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.


secret-gypsy said...

There is still hope. Write a letter & request for one bedroom to be baby proofed. If its empty all that would take is:

A baby gate
Outlet covers
Thingy to keep closet doors from opening

Take it upon yourself to make a playroom. Be firm. Take out their toys. Just do it. What can the parents say?? I think you should work it out. I wouldn't quit. Fixing this is easier than finding a new job imo.

AussieNanny said...

I think that you should not just run away from this. At some point surely the work will be complete on the house? I have just lived through a year of renovations and it is no fun at all, so trust me I understand.

Voice your issue, let them know how you feel. Perhaps they really have no clue.

TV time is a tricky one with Nanny. Personally I can userstand a parents point of view that they are paying Nanny to entertain the kidlets. Though in this case it is different as there does not seem anywhere else to go in the house.

How about just taling walks with the kids? Do they have a pram for the twins and I have this little wrist thing which goes on to an older childs hand? Would this be an option?

I feel for you, I really do!!

Lyn said...

Oh yuck!! That sounds just awful! I'm not sure what part of the country you are in but in north carolina where I am it's been close to or just over 100 everyday! "My" kids and I only get out for about 30 minutes in the morning before it's too hot.
The bedroom idea is GREAT!! I would absolutely discuss that before leaving. But if that doesn't help you need to have a talk with the parents about how extremely important it is that they buy a pass to a local childrens museum (air conditioning!!!!! :) ) and permit you to take the kids on outings atleast twice a week. I'm so sorry!!

Flick said...

Talk to the parents as pp said they may not know, see about harnesses for the twins for other outings then they can't run to put MBs mind at rest. Get that together and talk to them. They won't know how you feel other wise.

Katydid said...

OP has said she has talked to them multiple times how many times is she supposed to keep talking to them?

When is she supposed to stop supervising the kids in the middle of a an active construction zone to unpack their toys or baby proof one bedrooom?

I think she is justified in giving notice. I only hope she has another job lined up before doing so.

Katydid said...

OP, If you are undecided about leaving you can sit down with the parents once more and tell them not ask that xyz needs to be done or changed immediately.

If they refuse go.

I would aslso make sure you have a job lined up before quitting because the job market especially for nannies is a tough one now.

If you have quit I wish you all the luck in the world. You sound like a great nanny!

Good luck!

Sewickley nanny said...

Why the heck don't they buy you carseats? Maybe they don't want u going out and it's a passive aggressive way of handling it but I would insist on carseats kept in my car. And I would unpack the toys and safety proof myself and ask to be reimbursed. Do you have another job? Can you afford to be out of work if you don't?

Lyn said...

Of course she is justified in leaving Katydid! But like you said, the people employing Nannies right now are far and few between and leaving without having another family lined up would just cause money stress. And I don't know about the rest of you but I find money stress trumps work stress. So even if she has spoken to them a few times about the issues addressing them one last time is NEVER a bad idea. Communication with your mb/db is everything. Even if you don't feel like they listen everytime (which is a GREAT reason to try and find another family for sure!). But if MB and DB are 100% set on one outing a week it's best to try and find an indoor outing like a children's museum so that they can get the most from there time away from home. And the bedroom idea needs to be presented as a mandatory thing. The parents should baby proof the room, (which as a PP said wouldn't take long at all) not Nanny. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for a safe place for this families kids to play.
It's alwayys worth one last talk before leaving. ESPECIALLY since OP thinks this would be a good family to work for in a few months once things settle down. If she leaves, it very well may take a few months to find another family anyway.

Bethany said...

When a nanny feels overly stressed or disrespected she is going to leave.

Lets not kid ourselves she has discussed this with them before and has been met with a wall it is unlikely things are going to change especially as concerned to the outings. She sounds like a reasonable person and I'm sure she has considered her financial and job situation.

OP. I don't know if you have already put in your notice or not.

If you have yu shouldn't feel guilty. I feel your actions were reasonable. Since you thought about quitting. I'm sure you have thought about being without income for a period of time if you do not have a job arranged.

