Nanny concerned about Mom's change in Diet

Received Monday, August 4, 2008:
My boss told me this morning that she is almost three months pregnant! This explains so much.
I won't say more because I can't reveal any confidences, but lets say it came as a big shock to both parents. Though they are happy, Mom has decided to make a career ending decision. She was working from home so she could maintain connections to her field and still be a part of the children's life and she has decided to shelve it ALL for now. The family is even downsizing into a smaller house. She's still eating quite a bit more than I'm used to seeing her eat, but not around the children. I never said anything, just waited and watched. I did appreciate everyone's comments. Thanks. And in case you are wondering, she does want me to stay on part time and live in. This has turned to be a big advantage to me because I intend to go back to school.

Received Tuesday, July 29, 2008. 
ISYN - Perspective & Opinion

I have a problem that I never expected to have. I don't know how to deal with it. First, let me say, I work for a very wonderful family. They are generous, treat me as one of their own and are respectful of my time and contribution to the family. I have been with them for three years and I live in. My boss, the "Mrs" and I get along well, so much so that we will go out for coffee or shopping when I am or am not working, whenever it comes up.
I really love this woman alot, but here is the problem. She works from home and just had her second child *not too long ago*. She is a doting mother, when she is able to join us on an outing or in an activity, she makes it more fun, she doesn't mind getting dirty, she has a deep, real laugh and is a really good person. Here comes the but... But, since she had the second child, I have noticed some changes in her behavior. One has to do with her diet. When I started working here, I started when their first child was 2. I brought my own nutritional ideas to the table and this was more than embraced by both the mr. and the mrs. My basic ideas are to eat healthy, unprocessed food whenever possible, no soda, no white bread, no fast food. Do they have candy? Yes, but we don't make an issue out of it. A good snack for the child is an oreo and an orange, an orange or two oreos. And they know that. They know that two oreos are a serving size. I guess my point is whatever the rules are, the children know them. We push fruit, water, vegetables. Lowfat milk is an option but if they don't want milk, they never have to drink it.

So about 2 weeks after she had the baby, she went on the Zone. This is a diet where they deliver your meals to you every day. Every morning, you get your breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks packed up and left for you on your doorstep. She was on the zone and started working out and things were fine.
About three weeks after that, the zone meals would just sit in the refrigerator or be dumped out and I noticed that the mrs was eating a lot of junk. This is her business, I realize. The problem is she would grab a carton of milk (now whole milk) and plop down at the table with a cup and a bag of nutter butters. She would eat rows of them. This is an example. Because it is summer, the children are around and they would sit on her lap or she would talk to them and soon they would be sitting and eating nutter butters..or oreos...or kettle korn....or dibs...or nacho cheese doritos.
I thought perhaps this was a hormonal pms, post pg, so I said little. When she wasn't around, I would remind the children about the vegetables that were cut up and try to be a good example myself.

At night, when the Mr comes home, the two of them have dinner together in the summer. I am usually at the club with the children or playing outside or whatever... But they usually have dinner by the pool every night and take a swim together. I noticed, without being nosy, that the Mrs. would bring her zone meal and pretend to pick at it and complain that it didn't taste good or that it was just too much food.

I have a special shelf in the house that I keep my junk on. Out of site of the children. I am not a health nut, I do understand...

She has been taking the children out to run errands with her, short errands, often food related. They come back swilling sunny delight, HI-C, Coke (yes coke). Little Debbie Snack cake wrappers litter her once immaculate car. It is now okay to have waffles with whip cream and strawberries for lunch. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches on white bread.

It isn't my house, I get that. I get they aren't my children. I know where I stand as an employee, but this woman is also a friend and I am concerned about her behavior. This is a woman who wore tank tops all the time because her shoulders, arms and neck are/were really the picture of perfection. She took pride in that.

It is summer and hot and so humid and she wears her pregnancy jeans and sweatshirts on most days. Some days, she gets up in the morning, takes a shower and puts on a clean pair of pajama loungewear.

You see, the food and body thing is the only sign I see. I was here after she had her second and she got back in to shape within 8 weeks.

But the food thing isn't just about her. That is why I think it is some sort of depression. This is a woman who is so careful about what she does and says in front of the children. The parents won't even turn on the news in front of the children. She is a really, really good mother and the fact that she is eating like this with her children is so unlike her. This is a woman who never had a special shelf of snack food not suitable for children because she wanted her children to just have normal relationships with food. For example, when they want ice cream, she will say, "yes, let's walk to town". And they get their ice cream.

So like I said, I know as an employee, I should MYOB. But since I have been here for a long time and as a live in, our relationship is a friendship too. It is two seperate relationships. As a friend, I want to ask her if everything is okay. But I fear she could react badly and take her frustrations out on me, the employee.

Does this make sense?

This is a woman I care a great deal about and something is wrong. I don't know what to do. And going to the husband would not be an option. I am not close with him like I am with her and doing anything like that would be betraying the many confidences she has in me.

