Undernourished Nanny Needs to Nosh!

opinion 2 I work 10 hour days without a contract. I don't mind the hours but the parents forget that I need to have time to eat lunch. Usually as soon as the kids go down for a nap they have me organizing the playroom or writing thank you cards for the 2 years old birthday or walking the dog real quick (which is never real quick unless he chases a squirrel) or running to the store for milk. I don't know how to bring up that I need a lunch break without sounding fat (I am a plus size nanny so referencing food is a touchy subject for me sometimes). Some days I can make through without eating lunch (usually I grab a quick snack while feeding the baby but that is not always an option with 2 under 2 years old). Other days I feel like I am starving and feel embarrassed that my stomach is growling. What should I do?


nycmom said...

You need to eat. Period. I have always had an open fridge policy for my Nanny and she eats lunch with dc, which I think is a good habit, but you are right that it's tough with 2 under 2. When I had my two youngest alone at that age, I simply got good at multitasking. I'd make myself a sandwich while preparing db's bottle and toddler's food. Put toddler in highchair next to me, while I sat to feed db. And take bites of my food in between. As a ft nanny with two working parnets there is NO realistic way for them to give you a true lunch "break." You will just need to be honest that during naps you need at least 30 minutes to rest and eat.

The other skill is learning to do the chores while the kids are awake, rather than waiting until they sleep. Take dc on dog walks and store runs. It's good for kids to see their nanny/parent doing chores and good for 2yo to start "helping" and learning he will not be the focus 100% of the time.

NervousNanny said...

My best advice is eat when they eat. If you're not able, pack easy to grab snack foods to get you through. Filling ones. Granola bars, nuts, crackers, even pop-tarts. If you bring sandwiches, try not to pack messy ones-so you could eat them while doing something else. Maybe while organizing the playroom you can have it with you.
Honestly, I just don't think parents realize when we don't eat. By your description I assume one or both of the parents are home during the day. So they probably assume you just eat when they aren't around.
I think you should not depend on the family to provide your food if you are uncomfortable even discussing food with the family. Then you know you have the food, and can grab at it throughout the day as you need to. If you can't sit to eat lunch, try and spread out snacks every few hours.
Hope that helps you!

Pacific Northwest Nanny said...

You REALLY need to ask for a break. A 10 hour day is waaaaay too long to go without a break and what you do in that break is up to you.

I work a 9 hour day and always take some time to myself during their naptime in the afternoon to have my lunch, read a book or write a letter etc etc. I think it improves my mood and energy in the afternoon and allows me to function better in general.

I think that you should approach it that way. Let the parents know that you need some time to just re-group and rest for just 30 mins even before starting all these chores and dog walking etc. By the way if you are dog walking does that mean the kids are left alone in the house?

Anyway, within those 30 mins you can do what you like, including eating your lunch. Approaching it this way though, takes the pressure off the food issue and just makes it about your overall wellbeing. The great thing is that because they are napping and you have to be 'on call' so to speak incase one wakes up or there is a problem, your break time is still within your paid hours.

I hope this helps and good luck!! Would you ever be expected to work 10 hours straight in any other job?? I don't think so.

NJNanny said...

Do either of your bosses work from home or Stay at home? Is that why you can't take a few minutes and eat lunch?

Angie said...

So sorry to hear this OP. I think it is unfair that the parents expect you to do chores while the children are napping as opposed to using the time for yourself. Working a ten-hr day, caring for two children under 2 is a very tough job. When they are napping, you should be able to eat a relaxed uninterrupted lunch and rest a bit before they awake. As a nanny myself, I know how tough it is to even eat a sandwich while caring for young children. Murphy's Law has it that as soon as you take that first bite, that is when something urgent usually happens. I.e., the child will fall, need his diaper changed, etc.

From what you wrote, it sounds to me like the one of the parents stays home. (I am assuming this because you are told to run to the store and/or walk the dog during nap times.) Well since there is another adult in the home and the kids are sleeping, I see no problem with having the parent take charge for a half hour while you run to the deli for a sandwich or just enjoy one in the backyard, etc. The problem here is that the parents are trying to get all the labor they can get from you in a day. I go through this many times with many different families. They have you on the clock and since they are paying you hourly, they want you to work, work, work those hours non-stop.

