It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Just makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over, doesn’t it?

Genuine ad from a nanny-focussed website. (Edited to put in paragraph breaks, making it a little easier to read, but it’s all the potential employer’s exact words.)

Nanny Needed ASAP
I posted a listing on Thursday but wasn’t getting the proper responses and it became difficult to weed out the kind of people I am looking for, so I am trying again.

I need a nanny ASAP. Preferably by Monday. If you can’t start Monday, skip this ad. Next, I need someone with infant experience. That’s a must, as my former nanny (to my dismay and horror) could not make a bottle. I am a little scarred by that. She was nice, she was caring, she cleaned REALLY well (I liked that), but she was incompetent. Competence is a must. I don’t like to tell my nanny the obvious.

I’d like for her to be hands-on. I don’t want someone who will stick my child in the crib and let her cry (my nanny did that too, but her excuse is that she was vacuuming). I expect housework, but I expect it to be done while the baby sleeps (that’s about 4 hours a day–not an unreasonable request if you ask me).

I don’t want my nanny to chat on the phone or watch tv while my baby is awake (if she is sleeping, knock yourself out). Lastly, I pay $400 a week for the following hours 7:30a.m.-4:30p.m. You’d only be responsible for an 8 month-old infant who sleeps for 4+ hours a day. If you are looking for $12-15 an hour, you can skip this ad too. While I’d love to be able to pay that, I am not made of money.

If you fit this description, email me your resume WITH REFERENCES. I need contact info of the most recent CHILDCARE positions you held. While I am sure your friends are lovely people, I don’t really want to talk to them. Thanks.

I’m speechless…

September 30, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Wow.
    I (almost) have a hard time believing someone could actually write that and seriously expect someone to respond. The condescending tone and that she’s “not made of money”… wow.

    I wondered about that, too. There was a link included in the original, but I admit I didn’t follow it. But if it’s for real? Good heavens.

    Comment by Dani | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  2. It is a horrible ad for a babysitter/nanny – but I do feel kind of bad for her. You can practically feel the frustration with her situation rolling off the ad. A nanny who can’t make a bottle — puh-lease!! And it always baffles me how people try to change an ad in the newspaper to suit their own situation (I’m sure that’s what prompted the whole Monday start thing)!!

    Oh, I feel the frustration, all right. Also a lot of anger and impatience, too. And she’s taking it out on total strangers, people who have not offered her any offense at all. Not what I’d be looking for in a prospective employer.

    And the bottle thing? “She was nice, she was caring, she cleaned REALLY well”, but, it’s clear, she had no experience with infants. That could be a problem, of course. Maybe she really was incompetant with a baby.

    Or perhaps her previous experience was with toddlers, perhaps she’s an excellent nanny, and all she needed was basic instruction in the logistics of infant care. So, you can call her “incompetant”, or you can show her how to mix a bottle. The employer could decide that “nice and caring” are a good enough start, and the nanny can learn the other things — as the mother once did, and probably not all that long ago.

    This woman isn’t going to give anyone any leeway for anything. She wants it all – caring, nice, excellent cleaner, 100% experienced and knowledgeable – she wants it NOW… and she wants all that for less than nine bucks an hour.

    Comment by Cindy | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. Well, at least if I answered that ad, I’d feel like I would really know what was expected of me. She may be right about it weeding out people she doesn’t want. Not very tactful, but honest?

    I’d say anyone who answered that ad should expect a demanding, critical, an unforgiving employer who would overlook all my good points and obsess on my perceived weaknesses. I would expect, in short, to be chewed up and spat out.

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. Over here, a nanny doesn’t do housework unless it’s specifically related to the baby. And asking for 45 hours work for $400 would be below minimum wage (even for 18-21 year olds) so illegal unless the nanny (or rather mother’s help, who might be prepared to do some housework) was under 18.

    I could feel her frustration, but she is humourless, unprofessional (out of order to complain in specific detail about her previous worker in a public ad) and I have a feeling that Monday morning rolled by without her having found the ideal employee.

