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Does Your Nanny Wear the Pants in Your House?

Remember when I said I was considering putting Preston in daycare two days a week, and one or two of you wrote that that seemed like a great idea? Well, that plan has gone totally out of the window now because my nanny told us that she wants full-time work with one family, and if she can’t get it with us she’s going to have to find it with someone else. She’s giving us till January to decide…

She gave us an ultimatum, though it didn’t come out quite as blunt as I just put it. From the time we hired her, when Preston was only three months old, she told us she could never give us five days a week because she still works for the family whose kids she helped raise for 13 years -- she cleans their house once a week now, on Thursdays.

Originally we only hired her to work for us for three days anyway -- Jay was a part-time SAHD for the first year of Preston’s life, which was great all around (financially, and it helped ease my mom guilt). But now that he’s opening his second restaurant, he can’t be home as much and we need full-time childcare. So we hired her on for a fourth day a couple months ago; Jay was then still able to be home that fifth day. But now he needs to be at the restaurant full time (it’s opening in the next few weeks!). So, thankfully I had enough vacation days left, and I’m using them to be home with Preston on Thursdays throughout November and December. It’s been ideal -- we needed that one day of childcare, and I needed more time with my baby. It’s felt so great being home during the week with him, having him all to myself. We’ve been having playdates; I’ve taken him on fun adventures to the Children’s Museum; I have a music class planned for next month. I’m getting to do real mom stuff; I love it.

But come January, it’s back to work full time for me. We had worked out doing a nanny share with our friends on Thursdays; we’d drop Preston off at their house in the morning, he’d spend the day with their kids and nanny and I’d pick him up afterward, and we’d split the cost of the day with them. But then our nanny gave us this ultimatum -- so that, too, went out the window. We’ve decided that we’re going to have to hire her five days a week -- she’s told us that she’s leaving the family she works for on Thursdays because they don’t give her paid time off, and she feels like she’s losing the “benefits” of working full time for one family, which I totally understand.

With our schedules the way they are right now, daycare seemed like more of an inconvenience, even if it would've save us some money (like $400 a month). I love certain things about daycare, especially the socialization, but I don't love the time it would take to drop him off and pick him up; time that would ultimately eat into my rare mommy-baby time with Preston at night. But full-time nanny care is ridiculously expensive, and not something we’re super psyched about. We love our nanny, so we feel backed into a corner -- I guess we don’t want to lose her more than we don’t want to spend the money, so we’re giving her the full-time work she wants.

But, currently she works a 10-hour day with us, four days a week. I don’t want to, nor can we afford to, pay her for a 50-hour week. So I’m trying to figure out the right way to tell her that we’ll be knocking her hours down each day, from 10 to 8, but she’ll still be making the same amount of money. She probably thinks she’s going to get 50 hours from us -- but what nanny works 50 hours!? I know that’s what she’s expecting, but that’s definitely not in our budget. We need to set the precedent now that we’ll guarantee her 40 hours (which she’s already working), and she’ll get paid time off, but she’s not going to be making more money working for us five days a week -- less hours a day, more days, but essentially the same pay. She’ll get the benefits of working for one family full time, which is what she’s told us she wants.

But what if she says she wants more? I certainly don’t want to lose her but we can only do what we can do. Keeping in mind our nanny does our laundry, cleans up after Preston and keeps the house relatively tidy (minor house cleaning), she drives, and she cooks for us on occasion (because she likes to NOT because we require that of her). Yes, we're pretty spoiled but we pay for it. But even more than that, she loves Preston like he’s her own child. Not to mention, she has a group of friends in our neighborhood that she gets together with daily, and her youngest son goes to a high school right down the street from us, so she’s able to watch his football games and pick him up after school. It’s convenient for us and it’s convenient for her; everyone's winning here.

So, here are my questions: How many hours a week do you give your nanny? Have you ever been given an ultimatum like this, and how did you handle it? How do I tell our nanny that we're giving her full-time work, but she won't be making more money than she is right now?

Our nanny is a wonderful, smart, savvy woman, and I know she’s just looking out for herself, but I don’t love the position she’s put us in -- essentially, it's all or nothing, which is not what we originally agreed to. But at the same time, she is one of the main reasons we’re able to juggle everything on our plates and keep our house running smoothly (and sanely). Who knows what will be in another year, and one of the other reasons I don’t want to lose her is we’re not done having kids yet -- I will want her help when there’s a new baby in the house and I am headed back to work.

I know there are other nannies out there, but she’s become a part of our family at this point -- I want to give her what she wants and needs, but we can only do so much financially. I had a feeling this day would come, but now that it’s here I’m not sure how best to handle it. Any suggestions?