I have two young school-aged children, both myself and my husband work full-time and we have changed our nanny, on average, every other month this past year.
We have tried everything – different nationalities, maid agencies, posting in Facebook groups, yet we have still not managed to find the right nanny. I can’t help but think; maybe it’s not her, it’s me!
Each unsuccessful nanny has cost us about 5,000AED – 10,000AED on visa and agency fees alone, that’s around 60,000AED in a year not to mention salaries and other expenses on top. It’s not only a huge drain on our finances but a disappointment and waste of time constantly having to re-hire. I can also see how it is affecting our children as they get attached and become unsettled when there’s constant change.
Here’s a list of the trivial or minor issues that usually escalate and end the working relationship and reflections on how I could improve and become a better nanny employer:
Language – Most of the nannies didn’t have very good English, which made it difficult when trying to give an instruction or seek an answer to my question. She often didn’t know the word for something or we would be talking about 2 different things. This would make me increasingly frustrated at times and I had to remember how to be patient.
– Nannies that struggle to speak our language need extra support, more demonstration and a lot of patience from us. They can understand better if they’re shown what to do instead of only being told. I will also try to support the language barriers by leaving written notes, writing daily schedules and assuring my nanny that she can ask me about anything.
Moving things around – One of my pet peeves is that when my nanny tidies up or cleans the house, things get moved to different places, even though I’ve asked her not to move our things around.
– This may come across petty and it is, so to make it easier for a new nanny, I will mark where certain things in the house go so she will know and remember in the future.
Nanny Cams – Truthfully, I didn’t like telling my previous nannies about the cameras in our house. I felt that by telling her where they are placed, she will behave differently ‘for the camera’ and I wouldn’t be able to watch what she’s really up to.
– Trust is paramount when enabling someone else to care for your child or children, even if for a short time each day. I guess if I trusted my nanny, I should have told her where and why we have cameras in our home and better yet, we wouldn’t have needed them at all.
That’s so strange – It took me a while to get used to the ‘odd’ habits and things my nannies did. For example, most of my nannies felt very comfortable sitting on the floor, even in public, what and how they ate and brushing their teeth after every meal.
– It would surprise or even slightly offend me but I’ve accepted these cultural habits and behaviours, we’ve even adopted some of them into our own. Come to think about it, there must be so many things we do that they think are odd. I want my children to embrace the cultures of others and no greater place to start than at home.
Manners – I’ve never liked the way my nannies would ‘chit chat’ away in their own language in front of my children and yell at people across the room. I found it rude and unprofessional, which I had explained to them on a few occasions. This never went down well, I always felt an attitude and mistrust after these conversations.
– Manners need to be taught and it’s my responsibility as the employer to set a good example first. Maybe I was the one with bad manners and not her. Perhaps I embarrassed her in front of others without thinking or maybe I came across rude when asked her to stop doing those things. It’s important to put myself in her shoes. She needs to be able to talk to grown-ups, especially as she spends the day alone at home and with my children.
Teach your way – Some things just seem obvious to me. How to feed or bathe a child, surely every nanny knows how to do such a basic task. I couldn’t get my head around why bath time was such a disaster in my house until I saw my nanny literally pouring water all over my daughters face. I was outraged and so annoyed, I asked her to leave!
– It may have been suitable for another child she looked after, so it was my job to show her how to bathe my children first. I have since felt that I was too harsh in my actions and perhaps the nanny just needed me to guide her through our daily routine before she was left alone to do it.
Cooking – I had to literally beg my nanny to give me a shopping list of food she wanted me to buy so she would make her own food. My husband and I cooked for the kids and she would always eat their food too. I prefer if she ate her own.
– I like the family sitting together to eat and I want to invite my nanny on most occasions but I’d prefer if she were self-sufficient and didn’t rely on us for a cooked meal. In the future, I will hire a nanny that is able to cook, teach her myself or enrol her into a Cooking course so she can also learn how to cook for our kids.
Hygiene standards – I have very high standards when it comes to hygiene. It’s very rare that I find somebody who cleans and keeps hygienic with my children how I like so I have to keep telling them what to do.
– Cleanliness is considerably different from one culture to the next. It is unfair to expect a nanny who hasn’t learned about the health implications of poor hygiene to practice at a high level. I will make sure to demonstrate or enrol my nanny onto a Health & Hygiene training course so she will know what is expected and how to do it.
Feeling of guilt – As a full-time working mother, my kids stay at school up to 9 hours a day. I battle with my choice to work instead of being around more for them. Often missing key moments and parenting opportunities at school, I find myself feeling guilty and even jealous of our nanny.
– It’s important to set boundaries and spend as much time with your children when at home. This will help to strengthen the parent-child bond and nobody will replace that. I shouldn’t feel insecure about having a nanny, I should be grateful. It doesn’t mean I’m any less of a parent if my children like their nanny and enjoy spending time with her.
The break-up – We had a huge argument and I told her it wasn’t working out anymore. I booked a return flight to her country the next day.
First of all, there is no need to argue with anybody. There is a professional engagement in your home that needs to be handled dutifully and with respect towards another human being. Regardless of what has or hasn’t happened, there is always a mature and calm way to deal with an unfortunate situation. I will sit down with the nanny and give her valid reasons as to why I no longer wish to continue her employment. Depending on the severity of the issue, she will first receive a number of warnings and a chance to improve.
– Based on the stories of an anonymous mother living in Dubai