Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nanny Agency Loyalty

What Does it Take for Nannies to Be Loyal to a Nanny Placement Agency?

By Ginger Swift, President of ABC Nannies and Domestics, Denver Colorado

When I think of loyalty, I think of friends that hang with you no matter what. Of course, loyalty can be lost if you do something awful to harm the relationship but for the most part, loyal friends stick with you like glue. During this recession, I wondered whether nannies would remain loyal to an agency or if they may find alternative way to find a job.

Last fall, a survey went out to nannies across the country to see how nannies find jobs and if they are loyal to a particular method. Over 80 nannies responded and the comments were very consistent. Sixty-five percent of the nannies surveyed, first call a nanny placement agency when starting to look for a new job. Eighteen percent contact their friends and nanny network first when searching for a job. Eight percent immediately get on Craig’s List and another eight percent contact a nanny web site. Less than one percent of those surveyed answered that they place classified advertisements in the newspaper. Nanny web sites and traditional agencies tied for the second most used method followed by networking with friends, Craig’s List, newspaper, Internet, and networking with Mother’s Clubs and employer’s friends. The most popular online agencies mentioned were,,, and

Although 65% of nanny candidates first contact a nanny placement agency, only 54% of the same people surveyed said it was their favorite way to find a job. Perhaps, some nanny placement agencies have some work to do to make this a higher number.

Here is what one nanny said, "I still prefer working with an agency because there is a hope that the agency actually checks out the family and will match my skills and then help with the contract negotiations but I have been disappointed by a number of agencies over the years."

For the most part, nannies seemed pleased with their agencies. "I feel that agencies usually have higher paying families and families will treat you as a professional," said one nanny and this sentiment was shared by other nannies as well. "All my best positions have been through nanny agencies," answered another nanny.

One nanny replied, "While I like looking through web sites and having access to all the job descriptions, going through an actual agency is my first preference."

Another nanny answered, "The guidance, negotiations, and contract help is why I go through an agency."

Other preferences in finding a nanny job were word of mouth (24%), online agencies (8%), Craig’s List (6%), followed by ads in paper (1%) and none (1%).

Not surprisingly, 100% of all the nannies surveyed said that they tell other nannies where to go to whom to use in finding a nanny job. And while financial incentives are nice, no nannies surveyed would ever refer an agency that they did not feel good about. An in-home childcare provider said, "I just recommend if it’s the right thing to do. Incentives or not."

So what does it take for a nanny to be loyal to an agency? Those surveyed had this to share: "I’ll be loyal if they have been loyal to me," "Genuine personal attention from the agency, "the friendly and helpful staff," "honesty," and "the way they treat me."

Perhaps, this nanny phrased it best, "I’m loyal to an agency that realizes I too am a client." Nannies want to work with nanny agencies that communicate, listen, respect, support, and work hard.

During this recession, it is likely that nanny placement agencies that don’t do this will disappear and those that truly care about helping and finding nannies jobs will be around for the long-term.
Are you loyal to a nanny placement agency? What is your advice to working with a nanny placement agency?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How the Queen Cleans Everything By Linda Cobb

Weekly Trip to the Library
Book Review By Maria Lopez, Nanny, Miami, Florida

Although in the past few days many nannies have expressed how much they hate cleaning the houses they work in (see their answers on this blog), I have yet to meet a nanny that doesn't help with children's laundry and cleaning up messes made by the children that are in their care. Some tasks are tricky and nannies would benefit by having How the Queen Cleans Everything by Linda Cobb.

Linda Cobb has created an easy to read book that includes all of her tips and shortcuts on how to solve hundreds of cleaning challenges. She is clever and actually makes cleaning a house fun!

She combines three of her previous bestselling books into one comprehensive manual. The book includes: the best way to clean the kitchen and bathroom; a multitude of natural stain removers that are already in the kitchen cupboard; a comprehensive guide on how to clean carpets; the right way to allergy-proof the home; a quick way to tidy before company comes over; and so much more. I especially like the schedule of daily, twice weekly, weekly, monthly, quarterly, twice a year, and annual cleaning chores. To make reading a breeze she indexes her subjects from A to Z (A and D Ointment to ZUD Heavy Duty Cleanser).

I highly recommend How the Queen Cleans Everything by Linda Cobb for anyone that lives in a home and will need to clean it.
Come back next Saturday for another book review for nannies and au pairs. If you have a book you would like to share email

Friday, March 27, 2009

What Chores are the Children Responsible For?

Housekeeping Survey for Nannies and Au Pairs

Below are some responses from nannies and au pairs from our monthly poll when asked "What chores are the children responsible for?" at

Debra Mathwig, a nanny from Plymouth, Wisconsin wrote, "I have the children help with everything. It makes them feel good to help me out."

Gretchen Denton, an au pair from Germany working in Delaware recommended, “I fill a sink with warm water and bubbles and the kids help wash their toys and plastic dishes in the sink.”

Fern Scott, from Seattle, Washington said, “The kids are responsible for cleaning their rooms, picking up toys, and cleaning up their own messes.”

Lisa Garrelts, a nanny from New Canaan, Connecticut replied, "The children pick up their rooms, clear the table after dinner, and put toys away.”

Another nanny, Allie Kamrud wrote, “The children are responsible for making their beds and picking up toys and I help as needed. Matching socks is a great way of learning colors."

Christine Watson, a baby nurse in McLean, Virginia wrote, "Children should be responsible for everything that they are able to do. That's how they learn true self-esteem."

Do you have any advice to share with other in-home childcare providers about housekeeping?

Cindy Brinkman, a nanny from West Bend, Wisconsin advised, “Never mix household chemicals and babies. Any cleaning chemical can be caustic or poisonous:”

Francine Ramsey, a nanny in Naples, Florida agrees. Francine warned, “Don’t leave buckets of water unmonitored. Children can drown. Keep cleaning supplies on high shelves behind locked cabinets.”

Nancy Ackart, a nanny from Nebraska, recommended, “Sprinkle an all-natural, antibacterial carpet deodorizer powder in the bottom of the diaper pail to eliminate odors.”

Sarah Rowena, a nanny from Indianapolis, Indiana said, “Keep a container of disinfectant wipes under each bathroom sink that the children use. Each day use a wipe to clean off the sinks, counters, and toilet bowl.”

Ellen, a professional organizer from Texas answered, “Create routines that encourage ‘organizing as you go’. Have a rule about how many toys can be taken out at one time and then pick up before taking another toy out to play.”

Au pair, Fiona McVetty, who works in the Boston. Massachusetts area wrote, “Put similar utensils together in the dishwasher to make putting them away easier. For example, put only spoons in the same bin and forks in another.”

E. Chandler a nanny from California suggested, "Have a contract that is very detailed about your responsibilities so there is no misunderstanding from."

Julia DuBois, a nanny from Grafton, Wisconsin answered, “Obviously you should clean up after yourself and the children. Anything else should not fall on your shoulders. The parents should be aware that the more chores that are given to the nanny, the more time that is taken away from spending with the kids.”

Tina Rysio, a nanny in Wynantskill, New York said, "Don't start doing housekeeping just to be nice."

Judy Taylor a nanny in Snohomish, Washington wrote, "Make sure you a compensated fairly and the parents understand your primary job is to care for the children. They ought to always understand if something goes undone because of the children's needs, it is okay."

Mary Hoffee a nanny, house manager, and housekeeper from Ashland, Ohio suggested, "Never agree to do something that you do not feel you should have to do."

Heidi Angulo, a nanny in Aptos, California mentioned, "Cleaning should never take precedent over the children."

Meredith Nicholson, a nanny in Atlanta, Georgia wrote, “Always pick up after the children. Leave the house in the same or better condition then when you came.”