    I think minimum wage here is in the order of $8.75/hour, so what she’s offering is just about minimum. But since you pay maid service here about $30/hour, and you’re asking this woman to do at least a couple hours of that on top of childcare, minimum wage is chintzy. Here, teenage babysitters (who may not necessarily clean up even after themselves!) get $5 – 6/hour.

    I agree entirely with your second paragraph. She’s frustrated, and she may be 100% justified in her frustration, but she expressed it in an utterly unprofessional way. It would be my assumption that she would probably feel justified in behaving that way whenever she was frustrated. Not the makings of a good boss!

    Comment by Z | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  5. Wow she sounds like a lovely employer. (ha!) No way would I answer that ad. There is more than one way to make a bottle – I’d bet anything that the former lady just didn’t do it the “right” way. Seems like a center would fit her budget better.

    Hadn’t thought about the bottle issue in that light, but you could well be right. I wonder why she doesn’t consider a center: her hours wouldn’t cause difficulties. Could it be because centers don’t do housework?

    Comment by Jenn | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. In my experience, the only people who would respond to that ad are absolutely desperate for work, i.e. can’t get a job anywhere else. It doesn’t seem to be an effective way to get a great employee.

    Comment by MJH | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  7. Sheesh.

    Best prescription for her, IMO: she needs to take a week off work and do the infant care and housekeeping herself, holding herself to the standards she’s expecting from someone else.

    There are days that I tell my husband that I hate my job as SAHM — and that’s even knowing that he pitches in with cleaning and sometimes I tell him to suck it that there’s dusting. A person wanting to pay $400/week? No. F-ing. Way.

    Yes, I’d also wondered if she could live up to her own standards. Your second paragraph raises a good point: if you sometimes hate your job, when it’s your own children you’re caring for, isn’t it in your best interests (and that of your child/ren) to ensure your nanny has a good working environment?

    Comment by Allison | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  8. Not asking for much, huh? Sheesh…


    Comment by heels | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  9. I actually read this advertisement when it came out. I believe she then sent it to the previous nanny to get her opinion.

    Good heavens. Impatient, demanding, AND insensitive, to boot! You’ve just got to wonder what the previous nanny said!

    Comment by Theresa | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  10. It seems like she’s saying that she expects you to get housework done while the baby’s sleeping, but that you shouldn’t expect to paid much because you’ll have a 4 hour break while the baby sleeps. There’s no way she is going to find anyone with competence and self-respect.

    It sure sounds like that. Does that mean the nanny’s pay will go up as the child sleeps less? Or that her expectations of housework will go down? I’ll bet not.

    Sadly, there are competent caregivers out there with no self-respect. She’ll probably find someone desperate. She’ll be one of these people who go through a string of nannies, and complain continuously about how they just don’t stick around…

    Comment by Ariel | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  11. I wonder if she’s tried doing a full day’s worth (even better, a week) of what she expects her nanny to do. Seriously, though, can you imagine what her reaction would be if the child had some kind of a minor accident in your care?

    Good heavens. I hadn’t thought of that. Brrr…

    Comment by Kat | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  12. Uh, she’s getting what she deserves methinks.

    I just feel really bad for her 8 month old child with whomever will end up caring for her.

    I wouldn’t do my job for a lousy $400 a week.

    But I gladly do it for free.

    Funny how that works, huh? Every mother knows there’s no way anyone could pay her enough for the value of what she does… and we all do it for free. Gladly.

    Comment by carrien (she laughs at the days) | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  13. UGH.

    Ditto. Wonder if she has any idea how bad she made herself look!

    Comment by Clementine | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  14. So that’s how much her baby’s health and happiness is worth to her–$400 a week.

    I’m surprised it’s that much.

    I have no idea what nannies are paid in the states, and I’m sure it varies by city and state. Clearly, she’s had nannies who expected $12 – $15/hour, though. My response to her budget? A nanny is usually the most expensive childcare option. If you genuinely can’t afford to pay a good nanny decently, then you can’t afford a nanny. Check out other options. Trying to be cheap with your childcare just makes you look — as you point out — like you don’t care about your child.

    Less expensive care is not thereby inferior care. With a nanny, you are paying for the convenience of having someone in your home; you’ll pay less for the inconvenience of having to trek your child somewhere else, but that has no bearing on the quality of care offered.

