Have you ever seen a baby-sitter yelling at a child in public and wished there was something you could do to tell the parents? Thanks to Lesley Kring, a thriving social network for nannies and those who employ them will let you do just that — and anonymously, too.
Lesley Kring worked as a nanny for the same family for years in Rye, N.Y. She became so close with the parents, they promoted her to act as a personal assistant for the family. In that role, she was tasked with hiring “weekend nannies, overnight nannies, baby nurses” and more.
“I loved the kids like my own,” she told Business Insider.
She performed thorough background checks on all of her new hires, she said — but “people were good at being deceitful about their backgrounds.”
When one nanny grabbed one of the children and bruised her arm, Kring was left heartbroken, she said.
“One of the girls who I was with since she was one year old said, ‘Sometimes, people are one way and then they’re another way when the adults aren’t around,'” she said. “That was a hard, sad lesson to be hearing from a six-year-old.”
Later, Kring was working with someone who ran an agency that staffed households similar to the one where she’d worked. Kring realised that in order to place more of her clients (and collect the $US3,500 commission that came with each placement), the woman was tampering with nannies’ answers to questions about how to handle certain childcare issues, like tantrums. She also hid candidates’ controversial pasts.
“That was in 2006,” she said. “That was when I started the website.”
When ISawYourNanny.blogspot.com began, it mostly functioned as a forum for parents and other nannies to anonymously report caretakers who they saw mistreating children.
For example, Kring recalls one incident where a nanny was seen pulling up to the park with her charge, then rubbing wood chips on the child’s clothes and hair before pulling away to a new location. She apparently wanted to make it look like the child had played in the park, although he would actually be spending the day wherever she was taking him.
In another entry, a woman reported seeing a nanny take a child into a seedy motel along with a man who didn’t appear to know the child.
“That totally shocked me,” Kring said. “This is what she was doing? It really disturbed me.”
Kring was surprised by the initial success of the website. Now, it receives 10,000 to 50,000 hits per day and functions as a social network for nannies and employers alike. Kring chalks this up to the “mystique” that surrounds employer-nanny relationships, which she noticed when she herself was a nanny.
“People were amazed that I lived with this family,” she said. “It’s an intimate relationship. You’re in the house, you’re raising the children. You know all their secrets.”
She also started a Facebook page, where she not only shares content from ISYN, but also posts disturbing news about nannies and childcare from around the world.
After a while, Kring started receiving hate-mail from readers who felt her site was biased against nannies. So she opened it up and let nannies tell their side of the story, too. And now, the posts in which nannies complain about overly demanding bosses perform even better than the standard “I Saw Your Nanny” anonymous reports do.
One nanny shared her daily routine and let slip that she preferred spraying Febreze on the sheets rather than washing them, and that part of her day consisted of imbibing one of the kids’ Adderall pills:
I give the oldest a cup of coffee to replace the Adderall that I picked from his bottle today. I give him a B12, a multi and his anxiety medicine. The youngest is usually off the rails so I give him his Concerta and Straterra,Don’t rage against me now, Mum and Dad don’t give it to him consistently either, mostly because they don’t think he needs to focus weekends and holidays.
Readers called for that nanny’s head, Kring recalls.
In another post, a nanny revealed the contract she had to sign, which stipulated that she was only allowed to listen to classical music and she had to check her charge’s pockets for sugar every time he came into the house. That post went viral, Kring said.
For the most part, though, nannies who seek advice or want to vent on ISYN report that they’re being taken advantage of by employers who want them to take care of housekeeping duties in addition to watching the children — which is not part of the deal.
For example, in a post from today, a nanny says that her employer is expecting her to house-sit while the family goes on vacation for four days. The nanny is allowed to bring her three-year-old son, but the child’s father is not invited — and the nanny isn’t being paid extra for overtime or for overseeing the “grounds crew” and taking care of the dog. Yikes.
It’s not all bad, though. Nannies and employers also post positive reviews of each other and their jobs on ISYN. In a post from April 20, a bystander in Wisconsin describes a nanny who she found to be “fantastic.”
“She engaged Max in play and allowed him to explore without being harsh,” she wrote. “I was very happy to see an active nanny who really loves her job, and it was evident by how she interacted with these children how much she loves her work.”
Kring’s website is not the only type of technology that has revolutionised the nanny-employer relationship. In addition to scanning ISawYourNanny.com, many employers now use hidden cameras to keep tabs on what’s going on at home all day.
When asked whether nannies find this to be an invasion of privacy or even just an annoyance, Kring said most fall into two camps.
“There is a division between … those who think it’s horrible that they should be on a nanny cam, and those who say, ‘What do you care? You should be doing things right anyway.'”
The right kind of nanny will “relish” the surveillance because “they live to be good at what they do,” Kring added.
There is one way technology has made watching children easier, in a sense — iPads and video games can act as temporary baby-sitters, especially for the most unruly kids. So has Kring noticed that limiting screen time is tough for nannies, especially since it’s so tempting to keep kids quiet using tech?
As is the case with most issues, it depends on the nanny, she said.
“The better nannies know that they are part of a team that’s helping to raise the child, and they’re going to defer to the parent and adhere to whatever restrictions parents put on technology,” she said. “But if you have a lazy nanny, she’s going to use those baby-sitting tools more often. And how would the parent really know?”
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