Melissa Hauca, a nanny from San Anselmo, California advised, "Someone once said to me, 'The best gift that a nanny can give a parent is more time with their children.' It is important to have a clear and fair understanding about what household responsibilities belong to which party, but going above and beyond once in a while can be a wonderful thing.”

What chores do you think the children should be responsible for?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Housekeeping are Nannies Willing to Do?

Nanny & Au Pair Housekeeping Survey Results

Below are more survey results from a Best Nanny Newsletter monthly poll conducted at:

As the children grow up and go to school full-time are you willing to take on more housekeeping duties?

Glenda Propst, a nanny with more than 20-years experience wrote, "If a nanny wants to stay with a family long-term she needs to learn to grow and adapt her job and her expectations to the needs of the children and the family. The nanny caring for a newborn does not have the same job as the nanny caring for a toddler, the nanny for a toddler does not have the same job as caring for a school-age child. Roll with the changes if you want to grow with the family."

Jane Fields, a nanny from Dublin, California wrote, "No, I'm off to a job where they need a nanny!"

Laurin a nanny in Fairfield, Connecticut replied," Not cleaning responsibilities, because I hate cleaning and I've never learned how. But I would take on more house management responsibilities. I'm a nanny because I want to care for children, so I will probably move on to a new position when the kids are all in school full-time."

Rebecca Flanagin, a nanny from Atlanta, Georgia said, "Nope. Hire a house cleaner; we are not paid enough to do the families dirty work."

Jaime of Oregon City, Oregon answered, "If the children are not there as much and there is more time to work on the house, I will clean as long as I am paid for it.

Are there any household duties you feel are not a nanny’s responsibility?

Amy Robertson, a nanny in Phoenix, Arizona answered, "Not really, because I want to help the family in any way I can. This proactive attitude is why I think I am paid so well."

Beth McKinney, a professional nanny in Kent, Washington answered, "I feel that only child related cleaning is a childcare provider’s responsibility."

Linda Nevling, a nanny in Raleigh, North Carolina said, "I don’t think a childcare provider should be responsible [for doing the parent’s chores.]"

Harmony Schutt, a nanny in Essex, Vermont said, "Anything not directly related to the children should not be part of the nanny's duty."

Shannon Baas, a nanny from Providence Village, Texas answered, "I don’t feel a nanny should be responsible for the parent’s laundry."

Terri Carroll, a temporary and traveling nanny from Ventura, California responded, "I have been inexplicably asked twice to train the family dog. That is clearly not a nanny’s job."

Marie Marqui, a nanny in Cedarburg, Wisconsin agrees. She wrote, "Nannies should not have to care for pets, such as grooming, feeding, or training them."

Brianna from Chicago, Illinois said, "I think everything can be a nanny’s responsibility if paid the right salary."

Any thoughts on the topic? Click "Comments" below to respond.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nanny and Au Pair Housekeeping Poll

What Housekeeping Duties Would You Be Willing To Do if You Were Paid Extra Money?

Of the 778 nannies and au pairs that took our poll about what extra housekeeping they would be willing to do if paid extra money:

599 (77%) would be willing to grocery shop, make a food inventory, and put groceries away
475 (61%) would be willing to rotate the children’s seasonal clothes if compensated extra for the task
467 (60%) would wash, fold, and put away the entire family’s laundry including the parents
459 (59%) would be willing to unload and load the dishwasher
436 (56%) would be willing to add sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping the entire house as need if offered more money
436 (56%) would be willing to change the sheets and bedding of the entire family
428 (55%) would make the children’s beds daily
428 (55%) would clean and sterilize baby pacifiers, bottles, and toys as needed
428 (55%) would wash, fold, and put the children’s laundry away
428 (55%) would be willing to dust if paid more money
420 (54%), would be willing to clean and sanitize toys
420 (54%) would be willing to empty the household trash
405 (52%) would be willing to cook dinner for the entire family
405 (52%) would be willing to clean or wipe counters after meals and crafts
405 (52%) would wipe-up messes in children’s bathrooms and pick-up children’s towels
405 (52%) would change the sheets and bedding of the entire family including the parents
405 (52%) would make the entire family’s beds including the parents
405 (52%) would be willing to clean or wipe counters after meals and crafts
405 (52%) would wipe-up messes in children’s bathrooms and pick-up children’s towels
405 (52%) would change the sheets and bedding of the entire family including the parents
405 (52%) would make the entire family’s beds including the parents
373 (48%) would be willing to iron the children’s clothing
358 (46%) would be willing to iron the entire family’s clothing including the parents’
350 (45%) would add cleaning bathrooms to their duties if offered more money
335 (43%) would be willing to be the primary housekeeper along with their childcare duties if paid extra for more responsibilities

Some participants answered they would not do extra chores around the home for any raise or more money.

Tomorrow: What Household Duties Do You Feel Are Not a Nanny’s Responsibility?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nannies and Au Pairs and Housekeeping

How Much Cleaning is a Nanny’s Responsibility?

There is hardly a more controversial topic for nannies than how many housekeeping duties are their responsibility. Professional nannies pride themselves in being responsible for the care of children and often resent also being asked to clean the home they work in.

Undoubtedly, much of the day caring for children includes cleaning-up after children, especially in the kitchen after meals, in their bedrooms, bathrooms, and play areas. But, most childcare providers prefer working in homes where the employers hire separate housekeepers to do the family’s heavy cleaning. Some daily housework is involved in the care of the children and should be expected of nannies and au pairs.

In our monthly poll at 778 in-home childcare providers took our survey about housekeeping.

Of the caregivers that took this poll only 9% are both the full-time childcare provider and the full-time housekeeper employed by a family.

The majority of nannies are responsible for light housekeeping as summarized here.

Of the caregivers that took this poll:
  • 770 (99%) clean or wipe counters and tables after meals and crafts with the children

  • 646 (83%) wash, fold, and put away the children’s laundry

  • 645 (83%) put away and organize toys and craft supplies in the children’s play areas

  • 576 (74%) load and unload the dishwasher

  • 552 (71%) sweep, vacuum, wipe-up, mop children’s and nanny messes if necessary

  • 529 (68%) wipe-up messes and pick-up the children’s bathroom towels

  • 498 (64%) change the sheets and bedding of the children

  • 459 (59%) clean and sterilize baby pacifiers, bottles, and toys as needed

  • 451 (58%) clean and sanitize toys as needed

  • 436 (56%) empty the kitchen trash and diaper pails

  • 420 (54%) make the children’s beds

  • 389 (50%) rotate the children’s seasonal clothing

  • 350 (45%) inventory food, grocery shop, and put groceries away

  • 226 (29%) keep the nanny car clean

  • 156 (20%) wash, fold, and put away the entire family’s laundry including the parents

  • 156 (20%) empty household trash

  • 148 (19%) keep their nanny bedroom clean

  • 140 (18%) iron the children’s laundry

  • 132 (17%) cook dinner for the entire family

  • 117 (15%) sweep, vacuum, and mop the entire house as needed

  • 93 (12%) change sheets and bedding of the entire family including the parents

  • 93 (12%) dust

  • 77 (10%) clean bathrooms

  • 70 (9%) are the only housekeeper employed by the family

  • 62 (8%) make the entire family’s beds

  • 62 (8%) iron entire family’s laundry including the parents

Other tasks listed included: feeding pets, make travel arrangements, and overseeing workmen.

Share your advice for nannies and au pairs about housekeeping by clicking "comments" below.


Nannies Take on Extra Duties as Households Economize
Along with child care, nannies are asked to do the cleaning, shopping and other tasks once done by others.

