Nanny's Dilemma

Received Saturday, May 23, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN There haven't been a lot of sightings posted and I do have a dilemma, I could use some advice.

Last summer I took a job for a wonderful young family, caring for their 3 month old child. Both parents are open and kind and we have a great relationship in all areas. And without needing to say, their child and I have developed a deep and loving bond during this first year of life. I am with child M-F, 12 hours a day plus sometimes Saturday, sometimes overnight. Most days I feed all 3 meals, and give child their bath and do bedtime. The parents both work grueling, long hours at high stress occupations.

I am very qualified, and not tooting my own horn, but to put into perspective, have been sought out at 1000.00 per week (a not so inviting situation, granted, or I would have taken it! But my point is the offer was there). When I was making the decision to take this job I had a choice of 3 offers. This was the lowest paying job. I chose this family because I was looking for a live-in position and they appealed to me as a family I could really live comfortably with. In making this commitment there were compromises made, with the verbal agreement that the family would increase my salary in one year, at the time of my second contract. Well...I'm sure you've guessed what happened next...

We had a meeting, and they told me they are not able to offer a raise. I am now in a "committed" relationship with their child :-) and don't know what to do. I certainly don't want to leave, but I am not making it on the salary to which I agreed. While it is a fair salary, I passed up the other higher salaries, trusting their word to raise me to my original request in one year. They aren't affluent by any means, but make financial choices that I cannot even consider. It's not my place to judge, and I try not to. The mom made the statement that they cannot even save for their planned trip this coming winter if they give me a raise. that sat wrong with me. I can tell them, but short of an ultimatum there isn't anymore I can say. And bottom line, 1. I love their child. 2. The economy is scary. 3. I'm afraid to rock the boat because our relationship, other than this, is so wonderful. of you may bite my head off for being so dumb, but at our meeting I made the offer to keep the salary the same if they allow me to nanny share without compromising what they pay me, and they agreed. Now, I feel like it's all up to me and I'm somewhat resentful. As well, I have been extremely flexible, basically available 24/7 for them to schedule me as needed. taking on another family will require a set schedule, which I told them, but I don't think they can see what this will look like with their unpredictable schedules. This second child and family will need to be equally considered at all times. I believe they are only seeing the dollar signs right now. This is the second area of the financial part of the contract that they renigged on.

And finally, the grandma (who lives out of state and rightfully adores this baby) calls daily to check in on the baby, which is fine because I really like her. But as she gets to know me and feels more like a friend, she appeals to me to go above and beyond my contract as far as time, housework, etc. This is the first time I've been a live-in nanny and it can be so sticky! Especially if you really become part of the family. Live-out is not an option on my current salary with my current financial responsibilities.

Phew. Rambled, I think, but I already feel better. Please, parents and nannies, any conctructive advice and opinions would be so appreciated.

Sign me,
One of the family


ChiNanny said...

I'm not quite sure what you're looking for. It's horrible they went back on their word, but it sounds like you're not willing to quit, so I guess you have to live with it. As far as a nanny share goes, are they willing to let you watch another child in their house? If so, what's the problem with their schedule that will make this not possible? It sounds like they are rarely there during the day, maybe you can find a part time second family, or at least a second family with more set and shorter hours.

djembé said...

Well if for whatever reason(s) you can't/won't quit, you don't have much choice. It sucks but you gave them all the power.

MinuteMuggle said...

Of course the choice is yours, but in my opinion, a nanny is never really family. You are not in a committed relationship with this child. You are paid to care for the child. You can leave if you want to. You are not powerless in this situation. I don't mean to sound harsh and I'm sure you are a wonderful nanny (it sure sounds like it) but if you are looking for advice, we cannot give it to you. You can quit if you want to.

If I were you, I would quit. As wonderful as these people are to you, they did go back on their word. That means they are not honest. You deserve a raise and if you don't get one that is unfair treatment, when it was promised. It sounds to me as if you can find a better situation.

world's best nanny said...

Remember 2 words before taking any domestic position: WORK AGREEMENT!Get it notarized, if you have a lawyer have him/her look it over.

Families, are not businesses, they don't abide by the same rules. You may feel you are part of the family you are not. You are an employee who is paid for her time. Some families will take advantage if the can find a loophole somewhere.
The economy is scary, but it seems you have painted yourself into a corner here, if you quit you could find yourself unemployed for a long time. Many parents will not allow other children to be taken care of at their homes. Some due to the fear of losing knick knacks, most because of insurance purposes.

