Nuggets of Wisdom

What are some of the best lessons you've learned as a nanny? We're looking for the kind of lessons that you likely wouldn't have learned if not for your time spent as a nanny. Some people said they've even learned important lessons here on ISYN, possibly even from you. Share your suggestions at isynjane@aol.com



Nanny S said...

Honestly, I've found that just by screening vigilantly, 99% of problems are eliminated. Once I know I have a good situation, I don't need magic cures or tips because I know I have great bosses that will work with me to find a solution to any problem that occurs.

1) I screen parents that have the first interview intentionally exclude their child(red). Anything else tells me that they don't recognize the business aspect of the job, or their future responsibilities as employers. It also gives me an idea about who really runs the household...

2) I screen for parents who don't value their nanny or the work she does. Parents that harbor resentment for a big chunk of their paycheck going toward this "easy" responsibility and are always looking for a chance to cut their costs aka my compensation. Phrases in advertisements that indicate this are: "My kids are super easy", "Pay is $x" (as opposed to "negotiable", "open to discussion", "to commence with experience", "competitive", etc), or my personal favorite--"no texting"

3) Once I know I am interviewing with a family with a strong parental hierarchy that understands their roles as employers and are willing to invest in the relationship, I screen for wealth and any indicators of family dysfunction. A quick internet search usually pulls up LinkdIn profiles. From there, I try to estimate the family income and look for any other signs of wealth or prestige--Ivy league school, for example. With their address I search for the value of their home, which is public information. If I can do this before the interview, I will, but often the address is not available until after. Any sign of not being very wealthy leaves me weary.

Nanny S said...

Continued because first post was too long :P

4) During the interview I pose a lot of situational questions and gather information about their parenting style and relationship with their nanny. I always, always, always ask: "Have you ever had any sort of conflict with a nanny? What happened and how was it solved?" -- I am hoping to hear an example of how the employers and employee worked through the issue together and there was a happy ending. If I hear "Once we had an employee who did x, y and z so we fired her" this tells me that the parents are unwilling to think critically to work with their nanny and cannot entertain the idea they might be wrong. No thanks.

I also watch how MB and DB interact with each other to try and get a feel of how happy their marriage is. I'd hate to lose my job to a divorce. I also look around the house. Is it tidy? Does the kitchen look stocked with healthy food, to indicate health is important to the parents? These things are important to me in a working environment.

6) Anything weird is a deal breaker. Don't let your kids go outside? You want your nanny to text you every time she leaves the house? I feel a pervy vibe from DB? You like Nanny Cams? Nope. Adios.

5) If offered a job, I also get references and wouldn't accept a position without being in touch with at least one. When talking with the reference I always ask, "Would you work for them again if the compensation package was what you needed?"

6) I would never accept a position without a contract. 90% of the people on this site could solve all their problems by just following that rule. Once I accept a position, I have a few personal deal breakers in negotiations:
-Guaranteed biweekly salary for 52 weeks per year (I am also open to housesitting, pet sitting and doing kid related organization if the family vacations without me
-Acknowledgement of my need for health insurance. Either employer provides insurance or a stipend.
-Acknowledge of the wear and tear on my car and the luxury that I am providing it for so much of their use. Federal gas reimbursement, annual tune up and interior detail every six months
-Detailed outline of vacation compensation as well as overnight rates

With all these discussed, bonding with the children and easing into the new routine is a synch. Now if only I knew this five years ago when my first MB would call me ten minutes before start time and let me know that I "get the day off today"... :)

Anonymous said...

I've learned some parents need to work. I never understood why people had kids, just to leave them with the nanny 12 hours a day. But I've learned that some parents are better parents because they work. They need the time to be productive for themselves, so they have the patience for their kids. Among other reasons, not just for the money reason. Now having a nanny 60 hours a week is too much, there is a good balance that can be reached. BTW, I won't be one of those working moms, but I've learned not to judge working mothers so much for working.

Justmyopinion said...

Any signs of them not being really wealthy leaves you weary.....really? The current family I work for right now is actually in the middle class but they pay me well because they choose to cut other areas to be able to have quality care for thier children and are great employers to work for. I find that the people I have worked for prior that are very wealthy have been horrible bosses and not been very helpful in keeping schedules and different rules etc consistent between thier childcare and themselves.

Nanny S said...

