A lot of Guilt & A little Regret

Received Thursday, June 11, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I have already given my notice (I gave it on Monday and gave a month's notice), but now I'm beginning to wonder if I gave up too soon or if I was justified in feeling like enough is enough. I'm sorry if this post is long but any feedback, besides negative comments, would be greatly appreciated.

I took a job in August for a family in a wealthy town outside of Boston. I'm not from this area so we talked for a few weeks and they sent me a contract through e-mail to review and get back to them. The contract stated that I would be working 40-50 hours per week being paid at a presumed rate of 45 hours a week and the salary was $400 per week. Also included in the contract was "a rare weekend day (about 1 every 2 months)". This is a live in position so my room, board, and food was included as payment as well. The mom works out of the home but the father works from home. I'm not really a fan of working for parents who work from home but they are really lovely people so I knew I could make it work. They have 3 children who I have grown to completely adore (I hold back tears when I think of leaving them, I can only imagine how much I will cry when my last day is here).

If I remember correctly I was here 2 weeks before we went on Vacation to the Cape. We did not sit down and state out hours or duties while we were there but I did keep track of all my hours and logged them in my daily planner. In September when I realized I had been working a lot (between 50 and 60 hours, sometimes more than 60) and I had been working more weekends than agreed upon I emailed my boss. (We communicated regularly but we also used e-mails, texts, and she left me a note at the beginning of the day if she needed me to do things) In the email I included the hours I had been working and explained to her that I loved my job and I wanted to be able to do my job to the best of my ability but I couldn't do it if I was exhausted. I just simply explained that I would like to stay as close to our original agreement as possible. Her response was not harsh, mean, or out of line. She just stated that they needed someone who could be flexible, accomodating, and could handle the demanding schedule. She said we would keep it at 50 hours a week and any time over 50 would be compensated with time off or if time off couldn't be given they would pay me the hourly set rate. If I worked under 50 I would make up the hours that month or they would be hours I "owed" them. The idea of more pay never even came up but I didn't want to lose my job and they are such great people I just couldn't say no to that idea.

After Christmas I was suppose to work that following Sunday but I had spent the early morning hours throwing up so I called in sick first thing (the only other times I had been sick was 1st time in the cape, the day after we arrived i requested the morning off because i wasn't feeling well due to the traveling and being in the back of the van the day before but I still went up at 4pm and worked that evening and the 2nd time I was sick was because I spent a day cleaning up vomit from one of my charges being sick so I naturally caught her bug but I still worked that evening as well) in the morning because I had some kind of bug and I had found out the day before that my brothers best friend's dad had a heart attack and passed away on Christmas so it wasn't a very good weekend but I was shocked that at 4pm I received an e-mail from her about my being sick. (I understand that as a nanny people depend on us and it's hard for the family when we are out sick and I hardly ever miss work so I feel the email wasn't necessary) In it she stated she was upset by my lack of professionalism and courtesy by giving them only a 2 hour notice. She went on to later say they needed someone professional, reliable, and professional to fit in their family. Up until that point I thought I had been very reliable and more than flexible and accomodating with my job.

After December I started compiling a list of things that were bothering me and here's the list I compiled and ultimately made the decision for me to leave.
-->I started my day at 7:30 (most days, i will get to that part as well) I had to get all 3 charges ready for school and fed breakfast by 8:20 by myself on the mornings she was gone. It was impossible on some mornings.
-->I worked hard to get the kids to pick up after themselves. I made sure that anything we played with was put back where it belonged and I re-organized both playrooms so that we could get rid of old toys and when I would come down some mornings the playrooms were destroyed because they never followed through with what I was teaching the kids about cleaning up.
-->I've worked roughly about 17 weekend days since I started. That's a lot of personal time I've given up for this job especially when it was suppose to be "1 about every 2 months" and I'm not watching the kids alone I'm helping the WAHD which I don't think is necessary. If the mom can handle them when I'm not around and I can handle them for 10+ hours a day then I don't see why he cant.
--> Having to stay late if the mom was running behind because the WAHD had run out to run errands about a half hour before I'm suppose to leave or he hasn't left his home office yet.
-->Schedule changes happening the day of or the day before. Like working until 6:30 until 5:30. I have a monthly schedule so I make plans around work and I have other side jobs of babysitting so it's hard when it's little notice that my schedule has changed.
-->Starting late (10:30 or 11 instead of 7:30) throws off the whole week schedule. I normally use the morning time to grocery shop for the house, do laundry (all the household laundry including parents), or do other tasks left for me (such as cleaning the hall closet, cleaning and organizing the garage, working on cleaning out the basement) but when I start that late and I have to pick up the younger charges at preschool and then I'm with them for the rest of the day I get behind on laundry and other tasks because I don't like leaving my charges unsupervised so I can work on projects. I mean I like taking them out to playdates, the park, museums, aquariums and if I'm doing that it means other things aren't getting done because we arent home.
-->having to make the charges dinner 3 or 4 nights a week because the mom can't be home but the WAHD doesn't want to come down and make them dinner and help them get ready for bed. The nights I make dinner I have to be sure the kids are 100% ready for bed before I leave.
-->Not being on the same page when it comes to discipline. I believe in time outs and taking privileges away. I need to be on the same page as the parents in order for the household to run smoothly. If Ive given a report that the charges shouldn't get dessert or tv that night, it's for a good reason. It doesnt send a good message or a "united front" when the minute I walk out the door the parents give in and give them whatever they want. I believe that kids should deserve things like tv, dessert, or special treats.
-->being kicked, hit, or screamed at is unacceptable in any household. The charges should never be allowed to physically abuse a nanny. They didn't do it every day but it happened enough for me to begin getting fed up, I know it's a phase in some kids but this was new and it started in march after I'd already been here 7 months.

