Last Name First, First Name Last

opinion 1
Out of curiosity, how do you all have your charges address you? Just your first name? Miss/Mrs./Ms./Mr. FirstName? Miss/Mrs./Ms./Mr. LastName? I personally prefer just my first name, but I have had some parents insist their kids call me Miss FirstName (In fact, if mentioned in the interview, this can be one of my own personal red flags, as it's usually a sign that the parents are much more formal than I would generally prefer). So I'm curious, what do you all prefer?


tripletnanny said...

Usually the children come up with some sort of nickname to call me. I've been Gigi, Nannny, and Noonoo. I love it!

Sarah NY said...

I typically get called by just my first name. It makes it easier to connect with the kids if they don't have to call me miss. first name or last name.

SLNanny said...

I get called miss and my first name. That's how mom prefers it so it's ok with me. In other nanny positions though it's usually just my name.

Belle Vierge said...

Just my first name. I'm pretty young, though, just in my 20s, and my jobs have been more "au pair" than "nanny." For both jobs, the parents wanted a "big sister" type of au pair.

Zarine said...

My main family's kids call me by my first name. A few of the families' kids who I sit for off hours call me Ms. First name. It's fine with me either way.

nycmom said...

My kids call their nanny by their first name. Though if any nanny had expressed a preference otherwise, I would have respected that (though kind of agree with you it would indicate a degree of formality I am not comfortable with).

Conversely and a bit of a hijack, what do all of the nannies here call their MB and DB? I ask because every.single latina/hispanic (sorry I am not sure which is preferred these days and have read varying info) nanny I have had, has insisted on calling my husband and me as Miss First Name and Mr. First Name. There was even a Family Guy skit on this I was forced to endure. I have asked them so many times to just call me by my first name, verbally and in writing, but clearly they have a strong preference.

Before moving I would have said it was cultural as in NYC it seemed to be unique to the Hispanic nannies. However, in CA it seems to vary with about half doing the Miss/Mr. First Name and half being okay with just my first name.

Just curious as to other nannies experiences and if anyone else uses a formal address. I know this is a big source of Mommy conflict among those who apparently don't have bigger fish to fry (okay, that was mean, but maybe someone can set me straight : ). I tell my kids' friends they can call me by my first name, but if I hear their mom insist on Mrs. LastName, then I stop encouraging the first name and just let it go. I try to respect the parenting choices of other parents though this seems like a gray area to me. Shouldn't we be teaching our kids that the default is more respectful, but if someone indicates a name preference is is MORE respectful to observe that than to stick to what YOU believe is correct (aimed more at moms than 5yos, of course).

I don't know the answer here so welcome discussion. I do know as a kid I always called my bf's mom as Mrs. LastName until I was in my 20s even though they were super informal as were my parents. It just *felt* more respectful, but now I wonder if it was in fact less respectful of their preferences.

ELam said...

My charges have always called me Miss First Name. I have only ever been a nanny for southern families, so this may be a regional thing, but I like it. The families were never too formal or strict, I think the "Miss" is just indicative of a certain level of respect.

Phoenix said...

'scuse my ignorance on this one but what is the difference between a nanny and an au pair?

Phoenix said...

also on the hispanic thing. my sons mom would always call her employers mr and mrs. and my husbands aunt was always called miss (her first name) by her nanny. My husbands whole side of family is hispanic. I don't know why that is honestly. My son's biological mom cant pronounce my real name (lived in US for 20 years and still can't speak English) so i dont have insight as to why that is, it just is

Ditty said...

I've been working as a nanny for almost 10 years now and every family has always had their children address me by my first name. The only time I was ever called "Miss ____" was when I worked in a daycare center.

nycmom said...


You have no idea what you have started with such an innocent question : )

The short answer is it differs regionally, but an au pair is a State Dept sponsored program. A woman 18-26yo matches with your family from another country and comes to live with you for a year. She may extend for another 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. She must legally be given her own "suitable private bedroom" but no other requirements exist that I have ever found in State Dept regs regarding her housing (i.e. she doesn't need a private bathroom or certain size bedroom). She can work up to 45 hours a week, but must have 1.5 days off and one full weekend off each month. She can work no more than 10 hours in one day. She gets two weeks paid vacation, but no official paid holidays. Host family must also provide an official "stipend" of about $1000 toward educational costs and she is required to take 6 college credits. She can do household stuff related to the kids (children's laundry, keeping kids' rooms clean, cleaning up after kids) and herself, but no general housekeeping. She is also to be provided with food by the host family and is given basic insurance by her agency, plus the tax issues (though still vague after 12 years) are basically that the family does not need to pay taxes on the fees or her stipend, but may use the it toward the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