Baltimore Nanny said...

First things these parents ever see their child? I don't understand why people have children when they are never there to spend time with or do anything with their child. I am guessing you are responsible for dr appts, a sick child and caring for the child when you are sick. Am I right?!

You live at their house, do they buy your food, drinks, etc. or are you buying those things? What are your expenses that are related to the job? Are you paying for transportation when you take the child somewhere? Admission to places you take the child?

How much more money are you seeking? Did you tell them that you felt it was unfair that they had promised you more money and then went back on their word, or did you just take it as it was? Did your original contract state that you would get a raise?

You mentioned they were ok with a nanny share. I assume that means you would take on another child in their home, if so, I don't see how their schedule effects that.

Go ahead and look for another job. If you find it, give them however much notice you are required to (it should state this in your contract), cut your ties and move on. I know how attached you become to children and families, but you still have to look out for you first!

Manhattan Nanny said...

" Both parents are open and kind and we have a great relationship in all areas."

I think they have you bamboozled. Not only are they reneging on the raise they promised,
they actually told you they are using the money for your raise to take a winter vacation!

You love the child, but remember, this job will end at some point anyway, and you will love the next children you care for. I hope you move on to a better situation, but if you do decide to stay, get a written contract for the coming year.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yes but no said...

Saving a finite amount of money for a one-time trip is not really the same to them as committing to a higher ongoing childcare expense. In the same way, I might go to a $12 movie, but not want to upgrade my cable service for $12 more per month, without knowing what my financial situation would be like in the future.
They may have been serious about offering you a raise when they mentioned it last year, but with the uncertainty of the economy right now, are afraid to commit to it.
But while I understand that reasoning, I still find it tactless to mention a vacation when speaking to an employee about her salary.

mom said...

I like want Minute Muggle and Baltimore nanny said, so consider those cut and pasted here in your mind.

But the bottom line is what Manhattan Nanny has to say. And Granny is not much of a friend to you either if she is calling daily and sweet talking you into doing more and more free tasks so that her daughter won't have to work so hard herself. That's because her daughter IS family and you are the idea that they treat you like one of the family is not exactly accurate. And, if they truly thought of you as "one of their own," the idea of you not being able to afford a winter vacation because they are backing out on your raise would trouble them just as much as the thought of them not going on one which case they would probably be doing the RIGHT thing by you and sticking to your agreement, even if they have to cut back themselves to do it. (Oh ,the horror.)That's what FAMILY does. Do not be manipulated into doing things for them because you are just like "family"...because they are certainly not shining any of that "family" love in your direction.

But I would not quit without another job lined up in this economy. I suspect you might find a good nanny share arrangement with another family who has lost some income recently. Make sure it works within your regular working hours. You can do it like an in home babysitting service and advertise yourself as being available ceretain hours and certain days for a certain price. It will not work to have both families have equal consideration in your scheduling, or you will probably lose job 1. You dictate what you are willing to do for family 2 and wait for the right people to come along. Make sure baby 2 is compatible with baby 1 and that the first family is comfortable with him.

Best of luck.

A raise would be better said...

I think they are actually being pretty generous in allowing you to do a nanny share without reducing the amount of money they pay you (when I did a nanny share, both families paid a reduced rate from what they paid me for individual care). Since you brought it up, I think it's fair that it has become your responsibility to find the other family.
As other posters have said, I would not try to match another family's hours to your current ones. Since you are there for 12 hours a day, see if you can find a family who's looking for care just 8 or 9 hours a day, at times that would fit securely within your current schedule. Also, you probably will have to offer the 2nd family a lower rate, as that is one of the benefits to families of using a nanny share.

Lola said...

It's not really fair that you want them to not save for their vacation to pay you. Family vacations are important and if they have to save to go on one then they must not have much in savings and probably can't afford to give you a raise. They shouldn't have to give up a family vacation!

Village said...

First, you are not a part of their family. You are not a part of their family. You are not a part of their family. Repeat that until you believe it. (A vacation is more important than you are. Does that sound like you are part of the family?)

Second, they have been taking advantage of you since the beginning, with your permission, I might add. If you stay, you will be giving them permission to continue to take advantage of you.

I don't see how a nanny share will work. They may think you will go to the second family after all their needs have been met.

I'd look for another job. If you were offered a thousand a week, there will be other offers, or you could hire an agency. But remember, it is just a job. You need a contract that has been notarized. Take care of business first. ONLY YOU CAN LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. You are not a part of the family. It's not their job to look after you.

nyc mom said...