I'm sure there are more things but I don't wanna make this post an extremely long post. For those of you still with me thank you for sticking around to try and give me some advice, I truly appreciate it because leaving these charges is tearing my heart out. The parents are not bad, I like them, I love the charges but I felt with the previous talks/emails I've exchanged with the parents that I wouldn't get very far. After all the hours I work I'm exhausted and it shows on the job sometimes and I don't like feeling tired while I'm trying to be happy nad play with my charges. The parents ask why I don't go out that much or why I haven't started taking classes (trust me I couldn't take the classes I wanted because of my hours at work), or why I havent been exploring the city and in all honesty I'm just too tired, if I work 50+ hours a week then go out on the weekend I feel so tired on Monday it's unreal. I don't think that's normal. That was my biggest indication that it was probably time to say goodbye.

Like I said I can't say a bad word about the parents (I really do wish the dad was involved more because it would probably help the mom and the nanny alot) but I just had to give my notice. So I'm asking did I give up too soon or should I stop feeling guilty and let it go.

Thank you very much for reading this. I didn't mean for it to be so long.
-a Nanny who still feels guilty


Nanyy Sarah said...

if you are thinking of staying, you should sit down with the parents. Tell them- "I want to stay- but this will happen" Do up another contract and maybe do another "kids" one. Chore charts with older kids. Parents need to ne involved and believe that you have a life too. This is one of tough parts of being a nanny- parents and kids take advantage of you. If you decide to stay- get the contract and tell them= up front- your concerns and fair warn them- you need support and a life. Best of luck.

emily said...

I'm sorry for how you must be feeling right now, but I think you've made the right decision. You're not a good fit for this family.

Some of the things in your list seem to me (a nanny who works for a family that's considerably more demanding of time, etc.) to be not legitamate complaints. In my mind making dinner and getting the kids ready for bed should be part of your job every day unless it's been previously stipualted that it's not part of your duties.

But, the point isn't what I feel about your job, it's how you feel about your job. I hope you don't view my opinion as negative, I'm just telling you that there are nannies out there who wouldn't find some of this stuff difficult to deal with and this family should find an employee like that. You should find a family who doesn't need as much flexibility from you and who have a very set schedule.

Just as an aside: I hate when I hear about room and board being considered part of the pay package. Having a nanny live in is a perk for the family just as much (and in my mind, moreso) as it is for the nanny. When I look at this job description I see that you are making $8/hour caring for 3 children!!! That's insanity in my mind. This family wants flexibility from their nanny and having her live in their home is part of the way that they can get what they want. They need to realize that they are not paying a competitive wage.

Momkat said...

Quite honestly, you made the right decision to leave--and in all honesty the family is probably a bit relieved that you resigned. I'm sure you are a wonderful nanny, spectacular with the kids, and a hard worker--but the mom has been honest with you on several occasions that they want someone who is as she put it "flexible"...but in reality it means willing to sacrifice your personal life on a moment's notice to accomodate their schedule. There are probably nannies that are willing to do this--but you sound like a person (much like I am) who wants some balance in your life. You want to be able to make your own plans--and not have to cancel them. You want to work a reasonable day--with time to pursue your own interests, and your own life. And to rest. That's very reasonable. But it doesn't sound like what this family is looking for. So parting ways makes a lot of sense. You can certainly find a situation that's more to your liking; with a family who's style is much closer to your own. And likewise, this family will find a nanny who is going to meet their needs. They're probably thinking already how they're going to restructure things with a new nanny--now that they know what worked, and what didn't, with it fit into their lifestyle. So, don't feel guilty. Don't have any regrets. I'm sure you, and the family, will find new situations that are a much better fit. So, start interviewing with new families--think about what type of situation you'd really like, and how you'd like to structure your next contract. There are plenty of families that don't work crazy hours and have a lot of evening and weekend demands--and I'm sure you'll find a good job with one of them. Chin up! This is just one of those situations that happens in life; when a nanny and a family aren't a perfect match. And it's NO reflection on you! Take care, honey!

Yikes! said...

Other than lining up another job first, I would have given notice too! (and I am a SAHM). You are being treated disgracefully (and I am surprised that you didn't pipe up sooner, but I understand its hard when you feel it might jeopardize your job).

