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Would you fire your nanny over this?

post #1 of 123
Thread Starter 
Sorry in advance if this is a bit long. I returned to work 6 weeks ago and we decided to get a nanny. I have a 1 year old and 4 year old, both are home FT with the nanny.

DH and I both loved this woman immediately from the moment we met her and I truly feel/felt like she had my children's best interest at heart. She seemed very warm, sincere and caring. She is Filipino and has been working as a nanny here for 5 years, we spoke to both of her past employers and although she didn't get "glowing" reviews, we had a great gut feeling about her and decided we could live with her "weaknesses", (not very good disciplinarian, lets the kids choose what they eat, doesn't take the kids on too many outings/likes to stay home).

Things were great at the beginning, I was home for her first 3 weeks on the job and she was wonderful - playing with the kids, rocking the baby to sleep, lots of cuddles, reading them books, playing games, etc. Then when I went back to work, I got tied up in a project immediately that required me to work late hours for 2 weeks. It was a godsend having her there - she was more than willing to work extra hours (which I paid her for).

Late last week, when I knew I had to work late, my DH forgot to get the groceries she needed to make the kids supper. I work near home so I took a quick break about 2pm and ran home to drop off the needed supplies. I went in the front door - totally unexpected to her - and found her with my 4 year old watching TV, the 1 year old in the high chair, and she was wearing an MP3 player with earphones on. I said "hello" about six times, not wanting to just barge in and startle her. She appeared to be cooking something, and turned and saw me. I was holding the supplies and wearing my boots, so I just handed them to her, came in and gave the boys a quick kiss hello, surveyed what was going on and then left. She quickly and discreetly removed her earphones while I was talking to the boys. She also quickly put the 1 yo out of the high chair and seemed flustered, saying she was giving him a snack. Driving back to work it kind of sank in what I had witnessed. My heart sank, I felt like things may not be what they seem, and I just felt like maybe she DOESN'T have my kids best interest at heart. The seed of doubt was planted.

So the next day when I got home, I told her nicely that I noticed she had been wearing earphones, and that I didn't want her wearing them while she was watching the boys. She looked very ashamed and said she knew she shouldn't have been wearing them and apologized. That night and the next, she went out of her way to help with the boys bedtime routine well after she was off duty, even when I kept telling her I was fine with them. She also emptied all the garbages, and did other things that are not part of her job. I felt like she was suddenly trying to make up for the earphone thing somehow.

Two days later, I made a point of making another "surprise" visit mid-afternoon around 3pm. I again found the 4 yo watching TV, the 1 yo in the high chair and the nanny on her cell phone, cooking something (not the boys dinner BTW). I again said "hello" about 6 times before she heard me. She quickly hung up, looked very embarrassed and brought the baby to me saying she'd been giving him a snack, but she just seemed too darn apologetic about it, ("ye doth protest too much"...) and as before, no snack was seen.

She ran in to the family room, told the 4 yo to turn off the tv, and when I got home later, that night, she went on and on about how they had spent the whole day playing and going outside. She just seemed like she felt guilty about something.

Yesterday I came home 1/2 hour early and went quietly upstairs and watched them play outside from the window. She looked miserable, not smiling or talking to the kids, but she was playing with them (she didn't know I was there, but knew I'd be home soon). When I went out, she suddenly was smiling/laughing/cooing over them. It suddenly seemed like an act.

A few things haven't added up lately - she says they play and the tv is only on during lunch/while she gets the baby for a nap. I know it's on all day, and I know she has reorganized my cracker cupboard and tupperwear drawer about 6 times, I am sure my 4yo is watching tv while that "make-work" activity is going on in the kitchen. . She also says they go outside for a few hours each day in our backyard, but our yard is sunny ALL day, I asked her if she put sunscreen or hats on them (knowing my son's hat hasn't moved since last summer) and she says no, but neither boy has any colour (both are very fair) so I'm not sure how much truth is there.

I suggested she get the sand/water table opened up a few times, but she has not yet. (Just involves taking plastic lid off and filling with a few jugs of water).

So part of me thinks I should try to get a nanny cam, but I don't even know where to begin to get one (I'm in a suburb outside Toronto). Part of me thinks I should talk to her and tell her I want her spending more time interacting with the kids, but how will I know she's doing that? I have seen a few things I don't like though...the 4 year old - I know - watches TV all day. He tells me and I've seen the change in him. My 1 year old has stopped saying his 3-4 words that he had when she started, which makes me think she is not talking/interacting with him as much as I'd like.

