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Can You Ask Your Nanny to Cook?

Brenda Barron
Feb. 26, 2018

Here are 7 things that you should keep in mind if you're looking for a nanny or babysitter who can also prepare meals.

Image via Getty Images/mypurgatoryyears

"My son loves his babysitter!" says Rebecca W. from Scottsdale, Arizona. "She only cooks his food, nothing for the family as a whole, but has also offered to do everything including housekeeping, errands and cooking!"

While this situation is ideal, it definitely won't be the norm for every family.

Ideally, adding cooking to the list of job responsibilities is something that should be worked out before you hire a babysitter or a nanny, says Marc Leandro, co-founder of marc+mark, a service that teaches nannies to cook. "As a parent of twins who has the help of a nanny during the week, I understand how busy nannies are and how their most important role is to provide care to the kids they work with." 

Kids should always be the top priority. But there are situations where an agreement can be made to add cooking to the schedule that is mutually beneficial for families and child care providers alike.

Should you decide to hire a nanny who cooks (or try to encourage your current nanny to take up the task).

Here are seven tips to help you get started:

  1. Ask, Don't Tell
    While you may love the idea of your nanny cooking meals for you and/or your family, ask her if this is something she's comfortable with. Is this new task worth losing your amazing nanny over?
  2. Be Clear
    What exactly are you asking your nanny to do? Make breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner? Cook for just your child (which is a common responsibility for nannies) or your entire family? Are you expecting gourmet meals or simple casseroles?
  3. Offer More Money
    It's obviously ideal to look for a nanny who cooks -- if that's something you want her to do for your family -- during the hiring process. But if you're contemplating adding it to your nanny's current to-do list, pay her more for the extra responsibilities.
  4. Plan a Grocery Shopping "Training"
    In some cases, your nanny may need to pick up a few things from the grocery store to prepare meals for your family. Leandro says a "field trip," may be in order. In fact, a trip to the grocery store is one of the first things he does during consultations with nannies. "Of course, she's been to the grocery store before!" he says, "But it's great to do one 'big shop' with her and cover important aspects of choosing produce." What brands do you like to buy or where do you save money?

    If you want to continue the grocery shopping yourself, that's more than fine. But if you expect your nanny to take care of it, a little guidance is a good idea.
  5. Handle Expenses Professionally
    “Families can provide their nanny with cash or leave them a credit card to buy groceries, but if the nanny purchases these items with her own money, she should be reimbursed on her next paycheck,” says Tom Breedlove, director of Care.com HomePay. “Make sure if your nanny is ever out-of-pocket for any job-related expenses, she provides a receipt so you know how much you owe her.”
  6. Provide Instructions or Recipes
    Even if your nanny is already comfortable with preparing a variety of meals, it's always a good idea to provide meal plans and a few family recipes to get her started. This will eliminate the question of "What to make?" and provide your nanny with structure. Of course, this is doubly important if your children have any food sensitivities or allergies. This is what Rebecca W. does. "All the goods are already in the house," she says, but "I leave her specific instructions and/or recipes."
  7. Help Her Get Comfortable
    Truly, how comfortable your nanny feels cooking in addition to maintaining her other required tasks is essential for success. "It may at first seem like a drag, honestly, to be tasked with something else," says Leandro, "but nearly all nannies have deep affection for the kids they work with." So long as everything is laid out and planned in advance, in a way that doesn't overextend her, all should be well.

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Brenda Barron is a mother and writer. Her work has appeared in numerous online outlets and she loves offering tips and tricks for other parents. She also enjoys knitting and watching Doctor Who.

User in Brookwood, AL
Oct. 14, 2016

Thank you for article...helpful to newcomer.

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