Nanny Asking for Much Needed Advice

Disclaimer: this question is going to be long. If you can wade through the many details and give me some much needed advice, I would really appreciate it. 

I have been working for a family for 7 months, ever since their first child was born. It's an unusual situation, and while I had some idea about what I was getting into, I didn't know all of the specifics. Now I need some serious help renegotiating my contract. First let me explain what the job entails. 

I work 6 days a week, 50 hour work week. I specified that I would like specific hours, though I can be flexible as long as I have notice. Anything over 50 hours would be overtime. MB shows horses, and that involves a LOT of travel. We spend 4 months of the year in the south at a house, and throughout the other months we are based further north but travel often to shows, typically a week or two at a time. I wasn't really aware of how long/often we would be at shows; I grew up in the equestrian world but didn't do the type of showing that she participates in. 

DB expressed concern that during the winter (while we are at the secondary house) I would be making tons of overtime because the days are long. I don't have any issues with long days, but I suggested an OT bank, in which I would record my OT hours and we could decide together whether they would be paid out, or whether I could use them for future PTO at a time that would work for both of us. They liked the idea and I was happy with it because I knew with all of the traveling I would need some time off to decompress. 

I'm finishing up my first winter at the other location, and I didn't bring up the issues with them because it was my own fault for not being more thorough initially. But I do need to sit down with them and explain that unless things change, there is no way I'm going to be able to do another winter. I just don't know exactly what to suggest that would work for both parties.

MB has a crazy schedule. I have Mondays off because that is the one day that the show doesn't run. Basically she doesn't even know the rough times she needs to ride until Tuesday night of that particular week, and often she doesn't have exact times until the day before. So every week she writes down what she *thinks* the schedule will be. The schedule always changes. DB is only here on the weekends so it's just her and me, and though I did ask her to find someone else to use in case I can't work, the baby cried when the other woman was with him so now she only uses her for date nights when the baby is sleeping. So it's either I watch him, or she can't "work". 

I don't have a life here. I don't really have any drive to make a life considering I'm here for such a short time, but because of that I'm always in the house, and she knows that I have no plans. I could of course say that I'm not available when she asks me last minute, but I would just end up sitting in my room, or getting in my car and driving around just to not be in the house. I also can't really make plans such as taking a class or signing up for an activity, because my hours are so random.

Like I said before, I don't have an issue with the long hours. I'm here to work; the only reason I relocated to this area with them is to work. The problem has become the fact that MB doesn't want me to accumulate a lot of OT hours. To keep me from having a bunch of OT she will shorten my hours on various days by a few hours to make up for the 10-14 hour days that I sometimes have. And because the schedule is different every week, and constantly changes DURING the week, I never know exactly when I'm going to be working. Like yesterday for example she changed the time I got off 3 times, and I ended up having an early day. I hate having my start time change every day, and I don't like my days cut short to make up for extra long days later in the week. All that it does is make me feel like I'm working all of the time without getting reimbursed adequately. All of that talk about the huge amounts of OT I would be making during the winter hasn't translated into reality, because whenever MB gets done early she lets me off, which just leaves me sitting in my room with nothing to do, and not making money either. The only times I feel like I can say "no" to the schedule she sets out is date nights, and often I work them anyway because I want OT. Otherwise she just tells me what time we'll be starting in the morning, and what time we'll be ending in the evening. It is literally different every single day.

I've brought up the fact that I would like to have a set schedule, and both MB and DB like to mention that they said in our interview that they needed someone who could be "flexible". This is very true, and I have been MORE than flexible. I literally am available any time they need me. All of the time. I've worked some intense jobs before. I know that there are jobs where flexibility is key, and this is one of them. However, you need to be PAID for those jobs. Like, paid so much that it doesn't matter that you need to be available whenever. I make a decent salary, which DB never fails to bring up, in front of large groups of people. But I know that what I am giving up is worth way more than what I'm making. 

