What NOT to ask your nanny or sitter to do!

March 20, 2012

We regularly get asked "What will a nanny do?" These parents are wondering what duties nannies will do other than childcare; everyone has a different definition of a nanny role, so it's a great question to cover. However, sometimes its easier to answer "What WON'T a nanny do?"

  1. Helping children with homework
    • it isn't unusual that the nanny supervises the children while they are doing their homework, but to have the nanny actually help the child complete a complicated project for the science fair or help them do their algebra homework isn't typical, and may be beyond their abilities.
  2. Gardening
    • you shouldn't expect the nanny to do your gardening or yard work as a typical duty, unless she has expressed an interest in it.
  3. Wash the cars
    • if you need the cars washed, get her to supervise the children doing the washing.
  4. Excess errands
    • unless the children are in school during the day and this is part of her role, errands should be only an occasional duty if absolutely necessary.
  5. Doctor/Medical appointments for the children
    • many times, the doctor will have questions about the children that they nanny won't have all the answers to, so the reality is that the parent should arrange it so they can take their child to the doctor, rather than the nanny.
  6. Volunteering at school or daycare
    • it it better for the children if the parent fills this role and not the nanny. Occasional instances may be acceptable, depending on the situation and your nanny.
  7. Physical punishment
    • if you spank your children, you should not allow or expect the nanny to do so as well.
  8. Fund activities
    • at no time should a nanny be expected to pay for anything for your child or the family out of her own pocket. Many families have a petty cash fund the nanny can access for these times.
  9. Attend family functions without payment
    • by asking the nanny if she'd like to attend the child's birthday party or school play, you may mean to be gracious but may end up putting the nanny in an awkward situation. If you want her there because she's important to your child, she should be compensated or given time off in lieu.
  10. Look after other children
    • if you are helping out a friend by caring for their children, first ask your nanny if it's ok and if it is, be sure she is compensated for this. If it is a playdate, ensure the other child isn't a handful and let the nanny know in advance.

Although your nanny feels like a part of your family, she is still an employee and should be treated as such. Keep in mind how you would want to be treated by your boss. By keeping the lines clear, you will continue to have a long and happy relationship with your nanny!

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