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5 Real Caregiver Relationship Problems, Solved

Debbie Dragon
June 27, 2018

How to fix common issues that families, nannies, babysitters and other caregivers face.

Here at Care.com, we occasionally hear about relationships going sour between families and caregivers. These issues can usually be prevented or resolved with some open and honest conversation.

Check out some of the most common caregiver relationship problems we hear about, and some advice (for both families and caregivers) for how to fix them, without making the situation awkward:

  1. Lateness
    Employer: If your babysitter or nanny is late more than once, discuss the situation right away. Make sure the caregiver understands what the job's start time is and how important it is that the schedule is kept. This will usually resolve the problem. If she's still running late -- but you love everything else she's doing -- ask her to come 15 minutes earlier than you actually need her.

    Caregiver: And employers should show you the same courtesy of being on time. Occasionally a meeting runs over or your boss hits traffic, but ask them to call you and let you know about the delay. If you find yourself regularly working extra, talk to your employer about permanently extending your hours -- if that suits your schedule. And you should be paid for any additional hours you're working, including overtime hours.

  2. Messiness
    Employer: It would be nice to come home to a tidy house, but keep in mind that your caregiver is not your housekeeper. A nanny may be expected to put away toys or do a child's laundry, but cleaning your house is an unreasonable expectation. If she's leaving personal trash around or not putting dishes in the dishwasher, mention that you're trying to teach your kids responsibility and how important cleaning up after themselves is -- and it would be great if she set a good example.

    Caregiver: If your employer leaves dirty laundry around the house, assuming you'll take care of it, it may be time for a talk. Take a look at your contract (if you don’t have one, create one now!). Does it mention housekeeping duties? If not, have an honest discussion with your employer, saying you don't mind helping out now and then, but your priority is caring for the kids, pet or aging adult -- and you don't want anything to interfere with that. Set ground rules for what's allowed so you're not taken advantage of.

  3. Following the House Rules
    Employer: If you discover your dog walker is giving your pup extra treats or your babysitter is letting your kids stay up past their bedtime, reiterate the house rules. You can even post a short list on the refrigerator of the important rules that the entire family and any employees need to follow. It's a great reminder.

    Caregiver: Some employers aren't always consistent with their own house rules. If you feel like things change regularly, or you're not sure what's expected, ask. Work with your boss to put the house rules in writing as part of your contract, so everyone is on the same page.

  4. Issues Involving Pay
    Employer: You may not be used to your role as a household employer, but setting up practices for paying your caregiver is important. Make sure she knows when she will be paid and how. And pay on time, every time. Keep a written log of the hours she works, so there's no dispute. If you need your caregiver to come earlier than scheduled or stay later, adjust the pay accordingly. And if you pay her more than $1,900 per year, make sure you also file taxes.

    Caregiver: If you're having trouble getting paid, talk to your employer. Explain very clearly that, while you love what you do, this is your job and you depend on the pay -- just like people do with any other job. Read about 4 Tricky Salary Situations to Discuss with the Family You Work For.

  5. Unreliability
    Employer: Ever had a caregiver not show -- or call last-minute to cancel? If you still want to keep the person on, have a discussion about what to do in this situation. If your caregiver can't make it, how should she tell you and how much advanced notice do you require? Be clear that if it happens again, you'll be looking for someone more dependable. And, just in case, make sure you have backup child care options you can call.

    Caregiver: Do your employers regularly change your hours or cancel at the last second? Ask for a meeting to go over the problem and talk about how this impacts your life. You're a professional and should be treated as one. Review your contract and see if your hours or responsibilities need to be updated.

Debbie Dragon is a freelance writer. A single mother of two active boys, she has been writing from home full time for more than a decade. For more information, visit her website.

User in Visalia, CA
Nov. 22, 2014

Carol W, I have to agree with you, especially on the age bit. Most families assume that once you are past a certain age, you cannot keep up with their children. I am nearly 40 years old with over 20 years of experience caring for children, having helped raised my step daughter in addition to prior work experience. None of that seems to matter because I am not \

User in Visalia, CA
Sept. 15, 2014

I wish more families and nannies would read this.. It would certainly cut down on the amount of frustrations and resentments showing up on the job.

July 15, 2014

I have been caring for a toddler for about 4 months. I make about 7.00 an hour, job was 10.00 on care.com. I am potty training the toddler is a good listener, knows colors, abc, feeds him self, and is not 2 yet.Last week towards the end of the week, the parents told me that the coming week they were going on vacation-and i would not be paid.That was my notice! I feel like they think that is ok --The child and I have wonderful days coloring, walking, playing, cuddling, laughing, sharing lunches and snacks--but the parents -not so sure.

User in Houston, TX
June 10, 2014

Anonymous, I can only give you one bit of advice (unless you have already done so):GET OUT FAST!!!! That's an unhealthy situation for everyone, but you have to take care of yourself. No one else can do that. They aren't being respectful of your time, your job or your emotional or physical health. You have no reason to stay in such a horrible job. Many jobs have their drawbacks, but this is absolutely unacceptable. There are many other positions that will be a better fit for you and now you can use this as an eye opening experience of some things to look out for in the future. I wish you the best!

April 22, 2014

I have been working as a nanny for a married couple for about 2 months. They are the parents of a special needs toddler. At first, I loved this family..but lately things have been building up so much that I am considering leaving. The couple lives with the husband's parents since they moved here from out of state an are saving up for their new house. Their child is adorable. He has issues eating..has a feed tube, goes to physical therapy twice, sometimes 3x a week, and is pretty delayed. Taking care of him daily is EXTREMELY stressful on it's own, but the other Crap just tops it off. First of all, I get paid 10$ an hour. When I initially took the job, they said i would have a consistent schedule Monday-Friday 8am-6pm. That's 10 hours every day. Taking care of the child is honest difficult enough, but for the past month, the mother has been on my last nerve. She is always late. Every. Single. Day. Actually...I don't know if she has ever been home on time. She is home between 6:15-6:45pm. She apologizes and makes me feel guilty because she is \

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