I am appalled when I hear about this kind of thing (and I hear about it all of the time). I usually assume that it goes both ways (no party is perfect) but sometimes this kind of situation is just downright awful.

Find a different employer and make sure that your contract spells out the overtime rules from the start. If you find yourself working taken advantage of again, you can only blame yourself!

I wish you luck and hope your next employer is fair!

Kylie said...

I can relate to your experience, and feel that your leaving is best for you and the family. If you were to stay, your resentment would most likely continue. One thing you can contribute to the family is to sit down and help them devise a checklist of exactly what they are looking for and realistically need from a nanny. By helping the parents look for your replacement, your last month will go smoother.

Think of this as a learning experience too for what you are willing to do, and what you expect to get compensated in return. Good luck in your search for a new great family!

better luck next time said...

I think previous posters are right- not a good fit. I know nannies who don't mind working 50-60 hours a week with no set schedule, but I myself prefer to have very set hours, although I can be flexible when on occasion. The mom keeps saying she wants you to act like a professional, but she's not treating you like one! First of all, the pay is way too low. Second, she is not sticking to the work agreement. But I think this experience has taught both parties what to look for next time.

pick a name said...

You have seriously been taken advantage of. You are doing household tasks, working off hours, not being compensated for the MANY hours of overtime you are working, and you are doing this all for $400/week??? You should be getting double that, yes, even with room and board. The way your employer has handled this has been atrocious and completely unprofessional. If you are being paid on the books, or even if you aren't, I would look at your log and insist she pay you your hourly, OVERTIME wage for all the weeks you worked more than your allotted, agreed-upon hours. Stand up for yourself!!! If you have a written, signed contract, which is sounds like you do, you need to follow through or she is just going to abuse her next nanny too!

As for your next nanny job... you need to demand what you are worth. Do NOT compromise- that is the first thing parents do to take advantage of their good nannies, and it opens the door for them to walk all over you.

You are doing the right thing by leaving. As far as right now, you should detach yourself from their children, and demand that they pay you what you are owed. You have definitely been taken for a ride here.

Also to Emily, I completely disagree with you- when she is waking up the children, she should not also be putting them to bed. It needs to be one or the other, she is their nanny, not their parent.

emily said...

Pick a Name: I didn't say she should put the children to bed, I simply said it isn't unreasonable to be asked to have the children 100% ready for bed. To me that means that the nanny will bathe the children, get them in PJs, have their teeth & hair brushed (older kids are obviously doing this stuff themselves, but still need supervision), turn down beds, etc.

In my job that's all done a good hour before their parents put the children to bed.

kc said...

I am in a similar situation and am about to give my notice. Sometimes it seems like we do everything we can--signing contracts, communicating with the parents--and we still end up being taken advantage of. I think you did the right thing.

Upstate Mom said...

My understanding is that a nanny is not a housekeeper. Usually people who can afford it have both, and if they can' their own laundry. She is doing food shopping, cooking and cleaning?? As well as taking care of the kids?? Unless they are ALL in school FULL TIME, there is no way anyone could do all that.....even SAHM have a house cleaner sometimes. And getting them ready for bed? I disagree. As soon as the parent is home, the nanny should be off duty. Since dad works from home.....his errands should be run during the day, so she can get off work on time. They didn't want flexible, they wanted doormat they could take advantage of. Sorry, that's how I see it. I have asked my day care provider to work earlier later twice in the past 3 years. They were work related issues that I couldn't avoid. no other reason. Not to shop, not to get my haircut....nothing. and she's not a "nanny" she runs a daycare out of her home. I wouldn't take advantage of anyone that way. These parents should have more respect for the person they trust to raise their children.

nan said...

A nanny usually does all the children's laundry, at least a proper one does. Sometimes the ironing is handled by the housekeeper, but a British Nanny will always do both. The idea is that you have to keep a special eye on children's laundry in a way you don't have to for an adult (stains, etc.).

A said...

thank goodness I became an American citizen, now I don't have to do the ironing.
signed, a (formerly) British nanny.

nyc mom said...

I agree with emily Momkat. This is simply a poor fit for both you and the family. You sound like a good nanny and an honest person. I think it is very honorable that you are sticking to the one month notice period. It must be hard to continue to live and work in a home when you have resigned and it takes a strong work ethic and good character IMO to do that.

I certainly believe in adhering to hours and duties in a work agreement *explicitly* and I hate to see employers let things creep up and act naive.

