Personal Assistants: Can Nannies Do Double Duty?
So, where do you draw the line? And when is it considered asking too much? Use my checklist below to find the right balance, and to decide whether or not you should hire a personal assistant in addition to your babysitter or nanny.
OK to Expect:
- Light cleaning and dish-washing;
- Picking up after kids and pets;
- Mail retrieval;
- Watering plants;
- Some cooking;
- Taking phone messages;
- Drop off/pick up kids at school and activities.
Not OK to Expect:
- Heavy housekeeping;
- All administrative duties;
- Managing other household staff (e.g., dog walkers, gardeners, contractors, etc.);
- Grocery shopping;
- Errands (dry cleaning, etc.);
- All cooking (hire a personal chef or meal delivery service!).
Does It Sound Like You Need a Personal Assistant? Here Are Your Options
You don't have to be a top executive or a celebrity to consider hiring a personal assistant. These days, personal assistants are becoming more and more common—especially in families where both parents have full-time careers—and are available in a variety of roles and job descriptions.
Here are just a few of the types of personal assistants available and which kinds of help they generally offer:
- Executive Assistant
An Executive Assistant is generally an administrative person who works within a company as both receptionist and office manager to a VP or higher. Executive Assistants manage the executive's schedules and calendars, run errands related to meetings and events (such as lunch orders and catering), and research and book travel arrangements, among other duties. The important difference between an Executive Assistant and a Personal Assistant is that an EA is hired by the company, not the individual, and generally works on a 9 to 5 schedule.
- Personal Assistant
Depending on the employer, a Personal Assistant's job description can range from that of an Executive or Administrative Assistant in a traditional business sense (but outside the office) to that of a "handler" in the celebrity sense, where the personal assistant is the beck-and-call "right hand" to their employer. Personal Assistants can perform duties as varied as those of a travel planner, general "gofer", public relations rep, schedule manager, agent, social secretary, and more. These details should be worked out in advance between employer and interviewee, and should include a laundry list of tasks and expectations on performance. Traits to look for are tactfulness, organizational skills, diplomacy, impeccable judgment, self-motivation, and resourcefulness.
- Household Manager
Personal Assistants for non-celebrities are also known in some circles as Household Managers, and are expected to do everything from errand running to bill paying so that their employer can focus on the tasks most important to their career(s). A Household Manager is generally a personal assistant for couples or families in which both adults work full-time. They are responsible for matters related to both family and professional life, and will generally act as liaison between the two parents, between parents and teachers, and between parents and other "hired help", including: pet sitters, gardeners, contractors, and others. A few agencies now exist through which you can find a Household Manager, and soon you will be able to find these and other home care providers through Care.com!
- Social Secretary
Hired by diplomats, politicians, and executives to help navigate the ever-disappearing line between personal and professional life, Social Secretaries are responsible for handling social correspondence, lunches, and other events, as well as remembering names, birthdays, relationships, and other vital information for their employer's contacts. Social Secretaries also plan and host events, dinner and cocktail parties, and, like professional event planners, ensure that all details are in order and that things go smoothly from beginning to end. (The White House generally employs several social secretaries at a time!) For the rest of us, especially those whose careers include a lot of social activity or entertaining, a Social Secretary can be most helpful in getting through life with poise and grace.
Again, you should always discuss tasks and expectations upfront in the interview for any position. If your needs change after the nanny, babysitter, or other assistant has been hired, be sure to sit him or her down and discuss whether or not they're interested in performing the additional work and what additional payment they require.
Do you have experience hiring a personal assistant? Or have you asked your babysitter or nanny to help out in this capacity? Share your thoughts with the Care.com community by leaving a comment!