Thursday, April 28, 2016

Yes, I Do Mind!

It was gym class day. Roo was crawling around the obstacles while Pip is hanging out on his blanket across from us. A new Dad showed up to class with a sweet new crawler. Casual conversation progressed as we asked how old each others kiddos were. Because of the age gap between Pip and Roo I mention that it is a nannyshare. With the magic words nannyshare I literally saw his eye light up and get information NOW register in his eyes. As it always does, he started with the basic questions: How long have you been with the families? Is it do-able with the age gap between them? Are you able to get out much? Then the pause.

The pause where you can see the wheels turning, I really want to ask them, but it is kind of inappropriate to ask, but I want to make sure I am on par, well who cares I'll just ask. And the next minute went something like this:
Dad: "Can I umm..."
Me: starts smirking
Dad: "You get asked this a lot?"
Me: "Yup"
Dad: " you mind if I ask you how much you make?"

Only if you tell me how much you make first I reply in my head. I'm weak and for whatever reason actually tell him what I make along with what the average going rate for a share is in Seattle. The Dad I'm chatting with, almost with a sigh of relief, replies "that's what he is paying his nanny starting a share next week." Roo starts to move on to a new toy, before I join him I ask the Dad what the age gap between the kiddos in the share will be - he mentions their ages, same as Pip and Roo. Which explains his extra curiosity.  Now as I sit here processing the conversation I am actually mad at myself for answering the Dad with my salary. I want to go back and respond with a "YES I DO MIND"!

I wish that I could say that this Dad's extra curiosity led him to ask about my finances. I'll give him that the age gap in our shares is not super common and I can understand his relief to hear of another family doing it. Literally the same ages of when I started with Pip and Roo. Unfortunately I can't. I've lost count over the years how many times I have been asked how much I make as a nanny. Often from parents wanting to make sure they are paying what is on par for the city. Sometimes from outsides curious how much a nanny can actually make watching kids. And mostly from other nannies wanting to make sure they aren't getting underpaid. I'll admit I am guilty, I have asked fellow nannies what they make out of curiosity or research. But why? Why has it become accepted that I am willing to share my salary with any stranger wanting to know?

Parents: I get it. I truly do. You want to make sure that the information you have gathered is on par with other nannies. You don't want to underpay or overpay your nanny.
Outsiders: You ask because you see a nanny is a glorified babysitter. You are truly awestruck by the fact that there is a whole group of people making a livable salary playing with kids.
Nannies: There is a comradery between nannies almost like a sisterhood. As a new nanny you especially don't want to be taken advantage of, you have heard too many horror stories of severely underpaid nannies.

Bottom line is that in ANY other line of work it is completely socially NOT acceptable to ask what people make. You generally don't go up to a teacher, doctor, or lawyer and ask what they make. So please don't come ask me what I make. There are so many factors that go into paying a nanny (which is why the number can very so much). The biggest being a nannies experience and education. Other things like benefits, part time/full time, and live in/live out all play into the equation.

So instead of awkwardly putting a nanny on the spot and asking her what she makes keep things general to the industry. Ask questions like: What is the going average for nannies these days? Are benefits usually offered by families? What kind of benefits? Most nannies I know love to share about our industry especially when it is helping out a parent trying to field what they should offer their own nanny. We get that our job is an anomaly to some. That there are few resources and crazy amounts of uncertainty in the pay scale of nannies. We get it, we would love to help, but please stop asking us what we make - unless of course you are willing to share your salary with us first. 


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'm A Bad Nanny


"Again. How could I forget again!"

Those of you that know me know that word doesn't come out of my mouth easily, but it did that day. Twice in one week I had been in such a confused hurry to get out of the door with Bear and Bug I forgot to finish strapping Bug into his rear facing car-seat, TWICE IN ONE WEEK! Because if forgetting once in a nanny career wasn't bad enough, that day realizing a mile from our house that I had forgotten twice might have put me in the running for worst nanny of the year award. 

