Relatively Speaking

opinion 1
I wanted to get this out there, and get some opinions from both nannies and parents. How do you deal with friends or relatives visiting and staying in the house while the nanny is working? In my opinion as a nanny, this is absolutely intolerable for more than a day or two. Having relatives around while I am trying to take care of the kids is so difficult. I have dealt with relatives before, mostly grandparents, and it is a nightmare! Here are some examples of the problems that come up:

- Some relatives, grandmothers in particular, can feel jealous of a nanny. They are blood relatives, but they don't see the child anywhere near as often as the nanny, so of course the child feels closer to the nanny. I had one grandma who visited for weeks but never played with her granddaughter, she just sat and watched soap operas. The little girl and I mostly went to the park, did arts and crafts, and played silly games. Grandma couldn't understand why her granddaughter wanted to be with me and not her, she was just furious.
- Grandparents like to spoil their grandchildren. Sometimes Mom can leave very specific instructions for the nanny, and Grandma will totally derail them. For example, Mom wants her child to have a sandwich for lunch, and no sweets. Grandma says he can have candy if he doesn't want his sandwich. What is the nanny supposed to do then? Have an argument with Grandma right in front of the child, or disregard Mom's wishes? Nanny is screwed either way.
- Even if the grandparents don't get jealous, and doesn't interfere, sometimes just having another adult around can be incredibly annoying. Some of us nannies are introverts, who relate fantastically to children, but feel uncomfortable when forced to interact with unknown adults. I know I do! That is one of the most uncomfortable situations for me, having to make small talk with a stranger.

I am trying to look at this from all points of view, but I'll start with the nanny's since it is the most familiar! I think it shows an incredible amount of disrespect to a nanny to force this situation upon her. It is a trap, it seems like she either has to put up with an intolerable situation at work or leave her job. It seems that parents either don't realize how uncomfortable this can be, or they just don't care. It seems to me that they are not considering the feelings of their nanny at all. A nanny should not have to babysit your relatives, or entertain your guests.

I feel that if you have a nanny and you want to have relatives coming to town, you need to either:
- Make sure the relatives are out of the house the whole time the nanny is there.
- Have the nanny take the kids to her house while the relatives are in town.
- Give the nanny the time off (PAID) and let your relatives take the kids.
- Put the relatives up in a hotel and tell them not to come over while nanny is there.

OK, now I'm going to look at this from the parent's point of view:
- If they have someone come to visit, they aren't going to want to kick them out of the house for a large part of every day.
- The parents might not want the kid's at nanny's house, which is their right.
- Maybe the relatives don't want to spend their trip caring for the kids while nanny has paid time off.
- Why spend money for a hotel if they have a perfectly nice guest room?

Maybe the parents are extroverts, and have no concept of how immensely uncomfortable it can be for some of us to make small talk with strangers. Perhaps it isn't that they aren't considering the feelings of the nanny, maybe they honestly can't imagine she would have a problem. Maybe they think the guest will actually be. So what about the guests point of view? They may also feel uncomfortable having to deal with the nanny being in their way all day. If I went to visit someone and they had someone else in their house all day while they were gone I would be horribly uncomfortable, and pretty angry at whoever I was visiting. But at least the relatives can probably explain this to the parents, while a nanny usually can't. (unless you have one of those rare Nanny-MB relationships where you can actually talk about stuff without anyone getting angry!)

If I were the parent in this situation, I would make sure the nanny and my guests were never in the house together for longer than a few minutes. I feel like any other action would be disrespectful to my nanny and my guests. I wouldn't want either my relatives or a nanny who is helping raise my kids to feel uncomfortable in my house. As a nanny, I just want to avoid this situation whenever possible. Is there a way to get this out before getting hired? Do you bring it up when they tell you someone is coming to visit? Do you just have to suck it up and deal? What have other nannies done? I would love to hear the parents side of this, too. Thanks!


my2cents said...

I have been a nanny for several different families in the past 5 years. In my experiences, I welcome when relatives come to stay. The current family I nanny for, lives very far away from family. So when the grandparents do come to visit, it is exciting for my charges. They love their grandparents! And because they live so far, I welcome any and all time they can spend together. What is more important than family? It has never been my experience for the grandparents to sit and watch tv. They always interact with my charges. Sometimes they will even take one child out for a fun day with grandma while I stay with the baby. So I guess in my experiences, I've never been uncomfortable with relatives staying over. But, if I was uncomfortable with it, I think I would try to just deal with it. Especially if they live far from one another and aren't able to visit often.

HappyNanny said...

