Another Nanny Nightmare

Received Thursday, August 19, 2010
rant 1 A few years ago I worked as a nanny for a family with a newborn. I should have backed out before I took the job in the first place. The mother interviewed me and told me she would let me know either way in 3 days when she was finished interviewing all of the other prospective nannies. 2 weeks went by and I didn't hear from her so I assumed she chose someone else. It was no big deal though because I had other job prospects. Then one day I get a call from her. She wants me to start watching her son the next Monday, which is 3 days away. Although I was a little perturbed that she didn't call when she said she'd call I was still happy to get the job. Her child was adorable and I LOVE babies.

When she interviewed me we talked about what I charge. Since she said she would be only working half days on Fridays I gave her a break. I only charged her for 4.5 days. And what I charged was definitely on the low end!

Things went well for the first week. I watched her child and took care of him like he was my own child. She stopped in on her lunch breaks and called a couple times during the day. Then Friday came and she said she had to work the full day. I assumed she would pay me extra. I was wrong. That day she paid me in cash and it was only the amount we had talked about before. I was a little upset but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to cause trouble and I figured it was just once so why worry. Well over the next year it happened more times than I could count. I just got used to it and was too chicken to say anything.

There were times where she said she'd have to pay me on Monday instead of Friday too. And there were times when she was late on days other than Friday. She would show up an hour late and say its because she needed to stop at Walmart.

Later she let it slip that she didn't have to work all day on some Fridays. She was going home and cleaning her house or sleeping. It wouldn't have bothered me except I wasn't getting paid for the extra hours.

I suppose it was my fault because I wasn't speaking up. I grew to love her baby and I didn't want to lose him. It's hard when you become attached to the child you watch. It wasn't his fault that his mom didn't stick to what we discussed at the interview.

After a year of watching this child I had finally had enough of working for so little and having him well past the hours that had first been discussed. His mother being late all of those times had made me late for college several times and her not paying me on time had left me broke more times than I can count. I felt as if I was being taken advantage of and though I loved my charge so much I had to make the decision to put in my notice. My grades were suffering and I had to get my priorities straight. It was an extremely difficult decision and both the mother and I cried when she picked him up on his last day. I still got to see him once in a while, which was nice.

Over a year passed and by then she had another baby. She said she was having trouble with the new sitter. She asked if I would give it another chance and watch both her children. I was kind of hypnotized by the cuteness of the new baby and I had just missed her oldest child so much. So I agreed to watch them both. I don't know what I was thinking. The new baby was a preemie and had feeding problems. And the pay was half of the going rate for my area.

I watched the both the children with many of the same problems I had before. Only now their second child's medical problems added an extra element or worry. She was always sick. She was always coughing and had to be fed practically on the hour because of how little she drank at one sitting. It made me really upset to know that a lot of the baby's problems stemmed from the fact that the parents smoked in the house and in the car. She was always on at least one medication.

A few months after I started to watch the children the parents asked me if I would accept childcare network (assistance for parents that are low income) and I said I would until I found out they were committing fraud to get it. When they applied they said it was a single parent home even though both parents lived there and they both worked full time. So now they wanted to lie to the state and collect a type of welfare fraudulently so they could pay even less than they were already paying. It was an easy decision for me to tell them I wouldn't be involved.

So they found a new nanny that would accept the childcare network. I don't know if she knew they lied or not.

The children's last day came and went and I missed them. After all I spent a lot of time with them and really cared about them. The mother would send update e-mails about her kids every month and I was one of the people on the list to receive them. After 3 or 4 months I decided I didn't want to receive the e-mails anymore because it did hurt my feelings that she was willing to take them to another sitter just because I wouldn't commit welfare fraud. Every time I received an update e-mail I got sad again so I sent her an e-mail saying I didn't want to be updated anymore. She caught an attitude with me and was like "what's your problem?" I didn't tell her what I really thought because I wanted to take the high road.

To this day I think about those kids once in a while and wonder how they are doing. I had a lot of good times with those kids. I also had a lot of stress due to the parents not following what they had agreed to. My only advice in this one is make a contract. Don't watch someone's children unless they prepay you.


apple said...

Geez, another example of a nanny drowning in problems that are entirely of her own making.

peanut butter said...

Parden me for caring about the children I watched. And I said the problems were my fault. Thanks for restating the obvious.

CanadianMom said...

I'm not sure it's fair to say these problems are entirely of her own making. She sounds like a nice person who got taken advantange of, and she's learned from it as well as having drawn the line at a certain point. I think there's a lesson here for parents and nannies alike. I am a parent and someone who does not like to rock the boat in any of my relationships, and it is important for me to see that nannies can be like that too. I think this shows that both parties have to be up front and honest about arrangements, expectations, etc. The parents lost out on a nanny who really cared about their children ... but it sounds like the parents don't have their priorities right (e.g. smoking around baby). Thanks for sharing your experience, OP.

fail. said...

apple, I don't think you're being fair. the nanny clearly said she learned from her mistake and perhaps others will learn from what she has shared. what have we learned from your post? that you are unpleasant? that's about it.

Bostonnanny said...

I think th email situation could have been handled differently. It is quite insulting to the parent of the children to request not to be informed about them, especially since you say you love them.

I also have a problem with nannies "treating the child/ren as their own". Of course their is a level of love and attachment that forms when your with a child so long but I think we all need to keep in mind that these are not "our own" children. Many nannies tend to forget that. I myself have fallen into that. At one point felt like I was leaving the child with a babysitter when the parents would take over. I worried about him all weekend because I felt that his first time parents wouldn't care for him like do. I had to take a step back and realize how ridiculous I was acting. He was not my child and altho I love and care for him I will not be with him forever.
Back to the point we as nannies should prob see our jobs more like teachers, not as parents, we give guidance, teach and care

Meme said...

Bostonnanny makes some great points.

As far as cutting off contact with the parents and kids, I would most certainly tell the mom why you made that choice. It would do you some good to get the practice of growing a little more backbone for next time and MAYBE open her eyes a bit to the mistakes she is making as well.

Allegra said...

"I don't think she's "drowning in problems she created". Sticking up for yourself as a nanny is such a delicate situation! And so many families take advantage of nannies, in horrendous ways!"

Couldn't have said it better myself.

bippityboppityboo said...

I dont know it does sound like she made things worse for herself but it also sounds like she is not an experienced nanny so I do understand where shes coming from. Hopefully she learned from her mistakes. It was a little immature how she handled the email situation she could have just sent them to junk mail without opening them if it really caused that much distress. Better luck next time sorry it didn't work out.

Village said...

Labeling the Email spam might have been a better choice than contacting the mother. That way, you could have checked your spam for updates if or when you changed your mind.

Dear Abby said...

I do not place blame on the nanny for this situation. She was just trying to be a good nanny..and she did what she did for the love of the can people place blame on such goodness? The blame lies with the family. This family treated the nanny like dirt and this is the person who loves their child! They took advantage of her to the fullest and it saddens me that people would treat the person who cares for their child in such a harsh manner. Shame on the family.
I do think the email situation could have been handled in a better manner however. I do not blame the mother for her was kinda harsh OP.