Now the bad parts (I can't seem to keep an accurate count, but I believe I have had about 7 au pairs). The au pairs are lied to. Blatantly. I assume the local recruiters are paid based on # of successful recruits NOT on successful matches. The girls (and make no mistake MANY are like having an instant teenager) are told they are coming here to be students. They will do some childcare in exchange for room and board, but their real reason for coming is to be students and learn English (and occasionally overstay their visa). The US host families are told they are getting very experienced and excited childcare providers who have at least 200+ hours of non-family childcare with references. They are also getting this for a grand total of about $350 ($195 weekly to ap) for 45 hours! We all know how expensive childcare is. That certainly sounds like a deal. You don't find out until much later that many if not most aps fake their references (I have always called them all with a translator; they have always been universally and similarly positive), have never lived away from home before, have limited driving skills, and absolutely no experience with the long-hours of nannying. Sure, they can babysit, but they can rarely nanny. This why the rematch rate, which no agency will ever reveal to you directly, but you can wheedle it over time is over 50%! I gotta say I used to be angry at the au pairs, but the more learn the more I can spread by sympathy around.

nycmom said...


Out of 7 aps, we had one good one, not great, but good; one passable, but thank goodness all we really needed her for was assistance with transport; one totally homesick and revealed she had never even spent a single night away from home before; one who got falling down drunk while watching my dc and same one who showed me "tasteful" nude photos of her and her boyfriend on day one; one who was potentially passable and sweet, but clearly totally inexperienced and here to get her gorgeous little self married (which she did : ); and one who I am now quite certain was in the early stages of psychosis, likely schizophrenia -- she would leave her long rants (in English, though she was Spanish-speaking) on our home computer clearly for us to read. I've seen patients in the ER with less formed delusions than her. She had a complex delusion that a visiting friend was stealing her toothbrush at night and using it "inappropriately." Same friend was also using a noise machine specifically to torture her in the hopes of getting her bedroom. She also had various theories about how we were systematically depriving her of things like ketchup by letting the bottle run low despite the fact that she had access to petty cash and was encouraged to use it in addition to being encouraged to add things to the grocery list orders we placed weeky. There was so much more, but I have forgotten it by now. I tried so hard to make it work with her because she kept begging to stay, but her likely psychosis also meant she had prominent negative symptoms like poverty of speech, limited emotional responses, and difficulty forming normal relationships including those with the kids. I let her stay until her planned family visit (which, frankly, was two months too long) and that was it.

However, despite my negativity, I actually WOULD consider having an ap again if:
-my kids were all school age and I needed only wrap around care
-I could provide very private and separate accommodations for her
-I spoke with the local coordinator ahead of time and made it clear I was not spending time "trying to work things out" in an obviously flawed situation
-I wanted a more complete Spanish immersion for my kids and a big sister type of relationship

nycmom said...

Now onto Nanny vs Babysitter as Au Pair is actually a clearly defined term, though often misused to mean a young woman from another country acting as mother's helper. The older term of Governess, meaning essentially a full charge nanny and teacher, really doesn't exist much anymore.

The use of the word Nanny is something viewed negatively in some areas and simply used as a common word in others. Its perception is VERY regionally based. Before moving to NYC, I would have thought it a hoity-toity word used by rich people to sound important. I had never met a nanny nor heard of anyone *having* a nanny when I was growing up. It just didn't exist to my knowledge. We were all too poor. Family might care for your child for a small amount. Otherwise you used a family daycare for the most part. I believe it is still viewed in a negative way by many. However, in NYC, it really has lost that connotation entirely IMO. It simply means a full-time childcare provider who comes to your home (or in the case of nanny share to two homes) and is paid as a professional in terms of salary and benefits. You could add on that the individual views nannying as their career and sees themselves as professional nanny, but at least in NYC I do not think this is essential. Many younger women nanny for a year or two then move on to another field. I don't think it makes their use of Nanny invalid.

Then you have the group of nannies/babysitters who feel very strongly about the use of the word one way or the other. Some absolutely want to be referred to as a nanny, given that it connotes a professional position, and will correct others who refer to them as otherwise. Some prefer babysitter, perhaps due to negative associations with the word nanny. Some don't really care either way as long as you introduce them respectfully and treat them the as professionals. I actually need to just ask my new nanny how she would like me to refer to her if it arises. I am glad to call her whatever makes her happy!

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

I get called both. I think when I am referred to as "Miss Such and Such" it is more respectful.

