Advice on Acceptable Duties

We have had a nanny for our daughter since she was 3 months old. I work from a home office, so I wanted her home with me, but I need the help during my business hours so I can actually get work done. She is a very bright, inquisitive, and active toddler and our wonderful nanny keeps her engaged, safe, and happy while I work. Our current nanny has been with us for just under a year and her employment contract is coming up for renewal. We intend to give her a performance bonus (one weeks pay), a $1/hr raise, and a gift from our daughter (still not sure what yet, but something personal and more sentimental than pricey). First, does this seem like a generous enough way to say, "thank you, you are appreciated and we love you"?

On the other side of the coin, our daughter is turning two next month and we are looking to place her in part-time daycare (two days a week) just to get her interacting with other children more regularly. Unfortunately, we live in a very remote area that has very few age-appropriate venues and activities (almost none really) for toddlers. She isn't getting exposure to other children as she would if she was able to go on field trips to the zoo, museum, etc. or regular playgroups (none of those things exist here). Even the parks are only usable part of the year due to extreme temps. Our nanny agrees that part-time daycare would be of benefit to our daughter for socialization and variety as it takes constant innovation to keep her from getting bored (we only live here because my husband is military). So, with daycare comes two days a week where our daughter won't be home and we have no other children for our nanny to watch. I have been thinking about ways to keep paying her for the same number of hours, because I know she cannot afford to take fewer hours (she's currently with us 30 hours a week), but we still work within the confines of a household budget and I really feel like we just can't pay her for two full days where she literally has nothing to do. Particulary when we have to make room in the budget for the daycare expenses as well.

Under her current contract, our nanny is only responsible for caring for our daughter (no housework expectations beyond loading dishes into the dishwasher, wiping up meal messes, and putting away toys). All other housework I have always handled by myself. Anyway, I would be very pleased to have help with daily housework duties and am thinking that daycare days would be a good opportunity to have her still come in and help with all the chores that I typically tend to - laundry, dusting, cleaning floors, toys, and maybe even cooking dinner for the family. I recognize this is essentially changing her job, because our family's needs are changing, and I really do not want to offend her in anyway. I respect her as a childcare professional and would like to work something out that keeps her happy and with us. But also would love the help to keep the house operating effeciently, giving me more time to enjoy my daughter and husband. So, to all the nannies, would you find such a shift in duties offensive? If not, are there certain housekeeping duties that would be deemed unacceptable (for instance, bathrooms?) Are there any nannies out there that do housework (beyond child-specific chores) as a regular part of their jobs and if so, what are those duties? Do you find them to be fair and reasonable? Is cooking for the entire family reasonable to add to the list (she cooks wonderful lunches for our daughter)?

I know our nanny needs to work to meet her family's budget and savings goals (she has a daughter in high school that's off to college next year). I also know that her job with us is going to be difficult to match with another employer in this area, but I don't want that to be the reason she stays with us. I want her to be happy. We pay significantly above average for our area, because we can, and we have tried to structure as generous a benefits package as possible. She gets paid holidays, vacation (tied to ours, but its about 4 weeks a year), flexible scheduling (when she needs time off, we have always accommodated), paid sick days, holiday and performance bonuses, and then gifts for birthday, Christmas and the occassional thank you (because, have I mentioned we LOVE her). She's on the books. If we add housework to the mix of duties (to be done only when daughter is not home), is it fair to keep her at her current compensation rate with the annual raise and performance bonus I mentioned above? Thanks for considering this request. I hope to get feedback on it.


nannyof3 said...

I'm in the same position but on the other side. I care for great kids that will all be in school full time in the coming months. My ours are going to 50 hrs a week to about 20. My suggestion? Tell your nanny exactly what you just wrote. My family sat me down and said, "We love you, we don't want to lose you & anything we can work out to keep you here and happy lets figure it out." We then came up with a plan. I told them what I was comfortable doing (I specifically said no bathrooms lol) and also brought up the option of being "on call" for the hours the children were in school. Which means I'd still work the same hours I always did, same pay, however if any of the children were sick, field trips extc. I would be responsible. I also picked up doing the food shopping, families laundry and light housekeeping.(vacuuming,dusting,changing beds once a week) All in all I would end up working less hours and have the freedom to pick what I wanted to work on each day, Although this situation is very different then yours I would definitely suggest to just sit down and tell her you appreciate and love her and ASK HER what she would like to and be open to doing. You seem like a great MB and sounds like you have a great nanny! If she feels like she has a great family she won't want to leave either. Good luck!

ericsmom said...