By Christy Hobart,0,7632228.story

March 21, 2009

When a nanny with 10 years of experience was let go last year after her Hancock Park employers divorced, she had a hard time finding a new job. After five months of looking, she changed her application at the placement agency from "nanny" to "housekeeper" -- and lowered her hourly rate.

It worked. Soon she was hired at a 10,000-square-foot house near Malibu as a housekeeper -- until the family's nanny was laid off. For $3 more an hour, the housekeeper began steaming the carpets -- and feeding the dogs and making dinner -- with a baby on her hip. When the family also let go its personal assistant, she took on grocery shopping, managing the gardener, directing the pool man, helping with the family business . . .

"I definitely can't say no," says the housekeeper-nanny- personal assistant, who asked that her name not be used for fear of getting fired. After all, she has four children of her own to support.

Households everywhere are looking to economize at home, perhaps switching to generic products, starting up (or letting go of) a membership at Costco or dropping premium channels from their cable service. But when these efforts don't make a material dent in the finances, they search for bigger cuts -- and that can mean the household staff. Do they really need a nanny? Or a housekeeper? And for those lucky enough to have both, couldn't the jobs be combined?

For people who went into the nanny business with a love of children and clearly defined boundaries about what they will and won't do -- yes to making the kids' lunch, no to cleaning toilets -- the recession is blurring those lines. The bosses' finances and nannies' own tenuous job security are forcing many workers to redefine not only what they do, but also who they are.

Nannies air their frustrations at the Nanny and Me group at the parenting center of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles. Gabrielle Kaufman facilitates the group, which started as a place where Spanish-speaking nannies could engage in educational play with their charges while learning about nutrition, safety and health. It's also a place where nannies can swap stories, and Kaufman has noticed more anxiety creeping into their conversations.

"Even though they're doing a lot more than they used to," she says, "they feel they can't complain. They feel lucky to have a job."

Kaufman hears of nannies offering to take on more responsibilities in an effort to make themselves indispensable -- or to squeeze another household employee out of a job.

Joanna Brody of Culver City doesn't question the motives of her nanny, who offered to take on more cleaning duties while her toddlers napped.

"She likes to keep busy," Brody says.

Although the extra help was appreciated, it put Brody in a difficult situation as it became clear she didn't need twice-monthly cleaning service. Now the service comes just once a month.

"I feel bad for Philip," Brody says of the owner of the cleaning company she's been using for more than a year. "He's a hard-working entrepreneur, and he's always done a good job. I don't want to take work away from him, but it just doesn't make much sense to keep them both."

Katie Vaughan, head of Westside Nannies, a high-end placement agency whose clients might seem recession-safe, has found lately that families new to the service have been asking for workers who can combine jobs.

"They'll ask for a nanny who can do some cleaning or, even more," she says. "They're looking for a nanny who can take on assistant duties, like buying groceries and gifts, writing thank-you notes, party planning and secretarial work."

Realizing they need to compromise to get a job, prospective employees are more flexible than in the past.

"The typical English nanny or governess used to roll her eyes when I'd ask if she'd be open to cleaning," says Claudia Kahn, owner of the Help Co., another placement agency. "Now they're all saying, 'Send me on the interview.' "

During these tough economic times, a nanny may agree to take on household chores to keep her job, but there are risks to asking for too much, says Lindsay Heller, a psychologist who consults on family and nanny issues and who runs the Nanny Doctor, a service aimed at improving relationships between the two parties.

"It's tempting, financially," she says, but as a result the nanny may feel resentment. "You might see some passive-aggressive behavior," she says, such as showing up late for work.

Heller, who was a nanny for 10 years, warns that employers also could offend a nanny or housekeeper by suggesting that the positions are interchangeable. They are professional roles, she says, and should be respected. Not every nanny is a good housekeeper, and not every housekeeper can take on child-care duties.

"If not done properly," she says, "the child is at risk."

A housekeeper who has children of her own, she adds, is not necessarily qualified to become a nanny. Driving record, language skills -- these become important as soon as duties are expanded to include transporting and caring for children.

"The nanny's role is to provide a healthy and safe environment for children," Heller says. "They work out routines and schedules and arrange play dates and activities."

If you have to ask an existing employee to take on more responsibilities, Heller recommends being honest about your reasons. If you're not, she says, the change in job description could be seen as a demotion, and resentment could build. The employee should know if the change is short-term or permanent. And though some adults may consider household help interchangeable, children rarely do. Having a beloved nanny or faithful housekeeper change positions or leave a household can be emotionally difficult and requires conversations with the kids.

Above all, Heller says, if you're going to increase an employee's responsibilities, make sure to increase his or her salary accordingly -- or by as much as you can.

The housekeeper who saw her job expand to include nanny and personal assistant duties actually can muster some compassion for her employer's family. "I understand the economy is very bad," she says. "Maybe when the economy is more stable, they'll hire someone to help me."

Until then, however, it's hard for her to see the three luxury cars in the family's garage, the new landscaping going in around the pool and the media room under construction. She's not sure which would be worse: keeping this job or looking for a new one. Until she decides, her résumé is back on file at the placement agency.
Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Children's Books About Spring

Weekly Trip to the Library

The Tiny Seed
By Eric Carle
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Ages infant to preschool
A very popular book with the description of a flowering plant's life cycle through the seasons.

It's Spring
By Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko
Publisher Scholastic, Inc.
For ages 4 to 8
The robin told the rabbit, the rabbit told the deer, the deer told the duck, and then all the birds began to sing to tell the bears, "Wake up, it's spring!" A charming quick with whimsical animals, rhyming text, and sweet animations.

Mouse's First Spring
By Lauren Thompson
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Ages 4 to 6
A mouse and its mother experience the delights of nature on a windy spring day. They see a bird, a worm, a frog, a fluttery butterfly, and the prettiest flower he's ever seen!

Splish, Splash, Spring
By Jan Carr
Publisher Holiday House, Inc.
Ages 2 to 8
For children who are just learning about the seasons the rhyming text and illustrations teach the basics of Spring. Follow three children on a spring morning as they dig worms for baby birds, watch flowers bloom, see baby birds hatching, and fly a kite.

Explore Spring!: 25 Great Ways to Learn about Spring
By Maxine Anderson and Alexis Frederick-Frost
Publisher Nomad Press
Ages 4 to 9
This activity book invites young readers to explore the wonders of spring by becoming scientists in the field. Identify trees, record soil temperature, and observe the forest floor. Activities include: "Making Parachutes," Making Kites," and "Mapping Air Currents with Bubbles."

Spring Science Projects
By John Williams
Publisher: Julian Messner
Ages 7 to 10
Presents a variety of projects and experiments appropriate to spring, including making a weather vane, building a nest, drawing a life cycle chart, and growing seeds. Includes notes for caregivers.

If you have a book you would like to share with other au pairs or nannies please email
Come back next Saturday for book reviews for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Would You Do?

The Dangerous Grandma and Critical Grandpa

For the past week we have been discussing nannies and au pairs that work for a sandwich generation family. A huge issue for nannies and au pairs working in a sandwich generation family is when the grandparents do not respect the house rules when caring for the children or home. Nannies and au pairs must respect their employers (parents) wishes, while respecting the elder relative of the family.

What should a nanny do when the Grandma wants the baby to sit on her lap on the drive to the market? What should an au pair do when the Grandfather enjoys the face the five-year-old makes when he gets a taste of whiskey? What can the caregiver do if Grandma is annoyed that you will not give the children aspirin? What would you say to a Grandfather that scorns the new-fangled discipline philosophies? He believes in his method: spare-the-rod, spoil-the-child.

What is nanny to do?

First, the nanny must not consent to any activity that may put children at risk, whether physical danger or psychological harm.