However, just to present my experience as an employer, I do think the following:
-3 sick days in 10 months of employment is a lot. It's not ridiculous and you had legitimate reasons, but most great nannies and sitters I've had take one a year at most (barring major illness). I always pay out unusued sick days or offer them for use as personal days.
-Lots of things you described doing are standard nanny duties. Sounds like you did them well and that is comendable, but having to do them is common (getting kids up and ready; encouraging good manners; organizing playroom; getting kids ready for bed)

Finally, I very much disagree with the comments that parents "should" put the kids to bed or "should" let the nanny go the second they walk in the door. For example, I work 12 hour shifts and my husband often travels overnight. My nanny knew this in detail at hiring and her job includes bedtime sometimes. Also, sometimes I get home and still have work to do such as returning calls to patients. Thus, I give my nanny a schedule with start and end times. If I get home before the end time I see no problem with using that to finish work (or even shower, etc) as long as I am sticking to our agreement. This theme of judging and resenting the employer/parents' parenting and lifestyle choices is one that we see ALL the time on ISYN. If you aren't able to work for a family without judging them, then you shouldn't be a nanny. Just as I should not be judging what my nanny does in her time off work

How did the parents react when you gave notice? Have they offered to redo your contract or duties? Have they been treating you well since then?

just a thought said...

OP- I think other people give some good advice. One other thing you may want to rethink is your position on trying to co-discipline with the parents. In my experience, it doesn't work well to try to carry over "punishments" from nanny to parent. What parent wants to follow through on your consequence when they just walk through the door and this is the first time they are seeing their children all day? Maybe this has worked for other people (I do work for some...interesting people at the moment), but for me it works better to have immediate consequences that you can follow through on yourself, and then let the parents start with a clean slate.

OP of feeling guilty said...

She said they were sad to see me go and that they really liked me and so did the children (and that is mutual. I adore this family). They didn't ask if there was anything we could work on or fix. I understand 100% that they need someone who can handle everything they need without feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of and that's why I gave my notice. Like I said I really like them and they are great people, I just didn't feel I was a good fit.

I really appreciate all the comments and support. This site is a really great way for parents and nannies to understand one another and communicate. Thank you all again.

sd said...

OP - Thanks for the update. It doesn't sound like they were willing to change or negotiate to get you to stay so perhaps you made the right decision.

I agree with most of the comments here, the biggest thing is that you need to be paid overtime. Since you agreed to 40-50 hours per week, you should have demanded overtime starting at 51 hours. And for them to say you "owe them" hours is ridiculous. If my employer comes home an hour early and sends me home, in no way do I owe her's not like I asked to go home early!

Also expecting them to carry over punishment is not going to work. They don't want to get home and punish their kids, they want to spend the last hour of their day enjoying their kids (I hope) so even if your charges are bad at the end of the day, you need to tell them (ok tomorrow, no tv) or what have you. Your punishment, you have to enforce it.

Good luck, I hope you find a better fit!

emily said...

I couldn't disagree with you more on your last point, SD. Parents & Nannies have to have a united front when it comes to discipline.

Village said...

You did the right thing. You are a great nanny, plus house manager it sounds like.

Now go find a family who will appreciate and respect you and your talents, unlike the abusive family you just left.

NannyJ said...

I'm sorry. You are not making enough for what you are doing. You are the nanny... not the hall closet cleaner!! I don't know them, but they don't sound like fabulous people. Guilt trip emails and not sticking to the contract are serious no nos!
I think it is good that you are leaving, it's going to be sad, but it's for the best.

shel said...

i really think you've gone above and beyond in your duties. it sounds like the contract specified one way of doing things, yet they are not sticking to the contract. if they wanted somebody SO flexible, then they shouldn't have talked about specific time frames/hours and mentioned the 1 or 2 weekends a month. they are asking for way more than that.

unfortunately, it sounds like if they would have been more upfront with their expectations, you either wouldn't have had to deal with the issues or you would have gone into the job fully aware and made the best of it. but getting new things thrown at you with no forwarning is tough, especially with more than 1 kid and busy schedules for all of them.

it also sounds like you were more of a household manager than a nanny. the things they were having you do (unless stipulated in the contract) are not necessarily nanny related duties.

i really hope you find a perfect fit with your next family. it sounds like you have a good heart and are a great nanny, but this family just wasn't right for you. it will hurt to be away from the kids you've grown to love, but it just means that there will be another family who will be so grateful to have you. :)

oh well said...

I think you did the right thing. If I understand your post correctly you are taking care of three children, two of them preschoolers, as well as managing a household, and you are expected to get it right, because it is after all your job. No wonder you feel exhausted. You need to figure out what your next job should be like and discuss it upfront with your employers.

MinuteMuggle said...


You did the right thing. My Dad always told me (and I agree) when you have given something (a job, relationship etc.) everything you can possibly give, then it is time to move on. Do not feel guilty, just look forward.

It sort of sounds like you got off on the wrong foot being sick, though. And not to minimize your grief, but if my nanny told me that her "brother's best friend's dad" had a heart attack, I would be sympathetic, but it is not a close family member so it would sound weird to me if you said that. Sorry to add that: it was bugging me. I feel like people who call in sick do it all the time. But to me it sounds like just bad luck/timing on your part: not your fault! You honestly sound like a great nanny.

Don't feel bad about your decision: stay strong in your convictions and believe in yourself. Good luck!

Manhattan Nanny said...

