Overworked & Underpaid - Grateful?

Received Saturday, March 7, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Please help me out. I am in a situation now and I feel very conflicted and don't know what to do. I will take any advice I receive on here very seriously.

I am a single mom in Southern CA. I work as a nanny for a marine family who lives in housing on base. I know they do not have a ton of money since the father is an E-5 and the mother is a medical assistant. I watch two children, a 2 1/2 month old infant along w/a 2 1/2 yr old. They are lovely boys and I have grown very attached to them, even though I have only been caring for them for 2 weeks thus far. I am a student at a local nursing school as well as a parent. problem is this: I know the economy is bad, who dosen't? And I should be grateful to have ANY job in this climate. I work 9 hrs a day, 4-5 days a week. I am stictly responsible for childcare ONLY, no household duties are required. I am also not mandated to drive on the job, but am allowed if I want to. They are paying me $8/hr for the two children. It's tough work, multiple feedings, diaper changings, potty training, etc. The children rarely nap, the baby only naps for 45 min. max and the toddler dosen't nap at all while I am there. It's tough work, yet I need the money. I have two pre-teens to support and bills/rent you name it to pay for. Yet, I am constantly drained to the max. My friends are angry that I am working for this low rate, they say that while the economy is tight and all, I should be charging at least $10/minimum per hour for these children, based on age/number of children. They say I should not be working for this low rate and are very angry at the family, who they feel are using me. Again, I need the money now and would not be doing this if I didn't have to. They say I should move on and try to find something better.

What should I do? Should I stay considering the economy and just be grateful? Or am I seriously being underpaid and taken advantage of and move on?
All advice appreciated.


Nanny from Fargo said...

Well, this depends greatly on the area. But I think it is still safe to say that $8 per hour is ridiculously low. To start, $2 above the minimum wage is solid. And that varies from state to state.

Where are you located?

Wishing You Well said...

I agree with Nanny from Fargo...and even that sounds a bit low to me...

If you are feeling burnt out or like this is not for you, there are other options for you. I am also a student with two kids, though I am not a single parent. My husband is our sole source of income since I am in school full time. You may want to look into financial resources from your school's financial aid office to help you get by--I get grants to cover childcare, tuition, and books--and they cover nearly 100%. As a single parent, there may be more out there for you if you are willing to look for it!

$8 does not sound like a livable wage to me, especially for 3 people. I would even suspect that a federal work study program would pay more! Go see an advisor at your school--it doesn't sound as though your heart is in child care and they may be able to help you find something more suited to your interests. My pre-med cousin worked as a medical assistant all through her undergrad years. MA's tend to make more than $8/hour and you'll be getting experience in your chosen field.

Best wishes!

Nanny Taxi said...

When I did my externship for being an M.A. they were making around $11 an hour to start.
I am not currently working as an M.A. because in my area of the country I can't find anything full time.

You are making far too low a wage as a nanny, but only 2 weeks into the job I wouldn't rock the boat. Just concentrate on the good. No housework is a good thing. I once had to take a family's recycling and garbage to the dump in my car weekly..yuk. I also had to babysit their damn parrot for a weekend. You've only been there 2 weeks, the kids will grow, potty training will be over, the bottles will stop, just give it some time.

Manhattan Mamma said...

I feel for you I really do, $8.00 an hour is not a livable wage. But as you yourself pointed out you need the money. You can't quit without another job lined up.

You also said that you know they can't afford more so I doubt they are taking advantage of you.

Don't listen to your friends, they might mean well but they aren't in your situation and they aren't going to support you and your kids should you find yourself without work.

If I my ask, when you took the job you knew the salary and that you would be caring for two young children. Did you think it would be a cake walk? I'm not trying to be mean but just wondering where your mind was when you accepted the position. Meaning what were you expecting this job to be like? Did you think you could survive on the salary offered and find out now you can't? Did you think it would be easier than you expected? Not sure if you are looking to be an LPN or RN and I know nursing pays much better than you are getting now but it's a really difficult job as well.

Since you're in nursing school, you might be able to find a position as a home health aid, which should pay a little more. You can also seek work in the private sector with someone looking for an assistant to an elderly person or invalid. If you choose to look for another job makes sure you accept a positron that offers the salary you want to make or close to it. Whatever you do, don't quit this job first and then look for work. That's never a good idea.

Best of luck to you.

Vanessa said...

The problem here is that you agreed to that rate. So after two weeks you can't change your mind and say "hey you know what? $8 isn't cutting it so how about $10?". Look for a better paying job. In two weeks you get attached but not enough to be willing to work for so little. The economy affects us all and it's not the time to be nice about being underpaid.

Sheesh said...