1. You should not be asked to work in an environment that put yours and the children's safety at risk.
2. You should not be working in an environment without adequate supplies to perform your job ie no toys, lack of appropriate acces to meal prep materials.

3. You should not be purchasing entertainment for your charges.

If you want to give them a try tell them that when you return from the weekend there is to be a playroom ready to go with toys & babyproofed. The room should be close to the kitchen area so you can keep your eyes on the little ones at all times. Frame it as a safety issues because it is. Scare them a bit if you have to about being a mamdated reporter and all that.

2. Insist on at least 2 outings a week. run a quick Google search for 3 places in your area with indoor activities appropriate for your charges.
Have the carseats stay in you car for the week and take them out when you go for weekend. Point out the change over wouldn't be needed if they allowed you use of their car. You can also suggest they get spares at some place like Walmart that sells good seats for a good price.
Make it clear that none of this is negotiable.

Don't kid yourself into thinking thing will be better in a few months. The house might be in shape, but do you want to beconfined to the house all winter?

ncnanny said...

OP, I agree with secret-gypsy. Please try and stick it out. It is soooo hard finding a job nowadays (it took me almost 4months to find one with acceptable pay/hours)! You seem to like everything else about these people. All the chaos will be over soon. If you quit now, it could possibly take you until all this construction is over til you find a job! Please let us know what you decide to do, ok?

MissMannah said...

Yeah I'm going to disagree with everyone and say run, run as fast as you can! I'm assuming you can afford to be off work for awhile or you already have some interviews lined up, or else you wouldn't be wanting to quit so soon. Think about it: if these people are stonewalling you about something as silly as unpacking toys, what's going to happen when a major problem arises? They are lazy and just can't be bothered to see your side on these issues.

Manhattan Nanny said...

This situation is a nightmare and I would want to leave too. I also wonder if the situation is going to improve that much when the renovation is finished. The parents sound irresponsible, or at least uninvolved and clueless. Why isn't the yard fenced? That has nothing to do with the work on the house and should be done immediately. Why haven't they let you unpack the toys? That would be an exciting activity to do with the children. If they don't have shelves and storage bins in their rooms yet, that can be taken care of by you on line, or with one trip to a store.

It sounds like you have given up on talking to the parents, and decided to give notice. In that case, they will probably try to talk you into staying. If they do, tell them your number one concern is safety, and you don't feel you can keep the children safe, happy and stimulated in conditions as they are. Be prepared with a list of what you want, and be firm:
The back yard fenced.
A play area childproofed.
Use of their car with the carseats. ( I don't think you want 3 carseats in your car all week, it limits your use in your off time, and btw, have they been giving you gas $?) Tell them you will leave your keys, so if DB has an emergency he can use your car.
Petty cash for outings, art supplies etc. (You should not spend your own money for things the parents should have supplied!)
Good luck, let us know what you decide.

Village said...

If they had told the truth, who would have taken the job?

I wouldn't stay either.

Susan Bee said...

I'd leave! They sound like @^&%$s, and the child proof issue has me nervous for you. If a child got hurt, they would be quick to blame you. Get out yesterday, you'll find another job soon enough. If they are so inflexible now, i.e. with car seats and outings, it will only get worse.

OP Here... said...

My Part 1 Response (Part 2 to Follow):

The kids are napping and I am eating lunch. Have really appreciated all the helpful responses.

To address some of the questions / suggestions in the comments above:

- I learned this morning that, on weekends, the kids mostly get shuffled off to various grandparents, aunts/uncles, family friends... so the parents don’t really have a feel for how it is to spend long days with them in this environment.

- I can't unpack the toys myself. They brought some (not many) with them. The rest are still in off-site storage unit along with a lot of their other stuff and the parents simply have other priorities.

