Seeking Wisdom...

Received Friday, January 15, 2010
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Hello ISYN readers,
I'm a veteran nanny with 15 years experience and a new mom with 2 years experience. I am finally embarking on my first nanny job since having my little girl and will be bringing my child along to work with me daily. From past experience I know how important the nanny/parent working agreement is and I'm trying to write one up but am feeling some "writer's block". It's been so long that I just can't seem to get into the right frame of mind. So, as a regular reader and admirer of all of your comments and advice, I'm asking you all to give me some of your wisdom. Any reminders of what should be included in the working agreement, some good links to generic working agreement forms, advice regarding having your own child on board, whatever you have to offer. I've been looking for a job for a long time now, this one is in the final stages of the hiring process and I'm getting nervous and could use some support from fellow nannies.

Some background about my situation. I have a 2 year old girl, the family I'll be working for has 4 children....18 month old boy/girl twins, a 4 year girl and 6 year old boy. The family is moving here to Pittsburgh in a few days. The interview process was initiated through an agency I've worked with for many years. The family and I have exchanged numerous lengthy E-mails discussing absolutely everything under the sun, including,(but not limited to), schedules, duties, transportation, personalities, benefits, expectations, how the daily routine will include my daughter, etc. etc. etc. I spoke on the phone to both parents for over 2 hours and we have a face to face interview planned for this week as well as a follow up interview in which my child will meet their children. Assuming all goes well, I will start on January 25th,(yes, just a little over a week away!). We have agreed to a long trial period of one month to 6 weeks just to be sure we are all comfortable with the situation,(that being that my own child will be present and it's my first time performing this job with my own child present and their first time hiring a nanny who'll be bringing her own child). I'd like to write up an agreement for the trial period and then a permanent agreement to be signed upon completion of the trial period. The reason for 2 separate agreements is there are a few decisions that need to be ironed out after they've been in town, at thier new jobs for a couple weeks...such as the exact daily hours and working out the pick up times and transport of the two older children. I just feel like it'd be easier to start with a temporary agreement now and firm up the permanent one as we get there. The mother will be working out of her home office which is offering us some flexibility in the routine. Unlike some nannies, I don't mind parents working at home, I've worked for many families with this being the case and USUALLY haven't had a problem with it. For what it's worth, the mother has been sooooo nice thus far. She seems easy going, willing to cooperate and communicate with me on all issues and really seems to share MANY of my philosophies on child care/discipline/development.

I will have 8 hour work days,(aprox. 9-5/10-6), Mon. - Fri. I'll care for the twins all day long, the 3 year old from 1PM on and the 6 year old from 3PM on. The respective preschools are both within 1 1/2 miles of the home and may be picked up on foot, in my car or the employers car, with or without the toddlers......that's all to be worked out in the first couple weeks. When summer comes the 3 year will continue with her preschool all week and the 6 year old will likely go to camp most of the day. The starting offer is $14/hr....I'm thinking of asking for a little more, not really sure considering I'm bringing my own child. That hourly wage is typical here in Pittsburgh for an average sized family, although I think 4 kids is above 'average'. They are offering 2 weeks vacation and paid holidays, wage reviews every year. No health benefits. I'm thinking of asking for sick days but not sure how many.

I hope I've included enough info for you all to start firing away. If you I've forgotten anything vital I apologize. I've looked at this from every angle I can think of, now I'm hoping you'll offer some angles I haven't thought of. Oh, and to Curious Dad...please, go easy on my grammar, I tried my best and I'm pretty sure all my "I"s are properly capitalized. Thanks to everyone in advance!


dadiswrongonthisone said...

holy god, good luck to you and god bless you! my head is spinning thinking of taking care of all those kids at once!

I can tell you from experience though that even though you are caring for a whole lot of kids, you really do need to factor in at least a partial cost of childcare: the fact that they are trusting you to care for your child as well as theirs is a luxury. You are very very lucky they are on board with that.

I think considering your child will be with you, 14 an hour sounds more than fair, but others may not agree with me. Also a heads-up: it will undoubtedly be more challenging than you think to care for your own child and others. But if you are up to that challenge, I say go for it!

lynn said...

Wow, that job sounds like a lot of work without your own kid in tow....And toting 3 toddlers to pick up older children in two different schools on foot is going to make for a miserable existence. I had my fill of that living in NYC with just 3 kids (one toddler, one preschool and one elementary). I don't know if I'd agree to walk 1 1/2 miles for school pick up- but it sounds like any children who are napping at home can be left there if the mom is there working.

Also, give the fact that you don't have to pay for your own childcare, I think $14 is fair too. I think this is all doable though if the mom who is working from home is going to be hands-on and give you some help at key times.

Ravenswood Nanny said...

For sick/personal days I would ask for 3-5. That is the appropriate amount here in Chicago. I think $14 - $14.50/hr is a fair offer. Maybe you could work it out that you are paid $14 when you have the twins and $14.50 when the 2 older children get home?

