Job Creep

     This is for all the new nannies out there, and all the kind hearted nannies who just can't say no. I've heard it referred to as "job creep," I also call it the slippery slope.

     I'm sitting here reflecting on my career and thinking, how did I get here? How did this happen? I'm a hard working professional nanny who absolutely adores children, especially my 2 current charges. I've been with them for four years.

     I have a contract. It (basically) states that my sole duties are to watch the children and only the children, also including child related tasks such as kids laundry, kids clean up, kids shopping, etc. And I was perfectly happy with that!

     But when I go to the grocery store to purchase kids snacks and kids meal prep items, how can I say no to also picking up a salad and cheese for my employers? What am I suppose to say, that we should all just go to the store together so that all items for both children and parents can be purchased? That's just silly.

     And when I'm doing kids laundry but the parents have left their items in the washer, am I suppose to just dump all of their clothes on the floor? That seems so rude.

     And when I'm doing the children's dishes and the parents have left just their coffee cup and toast plate in the sink, is it really that hard for me just to wash that too?

     And when I show up for work and the dog is sick on the floor and the children are worried to death and the parents ask me if 'just this once' could I take the sick dog to the vet, what am I suppose to say? "Sure, I'll take Chocolate to the vet if you pay me another $20 for that task because it's not in my contractual job duties." How heartless does that sound?

     But now here I am, 4 years later, responsible for taking Chocolate to the vet for his medication every couple weeks and the groomers. I do the entire family's grocery shopping and hey dry cleaning pick up/drop off is right on the way so might as well do that too, and every other errand that's "just on my way and will only take a minute." I keep the entire household cleaned and organized, from gardeners to construction workers. Not to mention both of my young charges and their health and well being and tutoring and entertainment and extra curricular activities, and the list goes on and on. I show up to work everyday with stick-it notes covering the counter with endless tasks that need to be done. I've dragged my poor charges on errands screaming and crying, all of us with with headaches, because MB and DB had a time sensitive request to get done. Every time I brought it up with MB and DB, it ended in me just wanting to keep the peace between us.

     They use to at least say please and thank for me going out of my way to help them out. They use to acknowledge that I truly was doing a favor for their family, "just this once," but now if I don't get their request completed in a timely manner I get reprimanded for my time management and priorities. (Since when are their children not the number one priority??!?)

     I didn't think to include some of these exactly specific boundaries and instances into my contract. I've been a nanny for nearly 8 years with such considerate employers in the past, I've never encountered such a slippery slope like this before!
     It's too late now, there is no going back. At this point, my only request to my employers was to properly compensate me for the price of a nanny, personal assistant, house manager, and tutor, since I am fully completing each of those tasks. My $15/hour (40 hrs/week in CA) does not compensate me being frazzled, stressed, and burned out from rushing around all day every day. And my poor charges! When I spoke to MB and DB recently again about the issue and a raise would be ideal, they said they'd be willing to consider ways I could 'earn more money'. So they've missed the point entirely from my discussion with them, and I've started seeking new employment elsewhere. I'm wiser now and thought I'd pass on the wisdom. Beware nannies!!

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Anonymous said...

You can renegotiate your contract.

Jenny said...

Sorry. No. This doesn't happen to me. I'm perfectly able to say no politely. I'm too busy with my charges to do anything for parents. I was asked once to straighten up upstairs and I said: I'll ask(house cleaner ) to get that when she comes in. We're going to x activity. I ask for detailed descriptions when families list "light housekeeping " in an advert.

I will say, that I'm by nature assertive and don't mind establishing boundaries. As you said, it's a slippery slope

clare said...

I'm in CA. What you're doing is described as House Management. The pay for that is 28-35 per hour. Sorry you got roped into it for 15

Anne said...


Also, have you received a single raise in four years? Generally - or in my experience I should say- nannies get a 1-2 dollar raise per yr or for each new baby. Whichever comes first.

RBTC said...

i'm glad you got the courage to get away - let us know what happens

Stephanie said...

I appreciate the warning for new nannies. It's really important to stand up for yourself and know your self worth. Job creep is insidious. Ergo the name job creep. NFs don't start the job off with a list of 50/11 things to do. Or else nanny would run like her #$@% was on fire!

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to pick up an item or two while picking up stuff for the kids or to toss wet clothes in the dryer so you can use the washer...but you went way out in left field. The ultimate job creep


RBTC said...

y'know - we could use this site to communicate - there was the case of the "nanny" who really wanted to be a housekeeper and cleaned so much she neglected the children - the OP or someone in a simlimar position could say ( parents can rarely argue when you use their child's name ) My priority is Joey and he is soooo wonderful that i just now realized that slowly, thru no one's fault, my attention has been directed away from Joey and for Joey's sake i am going to need to redirect my attention back to Joey and his needs" - and then list the activities that are not directed to joey and smile big blowing kisses to joey! it might work

Anonymous said...

So a little devils advocate here...when you nanny for a family 4+ years, unless they are adding kids you are likely out of a job soon (or significant reduction in hours) if you don't broaden your duties. Doesn't mean you should be cleaning toilets but light housekeeping and errands while kids are in school? Better than unemployment!

That said, it still warrants a conversation and you should have had raises all along.


this_nick said...

I love the way you explained job creep. It does begin innocently enough, then four years later you're here. It's tough for nannies to know which families will end up taking advantage of our kindness, which makes us want to err on the side of not extending it (at least not in this manner.) I think this is a must-read for any nanny beginning a new job.

Jean said...

@Vanessa, are those truly the only options? No other families in town? No new babies? Really?

The very nature of nannying is its transitory employment. Babies grow, kids go to school. When the family's needs change, nanny moves on to another.

Many nannies work for several families during their career. It's not a 25 year/same family job. That's ok.

Unemployment isn't the only other option. Neither is becoming a housekeeper.

Anonymous said...

Well she said she's been with the family 4 years. My point is that unless the family continuously creates babies that after 4 years your role must shift if you want to be with the same family for the same hours. Or yes, fine, move on...

Anonymous said...

OP here!
Thank you everyone for your responses!

To clarify~ I cannot renegotiate my contract, because when I tried they added "other duties as assigned" onto my contract! (Seriously what does that even mean?!)

When I started in 2011, I was making $13/hr (and as mentioned, I was solely responsible for 2 children, nothing else!) They gave me a $2 raise in 2013. (Which means I am now due for another raise!)

As to the comment about duties changing with growing families~ I have nonstandard hours to work with the kids school schedule. I typically work noon-8p. Which is fine with me. I have a couple hours before the kids are out of school, and I like to use this time to prep for the kids.. Purchase supplies, groceries, plan activities, tidy up, etc. But MB & DB have slowly crept into expectations of me using that time to do everything else in the world, of which isn't even ample time to finish necessary tasks! Where I've really run into a huge predicament is especially when the children are out of school (holiday breaks, summer vaca, etc) or are home sick.. The parents just don't let up on their expectations of me being as their personal assistant!

I take full responsibility for letting it get this far. Like I said, I thought I was just being helpful and a few favors here and there. Clearly I was wrong, and now I know!

I have no problem being a house manager, but they do need to pay me as such. Realizing that was never going to happen, that's what has led me to my search for new employment! And so far so good!!
Thank you again everyone!

Anonymous said...

Yup. I was thinking of writing in with something similar because THIS. IS. MY. LIFE. I have been a nanny for over 5, going on 6, years and almost every single job finds me with job creep. I have come to the conclusion that I am just too %*&^ing nice. Someone please help me start saying NO nicely!!!!