If You’re A Woman, You Need To Know Your Worth (And Feel Comfortable Demanding It)

João Lavinha
João Lavinha

Several years ago a new employer asked me what I charged per hour for nannying.  I told her I didn’t feel comfortable putting a number on spending time with children, and asked what she thought was fair. I’ll never forget what she said next. She told me I need to know my worth and learn to feel comfortable demanding it.

Then she offered me a higher wage than I would have asked for. She is a woman’s woman.

In one fell swoop, she gave me one of the best pieces of advice in my life, and showed me that I was worth more than I knew. She empowered me.

I have nannied through private contracting ever since then, her words have become a source of strength. I have had to assert myself over and over again just to receive a fair wage in trade for my workday.

In one household, on a daily basis I was faced with hateful verbal abuse from a six year old. His two-year-old brother was learning to follow suit. On several occasions the older child told me he was going to shoot me with his Dad’s gun. Any disciplinary action taken on my part would send this child into a violent fit; hitting, kicking, biting, scratching, and screaming hateful words.

They expected me not just to do the children’s laundry, but also to closely follow predetermined folding rules, and separate clothing by colors. There were to be no toys or books out at the end of each day. I walked the dogs, tended the garden, and cooked dinner. The parents came home to clean children, and a clean house.

The mother once chided me about the quality of my work because I’d left a stack of toddler books (with the toddler) in the living room once I was off duty. I can safely say by the state of the house at the beginning of my work day, that they did not hold themselves to the same standard of household maintenance that they held me. This is okay with me, but for a cost. Novelty comes with a price tag.

A few months in, I asked for a raise. The husband and wife stood together in solidarity, explaining that anything more just didn’t fit into their budget. This was news to me, as I had only accepted this wage on a trial bases, and had made it clear that my value was higher in our very first conversation.

A month later, I approached the subject again. I told them that their expectations and the children’s behavioral problems made the job worth X amount, and I reminded them of what I initially said my worth was. I told them I wasn’t walking out that day, or that week, but that I would be seeking other employment if they couldn’t meet me with fair compensation.

They hemmed and hawed.

The mother stood in her Prada shoes, leaned in over her oversized Gucci purse and told me that this raise would have a substantial effect on her and her husband’s work lives. She also told me that other nannies had done a better job before me, for less.

I told her that those women didn’t know their value.

They huffed and puffed.

The father told me it felt like I was putting a gun to their heads.

Their words were nothing more than weak power play. I refused to be intimidated. I stayed true to myself, and my worth, and got the raise! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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