Still more housekeeper and nanny drama...

Received Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I appreciate the comments given on ISYN in the past, particularly the opportunity to get perspective from both moms and nannies. The post just prior has some similarities to my own so I thought it a good time to get some feedback also. Let me start by saying, I am aware that I can be a bit of a worrier in general and do tend to over analyze things. I don't want to read too much into acts that others think are generally minor, but also don't want to overlook something significant in terms of character. My nanny has been with us 7 months. She is in her mid-40s with 3 kids of her own, including a 20yo daughter who babysits for us also a few hours a week (per my nanny's request and in my attempt to help out). I have a 9mo son who is my nanny's primary responsibility. Both my husband and I WOHM, though I work slightly less than full time so am home to see my nanny sometimes. We live in New York City in an apartment.

When hiring a nanny, the most important things to me are: her character; honesty; loving; responsible; good work ethic. Of course, any nanny needs to have common sense and reasonable intuition with kids, but I feel most details can be taught and I care MUCH more about having a caregiver who is a good person than one with a certain background or degree. My nanny does have years of experience in her field and great references. I like her - empirically and on a basic human level. Her daughter is still a kid in many ways and not someone I would ordinarily hire, but to help both out I do try to give her 8-10 hours a week, usually when I know I will be around a lot. We pay our nanny fairly and gave her a raise after 3 months because she is great. We pay her above either of her prior jobs and above what she initially asked for, though are not able to pay extravagantly.

Here are many of my nanny's wonderful attributes:
-warm, loving, kind, patient with my "spirited" 9mo
-always on time
-amazing work ethic. Spends baby's nap time doing duties I never asked her to do such as sweeping up the floor or organizing cabinets. Not an ounce of laziness in her.
-always willing to help out in a pinch. Stayed for 24 hours when I was sick in the ER, etc. Yes, we pay her for the overtime, but she certainly did not have to do it.
-amazing baby intuition and can get my baby to sleep like no one else
-smart, shows initiative

Here are the minor issue I'm concerned about. These other examples, but this is fresh in my mind since it just happened. Though, honestly, reading what I've already written makes me feel stupid for even bringing this up. But, I've come this far . . .

This is the most recent and relates to nanny/hk drama. Housekeeper comes once a week, has been with us 6 years, and is loyal and helpful to a fault. HK can admittedly be quite gossipy and judgmental and probably isn't a person I would be friends with, but she has always done right by us. HK works for another persoon in our building. Other person had a roommate move in so did not need two vacuums. Gave extra, fairly new but mid range, vacuum to HK. HK kindly brought it to us and, per HK, wrote a long note explaining she thought it would be helpful as we are likely to move into a house and it would be easier for her also to have one vacuum for each floor. HK also said note said she would like vacuum if we did not want it. HK said she attached note firmly to vacuum. She then explained all of this to Nanny's daughter (ND). ND was only working a couple hours in the morning. When I arrived home, ND was gone and Nanny was there. Nanny said, "Here is an extra vacuum. Someone down the hall was getting rid of it so I thought you might want it." There was no note attached. I thought, gee, what a kind gesture of Nanny, but I'm sure she needs it much more than me. I thanked Nanny, but told her she should take it home for herself if she wanted it. Fast forward to a week later, HK arrives and asks about vacuum and note. I am flummoxed and (knowing N and HK already hate each other), give a vague answer about not seeing the note and giving vacuum to Nanny. HK is quite upset at the perceived dishonesty of ND and Nanny. I have not seen ND or N to ask about this ( and not sure I will anyway). I believe my HK. I also believe Nanny likely really needs the vacuum and don't begrudge her having it. However, I am concerned that she would remove a note and present the vacuum story the way she did. It just doesn't sit right with me.

Other issues have been small fibs or omissions. Like me asking casually if baby did well with solids today and her replying, yes. Then it being obvious she didn't try solids that day - for good reason, such as being out and about, but still it's the small lie that bugs me. Or once saying she didn't give the baby whole cheerios, just small pieces, then walking in and seeing baby eating whole ones. I don't care if baby eats whole cheerios if he can manage it so I don't get the lies. She doesn't seem to lie about anything big or meaningful to me, and I feel like it is usually an automatic response because she's worried I'll be upset though I really wouldn't. I get how hard kids are and am not bothered by small schedule stuff. Just like to keep track so I know where baby is at for the evenings and overall. I have also been a little concerned that things are moved around in my medicine cabinet at times, though never felt anything was missing.