@ justmyopinion:

I wasn't sure how to best properly convey what I was thinking. This standard has also changed for me over the years. When I was a part time nanny for school aged kids, it didn't matter so much. Now that I am full time, I don't want my bosses to begrudge me my paycheck. By "wealthy", I don't mean families that have millions in investments and are independently wealthy. I mean I need to know that my employers have a very comfortable income. For example, in the past I've worked for two lawyers, a doctor and an owner of a small business, an anesthesiologist and a computer programer. It's important to me to screen my potential lay off because my employers fall into rough times. I know there are plenty of great middle class people in America, I happen to be one of them. Different nannies and different parents have different needs and priorities. This is one of mine.

Justmyopinion said...

That makes sense. I was looking at it from a standpoint of being able to get along with the employer versus risk of them ever being laid off resulting in my job loss. I do know that if either db or mb lost thier job I would have no chance of them keeping me on. I did work for a wealthy family before this job and was lucky to be able to stay with them for seven years and never worry about not having the job available (unfortunately kids grow up and they no longer need a nanny). I took this current job as a result of searching for way to long without a job.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

A). I have learned that while contracts are a nice idea in theory, in a court of law, they hold no weight in regards to firing someone or giving notice to leave.

B). I have also learned that I am not the only nanny who feels taken advantage of from time to time. Unfortunately, there are many families still (!) out there who love to nickel + dime their nannies to death. Not to mention job creep issues. But I still work as a nanny because there are some great families out there and it's because of them that I keep the faith and love my profession.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a pain in the ass who has NO clue what it is like to be a parent. With your perspective on being a nanny, I wonder if you aren't just a troll who has never worked a day in your life in childcare.

1) It isn't always possible to exclude children from the interview process. This does not mean I am not in charge or that I do not take this business relationship seriously.
2) Some kids are easy, that doesn't mean that a parent is trying to screw you on pay. And if you want a salary that "commences" with your experience, you might want to know that phrase is actually that they are offering a salary to commensurate with your experience. I am up front with what I pay. It is more than a fair rate in our area. However, I do not want to waste time (mine or theirs) if a candidate needs to make more.
3) How much is wealthy? Do you refuse to work for a family that isn't "rich" even if they would pay you a generous salary and meet all of your other demands?

Anonymous said...

I never thought I'd be a working mom either. But circumstances beyond my control changed that and I have a nanny because it is the best care that I can provide for my two kids while I must be away from them. You still sound pretty judgmental in your comment - a parent that works 60 hours a week might be a wonderful one that hates being away from his or her children that much but has no choice. It seems pretty hypocritical to be making money off of a situation that you feel is such a bad thing.

socalcelebnanny said...

Hey there,
I agree with the wealth quotient because working as a nanny in Beverly hills is a lot like being in entertainment. We don't just want money, we want the most because it means we are the best. My famous employer can't just afford to pay me well, but takes pride in the fact that just like she has the best doctor and beach house or ring or party planner, she has the nanny others covet.

Tabitha said...

Best advice I ever got:

1. Rich snobs are territorial about their cheese.
2. A woman can feel the chemistry between you and her husband. Even if it's one way, it will cost you your job.
3. As a nanny working in someone else's home, you will know slot about your employers. The correct info ratio is 100/25. Your employers should know 1/4 as much about you as you about then.
4. If you are good at what you do, insecure women are going to resent you. even the boss who brags about your greatness will still harbor butter seeds of resentment towards you
5. Never work for insecure women, chintzy people or professional athletes.

Siriusly_James said...

The most important things I have learned are:

1. Stay professional!
Personal information is none of the MB and DB's business.
"Can you look after the kids Saturday?"
"No, I have plans." Period. In my first good job, MB and I got very close - too close for an employer/employee-relationship to work properly, and I would tell her about my plans - when, who, where - and it got to a point where I felt I had to tell her everything I did on my free time. It's hard to explain, but it was too close and too personal for me. I'm really glad I quit, because the family are still some of my closest friends, and if I hadn't quit, it would have ended a few months later in yelling and tears, I think.
If I had kept the relationship more professional, I would have stayed even longer.

2. They're not my kids.
I'm not raising my own kids, I'm raising MB and DB's kids who are supposed to fit into MB and DB's world someday. That means museums and classical music, not hard rock or movie theaters. I can advice, and I can say that some kinds of behaviour I will not tolerate, some things I will not do, etc. but if MB says "timeout", it doesn't matter whether I would put my own kids intimeout or not, because these are not my kids, and they should be raised the way MB and DB wants.

3. At interviews, if there are two parents, I want them both to be there. No excuses.

liandra said...

All women are insecure.

BBDream said...

If someone is going to have me schlep across town for an interview, I learned that I can:

1)ask for reimbursement for taxi or subway fare.
2) ask questions about their parenting styles. I used to be too reserved in interviews, now I just ask what I want to know in a polite way and the reason I want to know it is because I need to know if we are a good fit. Most of the times I interview, the employer wants me, but I am doing us both a favor if I have done enough legwork on my side to determine if I am a good fit for your family. That's just a fact.