    Comment by Kate | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  15. “You’d only be responsible for an 8 month-old infant who sleeps for 4+ hours a day.”

    I love the “only” in that statement. It’s “only” one baby…c’mon? Sheesh.

    IMO, childcare providers are second in line on the grossly underpaid scale, next only to SAHMs.

    The ad is ridiculous and certainly telling of what it would be like to work for this person.

    There are so many things about this ad, aren’t there? “Only”, as if caring for a baby is no work at all. Heck, YOU should be paying HER for those four-hour naps!!

    Yes, I shudder to think what it would be like to work for her.

    Comment by Zayna | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  16. I am actually more amused by ads looking for night nurses. Unless I am totally confused, they are looking for someone to care for their infant while they sleep? Unbelievable!

    I knew a woman whose mother worked as a “baby nurse”. She would go live with families for the first 6 – 8 weeks after the baby’s arrival, and most of her duties were at night. She would rise when the baby cried, take it to the mother for feeding, and then soothe it to sleep. During the day, there was other help available, and the “baby nurse” would sleep from the baby’s last night feed through early afternoon. She would give advice and guidance on breastfeeding, swaddling babies, bathing and baby general care.

    An odd way to make a living, but what a luxury for a mother of a newborn!

    Comment by Megryansmom | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  17. Wow. Just….wow.

    That was pretty much my response, yup!

    Comment by rambleicious | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  18. Holy mackerel. I wonder if she has any clue how she sounds? Because she sounds like a nightmare. I wouldn’t touch her with a barge-pole if I were in the childcare business.

    I had the exact same thought. Does she have any idea? I can’t imagine she does; in fact, a previous commenter who recognized the story said she thought she recalled that the woman had run the ad by the nanny! (After it was published, I think.) Can you imagine? But no, I wouldn’t touch that, either. I can’t imagine how desperate I’d have to be to even think about it.

    Comment by kittenpie | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  19. wish someone had told my son that 8 month old babies sleep for 4 hours during the day…he barely did that at night!

    I can see it from both sides, years ago I wanted to return to work after having Lolly, she was about 14 months old so I took a day to interview nannys. One turned up with a bottle of wine sticking out of her bag, another gave me refs that didnt know her, anothers refs said ‘stay away from that woman’! And the nanny I did hire, a local girl, began an affair with my then partner and I left him! But thats a whole nuther blog post!

    Hers does, evidently. Probably the last nanny’s doing, and she has no idea how lucky she was…

    Even if she’s had a genuinely horrible exerience (as you obviously did!), that ad is just plain stupid. It makes her look like hell on wheels, the sort of employer, as kittenpie noted, you wouldn’t want to “touch with a bargepole”. If she thinks she can talk like that to total strangers who have done nothing to her, if she thinks she can actually attract people to her that way (!!!), how on earth will she talk to you when a small childcare issue arises, as they inevitably do? I shudder to think.

    Your experience sounds horrific. Every woman’s nightmare. Good lord.

    Comment by jenny | October 1, 2008 | Reply

  20. Reminds me of the parents who enrolled their kids at my Center without seeing it. But of course, they had open CPS cases and had been referred by their caseworkers. It’s chilling that there is nothing said about the relationship the nanny has with the child in that entire post.

    You’re right. You get the impression she hasn’t yet grasped that an “8-month-old who sleeps four hours a day”, is a real, live person…

    Comment by jwg | October 1, 2008 | Reply

  21. I would love it if someone came and cleaned my house for 4 hours a day! I’ll even watch the baby.

    I wonder why she doesn’t do a center? When my oldest was a toddler we had her at a top of the line day care center and full time was $300 per week (US). And it was open from 7:00 to 7:00.

    I’d hate to be her child.

    My thought on the centre is that she wants the convenience of a nanny/housekeeper. But if you want that, you have to pay for it. And yes, she sounds impatient, demanding, and assumes that when she feels irritation, she’s justified in taking it out on anyone around her. Not good parenting qualities. But who knows? Maybe motherlove will help her overcome these things. She doesn’t have to be a horrible human being just because she writes a horrible want ad!

