How Much Notice is Appropriate?

Received Thursday, January 29, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I have been working (as an aupair/nanny) for 18 months with a very difficult family. When I signed I signed the contract in July to stay another year, things weren't fantastic, but I loved the little girl, and figured I could handle another year. However, after a few incidents this past week, I just do not think I can last until July, when my contract ends. I am miserable, unappreciated, and underpaid. So, having said that, I have decided that it is best if I leave and find a new job. So, I am wondering, how much notice is appropriate?

Some of the incidents are- for instance I caught them in my room "looking" for their daughters ice skating pass. I let it go then, but the more that I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I wrote them a very nice note explaining that I didn't feel comfortable with them in my room, etc., and could they please call me if they needed to know where something was! Well, the next thing I know, they brought out my contract, after highlighting everything they thought I was doing wrong, and basically threw it at me!

These things I was doing wrong were things like: taking food from the kitchen without asking permission (I am a live-in nanny, and 24! And we are talking like, a can of tuna or spaghetti sauce. Nothing expensive!), feeding their child ice cream (as a treat after dinner), and things like that. The point is though, is that I am not in violation of my contract. They, I think, were just angry that I challenged them about "their house" (as they put it, and clearly stated that they had a right to enter my room whether I was home or not). But it is to the point where my working environment is very tense, and I would just like to leave. I am just unsure how much notice to give as there is not a specific amount of time listed in my contract!

Employers, if your nanny were going to leave, how much notice would you hope for? How much notice would be essential? And how many of you upon finding out your nanny was no longer happy working for you- would simply want her gone?


MN Nanny said...

Yikes. These people sound like degrading control freaks! I don't blame you for wanting out.

I think that your situation is different in that you are live in. These people sound like they are going to make your last weeks a living hell. I usually say 4 weeks notice, but in this case, I would say 2 weeks max. Be prepared to be let go on the spot though.

Best of luck!

Nznny Sarah said...

What!!! they don't expect you to eat. As a live-in, you should be able to have your own space- but also as a live-in, (I am a live-out, never a live-in) I am wondering, since it is their home you live at- I am wondering if they do have a right? I don't know. If you don't feel comfortable- I would just get up a leave. Just make sure you have a great nanny position to take this horribles' place. Best of luck.

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A Nonny Mouse said...

As an employer and full time working family, I would like as much notice as possible, six weeks would be nice. That's what our prior nanny gave us, but it was a very amicable parting--her family needs had changed and she just couldn't stay on. She spent that time doing special things with the kids and creating two "memory books", one for us to keep and one for her to keep. You should give your employer three to four weeks notice. It is more than fair--more than the two weeks "standard" and enough time enough for them to find someone and for you to find a new employer and living situation. If they feel you are not capable of taking good care of your child, they will ask you to go immediately. And if they treat you poorly or react as childishly as they did when you spoke to them about an obvious violation of your trust, you can always leave sooner.

TC said...

I would line up another job before you say anything to your current family and I would give them a months notice but be prepared that they will let you go a lot sooner than that

Philly Nanny said...

There's nothing in your contract about giving notice?

socalorangecounty nanny said...

I would first find another job, secure it...after all you need a place to live and then give a 1 weeks notice...of course people want more notice, but if they are treating you like crap,I say "oh well":....

honest nanny said...

Secure a job first! The nanny market is quite low in some places currently and you don't want to put yourself out of a job.

I think 30 days notice is plenty of time, that is being kind. I agree with everyone else that they may want you gone sooner so make sure you already have another job lined up to begin at the end of that 30 days. Who knows, maybe you'll get a little vacay time! :)

cali mom said...

All job markets are sucking in virtually EVERY industry right now. If the au pair leaves (and I wouldn't blame her), she'd probably be unemployed for a good 6 months or so. Especially with no reference from this family, because they sound like controlling, vindictive buttheads who would not give her one.

oh well said...

You should first secure another job. If these people are as unpleasant as they seem it's likely to be hell for you once you give notice. I would give them two weeks, but as other posters have said, expect to have to leave immediately. Good luck

Nanny Taxi said...

2 weeks seems to be the norm. Make sure you have another job first! If things are that bad they may become upset and fire you on the spot, no reference will be forthcoming so be prepared to explain the "hole" of 18 months in your resume.

