Friday, August 26, 2011

Issues with Nanny V

Oh my word, where to start?!

When V started working for us, she started at 7. She used to arrive at 7:05, 7:10 and it then got later and later til she was starting at 7:30.

It was that way for a long time which was fine for us.

Our latest that we were comfortable with though.

Then it started getting later and later again until it was 7:45.

This is when D started getting seriously annoyed.

He says to me the one day that he's going to "sort this out and talk to V".

I heard the "sorting out".

He let her in, said good morning, and then "V, you know you need to be here by 7:30" and carried on talking about the kids.


I told him that that wouldn't even register on her scale as a "talking to" and sure enough, the behaviour continued.

While all this is going on, I noticed some very un-Marcia-like behaviour also starting to emerge.

I need to be home at 5.30 so she can leave but because she's been pitching up whenever, I'd started to linger at work, attending to emails, etc til 5.15, 5.20 (it takes me 20 - 25 mins to get home), and not phoning to say I'd be late.

It crept in in quite a subtle way - almost like a "well, she doesn't care so why should I?"

One day driving home I realised that this was unlike me and thought this is nonsense, I need to deal with it.

By the way, I'm normally not so passive with things but I'm a lot more forgiving where my children are concerned. The jury's still out on whether that's a good or bad thing.

So I got home and said, "V, we need to speak about your timekeeping."

This is how it affects D, this is how it affects me, but the most important part is this is how it affects the kids:
  • they're starving and crabby when you arrive
  • it's not fair to make them wait for food
  • they need interaction so they bug me while trying to get dressed for work and I snap at them - this is not how I want to parent, etc, etc.
She said that she can't leave her son alone to get to school (I agree!) so this (7:45) is the earliest she can get here. She said she would do better.

On the Monday (this was after the weekend) she said to me that I need to get someone else as she can't get here on time (by 7.30).

I told her that's not going to solve her problem because I'm convinced other employers will be harder on her as NO-ONE can afford to leave as late as I do.

I'm fortunate - I work for a really wonderful man who is very lenient as long as the work gets done. Still I don't want to abuse this privilege...

Also, if she can't find a job as a nanny (I don't think she'll be able to start at 8 am anywhere), she could get a job as a cleaner but the pay is much, much worse.

She can't sleep in (stay in our cottage on the property) because of her son.

She also mentioned something about possibly taking him back to Zimbabwe to stay with another sister but I don't think she was serious and I couldn't ask another mother to banish her son so that she can look after my kids! (I cringe on so many levels)

D and I had a think and a pray, and we decided it's more important to have V the person than to have a person at 7:30. The kids ADORE her, she adores them (or so I think) and they have a fabulous time together. Kendra gives hugs and kisses before she leaves, etc.

After all, it's just 15 minutes :) So we spoke to her and said we'll get up even earlier and dress the kids so that when she arrives all she has to do is do their food and they'll be able to eat at 8.

Fabulous plan, right?

Well, that lasted for a day or two and then the time crept even later.

If you're saying, "OH NO!" you're saying it with me!

She now arrives at 7.50, 7.55, 7.58.

My nerves are shot and D is over the edge :)

I was telling my friend with the twins, C, this story at lunch today and she had a brilliant idea.

"why don't you phone her son's school and find out what time parents can leave their kids there?"

Maybe it's not the real issue and she just doesn't want to work for you anymore.

Of course I can't imagine WHY anyone wouldn't want to take care of the cutest kids in the world but I agreed.

So I did.

Do you know what the lady said?

Lady at school "There is a security guard here from 6 as some kids arrive that early, but from 6:30 there are teachers here too"

Me - "so my nanny could technically bring her son at 6, but definitely at 6:30?"

Lady at school "Yes"

So now what?

When I managed people, we had a thing we used to say to test whether a problem was due to motivation or lack of skills.

"if someone held a gun to their head (I know, graphic), could the person do X?"

If yes, then it's a motivation thing. And much more difficult to resolve.

If no, then it's a skills/ training thing. And it's easy - send them on training, and then do some coaching til they do it fine.

This timekeeping with V is clearly a motivation thing IF there are no transport issues. And I don't think there are. We are not that far apart geographically and she should be able to get from his school to us very comfortably within an hour.

But what do you think?

What do you think I should do?


  1. Oy...not an easy one...but one that you will have to deal with soon! It seems to be getting totally out of hand...(says I who's domestic somedays only arrive at 8:30:-()Something I will have to deal with soon too.

  2. This is a difficult one - you sure are a nice boss. I would not have been so lenient because I'm just a strict person. But in your situation, so difficult as she works so good with your twins. Maybe, just maybe, start looking out for someone else that can take over from her because maybe she might not want to work for you anymore. Just maybe.