- When MB told me how she never takes all three kids on outings unless she has an extra pair of hands with her, I actually did suggest that I use a "leash" on the "runner". She changed the subject. I think the true underlying issue is that they don't want to buy an extra trio of carseats to install in my car and DB hates all the un-installing/reinstalling involved when I do take them on an outing. However, I do like the suggestion that I use their car and offer for DB to use mine while I'm gone if he needs to. That never even occurred to me -- great idea! Unfortunately, it's too little, too late.

- Someone else asked if they had told me the truth, would I have taken the job? Absolutely NOT. I don't think they were deliberately deceitful or malicious, but I DO think they did not realize the significance behind some of the conversations we had during my interview. When I nanny, I LOVE to go all over the place on all kinds of outings with my charges. During the heat, my outings are mostly to indoor destinations because I completely wilt during the heat -- get dizzy, nauseous, etc. So during the interview, I grilled them on whether they were OK with me taking the kids on outings. I gave them MANY examples of the places I liked to take kids. They just nodded and went along with everything I said, so I was thrilled.

- They did say that my job would start once they moved into their new home, but they didn't mention that it would be a construction zone! I think they were just clueless about how all of these issues would make my job miserable. They were desperate to find someone, and so caught up in so many other issues of their very busy and challenging lives, that they just said what they thought I wanted to hear at the time and just stuck their fingers in their ears and hoped that it would all work out.

OP Here... said...

My Part 2 Response:

- Regarding the backyard not being fenced... MB said they definitely plan to do so, but it is not high on their priorities because they are trying to get the kitchen built.

- It's true that nannies are paid to entertain their charges and that's why most MBs limit screen time during the day... but if you don't give your nannies other ways to entertain them, don't expect your nannies to be able to deal with the excruciating cabin fever.

- Yes, we could go on a walk each day, but I live in the midwest where we are immersed in a heat wave and drought and I physically cannot tolerate it. Since being on this job there has not been a single day where the high was below 95, and most days it has been above 100. With no relief in sight. There is only a small window each day (early morning) when it would be feasible for us to be outdoors. And frankly, how much time out of the day can you really burn on a walk? And how interesting is a walk in the same subdivision every day?

- Frankly, I resent the fact that they don't even acknowledge the various toys/games/diversions I bought with my own money. Yes, it was DEFINITELY my OWN choice to do so, but it would be nice if they at least said something to acknowledge how much the kids enjoy them or that they appreciate that I took the time/effort to do that, to make our days more tolerable.

Oh well. It is just one of those things you chalk up as a life experience. I regret it because, as I said in my OP, the parents are otherwise very nice people and the kids are awesome. And someday they will be in a beautiful, spacious, child-friendly home and probably have a happy nanny and thriving kids.

Luckily, my DH is the primary bread-winner so I do have the luxury of being able to quit without necessarily having something already lined up. I have a low tolerance for boredom, and most of my previous nanny experience has been with kids 4+ years old where we are done with diapers and naps and we can just go out and have fun all day and time flies. I thought this would be a nice change, going back to a younger age (which I also enjoy), but under these circumstances it just isn’t going to work.

So within a few hours, that's my plan. Thanks again, everyone, for weighing and helping to flesh this out. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Lyn said...

My goodness OP! I am SO glad that you are able financially to leave! Run for the hills woman! :)

MissMannah said...

It sounds like you are definitely making the right decision to leave. As for this: "They just nodded and went along with everything I said, so I was thrilled." I hate to tell you, but they were tuning you out in the interview. I have had this happen a couple of times, something we had specifically discussed and the parents agreed to, but then it completely fell apart as soon as the job started. It seems like go on daily outings is really important for your personal job fulfillment so make sure you have it in writing in your next contract, including all logistics about car seats, gas mileage, etc.

Farrah said...

First of all, I would absolutely DIE in your job. A work from home parent, no transportation access, no T.V., summer oppressing heat, etc.

Unless you can stand it, you can stay for a few months longer, but it will most likely be the longest three months of your life.

Give your notice and move on.

Hopefully the next family will at least have A/C.

erica said...

I bet they will do whatever it takes to keep you!

