Nanny already showing her true colors?

Received Tuesday, May 7, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I need some advice PLEASE.

I hired a nanny last week. I checked her references and they all had nice things to say about her. One went as far as saying that his wife dealt mostly with her but from what he saw, she was great. He said that he didn’t want to seem like she’s God but she was great with his three kids and that she kept the house tidy. They got rid of her because his mother came to help and financially they couldn’t keep her. He told me that if I didn’t need her to send her back to them and to please have her call the kids because they miss her.

She is a live-in nanny. We provided her with a private furnished bedroom with her own bath on a separate floor so she can have more privacy. We let her eat anything she wants and even provide her with toiletry items, etc. She likes our home so much that she asked if she can live there 7 days a week, to which I said yes. Of course she doesn’t work on the weekends and I would never ask her to. I will probably occasionally as her to baby-sit after the kids have gone to bed so my husband and I can go to a movie or something since we don’t get out much. We would, of course, pay her and it’s totally optional if she wants to or not.

Here is my problem. The first 3 days she was GREAT. She got up early in the morning, made breakfast for the kids, swept the kitchen and tidied up the kitchen/slash great room, playroom, and the kids bedroom which was part of our agreement. We agreed that she would handle ALL childcare-related duties.

After the first three days she no longer swept the floors. I have to do it when I get home from work. She doesn’t make the kids beds or pick up in the toy room. My youngest daughter takes a three hour nap so she has plenty of time to tidy up. It’s not that I’m asking her to mop or clean up after us. We are very neat so she doesn’t have to worry about my husband and I. Plus that’s not part of our deal.

Yesterday I got home early and she wasn’t expecting me. I found my 2-year old screaming. I asked the nanny what was going on. At first she didn’t answer so I asked her again. She told me that she was reading her book and my daughter wouldn’t read her own book and wanted to read hers instead and she wouldn’t let her. Shouldn’t she be reading to her? She’s 2. She can’t read. I forgot to mention that she had the TV on and had my daughter sitting so close to the TV that her head could have touched it. I told her that it’s too close and moved the seat all the way back where it should be.

I was attracted to the fact that she loves to read and was a teacher. We have books everywhere in our house. Literally in every room because we love to read too. I even offered her to feel free and help herself to any of the books, which she has. She has read several books. I don’t mind her reading on her spare time but not when she is supposed to be watching my daughter and engaging her in activities. Also, because she doesn’t drive I’ve had to rearrange all of the kids activities to the weekends when I’m home, which should give her even more time to do her work.

My neighbors and mother-in-law told us that it’s our fault because we treat our nannies like family instead of “help”. They said that we should make it clear that they are the “help” and not family. I have a hard time doing that because it’s not the person that I am. I was brought up to treat everyone the way I would want to be treated. She lives with us. How can I not ask her to eat with us and feel comfortable in our home? We also give her rides to where she wants to go.

I’m starting to think that my mother-in-law and neighbors are right. My neighbors treat their nanny like they are the “help” and their nannies are great. They do their job and don’t complain. They also seem to stay for a very long time. My question is, should I treat her like she is the “help” instead of family? Or should I cut my loses now while it’s early and hire a new nanny? We are going to talk to her today about not doing her job, but I don’t see it getting any better. Being that she just started I would think that this is the time that she should be impressing us. I can only imagine what she will do after she gets really comfortable.

Any advice from parents and nannies would be helpful. Thank you.


Seasoned Nanny said...

I'm a seasoned nanny. My current family, perhaps my favorite one to date is very comfortable for me. I've always been a hard worker. When I'm at work, I rarely sit, even when working those occasional 12 hour shifts when I know I should. I always make sure dishes and laundry are put away, children areas are tidy, animals (part of my duty willingly) are clean/fed, lunches ready for the next day or lunch tickets issued, kid cars cleaned out, breakfast table set. But this comes from myself. My boss isn't pushy and she's a stay at home mom. I'm not formally educated outside of a few months of child care classes, but I'm motivated. I do everything I can to stay current on child care topics, various yahoo groups, Nanny Associations, reading on my own, networking with others in the childcare industry. My point is, maybe it's time to look for more of a self starter type. You don't need to treat her like the help, you need someone who more fits you and your families needs.

mary said...

I am confused, OP, that she "asked if she could live there 7 days a week."
Don't live-in nannies, there? Where else would she live on the weekends? Is she still so young that she lives with her parents? Therein may lie your problem!
Also, if she has only been there for a week, don't you think you owe her as much as telling her, "Hey, Katie, I noticed that the first few days you were awesome, but what's going on: the kitchen isn't swept and the toys are all there something bothering you that we can talk about?" The direct approach usually works well, I find.
If she agreed to do household chores (I personally would not include cleaning up the kids' rooms in a nanny's duties, but that's just me. sounds like you have a big house, and three rooms may be a big load of "tidying up": it's hard for us to tell since we can't see how (lol) "great" your "greatroom" is.) But I digress...
Talk to your nanny. As far as your word play on "help" versus "family" find a happy medium. Referring to your nanny as the "help" is very condecending and rude: it's un-pc and not really done anymore by civilized folk. Your family is wrong. Your nanny is an employee, sure, but a very special employee.
Furthermore, it is wise and you are correct to stop by unannounced. It is the only way to really see what is going on. Keep doing that. If, after a frank, respectful discussion with your nanny you do not see improvement, takes steps to find a new one. She should indeed be reading to the toddler and not ignoring her.
Good luck, mama! :)

Jane Doe said...

You sound like a remarkable employer. Wanting to treat your nanny like family is actually a wonderful thing, but not necessarily from the get go.

