30 November, 2012
Passive-Aggressive Behavior is a No-Brainer
Hello, I am writing because my family is considering firing our current nanny and I am looking for insight into the situation. As background information, our family has older children who the nanny does not have any responsibility for (due to after school activities and the time we need coverage, there is very little interaction between our caregiver and older children) and a 5 year old who our nanny watches 5 days a week from 3:00 PM - 5:30/6:00 PM. We do not need a nanny over the summer due to camps. I have employed 3 nannies for various lengths of time during my daughter's life and have had good working relationships with all of my caregivers. They all left on good terms for a variety of reasons (position went part-time, school obligations, etc.) and we stay in touch with all of them.
This spring, I hired a part-time teacher's aide for the hours and days described above. She was with us for a few months and took another job for the summer before resuming with us at the beginning of the school year. While she started off last spring very strong, ever since September things have seemed different with her. M is frequently in a bad mood, is less engaging with my child, and seems to be less satisfied with the position then when she started at the end of last school year. In early October, I sat her down to discuss my concerns after a month of things being "off" and she shared with me that over the summer she felt her job was easier and she was paid a higher hourly rate. I told her I understood her frustrations but that we were not in a position to make the job "easier" (over the summer, she got paid for full time work while her charges were in camp and had no household responsibilities; the hours she is with us, M is full charge with my daughter and she helps flip the laundry, tidy toys, etc.) as the job responsibilities had been negotiated in the spring and had not changed. Furthermore, we were not in a position to pay a higher hourly rate at this time (we pay her $16/hour for 15 hours a week; she frequently leaves earlier if we come home earlier and she is paid every week during the school year, even if we do not need her at all). I told her if she wanted to search for another job just to provide adequate notice and that we would not have any hard feelings.
Fast forward to last weekend (Thanksgiving weekend). My husband had a business dinner that took him out of town on Saturday night and he invited me to join him for the dinner and an overnight. I asked M if she would like to watch our daughter for the night (the teenagers were either with other parents or had sleepover plans), roughly 1 PM Saturday to 12:00 PM Sunday. I offered her $20 hourly for every hour plus an extra $100 overnight fee, considering that it was a holiday weekend and she accepted. She was given this date and made the commitment at the beginning of November. When my husband and I left Saturday, we left her with a clean house, petty cash, and use of our vehicle. I spoke to her Saturday evening and she assured me all was well and sounded happy, as did our little girl. When we arrived home on Sunday (approximately 11:45 AM) I was stunned to find the house absolutely trashed. Not I hosted a keg party trashed but sink full of dishes (they made cookies), toys strewn throughout the house, playroom wrecked, garbage overflowing. When I commented, M told me she and my daughter had done a lot of baking and arts and crafts and "housekeeping was not in her contract." I replied that while housekeeping was absolutely not in her contract, it was her responsibility to maintain order in the household and to clean up messes that occurred under her watch. She ended up leaving in a huff.
Based off of all of her recent behavior, I have reason to believe she is so unhappy in the job that she is behaving passive aggressively towards my husband and me, and I am concerned that could trickle down to our child. It seems like a no-brainer for me to let her go effective immediately (we were in a childcare pinch this week and needed coverage) by firing her tomorrow and offering her 2 weeks severance in lieu of notice. My husband thinks I'm over-reacting but I am genuinely concerned by her recent behavior and would rather deal with the hiring process over the holidays (ugh!) then jeopardize the safety of my child. Are there any moms/nannies who might have insight into the decision? Tomorrow is Friday and I keep going back and forth in my head. Help! - Anonymous
at 2:29 PM