Friday, November 5, 2010

The Truth About Nannies

Nine Caregiver Myths Debunked
By Candi Wingate of and

If you just read the headlines in American pop culture, you could get the wrong idea about nannies. Books and movies like The Nanny Diaries, lawsuits between celebrity couples and their nannies, and affairs between nannies and husbands (or wives), are enough to make anyone avoid the option altogether. But the truth is that millions of families enjoy working with nannies — scandal-free. You can too.

Myth #1 Nannies are only for the wealthy.

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Myth #2 A nanny must work full-time.

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Myth #3 A nanny must make a year commitment.

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Myth #4 A nanny is not safe.

In a study by Healthy Steps for Young Children, a Commonwealth Fund and Boston University program co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the leading factor in childhood injuries was the composition of the family, not the nanny. For instance, children of unmarried parents were the most likely to be injured. Another study that compared children who received home care, center-based care, and other forms of out-of-home childcare found that the rate of minor injuries was highest in center-based care, but there was not a significant difference among the three types of care for severe injuries.” (PEDIATRICS Vol. 122 No. 5 November 2008, pp. e980-e987)

Myth #5 A nanny will only take care of the children (no housework, or cooking, and so on).

In most cases, a nanny will be willing to help your house run more smoothly, though it’s important not to burden a nanny with so many non-child-related activities that they distract from the nanny’s primary responsibility: the care of your child. 77% of the nannies who responded to our first survey in 2009 were doing child-related household activities (homework, errands, birthday parties, housework, laundry, and meal preparation), while 19% are involved in duties benefiting the whole family. To break it down even further, 34% did housekeeping for the family, 59% did housekeeping for the children, 77% prepared meals for the children only, and 20% prepared meals for the whole family. In 2010, 79% are doing more than just watching children. When you’re considering nanny candidates, ask each how she or he could help your family as a whole.

Myth #6 If I hire a nanny, I won’t know what is going on in my own home.

If you establish good communication systems at the start of your relationship with your nanny, you will know everything that your child does in a given day. We recommend keeping a nanny journal, a daily reporting book where your nanny records important milestones, successes and challenges of the day. But the best measures of your nanny’s performance are your child’s happiness and whether or not your home is in order when you return at the end of the day.

Myth #7 With a nanny, your child will not socialize with other children.

One of a nanny’s major responsibilities is to supervise your child’s interactions with other kids, from play dates with friends to birthday parties, organized sports activities, and fun at the park. If you make it clear that encouraging your child’s social development is important to you, your nanny will prioritize it, too.

Myth #8 Hiring a nanny is too complicated.

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Myth #9 If I hire a nanny and am not happy with the relationship, I am stuck.

Working with a nanny should be no different from your relationships with employees you hire or manage at your workplace. As the employer, you have goals and expectations for your nanny. One way to be clear about those expectations from the beginning is to develop a written job description and draw up a written contract that you both sign.

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From The Nanny Factor: A Parent’s Guide to Finding the Right Nanny for Your Family by Candi Wingate. Copyright © 2010 by Candi Wingate. Excerpted by permission of Nannies International Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Fiona Littleton said...

I guess my only neg reaction is about housework. But I suppose it's true that nannies and parents can negotiate any tasks they want. But 99.9% of nannies I know really resent when they must do any housework. Laundry, feeding the kids and the dishes and cleaning of kitchen and cleaning of playrooms and bedrooms is plenty of housework.

I just want parents to know that when we are cleaning we aren't paying attention to your kids.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has something they really don't like to do in their job. For me, since I have an office job, it's filing. For nannies, housework is often going to be the least favorite part of your job. Especially next to the great, fun activities you want to do with the kids!

It's helpful, I think, to remember that when the parents are cleaning they can't pay attention to their kids either and they want to have fun, too!! Try to think of household chores as helping the kids spend more time with their parents, dinner prep as helping the kids eat a healthy dinner as a family, etc. but if it's getting overwhelming then you should probably talk to your employer about getting a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning service to compliment your daily chores.

Diane said...

I think anonymous above sounds completely condescending.

I am a nanny that goes above and beyond and I have no problem doing everything possible to help the family. I have plunged clogged toilets, taken the car to get oil changes, as well as shop, cook, and clean for the parents (as well as the kids). But when the kids are home and aren't in school none of those chores can get done.

Child care prevents me from doing chores and housekeeping when kids are home.

Instead of placing a guilt trip on nannies to do more for the parents, why can't the parents understand what they are doing to their nanny? In situations where nannies feel overwhelmed, why can't the parents realize they have two sets of hands and can do more together than the nanny can since she has only one set of hands?

I don't complain when I accomplish chores outside the typical nanny's CHILD CARE duties (like wrapping gifts for the adults to give to their adult friends, scooping dog poop in back yard, making appetizers for the parent's adult parties)but that's when kids aren't home.

I don't think parents should have blinders on. If you think your nanny is just super human amazing keeping a tidy home while simultaneously providing great, attentive care to kids all at once, they are pulling the wool over their eyes. More likely, the child is watching tv or playing video games while the nanny is mopping the kitchen floor or making the parent's bed.

Although nannies can multi task they can't be two places at once or be doing to tasks at once.

Then there's the resentment issue. Most nannies I know that accept housekeeping along with nanny duties end up resenting the parents.

In fact, the only complaints I here are either parents coming home late or making messes and not lending a hand.

I remember at a workshop a presenter said, "What's the big deal about putting the parents' dishes in the dishwasher?!" I want to say, "If it's not a big deal then why can't they do it?"

Cause and effect. You put too much burden on your caregiver they will resent you. Why would you want someone who resents you to care for your kids?

Anonymous said...

As long as the children are in school during those times when nannies have to clean it's ok.

But most nannies feel like they do not want to clean because so many are being taking advantage of. Most parents want to squeeze every ounce of work out of a hard working nanny. Why does the nanny have to be running around sweeping and cleaning while a baby naps?

Newborn, infant and toddler care is exhausting. I often have fallen asleep next to a toddler reading a story to them as they fall asleep at naptime. Of course after a few minutes I wake up and tidy the house, but adults need to rest too.

Parents forget how hard the work is caring for young children so that is why nannies are defensive.

Nannies wouldn't be so assertive about not cleaning becasue so many parents over work their nannies.

Kendra, Infant Specialist
Greensboro N. Carolina

Mario said...

Nannies that accept more duties than childcare are idiots. It's impossible to care for young children and cleaning house at same time. I think once kids are in school if nannies want to do more cleaning that's their choice. I haven't met a nanny that likes doing both.

Anyway, childcare in itself is a process of cleaning up kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, playrooms all the time.

Michelle said...

I've got to agree that a typical nanny job already requires a lot of housekeeping and tidying all readly. To add more stress on the nanny with full housekeeping leads to a resentful nanny.

Anonymous said...

Must agree that nannies should not agree to full housekeeping or heavy housekeeping. Every nanny job requires a lot of cleaning and tidying already. I feel all I do is clean all day long. So, best to hire a separate housekeeper for the heavy stuff.

Candi said...

Hi; This is Candi Wingate with Thank you for posting this information online about nanny myths. If I can help you with any questions, please let me know. Thanks again!