Overly Paranoid or Justifiably Leery?

opinion 2 I have a dilemma I would like to run past your readers:

I recently interviewed for a full-time live out nanny position. I was told that four times a year, the family spends two weeks out of the country and my services would not be needed. I was asked how I wanted to handle this... options suggested by the family were maybe work for a little bit less per hour throughout the year but receive that reduced rate of pay even when the family is out of the country, or work for my [higher] standard hourly rate but be unpaid when they leave the country.

I'm not thrilled with either option, and would like to hear ideas from other nannies on how to handle this. I don't want it to be a deal breaker if everything else is good, but geez... laid off two months per year?

Also, I have a few other concerns regarding this position that I'd like to hear some input on:

- This is a couple with a first & only child, an 8-month-old girl (First red flag: first-time parents, apt to be overly neurotic.)

- They've never had a nanny before. (Second red flag: no experience with a nanny-employer relationship.)

- The father works from home. (Third red flag: a WAHP! Speaks for itself!)

- The father is a second generation immigrant from Greece and the mother is a first generation immigrant from China. (Fourth red flag: will there be cultural differences that might complicate our relationship?)

On the plus side, they live practically around the corner from me, so there'd be no commute time. And the pay is good.

We've only had one interview so far, and it was over the phone, so I haven't met them in person yet. What do you all think? Am I being overly paranoid or justifiably leery?


Mama of 5 said...

I vote justifiably leery.
Maybe you could suggest that while they are out of the country, you would be willing to watch their house/pets/yard/etc. for $100 less/week then your regular salary. It's unfair to you to be paid nothing 2 months out of the year! I would never do this to my Nanny! I figure that if my kids were in a daycare center, and we chose to go on vacation, that we would still have to pay the center the same thing! Why would I not do the same for my Nanny?! If you were my Nanny, I would always pay you the SAME salary even if we out of town on buisness or vacation because it's not your choosing to not work......hope it all works out hon! Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

There are this many red flags, and you haven't even met them???

I think I'd move on.

However, if you MUST work for them, take the higher salary, and babysit and interview when they are out of the country. They are never going to find someone PROFESSIONAL to work 10 months a year, with four unpaid two week vacations. That's just crazy.

Not too sure... said...

It is good that they were upfront with you about the situation. SInce they know they will be abroad often, it is fair to discuss this with you before hiring you. I agree with the others that it isn't ideal for you not to be paid 2 months of the year. If you feel like you could persuade them to pay you your normal salary while they are away, I think you should try. The two options you discussed would basically yield the same money in the long run. However, I suggest you DO NOT agree to the option of working for less than your desired salary all year long. What if you only work for a month and something goes wrong? Since your pay is being spread out over the whole year, then that whole time you had been working for less than what you desrved. I hope that makes sense lol.

Overall, you should stick to your guns, tell them how much you charge and insist you make this even when they are away. Be prepared for them not to offer you the job, though because they probably believe that you should only get paid for the work you do, and I must say that they have a point. Afterall, they have told you upfront about it, take it or leave it. I bet they will be able to find someone who will agree to not being paid for the 2 vacation months.

As for your other red flags, which are all valid, I think you need to decide for yourself whether or not these are dealbreakers. Even if the money is good, money is not everything if you aren't happy with the job itself. From experience with a stay at home mom, it kinda sucks cause you're always on edge. Just my opinion though.

