Nanny Being Taken Advantage of by Father of Five

Received Friday, May 15, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I am looking for some advice on my current situation because all my friends and family tell me I am really being mistreated but they dont have nannies and have never been one. I live in the tri-state area and I work for a widower with 5 children. When I first took the job I asked for $15 an hour and he asked if I would be willing to start at $13. I should have never agreed to that but I was anxious to get a job. The minute I started the job I realized I should have asked for even more. There are about 10 hours a week when I am at their home and all the children are at school. I agreed to do laundry, change the beds weekly, light vaccumming, dishes, and organize toys and clothes during that time. From the beginning he went beyond our agreement and was constantly asking me to do other things that weren't really part of my job like "helping" the kids put away Christmas decorations, clean out kitchen cabinets etc. The thing that always gets me is that he expects me to know where any little thing might be in his house and asks me to "hunt it down". How should I know where you put your stuff? Asking me if I've seen it is one thing but telling me to find it is another.

The children are completely spoiled by their grandmother, especially because they have no mother. She lets the kids do whatever they want until she can't stand it anymore and then starts yelling. The father has no patience either and as a result the children barely react to anything but yelling. I have my job cut out for me to get these children to obey. Homework is a nightmare; crying, fits and screaming at siblings. The children need a lot of help with their homework but it is very hard for me to help 3 of them at a time because sitting together at one table is impossible. They talk or fight with each other constantly, jumping around and chasing each other with pencils. Then of course while all this is going on I am trying to figure out how to keep the 2 little ones occupied enough to give us some quiet. Oh and I am also responsible for getting dinner ready most nights. (once in awhile Grandma will make something but her appearance is more of a hiderance than a help.) I've been working with the family for just over 6 months and the kids are finally realizing that they can't get away with anything with me and that I mean business. Sometimes I feel that I am being too tough but they need someone who will stand up to them after all the freedom they've been given in the past.

Ever since I started, my boss was always making excuses to cut my hours. I made it clear to him in the beginning that I wanted as close to full time as I could get and he promised me a MINIMUM of 38 hours. He is always saying that the grandmother wants to spend time with the kids and ends up cutting my hours to less than 38. Ive said something to him several times reminding him that I need my hours and yet he still does it. I expected that over the summer I would be getting well above 40 since the kids would be out of school. But lo and behold he gave me a prelimary schedule for the summer and has me working 30 hours. I was livid. I called him up the minute I saw the schedule and told him I needed my hours and that he promised me more. He made light of the whole thing and we have yet to work it out. I am still holding on to hope that he will come through and give me the hours he promised.

The other concern is that I think its time to ask for a raise and I think I deserve well above $15 an hour doing all that I do, but I think that would be too much to ask. I think I can ask for my original request of $15 an hour even though that is a $2 raise seeing as that is what I asked for in the first place. (and I know he can afford it, he is always buying new things for the kids and taking them on destination vacations.) He expects me to do far more than my what was agreed upon and never thanks me for anything. He is ungrateful and unapproachable. My mother thinks I should just look for another job but I am not sure that I can find another one in this economic time and the children really do need me.


Been there too said...

I have been in this type of position before where I work for someone and even though I deserve a certain amount, I agree to a lesser amount because I really need the money. Then after I start working, I realize how hard the work really is and then I feel like I cannot ask for more $ since I agreed to work for said amount, etc., so I feel trapped. I also have had people who agreed for me to do only such and such, then later on down the road I find myself doing things I never agreed upon. For the latter, I always have just left because I feel like the contract was not being upheld by them so I had no duty to uphold my own.
As for the fact that you are being overpaid, I understand your situation. On one hand, for 5 children, you are being underpaid...but by the same token, you know the economy is tough right now and that the market is saturated w/nannies and very little job openings exist now. If I were you, I would just keep the job if you really need it to survive. Try not to be bitter and resentful, however I think the fact that the Dad promised you more hours and is not living up to what he says is kinda flaky. His word is worthless and I believe he is taking advantage of you. This is what sucks about our tough economic times. Seems employers such as this, have the upper-hand right now since they know jobs are scarce and that they can just hire someone else if they choose to.

Been there too said...

*underpaid* sorry for the typo.

MissDee said...

