I'm a Nanny, Not a House Cleaner

I want to start this article with a question for parents: Would you ever ask your house cleaner to change your child's diaper, or take your child to the park, or prepare and feed your child lunch, or pick your child up from school, or assist your child with homework, or take your child to the doctor, or research and plan a developmentally appropriate sensory activity, or set up and host a play date, or sleep train your baby? I bet your answer is a resounding "No". Why then, do parents often ask and expect nannies to take on house cleaner roles? I truly don't get it. If you wouldn't do the reverse and have your weekly cleaning person take care of your child, why then is it okay to expect your nanny clean your home? A nanny and a house cleaner are two VERY different jobs and generally speaking, most nannies don't decide to become a nanny so they can clean houses -- they decide to be a nanny because they love children and are passionate about investing in them.

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Why You Need to Reimburse Your Nanny for Mileage

Take a moment to imagine the following scenario: You work at a job that requires you to use your personal vehicle for business related drives. You have to drive all around town running various errands, picking people up/dropping them off, driving people to and from activities, etc. Unfortunately, your employer does not reimburse your mileage. That's right -- your job requires you to use your personal vehicle for work, but it's an expense you have to incur on your own -- you have to cover all the gas and the added wear and tear on your vehicle (i.e., more frequent oil changes, needing new tires, depreciation of your vehicle, etc.). When you deduct all of the money you're spending in gas/wear and tear for your job, your take home pay is significantly less.

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Why Your Live-in Nanny Shouldn't "Pay" for Room & Board

Employing a live-in nanny can oftentimes be a little confusing. Many parents think that because a live-in nanny is receiving "free" room and board, they can pay their nanny less by deducting room and board from their nanny's monthly income, or pay them a lower hourly rate, or simply have their nanny work in exchange for room and board. A nanny who doesn't have to pay any rent, electricity, water, internet, cable, food, etc. surely should make less money per hour! While I understand how at first glance this seems like a fair deal, the industry standard is to pay a live-in nanny their full hourly rate...not a reduced rate. Legally live-in nannies must be paid for all hours worked, including applicable overtime (live-in overtime laws vary state by state, so it's important to check your specific state laws). In fact in some markets, such as Chicago, live-in nannies actually make MORE per hour than live-out nannies. Why? Because being a live-in nanny is extremely hard work and a huge sacrifice.

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How Not to Respond When Your Nanny Calls in Sick

Let's just dive right in. Nannies get sick and will miss work from time to time. There, I said it. Sadly, all too often, parents seem to forget that nannies are still human. I can only assume that lots of parents think their nannies are superhuman (which we kind of are in some ways), based on the countless nannies I encounter who are told they HAVE to come in even when very sick or are simply made to feel guilty for calling out. One nanny says she has been made to feel so guilty for calling in sick, that she hasn't taken a sick day in 6 years. Many nannies have even reported being guilt tripped for needing surgery -- like it's something they can control.

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Why Nanny Interviews Should be Kid Free

Just like with almost everything else in the nanny field, nanny interviews are unlike any other type of job interview. Why? Because most of the time, a nanny interview involves the nanny having to articulately converse with the parents while simultaneously interacting with the children. It's like the ultimate test of one's ability to multitask. While nannying certainly requires a strong level of multitasking and kids should absolutely be a part of the interview process, the initial in-person interview (notice I did not say initial phone interview) should not involve any multitasking or any kids. I personally feel it's unreasonable to expect a nanny to enthusiastically engage the kids while also discussing important things like parenting style, job roles/expectations, pay, etc. As a nanny who has had to do this MANY times at job interviews, I'm here to say that it is a hard...VERY hard...thing to do. The few times I've interviewed with parents sans kids, I was able to think more clearly and express myself better.

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