Job with No Breaks is Breaking Nanny Down

Hi,  I am a reader and I appreciate your blog with nannies and parents. My case is: BREAK TIME DURING THE DAY FOR A FULL TIME NANNY. IS IT FAIR IN YOUR OPINION? I work Monday to Friday Full Time (8:30am to 5:30 pm = 9h per day) for a family of 4 (mom and dad, two sons 2 and 4). During the school year, I still have a 2h per day part time job before my full time job. In my full time job, sometimes they need me to do additional extra hours, ending my day with more than 10h direct, and no break in between. My question is: Is it fair to ask the family for a break during the day? Sometimes I only find time to eat lunch or a snack after 3pm, or when I ask if I can eat, because my sugar and energy level is so low and I cannot wait anymore.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to ask about it in my interview (1 month ago) and today I am feeling like every time that I have to think about what time I am going to eat, or go to the bathroom, or even breath outside the house, or stretching my body because I am so tired and I was 10 hours in the same room, I feel terrible. Details: Besides that, I still do the cleaning in the house. The mother is a stay at home mom, but most of the time she is running with her autistic son for therapy sessions. I stay at home the whole day with the youngest son, playing or cleaning when it's possible, or when someone else is at home. So, it's non-stop for me. Should I ask them for a break? How do the other nannies deal with that? What do the parents think about it? I consider this question an important thing to ask about in the future. Please, all your comments will be welcome to me. Thanks so much! - A nanny


ericsmom said...

Why not eat your lunch with the kids. Can you all sit down together at lunch time. Are the kids allowed some tv time? Maybe, you can relax for 15-20 minutes. If the mom is there can you tell her that you are going to step outside for five minutes. Or is it awkward in their house?

ericsmom said...

I think maybe the 2 hour job you may have to rethink. If you are able to survive with just one job it will be alot better.

MissWi said...

Naps? 4 is not too old for a nap and I have found that active four year old boys need it more.
I relax during nap time and if I'm desperate I have the kids complete a special.chore for extra video game time just so I can catch a half hour or so of silence
As far as eating, you should be eating with the kids.
And that part time job? I had one for a bit and its a miracle it didn't crash and burn my nanny career.... I was so worn out.

a mom said...

I'm not sure how a nanny takes a 'break' like a break you would take while working at Target. You just can't turn kids off and put them away. I think you need to figure out some ways for the kids to learn to play by themselves. Even a 2 yo can do that. Or put on a 15 min. don't get a 'real' break when caring for kids....that's the way it is. It's hard, but doable. I have 3 kids and have been home alone with them all day and I've always managed to find time to pee.

Bethany said...

Eat with the kids it's a good teaching tool as well as fuel for you.

As far as sit down breaks 2 & 4 can still have naps. Take a break then.

You can also start a quiet play time doing things like stories, puzzles,
and coloring at least you'll have the chance to sit.

Now if you are thinking of a 30 minute kid free break that isn't going to happen even if they nap or you teach them to play quiet you're still on the job.

Did you agree to household cleaning when hired? If not I would nix all cleaning with the exception of the mess you make during the day asap.

Sarah said...

You don't know when you can go to the restroom? Seriously, it's ok to do that without taking time off, just leave the door slightly open/bring the kids with if you need to. Part of working with kids means you lose some of your privacy, though once the kiddos start really getting potty trained and want -their- potty privacy you should be able to get that back. 2 and 4 year olds should certainly still be napping, so that is a "break" of sorts. In terms of eating, you should be eating with the children as it is good for them (teaches manners, and a healthy approach to food, so long as you practice these things yourself), unless you are planning to dig into a bag of cheetos for "lunch," with a big old soda on the side. Eating lunch with my charges encourages them to try new things also, as I will cook up unique meals and bring some of my own leftovers to share. One of the littles LOVES paella now, and the other discovered he does like tomatoes, because seeing me eating these things made them curious.

BrooklynMomma said...

As a parent, I totally understand the need for some down-time during the day. While its not a break ('cause we all know that never happens with young children), you can certainly schedule in quiet activities that the kids can do independently while you sit and take a breather. What's the deal with you saying you're in the same room for 10 hours? Are you not allowed to be outside with the kids? I've always found that the days are lots easier to handle (and more fun) if they are spent mainly outside. Is that an option for you?

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

OP, if I am reading your post correctly, you are expected to clean the house when the kids aren't in your care, and you work for a SAHM?

A lot of times, nannies who are also expected to clean AND who have someone around "supervising" all the time feel that they have to go until they drop. You don't have to do that. You can sit down and eat lunch with your charges, and you can take a 30 minute breather when they are napping/resting before you start cleaning. If your MB asks why you're sitting down, tell her you are taking a brief break before starting to work again.