If she is willing to do some housework that may work out for you guys.
Is she a good cook? Maybe, one of those days she can make meals in advance and stock them in your freezer? Can and does she want to do errands for you? Or grocery shopping?
Of course just suggestions if you are both comfortable with it.

Maybe, you know other families looking for part-time help two days a week. Maybe, spread the word that she is available two days. Again if she wants you to do that.

nannyof3 said...

I agree with ericsmom cooking and then freezing it is a excellent idea it would save you a bunch of time!
Just wanted to add that my MB actually found me a job..WITHOUT asking..at her friends children;s store...I just wanted to emphasize to ask your nanny first. I was insulted and in no way wanted to pack boxes and stack shelves!

Nashville Nanny said...

Definitely ask your nanny if this is something she wants to take on. My MB was in the same situation, and asked me to take on the full household cleaning during the hours that her child was in school. I'm not a maid. I'm a nanny. I told her that if she wanted a housekeeper out of me, that she would need to compensate me the way she would pay a housekeeper. (I wasn't snarky about it. We had a great relationship. I just come across harsh when typing.. so my apologies) MB offered me "X" a week on top of my pay to take on all of the housekeeping duties. I didn't just do them on the days that the child was in school, I spread it throughout the week (during naptime, etc)I was making more money, which made me happy. She got to keep her awesome nanny (ME!) which made her happy. I can't imagine that a nanny who does not normally do housework will be happy to add it into her job duties just so you don't cut her hours. She may look for another position.

Katydid said...

Ask her, but if it were me I would tell you no and find a part-time gig for those two days.

In my view you are not giving her a perfomance based raise you are looking for more work, and hoping that an extra dollar will do that.

In my view a nanny does not do adult laundry, family meals, grocery shop, clean floors etc.

Honestly no matter what you say now, as soon as the household chores start they don't stop.

Talk to her, and see what she thinks.

Sam said...

You're basically asking her to be a housekeeper for 2 weeks. Nannies are not housekeepers, but it doesn't mean she won't be able to do the job.

My only condition of saying YES would be if the hours were shorter, but the pay is the same.

The raise is good, too.

So, if she normally works 6 hours a day M-F, have her come in for 4 hours a day for those 2 weeks and help with the cooking/cleaning.

I'm surprised she can live on 30 hours as it is. What are you currently paying? Is she married or something?

Handynanny said...

Hi there. I have been a full time nanny for 6 years, and worked in many a different environments that were ever changing, like you said, transitioning to days here you still want to employ your nanny, but she has hours and hours of free time. This is what I suggest:

Tell her how much she means to you guys. Ask her if she would be willing to take on a few more tasks while daughter is in school, and only while daughter is in school. Tasks that I would recommend are: dishes, children's toys can be organiZed and cleaned, grocery shopping. Adult laundry is out of the question, as well as cleaning bathrooms, or making beds for adults, those are specifically housekeeping and maid duties and would really not be in the best interest of your relationship with your nanny. In my experience agreeing to those duties eventually leads to a breakdown. It's just not okay to even ask her to do such filthy work, and crosses boundaries. It's gross honestly to see the dirty laundry of your employer, or their bathroom filth, or dirty sheets. Even if she agrees to it, she'll regret it later. Also, remember that new duties are in place of child care, not in addition to it! When daughter is home, those new duties are not to be expected, make sure she knows that.

gypsy said...

There is an easy & viable solution. Find. Another two year old & do a nanny share. She makes more money & your child gets the peer interaction you value.

You don't pay her less. You let another parent also pay her.

Of course ask her if she is okay with this.