Nannies and au pairs must be calm, assertive, rational, and unyielding. In-home caregivers should not: yell, be nasty, self-righteous, or become outraged. Nannies and au pairs cannot win power battles between grandparents, kids, and parents. Nannies and au pairs do not have the power or leverage to win in the long-term. Nannies and au pairs have to be clever and remain professional.
When a nanny wins an argument but loses her job, the nanny is the loser big time and on many levels.

What if the grandmother is a worrier, anxiety-ridden, and nervous? Her overreactions are causing you, the nanny, to be defensive and resentful. You begin to feel that everything you do is being criticized, and worse, that your charges are picking up some of these undesirable traits. In such a situation, nannies have to be professional and not take the pettiness personally. Nannies should be role models for their charges. They must be compassionate and understanding about the grandmother's hang-ups. These occurrences in a sandwich generation family, or during a week-long visit, allows nannies the opportunity to do their very best, most effective work.

If the grandfather is scornful of today's society and dislikes the clothes and the attitudes towards discipline the nanny should not take it personally that the elder raises children in a different way. Even if he disdains the current culture, prefers the way things were, and repeatedly asserts that his kids didn't turn out so bad doing it his way, the nanny must do as much as possible to not become defensive and resentful.

The nanny serves the interests of herself and of her charges best by stepping outside the charged emotional environment and calmly applying the standards of behavior appropriate to self-confident obedient children.

Instead of succumbing to anger and resentment, a nanny must use these situations to learn, to mature and to perfect her abilities.
Have you experienced any difficult situations where the grandparents wishes or actions conflict with the parents parenting wishes or house rules?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tender Loving Care

Nannies and Au Pairs Working in the Sandwich Generation Family

We have been discussing nannies and au pairs caught in the middle of a sandwich generation family.

For today's discussion we will assume that the elderly grandparent requires assistance, but does not require a nursing home environment.

The challenge for the nanny is that the kids and the grandparents have different needs, and sometimes those needs conflict. Consider a simple scenario: The parent and the nanny agree that the 20-month old boy and the five-year old girl are allowed to play in the yard, but are not allowed to watch television.

The elderly grandmother is afraid of falling, so she does not go to the yard. Instead, she spends most of the day watching her shows on cable. Grandma wants to see the kids; the kids want to see Grandma but she will not turn off the television and the kids want to stay to watch soap operas with her.

To follow the parents' wishes the nanny tries to divert the children to do more productive activities and simply ignore the whining of the children when they are asked to stop watching television. Nannies are used to handling these type of situations with children all day long. But it is more difficult to ask an elderly member of the employer's family to follow the house rules.

The bigger challenge for the nanny is the different goals in the care for the kids and the elderly grandparent. The contrast is subtle and difficult to sustain.

The children need everything done for them. And the nanny has to provide it all. Grandma may need assistance but the nanny must be certain not to do so much for her that the elderly grandparent becomes dependent on the nanny. Instead, the assistance should be tailored so the grandparent retains or increases the ability to be independent.

Therefore, the challenges of caring for both generations can make it seem as though nanny has two full-time jobs while being paid for one.

Plus, nannies are hired and trained to work with children. They are not typically trained in geriatric care.

Nannies are expected to be an expert in childcare, a chef, tutor, maid, psychologist, and physical therapist. But in the sandwich generation family, the definition of 'nanny' can expand to mean everything to everyone all the time, which can create much resentment for the childcare provider.

Do you have any advice for nannies stuck in the middle of a sandwich generation family?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Emotional Attachment for Nannies in the Middle of the Sandwich Generation

"Just Like a Member of the Family"

When parents introduce their nannies to friends they often say their nanny is, "Just like a member of the family." And most nannies are likely to feel the same about their part in the family dynamic.

But, in a sandwich generation family, where parents are responsible not only for their growing children but also for their elderly parents, the nannies the parents employ may feel an extra burden to also help with elder care. The extra financial and scheduling pressure on the employers/parents often affects in-home childcare providers responsibilities because the nannies are already trusted and considered a member of the family.

Many nannies and au pairs do not know how to say "No" when asked to do extra to help their employer's family. By nature nannies are loving and caring. Nannies and au pairs are eager to assist anyone in the household, especially someone who is frail. Nannies and au pairs want to be helpful, caring, and patient and do not typically refuse to assist their boss's wishes. They typically do not want to confront their employer's to insist on extra compensation for extra work.
These emotions can be complex for nannies and au pairs. Many love their charges and like being part of a family dynamic but they are an employee, not a family member. Plus, many have moved into another family's home and are a little lonely and a little homesick.

It is to the parents (nanny employers) financial advantage to shift nanny and au pair work duties to include caring for the elderly family member. This makes sense on many levels to the parents especially since nannies are already trusted caregivers that are caring, reliable, and available.

But, this arrangement can create much resentment for nannies and au pairs. Working outside of their field of expertise (childcare), working harder, and working for little (or no) extra money is not such a great deal for in-home childcare providers. Nannies and au pairs want to oblige but they must know when and how to set limits and say "No".

Nannies are typically calm and assertive when dealing with children; but learning to assert themselves when establishing workloads or boundaries with their employers is more difficult. In taking care of themselves caregivers must learn to be assertive, ask for more money when workload is increased, and be willing to say "No" when they do not wish to take on new job responsibilities. The concept of taking care of themselves includes signing a pre-employment work contract that defines job responsibilities, and that both parties adhere to the terms. Any additional work must include extra money for nannies.

Are you resentful of any added responsibilities without increased compensation at work? Or, do you have any advice for other nannies on how to assert themselves in such situations?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Canadian Nannies Are Exploited

Below is a link to an situation for foreign nannies wanting to work in Canada.

Critics want crackdown as nannies exploited
March 17, 2009
Robert CribbDale Brazao STAFF REPORTERS

The federal government must prosecute nanny recruiters that prey on vulnerable foreign caregivers, say opposition politicians, industry insiders and the nannies themselves in response to a Star investigation.

"The government has a moral obligation to charge (them)," said NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow. "(Prime Minister Stephen) Harper's Conservatives are either soft on crime or asleep at the switch."

A weekend Star investigation found hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreign caregivers have paid $5,000 or more for jobs in Canada during the past decade – jobs that too often turn out to be fake.

Faced with what is for them a crushing debt, some are forced to work illegally, others are deported and some end up suicidal.

Jim Karygiannis, a Liberal MP on the citizenship and immigration committee, says Canada must get tough with fraudulent recruiters.

"We are not going after the traffickers because it costs too much money to prosecute and they only end up getting a slap on the wrists. The most vulnerable are the caregivers and if we deport them or ask them to leave, (we) sweep the problem under the rug."

Instead of prosecuting rogue agencies, federal officials have, to date, focused on deporting nannies based on a 2007 Federal Court ruling that found caregivers with bogus contracts cannot stay in Canada even if they find a legitimate job.

Once nannies arrive in Canada, it's up to provinces to enforce labour laws. All four western provinces ban agencies from charging nannies "placement fees" for Canadian jobs, but the practice is common in Ontario. Some fees here reach as high as $10,000 for jobs that don't turn up, the Star found.

Asked if Ontario would consider tougher regulations around nanny recruitment agencies, a spokesperson for the labour ministry was noncommittal. "The province is studying options to determine whether additional protections are needed for foreign workers," Susan McConnell said in a statement.

Last week, federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney acknowledged problems with "large number of unscrupulous" agencies that exploit caregivers. "I know there have been cases of abuse and I've asked my officials for recommendations on how to tighten it."

Governments have failed to protect caregivers lured to Canada for phantom employers, says Agatha Mason of Intercede, a non-profit agency that counsels domestic workers. "It's just evil," Mason says of the fees firms charge for jobs that don't materialize. "It's a scary thing when you are in a new country ... and you have nobody to turn to."

