"I Need to Insure the Nanny's Happiness"...

     I have a really sensitive issue involving my sister, who is ill and her nanny of four years. For three years, the nanny worked for a happy, healthy, family where both parents worked outside of the home. The past year, my sister has been sick. The nanny was everything for us during this time. For our extended family, my niece and nephew, my brother-in-law. The kindness she showed us all would bring me too tears. She also worked a lot of extra hours, on her own, and flat out refused to accept pay and returned any attempts to be paid.
     I am sure a 4 year run is an ideal long term commitment from any nanny, but given our present situation, we want to do what we can for her, to make her see this job as more of a career and less of a job. My sister is terminal and I know the nanny will stay through that, but what about beyond?
     How do you compensate someone who refuses compensation? At the same time, I know that she has to be mentally and physically exhausted. One thing I was considering was offering her a ten days in a row off and sending her somewhere. I would go and stay with my sister and the children once school gets out. The nanny always says, "no you don't have to do that" and "no, that's okay", so consulting her in advance about the possibility of a trip isn't workable. It would need to be arranged. She has a sister that lives an hour away and I was thinking of sending the two of them together (for safety reasons).
     Would that feel like manipulation? I wouldn't want to specify how many years she would have to continue working, but another three would be very worth it to us.
Yvan Favre
Beyond that, I don't want to box her in, but want to let her know that if she would consider staying for a longer term, we would help her out in anyway possible.  I don't want to trap her. I thought that if I could help her find a place closer to us, she would have less commute time and more free time. Finding a rental and paying for it is about as complicated as helping her get into a house and providing the down payment.
    Because she doesn't like to take time off, because the kids are attatched to her, she is so good with all of them, and because of her own responsibility, she won't take time off. I was going to suggest that she take every Friday off in the summer. I can put the children in a day camp program and be with them Friday afternoon.  Lastly, I want to hire someone to do all of the other tasks, like grocery shopping, cooking, etc. The nanny was never a housekeeper, but has done more over the past year, so I was thinking of bringing someone in full time to do those things. This is something we need to do regardless, but I was hoping to get feedback from nannies about how to hire a good fit, because the role isn't so much housekeeper as support for the nanny. I think the interview process should include my brother and law and her, and probably him only for the final round? Given what I have heard about domestic staff not getting along, it seems prudent to establish a hierarchy from the beginning? I don't even know what needs to be done, because I am not there. My brother in law is clueless, so only the nanny really know what the person's job description should look like.
   And one more thing, do nannies care about titles? It's hard to get a sense of that, but another thing we were thinking was a salary raise and promotion to "house manager"?
   Thank you for reading this. This is a hard subject to talk to about people because they get sidelined by my/their grief for my sister or they don't understand how essential the nanny is and make rude comments, like "No, I would never do THAT!".
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IMO said...

First, sorry to hear about your sister. This must be so tough! This nanny sounds like a treasure! I would talk to your BIL. I'm not sure how well you know her, but what are her long term plans? Is she married? Do you know if she has/wants kids? How about living arrangements? Since you're considering asking/helping her to rent a place closer to work, does she want to live nearby? Does she have family where she currently lives whom she'd miss by living near work? I absolutely think she deserves appreciation both monetary and otherwise for everything she's done. The big issue is care-giver burn-out. I would be sure when mentioning hiring help for her that it is abundantly clear that she isn't being replaced. I would also raise her salary and benefits. Even if you set aside a lump sum that you give her as a bonus. She may not want money during this crisis but you have the right idea. She does deserve it.

this_nick said...

This sounds nice until I get to the part "I don't want to specify how many years she would *have* to continue working, but another three would be very worth it to us." To answer your question, yes, it's manipulative to send her on a trip and expect three additional years from her in return.

The rest of this is very nice and considerate though. And I'm so very sorry about your sister; I can't even imagine.

Anonymous said...

Work with her sister to conspire a get a way. Her sister will know how to handle it and where she would want to go. Etc.

My deepest sympathies to you and your family. I also suggest finding a child therapist to work with the children during this difficult time and help them after mom has gone. They need special support during and after.


Lacy said...

My condolences for the pain your family must be going through.

I have been offered extra for my jobs, it makes me uncomfortable so I decline. However when it appears on my pay cheque I don't decline it, I say "thank you, you didn't have to, I appreciate it".

She might be declining the extra compensation because it could raise her health care bill, or some bill of hers that is biased off income. I would not pick a place to send her on, rather give her a 'coupon' with the value you want to spend and tell her that she needs to vacation. She might have responsibilities at her home, find out if she does, they might be too grand to be-able to leave (giving her more bills).

If you can afford it and are not doing it already, I would offer to pay into her health insurance, provide her with vision insurance, and/or dental insurance. You could contribute into an FSA account, or some other account to help her through-out the year. Giving her a raise is always wonderful, giving her an extra paid day off every so often is also very thoughtful. Giving her more vacation/personal days paid off in the year. Gift cards to places you know she loves.