I don't think that running to the store or walking the dog is part of a nanny's duties. Unless you omitted something and you are also their household manager/personal assistant, I would not do these duties unless I was being paid extra for them. Your job here is keeping the little ones safe and sound, not making sure that Fido gets his daily run.

Just talk to the parents and let them know that you need some time to eat your lunch. Ask for 1/2 hr and even stress that you will use nap time as your lunch time. I disagree with the poster who stated it is a good idea for the children to see you do chores. I honestly do not see how taking a child to the grocery store will help her in the long run. I hate taking small children into stores, because they usually scream when they see toys, candy, balloons, cookies, etc. and it can be very annoying. As another poster stated, you are still "on call", and tell the parent that you fully understand this, yet still need to use that time to have lunch. I am surprised you only need one meal during a ten-hr period. I would need two.

Regarding your weight, don't let that stop you from asking what you need. If they make a snarky comment to you, tell them you are a human being and that ALL human beings, skinny or heavy, need to eat on a daily basis. It is a fundamental right, not a privilege and you are just as entitled to it than they are or any one else who holds a job.

Good Luck OP.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Not to be presumptuous, but I think you, like many many other nannies, have a hard time standing up for yourself.

Next time one of your employers grabs you as soon as naptime hits and tells you to do XYZ, smile and say, "Sure. I am going to grab some lunch first and catch my breath, then I will do XYZ. Will you be here if babies wake up while I am at the store/out with the dog, or should I wait to do those tasks until babies are awake and can come with me?"

If this causes an issue, I would (and I am nearly completely serious about this) pretend to pass out right at their feet one day when you haven't had a chance to eat. That should scare the crap out of them, and then when you are "revived" you can murmer woozily, "Goodness, I didn't get to eat today because I was sent hither and yon. Guess I have to take the time to eat lunch from now on, huh?" Just remember that humans naturally pass out and pitch forward, not backward!

Your size has nothing to do with this except in your head. Everyone needs to eat. Take care of yourself!

nycmom said...


Not to be argumentative, since I fully support that this nanny deserves a break as I originally stated. However, there are in fact MANY jobs where you work 10+ hrs with no break. I'm an ER doctor, and though I sometimes have quiet shifts, I usually have very busy ones. I often skip meals. If I do get to go up and buy something quick, I take my pager (and still need to run back for crises) and eat in the ER while working. Same as with many other experiences in medicine and surgery. Similar for many laywers, bankers, and blue collar workers too depending on their tenure, job security, and boss. While I agree it sucks and should not be that way, this is far from unique to nannying.

nanny in pgh (on ww) said...

I am in the same situation..the girls I watch are 1 and 3 and there are days that there is only 15 min when they both nap at the same time. I clean up after myself and whatever dishes and messes the kids make but also have gotten into the habit of cleaning up whatever mess is there when I come in and doing the mom and dad's laundry too. I don't mind helping out but there is very little downtime. Some days I honestly eat my lunch in the car while the kids are asleep and also usually pick up an oatmeal and a latte at starbucks while out in the am. I do pack a lunch from home-cut up fruit, a wrap etc-just something portable..the mom and dad I work for are health freaks so I know where you are coming from-i myself gave 40 pounds to lose. I would just bring healthy food so you don't feel bad, and maybe tell them that you are following weight watchers and you have to eat your meals. I am sure people are gonna say that you should eat what you like but I feel like its just easier to not fight things. That way you won't feel bad or embarrassed you are eating. You can also always eat while you are straightening up too.

MissMannah said...

I can't believe no one else has brought this up yet. GET A CONTRACT!! Why haven't you written one up yet? I know why the parents haven't--they have already seen they can work you to death and you won't protest. Unless you've only been working for this family for about a week, you have absolutely NO excuse for not having a contract or for not already talking to the parents about this issue. I also really hate to say this, because I'm a tad overweight myself, but I think you might have a problem with food. Why can't you even talk about it with other people? Do you think the parents think you ought to starve yourself into a smaller size?

Look, I really, really don't want to come off as hateful here but this just seems like an absolutely ridiculous situation. If you're hungry, you need to eat. If you don't have time, you need to find a way to make time. It is as simple as that.

