Nitpicking MB is Making Nanny Miserable

opinion 2 Hello, I am 24 years old and have been a professional nanny for over 6 years. I've worked for a variety of families, but have spent a large portion of my career working for one family in particular for the last 3 years. I work for a single mom who runs her own business, so she is often very busy, running around between home, meetings, sometimes flying across the country for days at a time while I stay with the child on overnights.

When I began working with this family 3 years ago, she was married, but they divorced shortly after. I have been caring for P (child) since she was 3 months old, and I have grown very close with the family, as we've gone through many things together. (Her divorce, my father's death, then my marriage this summer). MB has a very different temperament than my own, which I have come to appreciate in most cases. She is highly emotional, very passionate, can be somewhat high strung...very much a " type A" personality. I see these same personality traits in her daughter, and as I said before, most of the time I appreciate it. I, on the other hand, am pretty laid back, calm, and can easily "go with the flow". For the most part it seems like we've done well managing our differences, and I have always done my utmost at accommodating her.

However, the last couple of months have been somewhat rocky. We seem to continually find ourselves in conflict with one another. Most of the conflict has been about household duties. When I started this position 3 years ago, it was agreed upon in our contract that my only household duties would be P's laundry while she was napping, and taking out the diaper pale. As time passed, and everyone's situation changed, I agreed to some light household chores each day while P was napping, since MB could no longer afford her house cleaner. I vacuum, mop the floors, wipe down the counters, take out all the trash, and do P's laundry. For about 6 months now, P does not nap at all during the day, so it has been very difficult finding the time to do all of the extra chores I am now required to do. I've had to get creative and include her in the cleaning process. This hasn't been THAT big of a deal, until recently.

MB continually complains about me not cleaning well enough. I do the best I can with a 3 year old in tow, but it never seems to be good enough for her. Now that P is 3 she is learning how to care for herself more and more, which means cleaning up after herself. I make sure to have her help clean up her toys every day after we're done playing, which I thought was sufficient. A couple weeks ago MB confronted me about it, saying that her room was not clean enough at end of day. To me, it seemed like she was nitpicking...she wants all of the toys in the drawers organized, all the blocks neatly stacked under the shelf, all of P's shoes lined up neatly in her closet, etc. I feel that she is not being reasonable. When you teach a 3 year old to clean up after themselves, you are not going to get a perfectly pristine environment.

She also has other seemingly odd requests. She wants to me to keep the doors locked at all times, but she has a small dog that needs to be let out to go to the bathroom throughout the day, so there are times when I have the back door unlocked for this reason. She also recently started requesting that I wash all the pots and pans by hand rather than putting them in the dishwasher, so we don't have to run it as often. But when I finish cleaning them, she goes behind me to check my work, then complains about what a poor job I did.

Last night I felt was my tipping point. She had asked me to work late (7:30) at the the last minute, so she could attend a yoga class, and I hesitantly agreed to. Assuming that I would have until 7:30 to get P and I dinner, give her a bath, and get ready for bed, I casually paced myself throughout the day. We spent a wonderful day together at the beach, and got home just before 6 to have dinner. Just before 6:30, P is just sitting down to her dinner, MB walks through the door, home from a run. She decided not to go to yoga. She walks into the house and instantly starts complaining about the mess in P's room which she had created while I was preparing dinner. Then she walks into the kitchen and begins complaining about the mess from dinner prep (which I was in the middle of cleaning up) then proceeds to dish herself up the last of the dinner and sits down to eat with P. While I'm in the kitchen frantically cleaning up, she is in the dining room. She asks me if P's laundry is finished, and I tell her that there was a lot of laundry today and that I would have it finished by tomorrow. She then walks back into the kitchen, where she see's that the back door is not locked, no doubt because I had just let the dog out, and gets upset, telling me that she's asked me over and over again to keep the door locked. Then she walks to the counter to inspect the dishes I had just washed and gets very upset when she sees that out of 5 pots that I have just scrubbed clean, one of them had not been "properly cleaned". She then claims that I did not clean any of them at all.

The whole night was one thing after the other. It seemed as though I could do nothing right in her eyes. She was there constantly looking over my shoulder to complain about something. I feel just awful. I have done so much for this family, including dog sitting whenever she is out of town, for FREE, working my schedule around hers, and even searching for months to find another nanny position that could work with her schedule, in order to supplement my hours, which are going down this year now that P will be starting full time preschool. I do so much extra work, and have been so flexible with my time, and it seems like more and more she has nothing but bad things to say to me. It seems as though the longer a person holds a position, the better they would get at it, but it seems like she feels just the opposite. I do not recall her being so nitpicky and negative towards me in the past. And I am feeling so unsure about what to do. I love P so dearly, and her attachment to me is very strong, so I feel hesitant towards doing anything that could harm that. But I am growing more and more unhappy in this position. I've talked with MB over and over again it seems, about expectations, writing a new contract, etc. But still, I find myself in conflict with her. I need some advice!


ReginaPhelange said...

