Everything's Wonderful Until I Need a Day Off...

Received Monday, April 21, 2008-Perspective & Opinion
I have a situation that I'm not quite sure how to handle, and would like the opinion of nannies and employers who have been hit with this before. I'm a nanny for a (typically) good family and have been for 8 months now. I've had a crisis hit with my family, one that I've been incredibly affected by. A relative of mine has fallen ill and we're not sure how long they are going to hold up. It might turn into a situation where I need to fly home for a bit on a moments notice. My boss is very aware of the situation as I've tried to give her all the details I have so that she isn't blindsided if something happens. Normally the family does everything to try and make my life convenient. I have never had any problems with them coming home later than expected, nor with money, benefits, etc. etc. The one issue that I have had problems though is taking a day off. For example, I told my boss when I first interviewed with them that I would have to have an extended weekend this summer. It was a huge deal, and it doesn't seem like she can handle me being gone a day or two. needless to say, I'm scared sh*tless about her reaction if I need to fly home for a week, maybe more. How do I balance this? How does it work in a corporate setting? What in the world do I do from this point? There is no way I'd have any notice. Maybe a day or two, but I will quite literally have to up and leave. Any and all advice is welcome!


Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, DO NOT give into the guilt. They will more than likely try to guilt you into skipping the funeral and working since "they just can't handle it" or some BS.

If something, heavens forbid, happened to one of your bosses family members, she would of course take time off and she should give you the same. I had to take a day for a funeral once, and you would have thought the world was ending.

Everything is fine and dandy with your nanny families until the NANNY needs something. We aren't supposed to have lives outside their lives you know ;-)

Sorry about your family member, and please do take the time you need to be with your family.

Anonymous said...

When interviewing with employers- you must know the truth of their past nannies. Because,
"Everything is fine and dandy with your nanny families until the NANNY needs something"

How many nannies get fired for having needs? Sick kids, slipped on the ice and broker her wrist, doctor could only see her at 4:30, etc. etc. etc.

The nanny should walk into an interview and be like,
I know what I can do for you. I am this and that and this and that,
now what can YOU DO FOR ME?

That's how I'd do it.

Janet E. said...

I had to attend "celebration of life party" for a 13 yr old child who died of leukemia. It was a patient of my husband whose family got very close to my husband.

I gave them a months notice and the cow wouldn't give me the day off.

That's when i lost total respect for her and knew it was time to move on. So I started using them like they where using me.

Did I mentioned it was a saturday evening and I wasn't even suppose to work on weekends???

Anonymous said...

What do you mean she wouldn't give you the day off?

If it were me, I would have told her when I would be taking off and that would be that. If I didn't want to work weekend or didn't wnat to continue working weekends, I would say, "Next Sunday will be the last weekend I will work for you. I have been as flexible as possible but I accepted this position as a Monday-Friday job and that is what I expect it to be".
No please. No sorry.

If my boss asks me to do something, I do it. She is my employer. If I need to run a personal errand on work time, I tell her, "I am taking Yohan to the park on E. 67th and am going to run into Duane Read on my way home, can I pick up anything for you or Reed"?

If I had a boss ask me to do something for him or her that was not in the context of my original job position I would reply, "do you think that is something you would like me to do on a regular basis? Perhaps we can negotiate a fair wage for that task".

I had a boss come in screaming because she was waiting for a fed ex package and I had brought in in from the porch and placed it on an entry hall table. She drove by the house, didn't see the box and drove back to her office. She didn't want to come in as not to upset Mahalia. As it happens, she was going straight to a evening event from work and needed a certain shade of designer hose. Yes, hose. As she screamed at me on the phone, I stopped her and said, "You should have called me, I would have told you where the package was". She continued screaming, "so now I have tooo.." I stopped her midsentence and said, "now you have to run in any dress shop or drugstore on your block and pick up an alternate pair." She tried to start up again with, "But I.." and I said, "But you won't have the stockings you wanted because they are here. That's unfortunate but I am sure you will look lovely as you always do".

I had one husband scream at me because his son fell twice in one day and had a scrape on his knee and on his forehead. He was screaming right in my face in front of the child impuning the quality of my supervision. I walked over to the marker board in the mudroom and pulled it off the road and brought it back to him. On the mudroom, I had written two notes to them reminding them about the conversation we had about Piedmont's new shoes. They were too big and would not remain tied. I stood there and crossed my arms and just looked at him. I could see the wheels turn in his head as he recollected the 2 shoe conversations we had that week. He walked over to the child and looked at his shoes, huge, garish black leather looking hightops with shoelaces made out of a foreign substance and said, "Okay, okay, I see now".
I stayed quiet. He looked at me.
I stayed quiet. I said, "I am not going to demand an apology, but I would expect you would like to provide one". He said, "of course, of course".

I could tell your 4 or 5 more stories. I don't play games. I don't do less because I am pissed at a parent. I deal with everything as it comes up. It's a two way street.

Anonymous said...

