Nanny's Addiction is out of Control

Received Thursday, November 12, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Here is a question from a mom: how much personal phone use is considered appropriate for a nanny? We have a sweet and caring nanny and our kids love her. The only thing is that she is addicted to her phone and is constantly texting her family and friends. She takes her phone everywhere: texting next to the bath, during the kids' dinner, etc. I have talked to her about it and she agreed that it should change. She would limit her private phone use to the time when the kids nap, except of course if there is something really urgent. But now I'm afraid it only changed when I'm around. Everytime I come in she quickly hangs up or stops her text msg and puts her phone away. Of course there is no way I can control this when I'm not around. How do other parents and nannies deal with this issue?


Nanny who doesn't text said...

I think it is irresponsible as a Nanny to text message or talk on the phone, outside of nap time. While giving a bath? That could be dangerous!! In any other job, she would not be allowed to do all this. Imagine a cashier at Wal-Mart texting as she waited for you to count your change. She'd be fired on the spot.

I would give her one more chance. Tell her she is a wonderful nanny and you would like her to continue to work for her, but she is not to text message or talk on the phone (barring emergencies, of course) unless the child (ren) are napping. If you can afford it, you may want to install nanny cams or show up unannounced just to make sure. If she continues, then you have every right to fire her.
Hope this helps.

Nanny who doesn't text said...

*work for you.

MinuteMuggle said...

I think that if you have found a good nanny and the children like her, then you should deal with her phone use. Just my opinion.

Have the children been hurt? Are they neglected?

I don't mean to sound cold, but it seems like it is not effecting her job in any major way. Everybody takes their cell phone with them wherever they go. That is just the way the world is. I'm sure you would talk on the phone too if you were the one caring for your children.

Good luck.

chgonanny said...

I text while I'm nannying. Usually to other nannies, asking "are you going to the park?" or some such thing. And yes, every once in a while I text my mom or husband. But it doesn't hamper my taking care of the children.

I'm not a big fan of nanny cams, but I think coming home unexpectedly might be a good idea. Not to see if she's texting, but to see if her texting is taking her attention away from your kids. If it is, I'd have a talk with her.

I WOULDN'T fire her. You say your kids love her. Think of how they'd react if she left. Unless the kids are in harm's way because of her phone usage, I just don't think it's a big problem.

CuriousDad said...

Umm using a cell phone in the bath won't generally kill you. If you drop it into the tub it will kill the phone not you.
(past experiences with whirlpools and phone)
Of course you could drop it into the tub stand up trip on it fall in the tub knock yourself out and drown. But you can do that with a bar of soap too.

Psyber Chica said...

If texting it is not affecting her performance then I don't think it's big deal. As long as the charge is not a baby, I don't see a problem if she is texting while the child is in the bath. I do agree that she should not talk on the phone unless it's an emergency or the child is napping. And I think texting or talking at the dinner table is rude. I think as long as the kids get plenty of interaction, it's all good. As long as she is not letting the TV or playground babysit while she has long conversations, then so what if she's texting.

Your job may hinder you from doing these things, but people who do not have a regular 9-5 job have the freedom to do these things. With technology on the rise, good luck finding a nanny who will not do these things.

Psyber Chica said...

BTW, I am a mother and not a nanny. I feel I get plenty of me time through out my day and my kids get plenty of time with me as well.

Nanny who doesn't text said...

Nanny who doesn't text has left a new comment on your post "Nanny's Addiction is out of Control":

I think it is irresponsible as a Nanny to text message or talk on the phone, outside of nap time. While giving a bath? That could be dangerous!! In any other job, she would not be allowed to do all this. Imagine a cashier at Wal-Mart texting as she waited for you to count your change. She'd be fired on the spot.

I would give her one more chance. Tell her she is a wonderful nanny and you would like her to continue to work for her, but she is not to text message or talk on the phone (barring emergencies, of course) unless the child (ren) are napping. If you can afford it, you may want to install nanny cams or show up unannounced just to make sure. If she continues, then you have every right to fire her.
Hope this helps.

Momkat said...

If she's working, she should only text a few times a day...not constantly.

UNOME said...

As the "it's all about me" mentality spreads I have had cashiers in Wal Mart, Target,
A & P and Macy's text while they are ringing me up. My hair stylist spent my entire appointment texting while working on my hair and as a result I will not go back to her ever agaibn. As a nanny, I can tell you you you're nanny is not alone. I see many nannies texting constantly and I would bet a month's pay 90 percent of the time it has nothing at all to do with their charges.

