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You Hired a Nanny, Not a House Cleaner

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

You have a nanny scheduled to assist with your children and light housekeeping Monday-Friday, so it shouldn't be an issue that you haven't done dishes or picked up the house over the weekend because that would be considered light housekeeping, right? The answer is simple: No, it's not considered a part of the nanny's job duties.

Nannies are not house cleaners, plain and simple. You hired a nanny to care for your children and perform light housekeeping while at work. Light housekeeping typically involves the following:

  • Picking up the children's toys after they are done playing.

  • Putting way children's clothes.

  • Cleaning any dishes that they use during the day.

  • Cleaning up after playtime activities, such as arts and crafts.

Let's say that you had a crazy weekend and did not have time to pick up so you ask the nanny if she could pick up the mess while the children are napping. She is thrown off guard and says yes, and you realize how easy it was to have somebody else pick up your weekend mess. This is great and you repeatedly explain to the nanny on Mondays that your weekend was so hectic and you were unable to do the dishes or laundry, and would she mind doing them while the children napped. Eventually you stop asking, but the dishes and laundry are there for the nanny to do and she continues to do them.

One day the nanny walks into work on a Monday morning. The nanny has just spent her twenty minute drive dreading walking into a messy house with a sink full of dishes. She decides that today, she will take the advice from nannies in her nanny group and not clean up the mess that her and the children did not make together and that she will continue to only pick up the mess that they make during the day. She spends all day a nervous wreck, hoping that you will not get angry at her for not doing something that she has been doing for the past few months.

You come home from work to the house exactly as you left it, and you are frustrated and confused. Why did the nanny not clean the house or do the dishes? Now you have to deal with this mess and you shouldn't have to because you have a nanny and it's her job, not yours. You had just assumed she was okay with this new responsibility because she did not say no. You send her a text later that evening asking her to please make sure the dishes are complete and the house is clean before she leaves work during the day. Simple request, right? The answer is once again a simple one: No, it's not a simple request.

You have requested that the nanny pick up your mess during the weekend. The nanny accepted the job with the expectation that she would be responsible for the children Monday-Friday with light housekeeping during that time that she is on duty. She was not informed that she would have to do the dishes or weekend cleaning on Mondays. The nanny is not a housekeeper, and now she is frustrated and feels as though she has been taken advantage of. She has been given extra responsibilities during her daily duties without a the appropriate compensation.

Nannies do not have HR to reach out to, and instead they can only vent to other nannies in the industry. Other nannies tell her to quit her job or stand her ground and set boundaries. She's been employed for over a year though, so how can she set the boundaries now when she feels she has become so close to the family? The nanny is scared to lose her job if she states that she is not willing to do something her employer asks of her. You have put the nanny in a difficult position because she wants to stand up for herself but she also does not want to risk losing her job. How can you avoid the nanny feeling this way? The answer is simple: Discuss it with her.

Before you ever add any responsibilities to a nanny's plate, you need to sit down and have a discussion. If you hired a nanny with the clear expectation that she would only be responsible for the children and picking up after them during the day, then you cannot expect to add additionally job duties to her contract without a discussion. If your goal is to have the nanny pick up your weekend mess and do the dishes over the weekend, then you need to ask the nanny if she is comfortable with doing those extra duties. Here's a great way that you could ask:

"If you are comfortable we would really love if on Mondays you could assist with the weekend cleanup, and in exchange we will raise your pay by X amount daily or hourly to make up for the extra work you would be doing. It's okay if you say no, but we wanted to offer you the option."

Asking the nanny about adding additional responsibilities to her daily duties in exchange for higher pay accomplishes two things:

  1. You've allowed her to make the decision on whether or not she can handle extra responsibilities.

  2. You have made her feel appreciated by offering more pay in exchange for the additional responsibilities.

Remember, a nanny is more than just an employee. A nanny is an additional parental figure and a teammate when raising your child(ren). Having an honest and communicative relationship with a nanny is the best way to ensure that the nanny will stay happy and commit to your family long term!

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