OP Here said...

To answer some of your questions. Yes at least one parent works from home. Sometimes both parents are home. They do have an open fridge policy. When I first started working there I tried to ask if I could grab a quick sandwich, the boss telling me to do something would look me up and down and say something along the lines of "Didn't I see you eat 30 mins ago with A or P?" (that is what makes me feel fat). I know that some jobs don't all the employees to take a break. I can multitask but just not while feeding the kids. Between feeding the baby his food and answering the twenty questions the other one is asking, I don't really have time to eat anything more than a hand full of goldfish. Other than this situation, I LOVE my job.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

OP said: "When I first started working there I tried to ask if I could grab a quick sandwich, the boss telling me to do something would look me up and down and say something along the lines of "Didn't I see you eat 30 mins ago with A or P?" (that is what makes me feel fat)."

OK, so you work for snotty beeyotches, If they pull that crap, you definitely need to fake faint on them soon. (And don't ASK if you are allowed to eat, SAY you are GOING TO eat some damn lunch.)

Or, you could just stare at them and say, "No, you sure didn't see me eating. I'm going to eat now though!" and walk away. Then ask them later if they could demo for you how to feed baby, answer toddler's questions, and eat, all at the same time, since you "don't want to take any time to eat when babies are sleeping."

I would echo Miss Mannah in saying you need a contract, but I'm going to suggest getting one in your new job that you start hunting for ASAP.

Wow said...

Why is this an issue? Aside from needing to eat, anyone working 10 hrs. a day needs a break. In my opinion, this is a matter of disrespect. Why NOT allow you to take a break? I see NYC Mom's point, but this is not the same type of job. What she does saves lives. No one will die if you don't walk the dog or run errands while the children nap.

I personally do not walk dogs. Period. I will never pick up poop and carry it in a plastic baggie. Forget that! That's not a nanny's job. I will let the dog out into the back yard, if he is not runner. I actually like running errands because it gets me out of the house, but I usually take the children with me. Ask if you can take the children on errands with you and that will free up more time for you to take a break while they nap.

Either way, you need a contract. You should discuss these things with the parents and let them know that you need a break each day while the children nap, and discuss what chores you're willing to do. You are not their servant and you do have a say because it is a working AGREEMENT. You have to assert yourself.

OP Here said...

We have a contract. I didn't put in anything for a lunch break because I have never had this situation before. We won't revisit the contract until November at my one year anniversary with them.

Wow said...

The first sentence of your post says, "I work 10 hour days without a contract." That's why some of us said you need a contract.

But even if you did not include lunch breaks in your contract, you can still discuss it with them. Tell them it's never been an issue before because you've always been able to take a break. I pray you do not choose to wait until November to discuss this with them.

OP Here said...

I'm sorry. When I submitted this I was extremely tired. What I guess I meant to say was I have a contract but I don't have this situation covered by it. I'm sorry for forgetting to write the rest of my thought.

PNW Nanny said...


Hurrah that you love the job! As a fellow nanny that is a massive plus and a good reason to put up with a few negatives.

I have to say that from the outside it does sound like they may be taking advantage of your time but I bet that they don't have any idea that you are so frustrated and hungry! If they are reasonable people then you should ask for a chance to sit down, away from the kids or even email and just explain that you would like to discuss your hours and the chance to schedule in a break. I agree with whoever posted above that if there is a parent in the house that can cover when you are running errands then they can surely cover whilst you take a well deserved break. I also agree that other jobs such as doctors/nurses/lawyers work extremely long hours they are also paid much much higher by the hour and given shifts with appropriate time of in liew of overtime and extended shifts.

I really do wish you the best of luck and want to let you know that you deserve this break time, that other nannies get it and that you should push for it!

Mrs. Billy Lamar said...

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood: Are you okay? Your idea is very childish and immature and would be a foolish example for the children involved here.

