Nanny V. Housekeeper

      We moved to CT in January and our NYC nanny and NYC housekeeper did not come with us. We had to hire new help. When assessing each of them on their own merits, they do a great job. My children like the nanny. The house is clean, etc. What I don't know how to handle is the ongoing dislike between the two of them.
      I will cite some examples, but I need some guidance. I am a working mother, so I am out of the home M-F, while they are working. The housekeeper cleans the house on a basic schedule, so as I understand it, she would be upstairs doing bedrooms at one time and doing the kitchen at another time. The housekeeper claims the nanny tries to "know her schedule" and cooks around it. The nanny makes dinner for the children and the housekeeper is mad that the nanny is doing meal prep while the children eat breakfast. This makes sense to me. The housekeeper sees it as intentional. I've also come home to a very clean house and then come across random things like crumbs on a counter by the toaster and the toaster not pushed back. My thought is that the nanny needs to clean up after herself, but she is also taking care of and feeding three kids. The counter had clearly been cleaned AROUND the crumbs, which to me is deliberate and petty.
      The housekeeper is making complaints against the nanny that she is lazy, doesn't encourage the children to pick up, intentionally makes extra laundry and purposely doesn't flush the toilet and pees on the seat. (Really). The nanny responds more level headed, apologizes and suggests the housekeeper should communicate directly with her, that way, she could have the child pick up the offending mess then and there. When I suggested this to the housekeeper, the housekeeper said that she doesn't work for the nanny and she is not going to be ordered around by the nanny.
      Last night when I came home, I was changing in my dressing area. The area seemed very clean, but I noticed some perfumes were out, there was mascara laying down, there were finger prints on the mirror and vanity, lipstick on a q-tip laying there and some clothing hangars on the floor. When I asked the housekeeper about it, she told me, "Look I can't control the nanny if she wants to dress up in your clothes and makeup." Is she trying to make me crazy? I was thinking that the solution was to find a new housekeeper. My gut tells me she created this mess on top of the cleaned dressing area, but what if I am wrong?
     If I do let the housekeeper go, how do I set things up next time so we don't have these problems?


Anonymous said...

I would install a nanny cam in your room and kitchen. Most states don't allow audio without consent so don't use that. This way you can monitor them for a few days and see who is telling the truth then have a sit down. Either they both are immature or one is trying to set the other up. I am a nanny and do light housekeeping on top of caring for the children. They have someone come in and clean the house every other week and I help with vacuuming and help with small household things when they are not here. Maybe you could offer the nanny a little more to do so instead of having a full time house cleaner and maybe that will help?

Anonymous said...

The only question in my mind is, should you fire both of them or just the housekeeper?

Anonymous said...

I think this is what the author below was talking about. There's a minor problem so fire them both! Great solution.

Corina said...

A few crumbs bother you? Sorry, couldn't get past that. Having 3 kids can't imagine house being always in perfect state.

Heidi said...

Fire the housekeeper. She is obviously continually trying to cause conflict, while the nanny seemed very professional about it. Do not fire the nanny. Nannies develop relationships with kids, and the kids would have a much harder time saying goodbye to the nanny than to the housekeeper. If you experience problems again, then there may be conflict with the nanny. As of now it sounds like the problem is your housekeeper.

In the future, make sure your housekeeper understands that she will need to work around the nanny. And let them meet during the interviewing process, or sometime before the job starts, so that there is no animosity.

polly pillows said...

I'd fire them both. Then rehire them both, kick the housekeeper in the teeth and fire her again. I cant stand housekeepers with attitude. One has to defer to the other. It should be a no brainer that the one who takes care of your children should always be the front runner FOR VIP. The only time that doesn't happen is when there is a house manager or personal assistant on the team.

Anonymous said...

Find a new housekeeper.

And sorry. But in the pecking order the NANNY is far more important than the housekeeper.

The housekeeper clearly has attitude. She sees herself in competition with the nanny - while the nanny seems to well understand the dynamics and what her priority is ... the children.

It's a lot easier to find someone else to clean your house who will not create unnecessary conflict in your household.

A wonderful nanny is rare and should be treasured.

So either make the pecking order clear with the housekeeper -- that the nanny indeed can give her some direction -- or find a new housekeeper.

Me! said...

It sounds like the housekeeper is feeling insecure and is trying to cause problems. There are two housekeepers who come in to clean for my family. As the nanny, I know to be out of their way from 10-12. They also know to clean upstairs first so the kids can nap when we come back. So it's a team effort. They are nice and respectful and I don't leave messes for them to clean. I recommend a nanny cam to see what is really going on.

angi said...

I actually believe a little bit of the housekeeper... Not all of it but some. Regardless..... It's a house vs your children. A pleadings bond to the kids ( and vs) is what's most important here. Get a new housekeeper and have a sit down with both of them together and explain your expectations of both of them. Send them off together and treat them to a lunch together by themselves to get familiar with each other before the housekeeper starts her job. This with help connect them and hopefully make the nanny see the housekeeper as an equal.

Angi said...

"As nannies bond...." Sorry, on cell

VA BossMom said...

I understand where the housekeeper is coming from. She doesn't want to clean up after the nanny. That's not her job.

this_nick said...

She's the housekeeper; cleaning up after the household IS her job.

this_nick said...

The housekeeper is the problem here, and your nanny is amazing in her even and considerate responses. (I say this understanding that as a nanny, I would in no way be so accommodating of the housekeeper's vitriol in my reaction.). If you have a good nanny, keeping her is your priority. Sit down with the housekeeper and explain that her position entails cleaning up after the household, nanny and kids included. If she doesn't like a cleaning job (it honestly sounds like she's angling for the nanny's position), you will give her a nice reference.

But in no way should you risk losing a good nanny because of a jealous housekeeper. There are many candidates who can clean your house, but a select few who would be the right for to care for your children.

AbsOfSteel said...

In all of the households I've worked in, the nanny tends to rank above the housekeeper. And I don't mean that in a disrespectful way, I just mean that the housekeeper typically works around the nanny and children, and cleans up after them as needed. That definitely depends on the family, as some families prefer that the kids take care of their own messes and some don't.

The nanny sounds like she's at least trying to work with the housekeeper. In my jobs I've always tried to help the housekeepers as much as can, and never make their job harder than it is. But I've worked with wonderful housekeepers who understand that sometimes running after busy kids means that things don't get cleaned up right away, and don't get upset about it.

I think a nanny cam isn't the worst idea, to see what the real story is, so you can deal with it as necessary. The inter-staff drama is so unnecessary and not something that should be happening between two fully grown adults.

Alice said...

If the housekeeper is assigned to be there from x-y, then the nanny should be cleaning up after messes made AFTER the housekeeper is gone, IMO.

Even with 3 children, I can clean crumbs off a counter and push back a toaster.

The lipstick and personal belongings would worry me, I would probably personally invest in a video-only nanny cam and hide it in my room to see what was up with that.

However the nanny seems level-headed, while the housekeeper seems to be an explosive, rather volatile specimen of human life, according to how you've worded this. I would fire the housekeeper, give her a decent reference and make it known that the reason for the termination is because she was not able to get along with someone who held a position of authority over the household that was above her own. The nanny DOES rank higher, as far as household employees go. She acts as an interim parent in your place while you are away. Thus, the other household employees should be at least on decent speaking terms with her.