Working Moms

New nanny and TV - WWYD?

So, we've had the nanny of our dreams since Nov 1. She is wonderful in many ways - not only does she exceed our expectations w/ DD (in terms of how quickly DD bonded w/ her; in terms of how very clearly DD is learning new things; in terms of how happy DD is at the end of the day), but she does a lot of "extras" that we did not put on her "to do" list for household tasks (doing our laundry and folding it, for example; washing the coffee pot, etc). She is enthusiastic and pleasant. Our only minor complaint was the fact that she has a really hard time being on time...but we're only talking maybe 10 minutes late at the most, so in the context of all the positives, we're willing to overlook that (even though we've already spoken to her about the lateness and it continues).

The problem, if there is one, has to do w/ a suspicion I have that the nanny is showing DD TV during the day. Which sounds like it's not a big deal, but we were very clear when we hired her and in her employment agreement that there is to be no TV watching during the day. We want to be in control of the amount of TV watched, and which shows are watched (we limit her to 1-2 hours/day at the most). The tipoff came from DD herself. She loves characters and role-playing. We noticed she was saying a lot of "You're Caillou. No, now I'm Caillou." We may have shown her Caillou once or twice, but not recently. DH casually asked DD, "Where did you see Caillou?" DD: "On the TV." DH: "Oh, who watched it with you?" DD: "Darlene showed it to me." DH: "Do you watch Caillou every day?" DD: "No, once in a while." DH:"Was it on televsion or did Darlene bring it with her?" DD: "Darlene brought it for me."

The problem is that DD is 2.5, and not necessarily a reliable witness (she has made up other things in the past that we knew not to be true). But, it all seems so detailed...but we may have been leading her too much through the conversation...

The questions for debate are:

1)Direct confrontation or a series of pop-bys at random times of the day?

2)If TV watching is going on, when doing so violates the terms of employment, does that warrant a warning or termination?

Any input would be welcome.

Re: New nanny and TV - WWYD?

  • I would simply remind the nanny what your rule was.   If it continues, then I would "pop in."

    As for termination, it is not the tv watching itself that would irritate me, but the dishonesty.  That is if you REALLY know that she is watching tv.

  • Exactly, the dishonesty is what bothers me the most. I would much prefer that she say, "Look, your DD was really cranky after her nap and I couldn't redirect her. I let her watch a half hour of Caillou to help her relax." or something...If DD is to be believed, then this is not a regular thing...But I need to confirm that the TV is really on. I feel like I can't just go on DD's word at this point in her development...
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  • How about just asking her? Tell her the conversation your DH had w/ DD & see what she says. Let her know that you understand it happening but you'd prefer if she told you about it. I think if you expect her to be honest with you should be honest & upfront w/ her. Good luck. 
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  • Yes, honesty would be the best approach...I'm just so concerned about presuming too much without more "evidence." It would be too much to ask to find a Caillou DVD in the machine, right? Kidding...
  • yes just ask her.  Maybe your expectations of "no tv" are a little extreme and you need to adjust and let your nanny make some decisions while she's caring for  your LO.  I let DD watch Dora at least once, sometimes 2x a day when we are home alone.  I try to redirect, find new stuff, etc. but honestly, sometimes the girl needs a little Dora and she likes it and its not rotting her brain. 
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  • My concern is that removing the restriction at all will lead to a slippery just becomes too easy to plunk her in front of the TV...and one episode of Dora becomes an afternoon of TV. I agree, it's not rotting her brain, but it's much easier to set a policy of "no Tv" than it is to say, "well, SOME TV is ok...sometimes...and under certain circumstances."
  • I am a "chose your battles" kind of person. If your DD is telling the truth and she is only watching occasionally, big deal. If you want confirmation from the nanny, then ask her. Be assertive. She is obviously someone you don't want to lose, so talk to her. Show her the kind of respect you expect of her.
  • Let it go. I think you are being unreasonable. You have no proof, nor  do you have a way to monitor it. "Dropping in" will display that you don't trust her, and the last thing you want is a nanny who feels untrusted. That will lead to a lot of resentment, and you can kiss all your "extras" that you get GOOD BYE.

    She cares for and protects your children and even does extras. This is more than most people get. If you want someone to care for your children exactly the way you do, then stay at home. If you can't afford to stay at home, and you want an environement that is totally controlled, then having a nanny is not for you.....go to daycare..