  3. I don't know; that's a tough one. I'm not sure how old her son is, but it's worth remembering that she has to do the same thing you do (ie, get ready while attending to the needs of a child). I suppose the child is older, but it's not easy to motivate a kid to get out of bed at the best of times. The problem could be that her kid is the one having trouble in the mornings. And you never know, she migth actually much PREFER what you were doing before - ie, letting her arrive later and then arriving home later yourself. If she's not a morning person (and goodness knows, I'm not) that might have been great as far as she was concerned!

    Domestic help is unusual here, so that probably influences my thinking. But gah, I just keep putting myself in her shoes and feel that that travelling for an hour and being ANYWHERE by eight is a bit of a mammoth achievement - let alone 7.30. Especially when there is a kid involved. Personally, I can't imagine doing it.

    I doubt that helps!

  4. What a difficult situation. I would not even know where to start. It does seems a bit odd that after you tried to resolve the issues she started coming in even later. I would have hated to have to look for a new nanny if I were in your shoes.

  5. I am having my own nanny issues (since she is pregnant) and I am so non-confrontational about things that we linger in limbo. For me I don't want a nanny that has her own kids - I feel too guilty about taking her away from her kids, worry about the overtime effecting her being able to see her kids, etc. I know it's "discrimination" but I can't handle the added guilt.

  6. Claudia, I feel like you! But the fact of the matter is, in SA, this is the norm (those kids of early hours) - most people start work at 8 or 8:30, some a lot earlier...

  7. This is tough. I don't envy you at all. This definitely does seem like her own motivational issues. I'm curious why she lied, or if she knows about the school opening early. I would imagine that she has her son on a schedule so she shouldn't be getting later. And where does her son go after school? Is she the only person to see him off? This is soo difficult.

    Also, if she stops working for you won't she lose her visa? Wouldn't that be motivation enough? I hope you sort this all out fast.

  8. Don't even get me started on nanny/domestic worker issues - mine is driving completely nuts.


    I would (and i mean you) should sit her down, explain that even tho you have extended her start time, she is now arriving even later. Then go into it gently (so she doesn't think you were checking up on her), explain that you phoned the school to enquire if there were babysitting facilities available etc and you discovered that he is able to be there from 6.30 or whatever time.

    then say to her - does she not want to work for you anymore? Is there something she is unhappy with?

    Perhaps there is something going on that you have no idea about (there usually is) and this will bring it out. If there is nothing going on, the she will have to admit that a) she doesn't actually want the job anymore or b) she has shitty timekeeping skills.

    But let's remember she is a nanny and they so *do not* think along the same lines as is. In anyway whatesoever.

    Good luck x

  9. It sounds to me, and I am no expert - never having had a nanny, that perhaps she doesn't like confrontation… Maybe she wants to move on, maybe she likes tiny babies - I know you can't believe that, but maybe she wants to move on and she is just pushing until she has totally annoyed you and you say time to go. Why don't you ask her… communicate and all that!!!… Ask her how long she intends to work you… until the kids are three, four, five… what's the plan… She might think you are just waiting for the little guys to go to school and then she is out of a job…and she is feeling a little insecure. You might want to think about what your intentions are and ask her what her intentions are… and see where you both stand. Of course this will only work if you are both honest!!! You can do this, it's what you do!!! Talk with her at least you will feel better...

  10. Mmmm...tough one. I think that she no longer wants to work for you. I would come straight out and ask her what exactly her problem is. Ask her how she would like you and D to help her and see what she says.
    She knows that you need her and I suspect that she is manipulating you. I think that you and D have bent over backwards to try to accommodate her and she is taking advantage!
    Honestly? I think she wants you to fire her. If she resigns then she can't get any UIF benefits, whereas if she is fired then she can claim UIF.
    I really hope that you can resolve this with her. x

  11. Ouch... sounds like your sweetness might be being taken advantage of? I would tell her that she needs to find a job that would allow her to come in that late (there is no such thing). Perhaps an ultimatum will correct her behavior (or at least let her leave gracefully if she really doesn't want to work for you anymore. :(

  12. Oh. I feel for you. I really do.

    We also had nanny issues (being on time was one) this year. We also took a light approach at first, then a more direct one.

    Ultimately, we decided to enroll the babies in a church school for the fall. Our nanny was relieved, I think, because it opened her up to get a job doing something related to her career goals.

    When we asked her if she wanted to return (and told her we had put in a deposit at the school--just in case), it opened the door for her to tell us she had been cnsidering other options.

    Good luck. I know it's not easy!

