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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.

Dec. 16, 2015

I am a mother who employs a nanny, I actually feel like my nanny doesn't appreciate me & my family! We are usually home early each day, to give her and us time to discuss how the kids were that day. She's had a lot of issues this year and needed lots of time off: total for the year about 2 months. We also gave her a couple of extra sick days to help her out. We've worked with her and moved our schedules around for her, and when we have asked for that in return she says she is busy or she wants us to pay her 25% more than her normal wage. We tell her all the time thank you for taking care of our kids, you are doing a great job; she's even gotten a raise this year. It just seems to me that none of this is enough. She is acting \

User in Garland, TX
Nov. 16, 2015

If long term caregivers were to write a book about all the experience we go thru it would not only be a thick book but also an eye-opening to families and future care providers to see what goes on. I have been a nanny for more than 9 yrs and I love it but there are just times and moments where you just feel like giving up. It can be anywhere from a unacceptable child behavior or disrespectful parents. My way of thinking is \

The worst, an employer who has scheduled me for over 40 hrs and on national holidays told me that they would roll any hours over 40 into the next pay period, and next few after that to make it appear as though in only work 40 hrs per wee or less because they don't want to pay me over time or holiday pay because it would cost too much money. I'm sure that this is illegal, if you don't want to pay time and a half then don't schedule 46 hr weeks forgot sakes don't have me scheduled on Easter Sunday. 4 vacations per year instead of 7 could cover all that overtime.

March 13, 2015

This article speaks loudly. I have been a nanny for years and have experienced many cultures, personalities, etc -- no matter how different each individual is, you end up dealing with the same issues. There are plenty of Nannies who are well educated and have all the qualifications -- experience, strength, and a nurturing quality. We should all be treated like a professional employer would treat an employee, whether you have a degree ot not. I mention the education because families tend to pay more if you have a degree, however, experience can be equal to an education. I also bring education up because they treat you like you are not intelligent because you are at home, taking care of their children! People also assume that nannies have nothing else to do! Not true. My overall point is: Families treat nannies like they are there to be over-worked, they think they can say anything because your desperate to work(why else would they be so brasin??!), absolutely no days off, god forbid we ask for time off! It gets ugly. I get it, you have a job to go to, but I have a life as well. I need to go to the dentist, doctor, just like you do. I am sure there are great families out there, but they are not the majority. One last thing - when you tell them what their child accomplished or said, they get all defensive and think you are telling them you taught them. I will probably not continue my work as a nanny, as I am educated and have many opportunities.

March 2, 2015

I love being a nanny and I so could relate to many of you. Right now I'm working with a really nice family, but I'm starting to feel underappreciated. I only get paid 7.50 which was .50 cents lower than the original amount that they posted. But, at the time I agreed because I was unemployed for a while and I was desperate for a job. Then after a year, I'm still getting paid that 7.50, I don't have any sort of benefits e.i no vacations, no sick days, and barely any holiday vacations. I work with a work at home mom and at times she makes it impossible to do my job. When the boy throws a tantrum or cries because he tripped, she's quick to come to the rescue. It seems like she doesn't trust me, even after a year of me working here. When I do things to help her out like wash the 5 million dishes she never likes to wash, I never even get a thanks or any sort of recognition out of it. Right now I'm to the point of quitting and finding another job, but my thing is it was hard enough to get this job as is. People on here have such high standards (some of them are ridiculous) and hardly no one ever replies, even to say no thanks. I'm actually considering being something other than a nanny, which I hate because I love being a nanny.

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