My guess is if you're on a Marine Base you're in San Diego county. You're right that at $8 an hour they're pretty much paying you what they can. SD is a tough market that with few that really value nannies there. I'd say that's an average salary unless you're willing to give up more of yourself meaning more hours, being expected to go away with them, etc.
What you're describing is not tough but typical. You were a parent, you've done all of this before. If you're in nursing school, maybe you want to do some CNA work instead. I can guarantee you changing a few bed pans will probably seem a lot tougher than an infants diaper.

gabriela said...

i don't understand how people can just write off $8 an hour as the sole income for 3 people as kind of a deserved punishment for taking the job in the first place. i am single with no children and i couldn't live on $8 an hour! i live in a suburb of atlanta and my rent each month is more than twice her weekly salary.

my suggestion would be to seek work with a private preschool as a teacher's assistant and enroll your children in the after-school program. even in the southeast you start around $11 an hour! could you work you schooling around that?

Manhattan Mamma said...

Gabriela, no one said she deserves to be punished with a low salary, only that she took the job knowing the salary and to quit without something lined up wouldn't be prudent. $8.00 per hour
is better than $0.00 per hour.

We just had a Target open in our area and the HR manager was on the news saying how they had hired people from Wall Street who had been making 6 figures before the decimal competing for a 28k per year softlines management position. In the NYC area, making 28k a year is like making $8.00 per hour.

Realistically, she can't go to her boss after only 2 weeks and ask for a 25% raise, it's not going to happen. Even if they give it to her, I would bet they will be looking for another nanny ASAP and likely let her go with little or no notice. She can't make it on her salary, OK. She needs to be smart and line something else up before quitting this one. That's all I was saying.

lovesthegirls said...

Hi there!

I am assuming you live near Pendlton? As a former San Diegan I can say I KNOW 8.00 is not livable. If you honestly have the heart of gold to not ask for more money, perhaps ask if you can add responsibilities such as grocery shopping, cleaning, or household bookekeeping??? I know it sucks to be in this position, but I also know you are not making alot... can I ask if you are being taxed on that or if it is under the table?

ChiNanny said...

I agree that finding a new job may be hard, and you definitely don't want to be unemployed, but being burnt out after two weeks doesn't bode well for your future.

What can you do to fix the situation? Why doesn't the two year old nap? Maybe you should talk to the parents that he needs to at least have a 'rest time' (Which at two he does) and that would give you a little break each day.

It's only been two weeks, the baby may adjust to a better schedule soon, and if not, she's going to be growing up and requiring less. Potty training will end. Once you and the kids adjust, get a schedule going, and hopefully you'll feel better. But if you don't, I agree you can't really ask them to pay you more, you may have to take the risk and find a new job.

kc said...

That is a really tough situation because if you do quit, you will probably have issues finding a job. My recommendation is to find and secure another job and then give them notice. Obviously most people aren't rolling in it these days, but it's absurd to have a private nanny when you can't afford to pay her what she deserves.

Nanny Taxi said...

Ack! Run do not walk away from the possibility of being a CNA!! I did it from 1985-1999. It is back breaking, disgustingly hard work! If you enjoy cleaning up adult diapers with diarrhea up to their shoulder blades, getting spat in the face with a mouthful of pureed meat, and being beat up by residents with dementia who see you as someone who is trying to hurt them. Then maybe being a CNA is for you. Just get used to lifting dead weight, poop, pee, drool, puke, food stuck in dentures
,getting into a shower while the resident crapped on the floor, and washing dead people!
Not to mention the drama you have to deal with from your co-workers. I left nursing to BECOME a nanny, maybe now you can see why. Whew! I need to go lay down!

SDmom said...

I live in San Diego and what I am confused about is how you can possibly live on $8/hr? The average rent for a 1-bedroom here is over $1000/month and there really aren't too many places where you can find cheaper rent, even in really run-down or unsafe neighborhoods. Then groceries, gas, clothing...I do not see how it's possible in any way to support 3 people on that amount of money.

Supporting one person on that hourly wage would be very difficult here.

Also, your employers very well may be paying you what they can afford, but if that's not enough for you to live on, you will have to look elsewhere! In 'n Out pays $10 an hour (reportedly) and I bet it's easier than watching 2 kids.

They get a subsidy for their housing, you know, so I wouldn't feel too sorry for your employing family. They certainly aren't rich, but without the housing costs that everyone else in SD has to deal with, they probably aren't doing too badly. (Doesn't mean they can afford to pay you more...but don't worry about leaving them high and dry, clearly YOU are the person with financial difficulties in this situation!)

glamnan said...

I used to live near Pendleton as well. My advice to you, if you like working with children and you have experience seek out a Child Development Center
in your area. These are government ran centers that pay really well and have awesome benefits. I worked at one and have nothing but good to report. The pay in 2001 for a lead teacher started at $12.00. Check it out I think you would be MUCH happier!

nannyinmanhattan said...