She isn't a housekeeper, so I doubt she would be thrilled to morph into one. But she may due to lack of choices. Eventually, I feel she may grow resentful. Which is poison to the nanny-parent relationship. Choose your words carefully. ;-)

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

As a nanny, I think all of us nannies know there will come a day when the children (and parents!) outgrow us in some respect and we will either lose hours, or our jobs as well. Kids grow up, start attending school, etc. It's part of the nanny profession.I am sure your current nanny understands this.

That being said, why not sit down and have a talk w/her? Stress how much you and your family love her and appreciate all she does for you all. Let her know that you want your child to attend pre-school twice weekly for socialization skills, etc. and that you will be cutting her hours. Let her know that you are offering a housekeeping position to her to compensate for missed hours, however you are completely fine if she doesn't accept since she will have entirely other duties. Give her some time to think about everything and decide what she wants to do.

If she doesn't accept your housekeeping offer, I would then offer her a very good letter of recommendation and if possible, kindly assist her in finding a part-time position to supplement her hours w/yours. Perhaps write a childcare ad on CL or offer to write her a stellar review on a childcare website, etc.

You sound like an absolutely awesome MB and your nanny sounds like an excellent caregiver!

I am sure you guys can find something that works for you both.

Best of luck to you OP!!

Bethany said...

Can you clarify something for me , OP?

By two days do you mean two full days as in you drop her off in the morning and don't pick her up until dinnertime like daycare?

Or do you mean half day preschool two days a week as in you drop her in the morning and pick her up by lunch and before nap time?

Bethany said...

You sound like a caring boss, but it also sounds like you're tryig to get a two for one deal.

But I do not think it is fair for you to ask her to start doing your housekeeping.

I view the raise and other items you mentioned as compensation as childcare.

IF she comes in those two days, she is coming in as a housekeeper and not a nanny. For that she should be compensated at whatever the going rate for housekeepers in your area is ( if higher than her nanny rate)

You said she knows your daughter will be in school I wouldn't be surprise if she's already lined up something part time.

I think the better option would be to arrange a nanny share.

Good luck to me.

Bethany said...

That should be you not me

Manhattan Nanny said...

I don't see anything wrong with asking her if she would be interested in doing housekeeping the two days you will not need her as a nanny. Whether or not a nanny would be open to that, and what chores she will or won't do is a very individual thing. For example I I hate cleaning and laundry and would never do it for another family. On the other hand, I love taking care of the family's many pets. Some nannies and housekeepers are adamant that they won't do that. Cooking for the family is another area, some love to cook and would be happy to do it, others would not.
You sound like a very considerate employer. If your nanny agrees to this, make sure you go over the specific job description together. Also as was said above, housekeepers usually receive a higher hourly rate than nannies, so check the rates in your area.

MissMannah said...

I personally would like to know why you think your daughter needs daycare and a nanny. You seem to be saying you'll be sending her to 2 full days a week to daycare and she will be barely 2 years old. That is a lot more than necessary in my opinion. And I thought the point of hiring a nanny is so you wouldn't have to send your kids to daycare? If you want them to be more socialized, why not just set up some playdates or mommy & me classes? It will be a hell of a lot cheaper and your nanny gets to keep her job.

PS: Yes, I think your gift ideas for your nanny are wonderful.

You want a cheap housekeeper said...

If you can afford a daycare and 30 hour care (and yes you can) because you are willing to pay your current nanny for those 30 hours if she agrees to work as a housekeeper in addition to your daycare costs....

Well then you can honor your 30hours pay then you can pay her a housekeeper salary which is significantly more per hour. So say you pay her 10 per hour, then expect to pay her around 25 per hour. And thus expect her to work less hours. That way you get a housekeeper and a nanny who can keep her income relatively stable. You can't have a nanny be a housekeeper for a nanny salary. It's not fair. So perhaps offer her 10h or whatever in nanny hours at nanny rate. And instead of say 20hours at the same rate for housekeeping she an work 8 hours doing housekeeping at a housekeeping rate. Fair.

another nanny said...

