By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
guest In our Nanny profession we usually have very few co-workers, but there is one relationship that more often than not, causes a great deal of stress, that being the relationship between the nanny and the housekeeper. This week I wanted to share my most terrible experience with a truly awful housekeeper, and in return, invite you to write in response with your experiences.

M came to the household where I worked as a Nanny after I had been there a little over two years. The housekeeper she replaced had been just wonderful, a hard working, quiet, polite man in his thirties who left to become an Estate Manager. I met M at her second interview as my boss wanted to get my opinion on her. She was in her mid-fifties, with a broad, solidly built body, and a very thick European accent. She seemed shy and sweet as she told me that she was from Croatia and was considering leaving a long-term job in the South Bay as they had seven children and it was just becoming too much for her.

“Three sets of twins,” she said, rolling her eyes, “they do in-vitro four times. Only one time make one baby.”

M sighed and looked exhausted just talking about it.

She was hired and my boss asked me to assist her with getting used to the neighborhood. I spent the first week driving her around Pacific Heights and showing her the market, the drycleaners and the special butcher my boss liked. As live in housekeeper she would be taking over all the food shopping and errands (she had her own car) and I would be responsible for chaperoning the children around after school to their various activities. That first week she was friendly and chatty as I drove her everywhere in my car, even to places that we did not usually shop, such as the Costco 20 miles away. She loaded the cart with a couple of bulk rolls of toilet paper and then finally found the item she had really come for, a huge bottle of discount Brandy. She loaded six bottles onto the cart.

“This is best brandy.” She said by way of explanation when she caught hold of my startled expression. Obviously, I didn’t think work time was appropriate for stocking up on liquor. But she just staunchly pushed the cart to the little cage where they sold cigarettes and bought two cartons.

“Okay,” she said, now fully stocked up, “we go.”

Her friendliness towards me took a hit when she announced the third week one afternoon at 3pm that she was ready to have me drive her to the market.

“M,” I said, “I have to go and get the girl’s from school right now.”

The expression on her face was not kind. She turned heavily on her heal and stomped away.

The same thing happened the next afternoon. I was getting the girl’s soccer bags and snacks together and M appeared at my side, looking gruff.

“You need to take me to butcher.”

“M,” I said, “I’m leaving right now to get the kids. You can’t drive?”

“The city is scary.”

I totally understand that driving on the hills of San Francisco can be daunting for some, but where they lived it was a straight, flat shot to the market. And besides, she had been driving every weekend to see friends in the South Bay. Her aversion to driving was only limited to working hours.

I had my own driving incident later that evening, driving over the Golden Gate Bridge after I had put the girls to bed. In the middle of the span I got hit with a horrible cramping feeling in my stomach, one that I was all too familiar with, being severely lactose intolerant. I was sweating by the time I made it to Mill Valley.

“M,” I asked her the next day, “is it possible that you put butter in my food last night?”

My boss had specifically told her that I couldn’t eat any dairy when she was hired, and he had stressed that it would make me very ill.

“I put no butter.”

I let it go, but that night too, driving home, I got sick again.

The following night she held out a plate of rice to me and beckoned for me to serve some to myself.

“Uh, M?” I asked hesitantly, “Are you certain that there is no dairy in this?”

She shook the plate at me. “Eat.”

I took a small spoonful.

“Eat!” She said, and heaped more on my plate.

I took a tiny bite. It was delicious.

“What’s in this?” I asked.

“Spices.” She said.

I didn’t even make it to the bridge that night. I was in the bathroom a half hour after eating, in severe pain.

I decided that it might be prudent to make my own dinner from now on, except M was furious when she saw me steaming vegetables in the kitchen before the family dinner. She demanded to know what I was doing. She complained to our boss that I didn’t like her cooking. I told him that I was simply on a diet and trying to eat very healthy. He laughed and told M that her cooking was very rich and that he himself had gained some weight in the almost month that she had been working, and to let me prepare my own dinner if that was what I wanted to do. He left the kitchen and went to call the kids to the table. M glared at me and slammed pots into the sink. I had defied her. As far as she was concerned it was war. Any trace of pleasantries towards me was long gone. When I left that night she stood in the alley between the house and the neighbors, smoking a cigarette and giving me the stink eye. Smoke was wafting up into the children’s open bedroom window.