When I worked my last nanny position, I interviewed and accepted a position with a 14 month old and a child due in 2 weeks. I don't think either my employer or I had any concept of how we would come to relate to each other.

As it happened, it didn't take that long to fall in love with the toddler, a more beautiful girl I had never seen. And then came the newborn, just breathtaking. It wasn't long before they had my heart, those girls. Their mother and I spent a great deal of time together and became very close.

It wasn't immediate, because I don't think that's normal, but two years down the road, I most definitely felt like we were family. We spent time together 7 days a week whether I was 'working' or not. I ended up staying 8 years and through the birth of three children.

My employer did a lot of wonderful things for me and was often shockingly generous, in addition to being kind and considerate. In my wildest dreams I could never imagine shirking the responsibilities I had agreed to or even worse ignoring a child. In fact, the closer I grew to my employer and the children, the more I wanted to do for them. The longer I stayed, the more I wanted to do for them. And when my employer did wonderful things for me, I sought to find things to do for her that were above and beyond to show her just how appreciative I was and how happy I was to be a part of their family.

I feel for you because the nanny has revealed her true character already. Even the laziest nannies can keep up a charade for the first month, but the second week?

In addition to everything else you look for in a nanny, you have to make certain that she has a work ethic. At the end of the day, she should care about the contributions she has made to the children and your home. This nanny sounds like an unfortunate choice. That is not the sort of person you should allow to get too comfortable in your home.

Good luck. And please keep us updated.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of her

marypoppin'pills said...

You don't give your Nannies age, but she sounds quite young and immature.

If you want to be fair and have a sit down with her and explain how you feel, that's great. But I think your "instincts" are trying to tell you that this Nanny may not be the right fit.

You shouldn't *want* to be calling her the "help". She is either a respected Employee, or an Employee that you admire so much that feels like a part of your Family. She sounds like neither.

Good luck, let us know what you decide to do. Please don't become jaded, if this one doesn't work out, another will. You are doing everything right, and should be proud of yourself. Keep up the unannounced visits, whether this one stays or not.

emily said...

I love it when you take the time to comment. I wish you would do it more often.

Anonymous said...

I"ve been with my work family for almost 2 years. I would never work for someone that didn't take me in and treat me like part of the family. I spend more time with their children than they do. And they wanted a nanny that would feel comfortable in their home and with all their family members. BUT, I also know that I have a job to do. You can do both, be a nanny and a member of the family. To me they both go hand in hand. I am extremely close with my boss sometimes she is like a sister to me(we are only 11 years apart). But I also respect her tremendously and know that she is my boss. You need to talk to your nanny and tell her exactly what you need done everyday but also make her feel warm and welcome. She is living in your home and taking care of your kids. Why wouldn't you want her to feel like part of the family. I'm from the South and still work in the South so where I'm from family is very important and treating people that work for you like family rather than "help" is very common here.

Anonymous said...

I have the same issue with our live in nanny. She had great comments from her references, but living with her has been a nightmare- she acts like she's part of our family, has invited herself to dinner with our friends, drank wine that I left in the kitchen, spent so much money on food we had to put her a budget, and has the worst judgement sometimes. The truth is, my husband has come from a more traditional background where nannies are clearly "help" and not "family" and it DOES work much better. My mistake was to be too indulgent, liberal and friendly from the beginning and she's taken advantage of our niceness. So I agree, you have to establish from the beginning that they are HELP, it's a JOB! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

OP, I also have a lot of trouble not treating my nanny or babysitter like "family", and with the wrong kind of people this does not work, but like you I could not be someone different, and in any case I think it is difficult to make a bad nanny truly good just by being on her back all the time. That said, I think you need someone with a stronger work ethics, but I also think you need to show your nanny that you can and will check on them. I agree with the posters that your nanny sounds naive, but she is still a shirker, and this does not improve with age.
Good luck to you

TX Nanny said...

Your nanny is taking advantage already, she sounds burnt out to me. There were times when my charge would want to play with his hot wheels by himself so I would grab a book and sit next to him and read but if he asked me to play or read to him I always put my book down and interacted with him. I think it's mean that she wouldn't read to your 2 year old. Also you should have a TV limit like only one 30 min educational show a day so that your nanny doesn't abuse the TV.
You definitely need to remind her what is expected and let her know you are dissapointed that she is dropping the ball so early on. Then if you decide to hire someone else she can't act surprised.

Anonymous said...

You hire domestic "help"
They are help.
Some people do an okay job. Some people are shifty. Some people are lazy. They remain help.

Some people go above and beyond for you and your family on a daily basis, walk a two way street with you and yes, become your family. Even the greatest worker in the world won't become part of your family automatically. She has to grow with you.

The best I could advise is to seriously rethink the caliber of person your bring in to your home.
treat your nanny with the utmost respect. Keep your word and respect the same from her. Do not tolerate errors in judgment, dishonesty, lack of punctuality.

melamonk (also 2:21) said...

sorry, it's me 2:21

I did not mean to post that yet.

To correct, respect the same from her.- I meant, expect the same from her.

I have seen many people attempt to coerce the nanny into acting like a part of the family to get more out of her or exploit her. In your case, I think the nanny is making herself a wee bit too comfortable and attempting to exploit your good intentions.

I agree with Jane. She was after all, the best of the best. :)

nyc mom said...

Like most things in life, I think you have to find the correct balance of treating your nanny like a respected employee and family. When first employing nannies, I did make the mistake of blurring the lines too much and found it was not a good thing. When my first nanny and I got too comfortable, it became very difficult to address work-related issues because she was also truly a friend. Ultimately, she became upset because she felt we were not being inviting enough to her when she had over her children and niece while working - clearly an uncomfortable blurring of roles for both of us.

