Thursday, April 19, 2007

Question of the Day

To insure or not to insure....

How does everyone feel about the issue of insurance? As an employee, does your employer cover any insurance costs? As an employer, do you offer employees any assistance? Some will say that its an obligation of a good employer to offer employees insurance...and others will say that's absolutely not true- if the law doesn't require it, why do it? What do you guys think?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Question of the Day

Every once in a while, we will post a "Question of the Day" for everyone to discuss. We can talk about how we would all handle certain situations and get different perspectives on the issues from both nannies and employers. I present to you our first problem:

Yesterday, I got an email from an upset nanny because her boss canceled on her because of heavy snow. Her boss, worrying about her safety, told her not to bother coming into work. The nanny appreciated the employer's concern, but was upset that she wasn't going to be paid for the day and her rent is due in a few days. What do you guys think about the situation? Should nannies be paid when their work day is canceled by their employer? On one hand, the nanny obviously won't be doing any work for the parent, so should she get paid when she is told she can stay home? On the other hand, its not her fault that it snowed (or whatever the reason may be for the employer canceling) and she depends on every paycheck. Opinions? Comments can be posted anonymously, so feel free to talk away!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

To Do: Find a New Assistant

Often, when I tell people that I am a nanny, they react as if I've just told them that I don't have a job.

"Cool, so you just sit on the couch all day, eating ice cream sandwiches?"

No, no I don't.

Anyone who is a nanny can tell you that nannydom is full of many things, the least of which is downtime. Kids do not take six hour naps, we don't watch t.v. all day, and contrary to popular belief, childcare is not the only thing we's what we expect to do, but it isn't long before the other jobs start to creep in and our job becomes less about being the nanny, and more about being the household manager.

The "To Do" list made its first appearance in my life one spring morning when I showed up to work. The mother, rushing out of the house, yelled on her way out, "Can you run a couple of errands for me? I left the list on the counter."

This first list wasn't very intimidating. Pick up milk and cheese from the grocery store, drop off dry cleaning and buy stamps at the post office. These things I can handle. Sure, they weren't part of my job description and if I wanted to be someone's personal assistant, I would have gotten that job instead, but at this point, I wasn't very troubled. I ran the errands, kids in tow, and hoped that "to do" lists weren't going to be a daily thing.

Four weeks and dozens of lists later, I wondered where the turning point of my job had been. It was as if my employer had joined some sort of "Make Your Nanny Manage Your Life" forum. Overnight, I had gone from "childcare provider" to "grocery shopper, dry-clean runner, package sender, car washer, weed trimmer, and appointment maker." I also had to help the carpet guy figure out how and where to move all the furniture out of the three rooms he was re-carpeting and pick up a second cousin from the airport. None of these things had been mentioned in my interview, during which the job had been presented as taking care of two little boys. Imagine if the day were spent running my own errands, dragging the kids all over town. I would be fired before I could say, "The dry-cleaning had to be picked up by five."

It's as if employers don't have time to work these things into their own busy, hectic schedules, so they dump them instead into our busy, hectic schedules. These schedules, mind you, that are supposed to primarily be about taking care of the kids. Before you ask your nanny to take Fido to the dog groomer or to make sure all the plants in the backyard are watered, please remember that these are not the jobs she asked for...and if these are the services you need, advertise correctly:


And, just so we're clear...bringing your husband's underwear to the laundromat with the rest of the dirty clothes kind of makes me uncomfortable...I'm just saying...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thank you!!!!!

Thank you, everyone, for the supportive emails and comments you've written. I really appreciate it! I would like to invite everyone to send me emails with what you find most challenging about the job- I always love to hear from other nannies and childcare providers! After I get responses, I will post some of them (anonymously, of course). My email is Feel free to share any nanny horror stories, as well. : )

Thanks again! Have a great day and remember to tell your nanny friends about the site...I can also be found at

~nanny: )

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Chronically "Accidentally Late" Parent

When we apply for nanny jobs, families expect us to be upfront and honest about everything...our good traits and our bad. For instance, I always tell families that I'm not a very good cook. I can play princess games and hide-and-seek with the best of them, but put me in front of a stove and I can guarantee a good grilled cheese, but nothing much fancier than that.

I only wish, then, that Family #6 that I worked for had been more 'telling' in our interview. If only the nanny-wanted ad had read: "Two beautiful children, one dog, light housework, chronically late mother." The first three I can handle- the fourth would have turned me away from the job in an instant. I'm not so much referring to the "scheduled lateness" that occurs when a parent asks the nanny ahead of time if he or she can stay late next Wednesday because of a meeting. No, here, I am talking about "accidental lateness." The kind the tired nanny didn't anticipate and the kind that leaves her staring at the clock as the minutes slowly creep by as she wonders why it is so hard to get home everyday at 6:00, as that's what she was promised. It's the kind of late that comes with excuses that briefly apologize and then accentuate how being late was no fault of the parent's. When it happens all the time, it's the most frustrating kind of "late."