“Uh, M?” I said, warily, “ I think you might want to smoke somewhere else. The kid’s window is open right above you.”

I don’t understand exactly what she said to me, but it translated, no matter what language it was spoken in.

At Christmas time we were given the joint task of dismantling the Christmas tree while the family was on vacation. She refused to help, but kept walking into the living room to snap and bark at me while I wrapped ornaments in bubble paper. I had to drag the ten-foot tree out to the curb myself. She screamed at me when she saw that there was a trail of dry pine needles and called me a bitch for messing up her living room. I vacuumed it up and left, refusing to engage with her.

In January, she got worse. She yelled and kicked at the dog. She berated Sierra, six, for getting her white socks dirty.

“Yooooooooou need to have white socks so my hands get dry with bleach!” she said, and Sierra looked confused, but asked sweetly,

“M? Are you pissed at me again?”

I took her aside and asked where she had learned the word “pissed.”

“From M,” she said, “she’s always saying that I make her all pissed.”

I went to my boss and explained that M was increasingly hard to get along with and that I wanted his assistance in smoothing out some troubling workplace dynamics. He did what most overworked, overtired employers do.

He said, “Work it out yourselves.”

Of course M showed him a totally different side of herself. She could be kicking the dog and slamming plates and yelling at me and as soon as the front door opened and our boss would stroll in she would put on a huge smile and warmly welcome him home. He had no idea what she was really like. He did not smell the brandy on her breath because she did not lean into his face and scream until she was spitting. She stood at the back of his chair at a respectful distance at the dinner table and asked almost demurely, “Do you like your chicken tonight?”

When I gave notice to move to a job that was more hours, M seemed remorseful. She took me aside to apologize.

“I was bitch at Christmas.” She said, “and I put butter in all your food because the children liked you better.”

I told her to try not to smoke directly under the girl’s window.

Three months after I left, she gave notice and moved back to the family in the South Bay with all the twins. I think about her sometimes, and I wonder if she still works as a housekeeper, and if somewhere out there, she is busy terrorizing some other Nanny.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at

Would you like to share your experience with the readers of I SAW YOUR NANNY?


anonynanny said...

I like having stories but this is I Saw Your Nanny, and not Rebecca's Personal Blog. I wish we could stop hearing from one person over and over and start hearing from others. We have the link, we can read her own blog if we really want to (and I don't). It's making me not want to read this blog anymore.

Anonymommy said...

Then don't read it, anonynanny. You can see who the author is - it's easily scrolled past.

I think it's interesting and enjoy her stories. It's a lot better than the times this site would go days without any new posts at all, because people weren't submitting them.

It's impossible to make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time.

Jane Doe said...

We are very happy to have submissions from readers. We have had less submissions in the past few months and are goal is to provide you alternatives to nothingness on the website. If you would like to write for ISYN, please submit your article to

good post! said...

I like the stories. I think this one is relevant. I have heard of a lot of nannies/cleaning ladies having problems with each other.

I am not a nanny anymore, nor could I ever afford a cleaning lady (I wish!) but I am now a teacher and a mother, and when I was a nanny, I thought the couple I nannied for had a great cleaning lady. However, I found out the hard way that she was talking shit about me (lies and negative things) behind my back. She was a bitch. So were the couple I nannied for.

I really have to hand it to nannies: I don't know how you put up with people like this. "Work it out yourselves?" That sounds like a shitty boss in my opinion.

OP: I am glad you left that job. You are obviously better off for it.

northshorenanny said...

