Monday

Is Nanny's On-The-Job Napping Negligent?

Monday, September 28, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Our nanny works from 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The children go down for a nap around 1:00 and sleep until at least 3:00, but are often still asleep when she finishes work. She has a one-hour lunch break and does a bit of tidying (lunch things, puts toys away) and occasionally a bit of lunch prep for the next day. This still leaves her with a very long break and she will often have a nap. Does this seem ok? I think she is always up before the kids and/or hears them when they wake, though yesterday my husband came home early and she didn't hear him come in, which is a bit worrying (I work from home but am generally in my office at the top of the house with the door closed). So, is napping 'on the job' acceptable for a nanny when the kids are asleep too? Thanks!

50 comments:

ChiNanny said...

My bosses do not have a problem with me dozing on the couch while the kids are sleeping assuming everything else is taken care of. I work 11 hour days, and by nap time I'm exhausted too. However, I'm never so sound asleep I don't hear the kids, dogs, phone, doorbell, etc.

I guess it's up to you. What do you mean by a one hour lunch? That she isn't paid for an hour during nap time that she eats? Or is that outside of nap time? That part confused me since most nannies I know don't get a "lunch".

Wootwoot said...

I think it's fine if she takes a nap, as long as she can hear the kids. Does she nap in a room with or near them? It shouldn't matter if she naps or reads or watches tv, etc., during the portion of nap time that is not taken up by the picking up/cleaning as long as she gets everything done and is responsive to the kids when they wake up.

Bloomfield babysitter said...

I don't know of many jobs that allow nap time!

Your nanny isn't working a ton of hours nor is she up exceptionally early.

As a professional nanny I would say napping is not acceptable in this case but only you can decide for sure. the fact that you are asking makes me suspect you are not comfortable with it. Good luck!

Ravenswood Nanny said...

i've worked with families on both sides of this spectrum. the first had no problem with me napping with the girls. sometimes the 3 of us would all sleep on one bed together, much like their mother would do if she were home.

other families though are more "professional" in the way they treat their nanny. they want the nanny to treat the position as you would any job. therefore, napping is inappropriate. i would read or watch tv or surf the internet.

8.5 hours of work is really not all that long. i've always worked 10-11 hour days so naps come in handy when needed, though it's rare for me.

it's up to what you are comfortable with. i always think open dialogue is the best between family and nanny so if you are mostly ok with it, but slightly uneasy with the fact she may not hear the kids then the 3 of you need to sit down and chat about this. maybe she can sleep in the room with the children, or on a couch right outside the door, or have a monitor nearby, or possibly, not at all (which isn't an unreasonable request).

why is she needing to nap so much? is she not getting proper rest at night, is she neglecting her job? is she pregnant or ill? is she depressed? to me it is just not that necessary to nap daily - but i get at least 8 hours/night. it's my JOB and i like to be rested and ready to go!

Reno Nanny said...

I don't know of any job that will tell their employees that they can't sleep on their lunch break.

The family I work for insists I go to sleep when I get there early in the morning (boy will sleep for at least 3 hours after I show up) and say to feel free to nap at naptime.

I see no problem with it.


And OP,

"She has a one-hour lunch break and does a bit of tidying (lunch things, puts toys away) and occasionally a bit of lunch prep for the next day. This still leaves her with a very long break and she will often have a nap"

do you mean she does that work on her lunch break? Because, if she is working, it isn't a break.

TC said...

It depends on the parents and the family. My boss doesn't mind that I nap when the kids nap, in fact she has told me numerous times to do that. Lucky for me I can never sleep soundly away from home so I hear every little sound.

If you are uncomfortable then tell your nanny you don't want her sleeping on the job.

Mary said...

I used to nap when I worked as a full time nanny. I'm a light sleeper though and so I kind of "half napped'...never a full, deep sleep because I knew I needed to hear everything that went on.

Either way, it's your nanny and so it's really up to you. If you're not comfortable with it, then you're not, and you need to say something. There's nothing wrong with telling her you're not comfortable with it... it's a matter of personal preference.

LoveChapstick said...

The last thing they want is a burnt out nanny, so my employers insist that I rest during naptime. I'm usually exhausted by then; now that the two year old loves messy art projects and baby eats sloppier foods, I spend most of my break cleaning the messes that the kids (and parents) made and/or scrubbing laundry stains.

With a previous family, I would bring my laptop and e-mail/im with the mother about how the day was going, order clothes/toys for the kids, and to plan activities. My current family doesn't have wireless internet, so sometimes a nap sneaks up on me. But even with the baby monitors just inches away from my head, I worry that I may not hear them and wake up every few minutes and end up finding something else to tidy.

