Help a French Nanny Out

Received Monday, January 28, 2008-Perspective & Opinion
Dear nannies and mummies,
I have a few questions to ask you... First of all, just so you know, I live in Paris France and not in the states, but your site was the only one I found dealing with nanny/ childcare queries. Let me start, last September I started looking after seven year old twins, one girl one boy, although their mother doesn't work I understand her needing a little help as her husband works in the U.S. so he's only there one week a month. I typically look after the children 25 hours a week on Mondays and Tuesdays I pick them up from school at 4.15 pm and look after them, take them to the park , make sure homework and piano gets done and learnt etc..,prepare their supper (according to instructions that get left out), shower them and put them to bed at 8.30pm after reading a story or two. I leave when the mum gets back from her yoga/drawing/pottery class at 9pm. On Wednesday I pick them up at 1pm ( no school on Wednesday afternoon in France) and take them swimming, (they don't have lessons but as I'm quite a confident swimmer I'm trying to teach them myself) , then depending on the weather we either go to the park or do an arts and crafts project I stay until 8.30 or 9pm. On Saturday morning I pick them up at 9am and take them to a museum or a show or sometimes even to a matinee film (we have to be out as mum has her coffee morning at the apartment before going out), we then go to the library to choose books for the week ( They are both little bookworms and read well above their age range.) We have a late lunch of things we've chosen together at the market that is on our way home from the library and their mum gets back around 3pm. On Sundays I pick them up at 10 and take them to their grandparents in the suburbs (1 hour in he train... i don't drive) and then in the evenings I pick them up at 6 from the station ( their grandmother brings them back to Paris) and drop them back home. I'm not sure I'm really a "nounou" (nanny) as I'm not full time ,I'm still in college and I'm 19 but I am starting to get a bit peeved about just be referred to as their babysitter... I don't just "sit" them , I care about them deeply and try to make their time with me as educational as possible for them without stopping it being fun. I genuinely enjoy their company and whenever I open the door they seem pleased to see me. I love spending time with them and even though I know I'm under paid (7 euros an hour ;the going rate is 8 to 10 and the family does not have money issues they are extremely well off), I prefer looking after them rather that having to deal with the hassle of telling the mum I need a raise etc or working for another family who doesn't share my values and appreciate what I do. However this evening I found out from the cleaning lady that when she looks after the children on the rare occasion I can't make it ( it has happened 3 times since September) she gets 10 euros an hours ( for cleaning she gets 15 euros , I don't know if this applies in the states but in Frances you pay more for cleaning that for childcare it is normal)... I am trilingual, have always been a scholarship kid , I can read music , i consider myself to be fairly well educated I do activities with the children , the cleaning lady is extremely sweet to me and the children but considers plonking the children in front of the T.V. while feeding them whatever they want to be an educational afternoon she does not speak french but the children understand English.I had always thought that the mum just didn't know about the going rate but now i feel abused and betrayed what is going on? I love the children but i need to confront the mum?What should I do?Thank you for taking the time to read my long post. I look forward to reading your suggestions.
-A currently lost french Caregiver


erics mom said...

Shes probably thinking your young and you don't need the money. Maybe, shes thinking you live at home? And because of this mommy and daddy are supporting you. Not sure whats shes thinking. The cleaning lady is probably older than you. The mom may think she really has to work because she has a family to care for. Or it could be the cleaning lady stated to the mom I can watch the kids but I want ---this and this amount of money.

I know its hard talking about wages. But really, you need to bring it up to the mom. If not you can always look for another job around your college schedule. Maybe, on campus they have job openings, in the office or a bookstore. Sure beats watching other peoples kids.

Sandie in MN said...

First of all, you sound wonderful! I was daydreaming about having a great nanny take my kids out of my hair during what I call the "witching hour" like you do. I am picturing my children frolicking around Paris and swimming too:) Okay, back to the topic.

You need to sit down and talk to her about a pay raise. If you truly feel too uncomfortable doing so, you could write her a letter and leave it for her to read and get back to her. Or, use the phone.. that seems less personal at times. The bottom line is you need to speak up and ASK for what you want. Be specific and I think she will be fair.

Good Luck!

mom said...