The boys both seem to like her, and she does a good job keeping them fed, generally safe and generally happy (they don't cry when they are left with her, they are both happy to see her, and they "apparently" eat well). My main objective is to keep them safe and happy, but I know they are not getting much stimulation or interaction, and I just feel like she is acting to "sheepish", that I wonder if I should take the above issues more seriously. She does get paid more than a typical live-in nanny around here would b/c she has 5 years of local experience - we paid her what she was asking for.

My friends who have nanny's are "appalled", but they are stay - at - home mom's, all of who'm said they would not leave their kids with their nanny when they go back to work, and who knows what happens when THEY are not at home?

I would love other mamma's thoughts. WWYD?
post #2 of 123
im not in your situation righ now as i am a sahm now but when working my kids were with a nanny. there are so many things that you stated in your post that concern me. IF you want to take the time to install a nanny cam then do so....however, it doesnt seem like she is really interacting w/ your children and it doesnt seem like a good scenario to me (why baby in high chair 2x and what the heck is she cooking???). i gave my nanny pretty much flexibility (it is sooo hard i know) but there are many red flags you have listed.

good luck!
post #3 of 123
Doesn't sound like a good situation. Does your 4 yr old give you any insight? Ask innocent, non-leading questions. "Did you have fun outside today?" "Did you get to watch anything good on TV?" and see what kind of info you get.
post #4 of 123
I know people have issues w/ nanny cams but I personally do not. I would get one. You can order them online. If the TV is on all day and they aren't getting enough interaction, I would find a new nanny or childcare situation, definitely.

But, sad to say, there are worse scenarios, so I would take it slowly and make sure you find something great. Maybe give her suggestions for nanny playgroups and stuff like that to get her out? Not really sure. But she doesn't seem to be fully trustworthy, so that is a big concern.
post #5 of 123
Hmm, tough call. See, this is behavior you'd expect at a daycare center, NOT with a nanny. The whole point of nannies is personalized, one on one care. I might let her go, or at the very least, give her one more very chance with a very firm warning.
post #6 of 123
I would think about it. I'd probably wait another 10 days and try another surprise visit first, though. I might try limiting TV. How much are you comfortable with? It seems like that might be an easy fix, though I'm not sure your relationship is in a place right now where you can trust her to follow your instructions. That's the crux of it- if you can't fix that, you can't trust her to watch your kids.

I'd think the one year old's regression was more likely to be related to your return to work (stress; does she speak in an accent or in another language to them?), and probably temporary. Lots of kids do that kind of thing when they get a new sibling, too, and nobody feels bad about it. Honestly not a big deal.

I'm not appalled, but I'd be on my guard.
post #7 of 123
Look deep inside yourself, Mama. What does your intuition say?
post #8 of 123
based on what you've posted, if your place, I don't think I would bother with the nanny cam. I would fire her. We fired a nanny once. I don't have problems with nanny cams either, I always presume I'm being watched when I'm somewhere in public, and to me, work is public, so even if she's in your home, she's not in hers, ergo, she's in public. So sorry this is happening.
post #9 of 123
I don't think your instincts are leading you wrong here. Something is up and you know it. I think perhaps it is time to look for a new nanny.
post #10 of 123
Have you told her explicitly what you expect? When I hired my brother to watch DS this summer, I made sure he knew - to the letter - how much TV was acceptable, when he was to take DS outside, and activities that they were to do during the week. I made it clear that the rules weren't set in stone (i.e. if DS was just having a bad day then more TV would be OK for that day), but that in general when I say the TV isn't to come on until 2:30, that's what I expect to happen.

If she's not maltreating the children then I would take it slow. I would sit down with her and write out a daily schedule, install a nanny cam, and perhaps put a sign on the TV as a reminder to leave it off until X time. You may just need to work with her a little.

However, if after you've made a growth plan and things are still bad or uneasy, I would find another sitter.
post #11 of 123
Can you put them on a schedule? with activities? or things they should do?

Like maybe she is at a loss? of what to do?

Im sorry Mamma - if you can afford other options - have time for a new search and you try and teach what to do (you shouldnt have to and Im a teacher so Im used to "lets all get this lady up to par and she will bloom! mentality") and she still bombs out - then say bye bye

Good Luck Mamma
post #12 of 123
I don't think you need a nannycam. I think you have a very mediocre caregiver and you already know it. She's not hurting your kids, and your house probably won't burn down, but I would hope you could do better, especially if you're paying well.
post #13 of 123
Thread Starter 


Thanks for the great feedback everyone.

I am torn because I DO have a gut feel that she is a nice lady and that she is careful and she will not hurt the boys. BUT I also think (*know*) that she is probably lazy and taking the easy way out, (not playing with the kids, talking on the phone, listening to music and generally "getting through the day").