Did you have a work agreement when you started? If not, I would make one IMMEDIATELY. Without a work agreement, you are most likely going to have to do more and more sidework that you didn't agree upon during your inital offer of employment. And yes, you do deserve a raise for what you do for this family and the hassle you put up with. Five children, three with homework and two little ones, plus keeping the little ones occupied while being a referee to the older ones is a job in itself. What does the father have to say about how the older ones act while trying to do homework? I'd love to hear that one. As for the yelling, the children sound like one the children in my class who, at 3, is the most disrespectful, rude child I have ever seen. When I say rude I mean this child was waving a Fruit Rollup in front of the other children the other day taunting them about how they had one and the other children didn't. This child also will put things in their mouth and when you ask them what they have in their mouth, they will cover their mouth with their arms and say they have nothing, when you know they do or when you see them put the object in their mouth. I have found that yelling doesn't work with this child-does yelling work with any child? And before anyone says that all children of preschool age act like this child, the rest of my class and other children of this age that I have cared for in the past don't act like this way.

The economy is awful right now, and unless you want to work retail, I would stay where you are at for right now.

obvious said...

honestly, you should sit down with dad and grandma and discuss a good discipline strategy. You can't fix everything by yourself. You need their support too.

Meena said...

I have been on both sides of the nanny fence and can sympathise with you. Are you looking for other employment? If you have a HS degree, have you considered substitute teaching? It pays fairly well for the hours you work, and you can still be a part-time sitter/nanny after school.

As for the father and kids, perhaps you can discuss a possible raise to $15 an hour, explaining that you agreed to $13 because you were guaranteed 38 hrs a week. Now that you are not working the hours as originally discussed, you need additional money in order to be able to afford to keep the job. That would be a good time to clearly lay out the job description and responsibilities in writing, saying you want to make sure you understand and don't want to be shirking your responsibilities. :)

What do you think?

MinuteMuggle said...

Miss Dee is right: you need a contract asap. If he refuses to give you one, look elsewhere, and when you find another job, insist on a contract that you get notarized.

God help you, honey: five kids? And my heart goes out to them. Of course the grandmother spoils them: they have no mom. Of course they are difficult, this would stand to reason. Perhaps you didn't know what you were getting into, but in my opinion being nanny to five motherless children is a huge challenge. I don't know that I would be up to it!

Good luck and keep us posted!

two or three cents said...

I agree with everyone who says you need a contract that lays out your reponsibilities and hours. I also think you are fine to ask for a raise. You started at $13 for a kind of trial period, and now that you are proving yourself, you deserve more (and you are caring for 5 kids and doing housework!!!)

The grandmother wants to spend more time with the kids- is it possible she could take the little ones while you are doing homework with the older ones? Could you use spending time with grandma as an incentive to get homework done? (e.g. Whoever is finished by such and such a time gets to go get ice cream with Grandma)
You can't really change how the adults are, so try to use it to your advantage. If you look at these issues (homework, discipline, etc) as your joint problems (rather than at the parents as part of the problem), they might be more receptive to trying new things.

Kristen said...

I would say you are being taken advantage of. Did you sign a contract? For five kids, I would think you deserve more than $13 an hour- especially since he has been cutting your hours. But then the economy is tough, so that could be his excuse.

I think you should definitely sit down with him and tell him your concerns. He can't just cut your hours when you rely on the money to live off of when he agreed to more.

cali mom said...

Oh man, this guy is an absolute slime.

Yes, you would be perfectly reasonable to ask for a raise, and to demand a contract, just as you have demanded more hours (which is simply what you were promised, after all), and the same reaction he gave you before is exactly what you can expect to any other reasonable demands you put to this prick. in other words, he is not likely to budge, and your job will remain miserably underpaid and overworked.

I'd say get all your ducks in a row to find a better job, then have a talk with him and Grandma about the discipline issues (though you say they are finally starting to obey *you*, at least), and with him about your hours and/or your pay. Then proceed to look as hard as you can for a new job and don't worry about giving him any more than a week's notice at most when you leave.

I think he is cutting your hours to save money so you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting more money AND more hours, but make it clear that without increasing your hours, he is reneging on his end of an agreement. I do hope you had some form of contract with this guy, cause he's clearly a lying slime who will screw you over in an way he can get away with.

Kim said...

I agree with the above. You need to get a written contract and have in it a set minimum of hours. I also think you have every right to ask for a raise.

Of course the economy is tough, but if he refuses, I would be prepared to leave. You deserve to be paid well and he's trying to take advantage of you.

oh well said...

I agree with the other posters. You need a written agreement with a minimum number of hours. No self-respecting employer should make light of the number of hours he is paying you for. Looking into substitute teaching, like Meena said, sounds like a great idea. The good side about your job is that you are gaining experience handling several kids at the same time, which will hopefully impress future employers. Also, how is your relationship with grandma? Can you get her to help you at all? Do the kids help you with household chores? Even young children should be able to contribute something. Good luck and please look out for yourself.