If the nanny were a part-time student or something, I could completely understand the desire for a nap. And when you factor in a morning commute, carrying heavy kids and loads of laundry up and down stairs, pushing giant jogging strollers, etc... sometimes a lady needs a rest.

Besides, would it be out of the question for parents to indulge in naptime as well?

NannyP said...

My employer lets me nap when the baby is also sleeping cause she understands how exhausting my job is, I dont always do it but sometimes I do.

lovethegirls said...

I really don't see anything wrong with it. If her work is done I say let her. I like the idea of a monitor. I guess, while it is still a job it is really hard not to nap when the house is cozy and quiet. Your kids will get better care when they are all rested. However, it really is ultimately up to you.

world's best nanny said...

I say if you are a live in, you have your own room and a baby monitor, then why not?

CuriousDad said...

My work schedule is 12 hours long with lunch taken during working hours. God, I wish I was allowed to nap at work during slow/down periods. :)

Not a critique, just jealous. The boss(es) and nanny should make their agreed upon arrangement, one that is most comfortable for both sides.

chgonanny said...

Now that my older charges are in school, I have a 2 hour break, during which I pick up the living room and kitchen, eat my lunch, do a crossword puzzle, and usually take a 20 minute power nap. I'm not completely out, and I try to do this when the dad isn't around (he works from home upstairs). We have never had a formal conversation about this, although the few times I've had to come to work sick (yes, I know, I know) I take a long nap, and the dad encourages this.

I don't see anything wrong with taking a light mini nap, as long as the nanny isn't deeply sleeping. If she isn't waking up to the door opening, though, that would worry me.

mom said...

The bottom line is whether you are comfortable with this. It sounds from your post like you might not be...at least not entirely.

If you are uncomfortable, your nanny, as a professional, should not be at all upset if you ask her to remain awake during the entire time you are paying her. What other job even poses the question of sleeping on the clock?

Think about it for a little while. Weight the pros and cons of her napping (having her more refreshed vs. the possibility that she might sleep through a child waking up and getting into mischief), and then let her know what you decide.

Why is she so tired during the course of an 8-9 hour workday? That is something to consider too. If you are supplementing her sleep hours on your dollar because of a late night partying habit, that is not good. If she is tired from actively playing with and engaging your kids all day (which is tiring if done wholeheartedly), a refresher might be nice.

The only concern I would have is whether something might happen. We had a story on here recently where a child was found in the middle of an intersection...TWICE...because the babysitter fell asleep. You know your kids. There are some kids who you just have to be alert for at all times because you just never know what they're going to do next if left unsupervised (I had one of those)...and some who will not want to be far from your sight before they do anything (thankfully, I got one of those too...which is why I retain even the thin grasp I have on my sanity! heheehe)

Paıl said...

I think it's fine if she takes a nap, as long as she

MissDee said...

I have found that it is not uncommon for adults to start dozing off while children are napping-I think it is psychological, meaning that we think of how nice it is that the children are napping and how quiet the house is. Thinking of the children napping, starts to get us "tired", and we start dozing off. the same happens when rubbing backs at naptime in daycare. I also think that we tend to get sleep when the children are asleep because we are bored.

When I worked for M, I was there so early in the morning that by the time J went down for nap, I slept too. I cleaned up the house, washed the lunch dishes, and set the timer for 45 minutes while J was sleeping so that I could sleep too. When I was a nanny for an infant a few years ago, I would also fall asleep while she slept. Both M and this baby's mother were OK with me napping.

I have epilepsy, so I need to have as much sleep as possible, to avoid me having a seizure. I would never tell a prospective family that I have epilepsy, because I wouldn't think they need to know that immediately.

Perhaps the nanny recently took antibiotics which made her sleepy? Just a thought.

MinuteMuggle said...

I personally would not have a problem with it, but I'm a very laid-back person. Having a nanny in your home is not like a daycare.

But what matters is what you and your husband think. You have every right to set ground rules. If you do not want her sleeping, by all means, make that a part of her contract. It would not be wrong of you.

Tricky Call said...

When I would work 10 hour days watching a busy, curious 15-month-old, I would practically NEED to nap with her to keep up with her energy levels.

She napped on the parents bed, the parents were perfectly fine with me napping next to her on their bed as well (also allowed me to wake up when she did), and overall it gave me a valuable way to preserve my energy for the remainder of the work-day.

I would say it would be fine for this nanny, however, she's not working a tremendously long day. She basically goes home after her nap, that doesn't seem to be like something you as the employer should have to fund. Perhaps you could have her do some light around the house errands for you? (Only stuff that pertains to the kids such as, laundry, toy pick-up, arts and crafts prep, etc.) Or, if that seems to be asking too much, just suggest she read a book and be alert for when the kids wake up.