If they plead for you to stay and promise to change, will you stay?

I am dying to see what happens!

Bethany said...

Well since you don't need the income get the heck out!

You sound like a great nanny and I hope your next job is a great fit!

Midwest nanny said...

Op I am also in the Midwest, I agree it's been horrible weather. I am a summer fan and I have struggled there has been no relief. Even my ac has struggled to keep up.
Get out while you can. You don't want to be miserable. Not fair on you or the kids.

Maci said...

I am glad to hear that you can be w/out a job for a while. This just makes everything so much easier.

I would leave. It doesn't sound like a good match.

Regarding car seats, all of my families have paid for new ones to install in my car which I just keep in there until my job ends.

OceanBlue said...

How did they react when you told them?

gypsy said...

What happened, OP??? I'm curious. Remember, we are all here for you whatever you decide.

OP Here... said...

OP here again! Thanks so much, everyone, for all the helpful feedback and comments.

Here is how it went down. Friday afternoon before I left, I told MB that I had some concerns/issues that I would like to address. She seemed quite surprised and clueless.

I said, "I will contact you tomorrow, if that's OK with you.". She said, "Sure, that's fine.".

The next morning (Saturday), I put my issues into writing via email. I spelled out my minimum requirements:

- freedom to go on at least one outing a day, from a list of acceptable places, but must have some indoor destinations on that list during this unbearable heat wave. My vehicle (a spacious minivan) can accommodate three car seats, easily, and I don't mind if they are installed permanently. OR, if you would prefer I drive your vehicle and make mine on loan to you each work day, that is fine too. (This is my main sticking point, because I was explicity about it during my interview -- I am the kind of nanny who is on the go with my charges all the time and would never have accepted a position where the parents would have a problem with this.)

- must have more toys/games/books unpacked so that, when we are stuck indoors, we have activities available. OR -- if not this, then a petty cash account to use to purchase things like this. I have many many ideas for diversions, but cannot continue to finance them on my own. OR -- if neither of the two above options is feasible, then more screen time must be permitted. I can only play Simon Says, Mother May I, and Hide & Seek so many times before I lose my mind.

-- must have some type of water-themed outdoor activities available. I think being outdoors is very important to children (Vitamin D and fresh air!), but during this heat wave I am not going to take them outdoors without a wading pool or sprinkler option. I provided squirt guns on my own dime, but they get old.

-- some area in the household closed off and designated as child-safe. Where I can leave them to go take a pee or prepare a bottle without feeling freaked out about their safety or putting the baby in the exersaucer and taking the twins with me.

I know that I sound a bit pissy in the above conditions, but I worded the email more tactfully than that.

MB waited until Sunday night to acknowledge my email and send a reply. She and DB believe I am too "high maintenance" and that I am not welcome to return to work.

All I can say is thank God I can afford to be unemployed while I look for a new position. Those children were truly sweethearts, but I believe I dodged a bullet.

Just goes to show you, you think you ask all the right questions during an interview, but you never think to ask the basics like, "Will your home be child-safe?"... "Will your children have adequate toys to play with?"... "Will you have any other source of running water outside of the bathroom sink?"... oh well... :(

Bethany said...

Glad your out OP!

Sounds like you handled yourself well.

Those poor kids!

nynanny said...

Your "basic necessities" for these children had MB & DB calling you high maintenance? Holy crap, OP! You certainly did dodge a bullet. At least now you don't have to dream up that things would have been so wonderful after the completion of the house's construction. That family sucked, plain and simple! I say good riddance to bad rubbish!

Best of luck to you, OP. You seem like an awesome nanny and one day an awesome family will snap you up!

Lyn said...

Oh my goodness! You definitely dodged a bullet! If asking for a safe place for the kids to play be provided and that you are allowed to take them to other safe places to play was too "high maintenance" for them... I'm speechless. Thank goodness you can afford to be unemployed.

That is nuts! I would hope that if they aren't willing to provide these very basic needs they place the children in a daycare until the renovations are done. Crazy!!