Mom's Sabbatical ....

Received Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I need some advice from nannies and moms who work TOGETHER.

My boss informed me this morning that she was taking a (recommended) year sabbatical from her company. During this year she will be paid a portion of her salary to work part time pro-bono. As such they do not want to let me go. They've been very communicative about this transition with me and very honest about their personal financial situation. She is going to continue looking for and interviewing for other jobs, and is hoping to be back working at the most within a year. Since I'm such a great nanny (pat on back) and we have a good relationship among all of us they will keep me on full-time while she is home.

This makes me slightly nervous. We occasionally do this on Fridays as she is always home that day, but I'm a little concerned how this will play out day to day. I would love advice on how moms and nannies have made this work well. My boss said she will make some sort of schedule for herself so that I will know if she's working or cooking or cleaning... and I know me and my little guy's activities will continue as normal. Is there anything else that can help us in this transition?


NannyP said...

I worked for a family where mom took a 6 month sabbatical, She sprang it on me one day. I didnt mind. They lived in a tiny house, Mom was able to BF, and we had a great time. When the baby would sleep we would watch housewives of the oc together, and do stuff around the house. She was sad to go back to work when she did. cause she enjoyed her time with the baby and I. I lost my job when dad lost his job unexpectidly. but we still remain in contact and spend time together.

sd said...

The only advice for you is to plan as many activities outside of the house as possible. Because I have only had bad experiences in this department, I promised myself never again would I work for someone who will be home all day or even part of the day.

I worked for a couple who loved and trusted me but when they bought a new house and started to work from home, it was a nightmare. They could hear everything that was going on and would constantly bother me and the baby. They would come down to grab lunch and the baby would cry and scream when they would leave. I would be rocking baby to sleep and the dad would burst in, wake the baby up and decide he wanted to rock baby to sleep.

One day he was having trouble getting him to sleep. He yelled at me and told me to go downstairs. I had gotten a horrible cough (from their family) and while I was downstairs I had an uncontrollable coughing fit. He screamed at me that I woke the baby up with my coughing.

The parents had a hard time focusing on their work with their little one downstairs and I quit soon after. They got divorced soon after that!

Parents can be too critical when they are there seeing and hearing everything you do. They often don't realize that just because you don't do things exactly how they do, it doesn't mean it doesn't work.

jojo bear said...

It probably won't work. You are going to need to start doing more personal assistant things to make yourself essential to her. Start cooking. Shine some silver. Drop off some dry cleaning. This has disaster written all over it.

G_nanny said...

My advice to you is, even if you cant get out of the house, move about the home as much as possible. Move the baby away from where he can hear his parents.

I was foolish enough not to consider the negative aspects of work-at-home parents when i took my current job. Them being there only allowed them to express their countless anxieties, critique my skills (i had 13+ years of experience on them, and im still 20 yrs. younger!) basically hang on to me as an emotional hanky, and ask me to do extra chores.
Their child is still a terror to this day, and they allow him to pull on their heartstrings as he cries out for attention since he can hear them the whole time!

Its nice and all to know that if something bad happens that you will not be alone in the situation, but please consider this to be a COMPLETE change.

Nanny in San Diego said...

I agree w/the above comments. I have worked for many parents who either worked from the home or were stay-at-home parents. It NEVER worked and it always was a nightmare. The child knows the parent is in close proximity and will behave in a completely different manner than if they were alone w/you. Also, the parents are constantly interfering and it sucks. While you prepare lunch, they may interrupt and start doing things their way in spite of the fact that you were doing just as good a job. When they hear the child cry, they may rush in and soothe them which undermines your authority. Imagine a job where your boss followed you around and watched you like a hawk. Parents may say you are in control, however do not think that they are paying attention to every sound they hear. If they catch you reading a magazine or watching T.V.,then they usually say that since you are on "the clock" and being paid, there is laundry to do, or toys to be picked up, etc.
It does not work for me, but if you and the mother are very compatible and she knows her boundaries and respects yours, it can work out. But I think a boss and her insubordinate working together in such close proximity along w/a small child equals disaster.

chgonanny said...