Above all break it gently to the little girl, kids are resilient but knowing that none of it was her fault will go a long way.
Good Luck!

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Juju....nos EUA.. vida de nanny!! said...

I gave the family I work for 6 months noticed and I have found they a replacement!!!!!

I don`t like when they go into my room either.. every time I came back fro the weekend I noticed the door open and they use my bathroom!! I hate,, but since is their house I have to be quiet!!!

nannyneedsanap said...

Yes, find another job first. These people sound like the type who will tell you to get out as soon as you give notice. In my opionion they don't deserve any notice, but two weeks is the norm.

snips and snails said...

SWeetie, you need to think about your well being, too. Are you planning on going back to your home? Was part of the contract a plane ticket back? If you have enough to go home - go home. You won't need their reference in the future.

It is so sad when things go south so quickly. I agree with MN nanny. 2 weeks, but be prepared to pack and go.

I think you might need someplace to stay immediately, but i would not let that detour me. Certainly there is a hostel near you. Let us know how it goes. All the best to you.

Phoenix said...

I think that you should talk to them again and state that you were not upset about them going into a room on their house, but that you assumed that that room was your personal space and that they wouldn't feel comfortable going through their room to look for something of their daughters. Just state that you didn't want to make them upset but that you felt violated in a sense. They should understand that.... but from the sound of it they won't and with any job giving a two weeks notice is the minimum.

Ok you guys are going to think I am retarded but I never really had a clear definition between the difference of a nanny and an au pair? What is the difference? It has been bothering me and I couldn't come up with the answer myself.

Phoenix said...

I meant they wouldn't feel comfortable if you went through there room.... they have a preview button for a reason and i just assume not use it...

truth or consequences said...

If my nanny quit, I would hope she would give a reason. If that reason was that she had a problem with us or our home, I would say, "Adios". And that would be that. Be very careful because once you quit, you don't get severence. Or unemployment.

Village said...

I think you are getting great advice here. Before you do anything, line up another job. Then give notice to match up with the start date of your new job. And I would pack first. I have a feeling they will show you the door as soon as you give notice.

Good luck.

NannyInCharge said...

Just get another job first!! Don't do anything until you have somewhere else to live. If they are trippin over a can of tuna, they don't give a crap about you!

I have NEVER heard of having to ask permission about taking something to eat. What are they doing, counting their cans?

Get out before you become totally bitter and angry. Good luck.

nannyinmanhattan said...

If you could find another job without their recommendation before, that would be good for the sake of staying employed.
If you are too miserable to last another second, two weeks to a month should be reasonable enough and even generous.
Do you need their recommendation to find another job btw?


chick said...

Phoenix said: "Ok you guys are going to think I am retarded but I never really had a clear definition between the difference of a nanny and an au pair? What is the difference? It has been bothering me and I couldn't come up with the answer myself."

Wikipedia had some good info here:

and here:

IMO, a nanny is a childcare professional, who has chosen a career as a nanny. She either has extensive experience, specialized training, a college degree in a childcare related field, or some combination of the three.

An au pair is a young person who wishes to visit anouther country and live with a family to learn more about that country's culture. They exchange up to 45 hours of childcare per week for room, board, and a small allowance.

There is an ad that runs in my local CL, advertising "foreign nannies!!! hire an au pair today for just $300 per week!" That ad ticks me off.

jojo bear said...

American nannies who identify themselves as au pairs have been bamboozled. That's like a sous chef working under the title and pay as busboy.

And American family who advertises for an au pair is looking to pay a dirt cheap rate.

And FYI, au pairs ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS live in and LIVE as part of the family.

Stop being duped.


Nanny in Beautiful San Diego said...

I personally feel that even though you live in your employer's home, you are entitled to your own space. They should never have been in your room looking for anything. If they wanted to find something, they should have done like you mentioned, and just ask! I would be so angry if I caught them snooping in my bedroom, that would be enough to quit. If you do have somewhere else to go, and have either a new position or enough money to survive on, I would leave immediately. Even though you have a contract, the fact that they were snooping in your space would be a deal-breaker for me.
People may think I am unprofessional, but if the tables were turned and they saw you snooping in their space, they would fire you on the spot.
Respect is a two way street.
Best of Luck to you OP.

