Nanny Errs with More than Occasional Errands

I wrote a while back about a nanny share (which we ultimately nixed). Totally different question: How many personal errands do you think are reasonable for a nanny to do "on the clock"? Our nanny seems to do at least one personal errand every day (Target, JoAnn, the bank, meeting her mom/sister for lunch to discuss her sister's wedding, wedding errands, etc). Don't get me wrong, I sometimes run errands as "entertainment" but we have a zoo pass and aquarium and I have to specifically request she take them there and she seems irritated at times because she's planned some other errand on days I ask her to go.

My sense is an OCCASIONAL errand is fine, but more like 1x/week or less. But how do I discuss this with her or define? She has days off during the week so having stuff not open on her day off is no excuse although I know she doesn't get a lunch break like you would for most jobs (but most of these errands she would be unlikely able to accomplish in an hour...) Thanks! - Marty


MissWi said...

I think that depends on YOU. Granted she should know that there are limits that she needs to enforce on herself but you need to set limits as well.
I worked for a family that didn't allow me to do any errands. And that was fine I obeyed their rules.
Now I work for a family that is pretty chill. I go to the mall, and let my dogs out in days the pet sitter can't come. I do a lot of things that other families may not find acceptable for personsal errands but I ALWAYS ASK FIRST. I also make sure everything is clean before I leave and anything I was asked done in case.we get back late. And i don't do it everyday
she should be asking you. She is your employee...make the rules

NannyLala said...

It all depends on your comfort level. YOU are the employer, YOU need to let your nanny know if you feel she is doing too many personal items on the clock. Especially since she has days off during the week, I wold not expect her to need to run personal errands on a daily basis, this seems excessive in my opinion. Many nannies work 50+ hours a week, and in this case, may need to run some errands on the clock. I try to avoid doing personal errands during work hours and if the need arises, I ALWAYS okay it with the parents first.

RBTC said...

the errands are interfering with her job with you? that's just wrong.

Lyn said...

I am probably going to get some backlash from other Nannies for saying this but: I don't think running personal errands while on the job is acceptable. I would never even consider taking my charges to target because I realized I needed more socks or lightbulbs. I can't think of any job that allows their employee to run personal errands while on the clock. The closest I think a Nanny should get to doing personal errands while working is using her smart phone during nap time to pay her pay her bills.

I imagine if you are a Nanny who works hours that don't allow you access on your off time to deposit your checks, that your MB/DB would and should be understanding about a quick trip through the drive thru. Other than that none of what you listed is acceptable in my book.

Belle Vierge said...

You haven't provided enough information on her schedule for me to give a good answer to this. When I was a live-in au pair, whether or not I did personal errands on the clock varied from day to day, week to week.

One week, the kids didn't have school, AND both the parents were out-of-town for business for three days. So, yeah, after dropping one kid off at a playdate, I would swing by the bank or Starbucks or whatever.

But during weeks when all three kids were in school, and the parents weren't gone on business, I kept personal errands to school hours.

It just depends on the hours she's working. I know you said she has days off during the week, but if her errands involve small businesses, it's totally possible they're closed those days. Plus sometimes things just come up unexpectedly.

Clearly you see this as a problem, so I would talk to her about it. Open communication is always best.

Belle Vierge said...

I did just think of another thing, for clarification. Is she taking your kids with her to meet her mom/sister for lunch? Or are your kids in school, but she's "on call" during those hours? I just realized "on the clock" could mean different things.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

You shouldn't have to ask the nanny over and over to take your kids to the zoo or aquarium.

While I think it is okay to run a personal errand every now and then, I think the children's activities should take precedence first.

For example, she can take the kids out to the zoo and whatnot 3-4x week, then maybe one day she can take them w/her to Target or Wal-Mart, etc.

I have taken my charge w/me to run errands, but only if I know he will get something out of it. For example, I would never take him w/me to get an oil change because there is nothing about that that would interest him. However, I have taken him w/me to get the car washed because he loves watching the car go through the water, etc.

whats the big deal? said...

I think it's good for kids to get taken out and about around town. I encourage my nanny to take my kids anywhere and every where. What would be the difference of a SAHM taking the kids to run around town?

Honestly who wants to go to the zoo once a week?

