Ask Nanny B

Post a Question about Babies and Children

and receive advice from Nanny B, professional and experienced career nanny

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22 responses to “Ask Nanny B

  1. Sarah

    Hello. I have a question regarding pay. I am currently a nanny for three little boys, ages 4, 6, and 8. I am making $11.50 with a .25$ raise every six months. The family is adopting a new born early next month. I was offered $12.00 /hour when the new born arrives. I live in Rapid City, SD and I understand the the going rate is not what it would be for a large city area but I need to know what to do in this situation. I have been with the family for two years and have over 10 years of babysitting experience. What should I be asking for and how do I approach this issue? I do not think $12.00 an hour for three kids and an infant is fair. Thanks for your help.

    • As I’m based in Australia, I can’t say if your specific wages are fair or not. But I can tell you that in my experience, unfortunately, many families greatly under value the person caring for their children, and some believe they shouldn’t have to pay even minimum wage or provide legally mandated workers’ rights.
      It’s very difficult to manage when you work for yourself.

      The first step is valuing yourself. Look at as many advertisements, websites, and resources for nannies you can find and compare your skills and experience with others and their wages. Set a range in your mind that you believe you are worth, and that reflects the current market in your area. Don’t over inflate though, this isn’t about demanding unreasonable payments but setting a fair and honest value on your skills.

      If this value is very different to what you’re currently being paid, you can either try to negotiate a better wage, or look for a new job – this time with a clear sense of start you will and won’t accept.

      If you’d like to stay at your current job, the research you did to value yourself is what you use to negotiate with your employers.
      Give them warning you’d like to talk about how the role is changing, set a time aside or agree to exchange emails on the topic. Talk about the new aspects of your role together, ask for clarification on the changes and added responsibilities first. Then tell them you feel the role would normally pay (whatever range your research showed) and that you’d like them to consider a change in your wages.

      If they pay you much less than you feel you’re worth and won’t budge, there’s nothing for it except to either accept that or move on. Sometimes I’ll work for slightly less if it’s a great work environment where I get a lot of satisfaction. But I’d go elsewhere if I felt take advantage of.

      Good luck Sarah!

  2. Family I worked for reported to CPS

    I recently ended my employment with a family I had been working with for about 2.5 years. I raised the youngest since birth and was like a second mother to him.

    The mother had always been a stress case, “working” from home as a freelance in a creative field, however she only booked possibly 5 or so jobs a year. She was a micro-manager lazy as could be when it came to performing motherly and household duties. She spent her time going to her personal trainer at the gym, shopping online, getting nails done and teeth whitening treatments, etc. My start time to come in each morning changed slowly and became earlier and earlier since she claimed “It’s just SOOOO much easier when you’re hear in the mornings getting the oldest up and ready for school.” She stayed in bed, sleeping, rarely changed the little ones diaper while I tended to the 5 year old (who also is on the spectrum of Autism with behavioral issues – very challenging at times.)
    My duties increased to the point where she was having me do everything (while she did her own thing, hardly working at all) from:

    Cooking family meals
    Grocery shopping
    Cleaning out and organizing fridge, freezer, pantry, cabinets, etc.
    Taking kids to the doctors
    Wrapping gifts
    Dishes
    Laundry
    Taking the baby to mommy and me classes bi-weekly (some lasting 4 hours)

    The dad had cancer, which ended up coming back and is potentially terminal, therefore he was always home and the marriage and relationship between he and his wife was awful. He ignored her, didnt want to deal with her a lit of the time while she was condescending towards hm, nagging constantly and she didnt like that he turned into someone different from when they married when he was more adventurous. I mean, c’mon, the guy has cancer is going through intense chemotherapy.

    So, turns out the mom has both Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She is verbally and mentally abusive towards not only her sick husband, but her parents, especially her mother, who has constantly made excuses for her behaviors.
    Even WORSE – she was verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive towards the kids, more so the 5 year old son. Telling him “I CANT STAND YOU ANYMORE! I’M GIVING YOU TO YOUR GRANDMOTHER AND SHE WILL TAKE YOU FOREVER AND YOU WILL LIVE WITH HER!”
    I also found out she said she only wanted to be a Mother in the sense of the word, but not having to take care of them, that it was too much work to constantly feed them, bath them, etc.
    She was yelling and screaming at her 5 year old regularly like a switch flipped in her brain and would be like she was bi-polar.

