We have a great three-day-per-week nanny who is terrific with our son, is reliable and works like a dog. In fact, she is perfectionistic to the point of being a little bit severe, which can be great for someone entrusted with caring for a young child, but very difficult when it comes to the adult negotiations. She and I are having some personality conflicts that frequently make it feel like an unhealthy dynamic in the house. Negotiations about the smallest things become quickly heated, and I come out of them surprised and drained and wishing I didn't have to see her the next time. She all but derailed a recent family trip for which we hired her with several protracted and emotional weeks of negotiation and complaints leading up to it.
Any advice for letting go of our nanny nicely?
You can always gage her reaction when you talk to her. If you think she is handling it well you can leave the door open for a slower transition and visitations. You can tell her you will offer your reference to anyone and that you think she was excellent at her job, just that she is not the right fit for your family. You can communicate your concern for your son and that his attachment to her is important to you.
It's hard having employees but its definitely a learning experience. Good luck!!
What do you think would happen if you had a frank discussion with her about the communication problems before letting her go? There is always the possibility that she would be willing to amend her style or her methods if she heard in a direct manner how disconcerting it was to you. She does sound peculiar; most providers wouldn't be arguing with their employer about their employer's child, but you describe many other things about her that you value. How do you think she might handle very direct communication about how it is going for you and why you'd like to see her grow more flexible in her ways? Just curious!
Thanks, I think it's too far gone. We had a few weeks of calm, but I've had some bad interactions with her today and last week. I don't know if she senses I'm searching for her replacement (which would be strange as I have no paperwork on it anywhere), but she's started to push for some nebulous but sizeable leftover expenses from our family trip that she hadn't mentioned in weeks. (Reimbursements for dog care provided by her friends, for which she has no receipts but wabts us to pay the maximum we'd offered per quality boarding companies.) I'm thinking of not giving her any severance at all now that she's suddenly pushing for this extra $1200 for dog care (!) Couldn't she have been reasonable and said her friend was sitting for the dogs for $60/night or something. Are we her corporate employers and she's just trying to suck every last penny she can from us?
One example of a heated discussion: A few weeks ago when she started mid-morning I'd asked her to take my son to the park for an hour before lunch as our early playdate at the park had been canceled, I'd gotten tied up with work, and he needed some exercise. It is a five-minute drive away and parking is easy at the park, so no big deal. But she delayed leaving for literally 30 minutes, puttering with tidying up, wiping down the kitchen counter, collecting her sunglasses, etc. (I meanwhile packed the bags for her and put them at the door so she could rush out) and when she finally took him they stayed out for over two and a half hours! When I popped through the house at his normal naptime and noticed they were still gone and hadn't even started his 45-minute lunchtime yet, so were almost 2 hours behind schedule, I called her and asked for an update, was everything ok and she said they were just wrapping up at the park.
She brought up the event the next day I saw her and she became very upset that I would question her judgment, phrase the question as "is everything okay" or ever rush my child at the park like that ("it's not worth going to the park for less than an hour. I won't go under those circumstances."), the accusation being that I was insensitive to my son's needs to languish at the park, and she would not budge on this vital issue. She began nearly crying about the injustice of the situation and my son seemed torn trying to give her a hug and then give me a hug. It was like a dysfunctional marriage argument, but I felt she was being histrionic and sorta bizarre. I understand I had criticized her choice, but why was she turning this into a quality of life, defense-of-my-child issue? He's got a pretty sweet deal by all accounts, I assure you. She simply seems to be unable to take direction or criticism.
It felt especially bizarre because she already has so little on her agenda with him (by my design, because I want him to have relaxing days). His classes and playgroups are on my mommy days, so I feel like the mornings I'm on duty I have to multi-task and get him going faster than of course is "relaxing." I have a lot more on my plate at the house those mornings, but I manage to get it done, respecting his feelings, but also cutting the fat wherever possible to prioritize the big picture. e.g. "he needs the exercise of swim class more than a drawn-out discussion about his footwear options right now." It just felt like she won't budge on how she does even little things, she is simply not willing to meet me half-way.
Last week, knowing I was searching for new candidates but feeling the need to briefly assert myself regarding an issue that had been bugging me for nearly two years, I got upset at her for taking 20 minutes to bring my son back inside from 10 feet outside the door on the lawn. It was the end of the day, and she regularly bills for the extra time she takes to transition him back to my care. She has been languishing like this frequently, sometimes missing her appointed end time by 20-30 minutes if she's out on a walk with my son or doing some activity with him she apparently doesn't want to interrupt. I've taken to checking in at the appointed end time and again every 5-10 minutes to remind her that she can leave any time, and I'm heating up dinner, but still she keeps chalk drawing or whatever with him until she's ready to come back and slowly wash his hands for dinner and have a long good-bye. And when she turns in her hours, every minute she's doing all this nonsense is billed to me. It just feels disrespectful. (Especially the days when I race through traffic after cutting short a meeting to meet her at the appointed end time and then she's still out on a walk for another 30 minutes. How frustrating is that?)
Anyway, this time I got upset. When she came inside I said, "if I'd known it was going to take you twenty minutes to get inside I would have gone out and done something else with the time." She began to argue with me, but then let it go. I said "if you are going to give you time away, that's one thing but I need to stop the clock at 5:00." She said, "Okay next time I"ll leave at 5:00." And she more or less did...once. Then today, at 4:58, I said, " I'm heating up his dinner, you can go anytime" and she proceeded to start reading a long book with my son, ignore my next two reminders and only come back into the house about 15-20 minutes late again. And I found she even billed for the 20 minutes I complained about last week! I'm just amazed that she can't even stick to such a simple and clear request. It seems like there's something really passive aggressive about her behavior. Right?
With that description, it does seem as though she is behaving in a passive aggressive manner. My hunch is that she thinks you are too strict or too rushed with him and that she is going to show you what your boy really needs, even at the risk of conflict with you. It seems like it has gotten to a point of philosophical debate. Like Mary Poppins, but gone awry. This does sound as though it has gotten to the point where it is unlikely to be salvaged, and could potentially get stranger before she goes. If your son is feeling divided loyalties between the two of you, I'd wonder a little if she ever says negative things to him about you.
Can you take a week or so off of work, let her go, and spend some nice time with your son while looking for someone new? I'm feeling curious if there is something for you to learn from the situation even though recognizing that she is behaving in a dysfunctional manner?
I hope everything works out. What a yucky situation to be in. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it!