Phoenix said...

okay thanks for the info...

see that was why I was confused. I was constantly hearing about american au pairs and I thought that was because I didn't know what the meaning was.

I understand now.

grumpy girl said...

Wow, sounds so much like something I went through. First off, I'd recommend sitting down alone and writing a list of pros and cons of staying and another list of pros and cons of "moving on". This will help YOU reach the right decision. This is your life. These people are your employers and if you feel that they are doing you wrong, you will be the one who has to leave. Not much for me to say to you because I hate my live out job and I can't seem to stand up for myself ever!

DO remember that you absolutely have to have a plan in case they make you leave or something. You don't want to be homeless and jobless. I feel for you :(

maric said...

two weeks minimum but 3-6 are nice. That being said I once had a work agreement that stated that two months notice were required from both sides and if the family wanted to end w less they had to pay for the two. After 2 1/2 yrs they ended relationship with two weeks. Point is do what feels right to you and for you. the family is secondary in your concerns.

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Steven said...

I've always been a live-out, but every family I've worked for, without fail, has always offered me whatever their kitchen has.

Now, I make a point of never actually taking anything more than a glass of water, but it's the thought that counts.

I would never work for anyone as a live-in if the food wasn't communal and that would include whatever I bought.

As for their going into your room, unless if they have probable cause of sincere wrongdoing, it is my humble opinion that this is a violation of your space.

Yes it is their house, but if they lived in an apartment building, would they want their landlord going into their apartment without their knowledge or permission? So it's silly reasoning on their part.

As for the matter at hand, I would give absolutely no less than two weeks notice and would try for four weeks notice. I would not say a month, but literally four weeks to be more exacting.

With nicer families, I'd recommend attempting at least eight weeks notice, but four weeks is more than fair with this treatment.

Financially, were I you I'd be ready for them to dump me immediately.


librariAnne said...

My biggest pet peeve is wikipedia. You know anyone and their jokester cousin can add WHATEVER they want, right? That aside, research is always a good way to go about anything.

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OP said...

OP Here...Just wanted to an update...I am looking for new jobs, but unfortunently, they are hard to come by. Things here are still pretty tense, but I just basically do my job, and then leave when the parents come home. It is not at all how I would like it, but I cannot afford not to be working right now. If I cannot find something soon, I will just have to suck it up until June/July. I did ask about the whole "asking about food thing", and they said that it is not unreasonable of them to ask that I call everytime I want to take something out of the kitchen. I said that I disagreed, but that was basically the end of that. Anyways, just a thing about nannies vs. aupairs, I am 24, college educated, and definently do not have aupair duties! lol. I moved to another country (from Colorado) to learn a third language. I really think it is only in the USA that the aupairs are rather young, naive, and unexperienced. Most of my friends here have all been to college, but merely moved here for the same reason I did! Anyways, thank you all for you comments and advice. I appreciate it! :)

Some Thoughts said...

Consider building a food store within the room they've given you.

If they object, ask what the alternative is. After all, they don't expect you to eat out every time you can't get a hold of them, do they? It is after all much too expensive to do that. Be sure to mention something you're saving money for.

After getting the initial non perishables in the room, begin researching mini fridges. Go as far as print outs or copies of Consumer Reports.

Leave the print outs about, but don't make a point of it. When they ask, answer that you intend to get a fridge since you don't have access to their kitchen.

When the protest and try to remind you of your [restricted] access.

Consider saying something akin to, "I don't if you're a sleep, or if the cell tower goes down or any number of things. A small fridge is a cheap fix that makes us both happy and I can give it away before I go."

So now:
1. They may want to relent on the kitchen access matter to avoid the fridge or no fridge debate or, as we would all hope, see your point of view about needing to be trusted with access and have access. In that case, merge what you have with what they have, and try to add things on a weekly basis.

2. They may allow the fridge, in which case heck, you've got the access you need.

3. This may cause further tension and end the world by this time next Tuesday.

Have fun!

chick said...

Do as they say. Call them every single solitary time you want something from the kitchen.

Call them, do not walk into their area of the home and ask them. If they don't answer, keep calling until they do respond.

Make sure to get late night munchies a few times per week.

I bet that either they will relent and rescind their orders, or they will be happy you are such a good little order follower.

Either way, you get to laugh at them for being nitwits.