Miss Dee, good point about the yelling. I hope that things improve with your three-year-old. In my experience no child misbehaves without a reason (it may not be a good one, but there is usually one). Is there anything in this child's life that could cause them to feel undervalued or insecure?

MissDee said...

Oh Well:

This poor child is considered a burden by her own MOTHER.

Her older brother has autism, and is treated like a normal child. Her baby brother was a month early, and if the baby cries, everyone runs to him. EG: Mom can pick up the baby early, meanwhile, this child stays at daycare until 6p. Even on Dad's day off, (I work with Dad) she is there for 10 hours.

Mom made a comment to another teacher about how she likes bringing her daughter to daycare for us to take care of her because she can't her own child. This child has sensory issues, like putting things in her mouth, and isn't sensory part of autism? I don't know much about autism as I do ADHD. This child eats off the floor, puts things like playdough, paper, any other objects into her mouth. At grouptime, she will spit on herself and wipe the spit all over her legs-she calls it lotion. Mom knows about this, and I don't think she really cares one way or the other.

She does things to get attention, and that is obvious. My favorite was when Mom dropped her off and said she chewed on a marker. Like I said, older brother is treated well, baby cries, everyone runs and when she does something it's whatever. I get along with Dad very well, and like Mom as a person to an extent, yet don't like her as a parent. The fact that Mom has said rude comments about me is the reason why I am leaving that classroom, not resigning from the school in a month.

And for those of you that think I shouldn't be in childcare because I can't handle this child, you are so wrong. I take this situation personally, and I will say it like this: those of you who know me, know that I lost my mother at the age of 4 to cancer, and grew up with an overprotective, strict, authoritarian father. My maternal grandmother raised me to the best of her ability as my mother would've wanted, yet I was a Gumby in the war of control between my father and granny. I would give anything to have 5 minutes with my mother, yet this woman has a child and is lucky to have one, and treats her like crap. I don't like it and it hurts.

Mel B said...

My first response is that I would look for another job. If the dad doesn't honor what he's previously agreed to, then what's to hold him to another agreement? It sounds like a toxic situation and more of a personality problem rather than a money problem. It is tough economically, but it would definitely be worth it to check out what else is available and if it's viable for you to leave. If not, then present your case as professionally as possible...and appeal to his personality. If he's the cut-and-dried type, present lists of your duties and the other duties you've taken on, which have earned you the hours/raise.
It's great that you are attached to the kids, however, it's not good for you to be sucked dry b/c that'll just hurt you and those around you in the long run. Just my 2 cents.

oh well said...

Miss Dee, thanks for replying. I don't know you but from your posts I am pretty sure you are making a diffference in this child's life.
Sounds like mom and child both need therapy. There is nothing more terrible in the world than feeling unloved by your mother (whether it is true or not). Unfortunately there is not much you can do about this. Good luck to you in your new position

Village said...

It's amazing how many men like this bury their wives. I had an uncle that made his wife so miserable with his unending demands that she finally died of cancer.

Your mother is right. You need to quit, but not before you get another job. And don't worry about notice. He has not been honorable with you, and the grandmother is there to bridge the gap.

Surely you can get $13 an hour with someone with less children and more honestly.

PS I think those who think this man is going to agree to a post agreement with her live in fairy land. No way he signs anything. You probably aren't the first nanny, and probably won't be the last. I hope you let us know what happens

Manhattan Nanny said...

Listen to your mom. This dad is dishonorable, he doesn't keep his word, and he is taking advantage of you. He won't change. I don't know enough about your qualifications and experience to advise you on salary, but in the tri state area, 13 an hour is rock bottom for one child. Fifteen is still way too low for five children plus housekeeping duties! I suggest you register with a good agency. They will give you some guidance.

Original Poster said...

Hey thanks for all the advice! I guess I should have mentioned that yes I have not only have a HS diploma but I have a Bachelors Degree. As to why I am a nanny is even beyond my comprehension right now, but thats another story.

After 2 weeks I tried writing up all the job expectations including my schedule and gave it to him saying "I just want to make sure we're on the same page about everything." He looked at it briefly and then said "Oh I have one written up at the office that I keep meaning to bring home." His copy said nothing about hours or wage, just what he expected ME to do. So we really don't have a contract because neither of us signed anything but I do have the agreement that I wrote up.

The Grandma is not at all helpful, I think she feels a little threatened by me because I can get the children to actually listen to me. She judges me when I don't let the kids do whatever they want even though she told me herself that she knows she shouldn't spoil them the way she does. So asking her to help is out of the question-she just makes things worse.