Looking back I can take that moment and let it define me as a nanny or I can throw up my hands say "it happens" and move on. We all have our moments of feeling like we are bad nannies. We may even have more than one moment. But the truth is if you are taking the time to read about other nannies and their stories you probably are a decent nanny, I might even venture to say a great nanny. 

Being the great nanny you most likely are, take a few minutes and enjoy some horror and some laughter with these other nannies* as they share their "I felt like a bad nanny when..." stories.

"...I was holding Mr.1's hand as he was climbing up the stairs. He slipped and the movement jarred his shoulder. I spent the next 1.5 hours icing it, comforting him and his parents while his brother played through the whole ordeal. I've never been more happy for a first aid certificate then in that moment."
"...I was hanging clothes to dry, heard Mr. 1 giggling and found him holding a dead rat!"                                    - Nanny Emma

"...Once S was enjoying me twisting him on a swing, so I twisted him AND pushed him. Yeah. He smacked into the pole. I felt TERRIBLE!"     - Nanny Olivia

"...once at the park the potty was closed and C needed to poop so I opened up one of J's diapers and had her squat to poop on it."       - Nanny Sophia

"...the time I bent down to give E a good night kiss just as she attempted to sit up and rearrange her blankets. My teeth hit her forehead. MB was in the next room and came rushing over." - Nanny Emily

"...I was at Target with my 12 year old Nanny-Kid and she really wanted this one dress, but Mom-Boss told me that she could only get a pair of shoes...So I told her she couldn't get the dress, but she was like 'can I please use your phone and ask, I really want it!' So I let her do it and Mom-Boss texted back saying yes, but I deleted the text and just said she never answered because she was being so annoying and she is already beyond spoiled. I felt SO BAD after!"     -Nanny Abigail

" bad nanny moment was actually yesterday. I was very frustrated over a lot of things but especially the kids not cleaning in the half hour I have them to (constant reminders, check-in, etc) so after putting them in timeout they started laughing, and then were laughing when I was frustrated telling them to stop. So I yelled, like for real yelled, which I have never done with them or any kids I've watched."        - Nanny Madison

"...recently I have been working with a family that I haven't been feeling it, so I've been sticking the kids with very independent play and I will sit on my phone looking up and applying for other jobs."
"...the time I was bathing the two year old and he slipped. The only way to save his head from slamming into the tub was to grab the back of his neck. I grabbed so hard I left marks and he cried for over an hour out of being scared. I replayed that moment over a hundred times how I could have done it differently."          -Nanny Charlotte

 " second week with ex Nanny-Family, the boys were wrestling (like always) and 3 year old knocked 2 year old into the bed frame and his nose started gushing blood. I had to call Grandma because Mom-Boss was in a meeting, It was the first time I met her."        -Nanny Amelia

"I was making homemade play dough with 2 year old. I turned for literally 2 seconds she put her hand right on the hot burner. Luckily it didn't leave any marks or anything. I still felt terrible though."            -Nanny Grace

"...the time when the triplets were babies I accidentally dressed G(boy) in girl's clothes. It even had a hat. Once I realized what I'd done I took pics so his parents could embarrass him when he's older."
             - Nanny Victoria 

"...the time when we were 'making a movie' and R (5yrs) hit W (6yrs) with a light saber and he had to get stitches."        -Nanny Chloe

"...there was the time I burnt L with a curling iron because she moved her head and I caught her ear. I felt so bad."   -Nanny Zoey

"...I went to send a text and 5yr old tipped back in his chair, fell, smacked his head on shelves behind him. Needed stitches."        -Nanny Addison

" accident I locked myself out of the hotel room - 3yr old and 6 month old baby were left alone while I ran to find a housekeeper. Luckily my boss thought that was funny. It wasn't for me." 
             - Nanny Natalie