New York City Mom: I have to agree with Wow and PNW Nanny, your job and the others listed are waay more different than being a nanny is. The pay and benefits are better. I find it unbelievable that people go 10 hrs straight without a meal. They probably drink smoothies or eat a protein bar or something. Considering their job responsibilities, this happens sometimes. However in this situation, it is very inconsiderate to expect the nanny to not get any type of lunch break considering both parents work from home. I think they are just trying to squeeze everything they can out of this poor nanny since she is still clocked in and therefore must be doing something. I think she should be able to eat a peaceful and uninterrupted meal and relax while the children are asleep.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Awww, Mrs. Billy Lamar, thanks for caring! I'm just peachy. I was using a thing called hyperbole (aka obvious exaggeration) to make a point.

And obviously, even if OP was eventually driven to do what I suggested, she would not do it in front of the children - they are NAPPING when she is being loaded with tasks that seemingly keep her from eating lunch.

nycmom said...

Mrs. Billy Lamar,

As I clearly stated and wrote in my first post, I very much think all nannies are entitled to reasonable meal times during a work day. I would never expect my nanny to skip lunch or even dictate how/when she does laundry or errands. She manages her own time, does it well, and doesn't need me nitpicking.

However, I still know that many other blue collar jobs exist with similar pay (and often less), fewer benefits, and less desirable working conditions than nannying that also struggle with the issue of unthoughtful employers not recognizing the need for employees to eat. I personally have several friends making less than my nanny, with worse working conditions, who are purposely kept as contractors" or just under ft hours to avoid benefits - and given the job market there isn't much they can do about it.

Residency while training to become an attending doctor is also a situation, lasting 3-5 years, in which residents often make LESS than nannies, work double the hours (80+ hr work weeks are not uncommon), and often skip meals out of simple lack of time. Yes, those residents are training to become attendings who will usually make 2-3x their resident salaries. But the same could be said for an educated, ambitious nanny who was willing to work the same hours as an attending in many primary care fields. I have seen nannies on here making in the low $100Ks with full benefits, which while rare, is pretty much what many PMD/peds/psychiatrists make in NYC.

Anyway, my point was not that that this is common in any field (nor should it be in nannying for an experienced nanny), but simply that it is not unique to nannying. Learning to stand up for your basic needs and communicate effectively with your employer are skills everyone needs.


you sound like a real snott!
with having such a demanding job how do you find the time to visit isyn? mabie instead of coming to this blog you should spend more quality time with your kids!

another nanny said...

These people sound incredibly rude and judgmental. However, they may also be working based off past experience and have had situations where nannies stretched a 30 minute lunch break into 2 hours. Who knows? It might be as simple as just giving them your "schedule" for naptime. Like, "Okay, I'm going to run to the post office, then have lunch, then get started on those thank you cards." Also that way you are telling them you are taking a break rather than asking. Once you show them that you can take a reasonable break and still get some things done, maybe they will not give you a hard time.

unreal said...

I'm not going to bother reading the rest of the responses.

Are you a doormat? No? Then stop acting like one.

Get a fucking clue. What should you do? You should grow up and learn how to communicate.

jesus christ.

shut. up. said...


You are an ER doctor. Your position is different. You are highly overpaid. I have about as much sympathy for you as I have for football stars.

Put a sock in it. You don't get it.

Nanny E said...

@ Tales from the Nanny Hood, your fainting suggestion made me laugh for about ten straight minutes!! I really need to try this at my job, if just for the entertainment value!!

At OP, I'm sorry that you are dealing with people who are treating you that way, it is completely uncalled for.

nycmom said...

Actually, I am an ER psychiatrist. I make $135K/year and that's after 8 years undergrad and med school, 4 years of residency, and over $250K in student loan debt!

If that debt/income ration is overpaid, I'd love to hear what you consider underpaid!

Regardless, as you seem to be repeatedly missing the point, I am not asking for sympathy. Just pointing out that this issue is not unique to nannying and standing up for your basic right to eat a meal is a skill that would serve everyone well.

SeattleNanny said...

