Going Above the Call of Duty and Feeling Under Appreciated

Received Friday, December 3, 2010
Opinion 4 This is a question to all of the nannies that follow this blog, but if you are a parent with a nanny please feel free to leave your opinion as well. I have been a professional nanny for over 9 years and I absolutely love my career. I have been working at my current position since August of 2010, and at first everything was going great. I made sure to sign a family/nanny agreement laying out what my responsibilities would be and what my employers expectations of me would be as well. From day one I always have gone above and beyond what MB's expectations of me are. Just a few examples: She will leave her mounds of dirty dishes in the sink from the night before, as well as a pile of bottles that have not yet been washed. I feel like I have no other choice but to wash everything, because if I don't I wont have enough room to wash the babies bottles through out the day. So, because of this, I go ahead and do it. I also make sure to pick up all of the baby related items that are frequently left out around the house and put them away, but the next day, everything is a huge mess again. On more than a few occasions MB has left her dirty clothes in the washing machine, so I have washed them, put them in the dryer, and folded and put them away for her. (Mind you, it was agreed upon that I would do the babies laundry, but not hers) I do not mind doing these things from time to time, however she has not once thanked me for doing them. I am starting to feel very under appreciated, and was wondering if any of you other nannies out there have had this happen with your jobs, and if so, how you have handled it. I know it sounds like it is not a big deal, but I do a lot more than I mentioned above, and a thank you would really go a long way.

Lastly, I was wondering what you nannies out there typically expect for a holiday bonus if anything, and also what you parents out there have given your nanny in the past. I don't necessarily expect anything, but it would be a nice gift to receive as a thank you for all of the hard work I have done. Thanks so much in advance!


Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

OP, yes as a Nanny, I have done what you have done. Meaning many times, I have gone above and beyond what my Nanny duties entail. I have done many non-child related duties and have even spent some of my own money taking my charges out because I love my charges that much. Anyway, I hardly ever get a "Thank you so much for doing the extra dishes,laundry, taking out the kids, etc." In fact, I just get taken for granted more. *sigh*
What it all boils down to is pay. Now if I am being paid a low salary as it is, then do these extra duties, I feel very taken advantage of and used. Then it gets to me. But if my salary is very good, then I just do the little "extras" and remind myself how fortunate I am to have such a well-paying position. So it all boils down to this. Do you think your pay is equal to the all the extra work you are doing?
I myself am going through this now. I just started a new job (today as a matter of fact) where I have all this extra non-child related work to do (family's dishes, organizing drawers, etc.) and my pay is very minimal. I already feel very resentful. If they were paying me a good salary, I wouldn't mind, but my salary is very low and I am started to feel taken advantage of. But enough about me...what about you? Is the pay fair?

Bostonnanny said...

I have never gotten a holiday bonus, only nice gifts. My current position also has never given me a raise but after a year have agreed to do a nannyshare where I'll be making $5 extra an hour. Altho I do a lot of the same things you do, my employers give me random gifts throughout the year to say thank you. For staying another year they gave me a tiffany's charm.
They also say thank you everytime I leave in the evening. I guess I would just stop doing all the extra stuff for awhile and see what happens. Or I would bring it up and ask them politely if they can clean up before you come in or give you a raise. Some people just assume it's part of your job.

former au pair said...

I *very* briefly worked for a family who would a) leave STACKS of dirty dishes, pots, pans, etc from the weekend for me to clean Monday morning and b) put in the parents' clothes with the kids and expect me to wash, dry, and fold everything. Needless to say, that didn't last.

My next job, I had learned my lesson, and right off the bat, I NEVER did the parents' laundry and only did the dishes if I needed to start a load in the dishwasher. At least they always cleaned up from the weekend. This family, MB especially, would often mix in her things with the kids', but I made it a point to only do the children's washing, because before you know it, you'll be doing all their laundry, cleaning, and dish washing.

So, maybe I was being a little bitchy by leaving only one pair of MB's panties at the bottom of the hamper for her to wash herself, but guess what, that's not my job. Wash your own delicates.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

Anon..if I got paid $16/hr for one child, I would do the family dishes and laundry! Again, it all depends on rate received.

Jersey Girl said...

I also get paid $16 per hour for one child. It seems like alot but not in the area I live in. Don't get me wrong it is still good money.

midwest said...

Good question OP about bonuses. I only work Saturdays nites and occasionally a Friday nite but its rare.

I never expect a bonus since I work just weekeneds. But of course it would be nice!

I feel the same I do more than I have to. They never ask me to, but I can't relax at nite once the kids are sleeping if the house is a mess.

Parents if you had someone work for you on the weekends only. Would you give a gift to your employee? If they were really great with your kids and go beyond what is expected???

FrustratedNanny said...

