McKenna recently wrote an excellent post about finding a great nanny. Right around the same time, my friend Jaimee mentioned she recently fired hers! I asked her to tell her story as a helpful follow-up, as I know it’s something we can all learn from. Jaimee (pictured) is a way-talented mom of two precious sons, and she posts incredible pictures of them on her blog, These Small Wonders.
L. seemed like the perfect summer nanny on paper. She was 26 with 10 years of nanny experience with great references, had a, was an elementary school teacher and working toward her PhD! I was equally impressed with her in her interview. She spoke of all of the different education methods she would use and the different games and educational experiences she could provide for our 18-month old son. I was so excited to have someone to dedicate quality time to our 18 month-old son so I could work a few days a week, care for our newborn son, and feel good about the care he was receiving. We had a fairly laid-back approach to the whole process because we were only hiring for the summer and we did not have to worry as much about the safety of our kids because my husband and I both work out of the house and would be around to supervise their care. We didn’t even interview anyone else for the position.
But, it only took a few days for my bubble to burst. We quickly found out that she was very lazy and immature, and not the perfect “teacher-like” nanny she had presented herself to be!
She did not play with our son, or come up with activities to educate or entertain him…she just sat in the recliner in our playroom and turned the TV on cartoons to entertain him while she text messaged her friends or used my laptop to play on the internet. When I would suggest an activity for them to do, she would do it once for a very short time and then never take the initiative to do it again.
She almost never helped with the dishes or laundry as we had discussed…even when the kids were both sleeping, she would just sit around.
In the 5 weeks she worked for us, she called in three times at the last minute to tell us she wouldn’t be in the next day because she had other things to do. She also showed up 35 minutes late one time and did not even bother to call to tell us where she was or if she was coming.
She acted very annoyed and even angry at our 18 month-old’s toddler behavior…He’s a perfectly normal, active toddler, she just thought he should be perfectly behaved at all times. And, if he wasn’t a perfect angel, she would blame it on our parenting skills. I think she thought she was “ ” with the job of correcting our parenting. She really believed that any toddler that was raised” with her “techniques” would be perfectly behaved at all times. She even had the nerve to tell my husband that we just needed to follow-through with what she was trying to do so our son would be better behaved.
One of the things she was trying to do was to get our son to talk by coercion. She would leave him in his highchair until he used “his words”. The problem was, he didn’t have any words to use in that situation and he ended up getting so frustrated that he began having temper tantrums anytime we put him in his highchair…something he had never done before. I have a degree in Speech Pathology…coercion isn’t the way you get a child to talk! His behavior began to get worse and worse the longer she was around.
When she did help with our newborn son, she did not follow my instructions. One day I walked in to find the baby sleeping on his stomach on top of a fluffy quilt. I told her that he could not sleep on his stomach because of the risk of SIDS. She told me that was “old school” and that it was fine. I corrected her and explained that every medical professional will now stress the importance of back sleeping. But, a week later, I walked in to find the baby on his stomach on top of a loose blanket. He was awake, but unsupervised, and he had worked his head back and forth enough to get the blanket stuck in his mouth! That was the end of my patience!
We decided we needed to fire her, and we were going to tell her at the end of the 5th week. But, on Tuesday of that week, she did not show up or call us until 50 minutes after she was supposed to be at our house. Since this was the second time that happened, we felt we had clear justification for letting her go immediately.
The entire experience was horrible. I was so relieved when we finally fired her! I learned a lot about what not to do when hiring and managing a nanny and hope that the next time we go through this process, we will be wiser, stronger and more prepared. I would do a few things differently next time:
- Interview several different nannies even if the first one knocks my socks off!
- Schedule a trial day with two to three of the nannies/babysitters that I am interested in to see how they react to an entire day of being with my kids.
- Be more direct about my expectations up front. After you’ve put up with laziness for even a day or two, it is harder to correct that behavior.
- Fire quickly. We waited way too long to let our nanny go. We wanted to give her a chance to get better and do the right thing, but we should not have put up with a lot of the things we did for as long as we did…it wasn’t the right thing to do for us or our kids!
- Setup video monitoring. Even though we were home at all times, I still felt uncomfortable about what our nanny might have been doing when we weren’t looking. Before we hire another nanny we plan to have a monitoring system set up so we can look in on our kids at any time.
Fortunately for us, we won’t have to go through the nanny hiring process any time soon…my mother-in-law asked to be our next hire! So, for now at least, we have the perfect nanny!