State it as a fact not a question. Someone is going to pass in my family and I will be needing time off. I suggest you line up an alternate now as I am not sure how much notice I can give. Offer to have the alternate shadow you until the day comes so he/she will be comfortable.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice, 6:12.

If you know someone who would be a good fit, you could offer to set up an interview (followed by a job shadow, if desired) for this person with the family.

As a precaution, I would be prepared in case the worst happens--the family fires you or makes your employment uncomfortable.

nyc mom said...

It sounds like you are doing the right thing already. You have notified your employer that you will likely need some unpredictable time off. She now has the opportunity to investigate emergency childcare options and give her job notice in the same way you have off. There is not much more you can do. It would be wonderful if you knew someone personally who could serve as a backup for you in case of emergency, but that is not expected. There is no way I would ever think of firing my nanny over a family emergency in which she needed to fly home for a few days.

In my job, if I were in your situation, I would do as you have done and notify my employer. I would ask several coworkers if I could call them at the last minute and see if they could work for me if needed, but understand there would be no guarantees. I would expect that I would have to use my vacation or sick days if I needed to take off work.

Anonymous said...

Any decent employer should be understanding when you need time for a family illness, or death. It is called compassionate leave.
Do not let your employer make you feel guilty for inconveniencing her. These things are part of life, she needs to deal with it.

OP said...

OP here-
Thanks so much for all of your advice. I'm taking it all in.

The only concern I have is that she doesn't have/won't get a backup caregiver. They seem to have trust issues, which is understandable, and the kids are so busy that I think they think no one could do the job. It would be tough to just fill in for a few days, but it's doable. In any case, I think it would end up with one of them taking time off work to fill in.

I also have concerns about how long is appropriate to go. I want to be able to say goodbye before this family member goes... but is that not done in the workplace? This is my first time dealing with any of this.

Again, thank you!

Anonymous said...

When my grandma was about to pass, I took off 1 week from my corporate job and went. I did not have advance notice, thus I did not give advance notice. I can't remember anymore if I had enough vacation days to be paid for my absence or not. It didn't matter - family comes first. I owe my employer a good job done and to not abuse time taken off. I don't owe them perfection or prioritizing their needs over those of my family. I am not a serf. Neither are you, OP. Act with professionalism and take the time you feel you need. That is the best any employer can ask for. An employee who subsumed his or her need to be with a dying family member to some sense of "duty" towards an employer would soon be a resentful, jaded employee. Take care of your own needs FIRST, your job second, and you will have it in you to GIVE at your job.

This has been my accumulated wisdom from years of working, at any rate.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter that they do not have a backup. Those are their kids, they can watch them. I have come in early (as early as 5) and have stayed late (until 11). I bend over backwards so they can get to their meetings or catch a flight, but god forbid I need to see a dentist, or pick up my contacts because them coming home early is unacceptable!

marypoppin'pills said...

I can understand your Employer needing to depend on you, but this is an extenuating circumstance and she's being very unreasonable.

You say she was given a head's up about this time off so I suggest you gently remind her, and don't be "mousy" about it or she might try to take advantage of you, so stand your ground.

Janet E. said...

The "best" line my previous employer ever threw at me when I had a dr appointment was:
You know people go to the doctor/dentist when they are on holiday not during their work.

Yeah, like I schedule my health issues or a chipped tooth.

God I just want to stab that bitches eye out with a fork!

Anonymous said...

I have dealt with THE exact same situation and what I would say is....remind them that you are an employer and that their children, at the end of the day, are their responsibility. Maybe let them know that it would be good for them to have a back-up or "emergency" nanny and/or daycare that they can use as drop off if things come up.

Don't let other people's lives take president over yours!!!!
And don't feel guilty

jennifer lecarlo said...

You said they normally are very understanding, perhaps they are too busy to see past their own needs. I wouldn't excuse their behavior and instead of recognizing their scheduling difficulties or trust issues, I would say very plainly, "the last thing I want to be doing right now is going home to x, y, z, so I appreciate you being understanding during this time". Maybe that will shock some sense in to them?

Na Na Na Nanny said...

OP - Please accept my sympathies. I'm sorry you have such an ill family member and additional stress from your employers.

Something very important is missing from your post: What's ideal for you and your family? How much vacation/personal time do you have? (While it would be *nice* of your nanny family to pay you for additional days you might need due to this crisis, there is still a business aspect.) I would say to go now, while your relative is still here. Hopefully they will recover, but if they do, that's significantly less time sensitive. Figure out how much time you need and let your employers know where you can be flexible and where you can't - e.g. "I need to see my family and possibly say goodbye by the end of the month. With travel, this will take a minimum of three days. Here are five flights that work for me. Do you have a preference as to when I go?" I would offer your employer what you can about when/how you go, not IF you go. Is it feasible for you to make two trips - one now and a second, if necessary, for services? You might want to do that anyway, as you can't predict the timing on either. If you were planning to stay once there, if it isn't too much of an emotional hardship for you, you could offer to come back between (especially if it might be an extended time) if your employer can subsidize the additional travel. If we're talking about a flight, they can use their miles for you.