The father of my family works from home. Maybe it's because he's just a laid-back kind of guy (too laid-back sometimes, but he balances out his anal-retentive wife), but I have no issues with him. Part of the reason is they live in a HUGE house. He is up in the top floor, and we always play two or three floors below.

I think you need to sit down and talk to her about your plans. Can she work far away from where the baby plays? Also, ask her to remember that when you're there, you are in charge. My family made this clear from the start. I remember I had only been with my family for a week or two, and I had to put the 5 year old in timeout. He started SCREAMING, since this was the first time I really put my foot down. Well, the dad just happened to be coming downstairs at that time, so the kid started crying, saying how I wasn't fair, blah, blah, blah. The dad didn't miss a beat. He shrugged, and said, what she says goes. He then walked away. I never had issues with authority since.

Yes, he comes downstairs every once in a while, and if he's leaving the house, he'll give the kids kisses, but that's it. Even when the baby was going through the separation anxiety phase, he would try and leave quickly, so she wouldn't freak out.

JerseyXJacqui said...

My boss has been out of work since July. From July to November it was maternity leave (baby was born in August). She went back to work in Nov for a week and was laid off. She has been looking for a job since then, to no avail.

I actually like having her there. She does her own thing, I do mine. She's NEVER standing over me or dictating throughout the day...and when she is around, she's very easy going and laid back. I actually think I'll miss her when she goes back to work.
I thought I was going to HATE having someone there all the time, but I really do like it.

It really depends what kind of person she is I guess. I'm fortunate enough to work for a nice, easy going mom. I know others aren't always so lucky.

fox in socks said...

I do think that the set up of the house has a lot to do with the success of this arrangement. My house is set up well for this to be successful.

I had long term (heavy part time) babysitters where this arrangement worked out perfectly. I worked in my office and she took my child to the park or played in the basement. They didn't see me much at all.

In fact, this type of arrangment really facilitates long term breastfeeding.

I had tried one or two babysitters where this type of arrangement didn't work in the least. It didn't work because these sitters were slackers. I did not employ because they were so bad.

The kids need to be happy with the sitter and the sitter needs to be happy with the kids. Otherwise it won't work at all.

I had one slacker sitter that began working for us. She would see that I was working from home so would constantly ask me if she could leave early. Then she took to sitting with the kids outside my door as the end of the day drew near. She was also ridiculous with my older child and would not interact or do anything with him.

There were other things, like one day she arrives in the morning with a huge duffel bag and wants to do her laundry at my house during her work day.

I actually called her reference (former employer) back after a few more crazy shenanigans. I wanted to feel her out a little about what I should expect with this sitter.

I was really glad I made that call.

The former employer began thinking back to comments her older children would make to her about this sitter.

Basically, her children were telling her at the time that she was not an attentive sitter at all. The mom was inclined to discount these comments at the time, but now realized she should have taken them very seriously.

She then came out with several stories about the sitter that proved true, and she no longer believed she was a good sitter.

DenverNanny said...

I've worked with two families that had parents at home. The first position involved a SAHM who was 95% bed-ridden and the dad worked from home 2 days/week. The dad was NEVER an issue: He worked in the basement and the kids and I saw him for maybe 3 minutes at breakfast and occasionally a few minutes at lunch. The mom was much more involved, as much as she could be anyway. I think she would have loved to micro-manage more than she could, but since she was always in her room, it again was rarely an issue.
The second family had 5 kids (oldest was 7), the older 2 were homeschooled, and they lived on a small farm. So yeah, the mom was there all day almost every day but there was so much to be done that we worked as a team.
If you and the SAHM can get along and work together well, then it can be a great situation. My only advice is to keep communication as open as possible: if she's doing anything that interrupts your charge's schedule, let her know asap.

A nanny who cares said...

I agree with what the others have said. Make sure that the mother is someone who you think you can work with on a daily basis. Is she the type to micro-manage everything? Or, is she more laid-back? Her personality will play a huge role in making the situation work.