Sometimes jobs with a lot of regularly scheduled hours pay less per hour than emergency fill ins. Maybe that's why she is paying the cleaning lady a little more. She is having to go out of her way, after already doing her regular job, to do this woman a "favor." Perhaps the extra money is an incentive ot make it worth her while? Maybe it's not worth it to the cleaning lady to works such an excessively long day otherwise?

I don't have a nanny, but I have housekeepers, I know that the more often I have them come, the less I have to pay per visit...even thought they do the exact same things each time. They can count on a certain amount of regular income from me if I will commit to hiring them more days, so they are wiling to entice me to hire them more often by lowering the price for me if I do. I pay less and they are guaranteed a certain amount of regular income.

It could be sort of like that. But it's definitely worth asking her anyway...unless you are already making a fair wage for a full time childcare person in your area. Check that out first. You want to be treated fairly, but you also don't want to appear greedy, especially if you have already agreed on a price with her. Of course, at the end of each year it is definitely fair and appropriate to revisit your situation renegotiate without seeming at all greedy.

Sue Doe-Nim said...

I am absolutely speechless.

The thought of paying a housekeeper more than a child care worker is repellent to me in so many ways.

It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with the children and perhaps you can allow them to set the tone. Maybe you can suggest to the kids that they refer to you as nanny and not babysitter and the adults (should they decide to notice their children one day) will pick up on it?

Also, why can't you ask for a raise? It doesn't have to be confrontational. It could be as simple as, "I'm really uncomfortable asking but I need a little more money to live on." Or "Perhaps next week you and I can take a moment and look at the work I do. I'd ask that you reevaluate my pay."

It's also entirely possible that the housekeeper is lying about her wages.

Anonymous said...

Now, my first question is do you pay taxes? Are you a legal nanny? I'm asking because I live in western Europe and people get very generous childcare subsidies over there. People earning above something like 120 000 euro per annum (which is quite a lot in Europe) get 1/3rd and everyone else gets more (this depends on country of course but France is pretty similiar). Some people (single mothers or students) only really pay 50 cents an hour.

I am a registered nanny and I get 10 euros an hour (this is good where I am. Most nannies get 9 euro ,have to take care of 2 kids and do some light housework) . I do no housework and take care of one child. I also get transport paid for (20 euro a day) BUT I also pay taxes. I get less than 7 euro after taxes (lowest tax rate where I am is 34%) . I do get some benefits back from tax though but I doubt that ends up to more than 8.

Anonymous said...

i say, look for another job that pays more and make sure they are serious about you. if they offer, say 9 euros then go to the family you are with currently and tell them you love the kids but you struggle to stay on your feet with an 7 euro/hour salary and if they would consider paying you within the standard. if they say no or offer you less than the other family, then say OK well i appreciate your consideration. next time you pick up your paycheck, tell them you will be leaving. even if they offer you more than the other family i recommend you don't take it as they might just say yes temporarily until they find someone for less money again. move on, be brave you'll find a good family!

Anonymous said...

I agree with "sandie in nm;" you DO sound wonderful! That mom does not know how lucky she is to have you. I know it's hard and a little awkward, but I would definitely bring up the issue of wages. You deserve better!

Anonymous said...

Well I am sure I will get some flack but here it are just the babysitter..these kids have a may be more of a role model and you may spend more time with them..but you are a babysitter..when you took the had an option..except the hours and pay offerred..or don' obviously chose to take the job. You brag about how smart and educated you are..maybe you should have done a bit more research about pay before excepting the job as now you are unhappy with the situation.

The children are very fortunate to have you.. so smarten up..approach mom if you are unhappy and ask for a raise..if she says will have to decide which means more at this point..supporting yourself or staying on with these very lovley children. These are grown up decisions!

19 is have much to learn..but one thing is for are "just the babysitter"

I wish you much luck!

emily said...

Regardless of whether you are a nanny or a babysitter (or a chimney sweep) it's pretty much ridiculous to expect that you'll be paid what you're worth if you never ASK FOR IT!!!

This mother isn't a bad person to have offered you 8 euros an hour. She assessed that you were young and would probably work for it. And guess what, she was right! If you want more you must communicate that desire using a method more reliable than telepathy.