"...I locked all 5 girls in the un-started minivan on a 97 degree day..."        -Nanny Hannah

" is funny now but, Oh my goodness. Let me set the scene. Great kid (boy) about to turn 4 years old, lovely November day. Played for over an hour and he kept begging for one last turn down the slide. So this was the last one, we went doubles down on a the slide - his right foot bent backward as there was a turn on the slide. He started screaming and crying and I thought he sprained his ankle. I also thought he was being dramatic...once home I tried having him walk on it - as he tried to get off the couch he shrieked and screamed in pain...a doctor visit and x-ray later turned out he broke his leg. A stick break! Happy Birthday to him!!"         -Nanny Harper

"..that time I zipped N's penis in his pjs then had to unzip it to get it unstuck."      -Nanny Evelyn 

I asked these nannies to share their stories, not so we could sit and judge each other. But so that we can see we all have our moments. Moments of feeling like a failure in our profession. We all have those moments were the uncontrollable happens and everything seems to go wrong. 

Remember these moments don't define us, if anything they make us stronger. So shake of the feeling that you are a bad nanny when things don't go as planned and as Anne of Green Gables says “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it... Yet."

*all names have been changed for anonymity of each nanny and her employer


Friday, December 11, 2015

I Am Severely Underpaid

I realized the other day that even though I don’t have much experience I am severely underpaid for Seattle” the newbie nanny and I had met up for a play date. We somehow got onto the conversation of pay and she opened up to me. As of lately it seems like most nannies all feel the same way, that they are underpaid.

What are you making, if you don’t mind me asking”? I inquired, wondering what a new full-time nanny of just under 3 month considered underpaid.

I make $X an hour for 2 kids. I mean yeah this is my first time as a full-time nanny, but shouldn’t my years as a day care worker count towards experience? I didn’t really know the Seattle market when I moved up here or I would have asked for more. I love my job and I knew what I signed up for so I can’t really complain.”


Can I be really honest with readers? It was really refreshing to hear her take responsibility for her pay. That she recognized that she didn’t thoroughly do her research and she agreed to the pay rate at which she is working at (which in my opinion wasn’t underpaid at all but right on par for her experience).

Hear my heart on this, I am not judging you, disagreeing (or agreeing with you), or hating on you for feeling you are underpaid. I just heard of a nanny making $325 a week taking care of twins. In my book that is underpaid. In someone else’s it might not be. 

What I want to do is take a minute and ask you, are you really underpaid? When you hear of the nanny across town making $25 an hour or even $22 it is easy to feel like your $15 or $18 is underpaid. But let’s take a step back and ask a few questions.
  • How much TRUE Full-Time nanny experience do you have?
  • How much training and/or education do you have?
  • What certificates do you have?
  • What skill sets do you have that set you apart (bilingual, musical training, sports, etc)?

Truth? I overqualified myself when I started out as a nanny. I thought that all my years of babysitting should count as nanny experience. I thought that all those years as a part-time nanny should count as stronger experience than it did. I thought all my book knowledge and personal development should count as much as an accredited course or class. But it didn’t/doesn’t. All that experience, yes makes me a better nanny. All my years of babysitting helps me understand childcare better than if I hadn’t babysat but they don’t have a thing to do with my resume to make me a more sellable nanny. 

Yes I have watched children for over 15 years. Yes I have been a nanny for 9 years (because nothing before 18 years of age is considered professional on a resume in the nanny community). Children are second nature to me. I have been called a baby whisperer on more than one occasion. The natural math instincts that my engineer friends have, I have with babies. But the difference in their pay scale and mine is that they have an education in their field. My engineer friends honed in their natural instincts and went to college, they took classes and studied for years. They paid their dues with internships and lower paying jobs before they worked their way up. They continued to take yearly courses to stay on top of their game. 

Back 3 years ago I thought I was worth more than I was. I thought all my unaccredited experience and knowledge should count for something. After turning nannying to a career from a side job I have realized a few things. 