Reno Nanny said...

Again- this is her BREAK she is napping on.

Whether a paid break or not, OP is giving her a break. OP said herself that nanny has a BREAK. And a break is not a time to be filled with more work.

And who cares WHY the nanny needs a nap? Honestly.

VAnanny said...

I have worked for 4 different families and each of them encouraged me to nap when the children did. Sometimes I did, sometimes I did not. If I did nap, it was after all cleaning and various other tasks were completed. Like someone else said, the naps consisted of very light sleeping so that even the slightest noise would wake me. Of course baby monitors were utilized at all times. It is ultimately up to the employer. If OP is not comfortable with the napping nanny, then she should say so. It is her right as a mother and an employer.

Vanessa. said...

I have "napped" after a tough day. I can count with my fingers the times I've napped during the day but still. I'm sorry but I go to work from 7:30 am to 5:30pm and then to school until 10pm and then I have to do homework after that. I am only human and I also get exhausted. That being said, the few times I've napped, I've made sure the monitor was by my ear and relatively high. So I could hear any sounds. And also, one doesn't go into very heavy sleep as you always have in the back of your mind that the kids might wake up at any moment, so your body is on alert. I think a 15-20 min nap doesn't hurt anybody and it's enough time to recover some energy.

I don't see anything wrong with it as long as the person is making sure that she/he can listen to the kids.

And I'm sorry but I've heard many times of people napping during lunch breaks, not just babysitters or nannies. People in the corporate business. They go to their cars and nap for 20 minutes and then go back to work. We're all human, humans get tired. So, no, people don't get paid to nap during working hours, but they are allowed to do what they want during their breaks.

Vanessa said...

And yes, I have also been encouraged to nap by the parents because I know how busy my schedule is. Uusally I have my laptop with me so I keep myself distracted while the kids are sleeping, which is good.

Chicago Nanny said...

I worked for a family with 4 kids and worked 11-12 hour days. As long as I had everything taken care of that needed to be done my bosses didn't mind me snoozing on the couch. I had a monitor by my head and the house was small enough that I would hear if someone woke up and was walking around. Now with that said, I rarely did take a nap, I had other things that I could be doing with that down time but there were definitely days that I took advantage of the opportunity. I think it's something you personally have to decide if you're comfortable with!

stacy said...

This is for all the negative people on here,if the nanny has to get to work for 7:30am i am positive she has to be up and out of her bed by atleast 5:30am,she is human she is not a cyborg. I am a nanny myself i have been for more than 13 years and i love love my current job. I come on here and i see these negative comments and stories about nannies and some of them hurt my heart and some of them are pointless and i really think that some of you people need to get a life. You people don't know how hard it is taking care of other people's kids and you are making it even harder for us by putting nannies under a microscope. The part that i don't get is the fact that some of you "people" out there can't even take care of your own kids if you didn't have a nanny your kids would probably raise themselves, because when you get home what do you do for your kids? PUT THEM TO BED... yes that's all you do, your nanny does everything else for your kids. Then you wonder why when these same kids grow up they resent you? think about this instead of bringing down nannies who work hard every day.......

stacy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MissMannah said...

You're the boss, aren't you? Decide for yourself, with your husband, what you are and aren't comfortable with. I'm guessing you aren't comfortable with her sleeping, otherwise you wouldn't have even brought it up. Tell her to stop and if you think she might still be napping, put in a nanny cam.

Brad said...

I think it's fine if she takes a nap, as long as she can hear the kids

Napping Nanny in Cali said...

I am a nanny who naps when the children do. As long as the other household duties are complete, i.e., laundry folded, dishes washed up,etc....then I think it is in my best interest and the child's to take a nap. Besides, doctors have always said, "Nap while the child naps" to parents, why should it also not apply to nannies as well?!
Someone walking in the door is not the same as a child waking up so I wouldn't worry about the door thing too much. If a child is awake, it would be almost impossible not to hear them!!!!

Janet English said...