I've been a nanny for 1.5 years for the same family, and I understand exactly what you're saying about how uncomfortable it is. The grandparents at my "job/house" absolutely hate me/my position in the family. The grandmother will not speak to me. She asks MB questions about the baby, MB asks me, I answer, and grandma responds to MB. I have tried to discuss this with DB but he says it's because I'm strict with the children and the grandparents like to spoil them. But I know that's not true because I try staying out of the way of their spoiling when they're there. So it can't be that.

Which is like what you were saying, MB says no sweets and grandparents come in and fill them with such things.

My advice would be to give it a shot, approach the parents and carefully talk to them about your concerns. Explain that you are trying to stay out of trouble with them, but sometimes it's a double-whammy and you can't avoid an argument with one side or the other.

another nanny said...

I have had situations where the relative was very helpful, as well as situations where I felt constantly scrutinized. In the latter, I usually just grin and bear it, because I feel it's important to support the children's relationship with their relatives, especially when they don't see each other very often. To that end, you could have the kids make a welcome poster to hang up before the relatives arrive, and also encourage the kids to interact with them.
You could also speak to MB when she lets you know about the visit. e.g. "How wonderful that your parents are coming. What should I expect while they're here? Will they want to join us on outings? Should I just carry on our daily routine as usual?"
Being caught between MB and a grandparent is much harder, though. I try to follow MB's lead. If she disregards her own rules in deference to grandma, then imo you should feel free to do the same. If she holds her ground, then you can say something like, "MB usually tells me to do it this way," in a very non-defensive manner.

MandaJ said...

I've faced this same situation on several occasions- I think what gets to me is the lack of warning. "Oh, my Parents are coming to town on in a few days. They'll be here a week or so."

It's much harder to do your job- your schedule is thrown off and as the Nanny, you're the one who has to seemingly make everyone happy and at the same time stay neutral. It's a hard job!

I recently told the Family I work for that I would love it if they could mark down deliveries, doctors appointments, days off, or vacations (including family visits) on a calendar- because I don't do well with spontaneity of that nature. And because they appreciate me and how I am with their Family (Being flexible) they obliged with no issue.

Talking to the Family is essential. You have to have good communication. And think of it this way- you have to be comfortable too. If they fire you on the grounds that you're uncomfortable with relatives hovering & interferring- then fine! Find another Family that you fit better with.

MissMannah said...

How odd, I have never encountered this. Every family I've worked with, when relatives come to stay with them, I always have the days off. I don't request them off, it is always just assumed that whoever is visiting will want to spend as much time as possible with the kids. I have worked for 4 different families and it has been the same every time. I just figured everyone was like this. Wouldn't the nanny just kind of be in the way with all the extra adults around the house anyway?

Aries said...

I think if you tried to let parents know ahead of time before you start working it will be them on edge. Parents get nervous when hiring a nanny to take care of there little children ESP the ones who can't talk. Some might even purposely have relatives come by at any given time to see if things are going smooth. If you were to tell them about your concerns with people coming to the house they might wonder why you have such an issue. Why do you need to be alone with there children without others stopping in. That alone might turn them off or they might resort to a nanny cam. You can't trust a nanny 100%, maybe over time yeah but if i seen an ad on sittercity or listing your concerns i probably would pass it up. I wouldn't automatically think you're a villian i just wouldn't be comfortable with it.

Now if these relatives are popping in daily for hours at a time then that would be very annoying. If its periodically for a little while then i think you should suck it up. Millions of people dislike certain things or people are there jobs but have to bit there lip and deal unless its a real problem thats almost impossible to ignore.

As for the Grandmother sitting on the couch water soaps telling you its okay to give your charge a sugar high(lol) I would just politely tell her that there parents said absoloutly not and that if she wanted to give them sugar against the parents wishes then she (the grandmother) needs to call and ask. I'm sure grandma will drop the subject quickly.

If the guest are relatives visiting for a few days/week again i would just suck it up BECAUSE i wouldn't want to interfare on the families vacation and lifestyle. I wouldn't want to be resented for making them pay to stay at a hotel. It's only temporary you will live.

Just out of curiousity what would you rather have, Nanny cam or people visiting the house here and there?

StrawberryShortKakes said...

LOL this is usually what I call a ridiculous "adult to child ratio." I encountered this a bit. When I nannied for a 7 year old boy, his mom seemed to have the idea that I just loved spending time with their family. Don't get me wrong, I liked them but sometimes when there were many adults around I just wanted to leave because it was a waste of my time to be there. Anyway, whenever family would come visit, MB would be home from work (her job was flexible) and we would also be home because it was summer so there were 3 adults and one child. That is just unnecessary. Sometimes it was not possible for me to be able to leave because MB and relative would go off and do their own thing but most of the time they just spent the whole day catching up and I would sit there awkwardly. I got the impression that she thought of me more like family and didn't want to be like "OK you can leave now" but honestly I wish she had.

seeareuh said...