I think you have definitely made the right decision. The longer you stay, the more unhappy you are going to be. It isn't a good match, and that isn't your fault. They didn't give you an honest description of the job, although if they had, I think they would have a hard time finding someone competent at that salary. (I have a friend with a similar job, but it is worth it for her. She makes nearly 80K a year with incredible perks.)
Also, I never heard of making up hours. If they let you leave early, go out of town, or whatever, you receive your salary period. Make sure your next contract is very clear about hours, overtime, sick days, vacations, holidays, and duties.
Good luck, I hope you find a good fit with a nice family

baltimore nanny said...

welcome to my life. sigh atleast you make at least twice as much as i do..

NVMom said...

As a Mom I find it appalling that a wealthy family would pay so little for that much responsibility. Sorry if that sounds negative, OP, but the kind of flexibility they want should cost much more and they probably know it.

Also, the treatment you said you were receiving from the kids, kicking, screaming, etc. tells me there is something wrong in this family when an issue like this is/was not being addressed. I hope you find a better family.

MinuteMuggle said...

I am so happy that all the ISYN readers gave such great advice!

Great job, posters!

WTF? said...

I don't think you should feel bad. They were taking advantage and not paying you nearly enough.

On the discipline issue: I think you have to come up with consequences for the children which are both related and immediate and that you can carry out. I don't think it's fair to hand out punishments that end up punishing the parents.

coffeecat said...

I am a little confused as to why some posters on here, like nyc mom, think 3 sick days in 10 months is a lot. Getting sick right when you began the job is unfortunate, but if someone is really sick, it often takes a few days to recover. Didn't any of you guys get the flu? or a sinus infection or something? Things like that are really uncomfortable and highly contagious and rarely disappear in a day. I would think most parents would understand if their child's caregiver is sick, and give them 2-3 days to get over it, as opposed to asking them to come in. No nanny is going to be great at her job with a fever, sore throat and headache. Not to mention that they will probably just get your children sick too. I am a student as well as a sitter, and this winter i was forced to miss class for 3 days on two separate occasions because i came down with something. I am genuinely confused-is it that it was 3 separate sick days over the course of the ten months? or would the situation have been different if the nanny had been out 3 days in a row to recover from whatever illness she had?

s ainsa said...

No nanny should expect to get paid for any sick days, not unles she has worked an entire year first. The reason is this- in most jobs, retail, food service, etc-it takes a year to accrue such a benefit and secondly, the reason many parents hire nannies is so they have the reliability of someone showing up everyday. You cannot take a sick child to daycare. And parents have to screw their schedules up, their jobs, their professional reps when nanny calls in for a sore throat. So not cool.
I have to have a dr's note for a sick day and I still don't get paid! I just avoid getting written up. I used to work for Lehman (administrative support) and had a lot of benefits. You nannies need to suck it up and show up. You're still making way more than lots of people and most of you don't pay taxes!

AngryFace said...

Oh my gosh. I could only read down to the part about how they reacted about the sick days, and I started to feel sick myself. I couldn't even finish it.

These are NOT good people, no matter how nice they seem. They have figured out how to manipulate you.

Would they want their child treated this way? It's gross!

bACKWARDS said...

doesn't it make you crazy when parents can't even discipline their children when they MISBEHAVE, but they have no problem being plain mean to an adult who is doing a GOOD job?

coffeecat said...

s ainsa, I did not mean to say that a nanny should get paid for time that she did not work during her first year on the job. And i am not talking about missing a day of work here and there because of a sore throat or a headache, you can pop an advil for that stuff. Have none of you people seriously ever had a flu? a high fever, sore throat, runny nose, body aches,headache and exhaustion case of the flu? I Simply can not understand any parent who would rather leave their kid with someone who is incredibly ill than call in a backup sitter or skip work. Do you really think that someone who is really sick is going to be an attentive caregiver? or that your child will magically not get sick with the same ailment after spending a day with him or her?

MinuteMuggle said...

I totally understand that people get sick. All I'm saying is that it really is starting off on the wrong foot to be sick soon after taking a job. That was my only point. I clearly stated that I believed OP was really sick. However, there are people who call in sick a lot and there are people who do not. There is generally a pattern with people like this. I was not trying to attack OP when I mentioned that, I just said that it was unfortunate and looked bad. And even mentioning that there was a death in the family of a friend of her brother's really makes it sound sort of weak. Employers really do not care, nor should they, if your cousin's brother's former roommate had a heart attack. Not to sound cold.

I really do understand what it is like to not be able to take a sick day. It is unfair and any employer who does not give you sufficient sick time is a jerk and trying to take advantage of you.

Again, OP, I feel you made the right decision. You did nothing wrong and there is another great position out there for you. These people do not sound like people I would want to work for. They were not even paying you enough from the get-go.

ChiNanny said...

s ainsa,

Yes, us nannies are such wimps. Why wouldn't I show up to work when I'm sick. I have a two year old to hold my hair while I'm puking. And the next day when she gets my flu, I can scrub vomit stains out of furniture and carpets, all while still feeling pretty crappy myself. With perks like those, who wants to miss a day!