I guess I'm lucky that I don't have to deal with a full time housekeeper but I dread Tuesdays none the less. She is supposed to be there for 3 hrs and be gone by the time my charge goes down for a nap. That has happened maybe once, she is usually there for 7 hrs!! The most annoying part is that she can't do her work quietly while he sleeps! So my charge rarely sleeps well on Tuesdays. I'm pretty sure she wants my job, she comes early to play with us and has asked to come to the park with us. I know she doesn't have an afternoon job lined up which somehow drives me even crazier because I would love an afternoon free, why is she sticking around? Ok sorry for the rant but she really drives me crazy!!

a mom said...

I had the exact opposite experience with my nanny and housekeeper. I was working full time and hired what turned out to be a bench nanny. She would invite another bench nanny over to my home every day and they'd watch soaps, rent movies and eat in the living room all day long while ignoring my child and the other nanny's charge. The cleaning woman came 1x a week and on that day, they would leave their messes behind for her to clean up too. She didn't feel it was her place to tell me any of this (esp. the part about how they just ignored the kids all day)- I ended up putting 2 and 2 together and firing my nanny- and after my 3rd child was born a year after that the cleaning woman started working as a nanny for me. That is when she confessed her observations to me about the former nanny (not that I was surprised). She was the most wonderful nanny/sitter I ever had. She never had the TV on, never talked on her cell phone - the construction workers on the corner of my block stopped me to tell me how loving she was with my dd.

ChiNanny said...

Northshorenanny - North shore in IL?

I have the same situation! I could have written your post except with Friday instead of Tues. It drives me crazy!

nycmom said...

I enjoy Rebecca's columns. Some are more relevant than others, but I agree with JD and MPP that postings on here needed to increase and this is a great way IMO.

I've had my share of nanny/hker drama too. My current weekly (now every other week since recession) hker has been with us about 8 years. She has been extremely helpful and extremely difficult. She found me our first long-term nanny of 4.5 yrs who still sits for us occasionally (going on 7 years now). For that I am grateful. She has also helped find a few other sitters, some of whom worked out, some didn't. Her hking has been consistent over 8 years, which is very rare in my experience. Most hkers start out *amazing* for 3 months, good for 6 months, then downhill from there. This hker is very good, not outstanding, but consistent, and that is worth a lot to me.

But . . . she is incredibly difficult interpersonally. She decided from day one that she hated my current amazing nanny of about 3 years. I think because I found this nanny though another source and not my hker. Also because they are from different South American countries and my hker is apparently rather biased against my nanny's country of origin. Most recently, my hker's anger increased at annual raise time. I offered my nanny her standard raise. I wanted to give her more, but could not afford it. I told her I could double the raise if she wanted to take over a bit of the hker duties (basically do family laundry in addition to kids). It was the only way I could afford to give her a big raise instead of a standard raise, though she was getting a standard raise regardless. It meant I could decrease hker to every other week and do the bathrooms on off weeks myself. Nanny was actually really happy to be given the choice and wanted the bigger raise/more duties. Hker was VERY upset at having hours reduced even though I never mentioned nanny's increased duties.

So Hker is merciless in her subtle little comments to me about my nanny. Things like "The swiffer broke and I saw Nanny using it roughly." "The bathroom rugs are falling apart because nanny washes them wrong. That never happened when I washed them." Early on I had a big issue where my hker accused nanny of stealing and it was one word against the other. I confronted both, but couldn't really prove anything. Over time things have evened out. I completely disregard anything my hker says about my nanny. I have spoken with my nanny about it many times and she totally laughs it off. I have told her directly that I will always stand by her and if Hker crosses a line or makes her feel uncomfortable, let me know. I have told Nanny that I know *exactly* how difficult hker is and do not take any of the comments seriously. Now nanny just takes my son out on the day when my hker is here and they rarely interact.

It's a very unique and unusual dynamic, different and more complicated in some ways than the parent/nanny relationship. Thanks for a good topic!

Jane Doe said...

