How do I handle this?

Received Monday, October 18, 2010
Opinion 4 I took a job as a live in for a family with 3 children. I read over the contract, discussed it with 2 other nannies and a previous employer to make sure it sounded okay. I was moving out of state for this job and wanted to be sure before I took that step. Everything seemed to be in order.

Between 40-50 hours a week, 1 Saturday every 2 months, 2 weeks paid vacation, 3 sick days, 1 month notice to end the contract from either party, and the only downfall no benefits but one of the parents was a doctor.
I met with the parents first and liked them right away. They invited me to their house to meet the children and I agreed. They were so cute and so sweet and we got along really well.

The trial was 1 month and everything went well so I thought I had found my dream job. The way the contract was laid out I was not only a nanny but a household manager. I took care of all the household laundry, made all the beds in the home, did the grocery shopping, ran personal errands (returning clothes and other things that weren't needed) and was responsible for light cleaning of community areas (living room, kitchen, dining room).

Eventually things started going south.
I had a hand written monthly contract made by MB. Some months the hours were much higher than I was told and the weekend work started becoming much more frequent (I worked 17 weekend days in 10 months). I hardly saw MB cause she worked so much so one night after I got a hand written schedule I sent her an email outlining a few issues I was having (hours, overtime, work being added on) and she emailed me back saying we would talk about it.
Eventually she explained to me that I was to work 200 hours for a 4 week month, and 250 hours for a 5 week month. Which meant I worked 50 hours per week or more some weeks and less others. Once they even took a 4 day trip and left me home alone with the 3 kids. She considered my hours from 7-9 instead of counting it as a 24 hour day. I obviously had no time off during that 4 day weekend and was not paid overtime. I did get a $100 bonus and a 6 page note of things I did wrong, even though the kids had a great time and i did all I was asked.

Eventually things just started piling up and becoming too much. The weekend work, the extra chores (cleaning the big family closet, cleaning and organizing the basement, cleaning out the garage), the oldest child wasn't disciplined after kicking me and telling me to shut up, when I picked my week for vacation (over a month early) I was told I could take it but it was extremely inconvienant to them, anytime I brought up something that I thought was going against the contract I was told they needed someone "flexible". The dad always having to go do something at the time he was suppose to be letting me go at night. It was just a lot of things like that.

I finally decided enough was enough and even though I'd tried talking to MB three times nothing changed. When I gave my notice i just said I wasnt very happy and no longer felt I was a good fit for their family. I had already started applying for other jobs and had accepted one when I gave notice. I told my new MB I had to give 1 month notice and she was okay with that. I gave my one month and went on about my work. On a Friday I was sent a text telling me that it would be my last day, that was 4 days after I gave notice. I was so glad I had found another position because if I hadnt I would have been living in my car until I had.

I packed my things and was moved out in 5 days. I was so happy at my new job and even though I missed my former charges I knew I made the right decision. A few days into my new job I started receiving emails from previous MB. She had found out about my new job and accused me of leaving her kids for other kids and that I shouldn't talk badly about her to her friends, which I would never do and had never done. I babysat regularly for some of her friends and if I was talking badly about her to them I doubt they would have continued using me. Eventually I got so tired of her harassing emails that i just apologized and wished her well and she did the same.

My problem now is I'm applying for jobs and I emailed all my previous employers (nanny and babysitting) to get my references in order. She responded by telling me she was still disappointed in how I left and couldn't promise she would only have good things to say. I still have all the hand written schedules, notes she left me, emails and the original contract from the family. I'm unsure of how to present this to prospective employers. I don't want a big gap in my employment but obviously I don't want to use her knowing she wouldn't say good things. How do I handle this?


Nanny Somewhere in America said...

I had to quit a job last year, with notice, because it wasn't working out. It didn't end well at all. When I gave them my notice, they told me to get out now along with a few choice words thrown my way.

At first I wasn't going to put them on my resume, but when I started looking for jobs, I decided to add them. I simply told the families it was a job that didn't work out. If they asked me for a reason, I told them while remaining professional about the reasoning. I didn't have a problem finding a job.

As long as you have other strong references, I wouldn't worry about it. Put the job on your resume, give them your reasoning for leaving and why they are not a reference, and the parents should understand.

Phoenix said...

I would leave that job out. When I applied for a new job I left out certain jobs when I knew that they were going to cut me down. Now I am not a nanny but I think it would be highly beneficial if you don't use her as a reference. Or use her and give the contact phone number to one of your friends numbers. I've had people buy those prepaid phones used only for "the bad people references" You have to protect youself and gaining employement is the way to do that. It is illegal for people to talk about you in hopes to prevent you from finding other work. My means may sound really shady but there are really bad people out there who do mean things just because. I recommmend the pre-paid phone idea.

hmmm said...

