The Better Nanny Chronicles

       I have to laugh at some of the people I interview with. I've worked for celebrities, NBA superstars and high profile families in NY and CA. I remain in the nanny field because I make a good living. When I interviewed with an editor of a polished NY  magazine and she dismissed me and my requests with a wave of her bony hand, I stood up. I asked her, "I am sure you'd think it reasonable to travel to Scarsdale to waste interview for a reporter job for the Scarsdale Inquirer?" She wrinkled her nose at me and said, "Leave". I wasn't about to waste more of my time.     
      I have cut out the agency in my nanny search. Sometimes that is to my disadvantage, mostly it is to my advantage. I am beholden to no one. If I am treated without  respect or my time is wasted, I can say so. I wouldn't insult a prospective employer with a list of postulations, but this is what I look for.        This is my mental list:
Urwana Deboucians

    - Please don't ask me for the names and phone numbers of my references before I indicate I would be interested in working for you. I have a tremendous respect for previous employers and their time is something I consider carefully.
    - I am looking for a properly staffed home. I don't do housework. Period. In the nanny world, some will call vacuuming and dusting light housekeeping. I don't do any of it. If a child in my car spills a cup of apple juice, I will clean up the apple juice. I don't do laundry either. Why would I?  Or is it customary for auto mechanics to polish your car just because they are there?
    - A family of means. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of dandy families with parents who work arduously for their money urwana-deboucians.and pay and treat their nanny justly. I worked for some of those on my way up. I won't now. Budgetary restraints are a direct obstacle to perks and bonuses.
    - Discipline. I will only work with parents who tender to the same discipline philosophy as I do. Punishments result in loss of privileges, but desired behavior earns rewards. I have no tolerance for rudeness and for no amount of money will I pretend that I do. In one of my first nanny gigs, I was downstairs with the mother trying to prepare breakfast when the three and four year old were on the counter screaming, "we are dancing on the table." The mother was frantically looking for almond butter. Yeah honey, that's your problem. I lasted all of six days there. Freaks.
     - I will work for a SAHM or a WOHM or anything in between, but I need a clear expectation of what you will be doing. If I think I am to schedule the child's day and set up a picnic and a playdate at the zoo and you show up announcing you need little Henry to go suit shopping for a wedding three months away, I will lose my shit. Also, it doesn't work when two people try to handle a schedule. I might take three days and you can have two. Or vice versa. I don't want to waste my time or your approximating what I am supposed to do.
     - I am looking for a partnership. Don't talk down to me. If you have a question, ask me. If I do something you don't like, be an adult and address it. I am not a servant. I don't care how you treat the housekeeper or the driver,but I am taking care of your children. I expect to be treated with the same regard you treat me with.
     - Vacations. Here's the problem with being the best thing since fried chicken, my families cannot live without me. However, I will need to take one vacation every six months. I don't ask for more than a week. I will even find someone to fill in for me in my absence and make a calendar and schedule for them in my absence.
     - Working late.  Nanny hours are long. I will work late,but I expect twice my hourly salary. I prefer to be paid in cash for extra hours. I don't want to do math for you and figure out how much you owe me. 
  -  Under no exception will I care for additional children without recompense. They could be your bosses children, your nephews or your first nanny's adopted daughter from Haiti, this is my job.
    -  Manners. If your children don't have them when I arrive, they're about to get them. I speak to every person I meet thoughtfully and use all of the befitting conversants. I require your children to do the same. I understand that if they have not yet been taught it will take time, and certainly they will not face any punishments for your lapse.  
    -  I work with children of all ages. In the age of electronics, I insist that we have a policy in place with regard to screen time or means of communication. I will enforce whatever you have in effect. I cannot work with a family that allows arrant use of cellphones, laptops, ipads, skyping, etc.
     - Health Insurance. Yes, I will need health insurance. I don't expect to have it immediately, but after three months, I expect to be placed on either a company or family policy that proves of benefit to me. Spending Money. Working in NY and LA, with children of all ages, I like to do things with the children. I will require access to money whether cash or credit card. I will detail these expenses in any manor you require, but one of my peeves is parents 'forgetting' to leave money for a certain task or event.
Franois Boucher

     - Food. Many parents I work for keep pantries full of Cheetos and Fruit Roll-ups and Oreos. I do not eat that sort of food. I do enjoy eating, I just like to have healthier choices. I am not here to change your child's diet. I will prepare my snacks and meals and so long it does not conflict with any allergies or religious dietary needs, I will always offer your children the choice to enjoy quinoa, greek yogurt with fresh mango, wheat grass, kale, carrot and banana smoothies. The only thing I ask is that you let me know if there are restrictions. I find that the diets of their children is one thing that parents are most often inconsistent with.
     - Exercise. I encourage and participate in as many activities as your children are interested in or age appropriate able to partake in. I have worked with some families who have overweight children. While I never make an issue of weight or food, I do encourage an active lifestyle.
     - Travel. I love traveling with families. I do require extra compensation for traveling and I do require a private room and bathroom. I also require that I travel with the family. If the family travels coach, then so will I, but I cannot sit in coach while the family flies in first. Yes, this happens but not with the caliber of family I employ with.
    -   Driving. In my earlier years as a nanny, the “nanny car” could be questionable. I have a flawless driving record and can drive in any city or interstate without problem. I do require roadside assistance for emergencies and I require that the vehicle be safe. I once drove a Chevy Suburban as the nanny vehicle and I had to keep insisting that something didn't feel right. I was met with annoyance by the father. Finally, it was determined there was a major problem with the car's axle that could have been catastrophic for all of us. If you wouldn't ride in the vehicle, please don't expect me or your child to ride in the vehicle.
     - Greetings and Salutations. I have a name and I answer to it. Please use it, encourage your associates and acquaintances to address me by my name. If me calling you by your first name is a problem or is some abhorrent reflection of disprespect, we are not a match made in heaven. I will not take any job without a trial period. The trial period will be paid at full rate and the length mutually agreeable. If you have teenage children and leave them in my care, I am not okay with allowing them access to alcohol or marijuana or anything that they are not properly prescribed by their doctor. My reputation means the world to me.
     - I have worked in homes where there have been governesses, tutors and other nannies. It is important to me that I am on top of the pecking order. My skill and experience dictate it should be so.
If I have a problem with something that is not clear or something you have done, I am going to address it, in person face to face. I do not cower or quiver in the presence of my employer. I insist on 100% honest communication.

*R is a 37 year old nanny currently working in the Beverly Hills area of California for a high profile family.
**Title by author


April said...

This isn't unreasonable, but this is why I work with an agency. I wouldn't show up for an interview unless I knew they would pay my salary, offer vacation and health insurance and a few other things. For example, for no amount of money would I work for a stay at home mom!

Corina said...

Great post!! I wish I had your confidence OP! More power to you.

nj nanny of 1 said...

I think people are going to jump all over you for writing this, but so you for a mental list..I am right there with you. If a family cant give what I want, I probably wouldn't say why, I would just say I was going with another family. But one thing I know is families respect you for asking questions and being straight with them when you work for them. So unless you are a nanny or employ a nanny, I don't think you should judge!

Anonymous said...

Amen !!

Anonymous said...

I agree with all you said. Stay at home can be good to work with as long as she is clear with her expectations and work as a team with the Nanny , this is the only way it can work long term !

Angi Martin, nanny of 30yrs said...

I feel like I wrote this! :) I mostly work with special needs or special situation households. My job is a job....I will not be your lackey.

Anonymous said...

So supreme and can't even spell manner right.