Nanny Problems: Underpaid and Overworked
by dijana skarica.
In the decade I’ve been working with children, I have met many nannies. Every single one of them loved her job. There were times when I (and they) really disliked their schedule, employers, pay rate, and many other details, but never the job itself, never the purpose or the charges.
I’ve often wondered if this single quality, the love of the job, might be the reason why so many nannies are not paid what we are worth, because in the end we care more for the kids and their wellbeing than for our own.
The Internet and other methods of networking have afforded nannies around the country the opportunity to connect with our colleagues in a new way, and we have started to compare what we are earning. We are exchanging information, advice, ideas, and thoughts, and we are growing as a community. We are learning all the ways to protect ourselves and how to ensure that we are seen as professionals worthy of the money we earn, instead of apologizing for asking for more than minimum wage.
Recently I polled a group of nannies to share how much they earn to help me with this article. Several respondents shared professional websites where this information can be accessed. Herein, I provide a recap of this most valuable information for you.
These five factors influence how much nanny is paid:
Nannies who live in Great Falls, Montana can’t compare their earnings to nannies from New York or Australia. Life is different, kids are different, responsibilities are different, and cost of living is different, so controlling for these factors using standardized wage reports makes it a little difficult for the nanny who is trying to understand her worth. Different life standards demand different pay.
If you are just starting out in your career as a nanny, you can’t demand the same pay as someone who has been working in the field for decades and has many years of experience with kids of all ages. If you have been working for five years with school-aged kids and now you are taking care of an infant, yes, you are experienced nanny, but you need to prove yourself as someone who can handle working in different environments.
The occasional babysitting gig and taking care of your siblings when you were a youth can help you with your job, but in order to prove yourself as a professional you need to have minimum of two years of experience as a full-time nanny before making demands and feeling angry that the neighbor pays their nanny double what you are earning.
Education itself is very important, but not everyone needs to have a four-year degree listed on their resume to be successful as a nanny. For me personally I can’t imagine how having college degree in a field unrelated to childcare would make me any better as a nanny, but for some parents it is important that their nanny possess a formal educational background. Very often, therefore, those nannies with college or postgraduate educations can command a higher rate of pay because their employers perceive that they have a lot to offer.
Parents who pay well will expect their nanny to offer something special that they can’t just go out and find on Craigslist. If they only seek a person with enough of a pulse to make sure their child will survive and nothing more, they would ask their neighbor’s teenager or pay a much lower hourly rate at a daycare. But to stand out from the crowd, a wise nanny will seek ways to make herself more valuable. Some ways to set yourself apart may include getting a formal education or certificate in early childhood education, attending a nanny training event or conference, becoming a doula, getting CPR and First Aid trained, or knowing several foreign languages.
Abilities and Responsibilities
The willingness and skillset to perform additional responsibilities can also help a nanny demand a higher rate of pay. For instance, a nanny who can drive kids around and make sure they are at their events and activities on time, and a nanny who can double as a household manager, cook, maid, and shopper should expect to receive a higher income.
It’s time for you to understand you are not doing anyone a favor by working for family that you are not eager to work for. When you realize you want to search for another job, take your time, do your research, and be picky. You deserve to be happy and be paid fairly.
If you are earning less than minimum wage, you are underpaid.
If you are paid on a guaranteed hours minimum and your agreement was to work 30 hours per week and now you work 50 hours per week for the same pay, you are underpaid.
If your job was to only take care of one child, and slowly they added several other non-related chores without additional compensation, you are underpaid.
If you are disrespected, abused physically or mentally, taken advantage of, or mistreated, it doesn’t matter how much you are paid, you are underpaid and being taken advantage of (and you need to leave, like yesterday!). If you believe you are a victim, call the police now.
If you are working more than 40 hours a week and not getting paid for it accordingly, you are underpaid.
In the end, if you feel underpaid you need to take care of yourself. Love for the kids or the family, fear of not having a better option after quitting, fear of not getting a reference, and so many more reasons that are stopping you from leaving are irrelevant. You may feel guilty, but you need to be able to survive on your paycheck.
Some observations from my poll (conducted with 167 nanny participants from Instragram) are below:
60% of nanny respondents are not satisfied with their weekly paycheck. Most cite additional job requirements as being a major factor in this dissatisfaction.
The average full-time nanny respondent reported working 40 to 60 hours a week, Monday through Friday, with occasional overnight and date night, at a pay rate of $15-$16 per hour.
Of the nannies who claimed to be paid fairly in this poll, all had more than five years of experience working with children and accomplish other non-childcare-related tasks daily. Nanny respondents who reported being very satisfied with their pay report working more than 50 hours a week, have more than a decade of experience, have some level of higher education, and work in house manager capacity.
Why Is It Important to Know All of This?
By raising your expectations, you are not only making your life easier, but you are helping others in the nanny profession too.
We are changing how people see our profession. We are demanding respect. We are not doing anyone favors, and no, we are not babysitters. We are nannies! We are role models! We are raising a new generation! We are amazing! We deserve to be respected!
Be proud. Be happy.
Dijana operates popular nanny blog The Funny Nanny.