17 April, 2008

Coffee Complication...

Received Thursday, April 17, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I would love get some insight from the parents that read this blog. Here is my situation: The family that I work for likes to go out for a coffee in the am not too long after I've arrived at work. This happens anywhere from 1-3 times a week. They never give me any advance notice that they are going to be out of the house while I am on the clock, nor do they let me know when they are going to be back. They take their toddler with them and I am left home alone. They don't ever offer to bring anything back or ask if I'd like to go along (no biggie, because I'd say no anyway....but it's just the thought). But when they leave, I don't know if the time they are gone is my personal time or if I am expected to be "working". Most of the time, I tidy up, run a load of laundry and such. But there are times when there is nothing for me to do. Once in a while it's nice to have that "down time" but it's getting to be often and I am getting bored. It throws a wrench in the dynamics of the day for everyone, including the little toddler. So, my question to you parents is this: would you feel weird just leaving your nanny like that? Would you expect your nanny to relax or would you expect them to be working while you were gone? And, if your nanny came to you asking what you expected of them during that time, would you be offended or would you feel bad not clarifying? It's just something that's been bothering me as of late and I"m trying to figure out if it's even worth mentioning. There is no mention of anything like it in my contract, so I can't go to that for reference. I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say. Nannies, I'd love your input as well!

32 comments:

a texas nanny said...

Well, what are you expected to do when, for example, the child naps? If your job includes child laundry but nothing else, I would probably do just that- put a load of laundry in and sit around waiting for them to get back or maybe hunt down the ingredients for a baking session or supplies for a craft...

lorenza said...

I agree with the post above. Busy yourself with something you need to do anyway, if possible. Other than that, be creative, I guess.

ro said...

I wouldn't do anything I wasn't asked in advance to do! That is for sure. I would bring a magazine. Or a book. It sounds like you are in hell. What do you have two parents who work from home? Or worse, stay at home? Sounds like the worst possible job one could ever have. Best of luck.

NevadaNanny said...

I think that you may want to double check with the parents. But if you are throwing in a load of laundry or doing some pick=up and then reading or whatever you want to do I don't know that it's a big deal. In fact, the advice above asking "what are you supposed to do on the occasions that the child naps?" seems to be spot on.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I would take care of the laundry and maybe set out some playdough, fingerpaints, or baking ingredients for when the child gets back. Then, just read a magazine and wait.

Sue said...

Stick a book in your purse and enjoy the quiet.

Oh, if it were me I'd stick two books in my purse. One that I'd make a show of reading (child development or some such nonsense) and a novel.

It sounds like they're enjoying a little time with their child on days that they can swing it. As a parent it's something I'd certainly enjoy doing.

And as for asking you if you want a coffee or to join them? They're your employers, not your friends. They're not inviting you along because they want to be a family.

Anonymous said...

Just chill-out and go with the flow. Relax, do a little laundry or food prep for the kids snacks or lunches later, or just take a breather.
And as far as expecting the family to bring you a muffin and a latte when they return---welcome back to reality! This only happens in Disney movies, and in rare instances (very rare) in real-life with wonderful families who pay their nannies $1,000/week, give their nannies new cars and plane tickets to Bora Bora for their birthdays and put their nannies in their wills so they'll be able to live luxuriously in their golden years.
Just bring your own coffee and biscuit to work and count your blessings.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't dream of leaving anyone behind in my home to head somewhere and not asking if I could bring the person something. A nanny is an employee, she may not be your friend but she is a guest in your home. I have to agree with someone above, this sounds like a turbulent situation. 2 parents coming and going? I have had the same nanny for 7 months, my child is 2.2 y.o. and if I were to come in and out or take my child out and then drop the child back off with the nanny- it would be hard on the child. And that would leave me saying, "no, no, no, you can't go with mommy now". Sometimes I think people do these things to create needs in their children. At this age particularly, my child does best with a routine. If the parents wanted to spend time with their child, they might want to have their nanny arrive later, make a pot of coffee at home and get down on the floor and PLAY WITH THEIR CHILD.

WTF? Taking a child to a coffeestore 3x week. How much fun is that?

Anonymous said...