I had a major problem with the world's worst housekeeper, Eva. She informed me and our employer that she was not a housekeeper but a cleaner and as such, she would not touch anything of the childrens. The house was huge. If there was a Barbie on the floor, she would pick it up, vacuum and put the barbie back on the floor. Same thing if there was a spoon in the kitchen sink. She would take it out, clean the sink and put the spoon back in. In addition to this stupidity, she was a psychotic nut job who I caught copying the families personal paperwork on a copier in the family office. Weeks later, she attempted to suck me in to some bizarre conversation and then revealed that she had a casette recorder in her pocket. A total nut job. When I demanded she give me the tape recorder, she went running from the house, through shrubberies and trees to cry to the neighbor who had nothing to do with us. Then she called the police and said I assaulted her because she had a scratch on her (from one of the bushes or trees, I imagine). She was horrible at her job. She thought a good way to occupy a 12 month old was to give her some batteries to play with. She was forever leaving buckets of bleach and cleaning supplies in the children's area. The nanny agency that placed me at that position later told me that she found "Eva" on her fire escape, curled into a ball, crying hysterically and begging for help to get her job back. (Yes, she got fired for calling the police on me and making up the assault thing). When she didn't get her job back, she went to everyone she had ever worked for or bumped in to at the grocery store and told very private details about the family that I worked for. Horrible things, especially about the mother.

TC said...

I actually have a good story about the housekeeper.

The first family I nannied for had a housekeeper that was there long before I was and she was really nice. She didn't speak a lot of English but we spoke enough for small pleasantries. After I had been working for about 6 months my boss came to me and said the cleaning ladies had told her what a wonderful nanny I was and how attentive to her child I was. She went on to tell my boss that rarely does she see a good nanny but that I was and that she should hold on to me. That made my life working for that bit&* bearable because someone else had noticed what a good job I was doing. I think it also helped me get my current job which I LOVE, my former bosses best friend.

The cleaning lady they have now drives me nuts, again she doesn't speak English so our convos are limited to Hello and goodbye but SHE DOESNT FREAKIN CLEAN A DARNED THING! Is it normal for a cleaning lady not to dust ANYTHING or clean the windows and glass doors? Is it normal for the cleaning lady not to vacuum the stairs? Or to use fabuloso to clean everything? UGH she uses no disinfectants, none whatsoever. She fabulosos the toilet, the WOOD floors, the tile, the counter tops, the sink, the table.....nothing but that darned cheap crap that stinks.

Sorry for the now two rants, it's been a long long week. Sick baby, mom who dumps kids on me all week so she doesn't have to deal with sick baby and then of course I'm now getting sick.

sharon said...

A mentally unwell housekeeper can really make your life miserable.My mother and grandmother died within one year of each other. Our family had alot of grief, the housekeeper "maria" had been with them 23 years, she was about 73.I had lived with them as caretaker for the last 12 years,maria came once a week.
Before they passed there was some indication of some weird things - maria would do 2 hours of work and spend 7 hours at the house - i had to cut her off at 7pm or she would stay till midnite.(she required me to drive her home) I was expected to have her fave starbuck ready for her, her fave tabloids to relax with and her favorite candy. She would give me a list of groceries she wanted each week and specified which fave take out meal she wanted each week.
I did not think much bad about sll this she was very nice to my mom and grandmother.
They allowed her to go on long long soliloquys - hours and hours of her hard home situation - a 104 year old dad she had to take care of by herself and 5 adult kids who were living in her house and sceming her for her social security - it would be hours of the same words every week. When my grandmother could no longer hear and my mom got sick i was required to listen to it
Then - when they died and left the townhouse to me and my brother - all hell broke loose - maria told me she expected to be able to move into my grandma's house as she considered her her mom and she was now my mother
I took M to grief meetings and paid for a psychologist to talk to her
best money i ever spent
After M threatened to "beat me with a belt" and many many many other threats including calling the government to arrest me ( i'm not sure what i did) and saying my job was a game and not really work ( i work with kids)
The psychologist sat us both down and said "this must end"
I figured out from the web that the amount of reasonable severance was between $1000 and $1500 - cut her a check for $1500 and thank God have not heard from her since.

Veronica said...

HolyBatshit! Where in THE hell did you figure that the appropriate severance for 23 years of service was $1500? Are you out of your mind?

nycmom said...