  • She sounds like a great nanny, and I wouldn;t make a big deal out of this. I'm sure most nannies know the difference between one hour of TV a day versus all afternoon.
  • So, a couple of things:

    We don't disapprove of TV in principal, but I think most recommendations are that the average 2 year-old not watch more than 2 hours in a 24 hour period. Our choice is that if she watches TV, we watch it with her. Because when we watch TV, we talk w/ her about the show and enjoy it together. Because we know for sure what she is watching. And there is also the slippery slope concept. And in addition, we are PAYING the nanny (and this is the SF Bay Area, so it's a good salary) to actively engage our daughter. It's her job to play games with her, color w/ her, take her to the park, build tents in the living room, go on "treasure hunts" for things outside...on and on and on. DD doesn't go to daycare or preK yet, so this is her learning/play time. More to the point, when we are home w/ DD, we do not run the TV more than I mentioned. We turn it off and do all kinds of big/small activities w/ her all day.

    Just as the nanny is doing a good job w/ DD, I think we have been more than generous w/ her w/ regard to flexibility on our part, generousness w/ salary, benefits, etc. I am somewhat confused about why, under those circumstances, you guys think it's a small issue that she may be acting dishonestly. I think if we're questioning someone's integrity, it's actually not a small issue even though 30 minutes of Dora may be in the "Meh, so what?" category.

    Also, *thanks* so much for the comment about just being a SAHM if I want to control everything so much - as a fellow working mom, that was just oh-so-supportive. So, I should give up my career and income and skill set because I expect that my employee abides by one of very few rules in our house (the only other one being that the indoor cat remains indoors)? We are in many ways a very relaxed pair of working parents - as I said, one example is blowing off the chronic lateness.

    Yes, as I said, we will discuss w/ her at an appropriate time. I was interested in seeing if you all would try to assemble more data before having the conversation, and how you might go about it. It would not be unusual for me to appear at odd hours in the house, given the nature of my job and also given the fact that I work approximately 5 min from home.  But, it sounds like you would all just approach her just based on the toddler report, which is what we will likely wind up doing.

  • I think the lateness bothers me more.  If you have talked to about it and it hasn't changed what makes you think she will change what she is doing about the TV?  I would either keep her since she is doing other extras and does well with your child or find a new nanny.  It doesn't sound like to me she will change since she hasn't done anything about her tardiness.
  • I'd ask her about it, in a casual and non-confrontational way. Then re-iterate that you would prefer she not watch TV, but you understand that it's bound to happen once in a blue moon, and that's ok as long as you know about it. Then relax, unless it becomes an issue with your daughter or you notice other "rules" are not being followed. I wouldn't care about occasional TV, but I would care if she is consistently not doing what you ask in other respects.

    Though from your original post, she sounds like she's going above and beyond in many respects. Honestly, if she's really a good nanny, there shouldn't be a "slippery slope" concern of TV. If she does extra in everything, why do you think she won't do her primary job in the same way? You need to trust her judgment too when she's the caregiver. Set guidelines, but save the hard and fast rules for truly important things (I don't consider TV all that important).

    Being 10 min late is annoying, my nanny does the same thing. Letting your DD watch a little TV when you explicitly said no TV is annoying, but I'd expect that to happen frankly. My nanny herself has said she does not like using the TV, but she's done it on occasion because sometimes kiddos need that downtime, just like adults do, and I have no problem with that (I do it myself too).

    In short, ask her, but please don't make a big deal out of it, unless you really feel she is disrespecting your wishes in other ways. It sounds like you have a good nanny on your hands and it would be a shame to lose her because of the TV. Good nannies are hard to come by.

  • I think you are blowing things out of proportion and you are getting a lot of good out of your nanny and if the expense is 10 minutes of Calliou every once in awhile, so be it.  If you think its better to enforce the zero TV rule and have to hire another nanny and disrupt your life and your LO's - that's your call as a mom.  I normally watch Dora w/ DD on days when I am home w/ her and 75% of the time I am sitting there with her and we talk about what's going on, etc.  But, yes, I also use this time sometime to go to the bathroom, heat up lunch/set the table, clean the kitty litter, make a phone call, check my work blackberry, etc. and then I come back and re-join DD. 