You know what? If I had a nanny, I'd treat her well. I'd pay her as much as possible, on-time every time. I'd give her health insurance, use of a car, vacation time with pay and yes, I might even put her in my will if I had the money and she'd been with my children for a long period of time. A nanny may be "just an employee", but she's one of the most important...she works with children!

Anonymous said...

^^^almost forgot to add: I'd bring her a coffee and a cookie or croissant or something! Maybe buy her a deli sandwich once in a while or invite her to share dinner on Fridays or join the family for the kids' birthday parties (as a GUEST, not as an employee). It's the least I could do if I were lucky enough to have someone else keeping my kids happy all day!

Anonymous said...

Ouch I'm sorry you're in this position. My boss calls me before meeting me to ask If I want coffee and a muffin. Someone mentioned they are your employers but the truth of the matter is that you need to have a good relationship with them. Everyone is different and I'm sorry to hear they don't count you as family. I'm blessed to have such a great family. The other night we sat and watched "American Idol" together and enjoyed a cup of tea (Me,Mom and Dad). Everytime she cooks which is often she tells me to take a large container home. They say we're a team, I'm not the help I'm another parent. I'm truly blessed!

Anonymous said...

Ouch I'm sorry you're in this position. My boss calls me before meeting me to ask If I want coffee and a muffin. Someone mentioned they are your employers but the truth of the matter is that you need to have a good relationship with them. Everyone is different and I'm sorry to hear they don't count you as family. I'm blessed to have such a great family. The other night we sat and watched "American Idol" together and enjoyed a cup of tea (Me,Mom and Dad). Everytime she cooks which is often she tells me to take a large container home. They say we're a team, I'm not the help I'm another parent. I'm truly blessed!

mpp said...

Have you noticed the "down time" in your paycheck? If not, then you shouldn't be expected to do anything. I'd sit back and busy myself with a good book.

If you do notice you're getting paid (although this confuses me, are you salaried?) ... I'd do something like the others mentioned above - prep your day for when they get back with the child.

1:52 - my sentiments exactly!

Anonymous said...

My SIL does that every morning. He takes the kids and runs up for coffee and takes them with. It doesn't bother Jen, the nanny. She looks at the papers or finds something to do until he drops them off. If you are getting paid to relax take it and run LOL
Maybe it is just something they like to do ,like my SIL? I wouldn't worry about it.

just anonymous said...

I hope you are getting paid from the minute you walk through the door.
If I were you I would say something like, "I've noticed you like to go for coffee a few days per week. I'd be happy to watch the baby so you can have some alone time together while you enjoy your coffee. I'm so bored when he's goes with you!" and make light of it and then maybe they'll realize that it's RUDE to ask you to come in and then not be there b/c you could have just come in an hour later and slept in.
Although I've had some crazy employers, they have always brought me home something, or offered, when they go out for such an occasion. Common decency.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem with my family. The mom started staying home from work a few times a week and I would have nothing to do, and then I got the best advice I ever got. The more the family relies on you, the longer they will keep you on.

That is when I started to transition from a nanny into a house manager, and when the children went to school full time (I was not going to continue with the family after this point) they asked me to stay. Now I am the nanny and housemanager, and although I don't spend all my time with the children, I don't do heavy clearning but more shopping, organizing, and cooking. Also, when they saw how much extra work I was doing I got a large raise and I don't have to find a new job.

My advice to you is if you like your family and you want to stay with them long term, find other things you can do around the house that would be helpful.

Janet E. said...

I think it would be polite to offer a coffee but I say just go to starbucks yourself on the way to the park and have a great morning without having to wait around.

As for them leaving.. no, that means it's "take care of my child time" sure have breakfast but remember to play as soon as you're done!

Rebecca said...

I don't think the issue is that the OP wants coffee or a muffin - it's just nice to know they're not completely ignoring you. And sure, it's not their job to do that - it's just a polite thing to do; something that I think most people would do. I think I know this OP, and from what I know of her situation, she has a pretty good relationship with her employers, and they seem like the kind of people who WOULD ask if she'd like them to pick something up for her, so for them not to ask is just a little - just the TINIEST BIT - of a pebble in the shoe.