I don't think sharon said the housekeeper's frequency of work, though it sounded like once a week based on the description. Let's assume the hker was paid $100/week (which is my nyc number, other areas may be less). $1500 would be one week pay for 15 yrs! That seems pretty good to me. Yes, the hker worked 23 years. But most nanny/hker jobs don't keep increasing bonus/severance indefinitely. They usually max out at some reasonable number.

Now if the hker was ft making $750/week, then I agree $1500 is low for 23 years.

Perhaps sharon would be willing to clarify the hkers weekly pay?

sharon said...

it was a bite. it sucked.
the basic idea i got from the internet is - one week of pay for every year worked
my grandmother paid her $40 a week, when my grandmother passed my mother raised it to $60 per week, the amount of food groceries given to her each week was about $30-35 worth

so - $40 times 23 = app 1000
60 times 23 = 1380
but it may have been about 25 years being counted which was = 1500

so that is what the internet said

i was advised by many sources that it was not required but if i could afford it it would be the right thing
i would not be able to do it now years later but i had the extra funds at the time and i felt sorry for her
thank you for your feedback

sharon said...

i don't know if this matters but my grandmother left M $1000 in her will. M did not actually work for me, i was living out of state working as a waitress for half the time she worked for my grandmother.
It's an interesting question - when you work somewhere that long you should have some kind of sgreement - there was none that i know of.
Wheni lost my 15 year waitress job i received nothing except for a small amount of unemployment

Kristen @ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

wow arent working moms lucky, they dont have to raise their kids or clean their houses, sounds like a good deal to me! I am sayin it wont be long before nannies are having the babies for these working moms, I guess they shouldnt be called mom because they really dont do the things a real mother would do

northshorenanny said...

ChiNanny, yep North Shore in IL. Is that where you are also? Does her name begin with M?

ChiNanny said...

Northshore nanny, yes I'm up there too and it does!

rte66nanny said...

Hey ChiNanny and NorthShoreNanny, my friend is a nanny in Lincoln Park and has the same problem on Wednesdays! When I was a nanny in Chicago, I actually asked my employers if it would be o.k. to let my friend's charge nap in my charge's bed a few times, because of the cleaning lady. The cleaning lady actually came in and started polishing the crib one day, while the baby was sleeping in it!

Halifax Nanny said...

I have not commented on any of this writer's personal accounts of past employment before, but I really just am not understanding why she's a "feature writer".

Her stories are pointless and redundant, and remind me of being talked at by an elderly lady on the bus who has an unhealthy attachment to her past; something you do not enjoy, but tolerate because you'd otherwise feel guilty.

NYCMOM2 said...

Ummm. Housekeeper was drinking on the job and kicked the dog? and you didn't tell your employer?

I can't imagine Nanny wouldn't have reported her?

cali mom said...

Let's do a survey.

In your opinion, who is more mentally unstable?

a) Housekeeper M
b) Monkey Face (aka screaming MONKEYSHINES)
c) J-Bitch (aka theJewishNanny)

Thejewishnanny said...

I am sick of this becoming Rebecca's Personal Blog too~her stories are boring and i miss the old ISYN!

Thejewishnanny said...

cali mom~yon need to seek treatment for your unhealthy obsession with me! Also~shut up, bitch!

Nanny K said...

I am actually extremely greatful for the housekeeper that worked for the family I nannied for! She had been working for this family for YEARS and came once a week to clean the house.

One day the mom had been out running errands (she was a stay at home mom) and the housekeeper was finishing up in the kitchen, the baby was sleeping so I was talking to the housekeeper as she finished up. When the mom came in (she had been gone since before the hkeeper got there) the hkeeper asked how she was and made small talk. The hkeeper asked our boss if they were planing any vacations for the upcoming summer and our boss just shook her head no with a smirk on her face. My work day was done so I left, and the next week when I saw the hkeeper she said she wanted to talk to me. The mom was not home at this time and the hkeeper had informed me that after I left the week before the mom told her that they did have plans to go on vacation, they were planning on spending whole month of August at the beach but she did not want to say this in front of me because they weren't planning on telling me until the week before their trip because they didnt want me to quit!!!