The situation is particularly bad in this winter location because there is nobody else to watch the baby besides me. I know that the primary location will be better; I have my own apartment there and my own friends and life, but we'll also be traveling to shows a lot (one and half to two weeks every month) and the situation will be the same. Two weeks of working my tail off, whenever she needs me, having nothing to do in my time off, and getting very little overtime for it because she will cut me loose an hour early here or there to make up for the long days. It just feels like the traveling and giving up my life for long periods of time is completely not worth it, because I'm not even making more money. 
Some good perks, but this nanny is looking for more pay.

I like this job. I love the baby and I love where we live most of the year. I'm allowed to have my dog live with me and MB lets me ride her horses. They really are nice people and I like them. I need to figure out a way to present this to them to let them know that I need to be making more money when we're traveling otherwise it isn't worth it to me to have such an unpredictable schedule and give up long chunks of my life like this. 

There are three options that I've thought of. #1- Ask for a raise to my weekly salary, year round. And then during the hard times just remember that the raised salary also applies to the easier times. #2- Ask for a higher weekly salary during travel times. Just explain that travel is harder and requires a complete time commitment and it should be paid accordingly. If that's the case, how much should I be asking for? What is complete availability worth? #3- During travel weeks, ask to maintain a specific minimum schedule, with anything additional being overtime. For example, my weekly schedule would always be 7:00-4:00. If MB doesn't need me until 7:45, it doesn't matter, I still start work, and start getting paid at 7:00. She can choose to use me or not. And then if 3 nights that week she needs me to work until 6:00, I do it, but those hours are OT. That way I would be making more money according to how much I was working and I would have a start time I could count on.

Maybe I'm being too demanding. If I am please let me know. Would any of you think that this was acceptable? All I know is that when a job starts feeling like it's not worth the money, something needs to change. Please give me any and all advice, I really need it.

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♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

Hi OP!
My name is Amy and while I was reading your detailed post, a huge red flag stood out right away. It seems your boss is trying to make you feel guilty since she says if you cannot care for her child, then she will be unable to work. I cry fowl. I also think it is very tacky that she is telling you that you make a good salary in front of other people. WTF??

Anyway, could it be possible for her to have two nannies?
That way she won't be responsible for ANY overtime and you will get some of your life back.
I know she said the baby cried and all (Could she have lied about having someone else??), but it takes time for babies to adapt to other people.

Or when she does travel out of town, could she possibly hire another nanny for those times?

I agree...if she is expecting you to keep an open schedule for certain times/days of the week, then she should pay you for it. For instance, if a friend wants to schedule a lunch date or movie on a certain day and you have to keep that day/time open then you should be paid for it.

hmmm said...

I literally work for the same woman, horse crazy florida nut job, except eight years later. she had the first nanny strung out like you, exactly. And I know all about the horse show schedules, they don't know how each day will go, and if they are having fun, it becomes a surprise 14 hour day for you. if it's raining, it's a three hour day while she gets her hair done.

what i would say to do: say you are okay with working with a one week in advance schedule, if that is true, and that the hours she gives you on Monday or Tuesday are the set ones for the week. any ones outside of that 50 are considered overtime. Don't let her book you for 40 and have ten hours of flexibility.

When you sit down with her say that you want this job to work long term, that the stress of the winter where you were not making enough money and didn't have a life didn't seem worth it. People want their nannies to last. and horse people have a lot of extra cash, don't kid yourself.

when you are not working you have to go out! you have to be unavailable to train her to book you in advance. in my experience, the horse ladies you are dealing with are bananas. If she had two afternoons where she couldn't 'work'(oh my god, the laughing i do at that term)cause she hadn't booked you properly, she would give you her left hand to get back to the ponies.

good luck. i've been the nanny in my rooom waiting for hours. it sucks. go for a two hour walk. go to starbucks. get out.

the OP said...