I'm pretty sure she cannot legally say anything nasty about you, just "so and so worked here for that long"

I have a reference that I hate giving but i worked there for three years. the dad apparently said I was difficult about money, which my employer before them strongly corrects for me, thank god.

My advice is to be honest with people you are serious about the job with (dont talk about it at every single interview, it makes you sound nuts) But when you do give their number say "i'm nudgy to give this one, this is where I learned a lot about contracts and scheduling and feeling a little taken advantage of, but i do want you to have my whole work history"

also, have a friend call, if she's going to be a psycho better know in advance.

be honest said...

Just tell future families that you had a position that went badly, explain why and that you have proof of misconduct by the parents if they are interested in seeing it. Explain that you aren't using them as a reference because the parents are more interested in harming your reputation. If the prospectives insist on it then give it.

I had this happen and my current family didn't have any interest in hearing from the old family. They took my word for it and we haven't had any issues around it. I've now worked for an awesome family for nearly a year. :)

Village said...

I'd be honest. It wasn't a good match.

If they press for specifics, tell them the parents didn't honor the contract. If they keep pressing, have a list of three ready in your mind. I would suggest the more weekend days than agreed, the overnights with no compensation, and more weekly hours than agreed. Keep it very professional. No personal issues were involved. You kept your end of the contract, gave them one month notice as allowed for in the contract, and they terminated you after four days.

PS Next contract, specify hours, say 45, and a hourly rate for anything beyond that. Same thing with weekend work. One day a month, time and a half otherwise. And cover overnights, $100 per night, plus hourly rate for hours over monthly 45. If you aren't specific with your hours, don't expect them to be.

TheOriginalDenverNanny said...

Been there. It sucks.

I worked 45+ hours/week, no benefits, sick pay, and I had to argue the price of gas with the mom whenever I needed gas for my car. My first "professional" nanny job, found through the first agency I worked with, and my first childcare job after a couple low years.

I was the 8th! nanny this family had hired in the previous 2 weeks, I stayed for 18 months, and when I last spoke with the mom 3 months after I left, they were working on their 6th nanny. I worked my butt off and the agency was dumbfounded how I stuck out the position even a month--the family was that ridiculous... a post on its own.

On paper, the job was a great reference! After job hunting for 3 months, a mom I interviewed with mentioned that my previous employer was giving me a bad reference. I was never told any details and eventually hired by the mom, but even the agency didn't understand what was going on. I ended up having to tell prospective parents something along the lines of "my duties included _____ and I left on what I thought were good terms, however, I have been informed that the family is no longer willing to recommend me. Therefore, the agency has agreed to speak to potential employers on my behalf."

I had one family decline to hire me because they felt I badtalked a former employer, but for the most part, it worked. I lined up 4 new families, all part-time, and took a couple "hard" jobs: 4 year old twin boys with Autism spectrum disorders, night nanny 4 month old triplets--for waaaaay below market value. All to build my resume.

I still list the position under job experience on my resume, but I no longer give out their contact info. All can I suggest is to ask one someone who saw your work to write you a letter of reference-- one of the kids' teachers, a grandparent, maybe one of those families you sit for?

ALWAYS get a letter of reference from now on! I now hold 3 glowing letters from families I currently work for, just in case.

MissMannah said...

Phoenix, I can't believe you would advise her to fake a reference like that. That shows very poor character and I've always believed that any lie will eventually come back to bite you in the ass.

Having a big gap in your resume looks worse than having a not-so-great reference. Put the job experience on there but not the family's phone number. If during an interview a parent questions it, say there were contract disagreements but that it had nothing to do with the quality of care you provided. Personally, I think if they get even nosier than that, I wouldn't want to work for them anyway.

Rocket Scientist said...

I believe it's true that she is not legally allowed to attempt to stop you from being hired somewhere else, as others have mentioned. However, I doubt she would worry about it if she really wanted to badmouth you. It's not likely that you would take her to court, so she would probably feel like she could get away with it. I agree with many of those who have already commented. Put the job on your resume, but leave off the contact info unless someone wants it even after you explain the situation. Good luck!

Kristen @ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CuriousDad said...

Just an FYI, from an employer's point of view.
"Nanny Somewhere in America" and "Village" comments come closer to the level of professionalism you need in addressing the problem.

What “Phoenix” suggests is actually illegal, Fraud I believe. Let alone if you are caught the repercussions will be felt much further down you career.

You would have to keep lying to get more jobs. As the employer who was lied too will state the reason they let you go, was because you lied to them. That will sink any potential at a decent job.

