Dear Nanny, It’s Okay to Speak Up and It’s Okay That It’s Hard. I’m a mom-employer, not a nanny, but I work with a LOT of contracting / hiring type situations from both sides in my day job, so this has kind of been building up.
I’ve seen a lot of nannies post/comment in the group about being nervous to ask for additional pay, clearer boundaries, full hours, better contracts, etc. And a lot of “how do I ask” / “I don’t want to offend anyone or be rude”. And having hired a lot of nannies/sitters, I see this in person as well.
I want to say.. It’s totally normal to…
feel that way, and it’s okay.
be nervous, not sure how to negotiate,
have a hard time coming out the gate with a demand
figuring out where to hold firm and where to give.
It’s normal for several reasons:
- Negotiating for yourself hard for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nanny or a small business owner or a professional sales VP.
- It feels risky and out there and everyone gets butterflies doing it.
- People who negotiate for a living still get nervous doing it.
- Your situation is like 10x harder than almost everyone else. You have to negotiate with ONE PERSON (or like 2 people) who hold a disproportionate amount of power to make things really stressful for you. And it’s all about their personality. Most professional negotiators don’t have to deal with that.
- A great nanny, being empathic and supportive is literally one of your major skills. The best nannies I’ve worked with have often been awful negotiators because they’re so in tuned to other people, it’s hard to put others’ needs aside.
Speak up and please…
don’t stress if it’s taken you longer to ask for the raise or whatever you would have liked– you’re tackling a harder ask than almost anyone else in the world has to deal with when asking for raises.
It’s totally okay to speak up. To ask for the raise, the boundary, the contract update or clarification, to go back to terms or stop doing extra work or get paid for extra work or get your full hours covered. Because:
Talking about what you need is not rude. It’s just communication. It’s a partnership, and they communicate what they need all the time. If anything, it’s helpful for the parent employers to know what works for you; they are incredibly vested in your success.
You are fundamentally entitled to be able to make a living in a pleasant way. It’s not your fault that the world is changing under our feet and you need more money than you did 3 years ago. Also you have more experience than you had 3 years ago and deserve to be compensated commensurate to it. After all, your bosses probably got raises in that time.
YOU ARE THE EXPERT. Your average parent has only hired a nanny once or twice. You have met a dozen families and are way more expert in how the industry works. If they are doing something unhelpful, ignorant, or problematic, it’s most likely because they just have no idea how hiring a nanny is SUPPOSED to work. Don’t look at negotiating like demanding against their preferences, look at it like EDUCATING them about how they should be acting as employers.
Speak up, either they will take it well or they won’t. They are decent people, they will appreciate knowing what you need/want and being taught what to expect from a nanny and how to treat you. If they don’t, it won’t be because of anything you did, it will just be because they were not worth it to begin with. That’s not on you. If they are decent people with a budget crunch, they might negotiate back and IT’S NEVER WRONG TO TELL SOMEONE WHAT YOU NEED. Even if they can’t give you everything, the right family will act like it’s you and them vs the problem of how to make everything work for everyone, instead of you vs them.
But please don’t suffer in silence and speak up. In the worst case, if it genuinely doesn’t work, you can walk away knowing it’s a nanny’s market right now and there will always be another family who needs you and can give you what you need. It’s just up to whether you want to do the work to stay or not.
for parent employers: All the reasons listed above are why it doesn’t actually make sense for us to treat nanny-employment like any other contractor, vendor, or employee. There is kind of statistically an inverse correlation between being great at being loving and present with kids and being great at managing and negotiating with adults. So it really helps for us to meet them halfway on the emotional labor in the relationship.