I would never put restrictions on places they could go. The only request like that I have made is that they play outside everyday. I don't care where. ( hopefully not in the street!)

I think if the kids are getting loving care from their nanny it shouldn't matter that the nanny needs to run some errands. Kids enjoy outings. I know my kids love starbucks and the fabric store. One commenter said she would never take her charge to get an oil change. Why not? It's educational and part life.

I guess I just don't coddle my kids. I also don't think the world revolves around them. Kids should be taken out into the world and experience things that are outside of the playground and zoo.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

I won't even grab things *I* need from Target when I am there for my employers. They don't pay me to shop for myself.

If I have to do something that I can't do outside of work hours, and it won't bore a charge to death, I'll ask permission to run that errand with charge. If I don't get the OK, then I arrange to take the time off if needed.

Bethany said...

Generally speaking it's best to save personal errands for your off hours.

Sometimes things do come up that need to be done, in those cases I would let the parents know the situation and ask to go with the kids.

For example I once discovered I had to fax papers over for school that day and basically that hour or would not have been eligible for enrollment. I told mom the situation and she was fine with us going to Staples.

So I agree with you about errands and you shouldn't have to beg your nanny to take the kids places.

None!! said...

Let me ask you this? How many non nanny related jobs do you make her do every day?

NanonymouslyYours said...

I never do personal errands on the job unless I have no other time to do it. If I am however running to the store for MB, I'll pick up a few items that I need.

I also run through the bank drive thru every two weeks bc MB pays me via personal check (no worries I am taxed) every other Friday morning. By the time I get off work and home, the banks are usually closed. MB knows I do this and has no issues.

If I do have to do something personal on the job, I always, ALWAYS ask MB first. She's never said no, I respect her enough to ask though even though I know she'll say yes.

Village said...

Yeah-How many? I want to know, too.

Two wrongs don't make a right, but I still want to know.

This sounds like the nanny is being paid to take the children with her as she runs her errands and socializes. I wouldn't be down with that. This nanny sounds out of control, which means the mother is out of control. A conversation needs to be had about activities every single day until this nanny realizes her priority when she is working is the children, not her errands and social life.

RBTC said...

i hope the mom will get back to us and let us know what happens - it's clear that she would reasonably let the nanny run a few errands but the nanny is getting irritated with doing the job instead of errands - taking advantage

once i trained and sent two women as contactors to lead a storytime at a major venue, i arrive there to find they have all their own six kids there, running everywhere - the 2 women expect to be paid to watch and care for their own kids on the job

When i tried to explain why this was not acceptable - BOY did they get mad.

The point is - unlike the posters above - there are some people that feel entitled to be paid for personal time - i hope this lady's nanny will be open to understanding what is professional

OP said...

I'm the OP. my kids are almost 2 and 3.5. Our nanny either has Monday or Friday off each week (we set schedule 2 weeks in advance) and works 40-42/hrs per week. She never works weekends and lives out. My 3 year old attends preschool two mornings per week.

I have asked her to get milk on 2-3 occassions when we were running low, but otherwise have never asked for any personal errands. She doesn't do laundry. Just keeps kids areas tidy and washes dishes she uses. I love how some people on this site assume the worst...ALWAYS.

Anyway...I think it spun out of control because it started with her wanting to do "playdates" with her cousin who is also a nanny. I said ok, and since then it's just been gradually more and more family commitments and errands. I don't know how to cut it back now...totally black and white? Or "ask me first"?

The bank thing is weird...bc we pay her by direct deposit?

And our zoo is huge...indoor/outdoor areas, picnic areas, playground, acres and acres to explore. So yeah, they could easily go 2x/ week and my kids would not get bored. Or no more bored than they would be at Target!!!

OP said...

And one more thing...I take my kids to do errands all the time on weekends...I want them to have real life experiences but I don't want to pay someone $18/hr (plus taxes!) to drag then around town when I've set things up for them to have more enriching experiences like the zoo and aquarium!

Comparing a nanny to a SAHM is a completely unfair comparison to nannies and my opinion.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

OP, I think you need to have a meeting with your nanny and explain that you want her to save her personal errands for her off time. With a weekday off every week, that should be a pretty easy thing to do!

If you don't ask her to run regular work errands or even do kid laundry, she's got it pretty easy.