My Friend,

If you can make it on $8 and hour, keep the job.
Yes I understand what you said about having bills to pay and kids etc but if you are getting by, and you can pay your bills and take care of your kids, KEEP YOUR JOB!!
There are not many jobs left, and you are blessed in this day and time to even be employed.
I say again KEEP YOUR JOB!!
Don't be influenced by the outide (friends)
You know your heart, you know how you truly feel.
You have been doing it for two weeks, go for two more weeks.
Just take it one day at a time.
Pray and count your blessings.
Only when we are grateful in the little things would be be blessed with even greater things.
Hang in there!!


nannyinmanhattan said...

*outside...hee hee
Also I agree with Manhattan Mamma.
Coming home on the bus this week I overheard a phone conversation, this guy had lost his job a few days before and was practically looking foe a place to spend the night, practically begging his friend on the phone to let him bunk with him. Practically homeless.
Its scary being unemployed...a scary thought.
Just hang in will get better.


melissa said...

What you should be charging? You took a job. You accepted a payrate. You are doing the job of a Mom. It isn't hard work. Now, you are bitching about it and have determined what you should be paid?

I make $7.75 an hour. My job involves stocking pallates of water /boxes that weigh 65 pounds, each/. I also have to work with hazzardous chemicals and have to stock the freezer, which requires bringing a winter coat to work and donning ski gloves. The freezer temp is zero. The cooler temp is 40. The temp of the store is 74. I work at Walmart. I am on my feet for eight hours a day. I get a lunch half hour that is docked from my pay. No one gets breaks aside from that. I limp home every night. I have to wear an uncomfortable uniform top that makes me sweat. I have to be mistreated by customers, climb high shelves (up to eight feet) on a ladder to get down whatever customers point to. Some times the very thing I am bringing down weighs 50lbs.

There is a drinking fountain with rancid water. No one drinks from it. I have to buy every beverage I drink. That's right, not even a sip of water is free.

My hands are red and ripped and chapped with cuts around the nails and callouses.

If I work the night shift, I have to clean the bathrooms. Have you ever seen a bathroom at Walmart? People splash every bodily fluid everywhere. That's how I end my night.

And that is after I have either helped sweep or mop, the entire store and pulled forward every stupid product any customer has touched or handled. You should see how long it takes me to clean the toy section after all the bad parents let their children run amuck.

I used to make $18.00 per hour sitting at a desk.

Please don't bitch about making $8.00 in the comfort of your home doing a job that one should only take if they love taking care of children.

I would trade places with you in a heart beat.

Village said...

Can you get a job at $10 an hour? Then take that one. I don't understand why you took a job at $8 hour when you want to make $10 an hour or more. Southern California must be an expensive place to live. I would think nursing students would be in demand.

San Diego Nanny said...

I work in Southern California as well... I work very part time for two different families, one pays me $15 an hour (only been with them for 6 months now) and the other family pays me $17 an hour and I've been with them over 2 years.

Your wages are very low. Not saying you have to make $17 an hour but if you look, and you have good references and you are an excellent nanny, there is no reason you can't find something better.

I would keep the job you have, and start looking for a new one, with much better pay. Don't rush, and certainly don't commit to a family that you don't like just because the pay is more. Take your time and do the leg work. Find a good family that can afford a nanny. When, and only when you get a new, better paying job, let them know you can start in 2 weeks, and give your $8 an hour job 2 weeks notice.

socalnanny said...

I agree with other posters....why would you take a job knowing it paid 8 an hour? And by the cant live on 10 an hour either.

MissDeeLovesWalMart said...

OP: I make $9.50 in daycare here in Madison, WI area. Not bad, yet when I first started teaching 11 years ago, I was able to live on $8.00 per hour. Then again, unless you count Simba, Fat Mama and Mommies (my cats) as kids, then OK, I have 3 "kids". *LOL*

Melissa: I know how you feel. I worked retail for many years in addition to doing childcare. I miss the dry hands from counting money and the dry throat from being thirsty. I would never work at Wal Mart, but I love shopping there.

I get $7 from J's mom, yet working for M taking care of J is my second job. If I had him FT, I wouldn't be able to make it.

3 years and 9 months....

mom said...

OP, in this economy, you probably need to employ the old concept of "supply and demand." If you can get a job that pays more per hour, obviously you would be wise to take it. If you can't, then the $8.00 you are making is better than being unemployed. Who knows what is out there these days and what you can REALISTICALLY make.

A lot of highly educated professionals are now either out of work, or earning considerably reduced the same jobs where money once seemed to just roll in.
That's the way it is. People may feel that they are WORTH more or DESERVE more money for the jobs they do...but if some jobs now are paying only so much, it is unwise to refuse to work at all simply because there was once a better time when everybody was making more money for the same jobs that they are now doing for less.