My older son was at a great daycare until my 2nd baby came, then we originally had my 2nd at that same daycare right before I returned to work, but it has gone downhill significantly and he got reeeally sick, (Norwalk, pneumonia, etc.). He went through several very scary episodes of illness (and we had other issues with how they were treating him) so we pulled him out and hired the nanny. We have been so relieved with the nanny that both boys are healthy and happy being at home. But now that we are past the hurdle of "it's better than the daycare was", I am starting to think I should be doing more for the boys than just keeping them "safe and healthy", (which our nanny does).

It is certainly easier than doing the drop-off/pick-up of a daycare, but I do miss the activities and outings etc. that the daycare provided. Part of me thinks that I should set up more outings for her, but I have seen other nannies around here and I am not comfortable with their (lack of) supervision at the parks/library etc. I am one of those moms who never lets my kids out of my sight. I don't even let my DH take the boys to the park alone as he DOES let them out of sight / turns his back on occasion. So I'm kind of stuck between the two - home with the tv on all day vs outings that will make me worry. I guess my ideal was that the nanny would do the arts/crafts, play in the backyard, read books, etc. with the kids. But realistically I don't know how she can do that with a 1 and 4 year old. I know I can't! The little one is in to everything.

Are there really nanny's out there who are superhuman who can somehow interact and entertain a 1 and 4 year old for 8 hours a day? I honestly don't think I could even do that. In reality, when I was home with the boys on my own, the tv was on a lot and we ended up going for drives all the time just to keep our sanity. I don't want to have unrealistic expectations.

Ugh. Finding good childcare is sooooo hard!!
post #14 of 123
There ARE nannys who can do that - well, at least they can do more than your nanny is doing.

I have a 3.5 year old and a six month old, and our nanny, while she is not big on outings either, will put the baby in the stroller and take everyone for a walk. She takes both kids into the back yard so dd1 can play and she pushes dd2 in the kiddie swing or rocks her, either in arms or in the stroller. She does imaginitive play with both kids, integrating the baby into the "story" of how they are going shopping, to the zoo, etc. - the fish tank in the living room becomes the aquarium, the stuffed animals are the rest of the zoo, the kitchen is the restaurant, you get the drift. If she gets tired of carrying the baby she puts her in the umbrella stroller and pushes her from room to room, which Ellen seems to be fine with. I work from home so I know for a fact that the tv is not on more than an hour or so a day for the shows that dd1 is allowed to watch, and does not go on before 2:00 as I have asked. She doesn't interact with both kids 8 hours per day, as the baby nurses and naps a good deal of the time, but she does interact with both of them for a good deal of the day. I don't think expecting that of a good nanny is unrealistic at all.
post #15 of 123
Originally Posted by ananas View Post
Hmm, tough call. See, this is behavior you'd expect at a daycare center, NOT with a nanny. The whole point of nannies is personalized, one on one care. I might let her go, or at the very least, give her one more very chance with a very firm warning.
Actually my daycare centre/Montessori doesn't have a TV or high chairs at all, so I wouldn't expect that kind of behaviour (they also start at 18 mos though).

OP - I think if your instinct is that the kids are safe and loved, but she is lazy/burned out/overwhelmed, that I would try working with her a bit. Arranging an outing or two, maybe to an early years centre (that's pretty childproofed) or sign them up for a rec programme and come up with a loose schedule, and then make some more surprise visits and see if she's willing to work with you. That she hasn't used the sand/water table sort of indicates to me that she might not be, but I'm not sure how you approached it with her.

But if it doesn't improve, I think I would look for an alternative. I had a nanny who was very active with my son, but we only have one so it really was easier.
post #16 of 123
I have not read the other responses but I would fire this woman. She is very obviously lying to you, and for me that is reason enough. Plus you have an instinct about this or you would not be posting here asking. Listen to it. Get them out of this situation now before any more damage is done (like your 1yo not talking anymore and sitting in a high chair for hours at at time, etc.).

Did you ask your 4yo if she is taking him outside?
post #17 of 123
Yes, I would fire her. You've made a few suprise visits and it's not an isolated incident. I'm a nanny and I think it's VERY important for the family to feel comfortable and trust me. Not just for the kids happiness, but for mine. Sometimes it's just not a good match.

Sorry you're having this trouble.
post #18 of 123
The trust is lost, and with good reason, I think. It will never work from this point out.

Find another person to care for your children.
post #19 of 123
Yeah, I'd put feelers out for a new nanny. This one doesn't soudn horrendous or dangerous, just blah.
post #20 of 123
You could always "break" (remove the cord or do something so it wont turn on) the TV and not repair it if you think she would be great without using the TV. (If that is your main/only issue) I think if you are considering a nanny cam its time to let her go to be honest. She doesn't sound dangerous, but lazy. I would see to it there is no TV anymore if thats your main issue.
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