Having a nanny is a luxury. You pay for a luxury the same way you'd pay for a luxury car or a luxury cruise or a fine dining experience - in other words, you have every right to expect certain things for your money, but you pay the price.
Let me offer an example: a nanny gets an hourly rate that is higher than a daycare rate. It's expected that she will get regular raises. A bonus at Christmas is pretty standard (one week's pay for every year worked). An expectation to a minimum number of hours. A week of paid vacation. These things are STANDARD, not signs of a generous employer.
I don't know if this is more a rant or an entreaty to parents, but I'm dealing with a situation right now with my NF that is leaving me a little bitter.
I live in an area where nannies are not common, so I considered myself blessed to find a new NF several years ago after my then - current charge started school (I had more than three years wjth that family, and continue to work for them when they need a sitter or short term care). I hit it off with the parents, hit it off with the kids, and was coming off of six months employment, so I went ahead and took the job WAY below market rate, even for my area, and way below my personal rate - we're talking $10/hour for three kids, all under age 2 (and the time) and special needs/multiples. I was so glad to be working again. I've now been working for them for several years, and while I don't think they mean to take advantage of me, I think they just don't think about how their actions affect me. :(
When I started, the family was in a medical crisis and required someone literally every time the kids were awake. I was working almost round the clock, seven days a week (in excess of 80 hours) and DB says it's too much for them to afford, so offered me afford flat rate of $500 per week. He said they'd "remember this later" with a tone of appreciation (and the insinuation that when the crisis was over, they'd make it up to me monetarily). I didn't go back to hourly until almost ten weeks later. Again, at the time I needed the money so badly it was like a godsend, and worth it to keep the job long term, but sometimes when I think of how much money I lost, I could scream. They never "remembered it later" unless you count the time months later that my car died right before vacation, and they asked me to work on my day off and paid me for five hours instead of three "to help out".
Over the years, the pattern has held. I have never gotten a bonus, nor any paid vacation. I have gotten regular raises so I'm just now - after years and another kid - approaching a base market rate. This year, at the beginning of the school year, we talked about me taking on some additional responsibilities, so they offered me a slightly bigger raise to compensate for the incidental time I spent on my own time. I found out then that they gave the other nanny the same raise (even though she was not expected to take on any additional responsibilities).
Which leads me to my current problem. At the beginning of the school year, when i took on additional responsibilities, it required me to give up or reduce some other side jobs I'd been doing. I was upfront with with them about this, pointed out that I'd need to depend on them now for that lost income, and they agreed. So for four months now I've been working about 35 hours a week (give or take no more than am hour or two).
I asked to take off a week over Christmas break because MB would be home, and the week I was supposed to come back, the family decided to go on vacation for a week. When I finally did come back, they told me that "things were tight right now" and they'd need to cut my hours a little temporarily. They assured me they knew I still had bills to pay, they'd take care of me, etc.
This week I was scheduled to work 27 hours; they cancelled even more hours so now I'll only be working 18 this week. I have bills that I won't be able to pay this month. No clear end date in sight. And, frankly, I'm a bit peeved. My dad says I should say something like "don't worry, I can use the extra time to go job hunting" which obviously I could never do, but sums up my feelings well.
I'm a good nanny. This is not in dispute - they rave about me, MB frequently says she wouldn't be able to get along without me, she's so glad I'm in the kids lives, etc. I do light housework, I do laundry, I help keep the household running smoothly. I've been with them through thick and thin - deaths in the family, behavioral problems, other undependable nannies, etc. It's very hard to not feel underappreciated.
Ironically, I have a side job where I never work more than 7 hours a week, and my boss there goes above and beyond. My first year I got two weeks pay as always bonus; this year I got a month's pay. When he found out I bought a new car after my old one died this summer unexpectedly, he gave me a random bonus (almost a month's pay) to help out with the unexpected expenses. This is pretty typical for him. It's hard not to compare the two. :(