Phoenix said...

awesome! thanks for the thorough answer. Europeans have a different view about nudity. When i went to italy we were going to get on the train and in the terminal was an advertisement that was probably 7 feet high 3 feet wide. It was the picture of a woman from the top of her neck to just below her belly button. She was totally nude and had both her nipples pierced. It was a shock to me because we obviously don't have that in the US. They don't see nudity as offensive. so her showing tasteful nude pictures would be like just showing regular pictures

nannyboo said...

nycmom, why in the world did you ever keep giving aupairs a chance? I mean, after going through a bad experience with two or three, I don't think I'd be up to trying again! :)

Sarah NY said...

My MBs all ask me to call them by their first names and I oblige. I happen to be not too far in age from them (less than 10 years younger) so its not strange and feels easier and less formal for their kids over hearing our conversations.

sounds crazy said...

I also wonder how you keep that up!
lol If I were you, I would have had enough of the au pair or nanny route! How many caregivers have your children had total???? It sounds crazy to me.

nycmom said...

More fair questions.

So the first au pair was the good one who stayed with us over a year and was very good. I think that made me overly optimistic. Then due to weird circumstances I was pregnant and living on the West Coast with a toddler while my husband was on the East Coast. I was an intern working 80+ hours a week with zero support. I couldn't even afford a professional nanny then and we decided to actually have two au pairs at once. The next two were failures. We then waited several years before doing the ap thing again, and again were sucked in because of financial constraints as we had moved to NYC. I had just had my 3rd baby, we had odd personal circumstances causing the kids to have ridiculous school commutes and I did not think it was fair to expect my nanny to take a newborn and the other two on public transport daily. Cabs are not consistently available. So this time I did it with eyes wide open. I simply need someone to assist with transport and basically be a mother's helper to my nanny. She was rarely alone with the kids.

She actually did stay with us the full year and wanted to extend, but we did not. She was not awful, just odd. She did her job safely and I didn't expect more. Any other option would have been MUCH more expensive and again, money was limited. Also what sucks about aps is the agency fees are *mostly* paid up front. And, depending on the agency, they will NOT reimburse them. So here you are, out something like $8-9K and you figure, why not try again? Many of us do not have backup childcare options or the ability to take much time of work so, as long as I could assure safety, I was willing to accept passable for someone mainly doing transport.

Oh, and I forgot the most important reason of all! My kids were on one of their intermittent Spanish strikes and after all the time and energy I have invested there, I was not giving up easily. The ONLY way to get them to use it again is to make it impossible to communicate otherwise. And it worked : ) Certainly much cheaper than $100/hour for a tutor!

FWIW, I could tell similar horror stories about terrible US sitters also so making that switch didn't solve the problem either.

My kids have had two long-term nannies: roughly 5 years and 4 years. They had two great one year relationships that ended due to moves (but continue contact): our first au pair, our SD nanny of one year, an amazing sitter of one-year in NYC, and an amazing sitter of 3 years in NYC. They have had occasional other fill in sitters here and there, but those are the only relationships I continued. The rest were presented to the sitter and kids as shortterm. Also, keep in mind we have made 4 cross country moves, and my kids were born in 3 different major cities, plus their age spread is almost 8 years. We also don't have any reliable family support, even an afternoon or an hour here and there. So every sitter I use, I pay. I'm actually really happy with the consistently we maintained in our long-term nannies and sitters they actually bonded with in spite of so much turmoil.

Call Me By My First Name said...

- 13+ years and am always called by my first name. I prefer this.

- I love when the children exclaim to their friends, "That's my nanny!!" or "This is my nanny, First Name!" They are also so proud!

-I always refer to MB & DB by their first names. I have a very close relationship with all of my previous families and we consider each other family.

*Melanie Raye* said...

I work for two families, both just part-time. I call all my MB's and DB's by their first names, and all the kids (and adults) call me by my first name.

Susannah said...

I usually go with what the family prefers and 9 times out of 10 it's just my first name.

I've had a few families that I'm called Miss Susannah and I've never felt they were to formal for my liking.

My favorites are typically coined by kids, the best to date has been Zoo Zoo.

formerAuPair said...