As for your problem OP...whether or not you should mention it really depends on how much of a problem you feel that it is. Is it that you would like to come in a little later if they're just going to be out anyway? If so, I'd mention it. Just something like, "Is there something I should be doing while you're out having coffee? If so, I have no problem with that, but I feel a little odd coming here at X time only to sit around and read for an hour." If you don't care about coming early, you only care that you feel awkward not knowing what to do, then I probably wouldn't mention it. Just get anything done that you'd do during nap, and then chill without feeling bad about it. And then chill during naptime, since you will have already done what you were going to do. I think the decent employers get that we're not "on" 10-12 hours a day - that most of us need some break-time (as 40-hr-a-week employees get legally, plus lunchtime). We don't usually have it automatically structured into our days, but there often ends up being a little bit of time when we can just take a bit of a break, and I think most parents (at least the ones I've been fortunate enough to work with) know that. You don't need to be "on" even when you have nothing to do. And maybe if they see you just chilling with a Stephen King novel they'll get that they're leaving you with NOTHING TO DO AT WORK.

maggie said...

Your employers do not seem to be the best of employers. They are leaving you 1-3 times a week without telling you when they will be back or letting you know what they expect of you? If they haven't told you what you should be doing, then by all means do whatever you like. It should be up to them to correct you or include you in the planning of the day in the future. I run a tight ship, but my nanny always knows where I will be and when I need her. She is free to do what she wishes in her down time and I would never walk in the door with a coffee for myself without one for her.

mimi said...

Wow OP that sucks. I haven't had a nanny family OR a in home daycare parent yet that had the thought to walk in holding a hot cup and nothing for me. Not that I expect it but they treat me like family and in doing so they don't leave me out. I think another problem I would have with that is all that down time. I have a day kinda prepared in my head and nothing bugs me more than not doing things like I wanted. I used to have a employer who would call me mid-morning while I was at the park or music class and ask for me to do an errand...which always ended up getting our lunch late or nap late..both not fun for toddlers. So I understand the problems of them taking him away from you. If there's nothing for you to do around the house I would just read or watch TV. Or spend that time finding a new job!

The OP said...

OP here. Rebecca, you do know me and I really appreciate your insight....as always. Thanks to everyone who got where I was coming from. No, I don't expect them to offer up a coffee or whatever, but it's the thought that counts.

I just want to know:
1. what is expected of my time while they are gone (is it my time or work time, etc).
2. I'd like to be given an approximation of when they will be back so that I CAN get stuff ready for the little girl.

I've also noticed that when they return, it's also making it harder for the little one to adjust to me being there. They usually head to work not too long after returning, so she gets bummed assuming they are staying.

I'm going to mention something to them in regards to the 2 questions I mentioned above. They really are good people and for the most part, my relationship with them is great. They are just a bit TOO go with the flow on things and it's beginning to take it's toll on me, my energy and the little one.

I get to work and expect to get right into the swing of things. Suddenly having them leave throws things off. Yes, I get stuff done, but that only takes about 10-15 minutes for the most part. Yes, I love some down time here and there, but TOO much of it TOO often just throws my energy/momentum out of whack.

Ok, I've rambled enough again. Thank you to everyone for their comments. Much appreciated!!

Anonymous said...

OP, I know what you mean. I like to plan my days with my charges, and something like this on a regular basis would be frustrating, especially in regard to setting up play dates, or planning outings.
Good luck talking to your employers, and give us an update.

Anonymous said...

OP, I feel really bad for you that you have such selfish Employers. They don't value you or your precious time.

I don't think it really matters whether or not you're getting paid. You are left to your own devices when you show up and off they go with the child. And I find it especially unkind that they don't even offer to bring something back for you. Whatever happened to being considerate of other people's feelings?

And if you aren't getting paid, then it's only doubly worse.

Please say something.

Anonymous said...

What's the point of making the employer feel like an a*s? So you have to kill time while they have db out with them for coffee...big deal. Make yourself useful, or not. Are they being rude and inconsidrate?...YES! You really want to make an issue out of it??? Up to you, but I'd pick my battles a bit more carefully. I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg with this couple.

Anonymous said...

I would be happy to just have the break for the hour or two. Why is this such a big deal? Its not like their docking your pay, is it?

