Did I do the Right Thing?

opinion 2 To start things off, this is my first job as a nanny. I have two families that I work with and have been doing so a little over a month. We'll call the first family T and the second family S. I first got interviewed by family T who didn't call me back after a week. A few days later I get a call from family S for an interview. I made an instant connection with their child and they hired me on the spot. It turns out that Family T actually had wanted to work with me. I KNEW I wouldn't be able to handle two jobs at once and so I rejected Family T's offer. But once I found out that they were willing to work around my schedule, I relented and agreed to watch over their child, who I adored as well.

I have little or no problem with family S but I can't say the same for family T. Their schedule is completely off balanced. Sometimes they'd have me coming in at 6:00 in the morning, and then the next day at 7:30, sometimes 7 AM one week, and sometimes even none at all. What's even worse is that they would not give me my schedule until the night before and sometimes even the day of. There's been an instance where I was just a few blocks away from their house when they called me and said, "We don't need you to come in today." I've always been understanding of their busy schedule and had no complaints.

Now here comes the problem. Last week, family S has made me known to me that their child needs to be picked up at 12:30 tomorrow and I had it all set. Last Sunday, family T made it known they need me to come in Friday evening. I thought this works out well since I usually stay with family S just 3 hours. I could immediately go to family T afterwards. But my plans were crushed. Just tonight, at 10 PM, I get a text from family T saying that they need me tomorrow to come in at 12. This is the SECOND time that they've asked me to come in like this and the second time I've turned them down because of prior plans.

I've always been a passive person and saying no has always been difficult for me. And I feel like this being my second time saying no makes me look completely unreliable. Please be honest and tell me: Did I do the right thing? Should I have cancelled with family S instead? Is there even an appropriate way of handling this and if so, how? I will await for your answers. Thank you so much.


lmurph said...

Absolutely did the right thing telling family T you couldn't do it. You're not unreliable - they're inconsistent and last minute. Family S got themselves organized and booked you first, so they should absolutely get priority. I'm actually inclined to say that the more you say "no I can't accommodate your last minute schedule change" the better - though it does come at the risk of losing them to a nanny who's more of a doormat.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

So, the "S" family hired you first? If so, then their needs take priority. (Plus, since they seem to have their act together, wouldn't you rather work for them anyhow?)

You need to sit down with the "T" family and tell them that you will give them your available times once the "S" family lets you know their needs. (Do you know that schedule 1 week in advance? More than a week?) If the"T" family can't use you, that's OK, but tell them they need to let you know 24 (or 48!) hours in advance so you can book your time elsewhere. If they cancel last minute, tell them you will be charging them a 4 hour minimum cancellation fee from now on.

There's no reason to let a family jerk you around. If they can't commit to what they need from you, you can't commit to them.

A friend of mine uses an on-line tool to let families reserve her time. I'll try to find out what she uses and post it for you, since that would be another possible way for you to get each family to determine their needs a week ahead.

Ultimately, I think that the "T" family will drop you since you aren't willing to be available 24/7 at the last second. And that's probably a good thing.

meganrose said...

I definitely agree with the previous posters in saying that family S should have priority if they hired you first.

Another nanny... said...

I end up in the same situation frequently because I nanny part time for two families (and occassionally babysit for others).

There is one family that I hold a lot of times open for even though they don't always use them. Once I confirm with that family, I open up all other times to my other families. This works okay because one mom works outside the home and the others are stay at home moms that can schedule what they need with a week or so notice.

I run in to trouble because I feel that I make more than enough allowances for the working mom. Also, I take committment very seriously and once I commit to other families I want to keep those committments. The working mom will text me at 10, 11, 12PM... at night saying that she really needs help the next morning for an important meeting.

I always make a point of saying "I am sorry - If I had known even a little bit sooner I would have been able to but at this point I am already committed".

I feel as though she is taking advantage of the fact that I am frequently able to switch things around to be available to her. I also want to put the onus on her to make plans earlier.

another nanny (the other one) said...

Of course you did the right thing. Family S had booked that time first, and they appear to be your most reliable source of income. I agree with the first poster, who said if you say no often enough to these last minute requests, they may come to realize that they need to schedule sooner. Also, there's no reason that you can't request your schedule earlier. If they usually send it Sunday night, send them a text on Friday to let them know you are putting together your schedule for next week, and for them to please send their preferred times.

L.C. said...

I agree with all the other respondents on here...if family "S" hired you first, then their needs take precedence over family "T." I think your primary obligation is with them. It seems to me that this whole working for both families is not working out due to schedule conflicts so I would drop family "T." Hey...they shouldn't have taken so long to call you back...You lose...

Anyway, unless you are really hard up for money, I would leave family "T." If you must work for them, I would tell them that since the first family (S) hired you first, your main priority must be with them. State that you would love to continue working for family "T," but certain changes must take place. They must notify you of their schedule within 48 hrs. If the fail to do this, then it up to them to have a "Plan B" sitter. Let them know you are only human and simply cannot be two places at once. LOL.

Village said...

I couldn't even finish reading the entire post because I wanted to get away from family T.

Go with S.

I need a drink.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I think you should drop Family T like a hot potato unless you are in dire straits financially.

alex said...

You definitely did the right thing, you had an obligation to family S and they really are your first obligation, especially since T said they would work around that schedule. As hard as it will be you need to sit down with T and let them know how much them changing the hours last minute is affecting you and how you have a schedule already set and to change things at last minute is not working for you. I wonder if they just forget. I know things do come up at last minute but this often?

Luc said...

I worked FULL-TIME for a similarly ridiculous family that would text me at 1 am asking me to come in at 8 am. At first I played along and just came when the asked me, but I wised up pretty quickly and had them set a weekly salary.

If you are going to stay on with Family T I would suggest you do the same. You can call it 'minimum hours' if that helps - 20 hours a week or whatever is normal. If they use less, you still get your whole check. If they use more, they pay by the hour.

With this structure, get into the habit of asking them every time you see them when they will need you next. If they call/text to change the time, you can feel confident declining because 1) you already asked and 2) you're getting paid either way.

This system worked well for me. Good luck!

Adele said...

I wish all families paid you when you did not work. I have had families tell me they need me from 9AM - 5:30PM and I keep those time slots reserved for them. For example, if my friend wants to meet for coffee at 4:45PM, I have to decline and state that I am working until 5:30PM. Then one of my bosses will come home early, say around 4:30PM and I am not given the extra hour of pay which I feel I deserve.