Hi OP,

I think it's great that you're taking the time to consider things from your nanny's perspective. As others have stated, you're definitely going to have to talk openly with your nanny, and don't be surprised if she's not at all interested in the housekeeping position (on the other hand, she might be).

Definitely consider previously mentioned options, such as helping your nanny find another job for those 2 days, or considering a nanny share. Another idea is to have/help your nanny start her own playgroup if none exist. If it's as rural as you say, I imagine there must be at least a couple other nannies/SAHM's desperate for some socialization themselves.

I do agree with MissMannah that daycare for a 2 year old is not really necessary (from the socialization perspective). Some playdates would probably suffice.

gypsy said...

IME most two year olds socialize by playing side by side. I don't see any real benefit for a child that small to be in daycare. It means more exposure to germs. But, then again, I'm a germaphobe.

I sure hope OP will update us. I like how caring she is about her nanny.

OceanBlue said...

Do you have a libray within an hour from you?

Most libraries have a story/playtime a few times a week that your daughter and nanny could go to. It's free and you have the socialization you are looking for for your daughter and your nanny keeps her hours.

I'd also look into toddler storytimes at zoos, nature centers, art centers, bookstores.

This is also away for your nanny to meet other nannies & kids and perhaps make connections for playdates.

I bet your nanny would rather drive a ittle bit out of the way 2 or 3 times a week than start doing your laundry and cooking.

fed up said...

I don't think it is fair that parents just expect nannies to be housekeepers. Yeah we are in your home so what? That doesn't mean we should be cleaning everything for the same money, or practically the same money because you want a 2 for 1 deal. I think that raise is fair because she has been a good nanny, and should be for her childcare ONLY.

From my experience I have had employers start out with a few chores, then ended up loading work such as walking pets, feeding them, driving them to groomers, laundry, house cleaning, AND being the nanny as well as cooking. A nanny is there for your child, she/he isn't your maid or personal slave. All cleaning/extra work should be discussed thoroughly and written into contract and the nanny should be better compensated. I don't think you are offering enough.

I personally wouldn't want my nanny to also do housework because I think it will eventually cause the nanny to harbor resentment for the parent, especially if the pay and hours they are offering are very unfair. I would rather have her/him be focused on my child and have someone a few days of the week come in and clean.

Another option said...

Another thing you may want to consider when putting your child in daycare 2 days a week...........what happens when she gets sick, etc? She will undoubtedly miss a few days of daycare for various reasons, what will you do with your daughter then? Perhaps you should pay your nanny a negotiated "on call" rate for those 2 days a week. That way, you have back up when needed, and she may not need to suppliment her income cleaning your house.
As a nanny, I was in this exact situation. My charge started daycare a couple days a week, and rather trying to suppliment with another job, or housekeeping, I was on call. I was available to come in at a moments notice on these days, and while I was able to stay home and do my own housekeeping most days, you would be surprised how often I was "called in". I promise you, your child WILL miss days at daycare, and unless you can just leave work and go, the last thing you want is to not have back up.

nycmom said...

We have had this exact issue more than once as employers due to spacing and ages of our kids. Basically, I agree with everyone above. The key factor is: No, it is not okay to dictate what her duties would be on those two daycare days. Yes, it is okay to come up with a list of things that would be helpful to you as employers and ask if she would be interested in any of those to stay on at 30 hours/week. But you have to be prepared for her to say no.

In our situation, I always open with making it clear how much we respect and value our nanny. Then with the emphasis that I am presenting options and will not hold it against her in any way if these do not work for her, but am also open to her ideas. I explicitly state that if we cannot find a way to work it out, I will provide a great reference AND help her find a job that meets her needs. My primary goal is to make it crystal clear that it is entirely her choice, no obligations, no grudges, no anger and nothing but a positive (even if separating and sad) outcome for her professionally.

I have listed many of the options suggested above including: cooking, some degree of housekeeping, errands, organizing, more personal assistant tasks, cooking, shopping. Another option I have always offered because it would help us and otherwise I would be paying a sitter instead is the option of shifting hours to do a date night weekly or other alternate hours that would be helpful.