The biggest being that to be a professional nanny I need to act like a professional nanny. From everything to furthering my knowledge with classes, training, and personal development to knowing the current nanny industry in which I live. This means stay in touch with other nannies, attending local events and conferences. Being a professional also means knowing a realistic value of what I am worth in my current area. It’s knowing how to negotiate a contract that is realistic, meeting the needs/wants of the family and of you the nanny. It means being willing to have the hard money conversations. Being a professional means I take responsibility for my actions.

Goodness knows that I am not perfect in being a professional. That having those hard conversations still scares me. That I look back at how naive I was 2 years ago and know that in 2 years I will look back to now and see how much I still had to learn.

But that is the difference. 

When I started out as a nanny I thought I knew it all and my skill set was totally sell-able. Whereas now I have a desire to grow and learn. I want to learn how to grow my skills and not settle. I want to take courses and classes, read as many baby books as I can. I want to meet and talk to as many nannies as I can. I want to learn from my Mom-Boss and Dad-Boss. I want to keep growing. 

I want to know if I ever truly complain about being underpaid it’s because I have so much experience and education under my belt that people can’t afford what I am worth. Speaking of which I off time to sign up for the where I am going to meet some incredibly professional and awesome nannies.  


Friday, December 4, 2015

Autumn Winds and Missing New York

September hits every year hard with a bang.
 The air grows crisp. 
Everything I. MEAN. EVERYTHING turns pumpkin spice. 
Riding boots come out. Scarves, hats, even mittens now become appropriate daily wear.
 The days grow shorter and the nights longer. Kids are heard playing on school playgrounds and parents sighing in relief for their normal days back. And slowly, oh so slowly I start to miss the beautiful seasons that New York offers it's citizens.

Walking the fall filled streets with crisp air.
This time of year New York starts turning splendorous shades of orange, gold, yellow, and reds. Faded memories of late night bonfires with country music blaring out of the back of a pick-up truck, hard cider in hand, and late night conversations with good friends start to return. The yearnings for a long drive in the midst of the hills and vast colors calls my heart. Every September I am reminded that I do someday want to settle down in a small town buried in the hills of some east coast state.
The colors that capture one of our favorite spots
However, this year I decided to embrace Seattle and the displays of color that etch our water encompassed land. This fall I captured little moments of beauty and color here on the west because although different, the beauty here is still of radiant. Beauty from one side of the country does not negate the beauty on the other side. So here is my journey of enjoying the beauty out here on the west coast.

When houses have great foliage in their yards.

Or just really cool looking trees to walk under!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Would You Tell Them the Difference?

I've read several blogs in the last year about how frustrating it is as a nanny to be called a babysitter. Usually I shrug them off. I mean yeah there is a difference between being a babysitter and a nanny. A big difference. But is it worth the energy getting mad?

Last week our Hispanic house cleaner in her broken english told me as she smiled at little Roo "you good babe-sat", I interpreted it as you are a good babysitter. I found it rather endearing and sweet. But as my cousin asked me this Thanksgiving "Are you still out in Seattle babysitting"? I suddenly felt degraded. 

I mean I haven't seen her in years so I can't fault her for her not really knowing what I do - so I didn't bother to correct her. But as my sister introduced me as a "professional babysitter" to all her friends I flinched. Visibly apparently, as my brother commented on the fact that I must really not like being called a babysitter. Which I guess I officially don't.

For the first time I felt degraded. Really degraded. Here I am a woman in her late 20's, making great money, taking courses and classes yearly to stay up to date in my field. A full-time working woman with certificates spending countless hours reading for professional development and I am compared to a high school part-time job. A part time-job that I spent many years doing. I paid my dues, I spent nights working my way up the pay-scale (as I will continue to do as I keep taking classes), I have graduated from my babysitting title.