The Star found some agencies, such as Rakela Care International in Thornhill, take passports from nannies who arrive to find promised jobs don't exist. Nine nannies who came to Canada through Rakela Spivak's agency told the Star they were housed in basements and apartments, sleeping on floors, sometimes 12 to a room.

Spivak, who owns the agency, told the Star she runs a reputable business, only takes passports for "safe keeping," and can't be responsible if employers decide they no longer want a nanny once they arrive.

Filipina Lester Lagat says she paid Toronto recruitment firm Jinkholm International $2,500, but "when I arrived, (agency owner Heron Tait) told me someone else went to my employer and she like this person so she doesn't need me anymore."

Lagat ended up going to two different agencies, which cost her nearly $1,500 more. "I knew I couldn't fight with (Tait). I was afraid. I didn't have any papers."

Tait admits Lagat's job disappeared and says it isn't his fault if an employer changes their mind.

Jennifer Wolff, owner of the Edmonton-based Nannies from Heaven, which places caregivers in homes across the country, says she's been warning federal officials for over a year about fraud in the Live-in Caregiver Program. Long delays in processing foreign nanny applications are prompting unscrupulous firms to import caregivers for bogus employers, she said.

"Not only does this seriously jeopardize the integrity of the Live-in Caregiver Program, it puts these desperate caregivers at risk," Wolff wrote to the Canadian embassy in Hong Kong in 2007. "How can such individuals even attempt to abide by Canadian rules when agencies are preying on them?"

The Star found some agencies compel nannies to open accounts into which all their pay is deposited until placement fees are repaid.

Diamond Personnel owner Audrey Guth has an "affiliate" financial arm that finances the debt of nannies who can't afford her firm's fees. A promissory note nannies sign with Somerset Financial (which Guth acknowledged is owned by her husband) requires nannies to open a bank account and "deposit all paycheques (there) until ... the loan is fully repaid."

Somerset Financial charges 18 per cent interest, a figure that is "high," Guth agreed. "I'm not a social service. I'm here to make money. ... It's a 100 per cent risk for me and there are girls that walk. There's nothing illegal about it."

The reporters can be reached at or 416-945-8674.

St. Patrick’s Day Fun

Activities for Nannies and Au Pairs to do With Children

We recommend for Saint Patrick’s Day activities. There are recipes for traditional corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and plenty of fun projects. Here’s one we like.

Leprechaun Hat for Chips
[This is] a fun table decoration that can be used to hold chips. We found green tortilla chips at our local grocery store. You can use regular tortilla chips and then tint your dip with green food color. Whatever you do, have fun!

What you'll need:
1/2 gallon Round ice cream container, clean and dry (you do not need the lid)
2 or 3 sheets of Green construction paper
1 sheet of Yellow or Gray construction paper
1 sheet of Black construction paper
Double stick tape
Large circular object (however wide the construction paper is)

How to make it:
1. Trace around the large circular object on the green construction paper with the pen.
2. Cut out the circle.
3. Use the double stick tape to adhere the circle to the bottom of the ice cream container.
4. Cut a piece of green construction paper to fit around the container. You may need two pieces of construction paper or be able to piece them together.
5. Use the double stick tape to adhere the construction paper around the container.
6. Cut a strip about 2" wide out of the black construction paper.
7. Cut a 4" square out of the gray or yellow construction paper.
8. Cut a rectangle in the middle of the gray construction paper about 1 1/4" x 2". Discard the little piece of construction paper. Hint: Fold the square into fourths and cut a square out of the middle of the folded area. Open up the square.
9. Check positioning of the black band by laying it around the hat about an inch above the brim. Cut off any excess construction paper where it meets in the back.
10. Lay the gray or yellow (buckle) over the black band as shown in the photograph.
11. Once the layout is satisfactory, tape in place.
12. Add green tortilla chips, if available, and get ready for your feast.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Nanny or Au Pair in the Middle of the Sandwich Generation

How Widespread is the Situation?

This is the first of a series of discussions regarding the nanny and her role in the "sandwich generation family."

"Sandwich Generation" refers to parents who are responsible for their own parents, or elderly relatives, in addition to their own children. Definition at:

Do not confuse the "sandwich generation family" with the concept of an "extended family." In a sandwich generation family, the parents (who employ the nanny) are financially responsible for the care and upkeep of dependent children and for the care and upkeep of their elderly parents.

In contrast, in the extended family, the elderly relatives are a vital part of the family unit, essential to the care of the children and the house.

The challenges of the sandwich generation family are increasingly examined in the media as this type of living arrangement seems to become more common. The focus in the media is predominantly on those who are providing the financial resources --- the young parents --- and the elderly parents requiring care.

Media discussions about the sandwich generation living arrangements assume that the young parents are the primary caregivers. But the parents/caregivers may not be able to afford to stop working, especially during an economic recession. And, as longevity has increased, the expense of nursing facilities has outpaced return, if any, of investments.

Based on anecdotes from nannies and an awareness of how some parents respond to problems, many nannies are asked to assume at least some of the responsibilities of care for the elderly parent that lives in the home where the nanny works. We are not sure of the extent of this living arrangement and what percentage of nannies are involved.

As we examine some of the problems and challenges faced by nannies working for sandwich generation families, we want to hear from you about your experiences.

Do you work as a nanny or au pair in a home where the grandparent lives and needs care too?

Tuesday: St. Patrick's Day Activities
Wednesday: Sandwich Generation Discussion Continues About Emotional Attachment.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dealing With Kids Who Prefer Caretaker to Parents

ABC News Good Morning America
Mommy vs. Nanny: Battle for Kids' Affection
March 14, 2009—

Overnight, Stacey Isaacs, 36, is a hands-on mother. But at 8 in the morning, Stacey switches off mommy mode, revs up for her job as a corporate lawyer and hands over her 3-month-old baby, Reese, to her baby sitter Alicia Apaestegui, 57.

It's Apaestegui, not Reese's parents, who will give the infant her first bottle of the day. The nanny will talk, sing and play with the baby for the next 10 hours while mommy's gone.

Like many first-time moms, Isaacs is torn between the career she's nurtured for years and the newborn baby who needs nurturing, too.

"It just feels bad to me to pass her over when I could be home taking care of her myself. I feel guilty when I'm leaving." Isaacs said.

She is also worried that when she's at work, she'll miss out on certain milestones like her baby's first words, her first walk and first laugh. And her worst nightmare? Isaacs says she fears that her daughter will come to prefer the nanny over time.

Ella Larson, 3, who has had baby sitters and been in day care since she was born, is not shy about telling her mother that she'd rather be with her nanny.

During a family vacation in La Jolla, Calif., last week, Ella suddenly missed her live-in nanny Tia Sumption, 27, and began to throw a tantrum. "I want Tia!" Ella screamed. "No! No! Go away!" the little girl told her mother, Beth Larson, 36, as she was trying to calm her down. "What do you want? Tell mommy what you want?" Larson asked. "I want Tia!" Ella insisted.

"It's horrible. It's horrible. Part of me is so sad, but I'm so happy for her that she loves Tia," Larson said. She also has another daughter named Erin who is 11 months old.

By 6 every morning, Larson is juggling work and caring for her baby, while balancing feeding, e-mailing and playing. When Sumption shows up at 7, she takes over, and Larson is off and running, literally. She takes time out from the kids in the morning to run because she believes it helps her stay healthy and energetic all day.

"I love my kids. They're the most important thing in the world to me, yet I'm a strong, independent businesswoman, very independent. I like my own time. I like to do things for myself," Larson said.

She describes her mommy style as very hands on at times and then very hands off as well. "I feel bad about that, but I also realize that makes me who I am, and I want them to see who I am," Larson said.