To what “hmmm” said, the MB can be as lying spiteful and hateful as she wants. The only thing you can do is if you find out how bad she has spoken about you is to slap a libel suit on her for defamation and damages (To your career).

However if the MB merely couches her spitefulness in semi-truth: “I did not find her as reliable as she originally seemed to be at her interview”; “She was not a very good fit for us and therefore was let go as soon as convenient”. Then everything becomes much harder to rescue. The only way to overcome that type of situation; is to be as professional as possible and to not lower yourself to her level.

I do like the suggestion that Hmmm made about calling the former MB to see what her reaction will be to giving reference. If she says nothing but that you formerly worked there you are good, if it’s worse well you will be forewarned and forearmed.

CuriousDad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CuriousDad said...

Oh and an aside,

The description you gave of your job is not that of a "Household Manager". A Family Assistant/Nanny or Nanny/Housekeeper would be more on target.

Household managers from what I have read have a greater control over their environment and how they do things, they control a budget, interact with vendors (as in hiring, employing) for the property, they actually "manage" others such as Nannies and Housekeepers.

lili said...

good for you for leaving i am working as a live in and its horrible, this is my first time and last time, i end up working a lot of extra hours and i never get paid for it at all, i would quit but i live in california and there is no way i could find another job easily.

honesty said...


I don't believe that it is illegal or fraud to leave out a job on your resume. When you fill out an application and they ask you to list your last three jobs, yes, that is a legal document that is often notarized. But your resume is your own personal creation: I seriously do not agree that it is illegal to not list all jobs on it. That is simply ridiculous.

What is "illegal" is parents who give their nanny a bad reference and lie about what they did/did not do. That is slander and it is illegal. Unfortunately it is normally more trouble than it is worth to go ahead and sue the family for it.

It is a nice thought to just speak honestly and tell your prospective employer that your last job did not work out, but in reality it is foolish to list someone as a reference who is dishonest. I worked at a job for three months and I left because they were just dishonest, bad people. I would never trust them to be a reference for me.

OP here said...

that's the job title they had on the contract. Nanny/ household manager. I did a lot of things I didn't mention just because I hate even thinking of this experience. it saddens me that it didnt work out cause I did adore the children.

To everyone who offered advice:
Thank you so much. I pretty much got her intention in the email, she will not give me a good reference and prefers not to be contacted at all. Which is hard because in the email she sent telling me all this she also mentioned how with their new nanny they see a huge difference in how things are going, she pretty much said I was a horrible nanny but I have countless other emails where she told me the children still napped in my old bed because they were waiting for me to come back. I have proof that I worked hard and did a good job. I understand shes upset that I left but I don't understand why she can't put that aside and just say "she worked here for this amount of time and the kids loved her." it's a very hard situation because my character and work ethic are being put on the line due to her and I've never had this issue before. All the other references I got (from her friends) were glowing and even said if I moved back up that way they would hire me on the spot.

Thanks again guys! Obviously this is still an open wound.

hang in there! said...

OP: I really do feel for you: regarding the mom telling you how wonderful the new nanny is compared to you: this is a common tactic used by parents who are control freaks and just generally unpleasant, bad people. I once nannied for a family and worked for them for a year and they had no complaints about me. When I gave my notice so that I could start my own home daycare, they started treating me like crap. On the last day working for them, the mother did not even say thank you, but instead told me that they were going to be paying the new nanny twice as much as what they paid me. I went home in tears, and to this day it still hurts me to think that parents can be so ungrateful and cruel to the people they entrusted their children with for a year or more. This happened to me six years ago.

Hang in there: it will get better.

Phoenix said...

It is way not illegal to leave out crap on your resume and it is also way not illegal to have someone speak good about you on your behalf. If it comes down to me having a job to feed my family or throwing myself under a bus...well I'm going to feed my family. I've done this for some of my family members. Hell I would rather them get a job then me have to give them money. Telling little fibs to protect yourself is sometimes the way of the world. For example I had to do this when I moved houses. I was renting from a slumlord. He harrassed me for many years. Finally when I had enough money to move he flat out told me that he would tell everyone that called him that I was a crap tenant. I had to tell my new landlord that the man was out of the country and couldn't be contacted. That I didn't have a phone number for him. I had to lie to find a place to live for me and my family. Shame on my morals. LOL

TinyDancer said...

I had to report a family that I worked for for 2 years to social services. To say the least it was a huge gap for not having a reference but also not really one I could give out. I explained the situation and offered a couple other phone numbers (a friend who knew the work family and a fellow nanny for the same family) to reference the job. Do you have any options like this?