I would suggest daily visits to the park, or if the baby is too young to play at the park, just taking a walk to get out of the house also helps. And, if the child is older it helps to have clear boundaries as to when your in charge and when the mother is in charge. The situation will only work if she can stick with it too, because you can't work in a environment where you are always being overruled.

Personally, I like working for stay at home parents most of the time. It gives me the freedom to know that if I did need a day off, for an emergency, illness, or even just a vacation, it isn't as big of a deal. I also like knowing that if something goes wrong, I am not alone in the situation.

Good luck, and let us know what happens!

Kathrine said...

--Get out of the house as much as possible

-Make sure to be very firm about the child's needs and let her know if she's interfering...for example if the child is napping, she can't wander in the room talking on the phone

-Let her initiate any kind of chatting/socializing and keep your distance as much as possible, by that I mean don't complain about your life, your job, or anything else, don't be overly chatty, don't let her know too many details, stay friendly but PROFESSIONAL.

-Offer to do little things for her around the house if you can, i.e. make coffee or take out the trash so she can have a few minutes of alone time with her little one.

Kim said...

I would make sure to discuss EXACTLY what your job will be.

What are you supposed to do during naps? Is that going to change from what you do now?

Does she intend on being "around" or staying in the office?

Discuss discipline. If the child is acting up and you are both in the room, who handles it?

Confuzzled said...

Call me crazy, but why is a mom or dad who's been laid off doing with a nanny anyway? With so many families in this country hurting, reading about people like this is disturbing. Talk about an inflated sense of privilege! How about taking care of your own kids?

oh well said...

Confuzzled, would it prevent people from suffering if
these people's nanny (who happens to be the OP) also
lost her job? OP, I don't know your situation, but if the child is happy with you and the parents trust you, I don't see why this wouldn't work out. If they are keeping you full-time, the mom might have other preoccupations than supervise what you do with the child.

OP said...

Thank You all for your suggestions. I've worked for this family now for 3 months but we really have a great relationship. The mom and I get along fabulously, probably a lot like friends in some ways. She is the kind of person who won't micro manage, and she has promised to keep to a regular schedule of some sort. I think we will sit down and really discuss all of this before the time comes, setting up boundaries and double checking the job responsibilities. I'll be keeping some of these suggestions in mind as we do that.

Confuzzled, they aren't letting me go because the mom is going to continue looking for another position with other companies. She will also be doing some pro-bono work and need help during those times. And in a year if she goes back with the same company they don't want to have to start the nanny search all over again, it took them 3 months to find me. If the dad loses his job then I will be given 1-2 months notice and let go.

Anonymous said...
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you need a moniker! said...

I think the keys are good communication, talk about expectations (who's in charge when-a weekly or monthly schedule is ideal) and review & revise, if necessary as you start the new situation. If the kids are clear that when any of the adults tells them something or puts them in time-out they must do it and adults back each other up, things should be fine. If they see that they can play you against each other, watch out! I agree with others who've said that the mom can't micromanage - you have to let the nanny be in charge when she's on duty. And as we all know, when mama's happy, everyone else will be happy! If she has free time to pursue her own activities, work pro bono, or search for another job, knowing that her children are well cared for, then it's a win/win situation!

Apr 29, 2009 10:31:00 PM

nannyK said...

I will be facing a similar issue this summer. I have been with this family for almost two years, both parents work. The mom is a school teacher and this summer she will be home with the kids. Last summer she was gone 10 hours a day planning the renovation of her house. I'm really worried about working together this summer. She is a very difficult, neurotic, and anal retentive women. I am much more laid back. I'm not a slacker and I don't sit the kids in front of the tv all day but I am the complete opposite of this women. She has purel stations throughout the house, hates it when the kids get dirty, and accussed me "not wanting to work" when I suggested the kids (twins age 3) take a few classes/activties at the YMCA this summer.She doesn't let the kids have play dates and I thought it would be a good way for them to socialize. It saddens me that she doesn't want to spend any quality alone time with the kids. And even though she will be home the whole summer I still have to be there at 6AM. Go figure. Any of you have advice on difficult moms?