And MOST of us do pay taxes. Just because your nannies don't doesn't mean others choose to break the law.

monkeyshines said...

I was a nanny for 25 years and I learned a very important lesson, you are not part of the family, you are not their blood and they are going to do what is good for them not for you! most of these working "moms" and I use the term lightly, are working because the second income affords them a higher lifstyle, also it is easier to go to work than stay home with kids. instead of cutting back and properly raising a family they rather pay someone to do it. so right there you have not vey nice people to deal with. I was a nanny for so long and I still don't get what some women get out of having a child then paying someone else to raise it anyway I was a nanny for many years and this is my take

rachel said...

My children are not my blood, but they are every bit my children. There are nannies that do indeed become like family, but more often than not, I think what you are trying to say is that nannies are tricked and duped in to believing they are part of the family so that they take all the crap that a stricyly "employee" would not put up with.

The "blood" terminology is very offensive to adoptive parents and children.

SAHM said...

monkeyshines, I am a SAHM myself but I really take offense at your characterization of working mothers. It's true that there are many WOHMs who do not strictly "need" to work for financial reasons, but if someone has a career they are passionate about, there is no reason she should have to sideline it to play pattycake for 5 or 10 years. Unfortunately in this country there are not many fulfilling jobs that allow for a part-time commitment, so women face the difficult SAHM vs. WOHM choice. I have done both and both are full of challenges, but the WOHM's I know love their children every bit as much as the SAHM's. A person who is feeling bitter about giving up her career is not going to be in a good emotional place to take on the difficult and isolating work of caring for a small child. Better for all concerned that a trusted caregiver - whether SAHD, relative or hired caregiver - step in and help out.

let's get real said...

s ainsa,
If a mother or father cannot handle the idea that they might have to skip work every once in a while because their child or nanny might get sick, then they are not cut out to be working parents. Children and nannies are human beings, not robots. Sometimes human beings get sick. Also, if you have children, they should always be your first priority, especially before some job.
Also, SAHM, I resent your attitude that a woman should not give up her career to "play pattycake for 5 or 10 years". It was her decision to have children, and children aren't just some accessories who are there to look cute and be fun to play with when mommy is done with her "me" time. They are a RESPONSIBILITY. As soon as you have a child, it is time to stop being selfish and start thinking about what is best for that child. Women who act like they shouldn't have to do something as "lowly" as raising their own children make me so mad! Look at Michelle Obama. She gave up her big shot career to be a stay at home mom. So did my own mother, and she is the most caring, loving, wonderful mother in the world. Call me old fashioned, but I think that if you and your family can afford it, one parent should stay home with the kids. They deserve it.

A nanny who cares said...


Not trying to start a fight, but you have no clue what OP has been through in the past. I lost my father to a heart attack 5 years ago and it would greatly affect me to learn someone I knew had died of a heart attack as well. Not so much for the person who died (I know that sounds bad) but for their family and also for the loss that I would be bound to feel again because of my own past circumstances.

All I am saying is that you never know how death effects other people. You don't know their past, you don't know what their going through now or what they have gone through in the past. So, please don't pretend to know and criticize someone for going through a rough time emotionally no matter if you think they are justified or not. Because everyone goes through really hard stuff and I know personally a little compassion goes a long way...

nyc mom said...

I do believe 3 sick days in 10 months of employment (so assume 4 sick days a year) is a lot. As I said I think OP sounds like an honest person and of course working around children places you at higher risk of getting sick. But the two long term, amazing nannies I've had have never taken more than one a year (barring a surgery and a major illness). A huge part of what I value in employing a highly paid, professional nanny is reliability and flexibility. Without those things, I'd be paying a lot less.

Also, I hold myself to these same standards. I work in an ER and on the inpatient floors at a hospital. I am around extremely sick people all the time. Not to mention having 3 young children at home. In my past 4 years of working at this job, I have not taken a single sick day. Of all the doctors working in our department in the ER, I know of only one sick day taken by one person in the past four years.

I think the level of illness I needed to feel to take a sick day as a student or even when working as a sitter myself, was a much lower threshhold than I currently expect of myself or my full-time, professional nanny. I've also had au pairs, and hold them to a lower standard just because they are younger and generally inexperienced in the professional world (not to mention getting paid less). That being said, I trust my current nanny's judgment completely and if she called in sick I wouldn't bat an eye. I pay sick days and pay them out if unused. Our work agreement states 5 sick days a year, but when my nanny needed more for a major illness, I paid the full sick leave because I trust her completely and she has earned that trust with her amazing work ethic.

coffeecat said...

Thanks for clearing that up nyc mom! i was just confused because in my experience, when i am sick enough to skip school or work, it usually takes 2 or 3 days for me to recover enough to be functional at whatever i am supposed to be doing.

SAHM said...

