Nanny Seeks Advice on Vacation Issue...

Received Wednesday, February 6, 2008-Perspective & Opinion
I was writing to see if I could get some advice on how to deal with vacations and my family. I'm a nanny of 6 months, and within the first 2 months of my job my family took me on a trip with them. Granted, it wasn't really a vacation, but to go to an extended family members wedding across the country. Those 5 days registered as some of the worst 5 days of my life. The kids were still "testing" me because I was new, so they pushed all of my limits and acted atrocious, and the parents had me with the family at ALL times. I was also incredibly sick with a cold, and at a family function where I knew no one and felt completely awkward and out of place. Granted, I was compensated monetarily and very nicely at that, but I feel that the boundaries were pushed. This family is very well to do, and they asked that I not only share a room with the kids, but a bed with one of the children. At the time, I was incredibly annoyed, but didn't think there was much to do about it. Now I know that on a regular basis, the children sleep with the parents at home. I don't understand why they couldn't have at least made one of the children sleep with them so that I could at least have my own bed. I had also specifically asked for an aisle seat on the plane because I get incredibly sick on them, and they stuck me in a window seat in a 3 seat aisle, smothered by one of the children and the father. The only alone time I was granted was 1 extra hour on second to last morning to sleep in while they went to eat breakfast. I think they finally realized I was completely drained, and more sick than when we first came b/c obviously I didn't get a chance to rest. As you can see, it was a horrible trip, and I can't think of one joyful moment. At home the family is incredible. I love the children so much I could burst, and the parents are so willing to help me and offer advice. I really do appreciate them. I just don't think vacationing with them is such a good idea anymore. This summer they'll be spending a vast amount of time at their summer house which is a good distance from our normal residence. They've asked me to spend 2 weeks with them, which I really don't have a choice in. I'm really concerned about how to handle it, and how or IF to talk to the parents about it. I know that not only will I be there, but 7 members of their extended family, and another guest or two, will be staying there. Do I have the right to ask for my own room? I don't want to get stuck sleeping in the children's room (again) but it's a possibility with this many people. All of the other guests already have designated rooms, but I don't think I do. I've asked and the reply was that they don't know where to "put" me yet. How do I voice this concern? And what should I do to ensure I don't spend another two weeks feeling suffocated and miserable?


tina v said...

I don't work for middle class people, so I don't have these backwoods issues!

MeMe said...

well Tina V woopdee doo for you... for those of us who DO deal with these people I say YES you deserve your own room! Is there an extra room in the house or do they not have a space for you? Even if they are nice to you, they should listen to you when you're uncomfortable. They're trying to de-humanize you and you need to stand your ground!
Good Luck!!!!!

Anonymous said...

you need to be superfirm about this. agree to do so only with some limits. such as to give you your own room, not just a bed. so you can have privacy or you'll lose it. imagine the kid who shares with you being pissed off and how that would affect you in your room on your off time.

working schedule, planned ahead of time. etc or you'll end up being "off" but still working.

it seems this is going to keep happening- these trips. i'd say find a new job before the summer. everyone wants nannies around that time.

Anonymous said...

I never vacation with families anymore. The last two jobs I've had I make that clear in the interview.

The own room should be only one of your worries for this summer trip. I bet your entire yearly salary these guests are all bringing THEIR kids for you to watch as well. (For FREE because hello! You GET to be at this fabulous summer house! You should be grateful!- ;-) )There are a lot of things that you need to decide and clear up ahead of time so you're all on the same page.

Get in writing before you leave how many hours you'll be working at at what rate after your usual 40(or whatever your usual weekly hours are), where you'll be staying, what time you'll have off, extra compensation for any extra kids you'll be watching.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Don't go. Chances are, if they treated you badly the last time you vacationed with them, they'll treat you just as badly this time. I agree with 2:32 in that you'll probably get stuck watching the other kids there as well.

I went on an island vacation with a family once, and it was the worst experience of my life. After the first few days of being with the kids 24/7, the mother granted me an hour away from the kids each day, which wasn't nearly enough. She was totally nuts, the kids suffered because of it, and her husband wanted nothing to do with anyone. I ended up leaving a day early and never spoke to them again. The worst part was that I was only compensated about $20 a day (they felt that the expense of taking me on an island vacation was payment enough). I was young and stupid, and I will never do it again.

Anonymous said...