I think the advice given above is excellent. Speaking as an employer for the past 9 years in a variety of childcare situations, I will restate what is said above. I know it sounds harsh, but you are not and will never be a part of the family. You are an employee and they are your employer. Having a warm, affectionate relationship built on mutual respect is wonderful, but please do not make the mistake of thinking your employers will treat you as kindly as family. In return you should not be expected to make the kind of concessions a family member would make. I believe and hope we truly treat our current, wonderful nanny well. However, I know that ultimately we are in a business relationship in the sense that if I could no longer pay our nanny I certainly would not expect her to keep caring for our kids. And if she could no longer work as a nanny, she would understand that with appropriate severance/notice, etc, we would need to hire a different nanny.

That being said, I do think it's unfortunate that your employers promised a raise and have not followed through. Even if they were unable to give a big raise, I think a nominal increase to show their integrity and committment would have been fair. I can say we certainly could not afford a raise this year, but we gave one anyway. Honestly, it might do more harm than good in the long run because at some point my nanny will simply be out of my price range, but we are honoring our promised raise. We discussed telling our nanny honestly that we could not afford a raise, but I just didn't know how I could do it and live my life without daily second guessing. Would I feel guilty every time I ordered take out? What about if my nanny saw me our kids an unnecessary gift?

If your employers are truly wonderful people, I think you should sit down with them again and relay your concerns. As an employer, that would mean a lot to me. Also, since they are a young family and first time parents, they are also new to employing a nanny and may not realize protocol. I have learned so much about being a good employer over the past years, and I can definitely look back and regret some mistakes I made. This includes not realizing how much vacation, raises, etc I should be giving with our first nanny. Talk to them and be honest. If they are good people, you should be able to find a fair compromise.

world's best nanny said...

What the?? Is the above some sort of twisted way to introduce spam into this blog?

Let me come right out and tell you guys I have no idea what that is all about. Jane/MPP feel free to delete if you want.

Another thing OP, you know when you are being treated like family when the refuse to pay you, like family.

MinuteMuggle said...


Please don't spam.

And I agree with most of the comments above except for one:


How can you say the nanny is being unfair: these people lied to her. They went back on their word and are not even offering her a small raise. That is unfair. What is more important: a vacation or the person who cares for your child? Obviously they have made their choice. I think that says a lot about them. No, I do not think people should feel guilty about how they spend their money. But they SHOULD feel guilty if they promised something and then went back on their word. That is just not right. It's not good business either. These parents are going to LOSE this wonderful nanny and the next one may not be so great. I have a feeling that OP will have a lot of job offers in the future. She really has nothing to worry about. She should start looking now, find another position, and never look back. Although she seems to have a distorted perception of this family, I attribute that to the fact that she is young, kind, and has a positive nature about her. She will grow with time, and will most certainly be desirable to other families.

Someone here brought up the term "integrity." These parents have none.

Mary Poopins said...

Thank you all who have taken the time to respond. It's so great to have this nanny community for advice and opinions. I have this long weekend off, am housesitting for some folks, and taking this quiet time to make some decisions. And you are all so right, I'm not family. And an FYI, I'm not young, I'm a middle-aged, single woman who has already raised a family of my own. I was a nurse for 12 years and a kindergarten teacher for 18. But yes, I do have a pretty positive and trusting outlook on things. Thus, I guess easily bamboozled! hahaha Again, thank you all!

Nanny with the dilemma.

LilyR said...

I had this same problem for the family that I work for now. I was promised a decent raise after my year, but when it came time for my review they told me they could only afford to give me 15 cents more an hour. I told them I'd think about it for a few days and we came back and I told them that I could not accept that with all of my financial obligations. I made it clear that it had nothing to do with them and everything to do with what I could afford to take. I was so upset because I thought I was going to have to leave that I cried over it for a while, but two days later they came back and gave me the raise I needed and knew I deserved. They told me in order to afford it they would have to sell their gas guzzling escalade, but its been a year since then and its still here.

Sometimes I think you just have to call their bluff. If they really think your worth it, they'll make sacrifices in other areas to keep you. If you do it though, you have to be prepared to loose your job and start all over. It was a really hard decision for me to make, but I'm glad I did it.

MinuteMuggle said...


I'm sorry I assumed you were young. I guess you should take it as a compliment because I only thought it because your "young at heartness" comes through loud and clear in your words.


oh well said...

