Another Overworked, Underpaid Nanny Bites the Dust

Received Thursday, January 28, 2010
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Hi, I'm posting today because of a complicated situation (it takes some explanation, please bear with me through this part). I'm a 23 year old recent college graduate, with previous nanny experience and excellent references. Currently I'm a live in nanny for a 15 month old boy. The husband lives in a different city and the mother works ~70 hour weeks, meaning that I match her hours. I get one day off each weekend, and sometimes not even that. When I first started the job in September, I was told that I would get ample extended vacation to compensate for the longer hours, and that in-laws would assist me from time to time. I was also told to vocalize any concerns I may have, since they understood a happy nanny to be a better nanny, a philosophy I wholeheartedly agree with.

I've been with the family for five months now. I can honestly say that I take great care of the child, and that, while I like my employers as people, they have not held up their end of the bargain in several matters: they are chronically late in payments, I have rarely had outside help, including when I've been sick and still babysitting for 30 hours straight. The house is without internet or cable, which wouldn't be a huge deal if it weren't for the fact that I don't have time to go to internet cafes to check my email, most of the time. I've talked to them about it, and they have brushed it aside. This part is slightly embarrasing to admit, but I will say it anyway so you can get a better picture and hopefully help me: I'm being paid 1000 a month, which I now understand is far below what most NYC nannies get paid, even for live-in.

So, this weekend some good friends from home are flying in, and I was planning on spending time with them on my day off. On Tuesday my employer asked me if I could babysit from Friday morning to Monday morning, so she could go out of town on business. I replied that I had made plans to see my friends. My employer seemed miffed, and I was told, in the future, to 'let them know further in advance' because they (her husband and her) are 'banking on me being there.'

Before this incident I was planning on talking to them about hiring a second nanny/payraise, but now I'm confused about everything. I really love the child, but don't know how to negotiate what I feel is fair and what, based off what I just told you, what they would be willing to give me. I feel like I'm being taken advantage of--not only that, but I truly am drained by the long hours, so 'extended vacation time' is not helpful when I'm tired now. It's partially my fault for not setting up clearer boundaries earlier on--(this is not the first time that they have expected me to babysit on my day off, with no extra pay). So I have two questions: what should I ask for, and how should I ask for it? Thanks, Ms. Confused


Hudson's Mommy said...

I'd ask for a new job.. seriously. I don't think it's going to get better.

Village said...

FIrst time nanny-You are being a little naive. As far as you know, these people are professional first time nanny hirers, who know that they can take advantage of the nanny because she doesn't know any better. When she wises up and demands to be treated fairly, she is quickly replaced with another newbie naive nanny.

I doubt after they have taken such advantage of you they will stop. You can try to make them pay you fairly, but I would plan on that action getting you replaced, so I would be looking for another job unless you want to be left out in the cold.

With a 4 year college degree, you should be able to get a great job. Stop letting people treat you like a door mat. You deserve better. Mark this up as a learning experience, and learn from it.

And you are not responsible for all the naive nannies out there. You are only responsible for one. YOU!

OP said...

I know the situation sounds semi-crazy, and call me crazy, but I really would like to find a way to work this out, rather than quit. I really like the family, and I feel the problem has less to do with the job being a bad situation as it has to do with me being their first nanny, and them not knowing "the rules." Plus, if I quit, who will take the job? Some other naive nanny? I would rather talk it out and prevent her (and me) future frustration. If I do the hard work now it could pay off later...for the job is already rewarding when it comes to the child.

Jan 29, 2010 12:49:00 AM
(re-posted for OP)

I'm with Village said...

sorry OP, but Village is correct. This is a no-win situation. In the words of the Amityville house: "Get out!!!"

Just Me said...

If they've been getting away with it for this long there's no way I could imagine that they'll change.
I would start looking for a new job. Even if you want to work it out and beg for an agreeable arrangement it's probable that they won't want to hassle with arranging to be home or for additional help.
If being a nanny is your best bet financially, make sure you get an iron-clad contract before you have one minute on the clock.
I know quite a few people I went to high school with who have useless degrees due to the economy.
No matter what happens, best of luck!

oh well said...

