Wait. Am I Taking Care Of Your Child Or You?



noun | [nan-ee]

1. a person, usually with special training, employed to care for childrenin a household.

It's interesting. Just google the definition of "nanny", and nowhere does it say a person who is employed to care for adults in a household. Yet oftentimes, that's exactly what nannies end up doing. Yes parents, I'm looking at you. I've touched on this a little bit in Part 2 of Top 10 Reasons a Nanny Feels Taken Advantage Of under Job Creep, but this issue needs its own article. So let me really break this down for you. A nanny is employed to take care of the children in a household. This usually (but not always) includes child related chores such as cooking for the children, tidying up kids' toys/play areas, children's laundry, cleaning up dishes that the child and nanny used that day, restocking diapers, shopping for the child, etc. This DOES NOT include doing your dishes, running personal errands for you, making your bed, doing your laundry, ironing your clothes, preparing meals/picking up food for you, changing lightbulbs in the house, doing any sort of deep cleaning, organizing cabinets, selling things on Ebay for you, hanging pictures for you, gardening/watering plants, or anything else that specifically relates to you, an adult, who is fully capable of doing these things on their own.

It gets even trickier because oftentimes even child related chores can feel like they're actually chores for the parents. The best example of this is Monday mornings. A nanny leaves work with the house tidy and comes in on Monday morning to a disaster. Sure, it's kid related, but you were responsible to clean up those messes over the weekend. You were responsible to wash the dinner dishes from the night before. If your nanny is off, they aren't responsible for these tasks. Imagine cleaning your work desk on Friday and then over the weekend, while you are off and not being paid, someone makes a complete mess of it. You get to work on Monday to a messy desk -- a mess you did not make -- and now you have to clean it up. That's what this feels like for a nanny. When a nanny walks into work having to clean up messes that happened while they were off the clock, it feels like they weren't even really off. Sometimes parents take this even a step further and try to pretend like everything in the house is child related just because kids exist in the house. For example, parents need the holiday decorations put up/taken down and they tell their nanny that the decorations are really for the kids, so suddenly this chore falls under the nanny's job description. Nope nope nope.

If you find that you do need someone to take care of these types of things in your life, then you might want to consider hiring a separate personal assistant/housekeeper/house manager. The average hourly rate of a personal assistant is about the same as a nanny, so if you want your nanny to double as a personal assistant, you should double their pay. Kidding. But seriously, that should put into perspective just how much you are getting when you hire a nanny and then expect them to also be a PA. Also keep in mind that housekeepers charge even more per hour than personal assistants and house managers...well, they make VERY high salaries. For some reason many parents hire a nanny and think they are getting some all inclusive deal. It does not work like that. If you want a nanny to take on extra tasks such as the ones listed above, you need to 1. Explicitly lay this out during the interview and in the contract and 2. Your nanny's title should be Nanny/Personal Assistant or Nanny/Family Assistant or Nanny/Housekeeper and at a minimum, they should make $3-$5+ extra/hour depending on the tasks. If that sounds like a lot, think again -- it's a fraction of the cost of hiring a separate personal assistant/housekeeper/house manager! Such a bargain.

Here are just a few examples of what real nannies have experienced:

"The mom of the kids I nannied would come home from work to have lunch, but she would always leave her lunch dishes and food out for me to put away once she went back to work. On top of that, every morning after I cleaned up the dishes from their dinner the night before, the dad would come and put his breakfast plate in the sink for me to clean. He couldn't even rinse and put his own dish in the dishwasher."

"A family I worked for would at least put their dishes in the dishwasher, but they refused to rinse them, so I always had to take them out and rinse in order for them to get clean. Otherwise I would be left with food that was dried onto the dishes."

"A previous family I was with expected I do their laundry in addition to the kids'. I spoke up and they simply told me that all their previous nannies had done it and that it was in the job description. Of course they weren't compensating any extra for adding such a task."

"The dad of a family I worked for would always text me last minute to go pick up his prescription. Like he couldn't just swing by CVS on his way home from work. Instead, I had to take time away from activities with the kids so I could be his personal errand runner. That's not why I chose to be a nanny."

"One of my employers asked me to make him dinner because his wife was out of town and she didn't leave anything for him."

Now with all that said, nannies/babysitters, you're not off the hook. Even as a nanny advocate, I am the first to call out a nanny who is being unreasonable. I once witnessed a babysitter go on a rant because she showed up to a date night babysitting job and was asked to open the door to let the dog out after he was done eating. She gave attitude to the mom. Girl, come on. You're being unreasonable. What did you expect them to do, hire a separate dog walker to open the door and let the dog out? So nannies, please do not be a nanny where everything is beneath you. Be flexible and rational. And if you feel like you are being taken advantage of, speak up. Request a sit down and explain to the parents how it feels for you to be doing these extra tasks. Explain that you're not comfortable doing them or that you need a raise to continue doing them. You can even keep a daily log of your schedule so the parents can see just how little time there is for these extra non-child related tasks.

And finally, as I've mentioned before, nannies are generally very accommodating and will help out extra when an emergency or something arises -- or sometimes simply because they want to! But parents really need to be aware of not letting job creep come from that. Although we want to make your lives easier, we are here to take care of your children, not you.