What can you expect from your nanny: Non-child care responsibilities.

housekeeping

Light housekeeping?!?

Parents hire nannies to take care of their children.  There is also an expectation that there will be some non-child care responsibilities related to the role, such as; taking care of any dishes used, some cooking here and there, some light cleaning associated to the children or family and possibly some laundry. 

From all the emails and comments I have received over the years, it is accurate to say that some parents forget that the primary responsibility for a nanny is child care and there is an expectation that their nannies are able to take care of the children in addition to what they refer to as “light housekeeping” responsibilities, which in reality means nanny and cleaning-lady. 

So what constitutes “light housekeeping?”   

In order to get a clearer idea of what nannies think light housekeeping is and what employers think light housekeeping is, I read an article created for NannyClassifieds.com called; “Is Light Housekeeping a Nanny Responsibility?”  The link to the original article is here;  http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

According to this article, in the nanny world, light housekeeping typically means leaving the home in the same condition it was in when the nanny arrived / started her day there.  If there were no dishes in the sink in the morning, then there should be no dishes in the sink at the end of the day, and if the house was spotless in the morning, it should be the same by nightfall.  It is reasonable to expect your nanny to clean up the mess and restore the house to its original morning condition prior to the end of her workday.

The extras are the other things in addition to childcare which nannies are generally responsible for and are usually agreed upon in a written contract – a written approved contract if gone through the Canadian Live-In Caregiver program.  Some of these items include;

• Do the laundry for the children
• Keep the children’s play area as neat, tidy and organized as possible.
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.  
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Pick up after the children
• Ensure the kids rooms, including drawers, bed and closets are clean
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.

Some nannies may also take on additional household related tasks provided they have the time and it has been pre-arranged and agreed upon.  They may do the children’s grocery and clothes shopping, as well as purchase the supplies needed to properly stock the nursery.  In some cases, nannies may also be responsible for ordering age-appropriate supplies, toys, and arts and crafts, depending on the arrangement that was made.

According to the article, nannies typically do not:
• Do the parent’s laundry
• Clean the parent’s bathrooms
• Mop the floors
• Dust the furniture
• Prepare family meals regularly.

In each family and nanny work arrangement, light housekeeping should be clearly defined.  What is in the contract dictates what the family’s housekeeping expectations are, and what the nanny’s housekeeping responsibilities are. 

Many nannies do agree to take on additional non-childcare related housekeeping tasks.  They may do this because the children spend mornings in school or they simply enjoy cleaning and would gladly take on the housekeeping tasks in exchange for increased compensation.  If your nanny agrees to take on additional housekeeping tasks, she should be provided additional compensation for them and allowed adequate time to complete them when childcare is not her responsibility.  For these nannies/housekeepers, it should be stressed that when the children are in her care, childcare should be her main responsibility.  I think that is common sense, no?

Often times a nanny will go above and beyond the call of duty simply out of practicality. If a nanny is doing the dishes from lunch and her employer left a knife and dish in the sink after breakfast, for example, she’s likely going to wash them too, rather than simply leave them sitting there in the sink.  If a nanny is preparing one of her favorite homemade pasta recipes for the children’s dinner, she may make enough for the entire family, since it’s easier than tweaking the recipe for smaller portions.  Much in the same way most families when making their dinner will make enough for their nanny and have them eat with them whenever possible.  It’s give and take, and that mutual respect and understanding helps form and build the bond between the nanny and her employer.

Wen these random acts of kindness become expected by employers through, resentment and relationship problems in the nanny relationship can occur.  Light housekeeping is going to mean different things to different people.  Clearly articulating the duties and responsibilities that meet an employer’s definition of light housekeeping will help to prevent job creep and miscommunication over housekeeping related expectations.

How have you divided up responsibilities and how clear were you with your nanny on her duties outside of child care?

It’s amazing to me how many employers post comments in public message boards about how their nannies cook, clean, take care of the kids, and do all these other tasks not related to child care, and then the employer answers questions about wages and working hours, or working conditions which really casts them in a negative light.  Taking advantage of a nannies good will is never cool, and posting that in a public form is even less cool and quite questionable.  Especially in light of the fact that these message boards are trolled by agencies and organizations who protect nannies from being taken advantage of.

So to sum it all up…

Make sure what you are expecting your nanny to do outside of child care is clear and written in the contract.  Also remember that just because they came from worse working conditions in Hong Kong it doesn’t give you the right to treat them in any way that you yourself would not want to be treated in their shoes.

Karma.

Here is a link to the article; http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

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  1. [...] What can you expect from your nanny: Non-child care responsibilities. (urbandaddy.wordpress.com) [...]

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