It all boils down to if you can live with a nanny who is not giving your kids 100 percent of her attention. And let's face the truth she's not. If she's texting while bathing them, playing a game, etc, there is no way she can give them her complete attention. And if she drives them around you need to truly worry because she's likely texting while driving and that can and has resulted in fatalities. IS there an opportunity for one of your kids to climb a tree or toy at the park too high while nanny is hunched over her phone texting? Accidents do happen, even under the watch of the most diligent care givers but will nanny be able to give you the details as to how the injury occurred, and what parts of the child were injured (especially important with blows to the head?

Another thing to consider is the kids may love her because when you are not around nanny provides little real supervision. They are likely able to get away with plenty if nanny is busy gossiping with her friends and family.

OP, since you asked for advice I can only think you are not happy with your employee's behavior. It is your right to sit her down and make your positron clear. She should be willing to per from her job within your guidelines. Good luck!

MinuteMuggle said...

I think sometimes people just look for things to complain about. Also, many employers are all about controlling their nannies. To answer OP's question: you cannot really be sure what your nanny is doing when you are not there, unless you film her. If you do not want to film her and if this is really a problem for you, then by all means it is your right to let her go. However, as one other poster said: good luck finding a good nanny who does not text.

monkeyshines said...

stay home and take care of your own kids instead of having a stranger raise them, and don't text or use the phone!

lynn said...

I had a nanny like this and I eventually fired her. It IS a problem because your kids have learned not to bother her because she is "on the phone' which is all the time. I honestly do not know who my nanny talked to all day long or how her battery lasted all day. I'd be leaving to go to work and want to tell her something and I'd be standing there waiting for her to get off the phone. When you are on the phone you are not paying attention to your job. And if every time OP walks in the nanny quickly hangs up, it means she hasn't changed her behavior ONE bit. I eventually became a sahm and if I spend 10 minutes a day on the phone it seems like a lot....a nanny should not be taking so many calls a day

Village said...

The girl is not being a nanny. She is being a social networker.

You need to get that phone away from her. Tell her to leave it in her car at your house, and only take it with her when the children are out of the house.

However, be forewarned, when she is out with your children, she will be social networking, not watching your children with her full attention, if at all.

This is akin to going to work, and then cerfing the net all day. You are not working for your employer. You are entertaining yourself on the computer.

I wouldn't tolerate this, but we are all different. I wouldn't want an addict watching my children, and that is what this is, IMHO.

Blythe said...

As a nanny, I text occasionally to organise playdates with other nannies. On very rare occasions I have responded to a single text I received during the work day that was not work related.

I hate doing that, though. Even texting with fellow nannies to come up with plans. It distracts me from the kids, and means I'm not interacting with them. When I'm texting another nanny, I generally talk with the kids about what the plans are, who we're meeting up with, etc. At least then they are somewhat involved!

In short, I don't think a nanny can be engaging when she is constantly texting.

MinuteMuggle said...

If my employer told me I had to leave my cell phone in my car, I would realize that the employer was insane.

bippityboppityboo said...

Its a phone. Shes not drinking on the job. It doesn't sound like she's driving and texting. The problem really seems that you want her to have undivided attention from your children. Lets face it if shes there all day whether shes texting or not its impossible to have undivided attention from your children..all day. Granted some people, idk your nanny might be one never look up from those darn phones. In which case she wont change. People grow accustomed to that life style. But can you imagine at your job not getting a break or interacting with adults all day. Maybe she doesn't have nanny friends. Alot of companies adopt the policy of 80% job focus 20% personal (google). Obviously a nanny can't just stop and take time off from the kids 20% of the time but I think it is reasonable that she be allowed some social time while still keeping track of the childrens well being.

MissMannah said...

As a nanny, I think that is ridiculous. If I have to take a personal call while my charge is awake, I make it only a couple of minutes long. Even then, it doesn't happen often. And I hate texting anyway, but that's just my preference.

Show up unexpected throughout the day. Schedule playdates with the neighbours and ask about your nanny's behaviour. Most importantly, ask your children about her. What are they doing while she's texting? My guess is either getting into trouble or watching TV, which would probably explain why they adore her.

I once worked at a daycare where my co-teacher was constantly texting or playing around on facebook from her phone. As a result, I ended up doing most of the work and quit the facility when management refused to address the issue. A childcare worker who is more focused on her social life than her charges should not be in the business.

greatnannywhotexts said...