Maybe the best approach would be to meet and discuss her weekly "plan" for your kids, emphasizing that you want the kids to have a field trip every week, a play date every week, a playground trip every week...basically make her create a schedule that eliminates her errand time.

Out of curiosity, what do you pay this nanny? I ask because IME nannies who feel underpaid often decide to get their stuff done while being paid. Not saying this is the case for you, especially since she does NO household stuff, but I'm curious anyhow!

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Holy $#!+ - where do you live? That rate of pay means there's NO excuse for your nanny's poor performance.

Have you considered putting her on probation and letting her go if she doesn't shape up?

Village said...

OP, then tell the nanny, no errands and no socializing. I think you should construct a schedule that is shockingly, child oriented. Schedule her every hour with all the experiences you want your child to have. If she has an emergency errand, she needs permission first. And NO playdates.

That's why it's BOSS Mom. This is going to be a cultural shock for her. Does she even want to be with your children all day? She isn't going to be happy. You may have to consider a new nanny for your children, so she can't take out her unhappiness on them. Just a thought.

True Romance said...

I think this is a "BOSS DAD" gals.

RBTC said...

OP - don't let the "assuming the worst " posters bother you - every Op gets one - the rest of us have great respect for your position

i don't think this is going to work well, i hope i am wrong, -- there is a "type" of person who is manipulative and entitled

When i have tried to deal with people like this - 1, they do not react well and 2, i have to watch them closely to make sure they stop double dipping - getting my money for texting,talking on the phone - doing everything BUT what i am paying them for

the above advice is really good - your nanny has been able to manipulate your good will for an extended period of time - she's had a good run - getting paid to hang out with family/banking etc so she can do her own thing on her days off

it's really not fair to your children - you are paying good money for someone to run errands with them instead of the activities you wish for them

let us know what happens

Village said...


Flick said...

This is always a grey area, children learn so much from a trip to Walmart. I once had a charge who nearly every day said can we go to Walmart?? He loved it do I took him he wanted to look, we also went to the dollar store every week because he could choose craft stuff.
Now I was paid weekly by check so we would go to the bank and he loved going through the drive up as he got a sucker, we would also go to the park, stay home. I kept being asked by my mb to go to the zoo with the pass. She didn't seem to understand its 100 outside I had no a/c in my car so short trips only possible, it was an hour away downtown and her son would be ready for a nap as soon as we got there!! Hence why we never went,
Find the happy middle. Also as far as lunch. It's a good thing if it's someone you can trust. After all they are teaching your children how to behave jn these

Cookie said...

As a professional nanny, I TOTALLY agree that personal errands are inappropriate - wow, especially for that pay grade! Maybe an occasional 20 min stop once or twice a month - (drive through bank, quick Target run for emergency pads!) At my last job I was paid $15 an hour (midwest, so a fair wage) and I did laundry, cooked meals, did grocery shopping with the kids, and STILL had time to take the 1 and 3 year old to a fun outing at least 3 days a week - zoo, library, park, museum, swimming etc.

Shame on your nanny for being so lazy and not putting effort into making your kids lives fun and educational. I would seriously think about replacing her. Perhaps try requiring she fill out a log detailing their activities hour by hour (ex, make a line for 8:00am, 9:00am etc). That's what a daycare does. A nanny shouldn't have any trouble doing the same.
Also, if you don't have a contract, or have a vague contract, make up a new one!!!!!!!!! Put in there what you want her to do (zoo, etc) and NOT do (errands) and make her sign it if she wants to be employed by you.
Be kind and tactful, but firm - try using the "I'm doing this for the kids" reason, so you don't sound like the bad guy :)

gypsy said...

I would like to hear the nannys side of the story. I bet she has issues with MB. This is a symptom of a larger lack of communication problem.

How many personal errands should be done "on the clock?" In an *ideal* situation none. this an "ideal" situation? We don't know.

A possible solution would be to sit down with the nanny & create a new work agreement. Making sure that the MB isn't taking advantage of her nanny. And also...making sure the nanny isn't taking advantage of her MB.

