Lack of Communication from Parents Leave Nanny Feeling Anxious

opinion 1
Hi all. This is my first time posting to this forum. I have read it quite a bit in the past. I am finally writing because I could desperately use some advice/support. I am a first time nanny to a wonderful baby. Now though this is my first nanny job it is not my first nanny experience. I have had a hand in caring for many babies and so have a bit of experience. My struggle isn't actually with my duties as a nanny. The mom is a first time mom, which alone makes things a little trickier.

For the most part we get a long fine, however I am having a really hard time because communication is not an easy thing between us. This week has been tough. I just moved last weekend and am starting to adjust. This week was also tough for the baby. He has been quite fussy. It can be frustrating, but I believe everyone would feel frustrated with a baby so young when they are having a particularly cranky day. Despite those minor frustrations I am quite able to handle my job of caring for him however this does not mean it isn't difficult sometimes.

The thing is, what is really making it hard for me is that the the parents have a way of making me feel as though I am doing something wrong. I am good at what I do. I am attentive, and nurturing but it is impossible to keep a baby from ever fussing and everything at this age is trial and error. Lately I have been carrying more anxiety to work with me because of this feeling. I know it is partly that I am a very sensitive person, but it is getting very difficult for me. I don't want to leave because the sad truth is that if I did decide to it wouldn't be because of the baby but because of the communication difficulties. I am truly at a loss here.


MissMannah said...

Could you possibly give some more details? I have really no idea what you're asking. What are the parents doing to make you feel so uncomfortable?

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I feel the same way you feel when I am caring for a child and that child starts to fuss. I feel like I am doing something wrong.

Remember, kids fuss when they are w/their parents as well. If this family is making you feel bad, then they are being unreasonable. Do you think you are just being extra-sensitive regarding this?

Bre said...

What are they doing or saying that is making you feel bad? Can you explain their behavior more?

In the little bit of experience I've had I find that parents of babies are often more anxious. They can't exactly ask baby what happened during the day.

I've found that having a simple log during the day of what you & baby did during the day can help. Things like diaper changes, naps, food & any extras like any songs , games or toys baby seemed to like.
It's also a great way to open communication.
Everyone feels helpless when dealing with a fussy baby. Don't feel bad.

ELam said...

I'm not quite sure what the issue or question is here.

First, if this is your first nanny job then yes, it is your first nanny experience. You may have some childcare experience (i.e. babysitter, working in a daycare) but a full-time nanny is a whole 'nother ball game.

I agree with Bre, keep a "nanny notebook" to write things down during the day, this is a great way to communicate with parents.

Do they work from home? Have they come right out and said things that make you feel they think you are doing something wrong? Maybe you are being too hard on yourself? A little too self-conscious? I am a really sensitive person as well, so I hear ya, but if you really feel you are good at what you do and provide the best care for their child then have faith in that and keep doing a good job. Maybe you can suggest a meeting with the parents (I've often done this, at the parent's request, a month or so after starting a new nanny job to make sure everyone was on the same page) where you can come out and ask them if there's anything they would like to see change in terms of how you handle their child. Don't be too hard on yourself if you are doing the best you can.

OP said...

I have watched a child full time for over a year. I just wasn't being paid for it so while this is my first time being a nanny as a profession it is not my first experience in doing the duties required of a nanny.

The MB is a WAHM and every time the baby is fussy she comes into the room and takes him instead of allowing me to stop his fussing. That makes it much harder for me to establish a bond with the baby (we'll call him P) because I am not given a chance. MB has a pretty lax view on having a schedule for P and often times directions she gives me conflict with things she said earlier in the day/week which makes things incredibly confusing for me. If I do one thing I should be doing another, and if I do that I should be doing whatever I was doing earlier. I don't have exact examples of this (I am being a bit vague on purpose because I don't know if MB uses this site)but it is something that happens quite frequently. When I try to discuss with her where I am feeling confused by her directions she never seems to understand how she often times contradicts herself.

I do keep record of many of the things I do with P during the day, though mostly just feedings and naps to help us all better understand his needs. I try very hard to keep P as happy as possible but it is very hard for me when i feel like everything I do is under a microscope.

MissMannah said...

How old is P? If he is a young baby, which from your description he sounds like he is, he really doesn't need a schedule. I agree with your MB on that one that everything should just be on-demand.