I would not share a room, no less a bed with a child that was not my own. You are opening yourself up for all sorts of problems with that one. I would put my foot down about that immediately. You are an adult and do not wish to sleep with a child-just explain that to them.

fg said...

This is a 'speak now or forever hold your peace' thing. So, speak now and resolve the issues that matter to you and your employers can decide to respect your feelings or not-- and you can take it from there. Stand up for yourself.

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong but when I read the original posting, it seemed that she loves the family and kids but had an awful experience when she was brand new and they had her accompany them on a trip when she was sick.

It seemed to me when I read this that it sounds like the family wants the OP there for 2 weeks and this is a must. Is this true? This is how I read it. So, if the OP doesn't go it sounds like they will have to get a new nanny and they would get rid of the OP. This is what I understood. Maybe I'm wrong.

Unless they are a very informal family it seems sort of odd to have the nanny sleeping in the middle of the kitchen or living room or something, which is what it sounds like could be happening. I would not want to put a nanny in the middle of everything, because I would not want a nanny with me and my family all the time. I guess some people do though. Weird.

OP, I think you should just tell the parents that you really need to have your own room if you are to go on this trip. If that is the main thing that is bothering you, then just tell them. Explain that you really need to have your own room. Try not to approach it with them as an ultimatum, even though it may well be an ultimatum in your mind. If you sound respectful about it, they are more likely to try to accommodate your request, and fewer feathers will be ruffled.

Good luck and keep us posted about what happens.

just anonymous said...

I would find a new family. They are taking advantage of you and it will only get worse.

atlnanany said...

I think you need to sit down with them and discuss this asap. I would be respectful and friendly, but make it clear that you are able to travel with them only if they meet the following criteria:

1) You MUST have a private room that is not shared with anyone. If you are sleeping with the children, you are really on duty 24/7 and not only should you be paid accordingly, but it leaves you without a chance to rest and recharge. You NEED a place to escape for privacy and relaxation during your off duty hours.

2) They must pay your normal salary for your normal hours. If they need you to work overtime, they must pay time and a half. You said they compensated you well for the last trip, so hopefully this is not a major issue.

3) You are responsible only for their children only. If other family members want you to care for their children, they must ask (not tell) you to do so and arrange an hourly rate. Or, alternatively, you may be willing to care for all children who will be there (during your normal working hours) but you expect a salary of $XXX for the duration of the trip.

These are basic, normal requests. If they are not willing to meet these requirements, I would start thinking about whether this family is as wonderful as they seem. It may be time to start looking for a new job.

☼marypoppin'pills☼ said...

Maybe when you started with them, going on this Vacation almost immediately wasn't such a good idea.
But whose to say this one wouldn't be better now that you've settled in?
So on that note, try to be positive. I only say this because now you totally adore them.

And the bad news ....
I also think you should request your own room. Sleeping in the same bed with a kid just opens up a whole can of worms. You don't want to go there. You also need some 'down time' .... without your own space, you will go crazy. Everyone needs a breather.
I also worry that you will become the 'community babysitter'. Please don't let them take advantage of you like this.

Now is the time to speak up and say your peace. If you don't, then everything that happens will be of your own volition.

Good luck, and definately let us know what happens!

Anonymous said...

"I love the children so much I could burst, and the parents are so willing to help me and offer advice. I really do appreciate them. I just don't think vacationing with them is such a good idea anymore."

Sounds like you have established a good relationship with the family and they value you. Have an open and honest discussion with them and share your concerns and how uncomfortable you were last time. Their reaction will tell you more about what type of family they are than posters on a blog--myself included :-). Personally, I would never want to put my nanny in a situation where she felt uncomfortable or cause her discontent, but I have to admit there are times I have, not out of malice, but out of ignorance. I honestly appreciate it when she lets me know that she's not comfortable. The nanny/employer relationship is great continuing education :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with 4:36. This is Their vacation, not yours. Keep that in mind. I would not go unless you are Promised, in writing, your own room. I also would not go if you are going to be expected to watch any children other then the families. Adding unknown children to the mix can be a Huge Nightmare, been there, done that. Not worth any amount of money to me to do it again.

If you love the family and want to stay I would discuss things and get a written agreement. Otherwise I would start looking for a new position before summer starts.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

OP are u in OHio?

OP said...

OP here!
Thanks so much for all of the advice. Just to clear up a few things

A) These 2 weeks are NOT optional. I have to go.

