A Cheap Cheap Here and A Cheap Cheap There

Received Sunday, July 27, 2008. - Rant
Here it goes, a classic nanny struggle against cheap parents. Who would have ever thought a couple of people could spend so much money on the wrong things in the course of a year, while continuously failing to provide basics for the kids and nanny?

Okay, so you're not rich. Well, let's just look at what you HAVE been able to afford in the past year. Where do I start? You have had money afford a gardener, go on three vacations out of the country, and have purchased a Wii system, karaoke machine, new couch, entertainment system, flat screen TV, video camera, color printer/copier, laptop, ping pong table, hardwood floors for 3/4 of the downstairs, had the patio extended outside, had kitchen and bathroom repainted, dishwasher, new washing machine and on average, one - three UPS boxes a day are delivered to the front doorstep with miscellaneous who knows what inside.

Now, before you go saying, "hey, that's not too bad" let's look at what you haven't been able to come up with the money for.

You have three kids, the oldest two are girls and the youngest is a boy. Funny, you only buy clothes for the oldest girl, and that in itself is rare. The younger girl wears about 90% hand-me-downs from her older sister, most of which are stained. The boy's clothes basically are ALL hand-me-downs from a neighbor. It took forever for you to finally listen to me and get him a pair of sneakers. You still haven't got him any sandals and you expect him to wear the hand-me-down pair that are a size too big for his little feet.

I noticed you didn't buy him any new toys or clothes for his second birthday either. What, the $5000+ vacation was affordable but $100 in toddler birthday presents is out of your league?

And it would be nice if we could buy some craft supplies once in a while. Last time you gave me a $20 budget at Michaels. Are you kidding? The kids haven't had new supplies in months and some things haven't been replenished in a year. Since we aren't allowed to go very many places, I would think you would supply us with some supplies to pass the time.

And food...don't get me started with groceries. First of all, having basically no benefits other than my pay, I accepted your granting me access to your food as a benefit or perk of the job. After all, you did say that you would provide lunch for me in the very beginning. However, when I write things on the list that you used to buy for me to eat, and you don't replenish it for two weeks, it gets frustrating.

I don't mind bringing my own food for lunch most days. However, your KIDS have a limited diet of pasta, cheese sandwiches, and pb&J. So when I show up to your house on Mondays and you are out of cheese and bread, preparing their meals gets a little tricky. I have offered to go grocery shopping for you countless times, and you won't take me up on it unless you actually run out of milk. And then you tell me to only get the milk. But when I write something on the list and it never gets bought, like diapers, laundry detergent, dish soap, I get a little frustrated. Honestly, do I really need to run out of diapers before you go to the store?

What about the little first aid kit I said I wanted to take to the park and you never bought? I actually had to finally buy it myself! It set me back a whole $1.50. And was it really neccessary for you to borrow the $1.00 kitchen gloves (I had to buy for myself ) to clean the bathrooms!

Why won't you buy coldpacks like I asked? They have multiple uses and are quite essential for the park and other outings. Are they really that expensive?

Oh, and water. It would be nice if you actually changed the filter in your fridge, which I have brought to your attention a few times. Now the fridge water line is broken, doesn't dispense water at all and we are now drinking tap water. I am literally bringing my own water to work.

It would also really do you some good to get a housekeeper, since you don't have time to clean your house. I mean, I don't like having to look at cobwebs and spiders in the corners every time I go to the bathroom. Accept the fact that you can't keep up with it and get help.

I could go on and on, but I think one of the things that bothers me the most is that I am watching your three children in the summer and we don't have much to do. Most things aren't free, and it would be nice if we could go on a few fun outings now and then without it coming out of my pocket. I know you all have a Zoo/Wild Animal Park membership and Sea World/Aquarium passes too. How silly of me to think you would get me a pass so I could take them. In fact, I should have known better. After all, when you guys all went to Legoland with your out-of-town friends the day after Thanksgiving last year, you left me home with the 18-month-old instead of letting me come a long and take care of him so we could both have some fun. Maybe you just wanted me to earn my pay that Black Friday. After all, it's not a paid holiday.