    I would simply ask your nanny about the TV thing and the convo you had w/ your LO and repeat your request about no TV and ask her if that's still working for her/them. 

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  • imageMegGary:
    How about just asking her? Tell her the conversation your DH had w/ DD & see what she says. Let her know that you understand it happening but you'd prefer if she told you about it. I think if you expect her to be honest with you should be honest & upfront w/ her. Good luck. 



    However - I don't see the harm in TV - as a former live in Nanny I have worked with many a parent who would not want the kids to get their fill of TV during the week so they could be plopped guiltless in front of it all long as you're not being a hypocrite about the TV and your convictions honesty is the best measure.

     When I first started out as an Au-Pair back in 2001 my Hostmom said to me "If you ever feel like you need a break- call me- I've been there and I can come relive you in 5 minutes" - That Honesty meant the world to me and I never did have to call her- but unless DD plays by herself EVERYBODY needs a break every now and then...I personally just think NO TV is very unrealistic...

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  • I would probably just ask her in a non-confrontational way ("I wanted to first let you know that you are doing such a great job with DD, but I do have one minor concern.  Is there any way she has been watching any tv?).  Remember that your only evidence is the word of a 2 year old and this woman is great in most other ways. You don't want to lose her. 

    But, you seem uncomfortable with the idea of talking to her directly about it.  So, maybe you could casually say something on a monday morning like "just a heads up, this weekend DD seemed to really show an interest in the tv and it was hard to keep her away from it.  You're going to really have to be on your guard and make sure she doesn't sucker you into letting her watch!".  Then, if you still suspect that it's going on, she is being dishonest and you will have to take a more direct route.

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  • I have been in a similar situation. Our nanny lives in a neighborhood down the street and there are times I know she takes the kids by her house as she has a a pond with ducks by her house and the kids go to feed them. My DD mentioned one day she watches TV at the nanny's house.

    Our rule is 30 minutes of TV during the work day hours (e.g. during when nanny is working). How I approached it was a direct conversation and simply said DD had mentioned this and I wanted to understand if what she was saying was accurate. Our nanny did admit that they did watch TV at her house (such as Snow White). Even though I have had to reiterate prior to this the 30 minutes per day, I used the opportunity to say to the nanny that it's 30 min per day max and no, just b/c it's "snow white" that does not make it ok. I now occassionally make a point to ask DD what she did at the nanny's house just to check and it seems to have stopped.

  • meh. I don't think I would make this my hill. If the nanny is otherwise great, then maybe you could rethink this. Ask her about the video. But I think you are being too restrictive by saying no tv.

  • The replies in this thread are ridiculous.  Folks, it really doesn't matter whether YOU think TV watching is a big deal.  If the OP clearly stated that there should be no TV, then there should be no TV.  Period.  Good lord, is our society so addicted to TV that it is an "unreasonable" stipulation?  There is really no reason that the nanny shouldn't be able to find activities to do that don't involve TV watching.   It's not like you are requiring her to read Shakespeare to your child for three hours a day, for chrissakes.  There is NOTHING unreasonable with having a no TV rule, especially for a young child.  And frankly, even if it was unreasonable, that doesn't matter because you're the employer and you can require whatever you want.  If the nanny doesn't like it, she can get another job.  

    That's a long way of saying, yes OP, you should definitely bring it up.  Just tell her what your daughter told your husband, and see what the nanny says. 

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  • Wow!  Considering what people get all up in arms about on this board I am SHOCKED that op has received the responses that she has.

    Op, you should absolutely talk with nanny to clarify and reiterate the importance of no tv for DD.  Then if it continues you need to decide how big of a deal it is to you.  The dishonesty would absolutely be a deal breaker for me, because if I can't trust her to do what I want on this one issue...what else is she doing?  Also, while it's great that she does extra things around the house for you, is she doing these while DD is watching TV?

    As a former nanny, I had two families I worked with that had a no TV limit and I respected that as a nanny and was able to perform my duties just fine without them watching TV.  