In some of the cases, you're creating your own problems. If she wants the doors locked, lock the door. This is not difficult - you're already opening and closing the door, so it only takes half a second more to lock it.

Why are you cooking meals that use five pots? Prepare simpler meals.

Yes, things will not be pristine when a three year-old cleans up after herself, but the mother has made it clear she wants things pristine, so obviously you need to clean after P cleans.

You made the mistake of thinking your boss was your friend and chose to dogsit for free, when you should have charged for it.

Having said that, of course it is stressful to have someone walking from spot to spot pointing out all your mistakes. I suggest sitting down with your boss and talking Maybe she's preparing to fire you and that's why she's pointing out so many errors.

Wow said...

Just curious. Did you get a raise when all of the additional duties (many of which, by the way, are NOT nanny duties) were added?

My gut says leave, especially if your hours have been cut so much you've had to get a second job. Just get one full-time job and call it a day. The child will be affected, but she's not your child and you will be leaving at some point anyway. But since she's going to full-time preschool, your leaving won't be as traumatic if you leave after she adjusts.

If you don't want to leave, at the very least insist on a new contract (totally appropriate since the working situation will change), outlining only the duties you're willing to do and stick to it. I, personally, would not agree to do the housework outside of child related tasks. I would tell her I'm a nanny, not a housekeeper.

The job you describe sounds like it's so different from the job you initially signed up for, it's normal that you would be at the end of your rope.

Wow said...

Also, you said, "For the most part it seems like we've done well managing our differences, and I have always done my utmost at accommodating her."

Actually, it seems like you have NOT managed your differences, but you HAVE accommodated her - too much. What does she do in her own home? You cook, clean, and take care of her child all day. Basically, she takes you for granted. She doesn't appreciate you because you do whatever she asks you to do and she sees you as a pushover. It really would be best for you to give notice and leave.

And in your next job stay within your job description. If you do something outside of that, say it. "I'll vacuum the entire house this time, but this is not part of a nanny's job description."

Nanny who loves what she does said...

You need to reevaluate your contact. Ok-MB- what do you want done. Tell her how you are feeling. If you can't come to an agreement. I know its hard- but you will have to leave.

I agree with WOW said- did you get a raise at all; especially after extra house chores were added?

You deserve to be respected and it sounds like you are not getting it here.

oh well said...

As a parent, I think you need to find another full-time position as soon as possible. I am sure you are sad about leaving P, but she will be fine and
so will you.
Just make sure you get a contract in
you new position.
You sound like a great nanny.

alex said...

you need to sit down with her asap and let her know how you feel. While it is not nice that she is following you around, nitpicking, I am thinking it has more to do with how she feels about herself than with you. And while I think taking on the chores was very nice of you, she needs to realize her way and your way are different and if she doesn't like your way than she needs to do them herself.

Locking the door, just make sure to lock it after you let the dog out before you let him it, it won't take long but again I think this points to issues she is having.

TC said...

To me it sounds like she wants you to leave but it's easier to have you leave rather than let you go.

Id look for something else, sure you've been there for a while and sure you've become attached but at the end of the day you have to do what's right for you.

Teddy Westside said...

I agree with what everyone else has said. Talk, renegotiate, and if necessary, leave.

It sounds to me like you are so attached to this child (understandably) that you put up with things from her mother that you normally wouldn't. It is up to you to decide your bullshit threshold. Personally, I think P starting preschool is a perfect reason to find another position, even though it will be hard to leave. You're making things quite hard on yourself in order to stay with P.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is about the nanny. I think this is about the misery of the MB. She used to abuse her husband, but he left, so now she abuses the nanny.

It's a shame, but I think you need to find happier employers who don't have to abuse the nanny to make themselves feel better.

Put the blame where it belongs said...

Wow you have become her whipping post. She doesn't want a Nanny she wants a wife. Maybe that is why her marriage broke up, husband was not playing the wife roll. Look OP you need to bail. Get a full time job and spend only the time that you need with the child. Once she is in school full time MB is going to let you go and have a babysitter and a housekeeper and she will pay both of them . She won't be able to pull what she did with you. Most nannies prepare themselves for when they have to leave a child, and you need to start now. There is no new contract with this woman. She wants you to leave and if you leave on your own then she won't look bad to people. Move OP you deserve happiness too.

another nanny said...

I get the feeling this might be a financial issue- MB feels stretched by paying your salary and that's the reason she is so nitpicky about everything. She may have fallen into this mentality of, "If I'm going to be paying so much for a nanny the least I expect is for the house to be clean," and "Well, when I'm here on the weekends, I clean AND take care of P, so why can't she do it too?"
If you really need to keep this job, I would recommend locking the door as requested, cleaning up after the child does so, using the dishwasher (as long as MB isn't there) and when she criticizes something, smile sweetly and say "I was planning to do it as soon as a I finish _____." I would try to set aside time to clean up (toys, shoes, etc) at least 30 minutes before MB is due home, and after that time, only allow the child to take out one toy or game, so that mom doesn't get overwhelmed by coming home to a messy house.
Also, if your additional duties are not in the original contract, I would insist on reviewing/amending the old contract, so that she cannot continue to just ask you to do additional tasks. If she refuses to amend the contract, I would take that as a red flag that this job is not going to last.