I really don't know of any other profession where the workers constantly bemoan that they aren't getting paid what they deserve and yet they've NEVER BROACHED THE SUBJECT with their bosses.

(And for the record, I'm a nanny who gets paid exactly what I believe I deserve.)

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you do an excellent job, and fulfill a nanny job requirement, but I agree that because of your age, many families would consider you as "just" the babysitter, and pay you less money. I am a nanny, I am 28, and the older I get the more I make!

☼marypoppin'pills☼ said...

OP ~

The only way your going to earn what you feel your worth, is to ask. Try to do it diplomatically and just list all of the things you do for the children as you did for us. Hopefully she will be reasonable.
As for the Housekeeper, I agree with 'Mom @ 2:27' ... perhaps the Mother was in a pinch and really needed the Housekeepers help.
She very well could've said, "Yes, I'll do it ... but for X amount of dollars" -- because it's not something she would typically do, so don't feel slighted about what she was paid.

~ 5:15 ~
I'm not going to give you any 'flack' ... but why are you so harshly adamant that OP is "just a babysitter"?
Because she doesn't work many hours? Or because of her pay?
She considers herself to be richly educated and loves these children very much, so why can't she be the Nanny?

What qualifies a person to be a Nanny? Is it the title the Parents give you when they hire you:
"We are looking for a Nanny to care for our two children"?
Is it a title you give to yourself?
Don't forget ... these same Parents that hire women to work off the books, that barely glance at their children all day long while they park their lazy butts on a bench, are the same Parents that call these caregivers 'Nannies'.

I agree that there is a difference, and among many of them, is that the term 'Nanny' commands more respect than ... "just a babysitter".

Anonymous said...

On the basis of the activities you do, swimming, supervising homework and piano practice, escorting to the country etc., I would say you are a nanny, not merely a babysitter.
here in the states, PT nannies generally get higher hourly rates than full time. Live ins get the lowest of all.
Most employers give a raise at the end of the first year.
Usually a young nanny's first job is at the lowest rate. The more experience you have, the higher up the scale you go. Your employer took a chance on someone young and inexperienced, but you seem to have proven your worth.
Since you are happy in the job and enjoy the children, I would ask to sit down with the mom for a job review when your 6 month mark comes up. Go over all the things you have been doing. Tell her you take your responsibilities seriously, and consider yourself a nanny, rather than a babysitter. Emphasize how much you enjoy working with the children. Ask for a raise, and good luck!
A New York Nanny

Anonymous said...


Before scoffing at the OP for considering herself smart and educated, maybe you should make sure you aren't making yourself sound like an idiot... "except the job... hours... pay" I think you mean "accept."

And I agree with mpp, why do you keep repeating that she is "just the babysitter"... it's like you are purposely trying to come off as a jerk. Babysitters come for the occassional date night or doctor's appointment, heat a frozen pizza, watch a movie with the kids, and put them to bed. This girl is not a babysitter, she is a nanny, even if she is young and part time.

Anonymous said...

I think you should talk to the parents and ask for a raise. You deserve it. The mom is an idiot for not thinking that you and the housekeeper would discuss what you are being paid (but in the interest of professionalism, I wouldn't bring it up that you had the conversation with the housekeeper). Housekeepers generally get paid more in the US because it isn't a steady gig. I paid our housekeeper $20 an hour for 5 hours a week whereas sitter makes $15 an hour but is employed 50 hours a week. She works 10 hour days vs if the housekeeper wanted to work another job in the day she did mine, she'd have to commute again to a different site.

Anonymous said...


Tu devrais te rendre dans une agence de babysitting et leur demander la grille tarifaire et la lui planter sous les yeux.


Anonymous said...

You are not a babysitter. You are a nanny. Just because you are not full time does not mean you are just a babysitter. Your job description includes far more than a babysitter's.

But, you are a young inexperienced nanny and cannot expect to command the pay a more experienced nanny does. I had a wonderful temporary work for me for two months in the summer. Like you, she was was a student and engaged the children in enriching and educational activities. But, it was her first nanny position and I did not pay her anywhere near what I pay my regular more experienced nanny. I took a chance on her since she was local, made a good impression in the interview, and because my summer work schedule allowed me to work at home in case an emergency arose. She did wonderfully, and my kids and I really enjoyed having her, but it could easily have gone the other way given she had no track record to prove she could do the job. Had my regular nanny not started back in September, and she had become our permanent nanny, I would have given her a raise at the six month mark, but she would still make less than my regular nanny who is 12 years older and has far more experience.