So now I use a different approach with nannies that I hire. I believe in treating them with the utmost respect and being cordial. For example, I ask "how was your weekend." But I would not want to be asking about/giving advice on dating. In reference to your post, I would definitely offer to drive her anywhere, invite her to partake of any books/food in our home. But I do not invite her to eat dinner with our family (though she is not a live-in so that may be a more tricky situation), nor does she ask. I think she values having that time to herself and we both recognize that having some boundaries helps us. I do find that over time, I have developed a closer relationship with my nanny and truly care for her. I am often tempted to be closer friends, but I purposely resist because I don't want to ruin the wonderful working relationship we have. I find this approach has worked the best for me.

I also think that it has taken time and lots of practice to "learn" to be an employer. I grew up very poor and was used to being the employee, definitely not the employer. Initially I could relate to my nannies and part-time housekeeper so well because I used to do their job, and I found myself being too friendly. It inevitably led to subtle problems that I believe had a negative impact on our working relationship. Over time, I learned that you can treat someone with respect, like them as a person, be kind, generous, and considerate AND maintain the employer/employee boundaries. But it did honestly take me some practice and a few missteps along the way.

In regards to your current situation, I agree with many people above that she has demonstrated a very poor work ethic. I believe things are unlikely to improve. I personally specify a two week trial period when hiring anyone new. During this trial, either of us can choose to terminate the employment if it isn't working for us without the usual notice. I have found that there is simply so much I cannot tell from interview and references, and find the trial period invaluable. I think it also gives the nanny a chance to see if our family is a good fit for her also. Good luck.

Rebecca said...

Since she has good references and seemed great when you hired her, I think you ought to give her the benefit of the doubt and see if there is something going on in her life. However, you should also make it clear that what she's been doing is not what you both agreed she'd do - spell out her duties for her, as well as boundaries about TV and stuff. Let her know that if she has a problem you want to help out, but that she can't let it affect her job performance.

As for the reading thing - believe me, as a nanny I get that the days can be long and sometimes you just want to sit down and take a break. However, ignoring your child so she could read - to the point where you child was screaming - is way out of line.

As for the family vs. help thing -- I've worked for both types of families. My own style of live-in nannying is to keep mainly to myself on my off-time, just because I like my time to myself. The boundaries have been different with different families - I used to go out to dinner and watch TV in the evenings with one employer, and with others I wouldn't even dream about doing that (wouldn't want to). Both ways have worked well for me and for my employers. Your style is your style - you don't need to change it because of what works for another family. You just need to find a nanny that works with your style and doesn't take advantage. And there are plenty! I know a lot of great nannies who have more of a family relationship with their employers and it works really well.

Give this nanny the benefit of the doubt, but if she keeps acting the way she has been, find someone else. There are TONS of great nannies out there who will be a part of your family without taking advantage of that.

If you have to hire someone new, my tentative advice (take it with lots of salt!) is to maybe find someone a little LESS experienced. That might sound strange, but I've known a lot of great beginner nannies. Because they haven't been doing it long (or at all), they're often very energetic and excited about the job - not burned out like your current nanny might be. Beginner nannies also usually like to be treated as part of the family, and I've rarely known one to take advantage. The biggest problem I've seen with newbie nannies is homesickness - if you can overcome that, a beginner might be what you're looking for.

atl nanny said...

The problem is that the truth lies in between "help" and "family". A nanny is an employee. She is not a slave or a servant, and should not be treated as less than human. She also should not automatically be treated as a beloved family members. Some nannies do earn that love eventually, but it must be earned over a long period of time.

You need to approach this as an employer, the same as you would at work. Sit down with her and lay out your concerns. Don't worry about hurting her feelings. Reinforce your standards and tell her that if she doesn't uphold her end of the work agreement, you will need to let her go and find someone who is able to do those things.

Honestly, the fact that she is slacking after less than a week on the job worries me. And I'm VERY concerned about her ignoring the two year old while she reads. I'm all for independent play, but that sounds more like she just wanted to read and was ignoring the child's needs. And that is never okay.

I would be seriously reconsidering her employment. You should not be having so many issues this early on. Do you have a 30-day trial period? If not, you may want to consider one in the future.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask the other posters, why do you think this nanny is burned out? I don't see where it says she's been a nanny forever, or that she's old?

Anonymous said...

This nanny is not burned out.

She is a bum.

She put on a good show for her interview. Her reference may not be genuine. Maybe it was a relative. Are you sure? Jane says to always reverse look up the phone number of a reference and verify their address.

This person sounds awful. I would have fired her on the spot.

Anonymous said...

The nanny was hired as a five day live-in and then has alread asked to be a 7 day live-in based on the fact the she rather fancies her digs at your place?

You take the nanny places?

Both of these are no-no's.

I treat my nanny as family, and believe you- it works best for my family that we do. We include her as we plan things and consult her with regard to change. We talk to her about vacations, her, ours and ones we might take together. I happen to have a pretty good nanny now and I am happy I didn't allow the poor nannies that crossed my path to jade my perogative. Yes, I too was admonished for treating the nanny like family. But why do people say that? Because people recognize that you are doing a lot for her and she isn't worth it. Many nannies are. Our current nanny is.

I offer to do things for her, if we I go out for a sandwich, I offer her to bring her back one, if I am ordering flip flops for the children, I ask her if I can get her a pair and you know what? Every now and then she says, "no thank you".

