I am completely at my wit’s end and will be giving notice tomorrow. I’ve only been on the job for a month. Most of my following complaints were not disclosed to me in the interview, or the issues were mis-represented during the interview, or I didn’t even think to ask. The sad thing is, the parents are really nice and the kids are awesome. But I cannot tolerate these working conditions. I am mostly stuck in the house with three kids, a WAHD who’s constantly around, not many toys, and very few outdoor/outing options.
Here’s the setup: They have three children -- 3 year old twins and a 1-year-old. They just moved into a new home with intermittent construction going on (the kitchen was completely gutted and is in the process of being built from scratch). The house has no child-proofing except a gated staircase leading to the basement. I am a nervous wreck trying to keep them from all the hazards: construction tools and materials to entice the twins, delivery men coming and going, ladders, exposed electrical outlets, uncovered floor ducts, half-unpacked open cartons full of unsuitable items to entice the 1-year-old, etc. They do at least have an exersaucer for the 1-year-old, but I can’t stick her in that the whole time! Instead of a kitchen, there is a tiny alcove next to the dining room with a counter and a few shelves. The only running water available is a bathroom sink, so I’m preparing and washing bottles within a few feet of the toilet. The only appliances are a fridge in the garage and a microwave. The large backyard is not fenced in, and the only play equipment out there is a small swingset that they are bored with. The deck is twenty feet off the ground and has no gate on the staircase. The temperatures are sweltering and they have no wading pool or sprinklers.
I work long days and rarely see MB. She leaves for work before I get there, and DB often ends up relieving me before she returns home. Very few toys have been unpacked and only limited screen-time is permitted. One of the twins is a very high-energy hyperactive kid. They have zero interest in books (which, if they did, I would gladly read to them for as long as they would sit there!). The father is constantly in and out of his bedroom office supervising the construction workers on the days when they are there. They won’t allow me to drive their vehicle and DB hates having to unload all three car seats from his car and install them into my car, then repeat the process in reverse at the end of the day, so I am only allowed to take them on one outing a week. And that is to a tiny local park where we stand sweating, eyeing the slide that is unusable (too hot to the touch) and the line of other children waiting for their turn to use one of only four swings available. (MB explained to me that even SHE doesn't take them on outings besides that one tiny park unless she has an extra pair of hands to help because one of the twins is a "runner". I think I could handle them just fine but she is too nervous to permit it.)
I got so desperate that I ended up spending some of my own money on things like bubbles, squirt guns, various activity books, Brain Quest cards, paints, puzzles, a magna doodle, an etch-a-sketch, a bingo game, etc., to keep us from going bonkers. I’m not sure how the parents keep them occupied over the weekend. I guess they take them on outings together, and give them more screen time -- the twins once kept pestering me on how much longer until I left because “when you’re gone, we get TV!”. I’ve tactfully addressed some of these issues (the ones that the parents could have immediate control over such as unpacking more of their toys/games, allowing me to get out of the house more often, maybe allowing a little more screen time since our other options are so limited), but have gotten met with either indifference or a subtle defensiveness. It is a shame because I’ll bet in another three months or so things will have improved. The disruptive construction workers will be gone and the house will be child-proofed, they will have a kitchen with appliances and running water, everything will be unpacked and put away, the back yard will be fenced in, the temperatures will have moderated, the twins will be in preschool every day, etc. But I have barely survived my first month and know that I simply cannot wait it out. I sure wish I had known what I was getting into.
at 1:41 AM