If your employers think that your position would be hard for one person to jump into for a few days, would they consider hiring two? Not sure how old your kids are, but I would imagine that if they are older and situation is "my nanny has a family emergency" someone else's mom/dad/nanny would be willing to give the kids a ride. If they are younger, perhaps your employer could have someone entertain the kid(s) at home, while they are on-site, but working in another room.

I hope things go as well as possible for your family.

Anonymous said...


Please go be with your loved one. Having that one last hug, that one last goodbye is far more important than any job.

It sounds like you are doing the right thing by your employer. There are many jobs out there--nanny-wise or other-wise. Your loved one is the one and only. There will always be another job. These are moments you can't get back.

I've been there several times, and I have learned it's best to have no regrets. Do what is in your heart. I'm so sorry for your pain and the stress you are going through with it. Best wishes.

cali mom said...

OP, I have been through what you are talking about, with my mom dying of Cancer in England and me being in Cali, and getting the inevitabe 6 AM phone call that I better get on a flight NOW to see her in her final moments. Luckily, I was a SAHM when that happened but hubby had to just take the time off work w/no notice to his boss and his boss accepted it as an unavoidable necessity. If I had been working FT, I would have done the same thing.

Really, if you have given as much notice as you can of the situation and THEY have CHOSEN to not cover their bases in ANY way, and they decide to fire you over it, you don't want to be working for them! And any family who thinks their actions are justified is also NOT anyone you want to have to work for. I'm so sorry you are experiencing this.

kathleencares said...

I think your only concern should be spending time with your family member when you need to. I know it's hard, but don't worry about the family. You've been very open with them about the situation, and it is their responsibility to work out the details for when you are gone. Any decent person would know this and would only be supportive of your situation.

Anonymous said...

Why are you waiting until this person passes? Go now for a few days when seeing them matters. Just tell the employer you want to see this person before they die not after and GO!

marypoppin'pills said...

I just lost my life long best friend. I completely sympathize with you, OP. I think you should listen to all of these posters because if you wait until the last minute to go ... you may not have that last minute.

My prayers are with you.

Nanny B said...

OP, I know the position you are in. 6 months after I started my job, I found out my dad had terminal lung cancer and didn't have that much longer to live. I made a quick trip home and then had to return back to work again after a few days. 2 months later when the nurse called me to tell me he didn't have that much longer, I immediately told my bosses and got a flight. They were pissed becuase i could not give them a time frame for when I was coming back and I didn't have a care for them or their childcare needs. Who frappin cares when its family, take care of your own dang children for crying out loud, figure something out because i've got bigger issues. It just so happens that while I was in flight to come home my father passed away and I will always regret not leaving earlier to see him and say goodbye. I know he would have understood, but if i could change it all over again, I would have packed up and left as soon as I found out he had cancer. Do what is best for you, to hell with everything else, trust me, the regret will eat away at you.

OP said...

OP again-
Thanks so much for all of your advice. I've decided to take some time off and fly up to see the member while their still functioning in a normal state. luckily I have an extended weekend, so I'll be able to spend a few days being with them. I'll see how I feel after the visit as to whether or not I want to make another, longer trip or just wait it out and see what happens.

Again, thank you so much for all your advice, and especially your sympathy. It's more than I ever expected, and I appreciate it more than ya'll know. It's just the encouragement I needed to hear.

lorenza said...

Good luck to you.
You have made the right decision, and keep in mind that truly compassionate employers would not only understand, but encourage you to go. Also, they would not expect for you to give up your extended weekend that you have planned to take later. It is their responsibility, as parents, to have contingency plans for an emergency such as this.

cali mom said...

Come to think of it, it's also part of their responsibility as parents to teach empathy and consideration for others, and it's really sad, MORE than sad, how many "parents" have never realized that.

OP, I'm glad you are going to spend some time with your family member. I hope you both can get some happiness and peace out of it.

mpp said...

Good for you, OP. I'm so glad you are going to see your loved one now.
Good luck and God Bless.

mom said...

I know this is the wrong thread...but I have seen at least three more resuests for "Vibe readings."
We think those are fun!
Got any more in ya?

mpp said...

lol, I'm with Mom, Vi.
C'mon with it!
We need a bit of fun around here!

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy you decided to go be with them! Every moment counts.

I know it might sound stupid, but I put down my 15 year old cat two months ago and I have already used up almost all my vacation days for the year on him, not to mention spent more money than anyone I know would spend on a cat.

And I don't regret it at all. I don't feel bad because being able to spend time with him was so much more important. I told my boss that I might have to just up and leave in the middle of my shift [I'm not a nanny, I work for a major wireless company] and he told me that I should do what I have to do.

And they [your family member] will appreciate being able to be with you.

The way I see it, you can ALWAYS get another job.

Kudos to you for making the right decision :)

Anonymous said...

Awww! for the "catlady".

Anonymous said...

So how did your consult go, janet?