I don't have a nanny cam. Should I get one? Would that solve this?

Am I just being too crazy? Or are these small things more meaningful than I realize?

All opinions appreciated and promise to answer questions later tonight.


KC said...

I see where you're coming from. Little things like that bug me too. But if your nanny has been so wonderful, I would just speak to her. I'm not exactly sure what I would say, but I guess I just wanted to say that you're crazy.

kc said...

Oh oops! I mean, you're NOT crazy. Haha, sorry!!

chad xxx said...

If you have a housekeeper and need a nanny, make sure they don't speak the same language. Never let them be of the same ethnicity. They will unite in some sort of bond that will be far worse than any teamster union. And this is your house. Do you really want the nanny and housekeeper running your ass? Hell no. Get them from different backgrounds. One should be old and the other young. My sister highly reccomends completely deaf housekeepers. Of course, she lives in a house of secrets.

chad xxx said...

Am I the only one who wonders how many cases there are in existence of nannies killing or maiming housekeepers or vice versa?

Your nanny sounds sneakier than the furniture hog up top. Fire her. She's a scammer.

There's no such thing as a little lie.

So nice,
I posted twice.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marypoppin'pills said...

"Never let them be of the same ethnicity."
"My sister highly reccomends completely deaf housekeepers."

Please tell me you didn't just say that.
As someone who's hearing impaired, I find that highly offensive.

Marypoppin'pills said...

Let me just say, your suggestion of hiring Deaf Housekeepers is really silly.
Why, you ask? Do you not realize we can "read lips"?
I can read someone's lips from across the room who's whispering.
Yeah. It can really come in handy.
.... So much for secrets.

Calif nanny said...

Calif nanny here...about the medicine cabinet..I will look for an aspirin every now and then or nail polish remover or whatever in someones medicine cabinet, I know the people I work for dont worry or wonder if I have taken anything. Such an innocent act can lead to such questioning?

Marypoppin'pills said...

Calif Nanny, I took the liberty of re-posting for you because you did leave a moniker, but next time could you please click Name/URL and leave your moniker there?
Thank you! :)

mamabear said...

Dishonesty is dishonesty. Maybe your HK hates the nanny for good reasons which you are only now beginning to see. If character is what counts(as it should, I believe), your nanny has proved herself to be untrustworthy. If she lies about the little things, seemingly for no reason, what makes you think she won't lie about the big ones?
Remember what Freud said, "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean no one's out to get you". In other words, don't mistrust your own instincts on this...your child's safety and wellbeing are what's at stake, afterall. How can you leave your DB in the care of someone you're suspicious of? I don't think this is just about a vacuum cleaner, and neither do you, if you're contemplating a nanny cam. If you're mistrustful of this nanny...she's gotta go.

Midwest Nanny said...


Sounds like you are a genuinely nice person; however, it does seem like there are a couple things that you can do to eliminate drama. I just see all sorts of problems having two nannies, especially a mother and daughter. It's like adding one more cook to an already crowded kitchen. You just don't need it. You did say that you were doing it just to be helpful, however, in light of recent events, it seems like you could sit down with your nanny, go over all the wonderful attributes that you mentioned to us, and then just kindly say that you feel it would be best to cut one of the cooks out of the kitchen, i.e., her daughter. And then, I would just be completely upfront with her about how it seems like she feels you would be upset if your baby was eating whole cheerios vs. half. Bring up the other examples too. I do think that you are right on about her responses being automated. Tell her again how much you appreciate her, but that you want her to be able to feel like she can tell you anything/everything. That you know not everything is always going to be 'just right' because you know your baby isn't perfect.

It does sound like your nanny might be a non-confrontational person, but I really think if you address this in a kind manner (which you sound like you would be kind); it could only strengthen your relationship with your nanny.

Perhaps one of your friends could use ND for those hours? I would definetly stop using both of them. It probably wouldn't be as big of a deal if they weren't related (but then you'de have nanny vs. nanny issues); but with two related nannies, it's just asking for nanny/housekeeper tiffs.

