weekends away" she could actually be sick!

With regards to asking her to come back on Sunday nights, that is COMPLETELY UNFAIR and most likely illegal, unless you plan on compensating her. You mentioned she has been spending weekends with family, does that include her own children? If she has her own children I cannot imagine how much she would resent you for asking her to spend even less time with her children than she already does. Even if she doesn't have her own children, she doesn't start until Monday morning, if you want her there Sunday night, you better plan on PAYING her!

Rebecca said...

I agree that having a sit-down review is a better idea than probation. Also, a few things: Does the work agreement you have with your nanny include sick days? Most people get, I think, 3-5 sick days a year - how they use them is really up to them and not you. If you don't have an agreement detailing things like sick days, vacation (both paid and unpaid), holidays, etc. then you should get one ASAP! And if you don't already have one then your nanny should get some input in the creation of one. The sick days she's already taken should count towards her total.

As a live-in nanny, I will say that I would be very resentful if my employers told me I must be home Sunday night - my off-time. That would absolutely be enough for me to quit, since I consider my off-time to be precious - it's the time I get to do what I want and be where I want. Living with your employers is a rough gig, no matter how awesome they are (really - imagine your life if you lived with your boss). I value my off-time above anything else, including money. Think about your job - if your boss told you that you had to come to work on your off-time (not even to work - just to BE there), wouldn't you be pissed? Even if you were paid for it? I am an adult, as is your nanny, and I don't need a curfew. If I am repeatedly late for work, or taking sick days that aren't entitled to me by my work agreement, I expect my employers to call me on that, and possibly fine me or have me work extra time (and, as someone pointed out, I expect to be compensated for the times my employers are late or have me work extra). Then again, I also expect some understanding if I accidentally turn my alarm off and wake up 20 minutes late.

Just step back and take stock - no one is perfect. I know it's really easy to forget that this person - who probably takes great care of your child, and who lives with you and is respectful of your family and your property - might need some slack sometimes, and might not have the same priorities when it comes to time management or where to eat (honestly, sometimes I've just forgotten things because it doesn't occur to me that something so minor to me might be major to someone else). From my experience, it is also sometimes difficult for some parents to remember that nannies are full-grown adults and professionals. It is not your place to institute rules you'd have for teenagers (like curfews). That's demeaning.

Anonymous said...

1:30

Keeping a daily log is not a big deal. Many parents and nannies do this, especially if parents work. My nanny and I both write down the basics - sleep, eat, dirty diaper. This way I don't have to ask her to recall details when I get home and she doesn't have to ask me before I leave for work. Since I do it also, I know it takes approximately 10-15 seconds per entry. If my son naps 3 times a day, eats 5 times, and has one dirty diaper that's still no more than 3 minutes total of a day writing in a book. Not really a big deal. It sounds more omnious that it actually ends up being. Keeping track of dirty diapers just helps me in case I am concerned he is having trouble or an upset stomach. I can just check back for his last one instead of us all trying to remember. We also write questions, comments, or reminders occasionally (for example - please drop off this form for Sarah at the front desk of school). I think a log is very efficient, improves communication, and means I can get my nanny home a few minutes earlier at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Probation and a curfew would be appropriate for a teenage daughter, certainly not an adult employee, whom you consider mature enough to entrust with the care of your child.
Having a sit down review periodically is always a good idea. When you schedule it with her, let her know it is also an opportunity for her to express her concerns.
As for her being late: Being there and ready to start on time is very important, and you have a right to expect that. Keep in mind however, that you also need to be on time when she is scheduled to be off.

Anonymous said...

Go over the rules with her, but please refrain from using the word "probation" when you speak to her...she's not a criminal and it's insulting!
Best approach: begin by making at least two positive comments about her work, then give her a list of the family rules and point out the few she's had trouble following.
Don't forget to ask if she has any questions or concerns, and ask if there are any suggestions she has that might make the work environment run more smoothly for all of you.
End the discussion with a smile and remind her how much you value her as your nanny.
If she doesn't adjust according to your wishes within a month, sit down for another evaluation.
If the problems continue beyond that point, have a third meeting in which you should discuss whether or not this is the best job situation for her or whether she might be happy looking elsewhere.
Be kind, no matter what.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Employers: please remember that your nanny is human. If she's a quality nanny, she's probably working very hard and if she calls in "sick" (whether she's actually ill or just needs some time off to avoid burning out), give her the time graciously and without questioning her or making her feel guilty.
As long as the "sick days" aren't frequent, let her have them. She should be given at least 5 paid sick-days per year. Any further time off for illness need not be compensated, unless she experiences a serious illness,etc...in which case, you should make arrangements to hire a temporary replacement so your nanny can heal properly. Hopefully you provide health insurance (which you should if she's a full-time nanny).
You'll be rewarded with a well-rested, refreshed and enthusiastic nanny who feels valued and respected.

cali mom said...

