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How Much Housework Should A Nanny Do?

How Much Housework Should A Nanny Do?


Are you thinking about hiring a nanny and you’re not sure what is fair to expect from them in terms of housework and cleaning. What outside of caring your children can you ask your nanny to do?

Firstly you can’t expect a nanny to do more than you’d ever consider reasonable for a stay at home parent to get done in the same number of hours. Your nanny is still only one person. I’ve seen jobs listed as sole carer for three children under five and expected duties include not only child related care – activities, appointments, outings, craft – but also meal prep for the family, cleaning, folding laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc (and that “etc” is usually in the ad, as in, they expect all that – and whatever else they want to add on to what is already enormous workload.)

And more often than not it’s the parents with unrealistic expectations that are the ones offering the least amount of money.

So what is generally expected?

I think it’s fair to expect a nanny do child-related cleaning. You’re hiring someone to look after your kids and part of looking after small people does involve a little bit of tidying up. Things like preparing meals for children to eat. Then washing up the dishes the children have used and wiping down the table where they’ve eaten. Maybe a bit of a sweep if there’s excessive crumbs on the floor after a meal. But not vacuuming the house top to bottom.

Or it’s reasonable to expect a nanny to pack away toys after the children have played with them. And clean up after craft activities. But not clean the children’s bedrooms and play areas if they were a mess when the nanny arrived.

You want your house to be more or less as clean as it was when your nanny started their shift.

That’s about it.

What if you do want extra cleaning?

If you don’t mind that it means your nanny won’t be giving their whole attention to your children and you’ve discussed your expectations upfront, before hiring the nanny, and the nanny agreed, and ideally you’ve put everything in writing so everyone is on the same page about your expectations – with no “etc” – be specific; then sure.

However, if you do want a nanny to do two jobs you can’t just pay them for one. You’ll need to pay them more, because you’re asking them to do more work. Otherwise it’s unfair. And ultimately if you overburden, under pay and under appreciate your nanny will eventually leave. If they know what’s good for them.

And constantly replacing nannies is a bit of a pain for you and it’s disruptive to your children.

Just Be Reasonable

You know your kid(s). I’ve worked for a family who had a baby who simply could not be put down. At all. Otherwise he would scream. Sometimes it was necessary to pop him down for a couple of minutes so I could go to the toilet, but mostly my time was occupied by the constant care of this particularly fractious baby.

That family also hired a cleaner to do everything else. The cleaner would come in a couple of days a week and go over the whole house. So my one and only job was looking after the baby. And by the evening I would go home shattered, because trust me, that was plenty responsibility for one person.

On the other hand if you have a couple of well behaved, older children, who more or less take care of themselves, but just need someone in the house to supervise them – maybe you can expect a little more from your nanny.

Nannies Are People Too

Not just in that a nanny is bound by human limitations, they only have the same number of hours in a day as anyone else, but you need to be respectful. And treat them like a person. Hiring someone to work for you comes with some responsibilities. But also an opportunity to build a lasting professional relationship. You want them to feel valued, appreciated, and happy. So they can then focus that positive attention on their primary job – which is taking care your children. 


About Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner. She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum. She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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