Let's get real, did you even read my post? I did not say that a woman SHOULD NOT give up her career to stay home, I am currently doing that very thing myself. But I absolutely do think that women should not be judged for making either choice. I personally do not want to live in a world where women can only have children if they sideline their ambitions and dreams for years on end. There is already so much gender imbalance in the workplace; can you imagine how much worse it would be if there were no working moms? The SAHM vs. WOHM wars are stupid and the whole thing just distracts us from the important task at hand, which is finding ways in which women can fulfill their potential as workers AND as mothers. We need an array of choices for working moms like better maternity leave, flex time, job sharing, and paternity leave so dads can do their share too; not to mention better, affordable daycare situations (in the workplace if possible, so moms can visit during the day). It takes a special kind of person to get complete personal satisfaction from doing full-time childcare and housekeeping. Not everyone is that kind of person, and just because the kids you're watching are your own kids doesn't magically make you into that kind of person. Most of the moms I know, whether WOHM or SAHM, wish they could find some middle ground between being home all the time and working 50+ hours a week. I am grateful that I can afford to stay home with my kids right now. I am also grateful that there are great caregivers in the world, like some of the ones who post on here, who make different choices possible. Their talents are very much needed by society.

SAHM-AP said...

I am a SAHM and was a nanny back when I was very young. I totally agree with what Monkeyshine says-nannies will never be part of the family. The employers may really like her, but when their children no longer need a nanny they are not going to keep her on.

Rachel, I am also an adoptive parent (China/Vietnam) and I don't see anything offensive in what Monkeyshine said. I think it was very obvious what she was talking about-she was not doubting any AP's love for their children. Adopting a child and being his/her PARENT is way different than being a nanny to a child.

Brooklyn said...

I think three sick days is a lot in general. I have been fired for calling out sick ONCE for the first time in ten months, granted I got unemployment payments afterward, but employers really don't care. They need you there for your job. When I work I generally show up sick and if the employer decides I shouldn't be working, I happily go home. It's a cold world and you have to suck it up if you want to make it.

That being said, I do not agree with Minute Muggle. It's one thing to miss work if someone you know dies, but to have no sympathy for that person?? That's wrong. You have no idea how close people are, sometimes "family" is formed through bonds other than blood relation. I am extremely close with my best friend's family. If someone in her family were to die, I would be devastated. And if she needed me there, I would miss work to be there for her. And if I got fired, so be it. That is my family, even if we're not on the same "tree."

I think you live in a bubble, Minute Muggle.

Kim said...

I think the fact that she said the person who died is her "brother's best friend's dad" makes it seem like it's a distant person. Otherwise it would seem more likely she'd say a family friend, or a friend.

MinuteMuggle said...

nanny who cares, brooklyn, etc. and all the people who misunderstood my post:

I CLEARLY stated that I would be sympathetic if anyone died. You obviously misunderstood my posts. I do not live in a bubble: I live in the real world. Sympathy is one thing, which as I said I would certainly have for anyone who has gone through a rough time. I have lost a parent myself so I do know how difficult the grieving process is and that it never ends. However, it is just reality that an employer would not give berevement time for someone you are not even related to, and it does sound like an excuse someone would make. I have been a superviser in childcare and I have heard 'em all.

I am a very sympathetic person. I really do feel as if certain people misunderstood my post.

chrissyma said...

I had to stop reading when I got to the laundry part, you said you get paid 400$ (or were being paid that much) for 40-50 hours, I'm assuming your increase wasn't that much, but three kids, your own laundry AND the parents? What the hell are you doing working two jobs for so little?!

I think your work ethic is outstanding for someone that's been taken advantage of the way you have, regardless of how nice they seem, it's easier for an outsider to see the facts (or what you present as such) as just facts and nothing more. I think you could get a wayyy better job.

chrissyma said...

baltimore nanny,
I'm from Baltimore too and work in Howard County, if you're working the same hours and get paid half that (200$?!) you need to quit ASAP. There's nothing okay, decent or right about that situation.

glamnan said...

I kinda agree that calling in 3 times in 10 months is a bit extreme. I also agree with Minute Mugs about there being 2 types of people. Those who ALWAYS call in sick and those who don't. I've worked in management and those people who called in sick more than a few times a year pissed me off. Seriously take some f-ing tylenol or imodium and get your ass to work.

That all being said I feel sorry for you still. The family I work for are asses like this as well. I think you're making the right choice leaving.

Brooklyn said...

I think calling in sick too often is absolutely a reflection of dislike for your job. That, or immaturity, I've experienced both. At some point you have to grow up and/or find a job you like.

Sicknesses said...

I think anyone who thinks 3 sick days in 10 months is a lot is pyschotic. THREE sick days in TEN MONTHS!

I want to see you people tell your sick child to go to school and suffer because he or she missed three days already this school year.

Just because it's standard doesn't make it right.

cali mom said...

No reasonable person expects kids to tough it out like they expct grownups to, because well, grownups are ADULTS and are therefore expected to be more responsib;e than kids. Same way that adults don't get to drop to the floor screaming, kicking, and crying (at least, not without being arrested) because they discover that they are unable to buy something at the store they wished they could have.