OP, you sound like a great nanny. Of course you want to work things out. You don't want to leave the kid, which speaks volumes about your dedication and your character. But you are indeed mistaken if you think that the problem just comes from their being first-time employers. They just do not put your needs first. Late payment is unacceptable. Have you really babysat for them on your day off without extra pay? As a former employer, I would really advise you to look for another job.

yup said...

oh well:

you are right on the money: late payment is unacceptable and it has absolutely nothing to do with their lack of experience as employers. it has to do with their lack of respect for their nanny.

JacksMom said...

I admire that you'd like to try to work it out before quitting. I've found that simultaneously presenting the problem with suggested solutions can be very helpful. If you really want to go that route, I suggest making a list of everything you want - EVERYTHING, even if it's unlikely that you'll get it. Be sure to include cable/internet, a raise, a back-up sitter, guaranteed days off, etc. Then, sit down with the parents/mom at a quiet time when you aren't likely to be interrupted or distracted. First, voice your concerns - just like you did here - then go through your list.

Best case, you get the most important things on your list and she really works with you. If the result is a situation you can live with, be sure to get it all in writing. Worst case, she doesn't hear you and you look for another job.

Good luck, OP. I admire your dedication. It's equally important, though, to both look out for yourself and to know when it's time to leave.

Lynn said...

$1000 a month for 70+ hours a week? An au pair (an inexperienced 18 yo from another country) makes $800 a month and their hours are capped at 45 a week. You need to quit. You are being completely taken advantage of. If you are willing to work for that little money, I'm sure you could find another live in job real fast with better hours and better 'extras' like internet/cable/computer. When you leave, you can suggest to your employer that they hire 2 aupairs....that should give them the hours they need for only a little more money

Lynn said...

OP, are you even aware that at 70 hours a week you are making about $3.50 an hour? That isn't even minimum wage! I know you are attached to this boy but this family is taking advantage of you and they know it. How could any honest person hire a sitter at $3.50 an hour? I would point this out to them and if you truly want to work it out, demand a raise to at least the federal minimum wage (which is far below minimum wage....I cannot imagine a live-in accepting less than $8 an hour.) And tell them you want back pay. What the heck are you doing there? You can't be saving any money....and at this rate you are going to dig yourself deeper into a hole and your degree is going to be wasted. What is going to happen when they let you go in 6 years? You will be out on the street with no savings. Trust me, you need to put yourself first. Do not worry about this kid. That's his parent's job.

LoveChapstick said...

OP, this is crap. And, yes, I think you're crazy. Maybe it's cabin fever. This is what people do to desperate illegal immigrants. And with your education and experience you shouldn't be desperate. You could do so much better, just stop playing the martyr and put on your big girl pants. As much as you love that child, you have to think about your future.

should I stay or should I go said...

This situation is absurd, but I will try to be as positive towards OP as possible.
Basically, you should be making twice what you are making now (I don't care if you are a live-in- in this situation live-in only means they are taking advantage of you being there all the time). In addition, I think it's a great idea to ask Mom to hire a second babysitter. Clarify what your hours are (what's the max you can reasonably handle? 50? 60?) and then for all other purposed, hire a sitter. If that's too much trouble for the parents, offer to call the sitter yourself. Find a couple on sittercity and use them as your backups.
And I'm sorry, I am very supportive of parents working, but dad lives in another city and mom works over 70 hours per week? They are obviously not making their child a priority.

Euro-nanny said...

OP, I hate to hear stories such as these where other nannies are being completely taken advantage of. Unfortunately these sound like the type of people who are not going to change, I've been in similar situations myself over the years and they usually turn very nasty or awkward when you approach them to resolve issues. Contact some of the major NYC childcare agencies(nannies don't pay any fees to join agencies) who with your background will certainly be more than happy to sign you up... and find a position where they respect you as a person and as a nanny.

MissMannah said...

Contract, people, contract! Why is this so hard for nannies to understand? Do your research BEFORE you start looking for a position. Know what you want and get it in writing!

OP, this is a lost cause. If you want to stay with this family, don't expect them to suddenly start respecting you because you haven't demanded respect in the past. Also, if you don't want to leave because you "love" the child so much, get over it. There are plenty of other children out there you can love and care for.

cruella deville said...

find a new job! I have been a nanny for more than 20 yrs and women who work those kind of hours are very insensative, how can you have a baby then leave it for that many hours, I never understood why these woman have kids they never see them anyway they are being raised by a stranger, they miss out on the kids life, I dont understand what the pay off is, I just to say I have kids,I guess no one will have the answer

Manhattan Nanny said...