I totally get this situation! I'm nannying for four children 6 yr old, 4yr old triplets) & frequently my MB will tell me "I invited my mother and sister to come over and help you out with the kids" and I always feel SO AWKWARD around them because the sister coddles the shit out of one of the triplets (doesn't with any of the other kids) so my life is made that much more difficult because he always cries for her. I feel awkward MB's mom and sister what to do or what not to do because I'm younger than them (I definitely was brought up learning to respect anyone older than me) but basically just have to tell the sister "do not pick him up, he's throwing a tantrum because I said no candy" or "don't bribe them."

It can be so awkward having family members around because the nanny's job either becomes ten times more stressful or completely obsolete.

Always remember though, follow the rules of the person who pays you. Control situations as much as you can.

yaurn said...

An issue very akin to this is what brought me to this website over a year ago... my family has two very involved grandmothers - grannyA, whose house they live in, and grannyB, who seems to think she sort of lives there too... I get along well with grannyA - she works full-time, so I only ever see her if she's home sick or when I arrive or leave. If she's there she disappears to her room and we rarely see her, and when we do she leaves the girls completely to my care. She's always treated me as an equal. GrannyB drives me crazy. She shows up... whenever. Usually without warning. She micromanages me, takes over the girls when she's there, gives in to every little whine and tantrum... gah. She also cleans incessantly, even when the family's cleaning lady is there (I actually spent 2.5 very uncomfortable hours knitting in the family room while the cleaning lady and GrannyB cleaned the adjacent kitchen and the girls were napping). GrannyA has told me that the poor cleaning woman has complained about it, and GrannyA is insulted that GrannyB feels the need to clean her house. I completely agree. BUT there's nothing I can do. These women are the girls' family, and I'm not. In 5 months (school-willing) I'll be gone and they'll be there. So even though it's stupid and awkward and I hate it, I deal. And I pity poor GrannyA who's going to have to put up with GrannyB looong after I'm gone.

Phoenix said...

welll. let me see. They are the FAMILY you are not. The family is used to having the run of the house, their home is the relatives home.

Grandparents are gonig to undermine the nanny, hell they do that to the parents! They are only going to be there a short while. Suck it up and deal with it.

In my opinion it sounds like you're whinning. Get over it. They are the relatives and you can't change that. It is really rude of you to suggest they not be allowed in the house while the nanny was there. Very very rude. how would you like it if someone told one of your relatives they weren't allowed in the house, or even allowed their own grandchild. If you said that to me I would fire you on the spot. i wouldn't want some hearless person watching my kids and trying to keep them from their family

Littlenanny said...

The family I nannied for for a year and a half lived in a small apartment. This was my dream job until 3 months in dad it a work from home position. Now I couldn't stand him and then come thanksgiving MBs mom came to stay with them for a few days. She would say how great I am but then treat me and talkto me like I was "the help" and nothing more. She would leave dirty dishes in the sink and just assume I'd wash them (which I did, I'm a pushover! But y current family appreciates all the little things I do, Ives me bonuses and gift cards etc.)
Fast forward to april. Did I mention dad HATES his in laws? So they come up in April. Now I wS suppose to be done work at 4. The in laws were coming by around 3. Prior to them arriving DB tells me do NOT leave even if they tell me I can. I said sure okay. Bc he hates them remember. They arrive and no more than five minutes after DB rushes out the apartment on a phone call. I'm left awkwardly with these in laws, just awful. 4pm rolls around. DB not back yet..15 min o by. Still not back. I try textin him. No response. E in laws tell me ican go as I say oh it's okay I dot mind

Little nanny contd. said...

By 445 DB STILL NOT BACK! Mb calls for some reason and I tell her he isn't home. She hangs up with me and must've calle him (I had tried to text and call) and e comes through he door! And he says to me "I'm so sorry, why didn't you leave?" ARE You kidding me youGAVE ME SPECIfic instructions I stay! I wants to scream.
He was awful. Luckily I Found a new family who gives me days off and of their relatives are coming.

Little nanny said...

My apologies for typos, I'm on my phone and thinking about that time just burns me up haha

Bethany said...

This is one of those things that's you can't understand unless you've been in the situation.

I once had a grandmother inform me that she didn't believe in all that back to sleep hooey for babies as I was putting her infant grandchildren to sleep. She was a fun one. It was a bit harder with her because she had been their previous caregiver.