Oh. And forget the nanny cam. Face to face talks work better then anything and if you are naturally prone to worry....then you'll probably end up obsessed with what is really going on on the cam.

Good luck, OP! Sorry if this is rather long and rambling...still early here . . lol

mnanny said...

A lie is a lie. Get rid of the nanny and her daughter, especially the daughter.
Good luck

Emily said...

Moms: Is there really such a thing as a 'small lie' when it's about your children?

MA Nanny said...

Oh please. How many of you try to look good in front of your boss? oh. my. gosh. you are an evil person if you have .

Emily said...

ma nanny, there's a big difference between doing your best to look good in front of your boss and repeatedly, chronically telling her little lies about her children.

Aunttomichael said...

OP, do you really want someone like that raising your child? At some point your baby is going to realize that your nanny lies; maybe the lies are small but they are lies nonetheless. As someone who values honesty in my dealings with my kids, I would be very upset by that. It also shows a lack of respect for you, which your dc will pick up on.

a texas nanny said...

I'd just like to point out that sometimes when people are talking to me (especially kids, because they tend to rapid fire one question after the other) I find myself half-zoned out; I realize that they have stopped speaking,having ended with something that sounded like a question and I ALWAYS just respond either "Yeah" or "Uh huh" without even thinking. Within about 2 seconds, what they actually said plays back in my head and I realize I said "yes" to something that I really meant "no" for. With a kid or boyfriend or someone else quite close to you it isn't a big deal to be like "Oops, I mean no!". I've never really experienced with someone I have worked for, but I am sure it would be a bit awkward to interrupt her once she got going and say "I said yes but I meant no!"

I'm not excusing what the nanny did, I just thought it was interesting that OP thinks it might be an automated response type situation...

Liv said...

You could get a nannycam, sure, but what's the point. You don't suspect her of abusing your kids, stealing, or anything big like that. Odds are you'll just end up catching more little stuff that you don't really care about, but it will drive you crazy thinking about it. I would just speak to the nanny one-on-one and let her know that there have been instances when you believe she has been less than truthful with you, and you would appreciate it if she would tell you the whole truth from now on. I don't think your nanny is a liar or a scammer, I think she may just be nervous.

When I had my first nanny job it was for a pilot and his wife (who owned her own ad agency). They were both very intimidating people, especially the mom. On the first day she told me that little 3-year-old *Jenny* was not to have any bread, crackers, cereal etc. for lunch because she "didn't want her to turn into a bread-head." Instead I was to give her yogurt and make her eat some fruit. I got the little girl to eat the yogurt, but she would not touch the fruit. When the mom came home she asked, "Did Jenny eat any fruit today?" I meant to say no, but it came out "Not very much." Then the mom asked me exactly what fruit did she eat? I totally panicked. I told her she just had a couple of grapes. I felt awful for lying, but I was truly very scared of her.

You seem like a sweet lady and not at all like my former boss, but your nanny may still be worried about your reaction if she does something wrong. If I were you I would just reassure her that you think she's doing a wonderful job and that you will not be upset with her if she slips up every now and then. I think with that reassurance, the little lies will stop. If they don't, then you may need to think about letting her go.

bebe said...

You are extremely obnoxious. But you must not be such a tough guy. What kind of tough guy says
"So nice, I posted twice"?

l said...

I think Liv might be on to something. I remember feeling the exact same way before I was able to settle in with a job, and that took several weeks. I didn't want to do anything to mess it up, and I was so nervous. People with authority, or a lot of money, can be intimidating to some people!

UmassSlytherin said...

Agreed, bebe. The deaf comment outed Chad as obnoxious, and not in a good way!

cfg said...

Chad could've only said what he did for pure shock value. Nobody can be that crude.
Sometimes I can hardly believe people like him are actually walking around as functioning adults.

mom said...

I agree with mamabear. Lies are lies. And the vacuum thng sounds very bad. Even if the note happened to SLIP off of the vacuum somehow...where is it? Obviously it was removed and disposed of. Very sneaky and underhanded. You are now uncomfortable because you KNOW on some level that this ND is a deceitful person. And, although you have great things to say about nanny, I do not see a list of NDs spectacular qualities here.