My previous nannies (2) would never do anything for me or the children unless I specifically asked and they wouldn't think twice of asking me for things, whether it was a loan, a raise, to borrow a leather jacket, to buy her daughter a toddler car seat. I kid you not! And you best believe everytime I offered something, they said YES before they even heard the end of the question.

My current nanny is from Idaho. Very down to earth, raised by middle class hard working parents. My previous nannies were from Jamaica, perhaps it is a cultural thing?

Vi said...

I hired a nanny who seemed wonderful. I allowed her to speak with our former nanny who was a member of our family for 4 years. She wanted to speak to the nanny to see if we were the people we claimed to be as we spoke to her references to see if she was who she claimed to be. Seemed fair, right?

Unfortunately, our well meaning nanny raved a bit too much about us. She told the new nanny about some of the things we had done for her. The next time we spoke to the nanny was when we offered her the job. She accepted it and asked what day her insurance would start. I said, "insurance, we aren't offering insurance".

She said, "the other nanny said she had insurance, so don't I get it"

I said, "I specifically did not mention that to you because I did not know if it was something I inteneded to provide. I had not planned to provide it for *Beth, but after a year or so, we were looking for a way to show our appreciation to her for everything she had done for us, so we offered to put her on our insurance policy".

The nanny just looked at me like she couldn't understand what I was saying.

I am a generous person and I am fortunate that I have the means to be very generous, this doesn't mean that I am going to give blindly. I reward dedication and loyalty and a job well done.

OP should not be doing anything for the nanny now except treating her kindly and helping her acclimate to her new environment.

Who are these people with their hands out? Who are these people who dare to show up for any job with a "what can you do for me" attitude?

Long story short, I work from home now and have a college sitter two days a week for 6 hours each day.
She's bright, fast, creative, smart and lacks the sense of entitlement that the trough of nannies I interviewed seemed to have coarsing through their greedy veins. Sorry, but it was a very bad experience.

I don't know your personal situation OP but I happen to have a very large home set on a large property and I think that people see this and immediately see dollar signs. I can see their minds calculating, "what can I get from her". It angers me. This is not limited to nannies or domestic help, but the occasional worker, the electrician who shows up with his girlfriend to help him, the audio visual guy who on his fourth visit tells me his six year old son is on break and could he bring him back this afternoon to take a dip in our pool, the pizza delivery guy who looks angry over his $3.00 tip, and more. more. more.

(Let me clarify, I know many people suffer every day and this is not a real problem by any comparison. Direct relief to the to assist cyclone victims in Myanmar.

peaceter said...

A good nanny will become part of your family whether you intend for her or not. The heart cannot be stopped. Love multiplies.

Anonymous said...

perhaps you're racist.

Anonymous said...

Why would you not provide your nanny with insurance if you can afford it, especially if you provided your last one with it?
That just doesn't make sense to me.
Do you think a nanny doesn't need insurance? Health care?

Anonymous said...

You cannot provide a nanny insurance right off the bat, especially not if you have to add her to your family policy. You have to be very careful with messing around with insurance policies and you cannot be taking people off and on every year. What is wrong with a nanny having to earn that perk? Yes, it is a PERK. I pay 100 percent of my health insurance. Why should this employer provide the nanny insurance? I can totally understand the lack of motivation involved in wanting to obtain health insurance for your nanny.
You don't have to do something just because you can.

In this country, it is your responsibility to take care of yourself.

If you work hard, you will be rewarded.

Laziness should not EVER be rewarded.

The nanny in this post should be fired TONIGHT. Give her a half hour to pack her bags and have a cab waiting for her by the curb.

Anonymous said...

great post, vi.

Jessica said...

I am a live-out nanny and the family I "work" for treats me like I am a part of their family. It makes such a difference to feel that I am respected and valued, rather than feeling like I'm just hired help. While I am here to do a job and clearly know my responsibilites, I also know that I am welcome and loved and that makes it SO easy to wake up each morning and come love these children.

I think that this nanny may just not be the right fit for your family. I think if you keep searching, you will find someone who will perform their job duties more thoroughly, while also loving your children and appreciating your kindness, warmth, and hospitality. Don't let cynics out there tell you it isn't possible - I'm proof that it is!

heidi said...

You have to look a little harder, but the great nannies are out there and they don't conduct themselves the way your nanny has.

Jessica holds herself out to you as proof that such interpersonal employee/employer relationships can work. The keyword in her post is appreciation. A nanny should appreciate the efforts, affection and kindnesses bestowed upon her and not simply expect such.

: ) Just guess said...

The title of the post says it all OP. Your nanny is showing you her true colors. Call her on it and you have only a ten percent chance she will do the right thing. In all likelihood, she will set upon a course of misinformation, manipulation and outright lying to make you think she is doing the job as prescribed. You will walk home from work and see her reading to your child, but what will that really mean? A nanny cannot change her true colors.

Dearest "Jane", would you ever consider nannying again? Ever nanny I've encountered since you has been held to your standards and even the best fall short.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that someone would not offer a nanny insurance. I definately would try to work something out but I would not put her on our family insurance. YOu need to get her her own policy unless you want to get stuck picking up a whole pile of bills for what the insurance doesn't cover if she gets a terrible illness.
I really think this gril think she has a "cookie" and will do what she wants when she wants because the mom has already made her "part of the family" too much familiarity breeds contempt." Give her in writng what you agreed upon and tell ehr to read on her own time and you do not want to come home with your childs face in the tube or find her screaming again or she is outta there!

Anonymous said...

The quote is "familiarity breeds contempt"
not too much familiarity.

