Back when I was a teenager, I monopolized my neighborhood’s babysitting market. (I think I had roughly eight houses along my street that I regularly babysat for.) It was just something I did for extra cash — I didn’t even have a standard rate. I just took whatever jobs parents gave me, because 14-year-old me didn’t have the guts to negotiate pay with real grown ups.
Fast-forward eight years, fresh out of college with no job lined up, when I took on a part-time nanny position with a friend. I went into the process thinking it was going to be easy, just like when I was 14. Boy, was I wrong. The expectations from the parents were ridiculous: they basically wanted me to be a cleaning lady, driver, pet sitter, tutor, and nanny to three children — and all for $15 an hour.
My friend, who I co-nannied with, eventually started her own nanny placement agency in the Chicago suburbs and asked me to be in charge of “nanny-wellness,” which dealt with making sure the nannies we had were all happy and knew how to do their jobs. Granted, I only held this position for a short period of time, but it made me realize how unfair parents can often be towards their children’s caretakers.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are 12 things that parents can remember to treat their nannies with respect.
1. Remember that we have lives too.
Don’t call five minutes before you were supposed to come home to say you’re running three hours behind. If you run late often, then at least set up standard overtime pay.
2. It's your responsibility to be clear about your parenting philosophy.
Every family has different parenting philosophies, so make sure your nanny is well-aware of your methods so that you don’t butt heads down the road. It is your responsibility to ensure things remain somewhat consistent in terms of discipline — we can't read your mind.
3. We're not your maid unless we agree to be compensated as such.
A nanny is someone who is employed to care for a child — not to clean your house, be a chauffeur, do your laundry, or pick up your dog’s poop — simply to care for your child. If you would like your nanny to clean, cook, and drive, then you better pay up. If you were to hire a maid, dog-sitter, tutor, nanny, and chauffeur it would easily cost over $50.00 an hour. Stop adding tasks to the job description without compensation!
4. We deserve perks too.
Nannying is often an “under the table” job where parents pay in cash. But just because parents are evading taxes, doesn't mean nannies shouldn't be offered raises, bonuses, vacation hours, or other benefits to give your overworked nanny some sort of incentive to stay. Stop treating nannies like your 17 year old sitter! Happy nanny, happy kids, happy parents.
5. Don't undermine your nanny.
Children are amazing at picking up body language and social cues from parents. If you're being rude or talking badly about your nanny in front of your children they will mimic that attitude, making it harder for the nanny to take care of your child.
6. We deserve compensation for canceled days.
This one was high on the list of complaints from the nannies and mannies I group chatted with. A lot of nannies work more than one job, so scheduling is key for them to get the most buck for their hour. Nannies rely on consistent pay because they have bills to take care of. At least give your nanny 48-hour notice so that they can schedule another family — or better yet, set up a standard cancelation fee.
7. Our personal boundaries should be respected.
One of the nannies in the group chat specifically complained about a particular father who regularly showed up in boxers or a bath towel. Parents have the right to be comfortable in their own home, but it’s important to remember to create a professional work setting for the nannies.
8. We deserve travel reimbursement.
If you expect your nanny to drive your kids around to all of their extra curricular activities and play dates, then you better cough up some gas money. It's common sense, but you'd be surprised what people try to get away with.
9. Clearly articulate the day's expectations.
Make sure that if your kids have a hectic day ahead that you write down the schedules for us in an organized manner. Your kids are not making it to their dentist appointment if you spew our their schedule on your way out the door. If your handwriting is chicken scratch, send an organized text!
10. Be upfront with us about taxes.
It’s up to individual families to decide if they are going to file taxes for the nanny. Some nannies prefer to do the “under the table” method because they won’t get tax deductions taken from their paychecks, but this will hurt nannies in the long run when it comes down to Medicare and Social Security.
Additionally, if parents are somehow caught forgoing tax issues when they pay their nannies over $1,900 a year they can face tax evasion charges, back taxes, and interest. So make sure to discuss this with your nanny and figure out what works best for both of you. (This guide is particularly helpful.)
11. Remember that accidents happen.
Some parents have a tendency to overreact when they come home to find a scratch on their child’s arm. Nannies try their best to keep children safe, but kids will be kids. Please apply the same standards to us as you would to yourselves as parents.
12. Tell us if you have a nanny cam.
I personally think that Nanny cams are a great idea — but not if parents are sneaky about it. Be open about it and let your nanny know that you’ve installed cameras. Some nannies feel uncomfortable being filmed, but chances are they'll understand. Just be sure to use it to supervise openly and not in a weird creepy, sneaky way.
Images: Giphy; The Weinstein Company