What exactly is the deal here? Is it that you don't really have as much money as you think you do? Is it because you figure it is easy to cut corners with the kids and I because we won't really notice or care? Is it because you are too busy with work and your jam-packed social schedule to put attention to the "small stuff'"? Or do you just not have your priorities in order?

My hopes are, aside from feeling better after venting, that some parents with tight purse strings will think twice before going cheap on the wrong things. Think about it. If you can afford a nanny, you are in the top percent of people in the most advantageous economic positions. You have a full-time employee entering your house every day. Whether you like it or not, whether it's our business or not, we are going to notice things you buy. Get your priorities straight or you may find yourself posted on ISYN.


cfg said...

I have nothing to add. I just wanted to say, "what an impressive rant"! You go, nanny!

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Yaya said...

Ugg...been there. I cannot work for cheapos ever again, while watching them throw money away on stupid stuff, but then give a hard time over a necessity that cost $1. I recommend moving on. It's too stressful.

minneapolis nanny said...

awesome rant, nanny.

NannyP said...

I can tell that you are in San Diego County, as am I, and had you said 2 boys and one girl, i would have sworn you were working for a former family of mine!!

snarkymama said...

Oh you poor thing, tap water! The horror of it all. It is not up to you how a family spends their money. Do they pay you a fair wage and pay on time? Everything else is their business.

K said...

I loved this rant! Everything about it is SO true! Parent like that drive me insane and you feel bad for the kids because you know that they don't mind spending $1200 on a purse or new rug, but they balk at the thought of buying their kids some new shoes. These kind of people shouldn't be allowed to have kids!I feel for you nanny.
And yeah, $20 at Michael's doesn't go far at all.

mb said...

LOL! This sounds exactly like the family I work for. The 3 little girls have blisters on their feet from the hand-me-down shoes. Even the oldest girl wears hand- me -downs from neighbors. All the appliances are old and break down frequently. The furniture is from when the parents were in college! They live in a "McMansion" but don't maintain the house. They never clean the place at all. They offered me $80/month to do heavy housecleaning for them once a week! Needless to say, I turned them down. I'm the one that always has to take care of the kitty litter, clean up the mold from the dirty kitchen rags and clothes left in the washer and clean up the dirty dishes etc. when I come back from the weekend. Food is never thrown out and is left to grow stale and moldy in the fridge which really bothers me because the family has had several stomach flu type illnesses and I am afraid they might have had food poisoning. Sometimes I bring food from my house to feed to their kids if there is nothing safe to eat around there. They started out providing lunch items for me which was really nice but that has gone by the wayside. If an activity costs money, we can't do it. I love these little girls like my own but I just can't understand two people working for global companies and traveling around the world, but can't clothe their children properly and provide a safe, clean environment for them.
They also "forget" to give me Christmas presents or acknowledge my birthday even though I do that for their family. So, thanks for listening!

Miserly Bastard said...

I was about to rip into you, expecting from the title of your post that you were going to whine about how you were denied a raise but the employers were so "rich."

But then I read your post and saw that your complaints about cheapness all related to buying things for the children--and that surprised me.

I think your head and heart are in the right place--you care for these kids, and want the parents to buy them certain "minimal" things that you feel they can afford.

I sympathize, I do. But these are parenting decisions, fundamentally. If the parents want their kids wearing hand-me-downs, then that's what they will wear; if the kids have no new toys, then that's what will happen. They're not necessarily bad parents, and they might well love their children very much.

I think you can talk to the parents about wanting certain supplies, but generally, if you get pushback, I think you're at the outside limit of what you can do. Work with what you have; children need to feel loved and secure, and those feelings dont come from material things.

I sympathize with you, but I fundamentally side with the parents' right to set the financial priorities for their own household (assuming we're not talking malnutrition, safety, etc.)

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OP said...

OP here. Yep, you guys were right, it's San Diego. Thanks for the laughs and for listening.