Anonymous said...

I can only base it on my experience, and what I've seen, but if TWO parents are working 60 hours a week, they probably don't need to. From my experience, they are the families with the bigger houses, the fanciest cars, the designer clothes. Kids would rather have their parents around more then the wealth. And if they are working 60 hours, making minimum wage, then they shouldn't have a nanny. Work less, and put them in day care when a parent can't be there. Some people need to except they can't afford a nanny. And I'm not "making money off a situation...", if a child can't have their parents take care of them, I give them the next best thing, an excellent nanny. I do it to help the children make the best of what might not be their ideal situation.

Anonymous said...

Well. I hope that everything works out for you the way that you have hoped and dreamed for in your pre-kid fairy tale candy land. Yeah, some parents probably work so they can have designer clothes. Most I know work because they have to, including me. I am fortunate that I don't have to work 60 hours a week, but I am still away a lot. I am thankful for my nanny who helps make it all possible. The only way I can handle working is knowing they are cared for in their own home by someone who cares and aligns with our family values and parenting styles. As I tell my nanny daily, I couldn't do it without her. But I also know she respects me and the fact that I have to work (not by choice) and I respect her.

Your derision of working parents boggles my mind - and if you are LESS judgmental now, I can't imagine what you were like before. You wouldn't have a job if not for working parents. I don't understand your point at all. If you really believe that you are doing it for the kids, then shouldn't you WANT to work for one of those families where the parents work sixty hours and can't afford to pay you as well? THAT would be keeping those kids out of daycare and providing them good care. Or do you work for the families that can afford to pay you more out of what is in your best interest? Hypocrisy.

I would remind you of the old adage about walking a mile in someone else's shoes before judging them, but you won't listen. And life will humble you as it does all pre-kid women and men who think they know how to raise kids... until they have their own and realize that being a parent is wonderful and amazing and absolutely NOTHING like you thought it would be.

Rosemary Wells said...

While I firmly believe in professionalism, fair pay, harmonious relations with the family one is working with/for, this definitely reads like a fabrication. There is posturing happening here.

Also, synch should be cinch.

Anonymous said...

for some reason I can't reply in the right spot, but I don't have time to respond to the anonomous mom who has been replying to me. I am busy helping raise a child who has parents working, and don't have time to argue on the internet either. I understand your guilt poster, but yelling at me isn't going to fix it. Spend the twenty minutes you spent replying to me, with your children. I'm sure they'd appreciate it. No further comment.

Anonymous said...

First off, check your time stamp. I read and post after my kids are in bed. What was your charge doing when you responded to me? Also, it didn't take me more than five minutes to craft my response. If you don't have "time" to defend your ignorant and offensive opinions, perhaps you should keep them to yourself in the future. I notice you didn't (couldn't) defend working for the 60 hour per week parents you deem to judge so harshly. At least you stand by your hypocrisy.

As for guilt, I wish I could be with my children as their full time SAHM, and it makes me sad that I cannot do so. I know firsthand how wonderful it is as I was for the first five years of their lives. My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor July of 2009. I found out I was pregnant with twins two weeks later. We lost my husband in September 2010. Although he had life insurance, we had a lot of medical expenses that our health insurance did not cover and raising four children is expensive. I was able to continue to stay home for a year after he passed and then, I had no choice but to return to work. At first, my three youngest were in FT daycare, and my oldest was in after school care at the YMCA. It was not a good experience. Having a nanny has changed our lives for the better. She is with every penny we pay her and more. I'd imagine if you saw me at work, you would assume I am one of those women who work because they want to buy nice clothes (I am in sales and dress nicely), but you would be wrong. And most women I know do not work by choice for a variety of reasons. Compassion is one of the greatest skills we can teach our children and you seem lacking in that department.

So, no, I don't feel guilty. But I do get upset when I feel as if I am being judged by someone who has NO idea what my children and I have been through... especially when that same person is someone that potentially could be working for me.

Anonymous said...

I would never ask for cab fare or subway reimbursement. You have to be willing to invest something into your career. Do the families act surprised when you ask?

Wednesdsy said...

So sorry about your loss. Your nanny sounds like a great addition to your family helping to all deal with the loss of their daddy.

Sorry about some people. They just don't have the ability to be able to understand that everyone else's lives are not like their own. It's a combination of being self-centered and close minded. To me it's more of a disease than just their state of mind.

These people, no matter how much time and energy you spend explaining alternate ways of thinking, they can't process it. The way they see it every situation that they come across it has to be caused by only this and not that.