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

I agree with the above posts. I especially agree about daycare.You still have to pay for daycare service even if you do not use them. I think the same should be applied for a nanny. But some parents don't agree. But as for the new potential family. It's great they brought up their "options" with you up front. But both of them do not sound good. It's not fair to you to not be paid for their vacation/off time nor is it fair to deduct your pay for year round work. I would choose to be paid in full and try to find a temp job while they are away. But I know it would be rather stressful not having a steady/guaranteed pay 2 months out of the year (that's of course they are only gone 2 months out of the year). I agree they won't find someone professional to fill this job but they will find someone. Also all your "red flags" are all valid points. And it's great that you are listing and evaluating each point. Truthfully SAHP can make things difficult when you are trying to care for their children. I find it more stressful with it comes to SAHM. I have worked for families with SAHD and had no problems. They did not even get involved with my care for their children. They were too wrapped up in their "business/work" to even acknowledge their children. But since your potential family are first time parents the dad might want to be involved. SAHM usually want to be "hands on" and are quick to critique and analyze your every move with their child. Trust me, I know from experience. But since you will be dealing with the father this might be an OK situation. Anyways, I personally would find another family for the simple fact that a 10 month work schedule is not for me. I rather know I am being paid 12 of 12 months a year and not worry about finding temp work to fill in those months. Just remember there are a lot of families out there that will pay you great and will use you all year round. You don't need to go with your first offer :)

Mrs. Billy Lamar said...

The only red flag I see here would be the fact that the Father works from home. Let me tell you from personal experience, working alongside a parent who is in the home is pure hell. You always feel like you are being monitored (which you probably are) and they like to interfere a lot. Since this family has never had a Nanny before, you will probably deal with these issues.

I think since they told you ahead of time and the job is right by you, you can do what I do. I have a family I work for who get certain dates off since they work in education. I get about 2 months off per year. Since the family is so great and they have already told me, I just save money prior so when they do have time off, I still have money to pay my bills, etc.

I also see the point that people make about daycare however. From a Nanny's perspective you need the income and they should pay you, but they probably would be using some of your pay to pay for their vacation too. Hmm....

Texas Nanny said...

The family I work for includes a WAHP and I think it's great. I don't see why everyone considers that a "red flag". My MB and I get along great, and it's wonderful having her around for adult conversation and to distract one or both kids if something else needs my immediate attention. I've been with this family for more than 18 months and they're so great, when I leave them I'll probably quit nannying because no one else could be as awesome.

In addition, MB was pregnant when I started and we agreed that while she was on maternity leave I would work maybe 10-15 hours a week but otherwise be unpaid. I agreed to that. For the first 4 months I worked for them, I put aside any extra money into a savings, and by the time the baby came I had no problem paying my bills and rent from that while I was out of work. Two weeks scattered four times throughout the year is nothing in comparison. If you like the family, you can make it work.

oh well said...

Living around the corner is not necessarily a good thing, while being first-time parents and employers is not necessarily a bad one. The biggest red flag I see is that they do not want to be paying you when they leave the country. You still need to pay the bills when they are on vacation.

another nanny said...

I vote justifiably leery, but nothing that can't be worked around. If you think about it, many teachers also make this choice (either be unpaid 2-3 months out of the year, or have their salary spread out over 12 months). So if you will be making enough money annually to meet your expectations, I wouldn't stress it (it's rare to have 8 weeks off in the nanny world!). You could also try to negotiate for 2 of those weeks to be your paid vacation (if you don't have paid vacation already worked in to the contract), and also ensure that any other vacations they take outside of these 8 weeks will be paid.
They are first time parents, but you can still negotiate with them by sharing your past experience working for other families (eg, I've always been given at l east 5 sick day. Or maybe you weren't, but it caused the following problems...etc). Just make sure you get everything in a contract before starting.
As far as the WAHP, that's something you will have to decide if you're comfortable with. It might help to also clarify that before starting...what role does he expect to play in the baby's care while you are there? If they consider you a full charge nanny, that will be different from if they consider you a parent's helper.

Nanny S said...

All of those things sound like red flags. Their vacation time is unrealistic. Can you imagine if you said, "And by the way, I will require two months of vacation per year." ...? No. All of your points are valid and to be honest, all except the immigrants are deal breakers to me, and that's even including the family I interviewed for, whose dad was from eastern Europe and told me, "Where I come from, the nannies try to steal the babies and sell them. Do not try that, I will KILL you." Needless to say, I left asap. Anyway, if it were me, I would bring up the new employer/vacation issue as one: say that it's very unrealistic to do that to someone and that as a nanny you need the same level of stability and commitment that they're asking you for. Then perhaps draft a contract so you're all on the same page.

