Things I Learned From Being a Summer Nanny (A.K.A. Learn From My Mistakes So You Don’t End Up Homeless at the Drop of a Hat).
1. Always make a contract. I can’t stress this one enough. Make a contract, nothing fancy, just the terms you agree to, in the very beginning. Don’t rely on your boss to do the right thing and keep their word, because more likely than not, they’ll say anything to lure you in, and they won’t keep promises made at the start of your job. It’s simple enough to just make a list of everything you’ve agreed to, such as “Nanny will drive car over summer”, with sub-sections such as “As long as she pays for gas on her days off”. This way, they can’t back out and totally screw you over. Discuss all the little things; when you get paid, how much you get paid, car usage, jobs around the house, etc. Sign the bottom, and you’ve got a contract.
2. Trust your gut feelings. If one night your boss comes in yelling at you over something that was never discussed (which leads back to MAKE A FREAKIN’ CONTRACT), don’t fall all over yourself to apologize. You are not the only one in the wrong here. If they feel like screaming and telling you that they could find a replacement in half a second is the right thing to do, they’re sorely mistaken. No one deserves to get walked all over like a doormat. You are an employee, and you deserve more respect than that.
3. Don’t rely on appearances. They may look like a perfect person on Facebook (or any other website), but people can hide their true selves really well on the internet. If possible, spend more time with the family before you start the job. Looks can be incredibly deceiving. Try not to get suckered in by the perfect job because if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Maintain a proper employer/employee relationship. Sure, it’s fun to hear about their relationship woes (uh, or not.), but steer clear of that relationship. You are the nanny (or babysitter; whatever they call you) and you need to be professional even on your days off. If this gets too personal (if you become a person they vent to), BACK OFF. They should know better than to vent to you, and you should know better than to listen to it. You shouldn’t have to be that person, anyways. (And if they start talking shit about the last person that worked there…that’s just bad etiquette. This kind of person is the worst kind.)
5. Beware of secondhand information. Not only is it extremely unprofessional on the boss’s part, it’s uncomfortable, as well, to hear things from the children. If you get a “mom’s mad because you’re not buying a car, and she’s going to fire you” (which wouldn’t have been a problem if there was a contract), take heed. Kids do not censor themselves. If you hear that sort of thing from their mouths, you’re probably getting close to being fired. (In my case, it was about a week later.)
Hopefully, these tips helped you figure out a puzzling relationship with your boss, and right it, or helped you avoid getting fired and kicked out of the place you were living because your home is 1000 miles away. If you’re not a summer nanny (or any kind of nanny), I hope you get a laugh from the true tidbits interlaced with the tips. Look out for Tuesday Questions tomorrow, and on Wednesday, Part Two of the “Things I Learned From Being a Summer Nanny” series.