I have done this with 3 different nannies and they have each made slightly different choices, but each enabled us to maintain their hours. Each also resulted in them having much more downtime, which I was fine with as they work very hard with my kids, but maintained availability for school holidays (essentially some on call time without any substantial work). Plus, if you want a long tenure with one caregiver, this is just the reality of the concessions you make as an employer and I believe it is both worth it for my family for the consistency and one of the few non-monetary perks of the job that I can offer someone who has done an outstanding job for us for years. By far the preferred option has always been flex hours in the form of slightly longer workdays some days and a date night. I have also had nannies elect some increase in cooking, shopping, organizing, and family laundry.

None have ever wanted to heavy housekeeping and, honestly, I was relieved. I do not find that a combined hker/nanny role works well. Inevitably, the provider is much more interested in and dedicated to one role, understandably, and the other is done at a less than excellent level. To be clear, I do NOT think housekeeping is demeaning or gross or any other pejorative term. My first real job at 14yo was cleaning vacation villas and I took pride in a job well done. But I do think the skillset and personality of someone who elects to do heavy housekeeping is quite different than that of your outstanding nanny. For example, our prior weekly housekeeper of roughly 9 years had ZERO interest in even occasional babysitting, would not have been good at it, but was an excellent housekeeper -- dedicated, responsible, hard working and maintained her performance over 9 years which I find is quite rare in that field.

Anecdotally, I did trial with a nanny for just nannying who was a hker/nanny for many years. She was an incredibly hard worker ... but clearly much more dedicated to and driven to clean than focus on the kids. Not intentionally and not in a neglectful way, just how she saw her job and role. It's hard to separate the jobs, even if done on different days, and they tend to bleed into one another and negatively affect the performance of each role. I do not doubt there is the rare person who has equal interest and love for both jobs and can do both equally well, but that would be a very rare exception. GL.

Nanny Sarah said...

I agree that two years old is much too young to be worried about "socializing" and such. There will be plenty of time in the future for all of that...let your child be a child right now. ♥

I say keep your current nanny, yet encourage her to take your child to kid-friendly outings such as library story times, parks/playgrounds, the zoo, etc...

Nanny1 said...

I disagree with others in that you need to get your child accustomed to pre-k setting early to make the best transitions. My charge started pre-k at age 2 and she has transitioned wonderfully. She is now 4 going 5 days a week. A 2 day schedule for a 2 year old is necessary. I'm sure you did good research as far as the program!
When my charge started pre-k, my hours shifted to later in the day and my hours start when I pick her up from pre-k. Noon to 7. And yes I'm typically available during sick days and all vacation days! When her parents come home from work they still spend time with her, I'm just responsible for her dinner, bedtime routine, etc.
Personally, I would not take on household cleaning. I do grocery shopping, pets, organizing, and personal errands. But not cleaning.

Tessa said...

I think it is wonderful that you are considering the feelings and financial needs of your nanny during this transition. Not all employers are this consierate. Good for you!

I would hope that your nanny would not be insulted since it sounds like you are willing to have an honest discussion about it. If you ask her what she is and is not comfortable with, and let her know how much you like having her as a nanny, and I'm sure you can work out an agreement that makes you both happy.

I also think the gift, bonus nad raise will make her very happy. I think that is very generous!

gypsy said...

In my experience storytime isn't a time to socialize. At least not @ this library. :( My two year old could not even sit still to watch it, he was highly distractable & there was no socialization, so we stopped going. I can read to him @ home.

Bethany said...

The stortytimes in my area are great.

For the little ones they do alot of songs, sometimes a short story,or puppets all no longer than 15 minutes and then they bring out the toys and the kids play, sometimes they play together.

It's never an issue if a little one can't sit still, as long as they aren't harming themselves or another they and their caregiver are allowed to move about.

Some of them even incorporate wiggle time into the story telling.

I agree it's a great way to meet other nannies and kids if you're looking for a playdate.

Bethany said...

I was wondering if, OP is willing I bet there is anothe mom in the same boat in their rural area looking for a little socialization for their little one.

