Leaving a Terrifying Family - Help!

I want OUT - Quitting Advice?

I've been working for only 6 mo with a Los Angeles family. I was hired off the books as a nanny / personal assistant. When I took the job it seemed pretty straight forward, personal assistant tasks for MB during the morning while kiddos are at school and then picking kids up from school and doing after school activities with them until DB comes home from work. The more I work there the more I realize it's not a good fit.

Over time, the job has turned into less nanny work and more personal assistant work. She often encourages me to put the kiddos in front of the TV so I can continue making phone calls and sending emails (I feel so guilty every time.) I recently got another part time job (10 - 20 hr/week) as a sitter for toddler twins and an occasional position as a weekend babysitter for a family with a four year old boy. The more I work with the other families, the more I realize how unhappy I am in this position (Not that I really needed the wake up call. Sometimes, before I do school pick ups, I stop in the bathroom to clean up so the kids don't know I've been crying.)

Despite having multiple conversations with MB about how I need to have the amount of hours I signed up for she frequently gives me unpaid "time off" with less than 24 hours notice. Not to mention the job creep is incredible (I once had to carry a couch up and down the stairs of their two story home three times.) MB frequently doesn't pay me for the time I work by rounding down to the hour, yells at me when she's in a foul mood, doesn't let me eat in the house or take a lunch break, makes me work from home without paying me, frequently schedules playdates with other children and just expects me to watch everyone while she chats with her friends, keeps me as long as she needs to in the evening (meaning I usually drive like a crazy person to my next job), and "lets" me go early without paying me for scheduled time. Not to mention one of her male family members is constantly hitting on me.

I also worked Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year but was unceremoniously given federal holidays off without pay at the last minute because she didn't "need" me. I'm also not sure her kids and I click. While they can be really great, they think of me as just another indentured serf in their home (probably because I'm frequently putting them in front of the TV ugh) and are often rude and demeaning (they're 3 and 5). I leave her house feeling exhausted and unhappy, whereas I leave the other families feeling pretty pleased with myself. I don't want to talk to her (conversations have proved fruitless) - I want to QUIT.

The problem is that I'm absolutely terrified of giving her notice. I know there's no way she'll give me a reference of any sort, regardless of whether she thinks I'm leaving or not. Also I'm only 24 and I feel like nanny jobs (or even personal assistant jobs) in LA are incredibly competitive and few families want such a young nanny. It took me almost three months to find this position. I also get paid good money - $15/hr (although for the amount of work I do for her, I should probably get more). I'm also concerned I won't find another position, because while I have a car, it's not child safe (I drive a truck) and this position comes with the use of a kid safe car.

I feel like I have some weird stockholm syndrome. I'm so scared of quitting because I know she'll throw a fit (this woman is TERRIFYING). But most importantly, I don't want to have a 6 month gaping hole in my resume and it seems like a cop-out to just tell future families that this position "didn't work out," because that sounds like I got fired. It also feels weird to look for a new position while I have this one. What do I tell other families? "Yeah, so, I haven't told my boss I'm trying to leave, so please don't contact her - but I promise I'm trust worthy!" Does quitting now making me unhireable? Should I just suck it up and keep fantasizing about the day when the twins' 20-something nanny leaves for an office job? Any advice would be incredibly appreciated.


BKmommy said...

Your first mistake was accepting an off the books job that clearly stated you would be doing more than just nannying. Give your two weeks notice with a simple statement of this not working out for you/not a good fit. And next time PLEASE have a contract and get paid legally. You'll be able to do your actual job with less drama this way. Good luck!

Lori said...

I once had a nanny job from you know where. When I gave MB 2 weeks notice she freaked out on me. But, she quickly composed herself because she knew there was a chance that I wouldn't return the next day or finish out the 2 weeks. And, she would be out a nanny as she searched for a new one. Anyway, expect the freak out since you know how she is. If she crosses the line, you have every right to leave and void the 2 weeks. Don't prolong your misery and get it over with. And, don't beat yourself up about it. We all gain experience from our mistakes. Have a nanny agreement or contract next time. By the way, 24 is still young so don't worry about it. Most parents prefer maturity anyway. As for the gap of time and not having a reference from her, as long as you have experience and references from other families you should be fine. Good luck and best wishes!

Siriusly_James said...

I wouldn't be worried about the gap in your resumé. As a nanny, you have to be incredibly lucky to never meet a family where nothing works out, and you end up leaving without a reference. It happened to me at my first nanny job, and I was terrified that no one would hire me, but since then I have never met a family who didn't understand it. If they have asked, I have said that the first family and I didn't 'click', and that it was because of lack of communication, and then I talk about how important communication and a clear contract is. Actually, every family since has respected me for quitting a job I wasn't comfortable in, and being able to learn from it.

nenanny said...

You have references with your part time families. You have two positives just with that ( twin and toddler experience) Look for a job now, I find parents are more willing to hire a working nanny.

You don't need to go into why your leaving your current main job.

Get out now, and I hope your next fulltime gig is great! Make sure you get a contract and stick to it. Good luck to you!

VA nanny said...

My last job sounds identical to this one. I too was terrified to give notice, and I definitely wasn't honest about why I was leaving, which made MB less horrible about it. (She was still horrible, just less than she would have been otherwise.) My question for you is, do they have other household staff who could give you a recommendation? My old MB surely won't bother giving me a recommendation, but I can get one from her assistant at the office or the household staff manager if I need it.

Also for future jobs, have you tried working with an agency? I know the agency I was with said that many parents ARE looking for highly skilled young nannies. That was one of the reasons all of my previous families hired me; they wanted someone who would play basketball or tag with the kids and be their "friend" as well as their caregiver. Because agencies typically have stringent requirements for their nannies parents feel okay about hiring the younger nannies because they know that they have the right qualifications.