Ugh, I understand this. You have to do it. If you work around the mess then you're being "passive aggressive" by not cleaning it. UGH! I still remember when I was a live in nanny, the family went out of town for a few weeks. I didn't want to be in this huge house alone so I went and stayed with a friend for the 2 weeks. I was there an hour after they left and then an hour before they got home. They had left the house a DISASTER. Dishes in the sink, every toy in the playroom dragged out, beds unmade, clothes everywhere, etc. I did a quick tidy up (putting away most of the playroom toys, loading the dishwasher, wiping off the counters and putting the cushions back on the couch) When they got home I was told that this would be my last week with them. come to find out it was because the house was such a disaster when they got back. They had expected (but not mentioned it to me or asked or any such thing) that I would clean up (even though cleaning was not part of my job description, I left the house tidy after I worked, but I didn't spend my off hours cleaning up after them and I wasn't being paid for the 2 weeks they were gone). So I lost my job and place to stay because I didn't make the beds (which wasn't EVER part of my job), didn't wipe off the stove, didn't vacuum, didn't throw the old fruit out, didn't wash the parents laundry, etc. Stuff that I wasn't supposed to do anyway! And it's not like I was there the whole time just going around the mess, I was gone too! but w/e. I found a new job pretty quickly and it worked out.

bippityboppity said...

I too am a professional nanny but I think those little chores though not written in contracts are just part of the job. I do expect some sort of holiday bonus though not necessarily two weeks pay. A minimum of half a weeks pay plus a gift is nice but I've had some employers really go above and beyond.

Someone's Nanny said...

I worked for a family for 5 years that was exactly the same way. It actually seemed like the more I did, the less they appreciated me. I did everything from cleaning their house, to running errands, to taking care of their dogs. When I finally spoke up after 4 years, it was too late. The dad and I had a big argument, and things were never the same. I loved those kids to death which is why I stuck it out for as long as I did, and even stayed the fifth year through the parent's divorce. I still visit the kids at their mom's house every few weeks, but my heart aches for them every day. I wish I had spoken up sooner before I had a chance to fall in love.

Now I'm with a great family who really does appreciate everything I do. Maybe it's because the mom was a SAHM for a few years. She really understands that I'm working my tail off and lets me know how grateful she is. The dad also thanks me just about every day.
Unfortunately if you don't speak up now, it's only going to get worse.
As for a Christmas bonus, I've never gotten one. I've gotten tons of thoughtful and even some pretty expensive gifts, but never a bonus.

oh well said...

midwest, I would give a gift (though maybe not a huge one!) to someone who would work for me only on week-ends.
As an employer, I tend to see the
other end of the stick. What you nannies call your workingplace is
your employers' living environment.
Communication is key, because I don't think most people leave a messy house on purpose for their nannies to clean. I do know what it takes to keep a house clean, and
it is clear that in some cases employers take advantage, but not in every case. I am for instance quite familiar with the Au Pair habit of never doing the dishes. And I confirm, formeraupair, that you sound bitchy and lazy.

Floor dweller said...

Wow reading some of your responses
makes me appreciate my family all
the more. I make $20 hour on the books
for watching two children and the only
house work I do is the children's laundry
and empty the dishwasher.
As far as a holiday bonus I get one
weeks pay and a gift from each child.
I work for a great family and will be
Very sad next fall as the youngest
will be starting all day kindergarten.
I know pay varies from city to city so
You can't really compare to others. I
Think in this economy we just have
to be grateful to have employment.

nycmom said...

I'm an employer, but definitely have to be careful not to let the work creep up for our nanny. To be fair, both the amazing nannies I've had have had an amazing work ethic and used downtime to do extras around the house that I really appreciate. Not scrubbing toilets, but maybe organizing the fridge. They also keep the home very clean. I try to make sure they arrive to a clean apartment without dishes in the sink. It's common to have duties creep up over the years. Whenever I've found that happening, I always address it in the annual Work Agreement with a choice of regular raise and no extra duties or bigger raise with some extra duties.

As far as holiday bonus, the norm is regional. In NYC, I would say a week's pay is the norm. Though since you only started in 8/10, I would expect half a week at most in NYC. I do give holiday bonuses to date night sitters, but usually just the equivalent of one week's pay (which is usually one night's pay). My kids always get small gifts for all sitters and family with their allowance saved during the year.

abc said...

Honestly, I would go back and read what you wrote. "I don't mind doing it occasionally." So do it occasionally. And the rest of the time, don't do it. I would slowly cut back now, so that it's not 6 months in and they have the expectation. If she comments on why you didn't do such and such, just put a big smile on and say, "I meant to, but we just had such a fun busy day here."

Nanny Consultant said...

There was a time when I felt under appreciated and I just (as casually as possible) asked the mom if I was doing a good job. She was surprised when I asked and continued to give me a lot of affirmation. I say just ask, get what you need, and continue doing a great job!

Kelly Star said...