Maybe if you checked out the mommy groups in your area or Care.com you could find someone who would like to arrange playdates a couple times a week.

Bethany said...

It's too bad you had such a terrible experience with your son gypsy. Sounds like they weren't prepared for reading to very young children.

gypsy said...

Thanks, Bethany. We tried it three times & decided to stop going. My husbands home as well, so it was the two of us. And between both of us, we just could not control him. That's normal for a two year old, right? Of course!! But in a group of roughly 20 kids,; he was always the only one constantly moving about the room. The vibe the story teller was giving off made us feel uncomfortable. I guess at least here storytelling is a time to sit on your parents lap for twenty minutes & to do some dancing & singing, but no interacting with peers. :( He is four now & a bit calmer, but not much. Unfortunatly the story telling is definately not a social experience where we live. Its okay now though because he is in preschool 2.5 hrs/day. I just wish we had a better experience. Thanks for being so caring.

Nom de Plume said...

Typically when children have entered school, the duties change to include things such as errands-think dry cleaning, grocery shopping, bulk shopping, etc. It usually doesn't move into housekeeping other than perhaps organizing-pantry, toys, closets, etc.

Currently I make beds (not wash sheets), put dishes in dishwasher, put them away, put toys away (although I'm coming down hard on making the kids do this themselves), prep dinner/cook dinner, grocery shop, dry clean, bulk shop, take care of pets (my choice, it took boss years to let me do this).

cookiemonster said...

Agree w MissMannah. I am super impressed with how considerate you are for your nanny, she is lucky to have an employer like you! But really, why on earth do you need a nanny AND daycare?? Playdates are just not that hard to arrange. That's what I do for my 2 year old charge, and it works great. I would try that first for a while and see how it works out. If you're not satisfied, then have a sit down w your nanny and tell her word for word what you told us. Maybe she loves to cook, clean, and likes your idea. Personally, though, I would NOT want to be a two-day-a-week maid instead of childcare professional. :P No way.
If I were your nanny, I would be more interested in the nanny share idea. More money, more fun with two kids, ON THE CONDITION that she gets approve the additional family. Most nannies are particular about which families they want to work with - similar discipline styles, etc.

MomToMissA said...

Hello Everyone, OP here.

Thank you so much for your feedback. It has been very, very helpful and you have provided me with some great insights and wonderful suggestions. I had a great conversation with our nanny and we worked out a plan that works for both her and our family.

For those who posed questions to me:
Why daycare at 2? When I say we are rural and there's nothing for toddlers, it's not an exaggeration. The nearest museum (children's or otherwise), zoo, etc. is a 3-hour drive. The library cancelled Storytime and that was the only toddler friendly activity in town. I will be enrolling our daughter in a 45 minute/week tumbling class, which I will take her to, but that’s structured in a way where there isn’t time to do free play and interaction (this is the only “class” available for 2 year olds in town). Here at the Gates of Hades it’s a very hot and boring place to live and while we have a house full of toys and activities, and we regularly try and escape to civilization on weekends, the weekdays have just grown very mundane for our little lady. She needs variety and interaction with other children.

As for the nanny share, I actually approached a couple of moms about that individually several months back and there wasn't any interest. They are all SAHMs and when they need childcare they just take their children to the child development center on base (everyone we know here is military). After doing thorough research, we opted to send our daughter to the facility on base as well. It is new, bright, and brimming with activities (including covered, permanent water-play areas for toddlers) and is nationally accredited. Our daughter knows two of the children that are going to be in her “class” already and it will be easy for dad to pop-in around lunch to say high, read books, etc. She will be there from 8 am – 2 pm, 2 days a week (which includes a 2 hr naptime). We are hoping this will prove a good blend of home and away and will help her to get socializing with other children her age.

Yes, our nanny is married and has a teenage daughter who is very active in sports, which is why 30 hours works well for her. She is off by 1 daily, giving her a chance to be there for her own child. Her hourly rate is significantly higher than most workers (nanny or otherwise) in this area. We firmly believe in offering a living wage to any employee, but most especially to the person caring for our beloved child.

Thanks again for all the feedback and advice.