Jumping ahead to post in this LONG thread, I'm not sure at all about the legality of requiring someone to be onsite by Sunday evening when their work shift does not start until Monday morning. Either she's on or she's off, you can't have it both ways.

And yes, it IS flu season. Myself, my husband and my DS have all had several flus and were collectively sick for one week first, then OK for a few days and then sick for another 2 weeks straight with DS's flu turning into pneumonia. (Which he got antibiotics for quickly, thank God!) So if there is no specific reason to doubt that she really is sick, I think you are out of line by talking about "probation". She is not your unruly teenager that you can dole out punishments for. And eating in other rooms? Take some Ex-Lax and make sure the crumbs are picked up.

cali mom said...

Rebecca also has a good point in that if she is allotted X amount of paid sick days, it's none of your business how sick she is when she decides to use one. If she isn't allotted any, you're not very good employers and she could doubtless find better ones.

jerseyxjacqui said...

I've noticed a few times that it shocks some people to hear that some families ask their nannies for a daily chart.

I worked in daycare, infant room for 9 years and we always wrote a daily chart, regarding BM, naps, feedings and additional comments pertaining to the child's day. When I went to nannying, I took that with me and have a notebook that I use everyday to chart the basics.
I'm not sure why this is such a big deal to some? You're probably not going to do this with a FIVE year old, but babies and toddlers...makes perfect sense to me.

And I assure you, it is NOT time consuming AT ALL.

§mpp§ said...

JXJ
I agree with you. It takes all of 10 seconds to record a BM.
Sometimes there's a reason beyond a Mom that's micro-managing.
You might have a sick baby and the Dr. asked you to do it. And obviously if Mom's at work, that falls into the Nannies hands.
That was the reason I had to do it. No big deal.

Anonymous said...

I think the OP meant that the "probation" was simply a warning. It seems to me that it was the OPs way of letting the nanny know she will be fired if things don't change.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick question...Is Good Friday considered a paid holiday? We give our nanny sick days, 2 weeks vacation, and she is paid in full when we go away. Do most people give and pay for Good Friday, or is it considered an unpaid personal day? This is a relatively new nanny.

Anonymous said...

Keeping a log for infants is standard practice for professional nannies. An organization I belong to has forms that you can copy with columns for Feedings, diaper changes, naps, and activities. It is easier than briefing the parents verbablly at changeover, you won't forget something important, and they can check the log anytime. It is worth the few minutes it takes to jot things down.
UES Nanny

Anonymous said...

Good Friday is not usually off. If your nanny has religious reasons, such as attending a vigil service, you might want to let her have it.

Anonymous said...

I get Easter Monday off with pay...Don't ask me why. No clue, but I'm not complaining.

nyc mom said...

We do not give our nanny off Good Friday. We give the 6 major holidays as "official" days off (New Years Day, Xmas, Thanksgiving day, July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day). We then give 5 personal days on top of the 2 weeks vacation which our nanny can take as she chooses. I find this allows her to pick what other holidays are most important to her and avoids the controversy surrounding so many of the less popular holidays such as MLK, Presidents Day, Good Friday, Xmas Eve, NY Eve, day after Thanksgiving. Although I know many people who do and do not give off the ones I just listed, I honestly don't know anyone who automatically includes GF in the list of holidays.

atl nanny said...

If the NYSE is closed, I get the day off with pay. So yes, I get Good Friday off. (I also get some truly random days off, like a day of mourning for President Ford.)

I wouldn't care either way since I'm not a Christian, but it's nice to have a three-day weekend. I think if you have the day off, it would be nice for her to have it off, but there is no reason to expect it off.

Anonymous said...

atl nanny

"day of mourning for President Ford" ??

I guess whatever works, huh?
good for you, lol.

atl nanny said...

12:11 -- I know, right? It was completely random. When my boss told me I would have the day off and why, I think my exact reaction was, "Are you kidding me?"

But hey, I'm not complaining!

jerseyxjacqui said...

Haha, that's awesome.

I wish I would get a paid day of mourning for St. Patrick on Monday.

cali mom said...

Not to start an ethnic riot, but my Irish coworker used to just inform people the day before St. Paddy's "tomorrow I'm drunk so I won't be in". he was quite a character.

atl nanny said...

Ooh, I'd love to have St. Patrick's day off. I wonder who I'd have to talk to at the NYSE to convince them to close for the day.... ;-)

Anonymous said...

lol, ya'll are so funny!

Waycross48 said...

