Archive for the ‘Nanny / Family Relationship’ Category

Don’t Treat Them Like The Hired Help

I was sitting here thinking about what I wanted to tackle on the nanny / family relationship front this Tuesday and up pops an article on 10 Things Your Nanny Won’t Tell You.  It’s pretty much the standard list of complaints nannies have but the last one really stood out.  Not because I’ve never heard it before but because it’s always baffled me. 

10. Nannies want to be treated with respect.

Don’t treat them like hired help when they’re looking after your children day after day, essentially co-parenting while you are at work. “All in all, I just wish that employers would take the time to see that the caregivers that look after their children are people too,” said Jennifer. “No matter their social status or race.”

Don’t treat them like the hired help?  I hate to break it to the masses but nannies are the hired help.  They are hired to do a job within the household.  Yes, it’s an important job but it’s still a job.  (I won’t even comment on the implication that the hired help referred to – housekeepers, cleaners, cooks and gardeners – don’t deserve to be treated with respect.)  

So what does this have to do with the employment relationship?  A lot.

If you want to work for an employer who will treat you with respect, who will value the work you do and who will be considerate of your needs then look for an employer that treats all her employees that way.  I can pretty much guarantee that an employer who treats her housekeeper like a slave or constantly criticizes her personal assistant or barks orders at her gardener won’t treat her nanny well simply because she’s a nanny.  Bad attitudes cross job description boundaries. 

Also, remembering you’re an employee will help you successful navigate the employment relationship long term.  It doesn’t mean you can’t be your employer’s friend or your charge’s unofficial auntie.  It simply means that it’s equally important for you to establish and maintain professional boundaries and to take the personal out of employment issues. 

So do you feel you’re the hired help?  Does that have to be a bad thing?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

New line-up of Nanny Webinars

 laptop has updated it’s webinar schedule.

I’m offering the most popular topics including:

  • “Can We Talk?” ~ Real World Strategies for Talking About Tough Topics
    Wednesday, March 23rd at 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • The Results Driven Job Search
    Thursday, March 24th at 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • Developing an EXTRA–Ordinary Search Portfolio
    Sunday, March 27th at 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • Top Notch Interviewing Skills
    Sunday, April 3rd at 7:30pm Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • Interviewing and Referencing a Family Like a Pro
    Sunday, April 10th at 7:30pm Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific

Can’t make the date listed?  Don’t worry, save your space and you’ll receive info on the webinar replay within 24 hours of the live event. 

These “learn today, use tomorrow” webinars offer caregivers a convenient and cost effective way to get expert help in finding, landing and keeping a great nanny job and building a successful nanny / parent relationship.  Each comes with a detailed guide and unlimited replays. 

Know of someone who might benefit from one of these webinars?  Please pass the information along through email, facebook or twitter.  I appreciate your help in getting the word out.

Agencies and support groups, I’m offering a multi seat option that allows you to offer the webinar to all your nanny clients or members for one super low price.  Click on the register now button for pricing or contact me for more information.  It’s a great way to offer a valuable benefit to your nannies for just a few bucks.

If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know!

Who Defines “Occasional”?

On Tuesdays, the AllAboutNannyCare blog will offer tips and strategies for creating a successful nanny / family relationship.  If you have a question you’d like answered, please email me at  

Q. When I first started this job, I agreed to babysit occasionally on Saturday nights so my employers could have a date night. It started out as once every 2 or 3 months but recently has turned into every other week. They’re a great family and fair about most things but I don’t want to give up my social life so they can have one. How do I get out of this?

A. You’ve run into a common problem among nannies, setting and keeping professional boundaries. You want to help out but you don’t want to feel taken advantage of. To find a workable solution to the problem, you’ll need the input of your employers so a nanny / family meeting is required. I know sitting down with your employers can be a nerve-wracking experience and it often seems easier to just let it go. But with boundary issues such as this, letting it go doesn’t work long-term. It only leads to resentment, frustration and an overall dissatisfaction with your job.

Before you go into any nanny / family meeting, you need to be clear about what you want to accomplish during the meeting. In this case, your goal is to agree on a Saturday evening babysitting schedule that works for both you and your employer. The first step is to decide what schedule works for you. What is your ideal schedule, once a month, once every 2 months? If your ideal schedule doesn’t work for your employer, how much are you willing to compromise? Asked another way, how often could you babysit without feeling taken advantage of? Once every 4 weeks, once every 3 weeks? When you know what your boundaries are, what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do, it’s time to sit down with your employers.

So what do you say during the meeting?