WOW great boss! Needless to say this prompted me to quit not long after. I never revealed what the hkeeper had told me and I wish I had some way to get in touch with her! She was a great lady!!!

Thejewishnanny said...

Halifax Nanny said...
I have not commented on any of this writer's personal accounts of past employment before, but I really just am not understanding why she's a "feature writer".

Her stories are pointless and redundant, and remind me of being talked at by an elderly lady on the bus who has an unhealthy attachment to her past; something you do not enjoy, but tolerate because you'd otherwise feel guilty.


MissMannah said...

I'm with NYCMOM2, there are several stories here, along with the original one that I'm just flabbergasted with. I'm just assuming you guys tried to report the housekeepers and the parents just didn't care. I've only ever worked for two families but both of them would privately come to me and ask how professional the housekeepers were. I had no problem telling my momboss when one housekeeper was cutting corners and I didn't care when she was fired. Am I a tattletale? Yep, and I don't care. Do your job, do it right the first time, or face the consequences. I would never in my life witness drinking on the job and not report it.

northshorenanny said...

ChiNanny is her name Margaret F? Is your charges name Teddy? I know she cleans for another family with kid(s) and they have a boy named Teddy.

ChiNanny said...

NorthShoreNanny - no, that's not her or me. I think she does mostly city clients other than my bosses.

I would have thought it was the same woman with how much your story is like mine though.

Marypoppin'pills said...

Thejewishnanny said...
I am sick of this becoming Rebecca's Personal Blog too~her stories are boring and i miss the old ISYN!


I really don't understand the negativity. You are more than welcome to send something in, we would love to read it. It just so happens that Rebecca is the only one that has asked to write for the Blog... others are welcome to as well.

Denise Hart-James said...

I seriously think all this negativity is from the same person posting under different names as it seriously doesn't make any sense? I love that I can read something new when I pop in rather than seeing a lack of new postings. If it looks interesting to me I read, if not I don't!

I nannied for a HORRID family years ago and they had a housekeeper who basically vacumed and did the bathrooms. That's IT and this family was filthy! The house was SO nasty I HAD to clean (and bring my own products because this dirty family didn't have ANY) because I couldn't let those poor kids live in that filth. Not even handsoap! Yuk. The housekeeper laughed at me, said not to waste my time because they would just tear it apart soon after. She was right! I lasted 4 months (the pay was hard to leave) after I got a 2.5 and a four year old out of cribs, off of bottles and potty trained (YES BOTH OF THEM!) and got the behavior of the older two somewhat under control. I am STILL tramatized by that job and get upset whenI talk about that entire experience.

scooby doo said...

in my own opinion it really seemed like this rebecca OP woman exaggerated a lot, I'm not defending this terrible housekeeper, but the way she told the story was too polished for believability on a site made for blogging.

Bananular said...

Definitely not just one person complaining. I'm at least the second because I'm not any of those other people, so I can vouch for that.

I just pass these stories by now, or read the first few lines and if it's boring, I move on. Not trying to insult anyone personally, I'm just usually not all that interested.

That being said, this week's story was more relevant, more interesting, and I didn't mind it as much as some of those other ones...I did read the whole thing. Thanks, Rebecca.

anonynanny said...

I'm not the same person as the other people who have posted. I was the first to mention that I'm annoyed with these stories. I don't understand why it's so important to have submissions? Why can't it just be a blog that has the CL-WTFs and the actual nanny sightings? It would be so much easier for parents to actually see the sightings if there weren't all these features and whatnot crowding the blog. And even if not, I still don't like hearing from the same one person over and over, because like I said, she can get her own blog. You don't need to give her her own personal platform to advertise her website to all of your readers.

TheOriginalDenverNanny said...

Rebecca, I do believe that Scooby Doo just gave you a compliment!

too "polished" for a blog?


Halifax Nanny said...

I agree with Scooby Doo here, 100%.

And I am also not the same person as anyone else. Come on, lol.