If you've only been there for a month, you may need to ask for a sit-down with your employers to revise your contract and take some of the housekeeping off your plate. You also need to be getting overtime for any hours over 40 worked per week, and you need to address the additional hours as well, by either adding them to your regular schedule as as predictable OT, or by adding a cost penalty to your pay when they just run late without asking you if you can stay late.

You may not be able to walk off the job as a nanny like you could if you worked in retail, but you can make sure you eat at decent times and that you get a chance to rest.

If this family feels you are asking for too much or being presumptuous, you should start looking for a new job.

Bethany said...

If the chores are required eat and break first for 20 to 30 minutes and then do the chores.

Why are you in the same room for 10 hours?

Find A ANOTHER. I'd shoot myself in your position. said...

I'd quit and find another job. The lazy sahm should do what her title says. I meant. I guess she's a housewife not a sahm. A sahp helps raise their kids, thus why she stayed home. That's not the case here. When the kids eat. You eat. I do. Also, independent play is not made. Give him puzzles or something. Or coloring so you can do work and maybe relax. BUT find another job. Seriously.

nycmom said...

As an employer, this would pretty much defeat the purpose of having a nanny for me. If I had to schedule time to be home each day to provide her with a "break," that would be a dealbreaker.

If you can't handle two jobs, quit one. Clearly it is too much (and I have been there), but it is not the ft family's job to make up for your fatigue from working two jobs.

Housekeeping only if agreed upon initially. Otherwise, put a stop to it.

Finally, you say mom is a SAHM but spends almost the entire day with her autistic older child. Is that the 4yo or another child? If the 4yo, most 2yos are still napping so that may be a break of types.

I agree with others on eating together and having scheduled downtime. YOu do not need to be "ON" constantly. It's fine, normal and expected for you to sit, relax and eat lunch with your charges. It's okay to use the bathroom! Why aren't you leaving the house?

Finally, a 9-10 hour nanny day is really not unusual or long if there are commuting parents or a SN child making one parent fully occupied. It's the pt job that is making it seem undoable. If all else fails, approach the parents honestly, tell them your issue and ask if they have any techniques they use on weekends to keep the kids quietly engaged so they get to rest a bit.

UmassSlytherin said...

I don't think it is fair to refer to the mom as a "lazy stay at home mom." the mother is the parent of a special needs child. she takes him to therapy. it takes a great deal of energy raising an autistic child, you need to give them a lot of attention, ABA therapy, etc: most therapy sessions for an autistic child involve teaching the parent how to better care for/teach their child. It is exhausting at times, although rewarding.

I think OP should tell the parents how she feels, and suggest some solutions: could the kids watch a video for a half hour while you have your lunch?

Regarding napping, not all pre schoolers nap. My daughter has not napped since she was 2. Every child is different.

Moniker said...

I hired a nanny to watch my 2 sons for the summer. She prepares lunch with my kids and eats with them. Eat with the kids. WTF?

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

I would devise a meal schedule and have lunch at the same time every day. Then when your charges eat lunch, you eat along w/them. If one or more of the children need assistance during meals, then why not pop in an educational kid-friendly DVD they can watch while you eat.

I think a four year old is usually too old to nap, but the two year old should be napping still. So perhaps during his nap times you can also eat.

I think you have too much on your plate now. You are working two jobs plus you have chores w/your full-time gig. The only chores you should be doing as a nanny is basic cleaning up after you and the boys.

You might want to re-think your first job and your list of chores.

Good luck.

Lyn said...

I worked a part time job on top of my Nannying job a couple of years ago. It was HELL. It was only 10 hours a week but it just burnt me out so badly. If possible, quit the part time gig. Your sanity more than makes up for the lack of an extra hundred bucks a week.
Regarding down time when working I find ways to get a couple minutes here and there rather than a set 30 minutes everyday. I make lunch for my little ones and while they eat I clean up the kitchen, switch laundry, update the Nanny log, unload the dishwasher, etc. That way after lunch when they go down for nap I have just "saved" myself 10-15 minutes of work and can use that time to eat my lunch in peace. Then it's back to the daily run-around. I find you can also save a few minutes in the day by having the kids help clean up the daily messes, and by having a quiet time pre-nap where they take their loveys and cuddle up anywhere they'd like and "read" a book for a few minutes. Do they have a fenced in backyard? I realize it's been crazy hot this summer but in just a short 6 weeks or so you'll be able to let them play pretty independently for short amounts of time. Provided of course that you are sitting in a lawn chair or on the ground watching them.
And please, just go to the bathroom. I usually place my 1 year old charge in the playpen for a moment when I go unless he is captivated by his train table or something. My 3 year old charge is of course a great help.

Lyn said...

A couple minutes here and there I find to be just as relaxing as a set 30 minutes would be.

NannyBrandie said...