Former nanny said...

Nanny S... I do not agree with you at all! You basically said that it was ridiculous for the family to need 2 months of vacation and it would be like the OP asking for 2 months of vacation. Those are not the same things at all! The family wanting to take 2 months of vacation is their choice, it's their life and they shouldn't have to stop taking vacations just because they have a nanny who wants to work. They are the employers and therefore say what the job is... whatever amount of weeks out of the year. They are looking for a nanny who is willing to work those said weeks.

Of course there is always room for negotiation but you shouldn't bash someone for their lifestyle (ie frequent traveling). Bottom line is that it isn't the same thing as the nanny demanding 2 months of vacation.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Former Nanny, you are right that the parents choose to travel 2 months out of the year, even though the OP would be available to work.

You are wrong, however, that anyone working for them should just suck it up and make due with no steady income for 2 months. Here's how I phrase it when talking to parents:

"I need to be paid 52 weeks a year. I am available and ready to work and if you make the decision that you do not need me to work, that does not mean you don't pay me. My bills and expenses do not go on vacation."

This family couldn't treat a business like a large daycare or a family daycare provider this way, why should they be able to treat a nanny like an automaton that can be put on "hold" when they don't need her?

Original Poster said...

OP here... thank you so much to everyone who gave such excellent advice. I read it carefully and made notes in preparation for our in-person interview this afternoon. I am so glad I had all of your input to help guide me!

The bottom line is that I turned them down. They seemed to think they were being extremely generous to offer to "float" me two months out of the year by making me take a pay decrease and were rather offended when I pointed out that my bills and other expenses are my obligation 52 weeks a year.

They also seemed to think that simply by picking up the phone I could quite easily find temporary work to cover two weeks, four times a year, and not even have to suffer a pay gap. Not in this economy!

They also seemed to be the type that would be overly neurotic. I was told there would be NO outings of any type outside the home until they had known me quite a while and could completely trust me. Sorry, I get cabin fever very easily and love to be out and about in the bigger world with my charges, I would go nuts being stuck at home no matter how much I loved the baby.

Oh yeah, and the SAHD? Let's just say that he, just in the interview, came across as a total control freak. It was the questions he asked, and the way he answered my own questions, that made me want to run for the hills.

Lastly, I had sent them a link to an on-line document I use to hold a sample copy of the nanny contract I like to use... they just tore it apart and seemed very taken aback with the idea that I would take such ownership of my career.

Sigh... oh well, I am glad to move on and consider it another lesson learned. Thanks everyone for your help!

another nanny said...

OP, thanks for the's always nice to see how things turned out. I'm glad you were able to see and bring up these issues before you ever accepted a job offer from them. Good luck finding something!

Nanny Sarah said...

OP: I commend you for stating upfront that your bills do not go on vacation, did an excellent job in talking to the parents and from what you say, they seriously are the ones that are trying to get everything they can from you.

Keep looking. Sure, the economy sucks now, but if you keep the faith you will find a nice family soon. You might meet a lot of idiots first, but sooner or later you will find a family who respects you enough to treat you the way you should be treated.

It is so refreshing for me to see a Nanny who knows what she wants and is not afraid to stand up for herself. By doing so, she stands up for all of us Nannies!! ♥

Marypoppin'pills said...


"This family couldn't treat a business like a large daycare or a family daycare provider this way, why should they be able to treat a nanny like an automaton that can be put on "hold" when they don't need her?"

Brilliant, my friend.

Nanny S said...

OP, that was inspiring to read. Good for you avoiding a disaster waiting to happen! I am so happy you stuck to your guns. I've been a part time nanny for four years and am just now getting the hang of not letting parents walk all over me. I think it is so weird how parents want to treat the employees who take care of their children. How can they ask you not to expect the same things from them that they would expect from their employers?! Ridiculous. Please update us on the job you do accept!

OP Here said...

Wow, thanks again everyone, I really appreciated all your kind words! I will be sure to check back in when I finally do land a position. :) said...

thank you for sharing the nanny experience