Frustrated with live-in situation

Hi everyone. I am a former nanny/current au pair and have joined because I can't really find support for au pairs anywhere on the web. I am having some issues with the family I am newly living with, and I'm not sure what to do.

I care for a 3 and 5 year old. Because the family is new to the area, the kids are only just now entering school. I work 10 hour days, and right now the mother and the older child are pushing my patience. The things that bother me are things I feel I cannot complain about or scold the child for, but they are making me question whether or not I can stand this living situation.

My mom texts me all day long. If she's at work, if she's in the house, if it's 1am and I am trying to sleep. Hints, reminders, suggestions, photos. Even in my off time, it is as though these two kids are my kids. The younger of the two kids is very sweet and cooperative, but the older child and the mother inspire bad behavior and make my job very difficult. The older kid is needy, tattles every five minutes, eats 6 meals a day, and makes passive aggressive comments about me which are later mirrored by the mother (all variations of "why don't you do this for me?", "why do you get to eat dinner?", or simply pestering). I literally just finished feeding her, and she just "instructed" me to fetch her from her 5th floor room when her second dinner is ready (the dinner I had to beg her to eat). It seems that in the few moments I do manage to achieve silence, the mother will come in and rile everyone up again-- feeding when I've just fed, suggesting messy activities when I've just cleaned, encouraging the kids to run and scream. They will be fine all day, but the minute she exits, they are both crying for mommy and refusing to listen.

The older kid and the work hours are what are making me angry. Because au pairing is viewed as an exchange, I feel uncomfortable asking for more money or fewer hours. This week, the mom asked me to watch the kids on a weekend day, for her anniversary. I already work 50 hours a week. I already forfeited a personal appointment because her schedule changed. She hasn't mentioned extra pay, and I doubt she will. She is barely older than I am (I'm older for an au pair), and I think she just assumes that it's "no big deal" to me. I feel like I will be judged for having a personal life, but the fact is that I do, and I only get those two days to enjoy it. I am flexible and willing to work, but the resentment is starting to build over little things, and I am not sure how or where to draw the line. I've been a nanny before, but never live-in, and I am very anxious about how to handle issues like these, given that I am a guest in their home. Our contract is vague. It only states that I watch the kids from the time the parents leave in the morning to the time they return, with weekends off and two weeks vacation. I am supposed to have off time during the day, while the kids are in school, but I have yet to have that.

Comments

The behavior you are describing with the 5 year old seems normal to me. Children need guidance. Some children tattle because they have not yet developed the necessary skills to handle situations on their own. It's our job to teach them these skills. For example, when the 5 year old tattles I would help him come up with solutions on how he can figure out the situation on his own then send him back into the room with his younger brother and let them work it out while you supervise (not interfering) the situation. This will help him develop problem solving abilities. Needy children are difficult. My current 5 yo I nanny was extremely needy. She now goes to kindergarten full time 8-3:30 and I work 8-5 so I only have her for 1.5 hours before I leave for the day. I have noticed a HUGE difference with her independence level since starting school. She is much better at entertaining herself and doing things for herself. It's much less stressful for me. It takes time but your 5 y/o will understand this too. You just need to be consistent and not give in when he is being demanding. Let him figure things out for himself. If you have a problem with "fetching" him for dinner...then don't. Tell him he has x amount of time before dinner is ready and then set a timer. Once the timer is up it's his responsibility to get himself downstairs for dinner. Try different methods and see what works best for you. Just don't let yourself be disrespected by a 5 yo. You're the adult.

As for mom, you two need to be on the same page because right now you aren't. I would request a sit down with her and go over what you've noticed from the 5 yo and discuss a way you both can handle the bossy and entitled behavior. I'm sure she doesn't see how much she rattles up your day so you need to make her aware (in a nice way) of how the children react when she comes around and after she leaves. A lot of these things may seem like common sense but COMMUNICATION is KEY. I cannot stress that enough. I feel a lot of these issues can be cleared up as long as you speak up about them.