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.