Need Advice on a new family.

I need some advice on a new family.

First a behavior question. I am nannying for a fairly new family. I began working for them last October, and I have been dealing with new/odd behavior from the two year old ever since.
The main part of my job is caring for a one year old girl twice a week. However, the last 3-4 hours of the day the two year old girl is also there. Ever since I arrived, she has been very sensitive to me being around.

For example, the first day I worked for the family, I was playing kitchen with the 2YO. She was making some pretend cookies for her dolls, and I asked her if she would make some for me. She just stared at me. So trying to play around, I did a poochie lip and sad face while saying “puweeese.” She started bawling… She seemed to not understand that I was just playing around. It look me 5 minutes to calm her down and make her understand that I was “pretend sad.” This is a completely new situation for me. I have never nannied such a sensitive child.
Since the 2YO is so sensitive, I have a hard time knowing how to deal with her behavior problems. I have tried doing fun things with her, such as decorating cookies or doing projects. These seem to help her warm up to me temporarily. However, she will just randomly seem to snap and get really sad and refuse to obey me or even look at me. For example, a couple of days ago I was making her dinner, and I asked her if she wanted some milk. She just looked at me and yelled “don’t say my name!” It was so weird and out of the blue.

She is also dealing with mommy issues right now. Once in a while she will refuse to let me put on her bib, give her milk, or something similar. Instead, she will run away and yell “No! I want mommy to (whatever it is).” I have no idea how to deal with this. I want to be sensitive to her feelings, and help her feel comfortable around me, but I also want her to know that it is not okay to yell at me. I have tried sitting down with her and explaining that I want her to tell me how she feels, but that she needs to say it in a kind way. But she just stares at me… And completely disregards what I’m saying. The mother is supportive and corrects the 2YO if she is disrespectful to me, but the mom also doesn’t believe in giving many time-outs (The 2YO has only had 2-3 in her life despite tantrums). Thus I do not feel like I can discipline the 2YO.

The other questions I have are about the job in general.
In the initial interview, when talking about wage, the mom offered $15 an hour for one child + light housecleaning. When I asked what the wage would be whenever the 2YO was around, the mom assured me that her oldest would not be around unless she was sick. But that she would pay around $20 an hour. That is more than I usually charge for two children, so I was ecstatic and surprised. The problem is that when babysitting, or when the 2YO has been around all day, the mom doesn’t consistently pay me $20 an hour.
The mom pays me at the end of each week, and has always just paid me $15 an hour no matter how much the 2YO was around. The only time she has paid me $20 an hour is twice (out of 10 times) when babysitting. Sometimes she will give me $20 an hour, and sometimes $15 an hour. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern or anything that decides which wage she pays me. I am really confused about the whole situation and I don’t know if I should mention something, or just be thankful for what I do make.

Another odd thing that I have noticed is with my paychecks. The mom normally pays me exactly what she owes. However, once in a while she will be $5-10 under what she owes. I have never mentioned it to her because I don’t view it as a huge deal, but IDK if I should.

Also, I need some advice about how to bring up a raise. In the interview the mom mentioned that since I usually charge $16 an hour for one child (+ some light housework), I could bring up a raise for discussion in a couple months. How long should I wait before bringing it up? And what is the best way to bring it up? I tend to be a more quiet non-confrontive person. So I have a really hard time bringing up issues or raises to my employers.

The last thing is that the mom recently cut my hours. I used to work Monday’s7:30-4 and Thursday 7:30-3. But after the holidays, she cut it to Monday’s 7:30-3:30 and Thursday 12:00-4:00. I am a college student, so I really count on all the funds I make to pay for rent and everything else. Because of that, I am going to have to find a job for someone else that is once a week. I don’t know if I should bring it up with her, or just keep on searching for another family that only needs me once a week.


OTNanny said...