And why would an employer be stuck paying for her nanny's medical bills that are not covered by insurance? My employer doesn't pay for mine.

And no more chances for this lousy nanny. None. I want her fired on Friday at quitting time, if not sooner. Make sure to documemt the reasons, lest she think she will come after you for any reason. Depending on where you work, you can simply say, "This isn't working out".

Westchester nanny said...

I have to say to all of the people (employers) referring to nannies as "the help" disgusts me. It's literally the lowest thing you can call the person who is co-raising your children and in many instances with them more than YOU are. If a person is a good nanny she does her job and goes above her required duties (even though we shouldn't we cannot help ourselves). This person just sounds like a bad nanny. Perhaps the other family had no idea because they were not around. You do not need to treat her badly or "like help" you just need to state what you want her to do and if it's not done, in two weeks send her on her way.
If I were EVER treated like "the help" (ew) I would not stay anywhere, I have more self-respect than that and you should respect the person who is looking after your most precious gifts and not call them "help".

mimi said...

I would have to agree that the term Help is awful...Nannies play such a vital role in your child's probably isn't that smartest thing to start showing them that people they love are paid help...and in turn lower class than them. I work harder for the parents that treat me right. And if anybody else in the working world would think about this it would be true to them as well...Are you going to bust your @ss for someone who doesn't treat you right?? My in home daycare children all get equal care BUT I go the extra mile for the littles one whose parents treat me like a decent human being. I have no clue what's wrong with your nanny...who can tell...maybe its family issues, maybe someone at home is sick...maybe she misses her old kiddos....try getting to know her and maybe you'll find the problem.

Anonymous said...

I love how everyone wishes to treat their nanny like family. I have worked for my sister as her personal nanny. I love my girls but my sister barely remembers to pay me and often forgets to tell me it will be a late night until the last minute.
Sometimes its better having a employer/employee relationship! I have decided to get out of nannying to avoid hurting my sisters feelings when I tell her I have to find a new job.

Seattlenanny said...

"This nanny is not burned out.
She is a bum."

This is the best comment left. I agree with 3:37!

Anonymous said...

"The help" is a euphemism for "servant".

erics mom said...

I think if a nanny is working full-time, why not offer health insurance. Most full-time nannies are working what 50 hours a week.
If you have the means to provide it why hold back? Having health insurance isn't a luxury like having a Mercedes in the driveway. Its a necessity.
And sorry, I am too tired to check my spelling.

Anonymous said...

awww, you did fine, eric's mom! lol

Anonymous said...

Is she fired yet? Op, please tell us!

Nanny Eliminators said...

I thought of a business venture. I will be the cleaner. You decide you want to fire the nanny, you call me. I handle the firing like the person who handles the intervention on Intervention (the show). I tell her why she is being fired and that she is fired. You can say anything you want or nothing. I pack up her stuff and escort her out of the house. She is searched at the door and escorted out by myself, a canine unit, my black lab, chompers and my taser happy pal Jonny Jobless.

I think this would inspire more employers, especially women employers to fire these scummy people and not tolerate the crap they serve you. You know your husband has no patience for these shenannigans.

Give us a call.

watching over me said...

This nanny is taking advantage and being dishonest.
I'm sure she's aware that she should be following the terms of your agreement and should not have put the toddler in front of the TV or ignored her while reading a book (which was obviously what was going on when you came home unannounced).
I'm a career nanny (used to live-in, now I live-out) who always tells my employers that I'd be comfortable with nanny-cams (anywhere except the bathrooms of course) because I want total honesty between us.
Most of my employers have chosen not to install cameras (as far as I know anyway) but some have used them and there has never been a problem. In fact a couple have saved some of the footage of me playing with their children because it was "so wonderful to watch"!
Nanny-cams also protect the nanny's reputation, since she cannot be blamed for "missing" items or other things so easily if most rooms are under surveillance.
A good nanny should have no fear of being checked-up on, watched or monitored.
She should have nothing to hide.
Please consider installing a couple of nanny-cams in your home. Do not inform the nanny. If you notice anything disturbing or upsetting while watching the footage, discuss it with her and decide whether she should remain in your employ.
Trustworthy nannies are precious, and I realize many families trust their nannies completely and don't feel comfortable installing cameras to watch them.
But in this case, I think it's a worthwhile step to take.
Wishing you the best!

watching over me said...

Also, calling the nanny "the help" is rude and tacky.
Whether you keep your current nanny or decide to replace her, NEVER call your nanny "the help". She has a name. Please respect that.

Anonymous said...

Do you think OP should actually give this nanny a chance like that and get to know her, as you said? Hasn't her behavior been discusting enough that she should automatically be let go?? I'm just curious, because it sounds like you think she should give her another chance?

Anonymous said...

5/7 12:40 PM OP here with update:

First, thank you everyone for the advice. It’s much appreciated.

My husband and I had a talk with her last night. We started off by telling her that communication is key in any relationship. We told her that we encourage a two-way street style of communication and that we feel that it’s important to talk about any concerns or issues before they become a problem. Then we asked her how was her first week with us. She said it was great. Then we asked her if she had any concerns or issues that she would like to bring up to our attention. She said no and that everything was going great. We asked her if everything was okay with her and her family, to which she replied yes.

Then we told her that we had some concerns that we want to nip in the bud ASAP. We pointed out the issue of me coming home and finding our toddler screaming because she wasn’t reading to her because she was too busy reading her own book. We told her the fact that our toddler should not be watching more than 30 minutes of educational TV (Baby Einstein is our preference as we have the entire collection). For our oldest child the same rule applies (we prefer Noggin).