Just make your own coffee. But it is rude that they never bring you something back on occasion.

holz said...

this is why i love the family i work for. even when the mother's going to the post office, she'll ask if i need anything. she's always bringing me donuts or cookies, or even if she's making herself tea or a snack she'll ask if she can make me anything. i know nannies are employees and not necessarily part of the family, but to me it's common courtesy...

Rebecca said...

I think that if she feels it's an issue that's hindering her ability to do her job then it kind of IS a big deal, and she should address it. Sure, some of us would welcome the downtime, or wouldn't think it was that big of a deal. But others - like this OP - obviously find this kind of thing really difficult to deal with. As she said in her comment, "They are just a bit TOO go with the flow on things and it's beginning to take it's toll on me, my energy and the little one." If it's really making it hard for her to do her job well, then it's a big enough deal to mention.

Her situation is kind of like being a teacher and having the lessons all planned out, then being interrupted every other day by unexpected and lengthy fire drills.

8:20 - I don't think mentioning it will necessarily make her employer feel like an a*s, as you put it. It's certainly possible to bring it up without being rude. Her employers likely don't even realize they're making things difficult, and might even be glad she cares enough to say something.

Anonymous said...

8:20 here...maybe I'm just projecting my own observations of my own "go with the flow" employers, who change their own, and my charges, scedules constantly without letting me know beforehand. I continually adjust, readjust, and adjust again. Calling them on schedule changes would only put them on the defensive, and quite frankly, it's their perogative to spontaneously change their schedule and spend time with their dc as they see fit.
I have certainly let them know I function better, more efficiently, at my job when I'm given a "heads-up" about changes in schedule...to no avail, however. Mom-employer's response was "of course, don't we all?", yet I continue to be the last to know what's going on. I guess my point is:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference."
Pick your battles wisely, that's all.

Anonymous said...

You know I contemplated this post today when my dadboss brought me an iced coffee back from his haircut without even asking.

Some of you have no common courtesies. This is why we, the better workers, won't work for you.

Anonymous said...

dude,
you're working on SUNDAY!

Anonymous said...

Maybe she's a live-in?

Cherri said...

I am sorry to hear about your situation. I think you should raise your concern with your employer and ask them if there is anything you can do while they are out for coffee. I found myself sitting and doing nothing for 4-5 hours on a 8 hour day work while the baby was napping when i started working with the baby at almost 5 months old so i brought a book with me or read parenting maganize after light house keeping and while the baby was napping. I also asked my employer if there is anything else they need me to do since child care is my major job and clean up after the baby and some light housekeeping were the only things on the contract. My employers are extremely polite and always offer to me from coffee, old tv and computers after upgrade to new ones, and many dinner night out (as their guest not an employee). Countless weekends, the child, the parents ended up at our place our we have playdates at each others'. The child has started preschool three afternoons a week and i was purposed to stay with the family full time and i offered to chip in for grocery while the child is in school (she is in school for 1.5-2 hours a day). Starting end of the year, she will be going to school five mornings for a total of about 20 hours and i am still being purposed for a fulltime job with the family as it makes more sense for them to keep me than to have me look for job elsewhere. I chip in for the family affair such as the child's laundry, clean fridge when it's out of control (i use it too), do shopping in the morning before going in in the morning (i actually do this because it is more convince for me and the child doesn't like shopping all that much after a while. it's just easier if i do this myself) taking the mail in, when one of the parent is out of town, i help taking the recycling out. My point is, my job (and i am sure yours is too) is to take care and help the child grow and the baby should be your main concern. Her parents and I share household chores. I tried doing as much as i can during the day while the child is sleeping but sometimes at the end of the day things doesn't get done than the parents can do it or wait till i return the next day. No big deal. Just FYI, i don't do any household work while with the child expect tidy up with the child after we make the mass and i involve the child to help with some chores (nothing major)such as changing her bed sheets, taking laundry out and folding them, she'll help puting the dishes away after her meal as a living example. It often leads to more mass after her helping to clean up and chores but it's the learning that's fun for her. I waited till she is napping and do the rest. Sometimes i am so tired when the child falls asleep and i would take a nap myself. Remember to take time to recharge yourself so you have full energy to help the baby learn.