You are under no obligation to do her the FAVOR of hiring her if you are not 100% comfortable. This is YOUR CHILD, not your car that she is taking care of. Small things can speak volumes...but are also easier to sweep under the rug if we don't want to face the truth about somebody or something.

My housekeeper tried the same thing...sending her daughters in her place from time to time, and then increasingly often. We weren't totally comfortable with the daughters and knew that they had sort of shady morals (accidentally overheard them talking about thier drug use over the baby monitor, etc.) But we reasoned that they were just cleaning our house...and I was usually home...and nothing was going missing, etc. So we let it go on, even though we had a not so great feeling abut it. When I found out one of the girls kept the Christmas bonus I had handed her and told her specifically was to be given to her mother, I was disgusted and fired the whole bunch of them. (felt bad about firing the mom too, but she kept claiming to be sick and kept sending the daughters even after I had expressed that I preferred that she not...so it was the only way to get rid of the daughters.) Come to find out, the girls had been stealing TONS of clothing and jewelery from all of the other clients they had in my neighborhood. I never found anything of mine missing...but maybe that was because I was always home...or maybe because I also went way out of my way to talk with them and be nice to them. Who knows? But a bad feeling is a bad feeling...and we have them for a reason.

Listen to your gut. This is your child.

jojo bear said...

I try to look good in front of my boss. I try to look good in front of the children I care for. I do not do this with foolish lies but with actions.

Someone who will steal 2 dollars will steal 20.

Someone who will lie about something so small will lie bigger, too.

kathleencares said...

I would talk to the Nanny about the vacuum incident. Tell her you know there was a note from the HK, and you are wondering what happened to it. I would be totally upfront with her and see how she responds. She sounds like a really good nanny based on the statements you made at the beginning of the post. The little lies about the cheerios and solid foods are a little strange, but maybe she is intimidated by you. It would be best if you could bring it up to her next time you catch her in a little lie.
I'm not sure what to tell you about the nanny's daughter. It is a difficult situation, and it would hard to get rid of her and keep the nanny. If you are around a lot anyway when the NK is working, which you mentioned you were, you could just tell them that you don't think you need her anymore because you are there and take care of the child yourself.

OP said...

I appreciate everyone's comments. I will directly address the vacuum incident with my nanny and her daughter. The timing is off because this is my nanny's vacation week, but I will see her daughter later today. I thought about who to ask first, but as I want to do it in person I am going to ask ND today (with my husband there for support - I'm not very good at confrontation, even the gentle kind!). I know this will give my nanny a chance to think about it before I ask her next week, but I don't want to do it over the phone or interrupt her vacation. I'm going to hope there is an explanation that involves ND having been dishonest, but not my nanny. Then I will, as everyone suggested, stop using her and say it is a cost issue. As far as my nanny goes, I feel I have to hear her explanation before making any big choices. She has just been so wonderful in so many ways that I feel I owe her a fair and thorough discussion.

Penelope said...


As a nanny, I can understand why she may fib a little about things. She doesn't want you to worry and she doesn't want to get in trouble.

Just talk to her. Just explain to her what you explained here about how you really would rather just know what was going on. Have her keep a daily log of the baby's diapers, meals and naps if she doesn't already. Have her include open ended notes about the day and funny or interesting things that happen. REASSURE her it's not so you can keep track of her as a nanny, it's so you can feel included and up to date on what goes on in the baby's daily life.

(The mother I work for asked me to write down anything funny the kids said or did so she didn't feel she was missing out.)

Put your worries of the small stuff aside. Who cares about the vacuum, you are concerned for your baby. Help her understand that as a mother want to be involved and have a better understanding of the baby's day. Isn't that all that matters? Since the nanny is having her daughter babysit, the journal would help keep everyone on the same page. You can give them both a multitude of reasons how this would help.

If they already keep a journal, just talk to them about how you need the open communication and how important honesty is. If you feel like it's not improving, why don't you give your nanny and babysitter a review every once in a while and have that be a part of it. Then you can just give the good along with what needs improvement.

Don't worry, I am sure it is going to be fine!

*by the way, you are nice to give raises every three months.

J said...