Larson has many friends who are stay-at-home moms. They enjoy taking their kids to the museum or library, and reading them stories during the day.

"I see a lot of people that do want to spend 24 hours a day with their kids. I really have no interest in doing that because I want to work," Larson said.

Larson believes she's doing what's best for her children and for herself. The kids get the best personal care and attention from the nanny, while she devotes her time and talent to her own burgeoning business marketing medical devices. "For me, this is the choice I've made. I have guilt and I have concerns," Larson said.

She explains that the guilt comes from not being there at critical moments like when her kids get sick, and Sumption is the one to take them to the doctor.

"It breaks your heart when you can't be there, and we do everything we can to be there, but it's not always the case," Larson said.

Larson acknowledges that she's sharing co-parenting responsibilities with her nanny. Larson's husband, Chris, joked with the nanny when she was interviewed for the job that if she was hired, she was hired for the next 18 years. Larson says that's because her husband also prefers a nanny to look after their kids because both parents are very busy professionals with demanding work and travel schedules.

But do their kids ever get confused as to who's in charge? Larson says her agreement with Sumption is that during the day between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Sumption is in charge.

She tells her kids to go to Sumption for every want and need during the day. Even at times when Larson is home for a few minutes to grab coffee or lunch, she says "Go to Tia" if her kids ask her what they should eat or wear.

Sumption, on the other hand, observes that 3-year-old Ella often throws temper tantrums while both Larson and nanny are in the house during the day.

"She'd wonder mom's here, but Tia is not gone, who's the boss now?" said Sumption.

Larson agrees that when she works from her home office, it can be confusing for her kids. She sometimes worries her nanny may have an impact on her children's long-term development. But child psychologists say while children may cling and listen to their nannies more often than their mothers during the day, it's the mother who will, over time, have a bigger influence on the children.

When Ella was asked what kind of mom she wants to be when she grows up, she's confused saying "stay at home" and "go to work!"

Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

I Love Dirt!
By Jennifer Ward
Review by Andrea Flagg, Nanny, Co-Founder Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey

This is a great book with 52 activities one for each week of the year.

This book breaks out simple things to do each season. The ideas help you to promote the love of the outdoors by exploration, while stimulating the imagination and enhancing the child’s sense of wonder while teaching respect of the outdoors and the creatures who live there.

One of my favorite ideas was the “Snowman Tweet Treat Bird Feeder.” Give the birds in your neighborhood a little helping hand by providing some sweet treats for them during the freezing temperatures.

Snowman Tweet Treat Bird Feeder Instructions: Build a regular snowman. Dangle a pinecone dipped in peanut butter and topped with birdseed, raisins and/or nuts off the branches you use as the snowman’s arms. Before placing a carrot for a nose, shish kebab slices of orange or dried fruit onto it.

No snow, and still want to feed the birds? Place orange wedges, unsalted nuts, seeds, dried fruit and/or raisins in the junctions of tree branches. Once the word is out, you will attract birds of all kinds this winter.

The book teaches nannies and children interesting facts such as, “Why do some birds stay where it is cold all winter without migrating or hibernating like other animals do?” “Why does some snow stick together?” “How are snowflakes made?”

I highly recommend nannies reference this book when planning activities with children this winter.

If you have a book review you would like to share with nannies and au pairs email your book review to
Check back next Saturday for another trip to the library.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sum Up How Nannies and Au Pairs Negotiate

Conclusion of Negotiating Success
By Lora Brawley,

Not all negotiations end with a favorable outcome. Sometimes there is not a workable solution to a problem. I often see this when a child begins school full-time. The nanny feels she has put in her time, often caring for the child since infancy, and is a valuable asset to the family. The family feels it’s an unfair hardship to pay the nanny a full-time salary for working a part-time schedule.

If after honest discussion, you and your employer cannot find a workable solution, it’s time to end the working relationship. It does benefit you, your employers, or your charge to remain in a situation that clearly isn’t working any longer.

After a week of discussing negotiating I hope nannies and au pairs know that negotiating success is within your reach. Just remember to stay true to your wants and needs, honor the many things you bring to the table, and use your nanny skills to build a positive rapport and find a workable solution with your employers.

Lora Brawley, Email:
Office: 253 517-8025 Toll Free:866-Nanny Jobs

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Negotiating Terms of Your Job or Raise

Negotiating Success Part V
By Lora Brawley,

There are two mains issues that generally bring nannies into negotiations with their current employers. The most common issue is negotiating an increase in your compensation package, a raise, or additional or expanded benefit.

The second issue is negotiating an issue relating to the nuts and bolts of your job such as hours or household duties.

Negotiating a Raise or Increase in Benefits
The first step to getting the raise or benefit you want is to honestly evaluate what you have done in the period leading up to the negotiation that supports your position. Ask yourself, "What household issues have I tackled? What child-related challenges have I helped the family with: developing a sleep schedule, potty training, starting school, or improving study skills?"

Negotiating the Terms of Your Job
The best way to avoid having to negotiate is to have a comprehensive nanny/family contract in place at the start of the job. If you don't have a work agreement, develop one now. When developing the contract, tackle all the issues you are facing at one time. Otherwise, you risk becoming a nanny that is seemingly running to her employer with a problem at every turn; known in parent terms as the dreaded "high maintenance nanny."

Tomorrow: Negotiating a Problem.

Lora Brawley, Email: Office: 253 517-8025 Toll Free:866-Nanny Jobs

Have you ever negotiated a raise, increase in benefits, or terms of your job?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Negotiating a New Job

Negotiating Success Part IV
By Lora Brawley,

Negotiating a New Job
Don’t wait to negotiate your salary and benefit package until you are offered a job. The most common mistake nannies make is waiting to negotiate until after they have been offered the job.

From the very first contact, you’re planting the seeds that will become your job description and compensation package. You cannot be agreeable to everything during the interview if you want to set reasonable boundaries on the job. You cannot be “open” or “flexible” regarding salary and benefits during the interview if you want to earn a good salary or receive generous benefits on the job.

Be honest about what you need during the interview process. The best time to find out if a family cannot meet your needs is before you start working for them.

Also, keep these tips in mind when searching for a new job:

1. Don’t interview for jobs that aren’t offering what you’re looking for. Not only does it waste your time but it drains you of confidence, making you less able to effectively negotiate with employers that have real potential.

2. State your salary as a range, rather than a set number.

3. If you are asking for a substantially higher salary in your new job than you’re currently making, don’t reveal your current salary. If you’re worth it, you’re worth it, regardless of what you’re earning now.

Lora Brawley, Email: Office: 253 517-8025 Toll Free:866-Nanny Jobs

Do you have any advice for nannies negotiating a new job? Click "comments" below to respond.

Tomorrow: Negotiating Within Your Current Job and Negotiating a Raise or Increase in Benefits.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Negotiating Success Part III

Be Prepared With a Positive Attitude
By Lora Brawley,

We have already discussed that before negotiating, nannies must know what they want and what they offer. But, they also must be prepared before negotiating with employers.

Be Prepared:
Negotiation is all about finding a workable solution. Never enter a negotiation without potential solutions. Consider extra benefits as valuable perks. If the family cannot afford to pay you $1,000 per week, are you willing to accept more paid days off per year or medical benefits as compensation? In most cases, the solution will depend upon what your employer brings to the table. Be prepared for a variety of scenarios.

This does take some thought and planning but finding a great solution to the issue you’re facing is well worth it.

Attitude is Everything:
The way you envision the outcome of your conversation plays a huge part in the actual outcome.