We then told her that we noticed that the first three days she was energetic, helpful, and performed her duties perfectly. We pointed out the fact that when we got home from work, she even had classical music playing instead of the television on. We also told her exactly how we want the day to go with our toddler and what she needs to do with her daily. We finished the conversation by telling her that we like her but if she feels that she can’t keep her end of the bargain, she has two weeks and out she goes.

We have lots of appropriate educational materials for both of our children, but she asked for a chalk board, chalks and construction paper to work with them. I think I mentioned that she was a teacher for several years. Of course, I immediately produced the items that she requested. We have a huge walk-in closet full of arts & crafts materials, which I told her about during the interview and showed her when she arrived. We enjoy doing arts & crafts on the weekends.

She said that she was happy with our family and that she would take every step to do what is required of her. As a matter of fact, she came downstairs last night at around 9:00 PM and joined my husband and I in a conversation. She seamed really happy. This morning she had the clothes laid out for school (ironed), made the beds and picket up toys in the playroom. There was no need to sweep as I swept and tidied up the kitchen/great room before I went to bed.

For those who were offended by the term “help”, please know that I would never refer to someone as “help.” It’s not in my nature. What I said was that my neighbors and my mother-in-law said that the reason that we’ve had problems with our nannies is because we treat them like family instead of “help.” Not all but many of my neighbors would never invite their nanny to have dinner with them, go on family outings with them, or have any conversation with them unless it’s childcare-related. It’s strictly business and it seems to work well for them.

My husband and I would never do that to anyone. I’m someone who has conversations at work with our mailroom person, cleaning people and the guy who sweeps the steps outside. I know their names and a lot about their family. Sometimes, I’ll even stop and take the time to say hello to the homeless people before I give them some money or take them to a store/restaurant and buy them some food. One time I had a homeless woman that I had just given some money to, to buy coffee and donuts, run behind me and give me a hug and kiss. Since I grew up dirt poor, I learned that the same people that you meet on your way up, you will meet on your way down.

And to the woman who mentioned about people taking advantage once they see your big house, I agree. We live in Westchester. Whenever we hire a contractor, electrician, plumber, or anyone else to do work in our house, it always ends up being almost double of what they charge in the Bronx. It’s the same thing with nannies. Whenever they come over for an interview, they always end up asking for more money than what we discussed over the phone. Now I don’t interview anyone at our home. Instead I make it a point to meet them somewhere where we can sit down and talk but not our house. They don’t get to see our house until I have hired them and we have agreed to the pay (usually in writing). If they do their job well or go over and beyond, they get a raise in six months and many other perks that I don’t mention during the interview.

Again thanks for the great advice that I received from so many of you. If things don’t improve drastically in the next two weeks, I’ll let you know. Otherwise best to everyone.

andrea said...

Nanny eliminators, you are amusing.
With all respect Jane, I don't think most nannies go that route. Most nannies and most employees go out of their way to do the least amount of work. The longer they are somewhere, the less work they do. That is why in any given work environment, you will find 9 people doing the work of 2.

It isn't like that in Japan. Laziness is an American epidemic brought on by a high fat, high carbohydrate, toxic diet and too many sedentary activities.

The awful reality is the next nanny this person hires would likely be lazier yet and possibly even abusive.

Anonymous said...

O.k., everyone that sees me as wrong is more than welcome to put me in my place ... I welcome it.

So - is it me, or does the OP now come off as just a bit condescending? I was actually fine, and even made it through the "I could never refer to nannies as the help" paragraph.

It was the one after that. Yeah, that one.
You're the "type" of person that "has conversations at work with our mailroom person, cleaning people and the guy who sweeps the steps outside."

Gee .... don't do us any favors, please.

Lest we forget: "Sometimes, I’ll even stop and take the time to say hello to the homeless people before I give them some money or take them to a store/restaurant and buy them some food."

O.k. - that's one hungry vagrant down, thanks OP.

Last but not least ...
"And to the woman who mentioned about people taking advantage once they see your big house, I agree."

Oh yes ... let's never interview a nanny in our glorious home. God forbid she see what a huge spread we have and ask for that extra dollar an hour!

Lady, are you serious? You are so full of yourself. You had me until the last part of your update, then you just took a nose-dive. You sound arrogant and pompous. You give yourself way too many pats on the back.

You said you used to be poor? Wow, you definately smell like "new money". You should have stayed true to your roots.

Well ... I better not hold OP up any longer. She's gotta go save the World now.

Jane Doe said...

Your anonymous comments at 1:20 just come off as argumentative. I very much appreciate that OP came back to update us so thoroughly as she has.

I believe OP chose to explain how she relates to people because she was taken to task on her use of the word help.

People do not report nanny sightings, stories and questions to this site for the purpose of weathering anonymous attacks by controversial rage-aholics. This is a new theme I have noticed over several posts this week.

I should hate to have to sort through IP numbers to out you, so to the person or persons involved, please cease the antagonistic behavior.

OP, Best of luck to you. Please let us know how things go over the next two weeks.

Rye Mom said...

seriously, a nanny asing for a $1 more an hour is a big deal. An electrician adding a Rye surcharge of 20% to a bill is a big deal. A handy man who actually holds out his hand for a tip in my home is a big deal. Nothing makes me feel less generous than the greed of others.

Anonymous said...

May I respectfully direct you to the attack that Manhattanmamma was put through? That was by far much worse than this one.

Manhattanmamma was called all kinds of vicious names, including one that eluded to her being a "peeping pedapheliac". That was downright cruel.