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UmassSlytherin said...

If you really care about her and feel she is a friend, I would gently approach her and ask her if there is anything she would like to talk about. Tell her she has seemed blue lately to you, and remind her that you are there for her in case she ever needed someone to lean on.

If she tells you everything is fine, at this point there is not much you can do. Sorry you feel so badly about this. Good luck.

nycnanny said...

Honestly, I would mind your own business. I understand why you feel concerned but it really isn't your place to say anything. I know you feel like you are part of the family, etc . but I guarantee if you say something the relationship may get strained. She will take offense, etc. Just concentrate on the welfare of the children and making them your top priority. Best of luck!!

Rebecca said...

I don't see anything wrong with saying that she's seemed kind of down and letting her know you're there, as a friend, to do anything she needs. However, I think it's over the line to talk to her about food - she probably already feels crappy and guilty about it. Even if you were JUST a friend and not an employee that would be a sensitive topic. Being there for her emotionally, and helping her get through that, will take care of the food issues eventually.

chewey said...
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nycnanny said...

Chewey-I am entitled to my opinion as are you. Nothing "is wrong with me" this is just my opinion. She doesn't have to listen to my advice or follow it. I have been a nanny for 10 years now and as much as I would like to think that I have formed "friendships" with the family , in the end I am their employee. It is a sticky situation and I know that me, personally, wouldn't feel comfortable butting into my bosses personal eating habits. But like I said, this is just me and my opinion. Again-good luck OP!

Emily said...

Chewey, this is a sensitive subject, even for best friends. I don't think any of the above commentors are (or think the OP is a) "slovenly domestics being ridden by rich white b***hes". They're giving her advice she can think about, and I think bringing up the fact that this is a touchy area for any kind of relationship is important for the OP to hear.

OP, perhaps you can take a more active leading-by-example role. Do you cook for the family? If not you could at least make more of an effort to put out good, healthy, yummy snacks for everyone, mom included.

I also think Rebecca had a great idea about just addressing the blue state your boss is in. She may be looking for an open door so she can talk about how she's feeling.

WTF said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
formernanny said...

i would think about post partum depression. not sure how to approach her but that may be what is going on even if she did not experience it with her other pregnancies.

UmassSlytherin said...

you bring up an excellent point: that sort of depression sometimes can occur with one pregnancy but not another.

I hope the mom in this post is not experiencing that. From what I have learned about it, it is such a difficult thing to go through.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like post-pardum depression. She needs help. I guess, if it were me, and this will sound odd to some, I would call her dr. 'anonymously' and voice your concerns. Dr can then, at her next scheduled post-baby appt get the post-pardum care that she needs.

UmassSlytherin said...


I don't think that is a good idea. I don't think a doctor would listen to some anon caller regarding his patients. Furthermore, I don't know about you, but when I was pregnant, they always asked me about that stuff. It's standard for your OB to speak to you about your feelings and to offer you support in case you do seem to have it. It would be different if her husband or close family member called. But I don't think that's a good idea.

cfg said...

Umass, excellent point - and you're 100% right. They DO ask now, because they know more about it, and after asking the mom questions they can refer her for help if necessary.
Thank you so much for bringing that up.

ML said...

You might want to casually mention to your boss that you've noticed the children have been eating a lot of junk food lately. Do not mention anything about your boss's new diet. That way, she will not feel directly attacked and she will also become aware (hopefully) that her own issues with food are adversely affecting her children.

Since your boss is lying to her husband about this, that signifies to me that she has an eating disorder. Eating habits and weight are very touchy and personal subjects. I had to approach a friend with anorexia and she did not react kindly to a direct confrontation. Perhaps, by stressing that the children are also suffering the consequences of her new eating habits, your boss will realize how bad the situation has become. The biggest thing, though, is that SHE must realize that this is a problem and she will probably be in denial at first.

This is a very tricky situation to be in... good luck!

the fisherman's wife said...

cfg- You'd be surprised at how many OBs DON'T ask about postpartum depression. You would be amazed at how many women go for months with undiagnosed PPD. PPD is much more common than people think and, undiagnosed, can lead to postpartum psychosis (Think: Andrea Yates).

OP, have you discussed your concerns with her husband? I think that he might be the best person to turn to for advice in this situation. Also, I would mention to your boss that you are there for her, if she ever needs to talk. For some women, having someone to turn to is enough to get them out of their "funk."

cfg said...

Fisherman's wife
True, but it's so much better. And I believe Andrea Yates was the stepping stone to it. I did some research and had an article I wrote about her published. I think that's when the Medical Community really started to take a long look at PPD, and make changes.

OP said she wasn't close with the husband, and going to him was not an option. I don't think she'd feel comfortable going to him, although it'd be the right thing to do.

Casey said...

I wouldn't tell her you have noticed what she is eating but maybe tell her you have seen changes in the kids (if you have) from the increase in sugar. Or, like the above commenters, say you notice she isn't acting like herself and ask if there is anything you can do.

