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Nanny Woes

We are on day #3 of Nanny. I think it is going pretty good from a “new person living in our house and taking care of our kids and learning our preferences” point of view. As for husband – he thinks it is going horrible and that is stressing me out. I think he is being unrealistic and unfair.

Day 1 – Husband was home from work. Husband is 6’2″ with a shaved head. He hardly ever smiles and he is very introverted: Therefore, he hardly ever talks. I can’t imagine being a little Philipina woman on my first day of work feeling like everything I do and say is being criticized by a tall, serious, scary new boss. Throw in two tyrant little kids… and I don’t care who you are, but trying to be stern and discipline someone else’s kids right in front of them is always uncomfortable. All day, husband texted me about how horrible things were going. I told him he had to try and look at it from her perspective.

Day 2 – I didn’t have to go to work very early so in the morning I talked to Nanny about how she needs to be stern and that she is the boss. She seemed to take this role very seriously. I also left her a small shopping list and instructions to change the sheets on all the beds. I left the sheets out for her. When I got home, the shopping was done, the kids were napping, she was washing the dishes from lunch, and the bed sheets were changed, duvet covers were being washed (which she later put back on the beds), and house was tidied. I helped her make dinner and we went for a little walk together. She seems comfortable talking to me and asking questions. However, I went out for dinner last night and when I came home, Husband was frustrated because he thinks she doesn’t understand any english (apparently she just nods and kind of laughs whenever he talks to her). I reminded him that she is probably intimidated by him, that it is her second day, and that it will take some time for a good routine to be followed

Day 3 – This morning the boys woke up earlier that usual and they were eating breakfast when I was getting ready to leave. Husband was still upstairs in bed because he started work late today. Nanny came running up the stairs when she heard us and I’m sure she probably thought she was late (even though we were the early ones) and I felt bad that she was rushed to get ready. The boys were running around the house with fruit snacks that they got out of the pantry. I took them away and then told them they could have them after lunch if they ate all their food. I also told that to Nanny. I later got a grumpy, passive-aggressive text message from Husband saying that “apparently fruit snacks are appropriate for breakfast.” I told him to chill out – I explained to him what happened before I left (while he was still in bed), that we probably need to put the fruit snacks out of the boys’ reach, and it occurred to me that maybe Nanny was confused about what I meant by “lunch.” I sent some long, somewhat angry text messages to Husband saying that he needs to stop being so critical and be more constructive.

Here are the issues:

Language – English is not her first language. She has lived in Canada for 8 months and most of that time she worked for a Chinese family. Any foreign live-in nanny will have a language barrier. In my job, I have a lot of experience having complicated and difficult conversations with people who don’t speak english well. I understand the need to speak slower, use simpler words, rephrase a question if it wasn’t understood the first time, etc. Husband has never had to do this. I tried to tell him this. Regardless, he doesn’t believe me when I tell him that I have some pretty detailed and meaningful conversations with Nanny.

Food/Cooking – Husband thinks Nanny has never cooked a day in her life. This assumption comes from the fact that she doesn’t really know how to make our (crappy) Canadian/American foods that we usually prepare. I leave her instructions on what to make for lunches, but it’s clear that she’s never had to make some of these things before. Last night I helped her make tacos from a taco kit – and it was very obvious that she had never EVER heard of tacos before, let alone eat or cook them. I asked her what she used to cook for her other families and she said, “chinese food.” I asked her what she cooks for herself and she said, “philipino food.” I told her she could cook those foods for us and the kids and she was very excited about that – and also shocked that that was okay with me. I told her I would take her shopping to the asian market (which is walking distance from our house) so she can show me what she needs me to buy. I tried to explain to Husband how difficult it would be to cook with such a culture shock – send me into a chinese pantry and no matter how good of a cook I am, I’d have no idea what to make!