Keeping in mind you can't command the salary of a more experienced nanny, you should discuss a raise with your employer. Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job and deserve one. Should she hesitate, try to get her to tell you why--are there areas she is not comfortable you can handle? My regular nanny dealt with two medical emergencies that arose while I was at work I doubt my 19 year old temporary could have handled. Perhaps she would she feel more comfortable if you have first aid/childcare classes? The key is to have an open discussion so you know what your future in this posiition is, decide if it is the right position for you going forward, and are there areas of improvement for you as well as your employer.

Anonymous said...

I walk dogs and am a nanny/on call babysitter. I get between 15.00 per 20.00 per hour to nanny/babysit in cash. I get 20.00 per 1/2 hour to walk a dog and charge 30 per hour. Why? It's not that people value their dogs in the US more it's because walking a dog has to be worth my while and in order to do so I have to get a certain amount. I don't usually babysit for only a half hour or an hour, so therefore I can charge less.

However, if I am babysitting for 3 hours and the cleaning llady at a client is cleaning for three hours we ususally are taking home the same amount. But agaon a full-time sitter is not going to make the same per hour as a person who comes once a week and cleans the house because again that person has to make coming to the home once per week for a few hours worth their while financially. And as someone pointed out, emergency on call people tend to charge a higher rate in any service profession. By all means, sit down with your employer and ask for the going rate for a nanny in your area because you shouldn't accept being underpaid. But make sure when you site down you are comparing apples to apples, not apples to grapes. You can do this by going online and in local classified advertisements and making copies of similiar postiions and the rates they are advertising they pay. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You may have a hard time commanding as high a salary as someone with more experience, but it wouldn't hurt to ask for a raise.
Have a sit down with mom and tell her everything you do with the kids.
At the very least, you're gaining some experience, which will help in your next job.

Anonymous said...

Geeze, how much experience do people need to be a nanny. If you have a natural way with kids, and are good you deserve a wage just as any older nanny gets.

O.P. said...

O.P. here
Thank you all for your support ...( et le commentaire en francais ├ža fait toujours plaisir ;-) .
I've decided that I will take a deep breath and bring up the issue with the childrens mum,hoping for the best.
Also thankyou for pointing out the fact that the cleaning lady (who I know is honest and who I doubt would lie to me) is doing an "emergencey" service I had totaly overlooked that, it's true that she does come from futher away that I do, and that she spends the best part of an hour getting to the appartement where as I live a 10 minute walk away, so the mum must find a way to make it worth her while.
Sur ce bonne nuit
Reassured and enlightened nounou*
*or babysitter for those who prefer!

Anonymous said...

1:20 PM
I have been a nanny for almost 20 years. I have learned SO MUCH in that time. Yes, I have a way with children, and did a good job as a new young nanny, but I have so much more to offer now. Having experience with many different children in all kinds of situations I have acquired a great deal of helpful information and a large repertoire of soothing techniques, methods of sleep training, cures for everything from diaper rash to vegetable aversion, ways to teach and guide.
I command a top salary now, and my employers think I'm worth it, because no matter what comes up, I've probably dealt with it before!

Anonymous said...

1:20 It is the sign of an inexperienced nanny that she does not recognize that someone with more childcare experience has seen more and done more. My current nanny has administered CPR to a child's friend, rushed a pregnant mom during a snowstorm to the hospital when she went into labor, administered an eppie pen to an allergic child, has worked with disabled children as well as newborn twins in her 15 plus years as a nanny. She is worth far more than someone who has not experienced what it is to be the only adult to deal with an emergency. I am lucky to have gotten her when she was ready to move onto a new family and happily pay her what she's worth--which is far more than any 19 year old I've ever met.

cali mom said...

I'd say 1:20 is demonstrating the difference between a nanny and a babysitter.

Anonymous said...

Bingo Cali Mom!