    The poor boy has stated that he hated his mother, doesn’t respond well to female authority figures from myself to teachers or his behavior therapists. However, he responds to male figures well.

    Eventually things got worse to the point that she was forcing the toddler to eat foods 5 days old or more because she was frustrated that he was so picky. She pinned him to the floor, straddled him and sat on top of him, held his arms over his head while he was crying and kicking, shoving a spoonful of food into his mouth repeatedly. She stopped when I said,”He could choke like that.” Her response was LAUGHTER, yes, Laughter and then she got up finally.
    Worse yet, she stuck her finger down her babies throat and gagged him when he was teething and was breast feeding and accidentally bit her. She said “I wanted to teach him a lesson that that’s not ok.”
    She also kicked her senior dog repeatedly in front of the kids when she was in a stress rage because she didn’t want him to throw up on the carpet.

    Based on this, and SOOOO much more proof of neglect and abuse, I reported her to CPS after 2.5 years of witnessing this type of abuse.

    I then tried to inform their nighttime nanny (who takes care of the kids in the late afternoon/evenings) and texted her to tell her what I did and wanted to make sure the kids were looked after by her as well.
    I found out that she forwarded my texts about what I said about the abusive mother TO THE MOTHER! Talk about not caring about the kids and wanting to keep her job…….

    With all of this, I chose not to return to work and told the dad (who was on my side and approved of my going to CPS and everything).

    Any thoughts? I loved the kids, especially the youngest since I practically helped raise him and miss the kids and worry about them all the time. AND I feel guilty for leaving because the dad is super sick with cancer and could die, but the daily stress was too much for me to continue handling.

    Would any of you do the same???

    • That sounds like an incredibly stressful situation. Frankly, I’m amazed you stayed as long as you did, which is obviously a testament to the love you have for the children. Ending a role with a family, and leaving behind the regular contact with children for whom you’ve cared and loved, is always difficult, but I cannot imagine how much worse it must feel when you have to leave in such awful circumstances.
      If you genuinely believe a child is being abused then you have absolutely done the right thing to report it to the authorities. Your responsibility is to guard against possible abuse, their responsibility is to determine what to do next.
      You said the Dad knows about your report and supported you? Even though you needed to leave the job, for your own wellbeing, will he make it possible for you to stay in touch with the children? Perhaps that would be a way to continue a relationship with them, or at least keep up to date with their lives and their home situation, without putting yourself in the daily ‘line of fire.’ Good luck to you. I hope this experience won’t put you off nannying in the future, because you sound like you are really good at it! 🙂

  3. Kate

    I’m a nanny, I work for few different families, I have just started working for a new family with one child, I just got call wondering if I can look after her friends 2 children on the same day. which I’m fine with. but I’m confused about what I should expect for wages, are they expecting to split my normal rate in half each, or are they going to pay me separately my normal rate. I feel like they are taking advantage of me , am I asking to much for both families to pay my normal hour rate each? ( sorry for the rant) thanks

    • You’re not ranting! 🙂
      These families are asking you to nanny share, and in my opinion it is unfair to ask you to do two twice the work so they can pay half the amount.
      However, paying the full rate each probably isn’t fair to them either, as neither is getting you one-on-one, as they would if they employed you alone.

      I feel that a split down the middle is fair for everyone.
      Eg. If your normal rate was $20ph, you should tell them that the rate for nanny share is $30ph.

      This makes it worthwhile for you to add another child to your care (and caring for two children from two different families is inherently more difficult that two children from the same home and family, and your pay should reflect that).
      It’s great for them, as well, because they are still paying less each ($15ph) than if they employed you alone.

      It’s often difficult to discuss pay with your employer, but I think it’s important that you value your work and ask them to value it as well.

      Good luck!

  4. Frustrated Full Time Nanny

    I work 8hr shifts 5 days a week and I am frustrated. The baby is 16months old now and is exhibiting some bad behaviors. They throw food that they don’t like then scream until they’re given something new. If I leave the room to even use the restroom, they throw themselves onto the floor in a screaming fit. If I take something from them they have full on tantrums. I literally have 8hrs a day of fit after fit tantrum after tantrum and I frequently take bathroom breaks just to try to gain composure. I love this child like they were my own but I am exhausted. I am also expected to come up with educational activities yet I am not provided with anything other than one book with activities in it. Help me please I feel hopeless and it’s affecting my life way too much.

    • I’m not surprised you’re feeling worn out, you have a lot on your plate!
      It seems to me there are two main problems here, the toddler’s tantrums and the parents’ expectations.