As long as she is in your house and the children are in her care she should be paid, whether they are sleeping makes no difference. Don't be petty. As long as the kids are happy- you should be happy. Now if you are feeling she is neglecting things because of her napping, ofcourse it's not OK. But if all is clean and put away- letting her sleep or play with her thumbs makes no difference. You can always make a list of things to do for the next day- prep-lunch, sanitize toys, out away laundry if it makes you feel better.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I asked the original question, and I just want to say how much I appreciate all the feedback, so much of it is really thoughtful and helpful. A lot of people responding have said they think that I am probably uncomfortable with the napping, and yes I have been, and I was wondering if it would generally be considered professional behaviour as I don't want to be unreasonable. I am of course aware that mothers often nap when their children are asleep, but that is when they are the 24-hour-a-day carers. I am planning on reviewing her contract with her to make sure we're in agreement on the scope of her duties and/or work on any misunderstandings. I think that if she has taken care of all her duties and locks the front door, then I can get comfortable with her taking a nap during her break and also using any additional downtime for personal things such as email. I can assure you that I appreciate that our nanny has a gift for working with children and our kids are very happy and wonderfully cared for by her - and I know that is the most important part of her job. However, I don't want to be "petty" but there are other aspects of the job that I think it is fair to take into consideration.

To answer some of the questions here: (1) Lunch is part of her paid hours - we had an understanding that she would have a one-hour paid lunch break after the children go down for their naps. No, the tasks I describe are not done during this break, they are done before or after the break! So there is quite often a lot of additional 'downtime' as she does a lot of her duties while the children are awake and those that she has been doing during nap-time do not take very long. (2) I don't know of any specific health reason for needing a nap; I presume looking after the kids is tiring. She arrives at work refreshed in the morning. She may have to get up early, but I think she also finishes work early enough in the day to get proper rest before the next day, but maybe she is just someone who needs a nap.

I am sorry that the commenter 'Stacy' on Sept 29 feels that the image of nannies that is being portrayed on this site is so negative and that parents do not appreciate them. As a parent reading this site I can see that there are a lot of very professional, loving nannies who care enough to follow and contribute to these kinds of forums.

I also do much more than put my children to bed. We do not have a nanny on the weekend, during nanny sick or personal days or public holidays, so I can safely say that we do know what it is like to look after children all day. During the week we get them up and dresssed, make and sit down all together to a fresh healthy breakfast. We prepare and freeze nutritious foods for lunches and work with our nanny to prepare a weekly meal plan, and we do the grocery shopping. When we finish work we play / go to the park / visit friends or relatives, and we make a fresh healthy dinner for the whole family. Then we have bath- and bedtime. Sometimes my husband and I are lucky enough to be able to do these things together, but sometimes we do them on our own while the other person works.

I hope you understand that I did not post my question to 'bring nannies down', but just to get some input, which I do really appreciate.

Thanks!

MissMannah said...

OP, FYI nannies don't get lunch "breaks." You said she is still on the clock while the kids sleep, so she isn't on break and you shouldn't call it that. Yes, you are correct when describing it as her downtime, but I would assume she is supposed to resume her duties if one of the kids happened to wake up during her "break."

Also, I didn't put in my own opinion of sleeping nannies for the sole reason that my opinion shouldn't sway your decision as a parent. But, yes, I used to be a "napping nanny." I kept both kids' bedroom doors open and slept on a couch in the adjoining room. If I heard one of them stir, I was off that couch in a flash.

ChiNanny said...

MissMannah makes a good point. Nannies cannot have a lunch "break" unless there's another adult in the house. Even if your children are sleeping, she is on duty to take care of them if they wake up. It's down time, but not an actual break since she's still expected to be caring for the children.

mom said...

Neither can neurosurgeons at times. Some jobs are like that. It's fairly obvious when you choose some professions that you're not always going to get a completely 100% "me time" lunchtime experience during your workdays. If that's a deal breaker for somebody it would be silly for them to choose such a profession. And even sillier to whine about it later.

ChiNanny said...

Mom I don't see anyone whining. OP stated her nanny has a lunch break, however, we were pointing out that she doesn't because it's not possible. It's something for OP to keep in mind when she reviews her contract.

Janet English said...

I think what OP is saying is that she wants her nanny to take an hour to herself for lunch. It seems like these kids sleep pretty well based on what she said and thus it works for them. Sure she is still on the clock but who cares? It's paid for.

mom said...

Agreed guys. I'm was just making a point.

There have been times when I have seen people here speaking about the possibility of lawsuits because they are not given standard lunch hours and breaks during their nanny workdays. Nipping that in the bud before it starts up again.

LoveChapstick said...

I agree with Chicago Nanny. Sometimes children are sick and don't nap well. I really don't think you can guarantee a "one hour lunch break" for a nanny. Any time she spends at that house should be compensated. She's still basically "on-call" when the children sleep; she can't just get up and meet someone for lunch down the street or anything other people might be able to do during their lunch hours. It's not really a break at all...don't call it one.

