Wednesday

I'm not sure what to do...

Received Wednesday, June 25, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I'm not sure what to do. I have a WONDERFUL nanny. She has been with us for just short of a year. She loves our three kids and they love her and she does a great job. It was hard to find her--I went through a few nannies who could not handle/relate to all three of my kids before finding her. She works 11 hours a day four days a week and 9 hours Friday, which is a heavy schedule, but I try to be a good employer. She makes a good salary, I gave her a raise a few months into the job because she was so wonderful, as well as a weeks pay at Christmas and gifts for her and her children at holidays and birthdays. My husband is not in the picture and I have over an hour commute, so I need long hours. This is her first nanny position. Before working here, she worked in daycare settings and had early childhood education/training, but had not worked in any one job for more than a year at a time, so it was a bit of a risk when I hired her, but she was so warm she seemed like (and is) exactly what we needed.

She has school aged children of her own and they are great kids. Fairly often one or more of her kids have come to my house when home from school and even though they are a little older (5,8,and 11) than my kids (2,4 and 7), they all get along well. She did mention her kids were having a hard time adjusting to her working full days early on, but it seemed to make them happy to join her at work sometimes.

Last week, she told me she has no childcare for the summer and gave two weeks notice. To me, it felt like a blow out of left field. I really dreaded telling my kids the nanny they had come to love and trust would be leaving, plus, two weeks is not a lot of time to arrange for childcare. She had not indicated she had any issues--in fact, she often talked about planning next school year and summer activities for my kids and even asked me two weeks age to get her a pass to our local pool so she could take them there over the summer. After talking to her about what was behind her giving notice, she said she didn't really want to leave, but the problem was she couldn't stay until 6 every day after school ends because she didn't have childcare for her own kids after camp. I told her if that's the only issue I can rearrange my summer work schedule a bit and arranged for a family member to help out so she could leave in the early afternoon up until her kid's summer camp ends, then take a few weeks off, and come back to a slightly reduced schedule come the fall. Thought that was a good resolution and she indicated that works and was planning on staying. Yesterday I got a call from a nanny she met in the park she had told would be leaving because she needed to spend more time with her kids. Although I know that her kids had trouble adjusting to her working early on, she never mentioned that as a reason for wanting to leave. Now I'm wondering if I should be spending the summer looking for a new nanny since this is a more serious issue than helping her bridge a gap in her own childcare arrangements. Part of me says I need to take what she said at face value and trust that these arrangements will allow her to stay, part of me says I'm being foolish and will be in the same boat (looking at a rough transisiton for my kids and two weeks to patch together childcare) come the end of the summer since the underlying problem hasn't been addressed. Advice?

25 comments:

Yaya said...

Sounds like something deeper is going on here. Let's let my mind wander...maybe her DH is frustrated she's working so much and their marriage is suffering? Maybe her pre-teen child is missing his/her mom and starting to hang w/ the wrong crowd and she needs to be there for him/her? Probably no malicious intent on her part, but you might want to have a heart to heart to try and work out a better, and more flexible schedule, if you can. Otherwise, start looking. From experience, those hours she's working are fine for about a year, and then you realize you're just plain burnt-out...

UmassSlytherin said...

I have to agree with Yaya: while there may be something going on, no malicious intent is apparent.
I understand you need someone reliable and for many hours (kudos to you for working and supporting the kids on your own!) but I also understand how this job could be effecting nanny's own children, who are indeed still very young. If you cannot make your own schedule more flexible, it's too bad but you need to find someone else.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You should discuss this with her. Why don't you hire some part-time help to relieve her if you like her so much?

a texas nanny said...

It sounds like both of you have great mutual respect and care for the other. I agree that you should sit down and have a heart to heart with her if you are worried and feel you haven't quite reached the root of the problem.

The other nanny calling to me doesn't seem as big an indicator for the need to talk with her again; that just seems to me like she does care about your family and, before you came to the resolution you made the other day, she may have been trying to help you out be getting the word out that you would need childcare in the near future.

You obviously think she does a great job with your family, and you sound like a wonderful employer so I hope this can be resolved! Maybe you could also request, when you speak again, that if/when she does decide to leave if she could give 4 weeks notice instead of 2? I also think the idea of maybe having someone relieve her at the end of the day would be helpful. I know that plenty of younger nannnies would work those last couple of hours each day, that way she could have all 9 hour days each week. And then, if/when she does leave, you have someone you already know who may be willing to expand the position.

I hope it works out!

Anonymous said...

Why bring this here, instead of talking honestly with your nanny? Tell her about the phone call from the other nanny, and ask her again if she really intends to stay. Why not ask her what it would take to keep her (what kind of schedule would work for her and her own family), if keeping this nanny is what you want? Personally, I think you are expecting way too much from a nanny who has 3 kids of her own...and it's very likely nanny's burning-out because it's just too much to handle...but you really need to talk to HER.