Amy- Yeahh I'm not too thrilled when he tells his friends that I make more than the people at his office. Which, by the way, is not true unless he is underpaying them. It's definitely more of a tacky/classless thing rather than a malicious thing, and I have to bite my tongue to keep from pointing out that I took a large pay-cut from my last job, so they're clearly not paying me THAT well.
I've thought of a second nanny option as well, and if it comes down to that I might bring that up, but the truth is that I don't mind working the long hours as long as I'm paid well for it. I just don't like working several 12 hour days and then not making any overtime for the week because she let me go a couple of hours early 4 days in a row.

hmmm- You still work for your FL person?? I've been wondering how many nannies like me there are out there. I've started getting together with 2 other horse show nannies and their charges and that has REALLY helped my mental state. It sounds like your kid/kids are a lot older than mine, but if you still do the horse show thing it would be great to exchange contact info. I know the other two girls will be going to some of the same shows during the year and that makes it something to look forward to instead of something to dread.
And thanks for the advice, it's nice to have someone else get it. I do need to start making more plans. I'll make it a point to do a better job next year, after I talk to them about the situation.

Anonymous said...

You are in a tough spot but you have three issues:
1. Are you being paid fairly?
(No. Either set a weekly salary that's averaged for highs and lows or set a tighter schedule. Mom's dislike of leaving the baby with another sitter isn't your issue.)
2. Are your hours and conditions workable?
(Not quite. You need to meet MB somewhere in the middle on this one. You signed up for an intense job and you also need downtime to be your best. Eliminate the OT hours bank because the MB/DB are too anxious to trim costs. An averaged salary might have better tax implications for you anyway. Also, journal the day. The WHOLE day. This way, your activities and time can be seen when you meet for reviews, to check progress on the kids developmentally, to brainstorm for best practices on how to work your particular job. Some additional journal writing when you are alone will help you to reflect, to process frustration, and to let go of anger at past offenses.)
3. Do you have a good quality of life personally so that you can recover from these long weeks and the extra stress?
(No. And you've got to take full ownership of your own quality of life. How can you say "no" to MB about anything if you are too intimidated to speak up? To negotiate? You have to change your "energy" and take back your personal power so that you stop leaving all of the options with MB and DB. Write down what it is you want and then make it happen. You can't have the expectation that they will give you what you don't ask for or that they will be "fair". It's a business relationship. So, step back a little, take a deep breath, and shake off the stress. Then, FOCUS! You can negotiate if you have a little confidence, a good attitude, and a willingness to find an alternative position if it's not working out. But first you must "feel" this, believe it, and act on it. There is an old adage that we teach others how to treat us. It's true. So practice a little self-love. Say "no" here and there. Laugh more. Focus on what YOU want and live out of your values and goals. DON"T make your choices about them. They are just one option on your path to a great life. Remember that! The respect you give yourself is the best gift of all. It will let you tell others the truth with love and not with fear.)


ericsmom said...

You should stick up for yourself OP when he makes comments in front to others about your salary. That may shut him up. Also, he is making himself look like an ass. Talking like that in front of other people. I am sure his friends do not feel comfortable when he talks like that.

Also, its normal for a baby to cry at first with a new person. Some babies just need time to warm up. Also, the age of the child or if they are sick can make them more miserable acting.

nenanny said...

Pretty much everything Stacey wrote. This position is not working ft or you plan and simple. We all love the kids we care for, but we can't allow ourselves to be unhappy and taken advantage of.
You need a job with a regular set schedule, a location and hours that allow you a social life,regular guaranteed pay, and employers that respect you as a person and your time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting these things in a job and expecting to get them. Find a job that meets these needs and give notice. Doesn't,t need to be dramatic and you don't need to be long suffering. I hope everything works out well for you.

CANanny said...

My previous charge is into the horse shows, so i know this world can be crazy.

I think what might work best for you is to ask for more money when traveling. I know I have seen other jobs where the nanny gets say $500 more a week when traveling. The other option would be to ask for a daily rate. This way you get paid the same whether you work 4 or 14 hours. Obviously if you go this route you have to make sure your daily rate is high enough.