And I doubt this military family is "taking advantage" of you. These people often make very, very little money and $8.00 per probably feels like a very generous salary to them. That's not to say that you owe it to them to work for less than you can otherwise earn (if oyu can actually do better), but oyu shouldn't be angry with them either. I suspect they are doing the very best they can just to get by too.

Manhattan Nanny said...

Thank you. Your post made me realize how grateful I should be for my job, with children I love, and wonderful parents. I hope you are able to move on soon to a good situation.
BTW, The heirs to the Walmart fortune are all extremely wealthy as a result of the co.'s exploitive labor practices.

Manhattan Nanny said...

A ten week old who only naps 45 minutes in a nine hour period is not getting adequate sleep! Aren't the parents concerned about this--- have they discussed it with their ped?

Nurse not a nanny said...

Nanny Taxi,

Yes, being a CNA is hard work, but OP probably would be much better off working in her chosen field. I was a CNA for 5 years, working in every area from Labor/Delivery to Geriatrics. Not every CNA position is completely back-breaking. Also, pay rates vary...I made $13 at my last CNA job several years ago. I realize that it's not glamorous work but...

OP, definitely look into a CNA position, particularly if it is at a facility you may be interested in working at after graduation. Many hospitals offer stipends to student nurses who accept nursng job offers for after graduation. And if you are living in the San Diego area (I live in So Cal as well) I would certainly think that pay would exceed $8/hr.

Good luck to you! I have been a nurse for two years and I love my work. My CNA experience only benefits me in supervising my staff and helping them to deliver the best patient care possible. No only that, your CNAs respect you more when they know you've been there!

Be Grateful said...

The economy is BAD. I happen to know of a position that had opened up at a library paying 8.50 an hour for SIX hours a week. Yes, six. Thats 51 dollars a week. And guess what, over 40 people applied for the one position. The advertisement for the job listing was very discrete too, and could not have possible reached very many people. People are scrambling for ANY job they can get.

Think about it.

Imagine competeing with 40 people to make 200 bucks a month, and then think about what you make a month. Be grateful.

cali mom said...

Skipping ahead to the final post, and have to agree. the economy S U C K S. It would be the worst move possible to quit this in search of a better paying job. Sure, people can apply for all sorts of bonehead jobs that pay more than $8/hr, but it doesn't mean they'll actually get them. I'd be very wiling to accept a job that paid half of what my last salary was, as would my husband, and we have applied for several, but undoubtedly so have a few hundred or a couple of thousand of other people that find themselves in the same boat as we are. Seriously, as someone pointed out, $8/hr IS better than $0/hr, so unless you can collect more than that on unemployment, best to stick with what you've got UNTIL something higher paying turns up. Which is not likely to happen in the next 3 weeks. And I also started to wonder why you had accepted the job, knowing the salary, if you knew the salary was not enough for you.

mom said...

My husband's paychecks have been very low lately too. He took the job (in which he is paid out of the firm's monthly always a little different each month...but up until now more than enough) with a pretty accurate idea of what the annual salary would work out to be. The first year he had a guarantee, no matter what the firm made...but it didn't matter because the firm was raining money and he would have easily made that anyway without the guarantee. Next year the guarantee was void, but money was still falling from the sky, so no problem. Thankfully, we are savers and live well under our means. January's salary payment was just enough to pay our mortgage...and I believe that was before we paid taxes on it. Last month he made a bit more, but less than half of what he got last year at this time. Is he going to quit? NO way! That's the economy and that's the way it is. It will get better one day. In the meantime, we're cutting out all unnecessary spending...eating mostly at home instead of restaurants...choosing outfits from our closets instead of the mall...and not buying luxury items. Last year at this time we were earnestly looking at beach houses to buy. This year we are SOOOO thankful that we have our money in the bank and not tied up in a house that is virtually unsellable and losing value hand over fist! ('Cause we're living on that money now. And if it gets worse, our pool man and gardener are going to have to go.) I get regular e-mail updates about the real estate in the area we were looking in last year. Most of the same houses we were considering then are STILL on the market today...and at rapidly reducing prices! It's a different day in America people. Hold onto your money, don't spend foolishly, be thankful for your jobs, and be ready for it to get worse before it gets better.

Nanny from Fargo said...

What it comes down to is, if you can find something better- TAKE IT. Give your two weeks, and take it. So start looking.

And don't feel bad!

There will be plenty of people willing to take your nannying job. It would probably be a better fit for a single person with no dependents.

However, if you can find something that will better provide for you and your children, then that is what you must do!

Apply apply apply. If you are into nursing, do CNA work. If you can handle rejection, be a telemarketer. If you can wait tables, do that. Just do what you have to do, but don't lose the job until you find something else.

cali mom said...

OK, who fed the troll?