Jumping straight into this one… the introduction is at the end. Explanation of why, even further down.
1. YOUR FAMILY IS NOT HER FAMILY.
No matter how many times you put in the add “we want you to feel like one of the family” on the job advert, no matter how many times you remind your N.A.O (Nanny, Au Pair or other) that she should feel right at home, she doesn’t. She knows that when you invite her to stay for dinner, you will want her to still help a little with the kids, she knows that if she really did help herself to that last piece of cake you would be cross, and she knows that your eyes glaze over if she talks about her own life for more than 5 minutes. At the end of the day, would you ever expect from your family what you expect from her??
2. HER TIME IS NOT YOUR TIME
If your N.A.O was regularly asking your children to wait for a few minutes while she fielded calls about her plan for Friday night you would be furious, so don’t expect her friends to wait while she spends her free time explaining to you which room the kids left their homework in, or which chapter they are up to in their reader. Respect her time. She does not get paid enough to warrant a 24 hour service.
3. FLAUNTING YOUR LATEST DESIGNER DRESS AND ITS PRICE MAKES HER SICK.
Fact. She knows the rate of pay is fine, maybe even good, at the end of the day it is still on the lower end, and showing her the bag you bought for more than you pay her in a month is going to annoy her a little. N.A.O’s on the whole do work hard while they are working, the hours are long, and it rarely stops at the time promised. She will always wonder how you justify spending so much on yourself, but then only pay her for working until 7pm, even though she stayed back (on more than one occasion) to finish things off.
4. YOUR HOME IS NOT HER HOME-EVEN IF SHE IS LIVE IN.
The fact is she will always be a little restricted. She can never feel right at home. She knows she can’t have that “special friend” over to scratch that itch, she knows coming home drunk would be inappropriate, and she knows if she is unlucky enough to have to share kitchen, or worse, bathroom facilities, every time she goes to cook, shower, or even pee, the kids WILL talk to her, and she will have to maintain a small amount of professionalism. She also knows that she won’t properly relax everytime you take advantage of the situation and ask her to “just keep an eye out for the kids, their fast asleep, you won’t even notice we are gone.” because now she can’t put in her earphones and blast her favourite loud music and pretend shes somewhere else, she can’t spontaneously pop out if she changes her mind, and chances are the kids WILL wake, and WILL wander what happened to their parents, and you will still expect her to be up at 7am, even though she was up at 2am calming the crying child.
5. SHE HATES IT WHEN YOUR KIDS ACCIDENTALLY CALL HER MUM MORE THAN YOU DO.
She is not trying to replace you. If she wanted kids she would have them. She does love your kids, more than she wishes to admit, but she does know your their mother/father, and she does respect that. She just wishes that you spent enough time with them so that they didn’t get confused. She feels so awkward when they say it, even more awkward when they mean it. She knows it upsets you, and she and she tries to stop it as best she can with out giving the children some kind of sense of rejection. She is trying her best to protect all involved. Respect her for that, don’t make it harder on her.
6. FAMILY HOLIDAYS ARE NOT A TREAT.
Yes, its lovely that you want her to join you on your vacation to France, or Spain, or Greece, maybe she is a little curious to see the country, but for the most part, she doesn’t know how to tell you she doesnt want to go- she has no excuse! But its not a holiday. There is no break, she knows you expect her to work the equivalent of the accommodation and flights, and she knows that if she wasn’t already, now she really will be expected to be available 24/7. Paying her a stingy holiday pay is not fair. You know it, she knows it.
7. WHEN SHE SNAPS AT THE KIDS, SHE ISN’T LOSING PATIENCE WITH THEM, SHE IS LOSING IT WITH YOU.
Think about the pressure you put on your N.A.O, the more stressed she is, the harder it will be for her to maintain her calm when the children refuse to behave because they are so use to getting everything they want when they are spending weekends with you. Sure, when you have the kids alone you manage, but do you really? Do you really manage doing EVERYTHING you ask her to do, plus helping the kids with the homework, plus giving the house its daily “spring clean”, and do you manage to do it without bribing the children with toys your N.A.O cant afford? Probably not. Be reasonable in your expectations, and choose what you want the priority to be. Kids/housework. Understand that things happen. In order to do her job right, you have to trust that when she says she did not have time, she means it, and that she made a choice at some point in the day to spend time with the children because deep down, she knew they needed it.
This has been inspired by the friends I have who are or have worked in the N.A.O field. I have had countless experiences of sitting by why they field ridiculous calls (i.e. “No, I did cook the vegetables as you asked, and yes I DID offer them to Jimmy, and he refused. Yes I did that. No I did not give him lollies. Yes I will try harder to get him to eat them tomorrow.”) and I have had countless after-work venting sessions with such friends. One of these sessions resulted in the formation of the above points. My friend (a non-blogger) agreed to let me put them on my blog, in the promise nothing went up specifically relating to her employers.
I have put this explanation at the end, because I hope her employers, or those like them do one day stumble across this, and if they do, I have every inch of confidence it will be after repeated resignations from N.A.O and a desperate attempt to find a quick fix. So I have tried to keep this quick, and simple.
I do understand that there are nice families out there… I have heard of one. I am also sure that there are many N.A.O’s out there who are male. I have only met female N.A.O’s and while I assume the experiences are the same for males, I can’t be sure, so in the interests of accuracy I have worked this around female N.A.O’s.