I think the people getting really upset over the issue and saying the nanny should be let go are out of their minds.
As bad as it to say that its acceptable its the truth. Technology, esp cell phones, have become a commonly used item throughout the day for most people.
My employer texts me and emails me throughout the day.
She knows her kids are well cared for and that I would never neglect them.
As long as the children are ok and they love the nanny and are happy when they spend time with her then little issues shouldn't become huge debates.
I worked for a nightmare family last year and they had an opinion about every single thing I did. I understand that I'm living in your house but that doesn't give you the right to criticize every aspect of my life, same goes for live-outs, just because they work in your home doesn't mean you can control them. The OP stated the kids love her and are happy so this seems like a control issue.

TC said...

I have a friend who's a nanny and she can't do two things at once. She neglects the kids she watches to text her boyfriend CONSTANTLY and it's gotten to the point that we don't hang out with her anymore. The last straw was when she wanted to hold and feed my 3 month old charge, I didn't mind because I was cutting up lunch for my older charge and it was nice to have an extra set of hands. She started feeding him and then put the bottle down to text while he was screaming for his bottle!!!!!! I was beyond pissed and that is the last time we will spend time with her.

I can multitask. My boss and I text constantly about the kids, she wants mini updates throughout the day on how the baby is doing and so forth and I also text my friends and call them throughout the day but the kids always come first. I never text while driving and I will interrupt the person on the phone to talk to my charges.

If you are uncomfortable with her texting then I would give her one more chance otherwise you need to find a nanny you are more comfortable with.

Portlander said...

How old are these kids? Texting while an infant is in the bath is much different than if a five year old is in the bath.

In general, I don't think nannies, or parents, need to be fully engaged with their children 100% of the time. Children can play by themselves for ten minutes while their caregiver takes a break (still in the same room, obviously, for young children). That said, it sounds like this nanny is bored with her job. No one should be constantly using their phone at work. I'm guessing she's not happy as a nanny and is feeling understimulated. I don't think you should fire her, but I do think you should have a talk about how much she actually likes this work. Someone who is interested and excited about their work would be able to put the phone down and actually be present.

Denver Nanny said...

I'd suggest just talking to the nanny again. You say she's fabulous with your kids, do you really want to let her go and try to find someone to replace her? If I were your nanny and you told me that it bothered you that I was on my phone so much I would definitely take that into mind and NOT use my phone as often, if you were there or not!

I am a nanny and I have been for 7+ years. Yes I do use my phone to text to other friends about meeting up, I text with the parents I work for to keep in touch throughout the day and sometimes I will answer other texts while I'm working. I tend to hardly ever actually pick up my phone for personal calls while at work unless the kids are napping or eating or I have a spare minute. My phone is NEVER used in the car when I have the children with me and I would never take it into the bathroom with me while I am giving the kids a bath. There are limits!

Today I was at the museum with my charges, sitting on the floor and building blocks with them for a good 20 minutes when my phone buzzed and said I had a new text, which happened to be from the mom asking me a question. While I continued building blocks I engaged in a conversation via text with the mom for about 3 minutes. When I returned the phone to the diaper bag I had a woman come up and scold me for using my phone while with the children. Totally unacceptable she says as she pulls her children to another area. Little does she know who I was actually texting with and the boys had no idea because I continued to build towers with them! (Sorry just needed to get that off my chest apparently)

Anyway I guess my point is I would just sit down and have another talk with her. Popping in unannounced is also a good idea unless it will totally mess with the dynamic between the kids and the nanny! If she is truly this awesome nanny than I would think (and hope) that she would want to listen to you! Let her know that perhaps this is a warning and if it continues than perhaps employment terms will have to be readdressed!

The Original DenverNanny said...

The only way you'll know how it's effecting her job is if you watch her, whether it be by camera or coming home early, etc. Always having her phone with her doesn't mean anything-- I know 10 y.o.s whoalways have their phone with them. Devil's advocate here: maybe she's checking the time on her phone while waiting for you to get home and that's why you always see her putting it away... just a thought.

CuriousDad said...

Minute Muggle there are jobs where it is against policy to talk on your cell phone while at work, as it is not a business related function. They dont not want personal calls and personal business to be conducted during the time period they are paying the employees to do their job. If your talking on the cell phone you are not greasing that bearing or changing that tire or making change for the customer.
If it is an emergency those places of employment expect the calls to come to them and they will get the person informed.

J.B. said...

We had a babysitter who was constantly texting. The first time she babysat, I was giving her a tour of our house and giving her our evening schedule and such, and was texting THE WHOLE TIME!