Routine/Discipline – I think this is pretty self explanatory. I feel like Husband thinks she is just supposed to know what kind of routine we want for the kids and how to discipline them and what to do when and how. I try to tell him that it will take time and that we need to take baby steps. I figure we can attack one thing at a time. For example, Husband was upset that boys were in their PJs until lunch time on Monday. So yesterday I told her that they should get dressed right after breakfast – and they did. I reminded her about that today. Yesterday the boys were doing crafts on the (hardwood) floor and that made Husband grumpy. So last night we brought in a little table from the deck and put it in the corner of the kitchen. This morning I suggested that boys do crafts at the table instead of on the floor. Simple.

Is staying in PJs until noon, or eating fruit snacks after breakfast, or doing crafts on the floor really going to harm our children? No. I don’t think so. For all Nanny knows, unless we tell her something, thats the way it is done. So all it means is that we have identified an area that we need to clarify. That’s why there is an adjustment period. I wish Husband would understand that. I guess I should just be thankful that I am taking a pidly research course this week and therefore have a fair amount of time to deal with this new life situation…

14 thoughts on “Nanny Woes

  1. I have a hard enough time enforcing the “rules” in my own house, I can hardly imagine what it must be like for a nanny. 😉 Sounds like things are actually going pretty well, all things considering. My question though – was your husband as on board with the nanny as you? He likely needs time to adjust as you said. I hope things settle down.


    1. He was more forceful about getting the Nanny because getting to daycare on time was impossible for him. I don’t think either of us was particularly excited about getting a Nanny, but it is a necessity. I am more excited about it from the housework/chores/cooking perspective. I also have a much different philosophy of childcare than Husband – he likes them to be engaged all the time and he is also very strict. I think they need to learn to do things alone and have free imaginative play time. I think all of these things contribute to him being grumpy about the new childcare situation.


  2. Things will only get better once you get the expectations and communication worked out. How long does it take us to acclimate to jobs, and we have been through one or two before?

    I am impressed she was able to replace the duvet covers by herself…I can never do that without cursing up a storm. 🙂


    1. I know! I hate duvet covers!
      The info from the nanny agency said it could take 4-6 weeks to get into a normal routine. I also said to Husband today, in one of my angry texts, to try and remember how awkward and incompetent he felt when he started his new job!


      1. Compared to what it could be, I think the fact that she is being so responsible for what she can be up front is a great start…dont’ risk throwing back a good fish for a boot. Or something. I don’t know, but hopefully you get what I mean LOL


  3. Yeah, it actually sounds like she is doing a pretty good job. I hope your husband lightens up. I work with Filipinos on my team. Communication is always a challenge but for the most they are quick to pick things up.

    One thing I will mention that always tripped them up is the word ‘would’. They don’t quite know how to use it. Sometimes I would say to them, “I would do this to solve that problem.” Which they took to mean, “I” (me) will do this for them. I had to explain that what we really are saying is, “If I were you, I would do this…” but in no way are we taking ownership.


  4. My daughter was an au pair in a European country, she had taken the language in university, but was not really fluent, The parents were home most of the time and my daughter found it difficult to effectively discipline kids who were brand new to her and in a second language and in front of the parents. She found it much easier to not have the parents there as she became self conscious about her bad command of the language in front of them and wondered if they agreed or objected to her instructions to the kids. She di much better without them there.


    1. That’s what I keep trying to tell my husband! I think anyone trying to do their job with their boss staring down over your shoulder would feel uncomfortable!


  5. It sounds to me like she’s doing a great job – and I can only imagine how intimidating the whole situation must be for her.

    And you know, it’s kind of an interesting example of how we can’t control others’ perceptions of us. I mean, the nanny is doing her thing, and you have one opinion about it, but your husband has the complete opposite. I just find it interesting haha. I need to stop thinking so much.


  6. Oh wow that sounds tough. On the train home from London yesterday I actually saw a mum with two kids and what seemed to be a new nanny. The mum was terrible – loved the sound of her own voice way too much, and the nanny was Russian (or something like that) and was obviously struggling to please the mum. I actually thought of you and wondered how it was going!
    I hope Husband eases up soon. It’s hard when you start a new job so it’s bound to take time.


    1. Awe, it’s so nice to know that people on the other side of the world are thinking about me randomly! I love the blogging community!


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