Anonymous said...

I find it strange you got a call from a nanny in the park?????

Anonymous said...

Hire two people to work 25 hours/each rather than one person working 50+. It's unfair to her kids.

Anonymous said...

As a nanny myself, I can say that it sounds like your nanny is set on leaving, regardless of what you do to accommodate her. She probably agreed to your requests of her saying and adjusting the schedule because she was trapped. She told you the reason she was leaving was because of a lack of childcare for her children, and she probably assumed there would be no way for you to get around that and change your schedule. She probably felt it was a "safe" reason for leaving. Once you turned around and surprised her with the fact that you in fact could accommodate her needs, she really had no place to say no. If she did, her reason for wanting to leave would be invalid and you would know she wasn't being honest about her reasons.

I can't say what the "real" reason is, but nannies will often make "excuses" for leaving. Because being a nanny is such a personal job, if we are just not happy, it is very hard to say the real reason. Whatever reason we give can easily be misinterpreted to say "I don't like you/your kids." So, it is usually easier to give other reasons, such as your nanny did. I'm not to say that she is not being honest, but it is a possibility.

There are a few things I think should point out. You said she has never been somewhere more than a year. Is it possible she is the type that gets bored and needs/wants change every year or so?

If she is a first time nanny, she may not understand that although 2 weeks notice is common practice in the work world, it does not typically apply to nannies. It is good for nannies to give as much notice as possible, which usually included more than 2 weeks. Maybe you should talk to her about that and let her know that when/if she does plan on leaving, you would really appreciate her giving more notice, such as a month or more.

The other thing is who is the other nanny that called you? Was it some random nanny and how did she get your number? And why did this nanny feel compelled to call you and tell you this? Is it possible your nanny set this other nanny up to call you and tell you so that she wouldn't feel bad and her reasons would seem "real"?

atl nanny said...

You definitely need to sit down with her and have a heart to heart. Tell her what you've told us -- that you love her, you think she's great, and you don't want to lose her. Ask what you can do to ensure that she'll be happy. Not just that she'll stay, but that she'll be happy. Then look at her needs (reduced hours? a PT nanny in the evening to relieve her?) and see if they fit with what you need/want. If they do, fantastic. Start looking now for someone to take over the evening shifts or whatever needs to be done. If you just can't accommodate her needs, then at least you will know that and you can set an end date and start looking for someone new.

I would also strongly suggest that you amend her work agreement to cover giving notice/quitting. Ask her to give you four or six week's notice instead of two, and then promise a bonus if she works until the end of her notice. The bonus will give her an incentive to work out four/six weeks, and the extra money should be well spent if it gives you time to search for a new nanny instead of slapping together a makeshift arrangement.

seattlenanny said...

Sounds like she's getting burnt out. A 53 hour work week is tough especially when you have a family of your own. I know after my 45-50 hr work week I'm exhausted. I can't imagine coming home to children of my own. Sounds like you need to lighten her work load by bringing someone on a few hours a day. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

She may have spoken with the other nanny before you and her had the recent talk. I think you should just sit down with her and make sure that the problem is with her own children, which it probably is. Her kids are still young and 11 hours a day is a long time.

So just sit down with her and see what can be done. Maybe she could even bring your children to her house some of the time so her kids can be in their own environment, I am sure there are solutions that work for both of you.

Just to make sure you might want to ask that it really is the reason and everything is okay, just to put that to rest.

One Fabulous Nanny said...

You could always hire me, because quite frankly, you sound like a great employer.

Haha totally kidding (sort of...) I have a great job ;)

In any case, this is a sucky situation! How about having one more meeting with her- a real heart to heart. Tell her how much you appreciate her, and emphasize how much the children love her, and let her know that you are willing to work really hard to keep her around- what can you do?

If you still get the feeling she's not comfortable with things once the meeting is over, then start looking for someone through an agency.

Best of luck OP!

mpp said...

Try having another open, honest discussion with her. Let her know you really want to keep her on, and try to work something out.

I would mention the phone call, only as a way to start the conversation. If she's so worried about her own family, let her know how flexible you are willing to be.

I know it seems you pretty much had this conversation with her, and then you find out from someone else she may have to leave .... so maybe things weren't as ironed out as you had thought.
I get the feeling she isn't being completely honest with you, and I know you must feel you are at her mercy.
Your Nanny could possibly be agreeing to terms she feels even she cannot uphold, but if that's the case, she needs to be more honest with you so you're not left hanging.
I personally see that you like her enough to want to bend over backwards for her.

Either way, try that out, and tell her to please allow you 4 weeks to find another Nanny if she does decide to leave.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of having another nanny come relieve her the last couple hours. Or maybe you hire someone to do two days a week, giving her a couple days a week with her own children.

