Job Creep and Being Cheap

opinion 1
I have been a nanny for 15 months and I have two lovely charges, 19 month girl (S) and 5 year old boy (R). I'm a young nanny, yes. But I have a surprising amount of prior children experience. The MB and I get along for the most part, but sometimes she does things that really irk me. For example, when I started, I was told I could sit and relax during baby nap times. (R was in preschool.) A few months into work, MB would bring a bit of laundry and ask me if I could “Please, please fold it.” I always said yes, because 1) What else am I supposed to say? And 2) I didn't mind. It wasn't too much.

As time went on, though, she started having me do more and more. She has been job creeping like crazy! Yesterday, she posted a written list of chores I need to do daily on the inside of a cabinet. She now says that during S's only nap time in the morning, I need to be cleaning and doing my “chores”. If I get them done, I can rest. Of course, I never get them done before the baby wakes up. Another thing I can't stand MB doing, is whenever she comes into the room and S goes running to her, all she does is plop S in her highchair and give her food. S cries, food. S laughs, food. S runs, FOOD. It's like MB's only solution to the children is food. Not only that, she's constantly giving S candy when I've requested numerous times for her not to do that. S has become very whiny and aggressive, and all the food people shove down her tiny throat don't make it any better. Especially not the candy. MB gives S suckers when I've told her it makes me uncomfortable. I don't think 19 month old children need suckers.

When R gets home from school, we eat lunch and have to go out on some activity. He has some behavioral issues, so on nights when the family is going out I like him to take a nap. MB knows this and agrees. Yet, she often questions why I put him to bed and if I'm going to do useful things while he's in bed. When I started, my job was THE CHILDREN. Now I have to do dishes, grocery shopping, laundry, clean the kitchen/bathrooms/living room/basement and the children's rooms. I don't mind cleaning things or grocery shopping as long as it's for the children. But I think it's ridiculous all the jobs she expects me to do.

Not only that, but I only make $300 a week. My work day is 7am-5:00pm, M-F. And I almost never get out on time. MB has never paid overtime and never pays a babysitting wage on weekends. And she almost never reimburses me for what I spend on her children while we're out. DB is always on business trips and R just wants his fathers' attention. Whenever DB goes on a trip, R loses self control for a few days. Doesn't listen, is very aggressive and says terrible things to myself and his sister. We've tried a lot of different methods to help him, and the only one that works is constantly occupying his time with anything and everything. His favorite distraction is when we have a “Dance Party”. We go into the basement, turn on music, and dance for almost two hours. He loves it, and then we snuggle up on the couch for a nice movie.

The parents and I have an excellent relationship, but I often feel a little odd. They don't treat me like family, friend, or employee. It's something that I honestly can't put my finger on. We have great communication, but MB often tries treating me like a child. I am basically raising her children, and she doesn't respect it.

Wednesday's the children have a swimming class after 5pm. R has a class first, then S and MB have to get in the water together. When we go to swimming, I'm supposed to pay attention to R while MB and S are in the pool. Instead, she puts a screaming-for-attention S in my arms during R's class, and talks to the other mom's. The other mom's are obviously uncomfortable with me and my position, as well as MB ignoring her daughter, but instead of saying something they all cold shoulder me and pretend I don't exist. Then, she never even pays me for the two hours of overtime. I'm much too nervous to ask for any.

I know this jumped around a lot, but I just had to vent. I love my job, but sometimes it makes me want to pull my hair out! Any suggestions on how to approach MB for paying overtime or how to help R during DB's business trips?


workingMom said...

While you may have a suprising amount of experience caring for children, you don't have enough business experience to handle this position. You need to get business-minded, now!

MB treats you like a child because you are young and you allow it. She is also taking advantage of you, and you allow that too.

You are being paid roughly $6 an hour, which is too little for the hours you are working, caring for TWO children! You receive no overtime when MB comes home late, and additional are tasks piled on every day. It doesn't sound like you have an employment contract, and it also doesn't sound like you or MB are paying employment taxes on your wages. (just a guess, given your low hourly wage)

I suggest that you take the bull by the horns, and write up a contract immediately. Perhaps one of the nannies who contribute to this site can share a basic outline with you, or you can find one online. Research employment rules and regulations for domestic workers; although it's fine if you & MB AGREE for you to take on additional daily tasks, you are allowed paid rest breaks throughout the day. Make a list of everything your job is currently, and then list EVERYTHING your job should be - your hours, your pay, your duties. Present the lists in a meeting with the MB with the explaination that you need a raise, because you do much more than $6 an hour work. Propose your 'should be' list as your new contract, effective immediately.

Be prepared to be fired. But also realize that this is a good learning experience for you, if you truly intend to be a professional nanny. And going forward, have your contract always prepared, (with room for negotiation) and treat the relationship like a business!

Because it is. The MB doesn't treat you like friend or family because you are her EMPLOYEE. You are not raising her children; you are helping HER to raise her children. Big difference. You shouldn't be doing this job because you think you are saving the children from their parents/situation; you should be doing this job because you enjoy working with children, are skilled in positive relationships and boundaries with people, and the hours and pay suit your needs/lifestyle.

Take your emotional attachment out of the situation, and look out for YOUR interests. People generally will not give you respect until you demonstrate that you deserve it. Make a contract. Set boundaries. Stand up for yourself. Deserve it.

Good luck.

Sarah NY said...