You both have needs that aren't being met. You need a sit down asap to revamp this whole situation, if there is any hope. Otherwise unspoken resentment & misunderstanding will silently grow & sabatoge any hope for a healthy arrangement. Since children are involved it makes it all that much more worth working out the kinks. Its my belief that a new detailed agreement protecting the interest of both parties will be the saving grace.

Lots of Irish luck. ;-)

hmmm said...

I have had jobs where i've worked 60 hours or more a week, so yes, the kids came to the bank with me and picked up packages at UPS. At my current job other employees think it is reasonable to stop by their boyfriends house to eat donuts and play call of duty with their boyfriends when they work three days a week.

there is absolutely a scale of taking advantage in our job. Can i schedule playdates with women i like? yes. Can I buy pet food while the kids squeeze every squeak toy in the store and imagine collars for different dogs they know? maybe. Can i shop for my own clothes while the kids shreik in their stroller and I cram doritos in their mouth (if they are lucky)? absolutely not! and those nannies all deserve an ass kicking. we are NOT SAHM's, we are paid employees there to do things in a structured way and to enrich our kids days.

AussieNanny said...

As a nanny I can honestly say that this should not be happening! Sure I have picked up a birthday card or something for myself while at the store for/with my employer but no way would I plan to meet family members or just go ahead and choose how we spend our day acording to what I feel like or need to do. I listen to ideas from my boss and 99% of the time we do the activity which was suggested to me.

I can remember 1 time when I popped in to pick up some medicine at my house when I had forgotten it.

Put a stop to this, it is not fair on the kids and yourself and she is taking advantage!!

Hate the zoo said...

I hate the zoo, always depressing for me. It would be a deal breaker for me to take kids to the zoo once a week. I'll got to the park, pool, library, everyday, just hate the zoo though! Personal errands should be allowed, one a day (20min or less) after all she's working 10 hour days with no breaks! This stuff should be fun for your kids ask them if they like going to those places with the nanny, as long ask they are going to the park or library after. In the winter those little erands can be fun!

RBTC said...

if i rememeber the nanny in question has at least 3 days a week off. She is getting irritated with the MB for assigning places to go with the kids because it will interfere with her personal errands - not a good sign especially being paid a very fair wage

Guilty said...

So I'm the person who assumed the worse, because as a nanny, I seem to get parents who take advantage of me (because I allow them). I was curious if you treat her poorly because I have no shame in giving what I get.

But in all fairness you seem fine. You pay well. You pay on the books. And perhaps you live in an at will state? I thinly that means you can fire her whenever.

I simply bring that up because perhaps its time to shred the old contact and tell her you are redoing the contract. Or rehiring her- if she'd like to stay. Because quite frankly she is being totally inappropriate.

In one of my contracts a family wrote "you will get paid x per hour" and then they also added that if I needed time off for a doctors apt or personal errand that they would pay me at a reduced rate ie 5 instead of 10. Alternatively I could just take the time off unpaid. BUT any personal time needed a 48h written notice and restricted to 1 every 2 weeks.. I thought it was fair.

Granted they were cheap asses who didn't honor my 40 hour a week salary and I never took the kids with me to the doctor. I always made them come home at their inconvenience :)

My point is simply it would help her cut that out because honestly she has 4 other days a week to get that done. You can also tell her you prefer no more playtime with cousin and want her to do playtime at your home with crafts and education instead. Let's be honest she is probably yapping her day away hangin out with cousin.

MissMannah said...

At my current job, I have weekends and one day a week off. (changes weekly, but I always have notice) That is when I get all my stuff done. I also only work between 7-9 hours a day so I can run errands in the evening. I have no problem with this and wouldn't dream of taking the baby along with me to run errands.

However, at a former job, I worked 11-12 hour days Mon-Fri so I occasionally had to run some errands with the 4-year-old in tow. But if we ran a boring errand (pharmacy), I always made sure we did a fun one afterwards (pet store or carwash were his favorites).

I think you and your nanny need to revisit the contract. If she is unwilling to stop running so many errands, replace her. She seems very selfish and doesn't have your children's best interest at heart.

oh well said...

If you haven't done so before, now would be a good time to do some "spying" on the nanny. If she enjoys being with your kids and is doing a good job when you are not around, then I would sit down with her and tell her that she needs to stop doing personal errands. If she is ignoring them, I would let her go. Trust your instincts.

another nanny said...