Key things to put into your contract:
Vacation time/Sick days
Annual wage increases/scheduled reviews
How much notice you get if they no longer need you (4 weeks is appropriate)/How much notice you give them if you are quitting (2 weeks is appropriate).
Tax information
Benefit information (ie. tax free income such as transit passes, healthcare, etc)
Include that your child can be present.
House rules (tv use, computer use, special privileges)
Duties to be performed (laundry, cleaning, etc)
Specific care of children information (driving to school, activities, schedules)

Good luck with that many children! I'd go crazy.

nyc mom said...

I echo the prior comments! This sounds like a really tough job. I think bringing your own child is relatively uncommon for families to allow. You absolutely need to factor this in as a discount because the family is definitely doing so in their minds. In NYC for 4dc and bringing your own child I think $13-15 would be max hourly pay. I'd imagine Pittsburgh would be less, so $14 sounds fair to me too. Good Luck!

nyc mom said...

Ravenswood Nanny gave a great summary. I would add to include:

-Exactly which holidays are paid holidays (can be anywhere from 6-10 commonly)
-Overtime policy. Above how many hours and what is the rate.
-In NYC I would include when cab fare is included after what time of night (but sounds like you have a car in pittsburgh). but consider if you want any late night extra bonus or stipend.
-Clarify sick/personal day policy. We do 5 sick OR personal days and they are paid out if unusued. This is incentive to plan days off and not try to just use up sick days.
-Are you expected to ever travel with them and, if so, do you want to address how pay/accomodations will be handled during travel?

ChiNanny said...

I agree with everything above. I'd also add to include something about pay when they choose to take days off.

I might also consider for the final contract something about duties/roles for both you and Mom since she is at home. I think with this many children this situation might get difficult unless Mom is extremely flexible or has an office completely separate from the house.

mommyathome said...

Just wanted to chime in as a mom who works from home with a nanny in the house (which I never knew some nannies had a problem with, BTW!).

A couple of posters have mentioned clarifying with the mom yours and her respective roles since she will be in the house as well (napping children, the fact that there are so many kids, etc.). Don't be surprised if bringing this up gets you a quizzical look - even though I am in the house, I am WORKING just as certainly as if I were in my office in NYC. I have an office in my home and it is a kid-free zone. I have no "role" vis a vis my kids when I am working - that's why the nanny is there! She is not a mother's helper, nor are we splitting childcare responsibilities.

If her mindset is like mine, she might think it odd that you want to clarify roles. In the worst case, she may think you think her work at home is somehow less legitimate than work at a remote location if you act as though she will have available time to tag team childcare with you - not a good foot to start on!

Just a different perspective.

NannyVal said...

Thanks for the comments thus far, guys! Yes, I know it's going to be alot of work and although I have alot of experience and am confident in my abilities I am very nervous that this now involves my own child. I'm curious to see if and how I'll handle things differently than before. The thing is, I've been very picky with the oppportunities that have crossed my path these past 2 years, making sure that I only pursue those that I think are practical for my situation. But from the very first moment my agency called me with this prospect, I have had such a good feeling about it. I wish I could describe it better, it just 'feels' like this is THE one. And so far, every communication with future MB has only confirmed that feeling. It's weird...I'm scared but I feel really good about it all.

I should have mentioned that I am not expected to walk all that way every day with 3 toddlers. Generally it's expected that the twins....and possibly my own child will be napping. I'll mostly likely leave the twins napping at home with mom while I take my daughter in my car to pick up older ones, with my girl napping in betwen those times,(she's not much of a sleeper). The family's car will be made available for outings because my Sebring will not accomodate more than 2 youngsters. MB and I have discussed the transportation issues in and out and upside down....which is another reason I feel really comfortable with this family.

I'm glad to hear every one say that $14 sounds fair. I hate to short change myself and normally would expect more for 4 kids. But when I add my own child to the picture, I feel like I should be discounting my price. So you all have confirmed that for me. Thanks!

I'm looking forward to more comments and appreciate what's been offered so far. Ravenswood and NYC Mom...thanks for the lists....that's what I needed to get in gear!

NannyVal said...

Mommyathome, Thanks for the perspective. I've worked for moms like you and have had no problems and I'm sure most nannies would love to work for a mom like you. Unfortunatly, many moms who work at home don't always clarify and keep strong boundaries....and even leave the office to interfere with nanny's dealings with the kiddies. That can be problematic for the nanny and her authority/respect with the kids. I'm glad to hear you're one to 'go to work' and leave nanny to do her job in peace. I hope she appreciates that!

djembé said...

Honestly, I think there are too many potential problems for this to be a viable option for you:

- parent present in the home while you are working

- high number of fairly young children

- your own child being there, not understanding that you are AT WORK and as such the dynamics between you and her will be very different than they are when you are a SAHM

Of course the Mom is great to deal with right now, why wouldn't she be? There are no friction points yet, everything is potential and theoretical.

Another consideration -- you will end up having to drag all three toddlers out to pick up the elder two more often than you think. You don't know if the twins are good nappers, if their schedule is consistent and predictable, and either way they will be older soon and whatever their napping patterns are now, that will change.