Typically you should be going on break when the kid naps, depending on how long they are sleeping. If you are paid on the books, its the law that you get at least a half hour for a 7 hour work day. You shouldn't be going non stop for 10 hours with no down time. If you aren't paid off the books, that's just common courtesy. You shouldn't be expecting the parents to take over while you are on break, just dont clean or anything, just sit down and read a book, have some tea, etc.

Mommy/nanny of Three said...

I have a 2 year old and in addition started watching a small infant and a 4 year old (for extra money).

When the two little once take their naps, the 4 year old tells me "he's not tired". I tell him "go to the room and play quietly so you don't wake up the others. I will come by and check on you in 30 min. If you are still not sleepy I will play a game with you".

Sometimes it happens he falls asleep, if not I still have 30 min to myself. And make it count :) Do not clean or sweep, just relax. You'll feel better

chrstine said...

I raised four kids, largely on my own, as my husband worked two jobs. So, I was with the kids from 7 am until 8:30 pm. They're spread out a little so I never had two kids or all four who would nap for two hours a day. I had what I called "quiet time" every day. I didn't tell them what activity to choose or supervise their playing. Whatever they chose, it had to be a quiet activity that didn't involve me. Most days it lasted about a half hour, but I got lucky on some others and it went on longer. So, maybe try that, so you can regroup and take a break.

justthenanny said...

In my opinion, nannies do not get REAL breaks. They do not ever leave the "job". I think you just have to go into the situation understanding that fact. My charge (now 4.5) stopped napping at 2.5. However, she still has "quiet time" where she is to stay in her room and play or look at books quietly for 30 mins. I schedule this around her baby sibling's nap so I can get a break from both! Mind you, I still get the occasionally call for "help" or many questions from the 4 yr old during this period. Perhaps set up the 2 yr old with an activity they can do by themselves, and sit down (while still in view of him) and just take a breather. I agree with the above posters, you should eat lunch with the kids! I am sure they would enjoy that.

traveling-gypsy said...

I think this is a case of people treat you how they allow you to treat them. Meaning, you need to take some personal responsibility here.

I would only be doing the cleaning if I were paid what house cleaners make($25+/hr PLUS what you make per hr as a nanny-otherwise you're cleaning for nothing or $1 or $2 more an hour most likely). And I would always make myself lunch and sit down for half an hour, eat & read the paper. Id go to the restroom when I needed & sit down & drink my water when needed. Your MB can't make you ask for your needs. Its up to you to make sure they're being met. That's always your job. You can do it. Don't feel guilty. Good self care is healthy & sets a good example for the children. You sound codependent. Id get a book about how to break free from the codependence. You have to live with you forever. You're worth the investment!! :)

traveling-gypsy said...

I agree with you. Children who have special needs are FOUR times as likely to be abused as their non-disabled peers. Raising a child with special needs can be exhausting!!!! Unless you're going through it, its hard to know just how difficult it can be. I bet this mother works a lot harder than someone who sits online calling her "lazy." How dare someone say she isn't raising her kids. If that's the case then every mother who doesn't homeschool isn't raising her kids.

I also agree with you re:napping. My son stopped napping at less than a year old.

Kerri said...

Technically a 2 and 4 your old should still behaving some sort of res time during the day even if they don't think they need one.

My son gave up naps at 6 months old.

There was no way he was going to go from 6am to 7pm with no sort of rest or a half hour rest.

So I started with rest times I'd put him in his crib with his binky, a few soft chewy toys, turned on some soft lullaby music and that was that.
For 11/2 hours every day. He cried a little the first few days, but after 3 days didn't cry and just played with is toys, slept, or both.

It was great for both of us.

He still likes his rest periods at almost 18 years old.

So OP. Try a resting period for the boys you may have to look into different techniques for the son with with autism, but his mom probably has tips for that.

Also try and get out of the house and one room. That could be why you are feeling fatigued. I know I get grouchy and tired when I stay and one place too long. Moving around and fresh air can do wonders.

lizzyloo said...

During my charge's nap I take my break. She is only 19 months, but her nap is about two to three hours (if she is really tired) so it gives me time to complete any cleaning up messes we may have made during the morning, her laundry and then my break begins. Now, its harder if your charge doesn't nap. Eat lunch with your charge, its an appropriate time to.

If my charge didn't nap and was school age or a little older, I would ask my boss if perhaps my charge could join an activity, like swim lessons or gymnastics so they'd be with a coach and I would be free to have a break. My charge has two older brothers who I used to nanny as well, I still do, but only during summer, that went to swimming lessons and once they were in the water with the swim coach I was allowed to leave and come back in an hour.

I guess it all depends on your charges ages and the family you nanny for. I'm lucky that my employers allow me to relax when I get the chance. I know that some nannies don't have the chance to have a real break. In that case, maybe try finding playdates for your charge ao when they play you can sit.

AC said...

If your sugar level is low and it is due to diabetes, you should talk to the mom about that. Diabetes is serious!! If you don't take care of yourself, you could end up in the ER