Hungrycollegestudent said...

Phoenix, while that's certainly a precarious predicament, the truth is the easiest path to take. You try to explain it away by saying you're feeding your family, which I understand, but your entire attitude denotes that you find nothing wrong with it. THAT I find wrong.

OP Here Again said...

Yes I do. I have 2 nannies who saw me on a regular basis with the children and like I said, I have a few of her friends as references because I babysat for them even after I left the job. I'm hoping everything will be just fine since I have good references. I was just worried about whether or not leaving her out as a reference would hurt but I think on my resume I will put the job but leave off information and have all my ducks in a row for if they ask about what happened.

Again- thank you all so much!

sharon said...

one of the posters on this blog came up with a very good idea as a preventative measure. She would ask all employers on a regular basis for a letter of recommendation " for a church project" or to "volunteer at the pantry" etc
She had been burned on this issue and made sure to have letters showing the mom was happy before they parted

Phoenix said...

Nope I have no problem with.

Dear Abby.... said...

Phoenix maybe something is wrong with me, but I actually can see your point of view on things.
Anyways...I wouldn't put the other family on the resume and hope my new family does not question my job gap. If they do, then I will bring up the family you worked for and diplomatically tell them what happened. Keep a professional and civil approach to the matter and just conclude they were not a good match for you at the time. Explain briefly what happened and make sure you do not bad-mouth them. Because your prospective employer may think you will eventually do the same to them you see. As long as you have other references that are strong, one bad family should not spoil your chances for getting a new job. Everyone knows that there are some bad apples in the world and that they shouldn't have the power to ruin you just because of their selfishness, etc. If I were a parent interviewing a potential nanny for my family, one bad family would not matter to me. It wouldn't even be a red flag since we all know that there are nutty folks in the world. However, if she had say perhaps more than 2 bad references, I would probably not consider her at all.
Good Luck OP. You sound like a great nanny and person in general and I am so sorry you miss your charges. That is probably the hardest part of being a nanny, when you eventually have to say "good-bye" to the children, esp. when the parents and you do not end on good terms. You will be fine. :)

Uh said...

6 page list of things you did wrong?

CuriousDad said...


I was not talking about leaving the job off of your resume as the fraud part. But this: Or use her and give the contact phone number to one of your friends numbers. I've had people buy those prepaid phones used only for "the bad people references"

Phoenix said...

It's called protecting yourself. I have done it and will continue to do it for any friend that I know needs it. It is not for lying about someone bad being good it is about protecting someone good from a possible bad outcome. Helping.

MissMannah said...

Helping...until someone finds out about it. Who knows? You might get lucky and get away with it. But why take that chance? Telling the truth, with as few details as possible, is definitely easier. Both for your conscience and for your career in the long run.

Yes, you can leave that job off the resume. I've done that, but only with shorter jobs...ones that have only lasted a couple of months for some reason or another just didn't work out. It just looks a lot more suspicious to have a long gap like that on the resume.

oh well said...

I would mention the job as succintly as possible and leave out the contact info. If asked about it I would tell the truth, trying to remain neutral and open-minded.
Phoenix, saying that your landlord cannot be reached and pretending to be a former employer seem to me to be two different kinds of lies. I am pretty sure you could get in trouble for the second one.

cali mom said...

OP, what I would do is this:

List all the relevant jobs that you want to include, dating back 10 years at most, or as far back as you can go with childcare jobs.

Then, put your references contact info on a separate sheet of paper (with their names and how each one is relevant as a reference) so there isn't contact info included right at the end of each job BUT with one glaring exception.

That way you can fit former MB's friends in logically even though you were never a FT employee of theirs, just an occasional babysitter, or anyone other than actual employers who can vouch for what a great nanny you are. (ie, Joan Smith: babysitting client #1, phone # & email; Susan Anderson, babysitting client #2, etc.)

I don't think Curious Dad was saying it's illegal to leave some jobs off of your resume. I think he was saying it's illegal to have a friend or relative identify themselves as someone they are not in order to give you a good (fake) reference. And btw, there are actual reference checking companies you can hire legally that will contact all your references and report to you what they said about you. And people most certainly CAN phrase things in such a way as to strongly deter anyone from hiring you without saying anything illegal. ("Sorry, my lawyer advised me to say nothing beyond confirming her dates of employment").

OhioNanny said...

I haven't read through the other comments so do not know if anyone else has given this same advice. However, if all of your other references are good, I would use hers but add a note that this particular employer was very upset when you left, and that while you feel you did everything you were asked, that you are not certain how upset the employer may still be. Chances are, your prospects will not even bother calling her if your other references are great.