This post is questioning some of OP's choice of words, and there are probably some posters that would be offended by it.

But yes, you are right, so I digress.
A lot of OP's coming back to update have been given a hard time.

I just wanted to point out a stark difference.


Anonymous said...

Sorry if I offended, OP.
It was my opinion and I thought it was allowed.

I see so many others being put through the grind, and called so many nasty vulgar names -- I had no clue what I was doing was wrong.

But I did say at the beginning of my post that if anyone disagreed with me, I would welcome it. So, there you have it.

My apologies, and from now on I will keep what few negative opinions I ever have to myself.

mary said...

I personally found your post to be amusing and insightful, to be quite honest with you. It is hard sometimes to hear how people percieve us. We often don't see ourselves in the same light! :)
But I am glad that OP took the time to speak with her nanny. As I said in my post above, the direct approach usually works.

emily said...

Your current problem nanny aside, do you think that perhaps your neighbor treats her nanny like a professional (a bit different from "help") and therefore has a great working relationship with her?

Anonymous said...

Oh heavens, this thread has gone to pot. You mustn't allow a nanny to feel you are her family. She must feel like she is a proper employee who needs to earn your respect. I do wonder if all this hand holding that goes on during this delicate nanny/employer dance is to blame. What in the world ever happened to providing person an opportuniy to work and that person seizing said opportunity with enthusiasm? Are we reallt that far gone?

Out of every 100 nannies, there are 0 that deserve to be treated as family. Out of every 10,000,there are 0 that deserve to be treated as family. Out of every 100,000 nannies, there is .025 that deserve to be treated like family.

I'm sorry but you simply cannot welcome anyone in to your home and family. Certainly I would expect the nanny should have a reasonably prudent background and an air of decorum about her before she should think to classify herself as family.

This entire thread mystifies me.

Dear Author, your friends and neighbors are indeed correct. A nanny need to be guided. She needs to follow your precise instructions. She does not need your hugs or unconditional love.

It may not be politically correct to make reference to the quality of obedience, but dare I say the best nannies are indeed obedient without question?

Anonymous said...

OP, thanks for the update.
I would like to comment on one point you made about not interviewing in your home, or letting the nanny see it until after she is hired. As a nanny, I would never accept a job without seeing the work environment. (I once turned down an offer because the apt. was a show place with nowhere to play and do messy art.) I can't imagine a nanny accepting a live in position without seeing what her accommodations will be like. She could end up sleeping on a futon in a windowless basement!
Something to consider if you do seek a new nanny.

Anonymous said...

I currently work for a wonderful man and take care of his 3 boys. he treats me with respect and as a member of the family. I would never consider working for anyone who treated me any differently. You got yourself a bad apple. get rid of her and be more careful next time.

You should ask previous employers about potential nanny's habits, past times and her own personal cleanliness. You should ask if she takes initiative or if she requires direction. You should ask former employers what they choose to overlook about the nanny. I throw dirty clothes on my bedroom floor but the rest of the house is spotless. Some employers wouldn;t stand for that.

Be very very specific about your needs and expect a very specific response.

Anonymous said...

I hope that message left at 8:06pm was a joke

undercover regular said...

Good point.
Windowless basement, lol.
I'll bet there are some Employers that wish they could get away with that, considering the way they treat their nannies!

And for 8:06, I would love to know where you got your statistics.
Please enlighten!
I don't know, but I believe there is a fine line, and you can have a "familial" relationship with a nanny ... but you have to be careful that it isn't crossed - by the nanny OR the Employer. That way no one gets taken advantage of.

undercover regular said...

Oh wow, I missed where 8:06 said "obedient" ... let me rub my eyes and check again ... yep, she did say that.

O.k., remember what I said above about "some" Employers wishing they could lock their nanny in a windowless basement?
Well, ladies and gentlemen ...
there's one.

Anonymous said...

OP, you seem pretty nice and reasonable. You should definitely talk to the nanny in a kind, direct way and find make sure she understands what you need done. I get the feeling that you are probalby going to need to find a new nanny though.
As a nanny, I understand her wanting to take a break and read her book. After all, she has a long day in the house with a little one! Certainly she can have some down time while the child entertains herself quietly. I often take short periods of quiet time to keep myself sane and refreshed. I would not think the child should be screaming over that.

Definitely drop by and make sure your daughter is not always crying.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the windowless basement hit home. I was a live-in. And that happpened to me. It was terrible, small no windows. Lets say I didn't last long. Oh yeah, I had to use a heater in my room since there was no heater base.

Anonymous said...

Why would a teacher want to be a live-in nanny??? I see the teachers at the local elementary school in town. They look so happy and relaxed. I don't know where, I live teachers make good money and benefits. And at least your not stuck in the same boring routine. I can't imagine taking care of two small children from morning until I am sure 6-7 at nite. Then your expected to be there housekeeper too.

Anonymous said...

Nanny Eliminators - why do you think it's okay for you to those kinds of things? Are you a mother? I don't think you'd be laughing if someone joked about tasing your disobedient kids.
If you don't like the sound of that then you should think before you post something that advocates violence towards women who work as nannies. It's not funny.

Anonymous said...

I was with the same family for over seven years- from the time the child was born. Wouldn't it be weird if I wasn't like family??

Anonymous said...