I doesn't matter how many fine attributes your nanny has - if you can't depend on her - then she's not doing her job. I'd rather have a nanny who is there when I need her then to know the size of my child's bm's. Get real. Your husband has the right idea. Put her on probation right now. First ask if there is some family problem that is causing her to call in sick on Mondays - or perhaps she's just partying too much. This woman has your children's lives in her hands - YOU have every right to expect certain things of her and being home by Sunday night is NOT out of line.

Anonymous said...

You're a hard, harsh woman, waycross48. A nanny's a human being, not a damn robot you can program to "be there when you need her". I suggest you take your grandkids to daycare where there's a pool of lots of rotating people to provide care if someone gets sick, is late, has a family problem...whatever. People who hire nannies SHOULD be hoping to provide a bond for their child with another consistent adult who can focus solely on their kids. It's unreasonable to expect that that individual will NEVER wake up late, or have to call out sick, or have problems in their personal life. It's called being "human".

Anonymous said...

If you want your nanny home Sunday night then you need to pay her for it. I think treating a nanny like a slave is wrong and it was abolished you know? SAHM complain if the nanny is not down the stairs or out of the closet room they have exactly on time to feed their children or change the morning nappie or if they have the nerve to get sick. I can see frustration if a nanny is late 3 to 4 times a week and they live in but if someone actually over sleeps ? Knock on their door in the AM to see if they are up, this will get the point across.
There should be some kind of contract that spells evrything you expect from any worker that you hire. What theri hours are, their pay, their over time,lateness,sick leave. It isn't that hard and if it is in writing they know what to expect. In a contract they know if they are late the 2nd time they will be docked. If they take more sick days than alloted unless they are in the hospital they will be docked. Put it in writing and you should have no problems because they will understand that even tho you like them and your kids love them that there has to be a certain way things are done.
Working Mothers need to have the nanny on time as they also have to be on time for their jobs so lateness cannot be tolerated if it affects their jobs! I can see them getting mad about this but as I say get it all in a contract.

observer said...

Simply start by tracking time, hers and your family. If her hours end at say 8:00, after putting child to bed, and that night child could not/would not go to sleep until 8:30 then 30 minutes "overtime" should be counted. If she walks out of her room at 7:00 a.m. and is not to begin work until 8:00 a.m. and you, husband or child stop and request something, then you have used "her time". I would imagine that if you tracked this for 2 weeks you would see that you may owe her alot more time then she owes you. I would imagine it would be hard to complain if a worker was showing up late by a few minutes, if in fact she was kept late by even a few minutes just the day before. Also without communication you really don't know about the sick days. Simply asking "how are you feeling" when she comes back, would probably give you an answer as to whether she was "sick" or not. Also keep in mind that many people take sick days not for themselves, but for family members, ie, children and parents. She may have had a sick parent that she was responsible for getting to a doctor. After tracking everyone in the house's time, you may get a clearer picture.

star bellied sneetch said...

Observer's comment brought an interesting idea to my mind. She may be passive aggressive by calling in sick on so many Mondays. Or maybe she just thinks because she can call in sick, she will. You do not say how long you have had her, right? I will assume she has not been with you longer than 2 months, probably less.

It is troubling if she is calling in sick on 2 Mondays and she has not been with you very long. I would talk to her and tell her that you really need to rely on her. Tell her that because she called in sick twice already, on Mondays, (and she has only been with you for a very short time, I'm assuming) that you are concerned every Sunday that it could happen again. Explain that you need to rely on her and you really need her to be there for you.

As far as eating outside of the kitchen, you can tell her that this is one of your rules and you want her to help your child observe this rule more closely that she has so far. That is a possible course of action. I would go that route.

On the other hand, she could be much more laissez faire than you assume, and maybe she lets the kid eat and roam around because it's easier and you don't have to pay as much attention to the kid then. They are happy when they are walking around munching.

If you would say more about your situation I think people will be able to help you more and offer better advice.

It is a concern that she has already called in sick on 2 Mondays.

Sometimes people want a lot of control over their child and their child's situation because they'd rather not have to go to work, and a part of them, or most or all of them, would rather stay home and have that control and joy of raising the child. This is understandable. So if it's not that big of a deal maybe it's okay to eat only certain snacks outside of the kitchen, for example apples which are fairly neat.

cali mom said...

Waycross, I can see why you'd be cross. From what you've said here, I'd be very surprised if anyone you had ever come in contact with actually liked you. I' also be very surprised if you were so adamant about it being the employers' right to demand their employee be available a full 12 hours ahead of their scheduled work time if your boss ordered you to bring in a sleeping bag and curl up on the floor next to the copier just so he/she would have you there when they needed you and make sure they could rely on you to do your job.