OP, it sounds like you are being taken advantage of.
I really don't like the idea of the grandmother egging you on, and telling you that they can't afford their planned vacation if they give you your raise is callous at best.
Do you have a written agreement with them? I would put everything I can (number of hours, paid vacations) in writing. As for the nanny-share, are you sure that they won't decrease the amount of money they pay you if you are watching another child? That would make sense, and after all, they have already taken their word back. Please be careful.
You sound like a great nanny and a good person.
Good luck to you

MinuteMuggle said...

oh well makes a good point: who can trust them at all now that you know they are liars? You need to get everything in writing from here on in, and get it notarized. Even if you are planning on leaving.

ericsmom said...

What about getting back in the nursing field? There is a demand for it. You can make a better living on it. If you are a LPN or RN, I am sure there are some childcare positions that require a nurse on staff. A child with seizures, or with severe allergic reactions, disabled child, etc.

Not sure if you are interested in jobs like that. But maybe you can register with a hospital in your area. And work per diem for different families in your area. Or find a regular full-time position. And get paid well where you can get your own place to live.

mom said...

Oh my gosh! I am so impressed with all of the really thoughtful, great posts people have made on this. I agree with every one...except Lola's.

Especially now that I know nanny is middle aged, I think it was incredibly, unbelievably crass to mention their winter vacation as being a factor at all, considering nanny is at an age where she needs to be saving for her own retirement. I thought it was selfish enough when I thought she was a young girl starting out (and yes, the "happy sounding heart" made me also think you were young) but now I think it was utterly selfish of the mom to mention her vacation plans as in any way equating in importance with nanny's overall standard of living. And ditto for Granny's goading her into housework! Have a little respect for somebody who has earned her stripes in the workplace for decades, people. Sheesh!

Nanny, kudos to you for being such a positive person. Use that to inspire others...but try not to let others use your good nature to take advantage of you. You sound like deserve much better.

cali mom said...

OP, since they are new to parenthood, and clearly to working with nannies, it occurs to me they might not even understand what a nanny-share IS, and for all you know, they might have just meant it was OK with them if you took a second job on the side to make ends meet. At the VERY least, I'd say you should make crystal clear between you the details of this new agreement, and go with the earlier suggestion of just advertising your availability to a second family who can fit in with the current schedule you already have. But this isn't really fair, as it just means you have to care for 2 or more kids most of the time to make your desired salary, (and you're already working your butt off!) where they had promised you a raise and are now deciding their own needs must be met before yours. I'd say look for a new job if the nanny share arrangement doesn't meet your needs, and don't worry about any agreed on notice period, as they are not worrying about any agreed on pay raise.

NVMom said...

I agree with Eric's Mom. I'll bet there are some special needs kids out there who could really benefit from your kind of caring work ethic. And I'll bet their parents would be willing to pay for it. I know I would.
Sadly, your employers are either too wrapped up in their own lives (obviously, if they are leaving their baby 12 hours a day), or ignorant to understand your committment. Either way, they sound like the type to drop you like a hot potato when it suits them. If you are attached now, just think about how you'd feel if the child is 3 and one day, without notice, you are shown the door because now 'it's time for preschool'. It happens all the time.

It just sounds like it's time to move on and look for something better. Hope you find it! Good luck to you.

fox in socks said...

OP said, "They aren't affluent by any means, but make financial choices that I cannot even consider. It's not my place to judge, and I try not to. The mom made the statement that they cannot even save for their planned trip this coming winter if they give me a raise. that sat wrong with me."

I'm wondering OP, what you meant by they "make financial choices that I cannot even consider." I was not sure what this means. Are you just saying they have more money than you do? Or maybe you are saying that they make unwise and wasteful decisions as you see it. Thanks for clarifying.

Otherwise, it's odd and crass that they mention not being able to afford their winter vacation and that this is one reason why they cannot pay you the agreed upon amount. It's very bizarre too.

If they can't afford to pay their nanny and take a vacation, then they shouldn't be taking a vacation. They can stay home and do fun things as a family instead of going away. (This seems like something they would have known a long time ago, at the time of hiring and agreeing to the raise, for example.)

I think you should continue to talk with them and impress upon them the importance of you receiving more money, that you really cannot meet your expenses without the raise (if this is indeed true). If you really need the raise and cannot meet your expenses without it, then they need to understand this, which means they will understand that you will need to leave if you don't get the raise.

I definitely think they do not understand all the possible terms of a nanny share. If you are considering going that route, you must really flesh out all the possible terms in great detail. All parties should sign the agreement ahead of time. I really doubt this kind of thing will work with these people.