And honestly I agree with PPs that most parents wont worry too much about the 6 month gap, or the fact that you couldn't get a reference from the family. Especially if you have other previous positive references. I didn't give a reference from my previous (year long) nanny job and my current employers didn't care because I had 4 other families who gave me stellar references.

Try to remember that this is a JOB. I always have a hard time with that, because nannying is such an intimate thing. Your MB considers you to be an employee. If you weren't working out for her she would have no problem replacing you because you are an expendable tool to her, there to make her life easier. In the same way, this is your job, and if it's not working out for you you have every right to move on. You don't even need a reason. Unfortunately, even parents who run their own companies and fire employees all the time tend to take it as a personal attack when their nanny chooses to leave. It's ridiculous. Sorry you have to deal with it.

MissMannah said...

I couldn't tell if you were joking with that last line. Is the twins' nanny potentially going to leave for an office job? If so, wait it out. If not, start looking for other work ASAP. Like James said, don't worry about the resume gap. Put the experience on your resume but don't put MB's contact info. If someone asks to speak with her, say "MB would prefer not to be contacted." And yes, "it didn't work out" is a perfectly acceptable reason to leave a job in the nanny world. Any boss-parent should understand that you must click with the children and parents for the job to be successful. If they think you're flaky because of that, then you don't want to work for them anyway!

OP said...

Yeah I'll never take a job without a contract again. I felt so weird asking for one for a part time job, but now I'm realizing that was incredibly stupid.

VA Nanny - Is that true about agencies? I met someone who worked for a really great one in LA, but it seemed too upscale for me. I have a college degree (not in child care) and am CPR certified, but I have two small tattoos (one on my wrist) and a small nose stud and three studs in each ear. I feel like that's pretty much a no go for agencies. None of my families have a problem with it (obviously), but it still feels like a deal breaker.

hmmm said...

OP you are being way too hard on yourself. Go talk to a nanny agency. And I had one job that was three years long that I tell people not to call cause it ended badly. And i say it was casue they took me on a four week trip and didn't pay me a dime extra and I quit when we got home.

The kids treat you like crap cause the mom does and that is not going to change. i have found that you are either compensated with awesome money or considerate employers, you rarely get both. But you sometimes get the nasty ones who roll through life like that.

Find a new job, say that she hired you with an expectation of X hours, you're only getting Y and she makes you park the kids in front of the TV and move couches. No one that you want to work for is going to think you are weird or unreliable for quitting that job.

Anonymous said...

If she is abusive, don't give two weeks notice. There is a chance that you will not get paid for those last two weeks. After getting paid next time, wait until the money is safely in your bank then text her that you are quitting. Don't go back and take that abuse!

--Southern Nanny

VA nanny said...

hmmmm- I don't know if your tattoos etc would be a deal breaker. Maybe with some agencies, but I doubt it as long as you have the experience, simply because I'm sure there are families with the agencies who would be fine with it. Most of the better agencies expect a degree, various amounts of experience, good references, and professional behavior (dress, etc). I got with an agency straight out of college and got my first full time high paying job at 23. The family specifically wanted a young nanny. They ended up being completely crazy, but the pay and benefits were great and were completely negotiated by the agency, and that agency stood by me and supported me when I left. I know that if I can't get a reference from anyone in the house the agency will have no problem vouching for me. I've gotten jobs through various websites and the agency, and I have to say that the agency works better for me, mostly because they help with the negotiation stuff; I'm the first to admit that I'm not very good at it.

NannyJenn said...

OP- I'm in the LA agency and searching for a job as well. I've pretty much registered and interviewed with all the agencies recently. 2 small tatoos won't, there are lots of nannies out there with tatoos and piercings.

With a degree and experience most of the agencies will work with you. I'd give the following ones a try-

VIP Nannies (Rebecca)
Westside Nannies (Heather)
Rose's Agency (Casey)
Madison Meyers (Madison)
One2One Staffing (Arika)

I hated Elizabeth Rose, but you could try them too.

I know for sure that Rose's, Madison and One2One would work with you even with tatoos and piercings.

Good luck!

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♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...


I have had many jobs I hated so MUCH that I dreaded driving in to work and cried myself to my car going home.
Trust me on this:
They won't get any better and will only eat away at you until you reach your breaking point. And yes, you WILL reach a breaking point and things will end up being 100x worse than if you had done something about the situation earlier.

Since this woman views you as simply "The Hired Help," that could be an indication why the kids treat you that way.
They most likely are emulating their mother's view of what a nanny/personal asst is.

Since she is tacking on more and more chores/duties, I say collect your last paycheck, make sure it clears the bank then make her think you were abducted by space aliens. Just kidding.
But really, just send her a text or e~mail stating that you do not think you were a good match for each other's needs.

Many people will advise you to give proper notice, however I strongly advice against this based on how you describe this woman. She sounds like the type who will make your final days w/her hell and who knows? She may just make you work and not end up paying you what you deserved. And since it is under the table, sadly you may have no avenue to take to recoup any losses.

For references, you can always use the other two families you are working for.

Hopefully you will be okay financially until you get another job.

Hope this all goes well.

Amanda Gilds said...

I had those 'gaps' because I didn't want to use certain families as references. I just explained this to the new family I was interviewing with. They were all understanding, because the references I had were excellent.

Anonymous said...

This woman is not in control of your destiny. The more you are afraid of her that means the longest away from her you should be. Do not let fear rule you. Run Run like ever other person who has worked for a @#$$$%^^&*(()))). Run Baby Run. They will make you sick. Walk out the door , slip out the back, not need to be coy just sit your self FREE. Blank Her