Nanny S said...

Gosh it makes me so mad to read this. I worked for an ER doctor who was determined to nickle and dime me every cent of the way. At first she actually tried to get me to agree to stop being paid when her kids went to bed and she was scheduled to come home at 3am. UGH. Meanwhile, her schedule was so hard for me to maintain a normal life, and she would make all these comments about how I was overpaid and my job was just so easy.

So I know where you're coming from. I also am familiar with the sort of bosses you've described. They sound like the kind of people who treat other people as poorly as they allow them to. So you need to be more assertive.

I agree with everything Stacey and CANanny said. You need to find a way that doesn't allow MB to cut your costs. I think you should ask to be paid on your hours available. You may work more hours, but at least you'll know them ahead of time and can count on being paid for them. Or the extra $500 a week. Either way, you need to bring up the fact that she is trying to cut her costs with you and ask her to stop.

All families need back up childcare. It's MB's job to figure that out for her kid. Don't feel guilty about it.

As for DB, the next time he makes a comment about your salary, in private say, "DB, it makes me very uncomfortable when you discuss my salary with other people." Then wait for a response. If he doesn't say anything other than, "You're right, I'm sorry," keep waiting. Don't say another word.

SO glad I'm not in your shoes. So glad I will be out of the nanny business soon, hopefully. I hate when employers don't realize that their nanny depends on them just as they depend on their employer. It's like the want the luxury of a nanny without the responsibility. Good luck. Please update what happens. I am always curious.

Sophia Wirth said...

Hi OP!
I was so interested to read your out because I am a horse crazy mom who has a nanny with me that travels to Florida so I know how hard it can be for the mom and also for the nanny. My nanny has been with me for 3 years and I totally recognise that it isn't easy for she doesn't drive, which is even harder for her.
A couple thoughts - definitely ask for more money per week when travelling to the one or two week shows away, as well as when you are in Florida. If they balk at this ask if they can afford to do the more money per week at the one / two week away shows during summer but then when you are in Florida the onus really is on you to keep track of your overtime. They agreed to pay it but you need to tell the mom, who probably can't remember what days you worked last week let alone the hours, what that overtime is.
Why can't there be some kind of regular schedule when the dad comes down on the weekend? Can he not look after the baby so your schedule is more regular. Like, if you work from 7-4 on Saturday and Sunday and she doesn't get home until 6 pm, why can't he look after the child for those two hours? I don't think you should demand this, but I am wondering if you could gently suggest it. It might help a lot as then you will know that on Saturdays and Sundays (and Mondays, your day off) you have a regular schedule.
The hardest days are probably Wednesday Thursday and Fridays, right? Tuesdays there isn't a horse show so I hope they Tuesday's the day is a little more regular. So that leaves wed thur fri where you clock up a lot of overtime.
You drive? Go to palm beach! Go to the beach and get out of Wellington. We literally moved to Palm beach so my poor nanny who doesn't drive could walk to town and walk to the beach on her days off / evenings off. Yes, we love her a lot and I would do anything to keep her happy.
There are a LOT of nannies in Wellington. My nanny is very shy but made a couple of friends,I can introduce you to her. Does your mom know other moms with kids with nannies?
But I guess my overriding point is that you should keep track of every hour of OT you work, write it down on the day in a log or something. And try and see if you can get a regular schedule for at least a couple days so you know what your hours will be. Or even ask for another day off. I know you said it isn't about the long hours but they really do add up especially if you are stuck in Wellington every day. My nanny gets 2 days in a row off...and she earns them and more when we are down there. She gets Monday and Tuesday off and while Tuesday is hard on me it isn't impossible and she is ready to tackle the longer days on wed and thur until my husband arrives on Saturday and she can have a more traditional 9-5 kind of day.
Hope that helps!

Henry said...

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