    Comment by Evil HR Lady | October 1, 2008 | Reply

  22. Oh yes… I remember when I was fired for not putting the shampoo bottles back in the right place! Some people seem to think that because they’re paying you peanuts, your sole aim will be to achieve what they seldom can. Mary Poppins only got everything perfect by… MAGIC. That’s right guys. Real life doesn’t work like that.
    The next round of interviews I went for after that little fiasco, I was paying a bit more attention to reading in between the lines.

    I can understand the ad fine, but her tone is just awful. If you’re already being subjected to “Don’t expect $12 an hour” what else will inflame her… a week, a month, 6 weeks into the job… presuming you haven’t walked out by then? Eeep!

    Because shampoo bottles are so very important, after all!

    “What else will inflame her? Exactly. Given that she’s trying to lure in employees with this ad, one might suppose this is her best behaviour. Heaven help you when she’s on her worst behaviour!

    I’ve had a few interviews which just gave me a bad feeling. With some, it was obvious why, like the woman who admitted she was looking at home care only because she couldn’t find a nanny. She said, “Oh well. Guess beggars can’t be choosers, huh?” I think it honestly hadn’t occurred to her that I might refuse her. I did, of course.

    And then there are those who, while you can’t quite put your finger on exactly why, you just don’t want to accept. I’ve learned (the hard way!) to listen to that little voice…

    Comment by claire | October 1, 2008 | Reply

  23. This job sounds better than the one I have now, I’d take it!

    Oh, good heavens, woman! (Woman?) Get yourself a new job! NOT this one!

    Comment by CP | October 1, 2008 | Reply

  24. Yikes!
    I used to be a nanny once (and hated it, not the parts where you deal with the kids, but all the rest of it) and somehow this seems to be an honest post, unprofessional and rude for sure, but some of the things this person writes match some of my former employers’ attitudes pretty closely. Just that I never knew this ahead of time – they usually were on their best behaviour during interviews, and came out on the other side once I’d have been there for a bit. Not much fun at all, and I always felt bad for the kids – having these weirdo parents, and getting new nannies all the time ’cause no one could stand it for any amount of time.

    I was on a nanny visa back then, so I didn’t have a choice, but I only lasted in the nanny business for as long as I had to, and then I was on to different things 🙂

    That’s why I love being self-employed. They do not employ me; they are my clients. I get to choose them — though often during interviews they imagine it’s the other way round. Much better that way, because I can, though I’ve only had to do so twice in twelve years, de-client them.

    Comment by smashedpea | October 2, 2008 | Reply

  25. I was a live-in nanny for 4 different families. The first family I lived with had a 3-month old. They expected me to clean when she slept. I was also to take care of their 2 dogs and clean up after their 2 African parrots. I was to have 2 days off a week but they varied based on the husband’s schedule. The problem was he didn’t want to be stuck watching his own child on his days off so I often went weeks without a proper day off. I was also supposed to get use of a car on my days off. After a couple of weeks of that they suggested they help me buy a car but would take a portion of my pay for the car. I quit. When I offered to stay until they found someone else, they said no. The husband said they tried to call one of the other girls they had interviewed before hiring me but she was no longer a nanny because of being locked in the basement on her off time. He said, “At least you weren’t locked in the basement.” Oh, yeah.

    The second family I lived with were nice but very, very wealthy. The mom didn’t work but had parties and shopping and trips to the city to attend to. When my Grandpa died they wouldn’t let me go home for the funeral (My home was in Minnesota and I was working/living with them in New Jersey.) They were reluctant to give me any time off other than my requisite 2 days a week. When they FINALLY did give me a week off, they refused to give me a ride to or from the airport so I had to pay a cab. And when I got stranded in New York City because the last bus had left unbeknown to me, they told me to fend for myself over night but I’d better be there ready to work the next morning. I took the train back to my friend’s house in CT instead of spending the night on the streets of NYC. Needless to say I was not back in time in the morning.

    My best job was working for a widower. When he was gone, I was working. When he was home, I was off. It was simple, straight forward and the best nanny job I had.

    Comment by Amy | October 13, 2008 | Reply

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