  13. This post has got my tummy in a knot! There is a lot to consider here and my feeling is that there might be someting else going on for her that you're not aware of. Does she live by herself (with her son)? I seriously doubt that she wants to lose her job. I really don't think thats what she is trying to do by arriving late. When I read the bit about you and D deciding that V the person is more important etc I felt relief. I really think that is the right way to handle this. By all accounts V sounds amazing with the children and they are not only thriving but they adore her which I think says a lot for her. I also think it says a lot for her that she has worked extra out of her normal hours several times, especialy when she has her own child.
    Do you know her son at all? There could be an issue there with him holding her up. Is there someone else in the picture that is holding her up?
    I say try to always think from her perspective. And I know you will, but take into account her personality type. It won't be as easy for her to tell you things as it is for you to tell her.
    She is a working Mum the same as you so try to think of her the way your boss thinks of you. I can imagine that her getting later still after the talk was frustrating but I think it would be a massive shame to lose her because of this one issue. We have had employees with our business for many years and I know it can work well if you ask them to come up with solutions that they can stick to. We have had similar issues when we employ Mothers. We have managed to work it out in the past by getting them to set the time that they can arrive each day and asking what pay they want. They always respect that and agree on something resonable and then stick to it. We also try to help with childcare issues etc. Do you think it would work for V to have a discussion where you told her how much you appreciate what she does (and itemise things), tell her her job is safe, then had a discussion about how to find a solution that she comes up with?

  14. What time will her son need to wake up, eat breakfast and get dressed to be at school at 6am or 6:30am? How old is her son? I know with my 8 year old there is no way I could drop her that early anywhere. Waking up before 6 is just not all that great for her and then to be at school at that time already? That would be tough. Would you be happy to drop your kids off at school at 6am or 6:30am? Not criticising, but just wondering as a mum and if you were in her shoes, what would you do?

  15. Delurking ;-)

    My very first sense was that there is something being left unsaid.

    On her side and on yours!

    You could open the conversation up, and really give her the space to explain what's going on for her. Is anything else bothering her? Is she unhappy working for you? etc.

    And then tell her very openly, that you weren't great with your timekeeping either (ever have a boss who gives you "do as I say, don't do as I do" messages?), but that you are now going to commit to being on time. Ask her if she's prepared to do the same.

    Once she's had the chance to really be open and honest about why she's doing this, and she's had the chance to really make a new commitment... then you need to make a very clear commitment around consequences... and stick to them.

    E.g. 3 written warnings and she's out. But give her space to e.g. sms you to let you know she's running late.

    Giving people space to create commitments and then live into them, actually helps them grow as individuals :-)

    That's my 10c worth! Good luck!

  16. Coming from a former nanny for 6 years, all of her behavior is unacceptable. If she had an issue with timing as working with you went on she should have talked to you about it FIRST. NOT continue to be late. She was hired on with specific times and if she can't handle that those times she needs to discuss them with you. Period. The End. For her to to blatantly disregard you and D's time and not have respect for the jobs that employ HER, that is just wrong.

    She may be good with the twins, but is she really??? If she can't get to work on time, what else isn't she doing on time? You have to ask yourself, if Kendra needs meds at noon and she is too busy to stop what she is doing and pushes it 12:30p or 1p is that acceptable?

    You are her employer and she is your employee. If she can't get herself and her son to school and to work in a timely fashion AND notify you in advance out she goes.

    But I would let her know the reasons WHY you need her there at a specific time and let her know that if it cannot be corrected in the next week (and I would seriously throw in the "Hey, if I am late any more than I already am then I lose my job and I don't need you anymore" shpeel. See how that floats her boat.

    And even though you have already called her sons school, I wouldn't tell her that, but I would recommend helping her out and calling them yourself and see if there is some arrangement you can make with them. I bet you she denies your help and miraculously she will be able to drop him off earlier.

    In the meantime, start looking for someone else.

    I don't envy you, my friend, but I have been there, done that, and nannies NEED to be on time.

  17. I would talk to her.

    When dealing with domestics we always bend the rules so much because they are watching our kids but at the end of the day its an employee-employer relationship.

    Would your boss allow you to bend the rules this way?

    GOOD LUCK! These issues are never easy!

  18. Hard one ... and a lot of great advice.

    One thing I would add ... on the personality part ... I know that if I know that someone is going to be removed from me soon, that I start to work on emotionally distancing myself from them and the situation - and it isn't a thing I do on purpose - it's what my personality does to sort of "protect me from being hurt".

    I think that is why I could never properly bond with my extra M.

    Have you ever been over to where she lives? Got a feel for the truth of the situation? She may be having problems that she is trying to hide as well and afraid that she would loose her job or her visa if you or others knew the truth.

  19. You definitely can't leave it like this. Best way is to try and get an honest conversation going so that you know what you're dealing with - that way you can make a decision about what would be best for your family going forward.

    Good luck!

  20. I have read your posts in reverse order - so I know you have talked to her. But I guess there is something else behind this.

  21. Ugh. I think I'd have to let her know I was going to start looking to replace her because of this issue. If she was late to another kind of job she'd have been fired a long time ago.


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