As for the "brother's best friend's dad" dying in OP's first few months on the job, most employers would roll their eyes at that. If it hits you that hard, you simply say 'a very old family friend who was like a father to me".

mirror23 said...

cali mom, i wasnt aware that the flu or another incredibly miserable illness affected children and adults differently. I have always been under the impression that a child who is sick with something feels exactly the same as an adult who is sick with the same ailment. I completely agree that if someone has a cold, headache or sore throat, they should take some sort of over the counter medication, suck it up and get themselves to work with a smile on their face. But you guys seem to be ignoring the fact that if someone is genuinely sick and uncomfortable, they will not only be unable to haul themselves to work for a few days, but they will also probably not be as enthusiastic about their job as usual, especially as a nanny. Everyone who has spent the day with a little kid, be it nannies or parents, think back to the last time you were really sick. The last time you had a raging headache, your back hurt, you were exhausted, shivering, throat hurt, your nose was stuffed and every time you walked to the bathroom you would get dizzy and lightheaded. Remember how bad you felt? Now imagine feeling that way while being responsible for waking up, dressing, feeding and entertaining a seven year old. Do you think you would be capable of functioning well? or even at all? Even if you were capable of doing so, odds are high that said seven year old would come down with the same ailment within a week.
Personally, i think it is much more realistic to tough through those symptoms if one has a job where they can plop themselves in front of the computer at work with a box of tissues, tea, soup, dayquil and asprin. Meanwhile, The idea of dealing with being sick while running around after an energetic kid all day just seems brutal. Parents, stop thinking that your caregivers are put on earth to oblige you 24/7. A nanny can just as easily become sick during her/his first week of work as during her/his sixtieth week of work. This means that parents need to be prepared, whether it is reserving a sick day of their own for such an occasion, or finding someone, even a relative, who would not mind being used as backup childcare.

ChiNanny said...

The one time I've been sick with the current family I'm working for, I mean sick enough to even think of calling in sick - cold/flu, fever, headache, bodyache, miserable all over- I called in sick and the mom sounded so disappointed and upset and begged me to come. I told her how sick I was and explained that if I was there I would simply supervise the entire day. The kids would be fed, clothed, and not in danger, but I wouldn't do much more because I was really sick. She agreed and I went into work.

The kids played in the playroom all day while I laid on the couch miserable. Sure enough two days later both kids were sick and she had to take two days off to take care of them (She felt too guilty leaving while they were crying and begging her to make them feel better) and then got sick herself.

Sucking it up and going to work isn't always the best idea. I now refuse to work if I'm really sick in the future. I think my employer learned that lesson too.

While three sick days in 10 months seems excessive, if it stopped after that, I'd probably let it go. However, all three sick days OP describes don't seem to be severe, carsickness the morning after? Maybe that was the boss' problem more than the number.

itsuckstobesick. said...

When I was young and new to the workforce, I didn't "get it" regarding sick days. I basically used the same criteria for using a sick day as I had previously used for whether I was too sick to go to class. Hacking cough, exhausted, dizzy, low fever? Of course I wouldn't go to class. But it turns out that in many American workplaces, you're (tacitly) expected to show up for work unless you are literally physically unable to drag yourself there. Which means coming to work with pneumonia, stomach flu, anything.

Does this make any sense? No, of course not. It means longer recovery times, the preventable spread of illness, and a loss of productivity for the employer due to both. It also means greater human suffering. But our culture is so screwed up that we think people are weak for treating themselves properly when they are ill, and we tend to assume (especially with low-wage workers) that they are "faking it".

I have no solution, because as I learned in my first job when I was nearly fired for taking too many sick days, you can't change the culture by yourself, especially if you're a peon. You drag yourself to work no matter what. When you're taking care of kids it's really a shame because you are putting those kids at risk.

Total catch-22. Do the right thing for yourself and the kids, put your job in jeopardy and risk your employer thinking you're "weak" or faking it. Haul yourself to work while too sick to work, risk getting everyone sick and making yourself sicker and your employer will still probably not give you the credit you deserve for your dedication to the job.

sick or not sick said...

I think the posts over sick days has been disected to death. Hopefully everyone who gave her grief over 3 sick days also read the part where she said even though she took 2 mornings off she did go up to work so that the parents could go out. I understand her car sickness. If I was stuck in the very back of the van during a long car ride I would need some time to recover. I get extremely carsick and I'm wondering if she's the same way. I bet she even warned the family she was going to sick after being in the car. Also if she caught one of the kids bugs where she was throwing up and unable to do her job I wouldn't want her near my kids, she probably would have just passed the bug back to the children. I think its commendable that even though she was sick she didn't take the entire day to herself, she ended up working after having the morning off. Give her a break.

Amen! said...

great post, mirror 23!

i hate when people think it's somehow not as bad to be sick as an adult than as a kid!

and i will tell you what, if i have to go to work feeling truly sick, the children are NOT going to be my first priority.

moms may not like to hear that, but it's the truth.