I just think you are asking for trouble if you take this job. But obviously you are going to do what you want and as such, you've gotten some good advice here so far, good luck.

N is for Nanny said...

The standard things seem pretty covered, just want to add:

Have you guys figured out a policy for when your child is sick? Are you going to be expected to find alternate care or stay home with her?

Are there any situations in which you would be required to make alternate childcare arrangments for your child? What would the minimum notice to you be? Would there be a change in your compensation in this situation?

If you take the kids on outings or to classes, I would expect them to cover your expenses, but what about your daughter's? Admission? Food?

Similarly, are they providing food for you and your child? Again, pretty standard to do so for the nanny, but not sure about your child. (I would ask them too - cooking multiple meals and kids eating different things does not sound like something fun to deal with.)

Will you be allowed to leave some of your (and your daughter's) things at their house? Required?

Are you on the same page with regard to childrearing? Will you be parenting your child with your standards or theirs while in their house - i.e. YOUR kid or THEIR house?

I hope it works out! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

What happened to curious dad's comment? Sounds like nanny Val scared him away!

Jeanette said...

So there are two different preschools? Meaning two round trips every afternoon? For a total of six miles, possibly walking those six miles with three toddlers? All within a two-hour time span? Having toddlers along makes for very slow going, even if the twins are in a stroller.

What about mornings, will you be doing the morning dropoffs as well? For a total of twelve miles every day?

This family will be new to the area, so you don't really have a good way to find out their previous experience using nannies. Have they used them before? If so, has there been a parent working out of the home while the nanny is there?

You really have no idea if they will be good to work for, first impressions during interviews notwithstanding. Maybe they are allowing you to add a 2-year-old to an already very challenging mix of children because they are desperate to find someone to work for them.

I agree with djembe, I think you'd be crazy to do this. Your daughter will be in the middle of chaos all day and you will be pulled in dozens of different directions with no time to give her any individual attention. She won't have anything to call her own, no toys of her own, no bed/bedroom of her own, etc. Why would you want to drag her into all of this? I know you're not asking for opinions about whether or not to take the job, but I think it's a terrible idea.

ct nanny said...

I love what N is for Nanny has to say. Clarify everything possible related to bringing your daughter with you, because that, if anything, seems most likely to become an area of tension. Especially clarify the sick policy, because if you must work when their kids are sick, then your daughter is pretty much guaranteed to get sick, and what will you need to do at that point?
It sounds like mom is willing to be accommodating with the school pick-up, which will be a necessity, since as someone mentioned, nap schedules are subject to constant change. Good luck. I actually think this sounds like a potentially fun situation, so I hope it works out for you.

Manhattan Nanny said...

I know a nanny who brings her child with her, and it is working out well.

I think some of the negative reactions stem from the fact that not many people today have experience with large families. I grew up in a large family, and now I nanny for four children, There are often afternoons when I have six or seven in the apt. counting play date guests. Yes, it can get hectic, but it is fun for the kids, and me too.

I have had to wake a napping baby to go out in lousy weather to pick up at two different schools. I would have loved to have the mom there to stay with the baby.

If you like to be very active and have a lot of energy, I think this could be a great job for you. Good luck.

wary said...

I would also clarify with Mom that she's truly okay with sleeping kids left while you pick up others. What if they wake up? Is she okay with leaving "work" to take care of them until you get back? At 18mo and 2 years, their nap schedules are going to be changing and not consistent long-term.

Also, if she's just working from a home office, is noise a concern? With 5 children under 7, that house is going to get pretty loud at times. Make sure you're not going to be one of the nannies that have posted here who are pushed out of the house with the kids all day long.

CuriousDad said...

LAL, im cansidred a gramer nazy know? i heav sad b4 tht at dez not bther has moch enliss sits rlly bod

Sigh, one little rant and I get painted with a huge brush on being a grammar Nazi.

What you wrote as far as what you want and your connection with the parents sounds good. Good luck. Everyone who wrote before me has covered all bases I thought of, and plenty of other things I did not.

A question though on something very similar to what Nanny N mentioned. If your daughter does become too much, do you have an alternative plan for her care? May I suggest that you begin forming one now as a "just in case" and NOT informing the parents you have it ready? This way if it does become a problem you have an alternative ready and look more "efficient" to the parents. Mind you I am NOT suggesting letting the parents know you have a back up. Just that you have one ready.

NannyVal said...

Thanks for all the additional thoughts! Many of the things that have been mentioned we covered. A few we hadn't so I E-Mailed her some discussion points and we talked some more. I'm happy to say that we are still on the same page and in agreement on all counts. I'm finally making some headway with the working agreement too! I meet the family tomorow night. Thanks for all your help, I'll be looking forward to any more insight you have to offer.

nannybarb said...

I live in Pittsburgh!! I love that you are thinking positive-I really think as long as you are on the same page, it will be a good situation.
Does the agency give you a working agreement?

Add in to the contract about the nanny vehicle-be sure you are on the insurance and clarify who pays the deduction. Also set up that you are paid a salary, regardless of time actually worked. I do minimum hours and then an over rate.

Good Luck!!