B) I understand everyone saying they may not be that great, but I can't emphasize how easily they have made the transition with me. The only thing I worry about is that their last nanny didn't really put her foot down on anything as far as this situation goes. She did what they told her too. I don't think they're used to someone saying, This is what I need, and frankly must have.

I don't really feel the need to say where I or the family lives. I hope that doesn't sound rude. I just don't want to give out anymore detail. But please note that they're financial status has nothing to do with this- they could afford to buy me my own summer house lol.

And thanks for bringing in your opinions- I hadn't even thought about other kids and such... it just didn't occur. Anymore advice is SO welcomed!

Anonymous said...

Tell them you don't want to share a bed with the kids. But you wouldn't mind with the husband. Hey, you never know! You may hit it off!

Anonymous said...

just joking

Anonymous said...

So ... are you saying that you *don't* want to put your foot down? Because of the other Nanny? How do you know she was so passive?
I really hope you let them know how you feel ...
You can do it diplomatically. You sound like a very nice person.

And I don't understand why you revealing what State your from helps your problem. That was a dumb question that had no relevance to your problem, and I'm glad you were smart enough not to answer it.

MissDee said...

The children sleep with the parents at home? OP, how old are these children? I know in the Far East, like Korea, children sleep with the mother until they are 8 years old. If these children aren't from a Middle Eastern country, then they should sleep in their own beds, not Mom and Dad's.

I tend to agree with the person who said that you will probably be watching everyone's kids, including your charges. Give it some thought, and see if you can put together a "vacation clause", that supplements your work agreement. Explain to them how miserable you felt on the last vacation, and that you felt that way since you didn't have time to rest. See if that works, and if not, then you may have to find a new family.

Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

OP. I am an employer. I can tell you I don't think my nanny telling me what she needs is in anyway inappropriate and it is actually very welcomed. I would not be too receptive if she came to me with a hostile attitude, ultimatums and threats about a situation, but you can be firm and straightforward about your concerns without resorting to that. Nice doesn't mean meek.

Anonymous said...

First of all, when you took the job, did you know that you're supposed to go on vacations with them? If you did, then there's really no way to back out without looking like you're not a woman of your word.

Secondly, you need to set boundaries. If you typically work 10 hours a day, then you should let your employers know that you will not be available 24/7 while on vacation. Plus, you need a couple of days off each week to recharge. Just because your employers are on vacation does not mean that they are absolved of all parenting duties for the entire 2 weeks!

And finally, DO request firmly your own room. Having no private space can drive anyone crazy.

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about the likelihood of her getting her own room in a house that is having so many people to stay. If every room is pretty much full, it is too easy to give her a space in the kids' room. If several family members have to share a room so she can have her own private room, extended family may be bitter and annoyed and make rude comments to her or in front of her, which would be frustrating/awkward.

I don't know if this is unheard of, but since you said the family is super well off... is there possibly a hotel very nearby (walking distance, or will they have a car for you there?) that they could get you a room in for the two weeks? When you're at home, unless it's a live-in situation, you are there from (example) 8-6pm, then you go home. If you work later or you are asked to come in for a date night or weekend day, they pay accordingly and there isn't much way to take advantage since it is your choice to come in. This would seem like the most ideal way to get your free time and recharge, and if you had your own place completely separate from the family, you may not need to take off two days a week or whatever others were suggesting.

I don't know, I'm sure it probably sounds weird but oh well.

Anonymous said...

Not weird at all. That's how we worked it when our nanny worked at our summer house. She drove the "nanny car" we normally have for her and the children to use to the beach house, she stayed at a nice hotel nearby where she could be comfortable, had use of the "nanny car" when not working, and she worked her normal hours at our summer house. Although I'm not sure she loved driving around the Hamptons in a mini-van, and she did have to learn the area a bit, I think she was happy with the arrangement.

Anonymous said...

Just tell them you kick in your sleep. I am sure they don't want their child covered in black and blue marks

chick said...

11:54, that sopunds like a great idea!

OP, I would outline what you MUST have to survive the 2 weeks, what you'd like to have, and what the perfect ideal 2 weeks would be. Then, when you sit down with your bosses, start with your ideal (i.e., own room, no OT, no extra kids, whatever) and work your way down to a compromise you can live with.

And if you do get extra kids dumped on you, I would just nicely say, "Sure, I can take them - I charge $x per hour, and I'll need 10 hours paid in advance. When you've used that credit, you can add more money and I'll work more hours for you!"

Anonymous said...

I hope OP will update after she speaks w/ her employers, I am curious what they will say.