      I would first deal with the parents. Families, rightly, want their nanny to provide both a loving and learning environment, but sometimes don’t fully realise the ways you are already doing that every day and ways that they could facilitate activities themselves.
      I find families love it when I’m proactive, and are usually thankful to be directed a little. I would try two things to help them appreciate your work and assist you to focus it as they want.
      1. Keep a basic diary that points out ways you are providing for learning throughout the day. Group childcare has more in the way of ‘activities’ but one-on-one nannying gives greater opportunities for integrated learning. If you talk to the child about colours while putting her laundry away, make a note of it, as well as ways you might notice her learning more about this topic.
      2. Go to the parents with some ideas of books, materials, clubs, etc that can help you to structure the day as they would want and ask that they provide you with more of the resources you need to guide their child’s learning. They will probably be happy to provide you with more, once they know clearly what you need and how it will help.

      The toddler’s tantrums are obviously going to make everything else virtually impossible at this point, so before tackling the problem, let the parents know that the educational aspect of her development you’re focusing on right now, is actually this exact issue – helping her learn boundaries and some measure of control.

      Many people misunderstand the terrible twos, not recognising this typical toddler behaviour begins in the second year not after the 2nd birthday; so right at the age of your charge! She is becoming more independent and testing to what degree she can affect outcomes, but also experiencing a wide range of emotions she has little control over – the clash of which makes her feel extremely frustrated,

      Now is the time to start being firm with her. It’s not mean or strict, it’s answering her questions when she checks where boundaries are and what your responses will be and giving her a sense of security in structure and predictability. Be consistent with your rules and simple in your instructions. Never ask a toddler an open ended question when a simpler choice is available.
      “What do you want to eat?” is overwhelming to her and tells her she is is charge of everything.
      “Which of these two choices do you want to eat?” allows her to have some influence over her life without requiring too much complicated decision making, and shows her you are still ultimately in charge.

      Once a tantrum takes hold it is often best to let it burn out rather than feed it. She is little equipped to reason with you and struggling with her emotions. I often find staying nearby where you can ensure her safety but ignoring her quickens the process of calming down. I like to sit nearby reading one of her books or looking at one of her toys, having a jolly time by myself (or with other children) and ignoring the tantrum and wait and see how often they will calm down and creep over to join. Welcome them back and show them how pleased you are by this behaviour and how much attention positive behaviour gets.

      When things are really getting to you, you are quite right to take a break! So long as she is safe, it is good for you both to make sure that you are not pushed too far, and are able to maintain your own calm.
      Speak to the parents and try to come up with a consistent approach you all use to help get through this difficult time. Good luck!

  5. David

    My baby is trying to walk, but she’s never crawled! Should we be trying to discourage her from walking before she learns crawling skills?

    • No need to worry, David!
      Though most babies will crawl, there’s no truth to the saying “you have to learnt to crawl before you can walk.”
      Even though you often hear that babies need to learn to cross crawl for their brain development, there are actually no studies that have shown any ill effects whatsoever to skipping crawling and going straight to walking.
      Your baby is just keen to get a move on and will learn the skills she might have gotten crawling in other ways 🙂

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  7. Jane C

    What’s Your Question?: I have a three week old newborn who is a very tricky day sleeper. She is hard to get to sleep and doesn’t stay asleep for long. This situation is extra hard as I have a very active two year old to care for also. I’m confused as to the best way to manage the situation.

    • It can be very hard to manage a baby with a toddler in the house, even at the best of times! There are several common reasons why a baby of around 3 weeks may have trouble settling and staying asleep.
      – your daughter is becoming more alert now and so regular sleep cycles becomes more observant. She will come into light sleep approximately every 40 minutes. She may rustle around and make noises but not necessarily be fully awake. You can help her learn to self-soothe and settle back into a deep sleep at this time.
      – if you have been feeding, rocking or holding your baby as she falls asleep she may have developed sleep associations that make it difficult for her to fall asleep or stay asleep alone.
      – in young babies the Moro reflex is very strong. This is when they fling their arms and back suddenly, often giving themselves a shock and making it hard to relax long enough to settle into sleep. Swaddling and tucking in restricts these movement. Most babies sleep better when swaddled and tucked in tightly (always on their backs).

      Every baby and family is different and so there are many other factors that may be contributing to your problem and many other solutions I can offer, if I know more details about your situation. Perhaps you’d like to try the Free email subscription trial for some more personalised advice?