So yes, it may seem little. A person might not know the difference between a babysitter and nanny - assuming they are the same thing. But it is not little. The difference is real (both in pay-scale and job description).

Next time someone calls me a babysitter, I might just speak up for our field and inform them of the differences. Because most people mean no harm in calling us nannies babysitters. They just don't know that there is a difference between the two. Would you tell them the difference?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oh, the Places You'll Go...

"...You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights."
                       -Dr. Seuss

When nannies start talking about some of the perks that comes with our job a variety of ideas start gathering; guaranteed hours, nanny car, never dressing up for work, play-dates, fun trips to the local sites, vacation days, sick days, on and on the list goes. This almost non-exhaustive list is because each family is as different as the snowflakes that fall each December in my hometown, but one perk is usually stands out above the rest. A perk that most nannies hope to be asked to join in... 

The vast majority of nannies that I know hope that at some point their nanny-family will ask them to travel on some wonderful vacation with them. Whether it is a weekend on the coast or a week in Paris traveling with a nanny-family can be a great way to see new sites at very minimal cost to the nanny (before it seems all rainbows and butterflies, usually the nanny is still required to work her normal work week in addition to extra hours in return - still a great deal in my opinion).

For me the places that I'll go have been more because who I have met in my profession instead of traveling as a professional. The relationships I have built with the families I worked for bled into their families and friends. I have become the "additional" daughter, sister, and auntie in some of these families. I have felt honored and blessed to be able to grow from an employee or "the nanny" to much more. 

In 2010 one such relationship led to me to one of the most beautiful places I have explored thus far, Hawaii. Now in 2016 I will get to enjoy the perk of who I've met because of nannying by joining the high fliers to China. My exMom-Boss has a twin and this twin currently lives in China. With an upcoming break and an incredible ticket price I decided to take up the offer to visit her and her family. With an excitement in my heart, a future stamp in my passport, and the need to buy a new suitcase I am grateful not only for the places my nannying takes me but the people it brings into my life.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Roo is in his crib fighting sleep. As he fights his essential need for rest I am reminded of men and women who have fought for our greatest desire freedom.

Pearl Harbor War Memorial, 2010
In America it is easy to look at the last 30 years and wonder if we still need a military to fight for our freedom. We haven't had an actual battle take place on our soil in what 70 plus years? The last time we were truly attacked by another formal military was Pearl Harbor (this is not a researched statement just an assumption). It is easy to think of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afganhanstan as fruitless wars. I am not a history buff nor a professional historian so I am not going to make a validating or invalditing comment on that thought process, none the less when we hear about sending our men and women over to these "hell" like situations one wonders why.

We have our freedoms, we fought against the Brits to win our freedom. We fought against the world in WW1 and WW2 to keep our freedoms. America has even fought itself to keep the rights of the states and the people within the states. So why do we keep fighting wars that don't seem to be ours? Why do we keep risking and loosing lives our men and women? Well France of course.

I think France as why we continue to fight battles that might not necessarily be "ours" to fight. In 1781* when the French navy ships finally reached an almost hopeless American soil, spirits lifted and the airs of change began. France decided freedom was worth the fight, not just their freedom but freedom of their fellow humans. So they set sail and helped Americans finish the fight for freedom.

Whether you agree with they whys of war or not, please don't forget that men and women are daily fighting for not just American freedom but the freedom for other nations. A freedom that we honestly take for total granted here in the states. So before you take another shot at our military power or governmental strong hand, before you go all political on the rights or wrong of war, remember. Take a minute to remember the men and women that have served and fought for you to be able to voice your opinions on war. Remember the soldiers who have suffered their own personal hell and come back to people hating them for it.

Most importantly if you see a veteran today, not matter your opinion of war, thank them for serving. Some veterans choose to serve, some were drafted to serve while others wish they had never served - but the reality is they all did. They all went to war in our place. Please thank them for fighting for humanity's deepest desire, freedom.


ceconner© 11.11.2015