The fact that she is a first-time mom tells me that she wants to have more control. (Of course most MBs want to have more control.) So rather than just sitting back and letting her do everything or criticize you all the time (if she's doing that, I couldn't tell), why not start asking her questions? Like when he's fussing, "What do you think he needs? How would you like me to handle this in the future?" And if you want specific directions, you have to ask specific questions or else the problems will never be resolved.

TiredNanny said...

Yeah, this is the main reason that nanny jobs with a parent working from home are AWFUL. If the parents see you every minute of the day, it is inevitable they are going to find something wrong even if you are the world's best nanny.

My advice would be to find another job where the parents actually go to work, but if you are determined to stick with this one, ask them if there is a time you can sit down and address these concerns. Be totally honest and up front, and if they have an issue, you are better off somewhere you feel comfortable.

MissMannah said...

TiredNanny...way to generalize. Maybe you need to go take a nap.

Bre said...

I think things could still work out, but OP has to be willing to speak up and ask questions and all that.

I didn't go back and read your post but does she want you as a nanny or more of a helper/assistant?

I've had good experiences with work from home parents and bot so good. The key to it like anything else is being open.

OP said...

P is 4 months old. I do ask specific questions and am asked what I think, and if we go with what I think I am given ideas of other things i should be doing instead but not actually given anything solid to go on. When I use one of the ideas given she suggests I do something i was previously doing.

When MB is out P is great for me. The fussing is only when he needs something (eat/change/nap) and easily taken care of.

I actually really like my MB and know she is having a hard time, I just don't know how to nicely explain to her that I am not phased by a fussy baby, but am having a hard time doing my job when given conflicting directions or being questioned when I do things my way after she asks what I think I should to.

I love P and want to stay at this job but we have talked more than once. On good days all if fine, but on fussy days I want to pull my hair out, and not because of the baby.

Noelle said...

Speaking as a WAHM it is really, really hard to hear your child cry and not go to him. Especially when they are an infant. It is almost a biological impulse. So do not feel it is a comment on you at all -- it is simply a draw from the child to the mom. I had a nanny (we were her first official family as well) whom I (and my boys) adored. She was actually trained as a doula as well and was present for, and helped me through the labor and delivery of my younger son. She stayed at the hospital with my husband and I from 5:00 pm the night before I delivered until after I delivered at 7:00 pm the next night. She worked for me for almost 3 years and when she left because she was ready to move on to other things I was as sad as my kids to see her go.

That being said, even loving and trusting my nanny as much as I did, I would go to my sons when they cried as infants. I did reassure her that I just couldn't hear them cry and not come, that I absolutely trusted her to handle it, but I had to come cuddle them, whatever. As the boys got older and as the nanny and I got to know each other better, I relaxed more and interfered less and the biological call to the babies crying lessened as they got older.

There is also some guilt for even WAHM's at leaving child in care of another (especially if you like your job and enjoy it) that impacts mom's behavior and compulsion to come running when baby cries - and again has nothing to do with you.

As far as the inconsistent advice/instructions that just comes with new mom territory - always worrying whether you are doing the right thing which is why first born's need therapy when they get older! LOL! Might be helpful if you know of some good parenting books and or ask her if she has one that she likes (and then read/skim it yourself) and you could use that together to make some of these choices (helps to have an authority sometimes.

I would give new mom and your job more time and try not to take her coming in to see to crying baby as an insult in any way to you because it has way more to do with the mom-child bond and other factors and probably has nothing to do with you at all. And it should lessen as child gets older and as mom knows you better. Trust me - first time mommy anxiety and love and hormones can be overwhelming - I would even take the babies from my husband (who is an amazing involved father) when they started crying. I literally couldn't help myself I am sure I annoyed everyone! Good luck!

OP said...

Noelle, thank you very much for your comments and advice. It has done wonders in easing my mind and guilt. Thinks are getting better slowly. I think that as P gets older things will only get better. Hearing from another mom who was a WAHM and had a nanny has really helped me understand her point of view without feeling as though I am the cause of those feelings. Again, thank you very much.

Bre said...

OP I'm glad things are getting better for you and Noelle has given you some good insight.

I still find it concerning that she snaps at you left and right, but as you said things seem to be getting better and this could just be a little hitch in your relationship.
Hopefully things continue to turn out well.