And what Cali Mom said is exactly right- he is just giving excuses to cut my hours to save money. So that is what makes me even more nervous about asking for a raise.

And yes, I have tried talking with the father about discipline or incentive ideas to help spur homework in the right direction. He is not very responsive to my ideas and of course does nothing to punish the kids when their homework is not done. So I am standing on my own.

I guess its a hopeless case. Yes, the children are growing on me but I really just feel that if I leave these children will have no hope of living a normal, balanced life. They need structure and I am the only one who gives it to them. Maybe this is my lot in life.

I should be sleeping said...

But what about you, OP? How can you live a normal and balanced life in this case....

Reading your reply you sound like you suffer from depression... I may be totally off. I have been there and still suffer from it. But if you have a degree you should really try and use it to your advantage. And find a position you enjoy and where you are respected. And can make enough money to take care of yourself.
It sounds like this job is your life. You really need to branch out.

I don't think being a full-time nanny is a good idea. First, you are interacting with kids all day. And most nannies work at least 10 hours. Your playing the role of "mom". But you are not the mom. You will get burned at the end.

oh well said...

OP, for all I know you could be Julie Andrews but the dad you are working for is no Captain Von Trapp.
Even if it is your lot in life to help needy children, you will not provide structure and security to these kids if your employer does not respect you.

Kim said...

OP -

This is not your 'lot in life'. You deserve to be respected. You have bills, they need to be paid, you need hours and money. He doesn't see that and never will. He cares about himself. If you tried a work agreement and he won't go for it, I think you're done.

You have a degree, look into substitute teaching or doing something that is related to that degree. Find a job to pay the bills (that you are respected at) and try to figure out what your passion in life is.

Sadly, you don't owe these kids anything. You can't save these children while killing yourself. You will be burnt out eventually (probably soon) and resentful. I know it's hard to leave kids you care about, but it's not your job to 'save them'. They have a father and a grandmother for that. You need to take care of you first.

Virtual Nanny said...


I don't understand why you would give up so easy. How old are you? I am assuming you are young, intelligent, capable, responsible, have good common sense and more people skills than everyone in that family combined.

Look, I know the economy is tough. But you need to listen to your mom in this case. You can find better and you will find better. You don't have to tell him you are registering with nanny agencies or posting ads on craigslist. You can interview outside of work.

You have you mom's support so what's the worst that can happen?

chgonanny said...

Start looking for a new job. The dad needs a wake up call to the fact that no one should be treated the way you are. Perhaps he'll find a new nanny and treat her right. I know the economy sucks (my husband was laid off this week) but there has to be something better out there for you.

Miss Dee-
My heart goes out to you, and that kid. I've seen a few parents that act like that, too. There's a couple that brings their kids to the park I go to, and the little one (maybe 18 months or so) has had TWO black eyes within a matter of weeks. Yes, I know, toddlers fall. But the parents come to the park to socialize, while the little one wanders off, playing with a Razor scooter one minute, and the next trying to eat dirt. The other nannies and I try and give the parents a heads up when she wanders off, but I've got three charges of my own to watch. They also let her STAND in her stroller! At one point, the stroller hit a bump in the sidewalk, and she was almost catapulted forward.

Ok, enough ranting. I just don't understand people who have kids but then don't want to do the work.

Anonymous said...
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cali mom said...

chgonanny, yes! I know this isn't the "I want to smack your idiot parents" site, BUT...2 weeks ago I was at the Dixon Fair with a friend. A big carnival, ThOUSANDS of people there. We'd just left a concert there, it was around 9:30 or so at night, and my friend notices a little boy wandering, apparently alone, who looked about 4. Wr didn't see any adults anywhere near him, but he seemed unconcerned, walking and running around the fair watching the catnival games, rides, etc. I told some "police" who were so busy standing in a cluster chatting with each other they probably forgot I had approached them the minute I walked away, and my friend meanwhile had followed the little boy. We managed to get close enogh to ask him if he knew where his parents were, and found out that he was 4. He was a little wary of us and made a fast dash, and it was crowded and there was a lot between him and us, but we were trying to keep an eye on him. My friend had also told some "security" people in a golf cart and was trying to get them to spot him while I was talking to him. We lost sight of him for a few minutes, and headed out, furious and concerned, when we saw hiim standing next to a guy with a baby in a stroller, apparently his "dad". My friend walked up to the guy and told him we'd been tailing his son for a good 20 minutes ALL over the fair, alerting police and security that he was lost, since he's been completely on his own, (he'd ended up a good 3 city blocks from where we first saw him), and his dad just said "oh, yeah, thanks".