I was with the same family for over seven years- from the time the child was born. Wouldn't it be weird if I wasn't like family??

mary said...

anon @ 8:06:
OP's family was not correct: referring to the person who is helping you in raising your children, full-time, as the "help" is not correct. It is rude and insulting. It would be like referring to your child's tutor or teacher or doctor as "the help."
Of course a nanny is not technically part of your family and an employer who has this opinion should not feel negligent. However, there are many many families who treat their nannies like family and it works for them. It doesn't make them wrong, and it certainly certainly does not mean the nanny does not "deserve" to be treated like family. Who are you to decide what someone "deserves?" If someone wishes to treat their nanny with love and kindness, it is their option. A cold, detatched relationship does not work for some people. As I said, your nanny may not be family, and you certainly need to develop a relationship with them before you are even able to treat them as such. But it does happen and it is not wrong when it does.
Your use of the word "obidence" and the connotations surrounding it lead me to believe that you don't even treat your family like family. People should indeed be grateful for gainful employment, and those that are not should not be hired, nevermind treated like family. But every family has a different type of nanny that works well for them. We are all different, and just because we are not like YOU and yours does not mean we are wrong.
You sound like a female Von Trapp before he met Maria.
Have a glass of wine, take the dog for a walk, let your nanny go home early and take the kids to the park, anything: loosen up, mama! You sound like such a funny little sourpuss!

mary said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Jane, I find that as of late..any disagreement with an OP or a poster responding to the OP is considered by yourself and others as an "Attack by a controversial rage-aholic"

As I read poster mentioned"this was just her opinion and she thought that was allowed"

I have made that same mistake. I thought that you welcomed a diverse group of people and opinions on your site.

I love your site..but please realize that we are not all PC people..some of us are old school,old fashioned and do not follow a PC crowd,,therfore, our opinions differ greatly as do the way we might veiw an original post.

You can hand 5 people a will taste differently to all of them.
I myself have been attacked on several occasions over the years because I disagree with atleast 50% of what your regulars have to say.
I areed with the poster that felt the op was arrogant. As a janitor,I found what she had to say very offensive.
I like to think that people take time to talk to me throughout my day because they actually like me and not so they can use me as a charity case to look good on a web-site" " I am a person who knows the names of our mailroom clerk and cleaning people"..OP Statement

Well I should hope so..
I do not feel that 120 was looking to Argue..this is how she truly felt and I would have written the same thing had she not done it first!
Please allow those of us who have a diffrence of opinion to voice it without searching our IP 's and censoring us.
profanity or down right nastiness..throw it out..but please remain objective....afterall..if we all thought the would be a pretty boring world and this site would most likely not be as popular as it is today.
Respectfully, an anonymous blogger

mary said...

well said, 1:59! I couldn't agree more! Why should someone feel they deserve a standing O for knowing the name of their cleaning lady? As you said, I should hope that they know it!

Anonymous said...

OP here -

1:59 and 2:16: I apologize if I offended anyone by saying that I speak to everyone, including homeless people. I don’t think that a janitor or anyone else is beneath me. As long as a person is making an honest living it doesn’t matter in what capacity. I was only trying to make a point that I’m not a person that would refer to a nanny or anyone else as the “help.” Also, I work with some people, who wouldn’t take the time or day to speak to a janitor or a mailroom person let alone taking the time to learn their names. I have actually witnessed one particular woman that I work with scream at one mailroom guy because he asked her a question. He was trembling with fear. I never looked at her the same way again.

I also was not looking for a pat in the back for treating everyone like a human being or helping a homeless person to get a bite to eat. Again, I simply wanted to get my point across.

9:46: Although I no longer conduct nanny interviews in our home, after I’ve hired the nanny and we have agreed on the amount in writing, I invite her to come and see the house before she starts working. There’s a clause in our agreement that allows her to back out of the agreement if she is not satisfied with her living arrangements. I have yet to have anyone turn down the job. I wouldn’t dream of putting someone in a basement or windowless room. Quite honestly, if a nanny didn’t ask to see my home before she starts working, I would be very skeptical. It would definitely raise a red flag that something is not right.

Jane Doe: Thank you for understanding the point that I was trying to get across.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Jane Doe said...

I think my words were a bit cluttered there. I was collectively referring to the negative posts, especially on the MM post that appeared to come from one individual. I was not referring to a single post. Everyone is welcome to their opinion. My menacing (ha) threat was not directed at the single comment/author you referenced in your post, but at the instigator that was poking around all day yesterday. Some of the comments you never saw or may have seen before they were deleted.

I don't think the OP would have ever made such remarks except that she felt she had to defend herself against the use of the word help. Since we don't know anyone, we are someone reliant on the people typing to let us know what they do and how they treat people. It can come off self congratulatory, but I personally don't think that is how it was meant. I interjected because I didn't want such a small point to become a breeding ground of negative comments. Even if she mispoke, she came her for advice, took the advice we offered and was kind enough to post back.

I enjoy the comment section a great deal. I detest censorship. We need comments, but we also need posts! We need people to send in their sightings, personal experiences and questions to us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. I couldn't help but feel a little defiant after I read OP's update. Maybe you explained your feelings about it in a way that I couldn't.

I don't in any way consider myself a "rage-a-holic", most of my peers actually find me quite calming. However, I truly felt I wouldn't be the only one to take OP's post wrong.

I think there's a difference in expressing your opinion the way that I did ... and taking over a whole entire thread (89th & 1st, child in window) ... where almost everyone that went on there to post was attacked in some way, by what I perceive to be one person also, as Jane suggested.

Anyway, I've made my apologies, but did want to address 1:59, and let them know how much I appreciate what they had to say.
Perhaps I learned a lesson from you in manners.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

'but dare I say the best nannies are indeed obedient without question?'

Me thinks you have been reading too much Jane Austen.

Anonymous said...

Hire a new nanny