You don't mention the specifics of how much the difference is between what you are making now and what you expected to be making. I assume it's substantial.

MinuteMuggle said...

I agree with Fox. I doubt they will be the type of people who would be able to deal with a nanny share. Do they realize that the other child or children you will be caring for will need and deserve just as much care and attention as their own child? I know you realize this, but will they??? I doubt it.

Mary Poopins said...

Our contract reads $700.00 week for 50 hours, $800.00 week for 60 hours.

I originally asked for $16.00 per hour. We agreed on $14.00 per hour with a review and raise in 6 months. I extended it verbally past 6 months. Come September 1, I am supposed to get a raise to $16.00 per hour. Which, considering their hours would amount to $960.00 per week. I also want them to create a set salary for overnights. I know what I have allowed is that old "creeping up effect".

It ends up that I am now making $800.00 per week for 60 hours, plus. I have my own medical insurance through previous retirement. I drive my own car and use my own cell phone. I live in their home and pay no rent or utilities. They provide food, unless I choose to shop and cook just because I feel like it. They always ask what I want from the market.

There is really nothing manipulative about them, honestly. I really have thought about this all weekend, and think that they are young and inexperienced with all the responsibilities of parenting. I haven't told them that grandma appeals to my sense of caring. I have found in life when it's best to keep my mouth shut and not get in the middle. They wouldn't be happy with her.

I also realize after a weekend of thought, that it is my responsibility to speak up, clarify, and be firm. While to them it seems like I'm making a huge salary, really it reflects their hours. $11.50-$16.00 an hour is not huge.

As well, I need to remember, just as I am not their family, neither are they my children. This is my livlihood...and yes, I do need it, I am digging myself out of a failed business venture (due to the economy) for which I hocked my home with an equity line of credit.

So I will keep you all posted, and I am really happy that there are so many of you out there who are taking the time to be so thoughtful of my dilemma. It has really helped me process.

mom said...

Wow Ms. Poopins, you sound very level headed, mature and thoughtful.
Just remember that, although these people are young and inexperienced, they still need to pay for what they buy...and they have bought your time and services.

Also, it was a great idea NOT to rat Grandma out. I would still not tell them...but perhaps cut back on doing the extras she has been guilting/manipulating you into doing. I forgot. Does Grandma live close? If so, you might tell Granny, next time she suggests that you do extra housework, that it is becoming increasingly difficult for you to keep up with extra chores as the child gets older and busier, but that you think her daughter might like it if she (Grandma) stepped in and did some of those things for her instead. That ought to end that. Either Granny will do it, or she won't...but she isn't going to tell her daughter what she's been up to as far as manipulating you, so that will end that.

Best of luck, OP. I'm anxious to hear what happens. You sound like a real gem, and you deserve a fair salary.

One more it possible that mom and dad might be willing to work less hours in order to pay you that $16.00 and still take their vacation, etc? It would be better for all involved. Who has a child and leaves it with somebody else to raise TWELVE HOURS of every day? That's just sickening even to think about. They are starting out life with their priorities all out of whack, and their solution to this problem is one more example. They want to have it all...their baby is already losing out in favor of their wants...and now there is a money shortage and they expect to keep on having what they have and let you be the one to lose out to make that work out for them too. Everybody has to sacrifiece for what they want...except them. You might be just the kind of influence that could set them on a better path in life. Ever think of it that way?

Momkat said...

Another thought I had is you are are a relatively new employee since your charge is just 3 months if you're experiencing this now, unfortunately it will probably only get worse. Usually at the beginning of an employment situation everyone's on their best behavior. So, I hate to say it--but I'd get out of there, fast!

mom said...

No, the child is about 15 months old by now. She was 3 months old last summer. The one year contract period is up and the agreed upon raise, promised at the 6 month mark and delayed anohter 6 months with nanny's consent, is now due...again.

Kim said...

I have a question for all the seasoned nannies and employers out there, is $11.50-$16.00 an hour for a live-in a low salary? That seems pretty high to me.

Just wondering?

way to go said...

Wow, OP, you sound like you have a very generous spirit, and I think you're right that it will be best if you just become a little firmer with them. You are their first nanny, right, so you might just have to let them know how things are done! Good luck with everything!

Kim, I think it depends on a lot of factors. OP is a mother, and was a nurse and teacher, so she definitely has a TON of experience. Also she has been working for them for a year now. I think $16 is bare minimum what she should be getting, depending on location.