I also think that the OP is a bit of a control freak. I think this because I work for self-proclaimed control freak and I've grown up with one. Based on the original post and the update, I'm getting the impression that this nanny is micromanaged. That might be acceptable in other career fields but it's incredibly agonizing as a childcare professional.

Please just relax a bit...perhaps the OP is just jealous and needs a snooz herself.

Mom who napped said...

I can't blame a nanny for napping when the kids are napping, because my mother told me that I should nap when the baby napped. What's good for me is good for her, so if she needs that nap to do the job better when the kids are up, I say YES!

Geena said...

I do not think your nanny has a "paid lunch break" unless she can hop in her car and run to the deli down the street and grab a bite to eat, then maybe run a few errands as time permits. If there is no other adult in the home, she is still working and not on any "real break." When if there is an intruder or when if one of the kids wakes up due to a loud sound outside? She must be there and her liability is just the same as always.
I think the fact that in the nanny profession, nannies do not get paid 15 min. breaks and mandatory lunch breaks is a bit unfair to me.

former buckeye nanny said...

I must be in the minority, but I never napped on my work time as a nanny. It is just not kosher in my opinion.

From my end time to start time the next day it was my responsibility to find time to get adequate sleep. I think nanny jobs are just that, jobs.

MissMannah said...

Geena, how do you propose we nannies take a mandatory lunch break? Should we force our employers to take time off work to ensure we get a full hour? That's ludicrous and all nannies know what they're getting into when they accept the position. I, personally, would much rather eat a sandwich with my left hand while spoon-feeding a baby with my right hand rather than sitting at a desk for hours on end and then taking an hour-long lunch break.

mom said...

Exactly Miss mannah.
(But see, didn't I tell "y'all" the "unfairness of nannyhood" comments were on the horizon?)

Vanessa said...

former buckeye nanny:

Some people have busy schedules. I got to school full-time and work full-time; I get home at about 10pm, do homework until 11-12pm and then sleep and have to be up by 6:00am.

So, I'm sorry I want to work and become a professional and I can't make time for "naps" after work.

My point is, not everybody is in the same situation and we're all humans. People get tired. If you don't need naps to recover yourself good for you. But others do and there's nothing wrong with it.

Geena said...

If I were an employer, I would definitely let my employee nap when my child(ren)were also sleeping as long as she was either in the room w/them, or close by. I would like my nanny to be as refreshed as she can be because this will enable her to be the best nanny she can be for my children. Childcare is hard work and w/no mandatory breaks involved, I think it is a nice perk of the job to let a nanny nap since she does not get a "true" lunch break like other jobs.

oh well said...

I am sorry, but saying that nannies do not get "true" lunch breaks hits a nerve with me. Kids nap, or at least take a rest, so the nanny definitely has some time to herself then. I agree that taking care of children all day long can be extenuating, and I do see
why a nanny would want to take a nap. I know of a few professions which come with an uncertain, possibly harried, lunch hour. Nanny is not one of them.

MissMannah said...

Oh well, ummm have you worked with children? Sure we have some that are wonderful nappers but a lot don't like to nap and fight it the whole way until the child and nanny both pass out from exhaustion. Nannies don't have harried days or lunches? That is a laugh.

Obvious Answer said...

If you're working in a home office, wouldn't a baby monitor take care of this?

You'd know when they woke and when she responded.

It wouldn't take long to have your answer about whether she should nap.

mom said...

Or, if you employers are paying you, why not just stay awake at work?
A lot of effort is going into figure out ways to let an employee sleep on the job. Do you imagine that the parents of the children being tended are off somewhere asleep under their desks? It's the workday. Work.

Donna said...

I don't think it could be considered "negligent." If that was negligent behavior, millions of stay at home moms would be losing their children as we speak.

The question is, are you comfortable paying her for napping? I wouldn't care, but it's up to you.

xsinsinx said...

I'm a live-in, and only work one full day (on a Monday, when I work 8.30am-6.30pm). The other days the girls are in school/care and I work before and after school hours.

I look after one 3yo on Monday all day, as well as a 5yo before and after school. P and I usually run errands most of the day after her ballet lesson, but on occasion if I am unwell or have had a big weekend (ie. I fly overseas for 3-4 days a couple of times a year, and get back into out home city at 7am on a Monday morning and then go to work) I will try to get a nap in, however the only way I do it is to cuddle up on the couch with P with a movie on, and we both fall asleep together. She is the kind of kid that if she were to wake up before me, she would wake me up by poking me in the eye or screaming "Wake Up Jeff" in my eat super loudly.

My boss doesn't have a problem with this, as I guess she'd prefer that I am at work tired/slightly sick and have a little nap, then to have to stay home herself.