I came here to defend the Au Pairs ;).
I am a former AP from Germany. Before I came to the US I knew exactly, what I had to expect. No one told me, or any other Au Pair I know, anything false or promised something wrong to me.
I believe it depends on the origin of the Au Pair.
Aps from Europe for example know what to expect. You go to several meetings from different Agency's and hear about the program and you get to talk to former Au Pairs.
Maybe that is not the case in South America or elsewhere, but in Europe that is how the process starts. You then have to fill out pages over pages with information about yourself, your experience with children and you have to go to the doctor to have him fill out a page about your health as well.
I spent hours on my picture pages. Nowadays you upload a video, but back then that didn't exist.
I didn't give any false information to my organization, neither did anyone else I know. I am a nursery school teacher back home, so I had more than 1000 hours worth of childcare.
My AP-friends, who came right from school, spent months working in a kindergarten to reach the necessary hours to be accepted in the program. And they did that next to their school work or regular work during their vacation time!
Of course I have heard those horror story's about AP too. And there was one girl from Brazil in my cluster, who left her host-family over night, to move in with her boyfriend. And surprise, surprise she was never seen again.
I believe the Au Pair Program can be a rewarding year for both sides, if both sides put a lot of thought and work into the matching process and the year!
My host-family has had about 16 Au Pairs and only one rematch! The rematch girl came from South America and she was clearly here to stay. They then switched to Au Pairs from Europe and have been happy ever since.
Like I said, there a a lot of girls out there who are thrilled to spend a year or two abroad, living together with a host-family and taking care of their children. PLUS they get the chance to travel and meet interesting people from all over the world!
It is a cultural exchange for both parties.
Of course there are girls in that program like described by nycmom, who lie their way into the program and betray the host-families.
But you find those girls in the Nanny-world too. That has nothing to do with being an Au Pair.
If you do your research and spend enough time talking with your future Au Pair, you will be rewarded with a year full of cultural exchange.

MissMannah said...

I'm always just called by my first name and I call my bosses by their first names too.

I was called Miss Amanda when I worked in daycare and incidentally, that's where I got my nickname because my first job was in a toddler room and that's how they said my name. Just thought I'd throw out that cute story. :)

RBTC said...

in the south, the terms Miss Jane and Mrs Jane are used alot as a sign of politeness
nycity mom - REALLY interesting as usual

nycmom said...


ITA disagree on the success. I've had he LEAST success with European aps and the best with those from less wealthy countries. I often find European aps are coming from a privileged background and haven't really, really WORKED. And the 50% + rematch rate has been confirmed for me by 3 different employees of two different agencies. Your experience was unusual, but I'm glad it was positive.

Princessbluekies said...

My first name...I like it better. it makes me feel more comfortable

Shutterbug said...

i am called by my first name its really up to what the parents and kids feel comfortable with :)

Belle Vierge said...

My situation is actually the reverse. I'm an American who has au paired for two French families, the first in the suburbs of Paris and my current family in the suburbs of NYC and now Toronto (I moved with them a few months ago). I didn't use an agency to find either job; I used

Reading through ISYN, I'd say the biggest differences are expectations of a nanny vs. an au pair. I read all these stories about degrees in childhood education, about different daily outings with the children, about educational/interactive play, about no TV...

Both of my au pair jobs have their differences, but my primary daily responsibilities have been the same: get the kids ready for school, take them to school & activities, help with bilingual homework, make sure they shower, and cook dinner. I do my best to limit how much TV the youngest watches, but I have to do everything else first. The parents don't have unrealistic expectations in this regard, either. For both jobs, I was hired due to my childcare experience (summer camps, baby-sitting, etc.) and my degree in French.

I also get paid way less. In France, most of my au pair friends earned 80 euros a week, and they paid for the mandatory French lessons out-of-pocket (1000+ euros for the year). I was lucky, earning 150 euros a week, plus my MB paid for my classes.

In New York, I was earning $250/week and working ridiculous hours (MB in Toronto M-Th; DB often traveled for work too), often from getting the kids up at 6:45am to when the oldest went to bed at 10:30pm. I know some people here always ask why nannies don't just quit, but sometimes we have extenuating circumstances. I wanted to live in New York for a year. I liked having a job in which I could practice my French. I liked eating organic filet mignon every week. Quitting would have meant moving back home, to the South.

They asked me to move to Toronto with them and receive a 40% raise while working less hours. I was thrilled to say yes. Now I feel like I'm being paid fairly for my hours. Plus I get to live in Toronto!

I realize this veered slightly off-topic. I have a tendency to over-explain when striving for clarity.

Not Miss Anything! said...

I think being called Miss is creepy and way too formal. It seems really old fashioned. (like in those old 50s tv shows where kids call their parents "sir" and "ma'am." Yikes!)

I have always been called by my first name by my charges and employers. I have always called my employers by their first name too. Anything else would seem weird to me.

I have a problem with parents who insist on a 'respectful' title when the adult in question hasn't done anthing yet to earn respect. Telling kids to respect all adults just because they are adults is how you end up with a kid getting into a car with a stranger.