I have done exactly like you and all I got was my thirty days notice for not washing windows and mopping floors. Yes, I am the nanny from the few posts earlier. There is just no pleasing some people. I am doubting if it is worth being in this profession anymore.

kriminie said...

in my opinion, be passive aggressive about it. Apologize for doing her dishes (say her dishes) apologize for moving her laundry, tell her you know its not your place to do her laundry but you had to move it. Show you care about the family by asking her if she would like you to add it to your duties, as you see that it is sometimes needed. Obviously they need your help here, offer it to them and let them know you would be willing to help them out with it, and willing to change your contract to help them out, and what do they think would be fair to pay you to do these extra chores... if you leave it in their ball park, making it clear that you know you are overstepping your bounds (in a way they need but still) then they will be much more likely to respect you and your professionalism. and pay you more :D if they say that they just cant afford to pay you more, couldn't you just do it for a while, straight up tell them no, and ask what they would like you to do with the dishes or the laundry if it is in your way!! most people are generally polite and you need to remember that you are in their home, the one place they have to relax, so its is very probable that they just didn't want to do it, not really thinking about you and that it is your place of business.

OP said...

Thanks for all the helpful advice everyone! I really appreciate it!

MissMannah said...

Maybe it is just because I'm not at all a neat freak, but I've just never felt the need to pick up after my employers. I did have a short-lived nanny job where they would leave piles of dirty dishes in the sink everyday and I would wash them at first. But I absolutely hate doing dishes and they didn't have a dishwasher so after a couple of days of that, I started just moving their dishes out of my way and washing up only the dishes the children and I used. Is this passive-aggressive? Some of you guys seem to think so, but I don't. As for laundry, if the boss leaves her dirty clothes in the washer, I guess the children's clothes just don't get washed that day. Or you can throw her stuff back into the hamper, she probably wouldn't care.

Nanny of One said...


I feel your pain.
I am so happy that you posted this question as I myself was wondering the same thing. I work for a household of one child, and one parent. I do everything! The dishes, laundry, shopping, errands, drying cleaning pick-ups, groceries, fridge organizing, buy household items! I find that when these duties are left to the parent they aren't 'done well' (items are missed) or it is not done on a regular basis. Mind you I am a neat freak and as such cannot work in a unorganized, unclean environment. I am paid well over $100.00 a day, take home. However, in my job duties this was not listed and the parent feels that I don't need to do these things, but if I don't it doesnt get done!

HOLIDAY: I do get a great bonus as well as a nice gift (last year a designer item of high value). I love the family, child and extended family. At the same time I feel that I am enabling laziness!

- Nanny of One.

Greta said...

I thankfully have always had awesome families who have given me a holiday bonus that was in the same amount as my weekly salary, plus a fantastic gift that was not only incredible but clearly they pay attention to the things I say I am saving to buy or wish for (i.e. an iPod.) I always go in with the expectation I may get nothing, so I have in the past been over the moon when my families have been so generous and thoughtful. I though always save part of it, and spend the rest on bills, so that bonus is beyond helpful I must say:)

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

In regard to doing extra chores, it is all based on pay. As Nanny of One stated, she makes more than $100/take home pay and that type of cash money would enable me to do extra chores as well.
But if a nanny was being underpaid and she knew and thus felt resentful,she would only do the bare minimum. Money talks.

Nanny Chelsea said...

Anon..I like your attitude about household duties. I just quit a position where I didn't assume that I had to do the family's laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc..I was actually TOLD to do it. If the pay was reasonable, I would have done it, but since the pay was very low I quit and will never look back again.
I wish all parents thought like you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nannies. I am a nanny myself and have experienced the same feelings of resentment about going above and beyond. Fortunately I now work for a family that notices these things and express their gratitude which makes all the difference. After speaking with them on how they would want to handle a situation like yours should it happen, I have come to the conclusion that these are your options: 1. simply stop doing all the extras and wait to see if they mention it, or care in any way. Shove the dirty bottles to the side and put them back when you are done. Take out her laundry to do yours but don't hang it up. Now I know this will feel very uncomfortable for you because you take pride in your job and want to show that you are doing your duties. You will be surprised though that sometimes the parents won't bat an eyelid and if they do bring it up you can simply state that you had tried to go over and above your duties but because they never mentioned it you didn't think they would mind if you simply stuck to your position description, after all - the child is your number one priority and you are only being paid xyz for xyz amount of hours. See what they say to that.

My favourite option is keeping a dated diary where every day,you write down specifically the tasks you have done - everything you have done that day that was over and above your duties and how this saved them time and/or/money (i.e. washing saves them 30 min time and over a week the cleaning/washing etc. saves them the cost of a cleaner). You don't show this diary to them for at least a few months and when you do, it's to ask for a raise. When they say why - you simply show them, and if they say they can't afford it then you say that you simply don't have enough time in the day to do all these things so from now on you will just stick to your position description. If you don't have a position description, then ask for details on what their priorities are and try to negotiate something that works for you both.

Another few options are: quit. Have a frank conversation with them and say how much effort you are putting in to your job, but you don't want to waste your time or theirs so you'd like to know which of your tasks are most important and then stick to only those tasks every day, only going above and beyond if you feel like it out of good will but not because you feel obligated or a martyr. Stand up for yourselves - have confidence in yourselves that in the worst case scenario you will find another job. Just remain curteous and professional and you will be fine no matter what you say. Good luck!