  8. Gina G

    I am pregnant and have heard that playing your baby classical music in the womb can help it to be smarter on later life. Is this worth a shot or just really crazy? Since being pregnant i feel like my judgment is off as i would do anything that will be good for my child.

    • The so called ‘Mozart effect’ refers to a study that claimed to show that children who listened to classical music performed better at tasks requiring complex thinking. These findings lead to many parents wanting their children exposed to classical music both before and after birth, especially since it is known that the foetus can hear from within the womb.
      However, this study has since been disproved. What the study actually showed was that when children listened to, and enjoyed, the classical music they then performed better at the given tasks. Improved metal performance after experiencing something enjoyable is a different effect and not directly related to the classical music.
      Neither effect has been shown in unborn children.
      So, while it is natural for you to want the best for your baby, you don’t need to play classical music to your tummy to be giving her the best start in life!
      That being said, it has been shown that classical music can be soothing and calming to the mother, which has a positive effect on your overall health during pregnancy (and your sanity after!).
      All in all, playing the classical music won’t make your baby smarter, but it may help you stay cool and calm now, and later on you can share it with your child who may enjoy it also.

  9. Music guy

    Do you think having kids requires you to be grown up and have your shit together first, or is it the necessary thing that forces you to get real and take responsibility?

    • This is a tough one, there’s no straightforward answer. Certainly children are an enormous responsibility and demand an incredible amount of your attention and energy, attention and energy you may previously have dedicated to yourself. As much as it sounds like a neither here nor there answer, I’d say it’d probably a bit of both.
      It’s never a good idea to rush into any massive decision without thinking it through or feeling prepared. But I do question whether anyone would ever feel completely prepared for becoming a parent.
      Many people plan and many people don’t, many are older and wiser and many are young and inexperienced, and it doesn’t follow that those who planned for kids and felt grown up and wise automatically did a better job than those who felt unprepared.
      I guess in the end you probably don’t need to feel so ‘grown up’ and together before you have kids but you sure as hell do need to shake that off and accept kids will change your life and you’ll need to be the grown up when it happens – the baby can’t!

  10. EGM

    My son is 11 and whenever I ask him to do anything he always asks for “one more minute” to finish something. Then I always have to ask him again and we end up arguing. How can I get him to do what I ask, when I ask?

    • Children like to know what’s coming next.
      Give your son an alert that you are going to need him to do something in say, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 (depending obviously on what he’s doing, what you’re doing, what you’d like him to do). Two or more alerts is even better, the last when there’s only a few minutes left before you need him to stop his activity.
      Make sure you get an acknowledgement that he’s heard and understood you.
      When the time comes, tell him the amount of time is up and now it’s time to do what you’ve asked. If he asks for more time you need to (and here’s the part that’s so much easier said than done!) be calmly firm; remind him he’s already had more time. If need be and if possible end his current activity for him – turn off/take away/close whatever it is he’s occupied with. Tell him the consequences for not doing as he’s asked and allow him to make the choice. Your calmness, his ability to predict what’s coming next and the results of his actions, and his ability to chose that course of action are the key.
      Good luck!

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  12. JaneJane

    Ever since before my son was born people have given me heaps of really cute baby shoes. He’s just starting to stand and cruise along the furniture and I’ve been dressing him in the shoes everyday. Theyre cute, plus I figured they keep his feet warm and protected. But a friend of mine told me I shouldn’t use them. I’m a but confused about why baby’s shoes would exist if they’re not meant to be used?

    • If your baby is only cruising you should definitely keep him barefoot. The bones in his feet are not yet fully formed and any shoes, especially hard-soled and rigid-sided shoes (which a great many of the cute, fashionable ones are), can restrict and deform growing feet.
      Not only this, but babies get a lot of valuable information about balance through the soles of their feet. This information is lost if they can’t feel the ground, making them less steady and more prone to stumbles and falls.
      In a nutshell, if your baby is practising walking, keep the shoes off (and socks for slippery floors). If you want him to wear shoes now and then stick to soft-soled shoes only. He won’t be ready for harder soles until he’s a confident walker, and then it’s important to buy only properly fitted shoes designed to support their still forming feet.
      As to why the innapropriate, hard-soled, rigid baby shoes even exist? Unfortunately there is a lot you can buy your children that you don’t need, or that is even arguably unsafe or impractical. All you can do is be as informed as possible. Keep checking here for advice, like my posts about the 10 things you don’t need for your baby! 🙂

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