I can not imagine putting my own children into a daycare setting so I could go watch someone else's children. I would think some jealousy issues have got to be going on with her children, especially since they are a bit older. I mean, really, can you imagine being nine years old and shipped off to some childcare camp all summer while your mom is at the pool or amusement park with someone else's kids?

Anonymous said...

as a former nanny and mommy of three, I can tell you..juggling work and kids school schedules can play hell with you.
Your nanny sounds as if she is conflicted and it sounds as though it has nothing to do with you.

Why not offer to let her bring the kids to work with her for the 6-8 weeks that they are out of school?

I did that for a few years and it was great..but I had 6 kids to watch. It was wonderful though and the kids all kept each other happy and busy!

Sarah and Mitch said...

It just sounds like she doesn't have other care for her children... just what she told you. Also, she does spend a lot of time away from her kids, and so this is a great bonding opportunity for her. Maybe see if you can find a summer nanny to overlap the hours where she would need to leave? I really wouldn't worry about it- if this is what she told you, given her background and great experience with your family, I'd take her word for it all. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I really think she probably just wants to work less hours and probably just agreed to your ideas for now, but is not really happy. Why do I say this? Just because she was already talking to other people about having to leave. I have been in her shoes where I agreed to a compromise when I really wasn't happy, meanwhile I really wanted to leave. Sometimes I felt that I needed to say yes to whatever I was offered, and meanwhile I wanted to search for another job.

I do think you should ask her, "Honestly, do you really want to stay? How do you really, really feel about this arrangement?" I think you can read her response if you catch her off-guard. If my employer had done this I would have confessed to her by not that I am not really happy. Tell her you need to know that she really, really wants to stay and will commit to you. Otherwise, you have to find other childcare.

These things are very emotional but I know all will work out for you.

Anonymous said...

OP, communication! We don't know your nanny. She is the one you should be asking. Tell her about the phone call, and ask what is going on. This other nanny may have spoken with her before you discussed the new arrangement that she agreed to. I also wonder what her motivation was in calling you. Is she looking for a new job?

Anonymous said...

I don't see why she cannot bring her children with her for these few weeks. It could save the nanny some money, spend all this time with her children as well as yours.
This could give you a lot more time to get a part time person to watch your children after school starts so your nanny can get home and be with her chidlren. Try to get one from 4 to what ever time you come home and I am sure your nanny would be happier ,it may mean less money for your nanny but I am sure she would trade that to be able to spend more time with her own children.

Marissa M. said...

Just be up up front with her and tell her about the phone call and have a heart to heart... she's most likely just burned out

kathleencares said...

I like the idea of having her stay on part-time (or the amount of hours that work for her) and then having someone else work the hours she can't. There are plenty of college students who can work in the afternoons. 50 plus hours a week is a lot, and I agree with some of the other posts - she is probably burnt out! I would talk to her about the part-time option and also about being open to having her kids come with her when they need to. Basically, tell her that you are willing to do what it takes to keep in her on because she is so great. Just also let her know that you need her to be really honest about what her needs are. Give her the opportunity to tell you if there is another reason she wants to leave besides the scheduling conflict. If there is, you can address that or move on completely if it is not something that is fixable. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone else that you need to lighten her load. I also work around 50/week as a nanny to three young kids (actually about the same age as your kids) and as much as I love it, it does exhaust me! What REALLY lightening up her load this summer by maybe hiring someone else to work one full day and then maybe 2 hours or so every other day, at least for the summer. Then if she feels up to it, give her more hours once her own kids are back in school.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am going through the EXACT same thing. My family loves our nanny, but she recently told me she needs to leave because her Mom doesn't want to babysit her kids anymore. She changed her mind after she found a summer daycamp and afterschool program for the fall for her kids. We are still not locked down on what will be a slightly reduced schedule for her, but we are close. I'm wondering based on all the great comments from nannies here if I have the same issue--nanny burnout. I have 3 kids, an infant, and two school aged. Can I ask all the nannies who responded to this post that they have experienced nanny burnout with a 50 hour a day job, do you think a "relief nanny" is needed if two of the three are not home from 9 to 3? Is it the intensity of the day (I encourage her to take breaks when the older ones are out of the house and the baby is napping, so she does get time to relax, use her computer, read, watch TV, etc. many days) or the length that have made you feel burned out?

Anonymous said...

You never really know what's going on in people's own families. Clearly something is telling her, as a mother, that she needs to spend more time with her own children. Hey, you can't fault her for that. DO whatever you feel is best in regard to your own, and good luck.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like she also likes you and the kids and feels that the job is great but is having a hard time with the long hours. Her children are young enough to need her home more. I would hire two people and have her mornings and someone else in the late afternoon/ evenings.