Speaking from experience with depression, when people would ask how I was, I would say "Fine!" and managed to have people fooled, even though my behavior was odd, they believed what I said. If someone would have asked what they could do, I probably would have broken down in tears and confessed it all.

I feel so sorry for this woman. It does sound like PPD and hopefully, with your support, she can get some help.

But, it is possible she is just saying "screw it" with her weight right now. Sometimes that happens. Maybe things are rocky in the marriage, maybe hubby is having an affair, so she doesn't care about her appearance anymore. I don't know, I'm just throwing out some suggestions.

m said...

Are the children in danger? No
Then I say you should mind your business. I would find it incredibly insulting if someone I hired in my home confronts me about something that she would not have known had she not been living there.

I insist that the kids that I take care of not be given junk as meals,and the parents comply. If and when they decide that my expertise is not needed I have one of two choices; leave, or accept that while junk is not the way to go, it clearly will not kill the children, unless of course they already have an obesity problem.

You can only control what happens when you are actually feeding them, every other time is the parents business; as for what the mother is can I say this in a nice way...hmm, mind your darned business! Pardon me if that was a little, um, harsh.

Jessica said...

I don't know what it is to be a nanny but I do know what it is to be a friend. If she is suffering from PPD it's fairly straightforward to treat.

I can't advise you from the nanny aspect but good friendships are worth the risk.

anonympus1 said...

maybe the op should allow a time frame to watch the situation before proceeding further. it might resolve itself - -

cc said...

Thanks to Jessica and all of the smart people who read with comprehension and replied using intellect.

She very clearly said that as a nanny, she wouldn't do anything. So why are you bothering to respond to her as a nanny?

I had a live-in nannies all the while my children were under 15. (In case you wonder, the driving, the driving). One nanny in particular and only one became more than a friend, she was like family. She was "like" a sister and a friend rolled in to one. I still talk to her every single day and my youngest child in 20 years old.

I suggest that you watch and wait. Wait for that window. If you spend enough time with her, there will come a window. And she might be mad that you bring it up. If she is a good person, she will get over the anger and realize your concern is for her.

Good luck.
PS I have never posted on this blog before, but your post inspired me.

Sarah and Mitch said...

It is a possibility that she has post partum depression. It sounds like she is not quite "herself" compared to how she was before the baby was born. If you are close with her, I would approach her as a friend and see how she is feeling. Don't bring up food, I really honestly believe that is a symptom, not a cause, if anything is in fact wrong with her right now. If you are concerned about the kids' sugar levels when they are with you, mention that you have noticed they have been unusually rambunctious and you notice it after they have really sugary snacks or sodas. You can ask if she would be ok with going back to the healthier alternatives that you guys were doing before, because that worked so well for everyone. If you are just concerned about their change in diet, and it isn't affecting their behavior while with you, then unfortunately you just have to deal with it: if the parents want to give their kids junk food and soda, that is really their decision. I went through this with another family, and nothing I could say or do changed it.

Good luck!

Chillin' in Utah said...

Speaking from experience, it sounds like she's depressed.

When I get depressed I can't cook. I buy frozen meals, McDonalds, whatever. Sometimes I can't even eat.

She likely is very aware of what is going on.

Bringing this up with her could be really tricky. I see two things happening: she could be angry at you for prying OR she could be grateful you've taken notice and appreciates your care on concern.

If you decide to bring it up with her I really hope it's the latter reaction.

Good luck to you.

chick said...

I think your best bet would be to approach this as a discussion in which YOU share how caring for 2 kids instead of 1 has affected YOU, and tell her how other moms you've worked for have dealt with the extra work. Then ask her what she's found most challenging.

If she is depressed/has ppd, it might help her to know she is not the ONLY mom who has struggled a bit when baby #2 arrives.

I think as far as HER food she habits go, you should keep quiet, UNLESS she asks you for your thoughts. In your place, I would just keep offering healthy food to the kids, and know that it all balances out eventually.

Good luck!

mom said...

I think postpartum depression.

(Once again) my suggestion mirrors cfg's. So..."What she said."

kathleencares said...

If you and she are friends, you should talk to her. Be gentle and just let her know you are concerned about her. I'm sure she will appreciate it. But, if she gets defensive, I guess you have to drop it.

Lizzie said...

do all your best to keep the kids eating healthy while you're with them, maybe mention it to her in a gentle nice way, because it may be postpartum depression.

chick said...

WOW! OP, what a pleasant thing to find out! I am glad there's not a problem, and it sounds like your future plans will mesh nicely with this faliy's plans!

Congrats to you all. ☺

Emily said...

That's so great! I'm glad it's turning out as a plus for you as well because you're obviously a caring nanny & friend to this family.

v said...

Oh thank goodness!!
Congratulations to her and also to you!!
A new baby is wonderful and exciting.
I'm glad it eventually worked out for the best.
Good luck to all involved!!