MP - McMansion? That's hilarious. I also was denied any kind of Christmas bonus or gift, although I bought them for the family. And the old food in the fridge rings a bell for me too.

I do love this cheapo family and I will stay. I just wanted to blow off steam. You know what Snarkymama? I know it's their business. But guess what? As a nanny who is surrounded by their rediculous upside down prioritization every day, I think I have the right to rant about it. If you havea problem with that, get the heck out of the rant department!

NVMom said...

Wow, what an eyeopener! I buy nice things for my home, too, but my kids aren't left out of that.

Miserly, it's true, children don't need material things to feel love and security, but do you think these kids don't see their place in this pecking order? This doesn't sound like a question of showering kids with $$$ toys, just giving them a few things that would show their parents care about what's important to them and how they spend their time.

UmassSlytherin said...

Miserly Bastard,

While I do agree with you that OP can't really do much about the situation, I also think that shoes that fit (OP said the poor kid didn't have sandles that fit him) do not fall under "material possessions" they fall under "clothing." At least that is my opinion.

I feel for op and for those kids. I don't have alot of money to spare but I make sure my kid has stuff to make her happy before I buy things for myself. I may scour ebay to get her the best toys used, but I sure don't buy new clothes or stuff for me over what I buy for her. These parents sound selfish. I agree with nvmom. These kids will realize someday where they fall in the pecking order.

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kathleencares said...

Nice rant! That is pretty bad, but unfortunately, you can't really call them out on it as it is their business to spend their money as they like. I'm not saying its right, but it is their money. It would be really hard to work for a family like that, but it sounds like you are willing to stick it out. Maybe you can at least talk the parents into buying the little boy a pair of shoes that fit. Poor guy!

aliana a nanny from california said...

this is a very sad situation, and i feel for you and the kids ONLY!

Marissa M. said...

I've never heard of parents who are to cheap to buy their kids a pair of shoes or art supplies.
Though I always knew they where out there!

You sound like a nanny with a heart of gold.

MB said...

O.K. 2 more things and then I'll be quiet. I came back today to find only 1/2 of my pay because Grandma was here last week. I have received full pay for the last 3 years when
Grandma was here because I am expected to be here also. (She stays overnight when the parents travel) I will discuss this with my nanny family. As of today, the air conditioning has been programmed to stay at 80. (I get bad migraines from the heat!) Thanks for listening to my rant.

MissDee said...

This is just crazy-taking a vacation is one thing, but waiting until OP runs out of diapers is something else. If there were no diapers and the family couldn't get to Target to get diapers, is the nanny supposed to put the baby in a paper towel or old tee shirt, since the parents don't have their priorities in order? Tell you what OP, next time you run out of diapers, use the parent's most expensive items of clothing in place of a diaper, since they are too busy for their own children. I feel bad for you and the children OP. These parents sound like selfish people who can't handle parenting.

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r to the c said...

I too was about to rip on your for the whole "we have to drink tap water" comment... but seriously, I am a bottle water fiend, so I thought it might be hypocritical of me.

But seriously, nice post.

I feel your pain!!

cali mom said...

r to the c, I'm just the opposite. I feel for OP after reading her rant, and these people sound selfish and flakey. Not good parenting material. AWFUL. the U.S., there is virtually NO reason for anyone to drink bottled water, as the tap water is spectacularly clean and good tasting in virtually EVERY urban area, (ie, anywhere that city sewer lines are more common than septic tanks), and the production and packaging of bottled water is an absolute environmental SCOURGE on our planet. Think of all the resources going into the making and recycling of all those millions of plastic bottles. Then think of all the millions of those plastic bottles that don't get recycled. Seriously, fill a plastic bottle with tap water, put on a blindfold, and compare it to a $1/half liter of bottled water and tell me it's that different. I am a water fiend, but I have a reusable bottle that I just fill constantly, you might try that. I guess I'm just a bit fanatical about recycling, and trying to reduce unnecessary consumer waste (plastic grocery bags, etc.)