Here's the thing: nannies are expected to be punctual. If we are not, any number of things could happen: kids are late for school, important business meetings are missed, the generally peaceful household turns into a chaotic mess...things like that. While this might sound dramatic, any nanny who has ever been late on such a "chaotic" morning can tell you all about the stink-eye that she received and the rushed, perturbed hand-over of the kids that she was given. Parents, understandably, don't appreciate a late nanny. For some reason, the chronically late parent doesn't seem to deem his or her tardiness to be quite as problematic as the nanny's. Let me assure you- it is just as annoying for us. After ten hours of dealing with fussy babies, we aren't very excited when our job spills over into the twelfth hour. Our banks and laundromats are closed. It's too late for grocery shopping. And now, our only option is to go home and go to bed because in nine hours, you need us back here to do it all over again.

One time, while babysitting for Family #6, I was having an awful day. The two little boys kept fighting and would not stop arguing with me about the strict "no-t.v. rule" the parents had recently implemented. I was ready to go home, watch my own t.v. and drink a glass of wine. I needed to relax from the long, stressful day. As 6:00 rolled around, I anxiously eyed the driveway for Mom #6's car to pull in, allowing me to return to my own life for a few hours. At 6:30, I began to guess which "accidental late" excuse I had was coming. "Traffic was terrible!"
"Sorry! My haircut took longer than expected!" I called Mom #6's cell phone; it was dead. I made the boys dinner (an exceptionally good grilled cheese, I might add). At 7:15, I started to get nervous. Should I call the hospital? Surely, nothing but an emergency could make someone an hour and fifteen minutes late with no phone call.

At 8:00, the car I had longed to see pulled into the driveway. I expected to see a cast on a broken bone or a dent in the bumper of the car to signal some sort of acceptable excuse for such tardiness. No, instead I saw five Nordstrom bags. Mom #6 rushed into the house and said:

"Sorry! It was Nordstrom's semi-annual clearance sale and I just lost track of time. Oh, good, you made dinner. Okay, you can go and we'll see you in the morning."

She was shopping. There were no hospital emergencies; just discounted jeans. Job #6 continued in this fashion for a very long time. The list of excuses never failed to surprise me. It wouldn't be quite as annoying if this wasn't the same woman who called my cell phone four times once when I was three minutes late. Can you just imagine if I came to her house one morning at 10:00, instead of my regular 8:00? "I'm so sorry! Macy's was having a great sale and I lost track of the time. Okay, you can go now- have a fantastic day!"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wait- The Maid Makes How Much?!

One of the most common topics brought up amongst nannies is what constitutes adequate pay. I would like to lightly touch on the subject with a story from a previous job.

I have worked for some very wealthy families , all of whom have had cleaning people come to their homes at least once or twice a week. I've never known how much they make, but often regard the lump of bills they're handed with a bit of curiosity. "Are those singles?" I wondered. Is it possible the cleaning people could be making that much more than me? "Must be singles," I would reassure myself as I continued taking care of my employer's children.

Then came the day where it became painfully obvious that some services within this specific home were valued more than others. On that particular morning, my employer was leaving her house in a hurry, before the woman who came to clean was done. She would need me to pay her.

"Can you just grab one of those blank checks in the top drawer and fill it out for me? She gets $100."

"Wait just a minute!" I said. "She has been here less than two and a half hours. That means she's making $40+/hour to clean your toilets?! You can take my $9.50 an hour and shove it!"

Well, I said it in my head, anyway, because my employer was already gone and even if she was still there, let's be honest-I would have smiled and complied, secretly hating my existence. Was I wrong all along? Was my employer's most precious darling her dishless sink? Her perfectly made bed? In what bizarro world does it make sense to pay your childcare worker less than a quarter of what you pay someone to clean up after you? (Which, I might add, was something I regularly had to do as the nanny, so my pay should have been $49.50/hour, really). Not to demean this woman's job in any way; she, too, has to deal with many of the problems that nannies do in their jobs...this is simply to comment on the employer's priorities.

As I wrote the check out for the cleaning lady, I smiled and couldn't help thinking, "Good for you. You convinced these people that having a sparkling bathroom is worth $40/hour." The question, then, is: How do I convince them that their children should be worth as much?

I saw on the calendar that the interior designer was coming the next day. It's impossible that she could get paid more than me for picking the proper vases for the living room. She must only get $8.00 an hour, right?