You can't "discuss feelings" with a two-year old. She doesn't have the language skills yet to comprehend and subsequently verbalize you how she feels. So that may be part of your issue right there. I'd continue to kindly but firmly set limits, and be sure that you are giving her simple instructions to follow rather than always making things a question; so, not "do you want to put on your bib", but "let's put on your bib - it's time to eat!". Open-ended statements are not as effective as short directives, and it is not punishment to tell a child to "please put on your shoes". If she is struggling with following even the simplest of commands, you can give her a sense of control by offering NO MORE THAN 2 choices (of the bib, or snack or whatever), and say "Choose one" (again, don't ask her "which one?"). If she continues to be defiant, you choose for her and don't back down. Once you've completed the task at hand, say "thank you" and validate her participation however hesitant it may have been. If you stay calm, she'll grumble for a bit, but then she'll get used to the idea that YOU are in charge when mom's not there.

Re: the pay - that's a tricky one - did you ever put it in writing that your rates would be different with more than one child? If not, there's not a lot you can do about it, as even the nicest parent might be taken aback by your asking for more (even if they offered it). If she's shorting you for your hours, regardless of the rate, I'd start keeping a time log to show proof that she owes you a certain amount.

Puggles said...

Her behavior is 100% normal for a 2 year old with a new sitter. You're still
A stranger, and mom is her safe place. As frustrating as it may be, that's just how they are. She's still too little to understand how to control feelings. What I do to encourage bonding is bring a fun activity from home, a game, a recipe for slime, glitter glue etc. Then, invite her ONCE to participate, while you sit and do the activity. Don't keep asking her to play, but make a big show of how much fun you're having and then she will choose to join in her own terms. If she thinks playing with you is her own idea, it will be much more effective. Also, acknowledge, rather than suppress her feelings. If she's ignoring you, it's because she is feeling scare/frustrated/lonely/anxious, etc...she's listening to her own body by not engaging. It's easy to take it personally, but please don't. It can take time for little ones to determine who can be trusted. You should definitely let her know, gently, that disrespectful talk isn't okay, but you don't want to be so firm that she further withdraws from you. Once youve established a good relationship is when you should set firmer boundaries.

As for pay, stand firm on the agreed upon pay. If you're shorted, you must speak up. If you don't speak up, she will think it's okay and it will just get worse. As for the raise, I wouldn't ask for it prior to 6 months, but you should certainly do whatever works best for you.

Unknown said...

I agree with the two above posters about the child.
Now, about the pay. It would be great if you had a contract, but if you go all the way back as far as you can remember and write down the hours you worked each week and how many children you had each day. Record how much you were paid and how much you should have been paid then figure out how much she owes you. Have all your ducks in a row and really think ahead of time what you want to discuss . When she seems in a good mood tell her you need to talk to her. Say something such as, when I started you told me I'd be working x numbers of days each week and x amount of hours also we agreed that you would pay me x amount more when I have both children. Say I took this job depending on x amount of money each week so I can pay my bills and pay for school. Then show her the amount that you came up with that she still owes you also show her all your paper work so she knows you are keeping track of what you get paid. If you forgot how much you made each week, If she pays you by Check you can go to the bank and get your bank statement printed out for a reference for you to look back on. I know money is always a touchy subject but you deserve to be paid what you agreed on. Hopefully she will understand that you count on that money and she pays you what she owes you. If she refuses or gets upset, I would look for another job.
Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the advice! Unfortunately, I didn't do a contract of any kind. I will try talking to her about the wage after getting all the hours figured out. As far as the two year old, we had a breakthrough this week and she gave me a hug :). Two hours later she told me she wanted me to leave :p. but we talked about it, and she seems to be making progress with figuring out what is rude to say and what isnt.

Anonymous said...

I think you can't go back in time and ask for the wages but starting right now you should get a notebook and keep daily track of hours and give her a statement each week. Just tell her you want to do this going forward.

Adventure Nannies said...

I agree that you cannot go back and ask for back wages, but there are a few things you can do:
1. I would definitely start keeping a log of hours that also tracks which kids are there for those hours.
2. I would sit her down after 3-6 months and review the work you have been doing, the increase in hours with the older child being around more and use that as a starting point for discussing a raise. If the 2 year old is around a lot, you may want to just ask for a flat rate increase to $18 so you are not back and forth on rates.
3. Write up a contract and ask her if she is willing to edit it with you for your position as you think it would be a great way for you both to keep track of your agreement.

For a good blog on asking for a raise check out: