Corporate Job vs. Nanny?
July 7, 2011 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Corporate Job vs. Nanny, need appropriate questions to ask. (See within for more details)

My 34 year old wife is currently in a job which isn't guaranteed in two years. She is great at what she does and is recognized for her efforts, to the extent that her supervisor, who is a high up in the company she works for, has said he'd pull strings to make her position permanent. He is sincere, and his efforts aren't just lip service, but in this climate making that change for an employee at the company is very difficult and getting harder. The temporary nature of her current role is an overwhelming source of unhappiness.

Today she was offered the chance to leave her job and work for her boss as nanny to his fiance's kids. She has extensive experience working with children (including special needs children; though the kids in question are not special-needs). She would like the job, but needs a bit of perspective on what she's getting herself into as a full-time nanny. The job is in the midwest, so she expects less "Nanny Diaries" and more soccer-mom-substitute. The salary is beyond comparable to what she currently makes in her current role. THe nanny role is M-F only (~50hrs/week) whereas her current role is more and more often like an on-call position, weekends travel, evenings, etc. Additionally, she'd be receiving checks through a payroll service, so there wouldn't be a need for withholding / tax issues at year end, which have been an issue in the past.

What sort of questions should she be asking when considering this job? Any other thoughts, advice would be appreciated!
posted by lonemantis to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"When do I start?" ;-)
posted by maxim0512 at 1:46 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would meet the kids first.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:47 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

What happens in a year or two when the children are in school all day?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:48 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

They are not married yet. If they don't marry, who's cutting the paycheck?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Taking a job as a nanny effectively derails her from any professional career. How does she go back to something else, once this nanny job ends? There's not much growth potential--unless she wants to set up an in-home day care service or start a day care facility later.

And working as a nanny for someone who knows her as a professional? For his GF's kids? What if they break up? I think it's too fraught with strangeness.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:00 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]

All jobs come to an end. So, a question not for her employer but for herself: in X years when the children no longer require a nanny, the end of which position on her resume will do more to help her get the next job she wants?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:01 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

There's no chance for advancement/retirement plan/etc with a nannying gig, and when she returns to the workforce after the kids are in school full-time, she'll have a two-year (or however long) gap in her work skills. It's not a jump that I would make, but maybe those things aren't dealbreakers for your wife.
posted by kate blank at 2:01 PM on July 7, 2011

This job isn't permanent. Neither will the nanny gig be. And true, being a nanny does mean that it'll be hard to get back to Corporate America, but it also means that it'll be easier to get other nanny gigs.

Thing is, if you're a nanny, you wind up hanging out with kids a lot. This also means hanging out with whoever is supervising the kids. And because we're talking about a family looking to hire a nanny, odds are decent that their kids will be hanging out with other kids who have nannies. So when it gets around that "Hey, there's this awesome nanny who's going to be looking for a new family in a few months," people hear about that. Word gets around.

Whether or not any of that is a positive is something you have to decide for yourself, but don't think that it will be impossible to get any kind of job once this family no longer needs a nanny.
posted by valkyryn at 2:17 PM on July 7, 2011

I'd be really weirded out if a person at my corporate job asked me to become a nanny to his kids.
posted by sawdustbear at 2:33 PM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your comments thus far, keep them coming. And please, do address my wife directly instead of saying things like "your wife." She'll be reading these herself. :-) Thanks!
posted by lonemantis at 2:41 PM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: The wife: I think I need to step in a bit here, and redirect some of the sentiment, though advice was sought, can the advice be positioned in actual questions I could ask to give her the ingredients necessary for making an educated decision? Not saying that the current comments aren't useful, they are, and thank you, but I'd really like questions I can ask my boss and his fiancee as well.
posted by lonemantis at 3:01 PM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, by the way, rather than getting into the details of it, it wasn't weird at all for him to ask me about the nanny opportunity.
posted by lonemantis at 3:02 PM on July 7, 2011

What's complicated?

Either she wants to work in the corporate world or she doesn't. If her longterm goals are eventually to raise her own children then this is a nobrainer. If she has career goals other than nannying, this would be problematic.

In fact this is a false dichotomy. Does she maybe need to look for another job entirely? Or is she well sick and tired of the rat race and would like to do the nanny gig?

It is important to look beyond the immediate and think long term here.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is there any way you could do the nanny job but also continue working (even if very part-time) in your industry as an independent consultant? There might be some conflict of interest issues if your boss is at all connected with who gets hired as an IC, but otherwise it would keep you in the game corporately while still allowing you to take this opportunity.

Also, I've baby-sat (long term) for high-ups in my company, and it's been nothing but good all around.
posted by charmcityblues at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2011

Why did their last nanny leave?

How much vacation would she have? Would it be paid? Sick days?

Would they be willing to sign a contract laying out terms of employment?

Honestly, the biggest issues I've encountered with nannying are being screwed by the employer in terms of vacation pay, time off, overtime pay, and the like, and personality conflicts. Hard to tease those out by questioning, but there you go.

(The other issue with this is that if this particular employer/employee relationship goes sour, you will not only be alienated from your nanny boss, but your most recent professional reference--a lot of eggs in one basket.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:48 PM on July 7, 2011

(Sorry, I forgot to address the second question to you.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:48 PM on July 7, 2011

I'm more a basics person, I personally can't see a problem with leaving a corporate job with crap conditions for a job as a Nanny with much better pay and conditions. A good nanny is a lot harder to find than a good office worker.

Just off the top of my head I'd want to find out exactly what you were responsible for, such basic things as will you be cooking meals, doing laundry, cleaning. . if so is it just for the kids. Would your time be your own when the children are at playgroup or school. I am not sure what the situation is with your boss and his fiance but if they are already living together etc but you might like to take how secure you think their relationship is into consideration.

I'd make sure your hours are carved in stone before I started, its easy for people to be late home, if they know you are there with the kids and a half hour here or there adds up quick. Would you be expected to babysit in the evenings when they went out? Would you be taking them or driving them to events?

I'm sure you are aware that Nannying is a hard job to do right in itself? Its not a "cop-out" from the rat race but a career choice of its own. Considering how some people seem to think its a step down just in the comments here, are you ready for that sort of POV from your friends, neighbours or even your current boss?

It was pretty common when I left school for Aussie girls to head off to the UK for a year or two to Nanny/Au Pair and I've had a lot of friends do it. Some had great families and had a great time and some were treated like slaves and worked all hours. I'd really get clear just what was expected of you as a Nanny before you started and what they saw you doing when the kids are in school. If you have to get them off to school/playgroups etc you might get split shifts even and have the middle of the day to yourself, I have always hated split shifts but know some people who love them so that might be worth checking on too.

Anyway you asked for some question ideas, hope that helps. Good luck and have fun what ever you choose to do.
posted by wwax at 8:50 PM on July 7, 2011

Are you two planning on having kids (or not planning but would keep one if it came along)?
If so, you should ask about health insurance, maternity leave, if you can take your kids along with their when you are nannying, etc.

What happens when Boss and Fiancee go on vacation?
Do they expect you to come?
Will you get overtime or regular pay or half-pay for the nights you stay with them? Would they pay you if you can't come with them? Would you get your own room or be expected to share with the kids? Can your husband come on his own dime?

Would there be a schedule for raises?
How much notice would they have to give you if they were going to move away?
And what about you giving notice to them?
Would you be expected to clean or cook? Only for the kids or the whole house?
Would you be expected to run errands for them? (return videos, pick up dry cleaning, run by schools for applications, get more food or diapers at the store)
posted by rmless at 8:19 AM on July 8, 2011

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