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What NOT to Say to a Nanny

Leanne Proctor
July 17, 2017

Are you hurting your relationship? See what nannies and sitters had to say on Facebook.

Whether you just hired a nanny or feel yours is part of your family, you may not know that some of the things you say are hurting your nanny's feelings and thus your relationship.

We recently posted a question on the Care.com Facebook page asking nannies and babysitters to tell us what their employers sometimes say or do that upsets them. Below are five of the most popular answers, with recommended solutions from Cameron MacDonald, author of "Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs, and the Micropolitics of Mothering."

  1. "Sorry I'm Late"
    Brittany L. struggles with the mom she works for "Not being organized with the schedule and letting me know ahead of time days she needs me to stay late."

    Solution: Everyone is late occasionally, but it shouldn't be a habit. Find out what your nanny's typical evening demands are, so you can be respectful of her time: does she have classes, a second job or family obligations? MacDonald suggests talking with your nanny about when she can be flexible and times she just can't be. Discuss how you're going to reimburse her for the extra time: will you pay her more or give her more time off? Learn about nanny overtime rules.

  2. "Can I Pay You Next Time?"
    As Amy E. says: "[I imagine parents] would pitch a fit if their employer forgot their check at the end of the week. Same for me. I provide a service and expect to be paid for that work."

    Solution: Even though your nanny feels like an extension of your family, this is her job and source of income -- she deserves to be paid on time. MacDonald says to think of yourself as your nanny's payroll department; it's your job to make sure everything's running smoothly. Decide when you'll pay your nanny and stick to it. Learn how to set up an automatic employee payroll account.

  3. "Can You Do the Dishes?"
    Stacy A. finds that her employer "leaves the house and kitchen a mess, expecting me to clean it all up."

    Solution: Your nanny should be in charge of keeping the kids clean and their rooms organized. Unless housekeeping duties are part of the job description, it's not her responsibility to do other chores. If you need extra help, hire a housekeeper or find another solution that doesn't take time away from the kids. If you have little ones, maybe she can tidy while they're napping, but make sure both you and your nanny understand what she should be doing and when, and put it in a nanny contract.

  4. "Today You Should..."
    The mom that Rebecca G. works for is constantly "explaining everything and micromanaging my time. 'It's nice outside, so take her out from 1-2, then watch a video from 2-2:30."

    Solution: While it's understandable to want to manage your child's life, it may be affecting how your nanny does her job. Tell her if there are things you want prioritized, but let her make her own decisions and trust her judgment. If you feel separation anxiety, check in during the day. Read about 9 Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Nanny

  5. "We Treat You Really Well"
    Chelsea A. works for a great family, but is bothered by "a lack of appreciation for all I do. I do a lot more housework than what was originally agreed upon, and they also upped my hours, and when I tried to tell them [it] was a lot on me, they said 'well, we treat you really well.' But they seem to forget I treat them well too..."

    Solution: MacDonald says this is many nannies' number one complaint: the lack of recognition. Do you value the skills your nanny brings to the job, her attachment to your child and how well they get along? Yes, you pay her, but your nanny is more than just a nameless, faceless employee. Let her know she's doing a great job and you appreciate her hard work. Check out ways to Show Your Nanny You Care.

If you want to maintain a great relationship with your nanny or sitter, you need to communicate. Set up weekly meetings to check in and encourage her to talk about what's working and what could be improved. Remember that no relationship is perfect. But the more you communicate and work together, the happier everyone will be.

And in the comments section below, let us know if there are other ways the nanny-employer relationship could be better.

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