I can't believe anyone would expect an employee of any kind to work 24/7 but that sounds like what nannies are expected to do if they "go on vacation" with a family.

Employers seem to want the nanny to be both a part of their family and hired help, but you can't have both.

11:54 said...

I'm glad the idea wasn't flamed!

I am also very happy to see that an actual nanny employer has done that!

Anonymous said...

do not share a room or bed with those kids

cali mom said...

7:04, that's a very good point.

A cousin of mine and his wife are bothg in super hi-tech, hi powered jobs, making mega boatloads of money, and virtually NO time even spent in the US, at their legal residence, let alone with their 4 year old daughhter. They will be visiting my uncle (his dad) with their daughter and her nanny, and I have to wonder, WHY, on a vacation with doting Grandma and Grandpa, do they need a nanny? Are they so afraid to be alone with their own child, and God forbid, maybe have to help her in the bathroom or brush her teeth that they just can't stand the idea of actual family time with her for 2 weeks? SAD.

And OP, the suggestion of a nearvy hotel room for you sounds great. I hope you let us know what you and your employers worked out.

cali mom said...

Hmm, sorry for typos!

Anonymous said...

sorry, but if the parents told you that travelling with them is part of the job requirements, then you need to go or they will likely get a new nanny, this is one of their needs. plus, they pay you extra, no? its not supposed to be vacation time for you (and i'm assuming they give you vaca time), its supposed to work. in fact, its suppposed to be harder work than what you do on a daily basis, which is why they pay you more money. and i think its pretty standard for a nanny to share a room with the kids (although not bed) on these types of trips...

Becky said...

Dear OP,
I went on a two week vacation with a very well to do family (own yacht at anchor in the middle of the Bahamas) as their nanny. I made sure before I left that we outlined all the details. I had my own stateroom and I worked from 7am - 7pm After 7pm when those kids were seasick it was no longer my problem.
You MUST have your own room and your own bed. This is a liability, you never know what a child will say and how someone else can misinterpret it, this situation could get you in lots of trouble!
If the kids are so keen on sleeping with thier parents then maybe they can sleep with them for the two weeks you are there and then you will have your own bed!
Good luck! After my experience it would take a massive amount of money to convince me to do it again. Stuck on a yacht, at sea, with toddlers and uninvolved parents....horrible

Anonymous said...

Wow, and with no way to escape.
(The Yacht, not the kids)
I hope you made a bundle!

Anonymous said...

OP again! So I have a slight update on the situation.

Today the mom was talking about some renovations that they're doing, and just telling me in general about countertops and such (I'm interested in this stuff.) I happened to mention in passing about the rooming situation, and she said she has no idea what's going on until she figures out who will be there when. I joked about how it would be awkward for me to share a room with one of the relatives. Then the subject got brought up. Apparently the house keeper (who might or might not be bringing a small son- I'd have nothing to do with him btw) is coming, and offered to sleep ON A COT IN THE BASEMENT. Note that after hearing this, I feel like a total and complete idiot for wanting my own room, but I feel like I need to stand my ground. So I told her that I want my own room. In a certain amount of words, she said that probably won't happen. I will probably end up on a day bed in the study, but during the day both of my bosses would be coming in and out to use the computer. Meaning, I would have no room for personal space except to sleep. Or, I'll share a room with the housekeeper and her son. She asked if I could handle that, and I told her I wouldn't prefer it. She told me that I might not have much choice in preference. The conversation got uber awkward after that and we pretty much dropped the subject.

These 2 weeks are NOT optional. I have to come. I personally want to bring it up again and say something along the lines of, "I know we talked about arrangements at the summer house, but I feel like I didn't get a chance to really clarify what I need. Your job wouldn't expect you to spend 2 weeks with no privacy, and I don't feel like mine should either. I don't view this as a personal vacation, but I do think that I deserve the privacy that other people get."

Any comments?? Help!!!

Anonymous said...

OP once more!

take note that this is really the first and only problem i've ever had with the family. otherwise things are great, and they do everything they can to accomodate me!

Anonymous said...

I think you should bring it up again and let them know you would like a space where you have privacy in your off hours. That could be the study, as long as the study is yours alone after your day is done and you have a place to store your personal possessions within the study.

Anonymous said...

OP again-
the thing is, I know that even if I ask to have the study to myself "after hours" (which is 7:30 I think) it won't happen. I know that for a fact. They work hard, and they work late, and will be in and out. :(