We often teach lessons that we forget to use in our own lives. Imagine you’re caring for a child who is negotiating with a parent for a special privilege or a friend for the sharing of a favorite toy. Do you encourage the child to continue in negative way of thinking or encourage her to focus on the positive, on what great things can come of it? Of course you tell her to focus on the positive because you know that her thinking will impact her outcome. But when we’re faced with our own negotiations, often our first response is to fall into all too familiar negative, defeating self-talk.

Develop your communication skills. Very few people are born great communicators. You must invest time and energy into learning how to effectively express your needs and feelings.

Tomorrow: Negotiating a New Job.

Lora Brawley, Email: Office: 253 517-8025 Toll Free:866-Nanny Jobs

Monday, March 9, 2009

Negotiating Success Part II

Know What You Offer
By Lora Brawley,

Yesterday we discussed that it is important to know what you want when negotiating. It’s equally important to know what you are offering before you enter into a negotiation. This is often a very difficult task for nannies.

Even when a nanny knows she’s a great caregiver and invaluable to the family she works for, it’s hard for her to articulate that in a way that doesn’t make her feel conceited.

However, in every profession employees are expected to evaluate their own performance and make a case for a promotion or raise. The nanny profession is no exception.

Ask yourself, "What do I provide my employers?" Obviously, the most valuable service is quality childcare. But a great nanny’s value extends far beyond childcare. Depending upon the job description, a nanny may also act as a household manager, personal assistant, tutor, and personal chef or nutritionist.

Don’t forget to include the intangible benefits you provide such as continuity of care, in-house expertise on a multitude of child-related issues, convenience, and flexibility. Although these intangible skills are not outlined in a work agreement, your employers should value and pay for these benefits.

If the negotiation is centered on staying or leaving your job, it’s important to not only highlight what you provide to your employers but also what you can save them -- the time, energy, and money it would cost to replace you.

Having a hard time coming up with what you bring to the table? Ask your friends. They know the ins and outs of your job and can quickly provide you with a list of things you do for your family.

Lora Brawley, Email: Office: 253-517-8025 Toll Free:866-Nanny Jobs

What do you offer to the job other nannies do not?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Negotiating Success

How Nannies Can Get What They Want
By Lora Brawley,

1. to deal or bargain with another or others, as in the preparation of a treaty or contract or in preliminaries to a business deal.
2. to arrange for or bring about by discussion and settlement of terms: to negotiate a loan.

Photo above of mother and nanny
meeting in The Nanny Diaries

Does the word negotiation bring up fear, anxiety, or even panic for you? If so, you’re not alone. For most nannies negotiation means confrontation and conflict.

But, nannies do not need to dread negotiation. Nannies should view negotiating as two people discussing a common problem, working together to develop a common solution. In that context, negotiation becomes an opportunity rather than a battle.

Unfortunately, most nannies think they are not good negotiators. But, if you look at the characteristics that make a person a great nanny, you’ll find they are many of the same characteristics that make a person an effective negotiator.

Patience, empathy, sensitivity to the feelings and the needs of others, an innate sense of fairness, the ability to see a problem from different perspectives, and the ability to develop creative solutions all contribute to quality care and negotiating success.

Redefine the Win/Win Solution
People often think a win/win solution means everyone involved gets exactly what they want. But common sense tells us that’s not really possible. By definition, negotiations require compromise. In my work, I define a win/win solution as one in which each person walks away with all they need, a good deal of what they want, and an overall sense of being treated fairly.

Know What You Want
It’s essential that you clearly define exactly what you want before you enter into a negotiation. Saying you’re looking for more money or a shorter schedule may get you a raise or fewer hours but it probably won’t get you the raise or schedule you envision.

I recently spoke to a nanny who had spent weeks working up the courage to ask for a raise. She presented her case and her employers agreed she deserved more money. Afraid to sound pushy and wanting desperately to be done with the conversation, she didn’t ask for specifics. Her next check reflected a 2% cost of living raise, $10 a week -- before taxes. Now the nanny is faced with living with an unsatisfactory raise (and resentment and frustration) or going back to the negotiation table and starting over. Presenting her case along with an acceptable range for her raise would have saved her from this difficult choice.

Tomorrow Lora Brawley continues discussing negotiating and "Knowing What You Offer as a Nanny."

By Lora Brawley, Office: 253 517-8025 Toll Free: 866-Nanny Jobs Email:

Have you ever had trouble negotiating what you want?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Weekly Trip to the Library

The Professional Nanny by Monica M. Bassett
Review by Maria Lopez, Nanny, Miami, Florida

The Professional Nanny by Monica M. Bassett is a bit tedious because it is a practical book discussing the business aspects of in-home childcare and is not intended to be a novel. But, it is a thorough text with topics discussed in a logical manner.

The text begins with the history of the nanny profession. It discusses a nanny’s role in a family, how childcare providers should prepare for employment, interview for job positions, start a new nanny job, and how to leave a nanny position in a professional manner. Ms. Bassett discusses important topics such as child advocacy and confidentiality of family issues, as well. The book also includes information about employer responsibilities, taxes, and insurance. I like the sample work agreement, daily log, and performance evaluation included in the book.

Terms that a nanny needs to know are in bold print and defined at the bottom of the pages, which I feel are distracting and unnecessary since there is a glossary at the back of the book. The book was published in 1997 so the list of resources for nannies and families are outdated, as are the photos included in the book. But I like the lists of children books, which are timeless.

Every professional nanny should probably glance through The Professional Nanny by Monica M. Bassett because it is very thorough, (although outdated at times). The suggestions about how to be a professional caregiver are important and something all nannies should take into consideration.

If you have a book you would like to share with other nannies please let us know by emailing Stop by next Saturday for another book review.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Eleven Nanny and Domestic Worker Rights

Nanny and Domestic Worker Rights

In a report prepared for the U.N. Human Rights Committee entitled, "Domestic Workers’ Rights in the United States," violations against domestic workers are noted.

The report states, "Employed in private homes to perform household tasks that historically have been assigned a diminished value, domestic workers frequently face exploitation and abuse, a problem further exacerbated by their association with particular groups (women, minorities, and migrants) who suffer multiple forms of discrimination."

The report explains, "Although U.S. laws should protect them, domestic workers find that they are often excluded from legal protections or that the laws are not enforced. This reprehensible abuse of domestic workers violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Kathy Webb of Home/Work Solutions at explains, "Labor law, tax law, and the penal code, both at a Federal and state level, provide basic workplace protections and rights to all nannies and domestic workers. It does not matter if you are a U.S. citizen, an alien with a work permit, or an alien who does not have the legal right to work in the United States -- these laws [protect] everyone. Nannies, housekeepers, and maids are typically the employee of the family retaining their services." lists "Ten Employment Rights of a Nanny or Domestic Worker" at Below we list the ten rights from and we have added an eleventh right of a nanny.

Your rights include:
1. Pay for all hours worked:
The nanny or domestic is protected by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Nannies and domestics are to be paid on an hourly basis and must be paid for all hours worked.

2. Minimum wage: The Federal government establishes a national minimum wage ($6.55 per hour as of 7/24/2008). Many states have established minimum wages that exceed the Federal minimum. The nanny or other domestic is entitled to be paid no less than the greater of the state or Federal minimum. See page 9 for minimum wage rates are for each state.

3. Overtime pay: A nanny or domestic who does not live with the employer is entitled to be paid an overtime differential for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week. The overtime differential is calculated as 1.5 times the regular hourly rate. Maryland and New York extend the overtime differential to nannies and domestics who live with the employer, with the overtime rate applying after 40 hours in Maryland and 44 hours in New York.

4. Annual wage and tax statements (Form W-2): The nanny or domestic employer has obligations for wage and payroll tax reporting established by Federal Law. IRS Publication 926 details these requirements. A nanny is NOT an independent contractor, and is NOT to be provided a Form 1099 unless wages do not meet $1700 (2009) in the year.