We left, and came back 10 minutes later because I forgot my camera, and she was still sitting on the couch texting while my then 18 month old was playing by himself on the floor.

I mentioned she should probably put the phone up somewhere so 'the baby wouldn't get it'. We had her for our babysitter again a week later and it was the same story all over again. We never asked her to babysit for us again. I'm not paying you to text with your friends, I'm paying you to play with and care for my child.

I'm a SAHM, and while I do text, it's not while I'm in the middle of something. It is distracting to me and takes away from interacting with my kid.

Nanny in MA said...

As long as the children are happy and are not neglected then I don't see a problem.
If she is literally on it all day long then you should mention that you think it's taking time away from your children.
I check my phone first thing in the morning while the children are eating breakfast and my employer has seen me do this, half of the messages are from her forwarding me e-mails about playdates she set up. They have no problem with my texting because they know I love their children and they get my full attention.
I also think people should look at themselves as well. It's a common problem in the nanny world to have the "Do as I say, Not as I do" issue going on.
I've seen so many parents doing the same things they complain about the nanny doing and yes I know we're being paid to do a job, but I'm a firm believer in children learning to entertain themselves.
The kids I watch have amazing imaginations! They can literally set up an entire "world" and spend hours playing dolls or drawing up things to go with what they've created.
You don't have to entertain a child every single hour of the day.
Got a little off topic but it just goes hand in hand. Why complain about someone your children seem to adore just because of 1 small issue?

Manhattan Nanny said...

You don't say what ages your children are. If they are old enough, I would ask them for a rundown of their day, or if not, ask the nanny. Did they do an art project, make muffins, play board games, how many books did nanny read them. If your nanny is not coming up with ideas for activities, and is on the phone all day because the job bores her, then you don't have a great nanny, no matter how sweet a person she is. Not everyone is cut out to be a nanny, and asking her to limit the texting isn't going to make her enthusiastic about finger painting and treasure hunts.

nyc mom said...

As an employer, this would bother me a great deal. I would discuss it with my nanny, but if it continued, I would find a new nanny. Of course there is the obvious difficult issue of defining what is reasonable cell phone/text usage while on the job. I do think some use is normal and expected and if your nanny has inherently good judgment, then she should be easily within this reasonable range. It doesn't seem like OP's nanny is.

OP clearly states:
1. Her Nanny's usage is "constant" including next to bath and during kids' meals.
2. She has addressed this with her Nanny, asked her to cut back, yet everytime she walks in Nanny appears to be actively talking/texting.
3. Nanny is unable to limit her cell usage to the agreed upon nap periods.

Thus we can conclude that for OP, her nanny's usage is beyond her comfort zone. Her nanny has agreed to limit her usage, but does not appear to be adhering to this agreement. This seems like a clear case of incompatibility to me. Of course since you love your nanny, it's worth another try to address this very directly. But for me this level of distraction would be unacceptable. I do occasionally take calls and send brief texts when with my kids, but I estimate it's less than 10% of the time I am with them. Further, I think excusing this on the basis that "everyone does it" or nannies need a break is a weak excuse. Everyone does not do it - as many nannies on here have attested and I can attest from my personal experience. Yes, everyone needs downtime which OP has offered during nap times. To feel entitled to more personal cell usage than this while working despite your employer's specific request that you not do this (and your agreement to same) is unacceptable.

Anonymouse said...

You're just going to have to use your best judgment on this one. When I nannied last year, it was usually the children's mom who I was texting back and forth with. I also texted my boyfriend/sister/an occasional friend and sometimes had quick phone conversations if needed, but I didn't think that my phone usage was "out of control" in any way, and the parents never complained about it. With that said, I know people who really do text/ talk on the phone CONSTANTLY, and it's so rude and obnoxious. If she's one of those types, then yeah, she probably isn't right for this job. If she's just conversing with people occasionally during the day though, you're probably overreacting.

Anonymous said...

How old are your children? Maybe you can try asking them some questions about what the nanny does during the day. "Does Nanny play with you or does she play with the cell phone?" "Does Nanny play with the cell phone when you're in the car?" etc.

I would ask her to stop again. You are the boss and you make the rules. If it's only ok for her to text a few times a day, SHE'LL LIVE. Plus, you don't want her teaching your kids that it's ok to text at the dinner table or during other situations where it could be considered rude...

as well as detrimental to her job and the kids' safety. What if they were at the park and your child was snatched? I mean, God forbid, but wouldn't you rather want a nanny who can say, "There was a person here who was very suspicious and talking to the kids for no reason at all so I took them home" rather than, "Sorry, Officer, I never EVER saw anyone. There was no one suspicious" because she had her nose stuck in her phone all day?