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  • If this is that important to you, you need to hide the remote, get a nanny cam, or get a new nanny. Also add me to the "half hour a day is fine" camp. I don't see the huge deal. But then again, I've turned on Yo Gabba Gabba so I could take a quiet shower by myself, so...
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  • imageliza0828:

    The replies in this thread are ridiculous.  Folks, it really doesn't matter whether YOU think TV watching is a big deal.  If the OP clearly stated that there should be no TV, then there should be no TV.  Period.  Good lord, is our society so addicted to TV that it is an "unreasonable" stipulation?  ... And frankly, even if it was unreasonable, that doesn't matter because you're the employer and you can require whatever you want.  If the nanny doesn't like it, she can get another job.  

    That's a long way of saying, yes OP, you should definitely bring it up.  Just tell her what your daughter told your husband, and see what the nanny says. 

    I agree with the PP. We have a no TV policy and we are not being hypocritical.  He watches no TV at all. If I found out my nanny was letting DS watch TV I would be very disappointed. 

    We had a similar situation where DS was saying "Elmo" and pointing to red things.  I asked my nanny how DS knew about Elmo.  It turns out someone had given him a Sesame Street book. 

  • Count me as another shocked by the responses here. The OP is this woman's employer. The nanny SIGNED AN AGREEMENT that included a "no TV" stipulation. If she wasn't prepared to care for a 2.5 year old without using TV (and it's never a necessity) she shouldn't have entered into this employment arrangement. It is not up to her, or you, to decide the OP's parenting priorities. We all have things that are important to us that others may not view in the same way.

    OP:  I would be direct in telling the nanny that your DD said she watched that show with her and ask her about it. She'll probably think to herself "oh, shitt!" and stop letting her watch since she knows she is able to articulate it to you later. I also think the very occasional random trip home to check-in is a good idea when you're employing someone in your home. The reality is that you're this woman's "manager" in effect, and sometimes that means checking up on her to see what's really going on.


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  • I appreciate the more recent posters' support about my point of view. I too was somewhat shocked by the earlier responses.

    In any event - someone was wondering how the nanny could "get a break" w/o TV. DD is more than capable of entertaining herself in our childproofed house for up to 30 min at a time if necessary...say, for food prep, a trip to the bathroom, a personal phone call...but I can't imagine the nanny needing more "free time" than the 2-3 hrs/day while DD is napping. I am not being unrealistic. Nor am I being a hypocrite. DD watches 1-2 hours/day maximally of TV. Usually closer to 1 hour. Weekends too. If I am home w/ her all day, she colors or plays w/ trains or her dollhouse or WHATEVER while I take a bathroom break. Why is that so hard for some people to wrap their heads around? I don't judge people who have the TV on all day in the background..whatever, that's their thing. Don't judge me by calling me "unrealistic" for expecting that my employee abide by my house rules. She's being paid to take care of my daughter, and has 2-3 hours of downtime built into her day, and her salary is twice minimum wage. If there is TV watching going on, I will be very upset.

    Anyway, I will discuss w/ the nanny this evening when I get home. Decided it's better to address it directly.

  • I'm interested to hear what the nanny's response is after your discussion.  And remember, as the employer you totally have the right to lay out the duties of the job and what that includes. 

    I never expected a break as a nanny if the children did not take's the nature of the job.  I guess I never took a nanny position and wondered where my half an hour lunch break would be.  But then again, I was usually bored out of my mind by the time the little ones woke up from their naps.

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  • I don't think your rule of no tv is extreme at all. We use a daycare center, but if we had a nanny I'd have the same rule. The days I'm home with the kids (I work 3 days a week) we don't have the tv on during the day (at least not for them, on Sundays we often watch the Seahawks game). We limit their tv to one 30 minute show before bedtime. Once in a great while DD will get to watch a short movie during the day while DS naps, but then no tv at night.

    I would definitely ask her about. Make sure she knows that you aren't accusing her since you know your DD can be imaginative, but you want to reiterate your no tv preference.

  • Well, I spoke w/ the nanny about it and used a direct, yet non-confrontational approach. She seemed very relaxed about it, and actually laughed a bit as she told me that they had been at the drug store and saw a DVD of Caillou and DD was fascinated by the picture. I tend to believe her, since the same thing happened w/ me - we saw a big Sponge Bob plush at the store and DD talked about Sponge Bob for a week, though we've never seen his show. I still plan to pop in a few times when I have the opportunity, just to see. But for now, the nanny agrees and supports our wishes for no TV, and I'm taking her at her word. We'll see...
  • Glad you are able to have open communication with your nanny, OP.  That's so important!
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