Should Nannies Do Housework?



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?

As someone who worked in childcare, and as a nanny, for many years I have had some genuinely amazing employees. I’ve also had a couple of problematic experiences. 

I’ve also trawled through dozens upon dozens of nannying job ads that had incredibly unrealistic expectations. The kind of jobs that I’m grateful that I’ve never been in a position where I would have even considered applying.

Some people are simply being unrealistic. They obviously haven’t thought it through. Others are obviously being intentionally exploitative. 

Have Reasonable Expectations

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 read job descriptions for sole carer positions of multiple young children and expected duties include not only child related care – planning activities, appointments, outings, craft (the usual things you’d expect for a nanny) but also cooking dinner for the whole family, cleaning the house, laundry, 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 bit of tidying up. Things like preparing meals for children to eat and 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 necessarily vacuuming the house top to bottom.

It’s reasonable to expect a nanny to pack away toys after the children have played with them. And clean up after craft activities. 

It’s reasonable to expect that your nanny more or less keep the house as clean as it was when they started their shift. If the house looked like a bomb site when they arrived, you can’t reasonably expect it to be pristine and clean when you get home – IF the job you’ve hired them to do is taking care of your children.

What if you do want extra cleaning?

If you understand and appreciate that time spent cleaning is time not spent actively engaging with your children AND you’ve discussed your expectations upfront, before hiring the nanny, and the nanny agreed, AND you’ve put everything in writing so everyone is on the same page about exactly what their role is and your expectations are; then sure. 

However, if you do want a nanny to do two jobs you can’t just pay them for one. Typically a cleaner is paid more per hour than a nanny – so that also needs to be taken into account if the line between nanny and house keeper are blurred. 

Also 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. All day.

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 giving my complete and undivided attention to their baby.

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. You are their employer and they are your employee. (Also, be aware that you are most likely also an employer for tax purposes. Which as a side note it really important to be aware of.) 

You want your employee to feel valued, appreciated, and happy. So they can then focus that positive attitude on their primary job – which is taking care of your precious children. 

Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner. Rachel is obsessed prams, car seats, carriers and all things baby. She has worked in the baby industry for several years, for both suppliers and also in a retail setting and has developed a passion for connecting parents with the right products to make their lives easier. When Rachel isn't playing with prams she's enjoys crocheting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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