24 Apr
Super Nanny’s Ready to Super Quit

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I’m a nanny and I absolutely love my job, but my bosses are driving me insane. They waffle between wanting to be completely hands-on with their three kids and basically shoving me out of the room to do chores and housework that aren’t a part of my job description.

I’ve been working for them for almost a year now, and I average 60 hour weeks, but have yet to see a single overtime check. Lately there have been a lot of comments about how random things are my responsibility (“Don’t worry about clearing the table, that’s the nanny’s job”) or how I’m paid to do things (“Don’t worry about the laundry, honey, the nanny can fold it. That’s what we’re paying her for.”)

I know that financially they’re not in as good a place as they had hoped to be due to the blow Hurricane Irene dealt our area. And I don’t want to sound greedy and demand/ beg for more money, but at the same time I’m getting fed up with being pushed around and dumped on without the compensation they claim to be giving me. What should I do?

Signed,

Ready to Move Out of This Nanny State

________________________________

Dear Ready,

First of all, I’m sorry you’re having such a tough time with your employer. I imagine it’s very hard to love kids like they’re family, yet be treated unfairly and like you’re just an employee by their parents. The role of Nanny can be inherently difficult for many reasons, including emotional. Which is why I only let the cat or the TV watch my kids when I’m not home. After all, I don’t want them getting attached to a hot lass from Sweden who doesn’t yell things like, “I’m setting fire to your Legos unless you pick them up, you nimrods!”

Now, I’m going to try my best to give you advice on this, but since there are many details I don’t know—your employment agreement, compensation, taxes, housing, etc.—it won’t necessarily be my usual brilliance. But I will say that 60 hours a week seems like a lot and you’re probably not being paid by the hour or they wouldn’t ask that of you. You’re also probably not being paid to do laundry or cleaning, but maybe that was part of your original agreement? That whole “light housekeeping” trap that many have fallen into. (Also known as “marriage,” am I right ladies? Up high!) Anyway, do you think Mary Poppins would put up with any of this shit? No, she’d whack Dick Van Dyke’s ass with her umbrella is what’d she do.

What I think you need to do is stand up for yourself and ask them to discuss your hours and compensation with an eye to possible changes. You may have agreed to certain things when you took the job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t revise them later. Be strong and let them know that you’re working too many hours and also let them know that you’re confused as to which is your priority—the kids or the cleaning. And understand that your employers aren’t necessarily bad people, but it can be easy to start pushing things off on the nanny when you have one. Take a look at the Fair Labor Standards Act to see if it applies to you.

Finally, you’re a nice person to be concerned about their financial struggles. You really are. But repeat after me: Their Money Problem Is Not My Money Problem. Meaning, fair is fair and you should be compensated for the work you’re doing whether they can afford it or not. I mean, I don’t tell my hairdresser that I’m going to pay her the same for full highlights as I do partial because my money’s tight, right? You’re a single woman and you need to look out for yourself and your own financial well-being.

Just remember that a kind, generous nanny is hard to find and your employers need to realize how fortunate they are and treat you accordingly. If they don’t, polish up your resume.

And your umbrella.

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH

7 Responses to “Super Nanny’s Ready to Super Quit”

04.24.12#1

Comment by Brett Minor.

I completely agree with Wendi. I might even push as far as getting something in writing to define what your job is, what your hours are and how you will be compensated. Then there would be no further questions. It could always be revised later if needed.

04.24.12#2

Comment by Moira.

Get it in writing: expected tasks, priorities of said tasks, hours per week, compensation per week, overtime arrangements. Good luck to you!

04.24.12#3

Comment by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes.

I think it is high time you sat down with your employers to discuss the job and your task description also the working hours. If you have already signed a contract stipulating those things refer to it. A lot.

04.24.12#4

Comment by Plano Mom.

Repeat after me:

I am not family. I am a professional who has a crucial role in this family.

Repeat until you accept this without feeling like you are a lesser person in this dynamic. You have ALL the power and control in this relationship. You have a higher status in this household than you are giving yourself credit for. Try to remember that if you walked out, they would be in huge trouble, but if they fired you, you can get another job in a heartbeat. Wish you lived in Plano…

04.24.12#5

Comment by Anne-Marie @ Do Not Faint.

Oh my gosh do I feel your pain! I have a detailed contract for the job I started this February, because I’m working 50 hours a week. 60?! I’d go nuts. I also am not ok with working while the parents are home. I’ve tried it, and I just can’t deal. I love children. I don’t love parents. I put up with parents. 😉

But as for your situation, I think a discussion about boundaries is your first step. And, if you have one, checking out the details of your contract. Using “I” statements helps me a lot–parents tend to see me as a person, rather than an expense, if I say “I feel uncomfortable because you haven’t finished filing the appropriate tax forms and I’m afraid about getting fined if I don’t pay quarterly income taxes on time.” Now I’m a person worried about money, just like they are people worried about money. I also like to start discussions like this by saying something like “It is always difficult to bring someone into your home to work so closely with your family; I’m not family, but I’m here for a lot of family events, conflicts, celebrations. It always gets awkward at some point.”

I hope that helps. Those two conversation points have always worked for me. People get resentful of expenses, even when the “expense” is standing right there, and sometimes they need an umbrella to the butt or head to remind them that you are a person, not just some black hole they throw money into.

04.24.12#6

Comment by mtwildflower.

You said they are not paying you what they claim they are paying you.

Does that mean they are claiming this on their tax forms and giving you a W-2 that says you earned more than they paid?

Big, fat no no as far as the IRS is concerned….on THEM.

Personally, boundaries have already been crossed and unless you have a really strong personality to get them back on track, this is not going to end well.

Are you employed through an agency? If so, talk to the person in charge for help. If not, I’d turn in my notice and look for another job.

04.24.12#7

Comment by Muffintopmommy.

One of the things that is really getting my muffin top in a twist about your email is the parents saying, “It’s the nanny’s job to clear the table” to their kids. You are their caretaker, not their maid! They are doing a great job teaching their kids to feel entitled!

From what I can gather, sounds like some boundaries need to be established. They sound like they are taking advantage of your work ethic and your kindness. I can’t help but think they are big douchewaffles. I agree with Wendi about polishing up the resume if you try to resolve this and it doesn’t go down in your favor. Good luck!

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