I don't recall what the nanny share situation was that you posted about...was it another instance of you nanny trying to take advantage of you? If so, there may be a pattern emerging here.

Yes, occasionally a nanny, even a nanny with a day off during the week, may have to stop by the bank or post office or do something else urgent that for some reason cannot be done during work hours. If your nanny does have a weekday off each week, I would expect her errands during work time to be maximum of once a week. What are your children getting out of "shopping for a wedding" anyway? And it's not even the nanny's own wedding!
I agree with a pp who suggested sitting down with her to create a schedule for the week of what you would like the children to be doing. You may have to include contingency plans for weather, etc, to avoid your nanny using that as an excuse for why she didn't follow the plan (maybe when it's too hot for the zoo, they could go to the library instead). I also agree with checking up on her during the day, because her focus does not seem to be on the kids at all.
As a side note, have you met her relatives? I would not be okay with my kids spending so much time with them if I hadn't met them.

dory said...

I have to agree with the last few posters here: especially the one about dropping in or having a friend the nanny doesn't know, peek in on your kids. Sorry, but I have a bad feeling you're being taken advantage of here and this nanny is NOT giving your kids all the attention they need. It seems like she only cares about herself and honestly, from what you described, is the perfect candidate for being a "park bench nanny".

Please, look into it!! Let us know what you find out, ok?

Lazy nanny said...

You're paying top dollar to a woman who shouldn't be a nanny. How is she enriching their lives educationally by having an attitude when you ask her to entertain your kids with activities they like?! She has 3 days a week off and she still thinks she "needs" to do errands while on the clock?! You're being taken advantage of, an so are your poor kids :(. Sit down with your husband and talk to her. BUT make sure you document, also have a friend follow her to see what she does. If she doesn't listen, after the sit down- fire her. Someone else in need of a job with a bg heart for learning and kids is around the corner. Your family is better off without her, who does she think she is?

OP said...

Op again! Sorry it took me so long. Yes, I think we have poor communication, yes I think she's entitled, and yes...I think it's nearing time to part ways.

She has aims of being a professional nanny for a very wealthy family (2 of her friends work for millionaire families) and because we aren't that family, she's always pushing for more perks. We pay her a VERY fair wage and offer vacation and sick leave....but she got mad we were unwilling to pay half of her insurance a few weeks back. We literally are at the end of our budget and have sacrificed a lot of our own luxuries to afford her...and she's not worth it.

Pretty sure she reads this blog...but she's so clueless she might not make the connection (I also changed some details...)

Thank you all for the advice. Sometimes you just need to hear support for what you already knew had to happen.

RBTC said...

When i tried to work it out with 2 women who worked for me who had a similar attitude, it did not go well - they were very put out with me for not letting them bring their kids to work, outlining exact expectations/activities that took more energy

If i was not RIGHT THERE watching they would ignore everything and do everything i said not to - and then laugh and make jokes about it - i am not saying your young lady is like that..but...let us know what happens - best of luck - you sound like a good family to work with!

ciao nanny said...

OP I am so happy you are reaching the light.... yes you pay a fair wage. Now listen if you paid her a tiny salary and she asked for insurance benefits I would think it is fair. But NO. Not for this kind of work. Do you really want a snooty nanny to care for your children? And by snooty I mean someone who acts entitled.

Listen, my husband is a surgeon and I nanny and have nannied for gazillionaires. I nanny because I love it today. It's a professional job but also my hobby at this point. (Dont be offended career nannies.) It can be hard working for some families whose wives wonder why I have nicer clothing than they do sometimes and an odd dynamic but not even I run around making such ludicrous demands for errands. I believe you get what you pay for. You are not getting what you are paying for though. Hang in there and let us know how the talk goes.

Newdriver01 said...

Uh... Can I work for you? ;) just kidding, but seriously, I love your philosophy. I am a nanny and am more and more disagreeing with what my job is. I wouldn't want my kids to have someone hovering over them and trying to engage them all the time. I would want them to go experience real life, and sometimes be bored. However, as a nanny, getting irritated at being asked to take them to the zoo or aquarium seems unprofessional. She should be excited about taking them fun places as well as daily outing to the store or jiffy lube. Kids should get a variety!