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5 things families do that drive their nannies crazy

Erica Jackson Curran
Aug. 31, 2018

Whether employed for a few hours a week or full-time, nannies can quickly start to feel like an integral part of a family. After all, nannies see families at some of their most honest moments, and parents trust them with their children’s lives. Still, no matter how much love exists between a caregiver and her family, the relationship is a professional one at its core — something that parents occasionally forget.

In the frantic rush of everyday life, it’s easy for parents to make choices that may create extra challenges for their nanny — and they may not even be aware they’re doing it. While there’s no official rulebook for interacting with a professional caregiver, families can avoid a few common faux pas if they want to maintain a happy, healthy relationship with their nanny.

We asked a few nannies what their families do that drive them crazy. Here are a few of their biggest beefs. (Note: Names have been changed to protect our nannies’ identities.)

1. Not sticking to a schedule.

Nearly every nanny we interviewed mentioned this issue: Parents who show up late.

“We have lives outside of work,” says Bre, a full-time nanny. “We have appointments and sometimes second jobs.”

And when a parent doesn’t come home at the agreed-upon time, it can cause serious problems for their nanny.

Casey, another caregiver, notes that some parents she has worked with have even come home hours later than expected without offering so much as a text message about their planned return. Others may extend a text or phone call when they need extra time, but they pose it as more of a command than a request.

The solution: Families must keep in mind that their nanny’s life does not revolve around them. If extra time is needed, parents should offer as much advance notice as possible, and be prepared that their nanny may have to say no. And of course, they should always be paid properly for any extra hours of work they do offer.

2. Not reimbursing for gas money.

School, soccer practice, play dates — nannies often play the role of family taxi driver, shuttling kids from one destination to another. And apparently some parents forget that driving can incur a significant extra expense that’s often overlooked. 

“It’s pretty much just being paid less, because you have to use the money you get paid watching and raising the children to fill up your gas tank," Amy says. 

The solution: Some nannies may feel uncomfortable asking for extra money to pay for gas, especially if those terms weren’t agreed upon when they were hired. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If nannies are on the clock, families are on the hook for expenses like gas. A prepaid gas card is an easy fix, or nannies could be asked to track their miles for timely reimbursement.

3. Not stocking the pantry.

When nannies are in charge of mealtimes, parents may overlook the logistics — like whether there’s actually any food in the house.

“If I’m nannying in your home, please make sure your kid has food,” says Sam. “It’s very frustrating to spend our own money to take your kid to get food because the fridge is empty.”

The solution: Parents should always make sure they have enough food for their kids to eat not only all meals while the nanny is on duty, but also healthy snacks. If nannies are expected to go grocery shopping, parents should be clear about those terms early on, and they should offer a way to pay for the food so nannies don’t have to pay out-of-pocket (even if they’ll be reimbursed). Grocery delivery services are also convenient for parents who don’t have time to grocery shop.

4. Being a slob.

Kids are messy. That’s a given, and nannies know that cleaning up after them is just part of the job. But messy parents? They should know better.

“[I hate] when families trash the house after I leave for the day,” Katie says. “Dishes piled up in both sinks and on the counter after a weekend. That’s never OK! I’ll wash my kid’s dishes that we use, but your entire family’s dishes from three days of meals? Hard NO!“

The solution: While no one expects parents to do a deep clean of the house before the nanny arrives, it’s proper to give them a clean slate in the areas where they’ll be spending time with the kids. They shouldn’t have to clean up an existing mess in order to prepare food, give a bath or play with your children. Some nannies may be happy to include light housekeeping in their list of responsibilities, but they should be paid for that extra work, and those duties should be agreed upon before they begin working for you.

5. Being inconsistent with training.

From sleep training and potty training to discipline, nannies often help out with key milestones in their charges’ lives. But although parents may give explicit instructions as to how they expect nannies to manage these moments, they don’t always follow those guidelines themselves, full-time nanny Shelby notes. And that can quickly derail any efforts nannies make.

The solution: Parents should always make an effort to practice what they preach, knowing that consistency is key when it comes to training and discipline. A good nanny will work hard to follow her family’s guidelines, and a good family will make the effort to do the same.

Read next: How nannies know if a family is right for them

Gail in Cypress, CA
Oct. 5, 2018

Care.com does not have a way to protect us. Care.com does not have a way to warn other people about families like that. (article above). Care.com also doesn’t get word out to families that when light housekeeping is desired, that families must pay their nanny more to do that. Care.com must provide rules to families - to maintain the luxury of an in home nanny. They do not! Nannies need to step up and not do or accept such and such. We keep care.com in business. There is a miscommunication between Care.com and parents- as well as with a pay scale that they need to be paying. Nannies know the pay rates if they research . Parents do not . Care .com doesn’t tell them!! Parents choose whatever rate they have heard - and it is incorrect!!! Care.com isn’t going to hear it from me...I’m one person. Also, I’ve had it with pig houses, yards and garages !! Have some tact. A nanny does not live with you. Clean it up for her/him.

Heart in Tucson, AZ
Sept. 10, 2018

Sorry I meant messy houses :)

User in Stockton, CA
Sept. 7, 2018

Karan -PA It was good while it lasted & now you’ll have to find a similar arrangement or step up you own personal goals of opening a couples daycare. It doesn’t make economic sense to place your child in day care while tending to another ‘s child. You will be working to pay for your son’s day care. And, you should find out why your son is using physical violence as a method to solve his problems. He had to learn that behavior from someone. Best of luck to you all.

User in Milwaukee, WI
Sept. 7, 2018

I wish that there was a way to warn nannies and caregivers on this site about people who violate the people that do the most for them. I just experienced the most horrific people and 10 years of being a professional nanny. As I started work they discontinued doing anything as far as cleaning or picking up. They agreed to a salary and way underpaid me even if I worked extra hours. Invited neighbor children over because they didn't have a sitter without extra pay or asking my permission. The house was filthy full of feces on the bathroom toilet and piles of dirty diapers. No clean bottles, dishes piled every day and all their food still on their plates. They wouldn't even take out their garbage or recycling. I warned them about the situation and after a week of the same, I told him I could not come back to the toxic environment. She proceeded to berate me on my profile review and lie about how horrible of a person I was. There's got to be a way to warn other people about families like that. The poor rating and lies cost me a good job. What can be done to protect us?

User in Riverton, NJ
Sept. 7, 2018

I can understand. As they can’t see what’s going on there when they are not there. Maybe put your child in school full time if you can afford it

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