I am a nanny and I agree with what Nycmom said about taking kids on errands or doing chores in front of them (job related chores like child dishes and laundry). I nanny for 2 kids under 2yrs, and yes it is difficult to run errands with a baby and toddler with me, but I think it is part of teaching them how to behave in public and be patient. My first nanny position was with three school age children (twin 7 yrs & 9yr) and those kids were an absolute nightmare in public. You could not take them to the grocery store without a huge scene. They would run around, touch all the produce, grab things off shelves, fight with one another and beg,whine and cry for things. I tried to correct the behavior in several ways, including making them "helpers" & giving them items to find, etc. And don't even get me started on how they would act if I had to turn my back for 30 seconds to do a simple task like loading the dishwasher!
In the 9months I worked for them, it never got better. After that in my nanny career Ihave always picked positions with younger kids so that I could be a part of helping a child learn those little life skills like how to behave in public settings that don't revolve around them!

christine said...

I think you guys are giving nyc mom a hard time for no reason. She clearly thinks a nanny should be able to eat and sit down during the work day. Be nicer!

OP... take the advice of the other posters and simply tell these parents you are sitting down for a quick bite to eat and then do it. If they make an issue out of it start looking for a new job. It is unreasonable to expect an employee to go non-stop just becasue they are technically "on the clock". There are down times at every job, whether you are a doctor in an ER or a cashier in a grocery store... most employers don't crack the whip at these slower times and make sure the employee is busy with some task or another.

I will say that nyc mom may be wrong about one thing... workers in factories do not work 10 hour days with no break. My father worked in an automobile factory most of his life and he had scheduled breaks (of corse, he was protected by a very powerful union). My mother worked in a non unionized factory and they actually rang a bell for a morning and afternoon break along with a half hour lunch break. So, I would say unless it's a sweat shop, most factory workers do enjoy regular breaks.

As an aside, nyc mom, my daughter works as a technician in an emergency room and because we live in a horse racing town, all the sections of the department are called race track names. The mental health units name? The Paddock... lol!

Robin said...

I used to work in a gas station and was the only cashier on duty from 6-2 five days a week. I never had a lunch break which sucked, but I did get downtime during my shift when the station was empty. I could eat my lunch even though I was "on call."

Yes, that was a blue collar job, however it is unfair to expect a nanny to do chores during the child's nap time. As a mother, I want my nanny to be happy with her job and to not get burned out. It is more important for me to have my children cared for in a loving and responsible manner and if I required my nanny to do chores during nap times, she would be strung out by the seventh hour. My nanny uses her 2hr nap break to prepare and eat lunch, use the bathroom in privacy (!) w/the door closed and to check her e-mails, return phone calls and just relax with her feet up. Being a nanny for two children under two is very hard work, nannies are held more accountable than parents are and thus need to be alert at all times since so much responsibility lies on their shoulders. If I tried to stretch my dollar and have her do "light housekeeping tasks" on the side, sure I could have a cleaner and organized house when I come home, but I would have a burned out nanny walking out the door and two neglected kids to care for.

OP Here said...

I do take the kids on errands quite often but that is when I know before or after the nap that there are errands that need to be run. I can't help it when my bosses tell me when I put the kids down for a nap that the dad drank the last of the baby's milk or ate the last of the cheese the 2 year old likes to eat for a snack and that I need to go get those things before the kids wake up since they will want those items when they wake up.

MissMannah said...

Would it be acceptable for you to ask for a schedule of chores at the beginning of the day? That way you could decide when you wanted to get everything done and you could do it on your own without the boss breathing down your neck at naptime.

erics mom said...

NYC mom. You should work in the psych. unit at Hackensack Hospital in NJ. They pay better. The head of that division psychiatrist told me he he charges $350 an hour. That was ten years ago.


I work as a nurse in a plastic surgeons office and my salary is 75,000! I rarely work over 9hrs a day. I don't miss being a nanny!

nycmom said...

Thanks, Eric's Mom! Psychiatrists actually do make more *anywhere* outside of NYC.

It is also true that when in private practice I was officially charging $300-400/hr, but in reality you can't bill 40 hrs a week. Plus, if you want to do a good job for your patients it means A LOT of afterhour phone calls, phone "therpay," paperwork, prescriptions, etc. Oh, and 24/7 availability. Plus, you always get calls from people who cannot afford full fee and if you have a heart you end up taking a sliding scale or taking Medicare so you can work with the Geriatric population.

Not to mention I don't really enjoy doing therapy or working with the "worried well." I really like acute care and community based psychiatry (ER, homeless outreach, more severe mental illness). However, I do appreciate the thoughts!