Depending on where you are you should be making anywhere from 12-15 an hour for two children. Not 6. You need a contract and if you dont' have one you need to write one up and have a sit down with your MB and DB. They way they are using you will not change it will just continue to escalate until you burn out, quit and they get a new young nanny to use up.

Bethany said...

Wow! I feel for you. I'm someone who has a hard time saying no and have had to learn the hard way how to say it.

1. In this job or your next accept no less than $7.25/hr. With time & half for any overtime hours. Depending on your experience and your location you can probably get more. Do some research and find out.

2. Always have a contract outlining your duties. Negotiate with the parents on this. Remember you can say no to a duty and not have it put in your contract. Make sure you are compensated for anything beyond caring for the kids. Later if you are asked to take on another duty ask to renegotiate your contract. It's not being bitchy.
3. No matter how much you love the kids, how great the parents are, always remember it is a job you are their employee. It's so very easy to blur those lines understandbly so, but never forget it's a job.
4. Dad's trips it's hard saying not knowing R, but in the past it's helped me to have a calendar countdown until the parent returns, using a story ( parent authored or one of those recorded books), a phone call or email once a day.

Good luck!

ericsmom said...

How can you say you have an excellent relationship with the parents? I wouldn't be able to have an excellent relationship with someone taking advantage of me. Like others posted, you are allowing her to take advantage of you, as well. Stick up for yourself!! It usually works for your advantage, trust me. You will be proud of yourself in the long run.

Village said...

Do you know how ridiculous this sounds? No one can take advantage of you unless you let them, and you are letting them.

You can't put the genie back in the bottle. You'll need to get another job, with a contract this time.

As I have mentioned SO many times before, when you prepare a contract, put one price on child related chores, and an al a carte menu for extras. Family laundry, an extra $2 an hour. Cleaning kitchen and family room, an extra $2 an hour. Cooking and shopping, an additional $10 per hour. And make clear, after x number of hours, overtime kicks in. Be sure to keep your employers well informed when overtime is about to kick in. Ask them if that is really what they want. It's amazing how nanny creep goes away when they have to pay for it.

When the parents ask for nanny creep, refer to your schedule of chores and fees, and ask, would you like to engage section 4 subsection b of the contract, (which covers the cost of these additional duties). Be kind and matter of fact, but PROFESSIONAL.

Truth Seeker said...

Are you freakin' serious???? Only $300/per week for caring for two children and being their maid as well?? Honey, you need to get out ASAP.

I think that either this mother a) hired you and told you childcare would be your only duty, then spoke to a friend or whatever who had their Nanny do chores and decided that you should too since that is what all of us Nannies are supposed to do. Or b) she hired you w/the intention of job creeping you once you were settled in the position.

This lady is a nut to think she can get a Nanny/Housekeeper for peanuts.

Get your last paycheck and leave her alone. I wouldn't even give notice since that would only allow her another few weeks to take full advantage of you.

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

well you hit the nail on the head. She is treating you like a child. She talks down to you and she doesn't respect you as her equal. That is the problem with some employers. They feel they are above you. In fact, they are equal. A nanny is brought in to care for children and he/she is also an authority figure. What you turned into was a big sister that they pay for help. but she doesn't think you are an adult, especially cuz you said you were young. I was treated this way for a few weeks when I started to work. I was 19 and began working in the finance dept of a huge fortune 500 company. I was and still am the youngest in the building. At first they treated me like a child. Once I think someone called me "little girl" But when I did my work, held my own, and they realized I was smart they began to see me as an equal.

You have to stand up for yourself. If you don't people will take advantage of you. You should request that you be paid for your over-time. Start with that first. Don't hit her over the head with everything all at once. See how to reacts to that. If she starts to pay you for overtime, mention that you will be needing to charge her for the extra work she is giving you.

MissMannah said...

You may think you have an excellent relationship with your bosses, but it sounds all one-sided to me. They do not respect you and I don't understand how you can't see that. I don't know if you said if you have a contract with them, but it seems like you don't. There's your big mistake right there: not respecting yourself enough to be treated as a real employee with work guidelines. I don't think you'll be able to get what you want and need out of this job because the parents are already running all over you, so I say start new with a better and more respectful family.

Nanny S said...

Pretty much what everyone else said. Do you know that depending on your area you could be making up to $20/hr plus benefits and overtime? I've found that when interviewing and negotiating, parents are more receptive than you might think when you say, "My rates start at X." Then, allow negotiation. I've learned that if I FEEL underpaid, it creates resentment, so I don't work underpaid. Period. This mother is taking advantage of you and she KNOWS it, no matter what she says to your face. You think the creeping is accidental? With every inch she is thinking, "I bet I can get her to do this..." This mother doesn't respect you and it makes her friends feel uncomfortable, however, you are anything but their equal so they just ignore you, therefore you don't exist. a) Be prepared to be let go and be prepared to be guilted about it. b) start looking for new jobs asap WITH a contract and an idea of what you will charge depending on the going rates of your area. Get some other references besides this MB. If families ask about your past job and why you didn't list them as a reference, be prepared to say something like, "We did not end on good terms. I felt taken advantage of and when I brought it up, we agreed that it was no longer a good fit." This will demonstrate your standards, professionalism and willingness to still respect a family and keep things confidential even if you ended things poorly. Good luck

curious said...

What happened, OP???????? Are you still there slavin away? Or did you renegotiate? Or did you break free?? We would love an update!! :-)