There were times when she was great to have around and as someone who didn't get to have a relationship with her grandparents I wouldn't want to get in the way of a grandparent and grandchild.

If there is no way for you to change your schedule during visits you just have to deal and stick to the rules as best as you can.
Don't worry about it unless MB or DB start yipping at you for the etra treats. If that happens they need to deal with rule breaks.

Make sure to have a nice glass of wine when you go home at the end of the day.

Are you kidding me???? said...

Wow, I have finally heard it all. If a nanny told me they could not tolerate being in the house with my visiting family for more than a few minutes in passing and wanted the paid time off, or the family banished to a hotel, they would be fired on the spot. So many reasons ... First and foremost, why do they need to be alone all the time with my kids, why can't they get along with others even if they don't like them and set an example for the kids, why can't they adapt to employment situations that may be less tahn ideal for them (good luck in the outside world,) why can't they be mature and flexible enough to deal with changes in the almighty schedule and realize that candy from Grandmom for lunch, will be a cherished childhood memory, why does a nanny have to be notified days in advance that a delivery is coming (Good Lord!,) why can't a nanny realize that she can just do her job and not make "small talk" -all day, maybe the visitors don't like you either and would appreciate the silence on your part while still enjoying the kids?

I have seen a lot of crazy demands on here, but this simply takes the cake!!! What's next, a nanny demanding that she be consulted when new paint colors are chosen because she might find periwinkle blue "overwhelming" and prefer sea mist instead? Suck it up, Ladies!!! You can't control everything around you and when you are an employee, especially in someone else's home, learn to live with it, or go elsewhere!!!

Cate said...

Thanks for reminding us that we nannies are mere slaves and we should know our place and never ever express our discomfort.

Do you know what it's like to be blamed for Junior having that extra piece of candy from G-ma?

Do you know what it's like to battle with Auntie over nap time? Knowing full well that if Minnie doesn't have her nap she'll be a mess, Auntie will complain and you'll get a lecture about it.

Do you know what it's like to have your every move questione by a sometimes nt well-meaning relative why you're just trying to do your job?

Sometimes you have no choice but to chat. When some one speaks to you or is in your general area it's pretty darn rude not to speak to them.

If everyone is home why bother with the nanny. In my experience she's not doing anything in that scenario you may as well give her the time off pay her don't pay her whatever. As you made clear your nanny is an employee not part of the family so why does she need to be at the reunion when she's not doing anything?

MissMannah said...

I have a pretty obvious question here. If you guys are having family from out of town come to visit...why the heck are you going to work and leaving them alone with your nanny anyway? Don't you think that's pretty rude? They make a special visit to come see you and then you can't even be bothered to spend time with them? I guess this is why I've never encountered this situation--around here we take off work to spend time with our families instead of expecting complete strangers to keep them entertained!

Been there said...

I understand how difficult it can be but I would not insist relatives be sent away for my benefit. I have told MBs that aim uncomfortable in a certain situation & asked their advice. My perspective has been to consider my goals 1) keep children safe (car seats not negotiable even if baby cries when buckled & grandma's kids survived just fine without them) & 2) do what I can to foster children's relationship with their grandparents.

perspective... said...

For those of you who cannot understand why we nannies are so bothered by this, think of it this way. You go into work and sit down at your desk, and your boss appears and tells you the his parents are visiting, so they going to be sitting next to you at your desk all day. Would you put up with this kind of thing at work? Would you be comfortable with two strangers watching your every move? Why should nannies have to put up with this? This would be unthinkable in any other job, we deserve the same respect.

Smile said...

As a nanny, I know this can potentially be awkward!! But this job is NOT comparable to an office job where the boss seats his parents next to you. As a nanny you are "part of the family" and, joy, that means part of the job description is dealing with extended family. If grandparents are undermining you, I would talk to the parents confidentially and put it in terms of what is best for their children. As much as they love their in-laws, I would imagine that any parent might be more interested to intervene for you if they felt the situation was not good for the kids. I would just say, "I'm trying to do my job to the best of my ability, but I feel it is inappropriate for me to say "no" to the grandparents in front of your children when they are giving them sweets. If you want me to have your children follow your rules when grandma is staying, it would help me for you to clarify that with grandma. I just want to do my job however you want me to do it, so just let me know how you would like me to handle this."

perspective... said...

Yeah, that "part of the family" line always shows up when the family wants to take advantage of a nanny, for example, when they want nanny to babysit their relatives too.

Smile stated that 'part of the job description is dealing with extended family', that is only true if they tell you at the interview that they will be having family stay there from time to time. Either is it in the contract and agreed upon by everyone, or it is NOT part of the job description.

