Out with the Old, In with the New... not always true!

Received Saturday, January 8, 2011
Opinion 4 I have many years of nannying experience, and took a temp job over the holiday period. When I took the job, I was told that the family's former nanny, who was supposed to be emigrating earlier this week, would show me the ropes before she left - which I was fine with. However, I discovered upon arriving at their house and unpacking that this woman's visa had not come through and that she would be "helping" me for almost the entire period that the job would last; while I was less than thrilled about this, because had I wanted a shared charge position I would have said so in the ad I placed online, I decided I'd make the best of it. The problem lay in the fact that this lady clearly disliked me; I don't think it was personal, though, because I got the distinct impression that she felt nobody was good enough to replace her. The youngest child had obviously been babied by this woman, to the extent of still being spoon fed and having her teeth brushed for her at an age when either of these things is vastly inappropriate; she was going through a phase of clinging and whining, something which the previous nanny was adamant had never happened before - clearly insinuating that this behaviour started when I arrived. There was a fair amount of passive aggressive behaviour on the former nanny's part as well - things such as not telling me that the keys I had been given would not unlock the front door of the house, resulting in my returning with one of the children to find myself locked out and having to interrupt my MB while she was at work.

One morning each of us took one of the children on a separate outing; she proceeded to watch me bundle 'my' charge up and strap her into her stroller, only to stop me in my tracks once we were outside and re-dress the child (yes, in full view of passers-by) because she felt I had not done it satisfactorily. (why did I say nothing, you ask? Because I was speechless that she was even doing this - I would never DREAM of being so rude to someone I had only just met) Since I needed the extra money badly and the job was only for a few weeks, I gritted my teeth and said nothing - but what I'd like to know is how your readers have dealt with this type of situation if they have encountered it? I realise I'm probably lucky never to have encountered this sort of behaviour before, and would welcome any advice on how to handle it if it should crop up during a more permanent job - since my current charges are growing up and I am applying for new positions.


Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

Since the former nanny was going to end up staying since her visa was not ready, I think the parents should have just used her and let you go. However, perhaps they felt bad hiring you, then firing you so they let you stay on so they wouldn't feel so bad.
Anyway, I would have tried talking on a rational and mature level to the nanny about the events that occurred while you two worked together. I would tell her that in order for you two to work together, you needed to have your fair share of autonomy with the child, etc. If she wasn't very receptive to what you said and you didn't present it in a way that she would be defensive, I would have then taken the next step and talk to Mom Boss. I would not have said anything negative about the nanny and I would have been as diplomatic as possible. If things didn't get any better after exhausting both of these options, I would have had no choice but to leave.
Thank your lucky stars this was simply a temp job. Next time you find a job, you will be armed with this experience which will make you better equipped to handle a similar situation should one occur.
Good Luck OP. You sound like a fair nanny with a good amount of intuition and common sense. ;)

? said...

It does make sense that the child would begin to be clingy and whiny when a stranger was there alongside the nanny that the child loved and trusted. I believe that the nanny was most likely telling the truth about the clinginess and whining coinciding with your arrival.

As far as handling this situation, it is not a common one, so I doubt you will ever encounter it again.


out of curiosity where was the other nanny from? when I was a nanny I noticed eastern european nannies the kids where often babyfied, example 6 year old not wiping himself
I am not trying to be racist just wondering if it is a cultural thing Jamacians dont do this to their kids

a mom said...

I think you are exaggerating a bit and that you didn't like her either. I mean, according to your post there was a child in a stroller and the youngest was still having her teeth brushed? So that leads me to believe that the youngest child was stroller-age - and I can't imagine a stroller age child brushing their own teeth. I've had 3 different dentists tell me that teeth brushing should be supervised til age 8 and my dentist has asked that I brush my 9 yo's teeth 1x a day because he is susceptible to excess plaque build-up. Clearly this wasn't a good situation for the other nanny either and it sounds like you both were resentful.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I think the OP was stating that the whining/clinging had NEVER happened with the first nanny, which could have been true..if the child was still an infant. I don't know of many young infants that have separation anxiety.
Anyway, OP I do not think any of this was your fault at all.
Monkey are so racist. Why so???

nanny2 said...

I've been the "other" nanny in this scenario, and honestly nobody WAS good enough to replace me. lol. We had a lot of nannies come and go, so when somebody new started, I just kind of assumed they would be gone within a month. So absolutely I would rebundle the children, I would indulge their whining and crying for me to do things for them (rather than acclimate them to the new nanny) because it just wasn't worth the effort to try to accommodate somebody else's style when they weren't gonna last. Also, I had a very demanding boss, and I didn't want to upset the careful balance I had created to try to keep her happy.
So my advice if you find yourself in a similar place in the future: understand that the dynamic is totally different from being a sole charge nanny. Respect seniority, and be willing to learn from the other nanny. As the kids become more accustomed to you, you will gain more autonomy.

bluebell said...

OP here, and thank you all for your valid and useful responses! Nanny2, I completely 'get' your comments, and they are precisely the reason why I specified in my online ad that I wanted a sole charge position; I'm perfectly capable of working as a team member in a childcare setting such as a nursery, where there are lots of children and therefore a need for more staff - but in a situation where there were two children who could have easily been looked after by one person, sharing their care was just plain awkward. Interestingly, by the way, the three year old always stopped the whiny behaviour as soon as the other nanny went home...

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

Bluebell I get that with my current charge too. She whines and fusses when I arrive, but as soon as her parents walk out the door, she is A-okay!!
Anyway,why do you think you were kept on after the current nanny had her plans changed? Do you think they kept you on because they didn't want to let you go after hiring you? Perhaps so not to make you feel bad. It's a shame that they think a child needs two nannies.
You sound very nice and I think the child probably liked you better and the other nanny suspected it as well. LOL.