Well, the vacuum situation is weird so it's good you are talking to her about it. But I don't know about having your husband stand there...she might feel attacked. She will probably already feel embarassed about it. But, it's up to you,

Also, you know, I think I understand why the nanny's daughter fibbed about the half cheerios and the solid foods. I do think it's a little much to worry about cheerios being halved. Maybe the sitter has observed the baby eat the cheerios whole quite easily. Often as nannies, we know what the children are capable of before the parents.

True, she should be honest about that, but, being so young and inexperienced, I am sure she feels put on the spot. No one likes to be micro-managed. It's your kid but she also knows what she's doing and needs to feel that she has the confidence in you to make her own choices over most things.

ladyj said...

I dont know how I ended up on this website, but I really felt moved to comment. I am a college degree nanny. I have ten years of experience...one thing I have to say is why are people so paranoid of others wathching their kids???? I know so many good nannies! well anyway I think if you are that paranoid maybe you should take care of your own child. Anyway heres what i wanted to really say...a few years back I had a situation where I worked within a very big home and several staff on a regular basis. Many people had access to home; 5-7 ppl in cleaning crew daily, psycho fiance, crazy college age druggie son and friends, contractors AND overbearing sister. One day I show up and am asked by a contracter about a purse he found on doorstep. I had no idea why it was there or who it belonged to.W e decided on a mutual spot for it to be acknoledged and safe in home since it was brand new and looked pricey. After notifying my boss, I went off to run errands pick up his son. Later that evening we comes home about the sametime and purse is missing. contractor, cleaning crew have noidea where it is.I was the newest on staff!!! I know to this day he really believed I stole it but it wasnt me. Next day it appeared...you tellme what you think...before anyone points the finger there should be alot of investigating! the cleaning crew with on/off helpers had worked for that man for 5-10 yrs...the contractor 2-3 yrs...the fiance( who I think tried to frame me out of jealousy) 2 years.I say cameras are good.CYA all the way!

UmassSlytherin said...

"CYA all the way?" WTF?

ladyJ: if you don't have kids, maybe that's the reason why you can't understand why people are paranoid about other people caring for their children. It is natural, as a mother, to be worried. That is just being a good mom. Paranoia comes with the territory, for some more than others. You wrote "If you are that paranoid, stay home and watch your own child." Come on: that's a bit judgemental. Some people need childcare. To assume that staying home is an option for everyone is wrong.

I think part of being a good nanny is being an advocate for good childcare, for whatever the reason. There are many reasons why people need childcare, and to tell them that they are abnormal for being worried or paranoid is just naive and judgemental. You many know many, many great nannies. My best female friend is a nanny: the BEST nanny I've ever met. Sure there are great childcare providers out there. That has absolutely nothing to do with the difficulty of putting trust into someone else. Sure, you can't be so paranoid that you can't function, but it is hard.

Have you ever left your baby in someone else's care? Maybe for you it's easy, but for those of us who worry, that doesn't make us ridiculous. Just saying is all.

bebe said...

UmassSlytherin - do you have kids, or are you a nanny? Just curious. You give out pretty great advice!

UmassSlytherin said...

Yes, I have a child. And no, I am not a nanny. And thank you. You are too kind.

bebe said...

Cool beans. And I'm not always that kind, lol. You seem like you would be a fun mom. I'm jealous.

UmassSlytherin said...

Oh, yes, I'm a barrel of freaking laughs.

Trust me: don't be jealous of me. That's just crazy talk.

bebe said...

Crazy talk? Hardly! I just mean, my mom's been sick for most of my life. I can't even remember the last time she laughed. That's all I meant.

UmassSlytherin said...

sorry to hear about your mom. my mom was sick too for a really long time. That is rough.

I know what you meant, just joking with you! I was just saying that I'm really nothing special. I try to laugh as much as I can but it is hard sometimes.

you and your mom are in my prayers.

bebe said...

Thanks umass.

no me gusta baraq y michelle said... said...

It is true a housekeeper and nanny will seldom get along. The relationship of the housekeeper and nanny in relation to the employer is every bit like a junior high trio of girlfriends. The employer is the popular friend with the money and the big jugs and the housekeeper and nanny are the needy, flat chester friends do desperate for her approval, they will scheme to get it and stab the other in the eye.