5. Proper payroll deductions: Your employer may make certain tax deductions from your regular pay check. Your employer may withhold the proper social security and medicare deductions. Other deductions such as health insurance premiums, retirement contributions, or reimbursement for long distance telephone charges that both benefit you and that you agree to in writing.

6. Regular Payroll Payments: State law determines the maximum number of days between payroll dates and the maximum delay an employer may place on your periodic payroll. A best practice is to agree to a payroll frequency (weekly, bi-weekly typically) and a pay date in writing. Employers may not place additional delays (lag periods) on your payroll due to employer's business travel, vacation, etc. The employer is responsible to maintain accurate and contemporaneous payroll records that includes the dates and hours you worked for a period of three-years. It is advised that the nanny or domestic also maintain similar work records that are kept in a safe place.

7. Payment of medical bills and lost wages due to a work related injury: This is known as Workers Compensation, and the rules surrounding who must have a policy of insurance and the covered items is established by individual state insurance commissions. In most cases, you must file a claim with your state's Workers Compensation Board to qualify for payments for medical expenses and compensation for lost wages. If you are injured at work, and your employer (or the employer's insurance company) will not pay these expenses, you should seek legal advice.

8. A Workplace Free From Physical and/or Sexual Abuse: It is illegal for an employer to physically abuse (slapping, beating, etc) a worker. It is illegal for the employer to demand physical contact or demand sex from the nanny or domestic worker. There are both Federal and state laws that protect workers from this type of abuse.
Consult a lawyer or legal aid society if you have been physically or sexually abused by your employer.

9. Document retention: Your employer may not keep identity documents such as your passport, Social Security Card, Driver's License, or Work Permit from you. Passport deprivation is illegal. Deprivation of travel documents is unlawful and contributes to the isolation and enforced confinement of domestic workers and their inability to escape abusive employment conditions. You have a right to a copy of any work agreement or contract that you sign with your employer. Remember, the employer is responsible to maintain accurate and contemporaneous payroll records that includes the dates and hours you worked for a period of three-years.

10. Non-retaliation. Your employer may not turn you in for immigration violation as retaliation for a workplace grievance such as a formal claim for unpaid wages, a complaint of criminal misconduct such as physical abuse, or a claim for workers compensation benefits. The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has written rules that prohibit their interference in these matters. See the ICE's Policy for Labor Disputes courtesy of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) publication "Rights Begin At Home." Taking the time at the beginning of the employment relationship to define all aspects of the employment relationship in a written work agreement benefits both the employer and employee, and serves as a blue print that helps document the employer's specific requirements and expectations as well as the financial agreements made with the nanny or domestic. Additionally, by addressing all 'issues' up front, the employer avoids misunderstandings, assumptions, disappointment and conflict in the future. Experts agree — a good nanny and family work agreement is an important foundation for the good relationship you hope to have with this person.

11. Invasion of privacy: Domestic workers often have their rooms searched, their mail opened, and are not allowed to make private phone calls. In the report prepared for the U.N. Human Rights Committee, "Domestic Workers’ Rights in the United States," violations against domestic workers are noted. The report states that "Article 17 protects the domestic worker from ‘arbitrary or unlawful interference with her privacy, family, home or correspondence.’ Due to the nature of her work, the domestic worker is particularly vulnerable to privacy invasions. Employers have been documented to interfere with workers’ rights in a number of different ways, including monitoring phone conversations, restricting access to others, opening mail, and searching the workers’ private effects and rooms. Some employers have interfered with domestic workers’ families by threatening or harassing the workers’ families, often in an attempt to get them to persuade the worker to drop a complaint."

Margaret Huang, "Domestic Workers’ Rights in the United States" Global Rights, 1200 18th Street, NW Suite 602, Washington, DC 20036 U.S.A. Phone: 1-202-822-4600 Email: margareth@

Kathy Webb, "Ten Employment Rights of a Nanny or Domestic Worker", Home/Work Solutions, Inc., 2 Pidgeon Hill Dr. #550, Sterling, VA 20165

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Being Paid Legally is Your Right

What Nannies Should Do if they Did Not Receive Tax Forms.

The term “nanny tax” is really an umbrella for several different taxes: Social Security and Medicare taxes and the federal unemployment tax. State unemployment tax and perhaps state disability tax may be owed as well.

A nanny is an employee if the parents can control what work is done and how it is done. However, if the parent pays an agency directly, and the agency is the employer of the nanny, the agency pays the payroll taxes.

During the economic recession it is more important to file taxes then ever before. The reality is that in a tough economy when parents are losing jobs, so are nannies. Nannies that lose jobs need to file for unemployment insurance. When asked about their last place of employment, they will have to name the parents.

If a nanny gets hurt while working in the employer’s home and cannot work, she will need to continue to pay her bills, so she will need workers compensation. But if the nanny has not paid taxes, she cannot get workers compensation insurance, and will have to report the parents in order to obtain benefits.

If the nanny is older and about to retire she deserves to claim social security benefits. But, social security can only be claimed by those who have paid taxes. To obtain social security the nanny would need to report the parents to the Social Security Administration.

If the parents and nanny think they are clever by describing a nanny as an independent contractor responsible for their own taxes, the joke’s on the nanny. The nanny’s tax bill will be much greater as an independent contractor than as an employee since the parents won’t be responsible for paying a portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes for the nanny.

Kathy Webb of HomeWork Solutions and explains what to do if your employer's did not submit taxes in an article entitled, "What do I do - I didn't get a W-2?" at

Just a portion of the article explains that if your employer does not intend to give you a W-2 or intends to provide a 1099 (independent contractor) remind the parents that as a nanny you are entitled to a Form W-2. The employer is responsible to remit the Social Security and Medicare taxes, as well as pay unemployment insurance.

The article at explains, “If this doesn’t work, get phone support from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS encourages employees in this situation to phone 1-800-829-1040 for guidance.” recommends, “Even if your employer refuses to provide the W-2 Form [you] the nanny are still responsible for reporting your nanny wages and filing an income tax return. This is accomplished by completing Form 4852 Substitute Form W-2.”

The article says, "Nannies who use the Form 4852 will need to provide the family's name (both John and Mary Smith), their address and phone number (phone is not requested but very helpful). If the nanny has received a Form W-2 from this family in the past, the nanny should report the EIN from the prior form. If not, enter Unavailable or Unknown.” explains, “The IRS requests that you wait until April 15 to file your return, in the hopes that the family will come around and provide you the correct documentation. The nanny cannot eFile when using a substitute Form W-2. The conventional paper tax return is mailed to the appropriate address. When the nanny is forced to use the substitute Form W-2 it is MUCH harder on the employer to get the mess straightened out. The nanny is pretty much done at that point. It is in the employer's best interest to resolve the problem before it gets that far.”

"When a Form 4852 or Form 8919 are filed by the former nanny, the employer will be questioned by the IRS and the IRS will assume responsibility for collection of employment taxes. Nanny always remains responsible for her income taxes, federal and state if applicable.

The better option for parents is to file taxes properly. There are also two ways parents can reduce their nanny taxes. They are a Flexible Spending Account or the Dependent Care Tax Credit to reduce their nanny tax costs. These credits are only available if the parents and nanny pay taxes."

Not reporting payments could cost employers big bucks in terms of penalties and interest. Not paying taxes does not protect nannies from being laid-off, hurt on the job, or when ready to retire. Not paying taxes is against the law.

Kathy Webb,, Home/Work Solutions, Inc., 2 Pidgeon Hill Dr. #550, Sterling, VA 20165

If you work as a nanny do you submit taxes? Have your employers given excuses why they won't pay nanny taxes as required by law?