Explain to them that while you enjoy being able to give them some extra couple time, with the increased number of Saturday nights you’ve been babysitting lately, you haven’t been giving yourself enough down time to relax and enjoy family and friends. Emphasize that adequate down time is an important part of being a great caregiver for their child.

Let them know what schedule you’d like to see put into place and find out what schedule they’d like to see put in place. You’re negotiating so be open to what they have to say.

Avoid being defensive. Although you feel taken advantage of, your employer may honestly believe you’re fine with the current Saturday night schedule.

Avoid blaming them for the problem. Both you and your employers have a responsibility to accurately define the terms of your employment. The responsibility for the miscommunication lies with both of you.

Don’t apologize for asking for what you think is fair. Like your employers, you have a right to have your needs meet within the employment relationship.


Nanny: I’d like to talk to you about the Saturday evening babysitting schedule. I really enjoy spending time with the kids and I’m happy to help you get some extra couple time in. However, the Saturdays that I’ve been working have gone from one every 2 or 3 months to almost every other week. I don’t feel I’m taking enough time for myself. I’d like to come up with a schedule that works for both of us.

Family: Oh, we didn’t realize this was a problem. We agreed to Saturday evening babysitting from the beginning.

Nanny: Yes, you’re right, I did agree to occasionally babysit on Saturday evenings. And I’m not trying to back out of that agreement. Unfortunately, we didn’t specifically define “occasionally” during the interview and that’s what I’d like to do now. I assumed occasionally would mean every other month or so but now I realize you assumed it would mean 2 times a month. I think a fair compromise would be one Saturday a month. That lets me balance my commitment to you and my need for personal time with friends and family. Does that work for you?

Family: Well, we didn’t have any particular schedule in mind. We’ve just been going out when we’re able to find the time. I’m not sure about once a month. That will work for some months, but for other months we’ll want to go out more often.

Nanny: I understand that once a month may not cover all the nights you’ll go out. For the additional nights, I know of a few nannies who babysit on the side that I can put you in touch with. That way, you’ll always have coverage.

Family: Alright. If we have you for once a month, we can fill in any other nights we need.

Yes, there are families that won’t comprise that easily and will require a harder stance and a bit more work. But most families will surprise you. Most families want their nanny to feel she’s treated fairly and if a problem is brought to their attention, will work with her to find a win-win solution.

If you don’t have a comprehensive nanny contract in place already, this is the perfect opportunity to develop one. One of the primary functions of a work agreement is setting clear and definite boundaries so you can avoid situations like this altogether. For more information on work agreements, please visit our A to Z Nanny Contract page.

If you’d like to learn how to communication more effectively, check out the parent and nanny webinars offered on 

Are Nannies Responsible for Collecting What’s Owed Them?

Just read the Robert De Niro court case outcome.  Once again, a nanny sues her employer for unpaid overtime and wins a hefty sum.  A pretty common thing these days.  (Do I need to add that the A to Z Nanny Contract helps employers avoid these issues?)

My question  isn’t about that case in particular.  It crosses my mind whenever I read a similar story: what responsibility do nannies have to collect the wages owed them in a timely way?

De Niro’s nanny claimed she was owed 750 hours in overtime.  750 HOURS!  She only worked for them for 11 months so that means she worked about 15 to 18 hours of overtime each and every week without getting paid for it.  She clearly was keeping records so she knew how much she was owed her.  She was making $31.25 per hour so she clearly knew how to communicate her needs on the financial front.  So why did she wait until she was fired to demand payment?

I don’t know the answer for De Niro’s nanny and I’m not implying she did anything wrong or unethical.  However I do know of other nannies who made a financial agreement with their employer and when fired, backed out of that agreement using the court system. 

Let me give an example.  Nanny Jane agrees to work 50 hours a week for $22 per hour.  Nanny Jane is fired.  And ticked off.  She sues her former employers for overtime: 10 hours a week for the year she worked there.  A total of 520 hours or $17,160.  (It’s amazing how quickly that adds up, huh?)   She sues her employers and wins. 

How is that possible?  Easy.  Legally Nanny Jane is entitled to time and a half for all the hours she worked over 40 in any work week.  It doesn’t matter that both she and her employer negotiated her hourly rate based on the real world work week.  Their individual agreement doesn’t override the law. 

Nanny Jane is legally entitled to $17,000 in unpaid overtime but is she ethically entitled to it?  IMO, no.   Just because she’s angry at being fired, even if her anger is justified, doesn’t mean she has the right to sue.   She fully understood and agreed to the terms of her employment.  Her employers were paying her fairly even if they failed to use legally accurate language in their work agreement.  I’m all for nannies getting paid what they’re worth but I’m also all for them doing it in an upfront, professional way. 

What do you think?

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