OP, seriously, a professional woman with a child in NYC thinks nannies are on call 24/7 for $3 an hour? This woman knows exactly what she is doing, exploiting a naive young woman for all she can get.
If you take your requests to your employer, she is probably going to look for a new nanny, and then you will be summarily dismissed, with no notice, no place to live and probably no pay for the last week.

Go register with a top agency, and they will help you with a work contract when they place you.
You could be working for a nice family, with children you will love, and also have a social life, and a decent income. Get going!

no way said...

OP, I think you answered your own question right here: "I've talked to them about it, and they have brushed it aside."
They told you to talk to them about any issues, and then they blew you off when you tried to do that.
Of course they are generally nice to you- because they are milking you for all you're worth. If you really want to try to work it out, then lay out your terms, but be prepared to walk away if they don't meet them, which seems unlikely, since now they're accustomed to having an indentured servant.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous NYER

If you really want to keep the job think of it as a business. You are the service that you are providing. Your time is money. EVERYONE IN NY UNDERSTANDS THAT STATEMENT. Now with that said. Is your business living up to its full potential? Are you happy with your business? Where would you like to see your business in 5, 10 or even 15 yrs. Because this is your life if you dont do something about it now. UMMMM yeah they are taking advantage way more then they should and could. You should write yourself a business plan. Let it include all of these things and anything else youd like to offer up. Your personal time, is included in a business is why...IF YOU DONT TAKE TIME TO REST HOW EFFICIENT CAN YOU TRULY BE? For the local joe who has no worry or care in his job fine, but for a nanny from NYC to not be on the top of her game while carring for a child, not in my house. Bringing me to my conclusion that these are business ppl and if you approach them in a language in which they speak they will understand and comprehend. Before you approach them, go to the park and approach other nannies...they may have ppl they can refer you to who only go to relieve nannies. Thats their job. Now incorporate this into your business plan. Cost. Time. Efficiency. When you talk to business ppl on a level and manner of efficiency (getting the most for your dollar) they kinda have no choice but to listen. Do yourself a favor and take matters into your own hands. Oh and read a basic psychology book your going to need it!

Miss Kate said...

Wow, I am really sad to hear about your situation. I am a live-in nanny for 3 kids. 4 month old twin girls and a 2 year old boy. I work 9-1 and have a break and then i help out from 4-6 to watch the kids while dinner is being made. I get 300 a week and all expenses paid! You are being over worked and under paid. You need a life too, get out of there!!
Good Luck!

mom said...

All that for a $12,000.00 a year salary? You could make more working at McDonalds 40 hours a week.

Local Services Expert - Melba Denosta said...

It's obvious that your employer is taking advantage of you. It's time for you to look for another job, I know that you will be able to find one since you're a 4 year college degree holder. Earning $1000 a month and working 70 hours a week is not fair. I think the baby will be fine if they will hire another nanny...think of your future!

you can do sooo much better said...

this is absolutely rediculous EXPECIALLY FOR A NY NANNY!!!

I know it's a heuge pain to look for another job, Belive me expecially being in MA.(not close to boston) everyone wants something for nothing so most familys don't get past a phone conversation with me. I have standards I am a truely amazeing caregiver I truely love what I do and give it my all. So Im not going to work for a family who dosn't respect me and treat me as a partner in raiseing their children when I am a full time caregiver.

Now your in a good position your in ny, I travel normally around 25 miles for the good jobs. Even as live in research how much your supposed to be makeing this is rediculous

I have a friend in ny who isnt going to college and isnt interested in becomeing a nanny as a profession she has a job 25 an hour for one little girl

really if you respect yourself at all DO NOT accept below min. wage

also I belive your fam. is a serial hireing nanny family who just looks for newbies next tiem do your research and get the numbers of old nannies to check how thw family was to them you need to do your research next time... best of luck

Anonymous said...

This is terrible, you are totally being tsken advantage off. They dont redpwct you as a person , you are being treated as an indentured servent, run, they sre not going to change.