MissMannah made an excellent point. It is very rude to take off and leave your guests with your nanny. I would be furious if I went to visit someone and they had a nanny in my face instead of spending time with me themselves.

CompulsiveComplainers said...

I suspect some of you are exaggerating. I'm sure Grandma doesn't desperetely try to give the child candy against your wishes (or the parents wishes). I'm sure Auntie doesn't try to keep the children awake instead of naptime. I think someof you are just throwing that it and exaggerating to justify the way you feel. Just admit that you don't want them around because it cramps YOUR style when you're working.

It's the families house and way of living. I wouldn't rearrange my lifestyle so the nanny is comfortable. No offence. Life isn't fair, we all get put in uncomfortable situations. The relatives aren't coming to stay forever. It's a vacation and if you can't handle it then maybe you should find another job.

Phoenix said...

the idea of sitting at a desk and the bosses parents come in and interfere with your work is completely different. #1 the nanny is in the HOME of the employer. And the nanny is not authorized to make any decisions about who the employer allows in her home. Unless they are abusers of some kind. #2 these are the family of the charges. They have every right to be in the home and interacting with their family. If grandma gives the charge a cookie then just tell the mom that so and so had a little extra suger today because grandma loves so much and was spoiling her grandchildren.

The nanny has no right to suggest the MB throw her parents to the curb and not allow them to stay in their house. How would you like it if someone told your parents that someone didn't like them around. That would seriously hurt their feelings. I think what you suggested was very selfish and completely out-of-line

NannyLola said...

I can completely relate to this! In my previous position, the grandmother would come and stay for days at a time and feed the kids nothing but cookies and candy. The 18 month old would get so constipated every single time she would visit from eating all that candy. The poor little guy would be crying and just so uncomfortable! I raised the issue with MB but nothing ever changed.
In my current position, I have also had issues with a grandmother. She kept dropping hints about how the family pays me too much, I'm there too much etc. She even tried to tell me not to come to work one day because I wouldn't be needed, even after I had discussed my schedule with MB and DB. What really took the cake was when she changed my sign-out time one day, docking me 15 minutes (I signed out for 445, it was 443 when /i checked the clock). I became so upset when I saw the change, thinking it must have been MB or DB and worrying that they didn't trust me. When I confronted MB about it she felt so bad because she could see how upset I was, and explained that her M-in-law is a bit strange. Anyways, I was very uncomfortable around her for the rest of her visit and I am not looking forward to having her visit again!

Not so bad... said...

Sometimes, parents come to visit and I can't take every day off although I would like to. As for my boss sitting his parents down at my desk for the day or days, I'd have so many questions I could finanlly get answered! And I am not afraid of what they would "report" because I am doing my job.

I said...

I can totally relate.
When the Mom's parents are in town, they make me do everything. Or suggest things for us to do. The grandma likes to make me feel inferior. And she's the one that visits the most! What's worse is when the kids' mom has the day off too and they go shopping together and still come home LATE/AFTER I'm supposed to get off!

When the Dad's parents are in town. They like to help me out and they are so nice and I think they know I'm shy around strangers so they know how to make conversation with me. I love they visit even though it's very rare.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a self-entitled lot.

Anonymous said...

For those saying that I will fire you on the spot YOU MUST HAVE IN MIND THAT YOU signed a contract. If that contract says the "nanny-sole charge position" you're be screwed. because if someone else besides the parents interfere with your job than you are breching the contract. Simple as that! so next time you decide to be a bitch think that you might just bite your own ass. The nanny is not a a slave, she has rights as much as she has obligation and she is there TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR KID not to sooth adults feelings, for those theres another type of nanny- the shrink, same kind of job-MOOOOORE MONEY . If you need spys then you dont need a nanny, you are not ready to have a nanny, therefore stay home, take care of your kids and live a looong happy life.

Anonymous said...

This has honestly been an interesting read.
Absolute cross section of nannies displayed and a couple of irate parents.

So far in 25 years of nannying, I've had cleaners tell me what to do. Grandmother's physically push me aside to change nappies and parents shout at me over clothing choices aunties have picked out.

I'm a qualified Kindergarten teacher employee by someone to care and educate their children.
I've learnt the hard way on this. I'm not here for family members and nor should I be dictated too about my care practises. End of.

I require warning when family are too visit. If I'm not needed, then I will leave. Paid of course, because my time is paid, however it's spent by my employer.
I also won't be a third wheel. I love the children in my care, but I never forget I am the employee and not related and therefore not obligated to spend family time.

The people who are telling nannies to suck it up, that we are whining?

When you are in our shoes, with our education and experience. Watching the children tantrum while being undermined by adults half our age.
Then you may comment on the situation.