Truth Seeker said...

I think your MomBoss wants what I call a "2-for-1" deal...a Nanny/Maid at the price of a Nanny. What nerve (!)

Anyway, I used to work for a woman like you do and believe me, there is NO satisfying her one bit. Since you already attempted to speak w/her about this and you still cannot get her to change, you have no choice but to quit. I do not agree w/the other posters that she she probably is trying to get you to quit....since you stated this woman is a "Type A" personality, this is probably just how she is.

Try to keep things amicable when you leave as you will need a reference since you were w/her for three years. However, my gut tells me she will get even worse once she hears she is losing you.

MissMannah said...

You started out complaining that you don't have time to clean the house and take care of P and then you finished out by saying you might have to get a PT job because P is starting preschool. That situation seems ideal to me, you can keep your regular hours and use preschool time to do the housework. Personally, I don't know why you started doing all that housework to begin with. You said it was because MB can't afford a housekeeper--so why can't she just clean her own damn house?

Bostonnanny said...

Move on. MB needs therapy to deal with her issues and you need to stop letting walk all over you. I don't see her writing a new contract or getting any better after talking to you.

Phoenix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phoenix said...

you better hire a man whore and set her up on a date with him so she can get laid. Or buy her a pack of double AA's and hopefully she will get the hint. Your post made me so mad for you. (I would be mad even if i wasn't going through menopause) I would have started yelling back at her.

My little sister is considered laid back. Which also translates to push-over. This can't happen anymore. She is abusing you and you are doing everything right. I really wish there was a way for us to know each side of the story. See how MB views you in her eyes. Regardless though she is not creating a healthy work environment. How would she like it if her boss constantly yelled at her and was micro-managing her? I think that people forget that nannies are employees. They are assigned to specific tasks and they don't get to take on more work unless they get promoted. There should be nanny pay grade levels. Like Nanny 1, 2, and 3. Then there is Senior Nanny, then house supervisor, then house manager. Each role with their own set of pay and duties.

You need to have a sit down with her and talk this out. It will only get worse if you don't.

NannyPoppins said...

I have been in your position before dealing with an unreasonable MB. You stated that you talked with her numerous times and still no luck. Sometimes you simply cannot negotiate with people and come up a reasonable solution. I know you are attached to P and it's understandable. But you have to think of YOUR happiness too. What I would do is request a sit down talk with the MB and tell her your true feelings. Lay it all out there. Honesty is the best policy. Perhaps she truly does not know how she is being. Sometimes MB tend to take out their frustrations on their "help" when things in their lives are stressful or chaotic. Perhaps she is dealing with personal emotions behind closed doors. This is of course not your fault. She should not treat you poorly if you are doing everything in your capability. When talking about your feelings ask her about HERS. Ask her why her feelings and ways of talking/actions changed towards you. Find out if she is TRULY not happy with you or if other things are going on. Only after you BOTH come to a mutual understanding of both of your feelings talk about writing up a new contract right then and there. If you cannot come to an agreement. Express your love for her child and that you do not want to be completely removed from P's life. And if you cannot work with her for full time ask to remain in contact with P. If she does not allow this though it is sad and heartbreaking you will be ok and so will P. You put your happiness on the back burner for too long. You need to find a family who will love and treat you fairly.

RBTC said...

this is a bad business. I agree with the people who say she may be trying to get you to leave

It's seriously an untenable position - she is treating you not like a human being and you are being taken advantage of

on this site we are often cavalier about telling people "just quit" when they need a job but going thru non stop stress like this is bad for your health

and the idea that you can please this woman is very unlikely

if you can get out you should get out

Melmo25 said...

I am in a very similar position with a few differences: there are three children, the mother is married to a man every bit as type A as her, and they both work from home, which means they are home all the time. I feel your pain!!' I also have been working for my boss for 3 years, and I am currently looking for another job. It is incredibly demoralizing to still feel incompetent after three years of employment. My boss's criticisms are also all about housekeeping. I am also very attached to the kids, but at this point, my sense of self-worth and confidence is suffering, and I have to move on.

My advice: there are different types of personalities, and some are type A, negative and controlling. If this is a personality type issue, it is very unlikely to change. As much as it hurts to leave the kid, it extremely difficult working for someone like this, and will eventually take it's toll.

By the way: my breaking point was this: my bosses had a sit down meeting with me to discuss housekeeping issues. They then presented me with a typed List of 84 issues i need to "work on." including "fold towels squarely, first vertically and then horizontally" "vacuum basement after each meal" "stack Tupperware squarely" and "wipe smudges off of refrigerator and appliances each time after touching". It's not that any items on the list take particularly long, or are hard, it's just that when put together, it is an expectation of perfection, which is not reasonable with 3 very small kids (or even one, really.)