MinuteMuggle said...

lol @ "Does Nanny play with you or her cell phone?"

Now thats a leading question if I ever heard one! If you are going to ask the kids about the nanny there are better ways to ask.

UNOME said...

I have to say again if nanny is texting non stop in the house there is a good chance she does it other times like outside or driving . I am around plenty of text addicts (some friends and members of my own family) and i know they are addicted to it and do it all the time. My 26 year old niece has been in two minor accidents with her car both while "checking texts"

Text-a-holics text during dinner, the movies, the theater and lectures. It really is a diseaseand. I stick with my opinion...if she's texting non-stop in your house, she's likely doing it elsewhere.

Although it is ridiculous to ask her to leave her phone in the car it is not absurd to expect her to give your children her full attention. Yes full, that's what she is paid to do. of course she can't eyeball them the entire time, but if they nap that's enough "me" time for her to text. The fact that the children nap also says they must be rather young and still in need of closer supervision.

DowntoEarth said...

Talking and texting on the cell phone while being paid for taking care of children equals child neglect. If a child gets hurt while the nanny is on her phone the cops should be called. Not only is she neglectging the kids she is stealing from the employer because she is not doing her job. She is doing her personal business on the employers time. I would ask to see this nannies phone and see how many texts were placed in one day while on the clock and then fire her if it amounted to more then 1/2 of an hour. If this woman is a SAHM then she needs to give this nanny time for her breaks and lunch so she can text away and then the phone gets put away and if someone has an emergency they need to call the house phone. There is NO reason for a nanny or anyone else that is on the clock to be texting and on the cell phone all the time period, people are being used, taken advantage of by a bunch of phone junkies. If she is on that phone all day long then you can bet she is texting and reading those texts that she gets while driving . What are you going to do wait until one of the kids get hurt in an accident because your nanny can't put her phone down? BS.

Julia said...

Whoah some of these responses are kind of intense.

OP, I think we all know what a normal amount of texting is. To only text during an emergency is just silly. Or just during naptime.

If my friend texted me at a random moment during the day I couldn't resist checking it and texting back.

On the other hand, to constantly be texting is annoying and it keeps the nanny from giving the kids quality attention.

I would just tell her that you noticed she has been texting a lot and you would like her to cut back to just a little texting outside naptime.

Giving your reasons will be helpful too.

If my boss said that to me and I was her, I would cut back A LOT.

And don't get a nannycam - just ask the kids what they did with the nanny.

Andrea said...

Im sure she is not texting while your child is bathing. Im guessing that she has to help out in the tub? If she loves her phone that much she won't touch her phone with wet hands.

If the kids love her, they love her. She is obviously taking care of them and doing fun activities with them. Kids don't just love people for no reason.

I would say the main reason for her texting/talking so much is because your kids are able to entertain themselves a lot of the time and don't want to spend every single second with your nanny which is normal.

If they wanted her attention and wanted to play, Im sure she would put her phone away and play with them.

otherwise she needs to feel comfortable in your home and you should treat her as if she is family since she sort of is.

This isn't walmart, this is a home. A place for people to feel comfortable.

If your kids aren't in danger, and she is getting her chores done and educating and playing with your children and if they love her, then it isn't a problem.

Unknown said...

my nanny can not put her phone down! I have a 16 month old who loves putting things in his mouth and anytime i walk into the room she has one hand on her phone. Two times in the last 3 weeks I have walked in during his bath time and she been texting. What about when I'm not around? I say little things like "it makes me uncomfortable to see you texting while he is bathing" and she'll respond by saying she's "just checking her phone"... It's kind of weird she doesn't realize how much she uses it. One time she confided in me her ex boyfriend complained that she texted him too much and she said "how can I be, I'm always working..." She is great with my son, but she has a problem. I wouldn't mind a little balance where occasionally throughout the day she made a couple calls or texts, but this woman never puts her phone down. I appreciate some people think it's not a big deal, but the bottom line is if you as a parent/employer do not like it, they shouldn't do it. There are plenty of good, qualified people out there who actually would not only love to work, but would respect the wishes of their employer. I am close to the point to look for a replacement. And we all should do it before it's too late. I often think of the horrible stories and accidents that happen out of the blue. I feel for the nanny who was watching Eric Claptons child that jumped out of the window when she was looking away for a second.....Forever she will live with the fact that she was looking away, and forever the parents will live with the pain of losing their child.