Tuesday

Is on-the-job Reading Fundamental?

OPINION
Question for nannies and parents, from a parent. What do you think about nannies bringing a book to read while taking care of a child? I am not talking about during naptime, or about occasional short term babysitting jobs. I am asking about a full-time nanny who brings books to work every day for personal leisure reading while the kids are awake. Are there situations where this would be more/less appropriate? Does pay scale make a difference here? I mean, is the expectation different for nannies who ask for below-market vs. above-market rates? Is the answer any different if instead of doing leisure reading, it is doing leisure activities on a smartphone? Thanks for input. - Anonymous

15 comments:

VA nanny said...

I do that, in my past jobs and present job. My present job is different because I watch an infant who is asleep about 60% of the time I'm working.

In my past jobs I always had a book and/or a book on my iPhone. I was running kids to and from activities, and I would read if I was waiting for the kids. Waiting in the pickup line, at the doctor's office, etc. I sometimes read during the dull parts of activities as well, like the running portion of basketball practice. And sometimes MB wanted me to bring the youngest to the park where she would meet us, and I would read while the two of them were having their time.

I'm also one who texts on the job and is not ashamed to admit it. My bosses text me during the day, and in my previous job I was also texting the other household staff. My current bosses constantly ask me to look stuff up for them on my phone, I use it to play music to my charge, and I play games on it while he's sleeping. I would text while I was at the park or somewhere similar and my kids were playing with friends. If the kids are playing happily and don't need hands on attention at the moment, I see nothing wrong with sending a text or browsing a website. Obviously I always kept them in my line of site and peripheral vision while looking at the phone, but I don't think it's necessary to entertain them all the time, or stare at them while they play.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

If the child is older..say older than 3 or so, it is okay for the Nanny to read briefly while the child plays independently near by. I am an avid reader and can read as well as keep an eye on a child. I used to do this when my own children were younger. I would only have a problem if the Nanny did this the majority of the time she was working. As a Nanny, I like to engage the child, however for the older ones, I like them to play independently at times as well.

If a Nanny is making below market rate, then she probably will not be up to par like the ones who make more. If you pay your Nanny a low rate, then basically you are just paying her to baby-SIT...to sit with your child until you get back.

MissMannah said...

This sounds really weird to me. Yes, I love reading and I bring a book and my laptop with me everyday to work. But I only use them when the child is sleeping. The only time I have read while the children were up was when I had preschoolers and I would often read the newspaper while they ate their breakfast and dressed themselves for the day.

RBTC said...

within reason - reading is sacred,jackie kennedy said her husband JFK had mastered the art of reading while taking a shower - and while tieing his tie

Belle Vierge said...

In both of my live-in au pair jobs, my kids were older (4-12). Like VA nanny said, I daily had to wait for the kids from school, soccer, music, dance, etc. I also had to sit with the kids each day while they did their homework, or they wouldn't do it. They didn't always need my help, though, so I did a lot of reading or internet browsing then.

I honestly think it depends on the situation. A lot of factors would be at play here.

Blythe said...

Sometimes the kids (9 and 12) and I have reading time, when we all read. No one is getting ignores, and it is just a lovely time. I think reading (and enjoying it) at a responsible time sets a great example for kids.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Depends on the ages of the child. If they can happily look at books/read independently, having a daily "reading time" is a great idea. I think surfing the web isn't the best idea, if only because it encourages screen time, which most kids get far too much of anyway!

If they are younger, I save my reading/surfing for nap time.

N is for Nanny said...

I agree that it depends on the ages of the child(ren). I nanny for older kids and frequently read while waiting for them at their activities. I sit in a waiting room during the thirty minute music lesson, as there isn't time to go home and the lesson is between my charge and her teacher. The youngest is in preschool and does not nap, but we do have quiet time a few afternoons per week. Sometimes she'll read books or relax with her animals on her bed and other times we'll read books on the couch. Sometimes I read to her, but other times we read our books separately - it usually depends on how much (if any) independent time she's had that day. When we read separate books, we talk about our books afterwards, as part of that is my modeling reading habits. I also sometimes read with my older charges when they are doing their "free reading" for school. (Other times I'm helping one of their siblings with something or making dinner.) Unlike when working with infants, I am much more aware of the titles and cover art of my books with older kids. "Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen" might seem like a reasonable book to read at work...until a seven-year-old asks you what the title means.

I think it would be odd to read while my charge played with Play-Doh or did an art project. We usually do these activities together or at least talk and interact while she does them. I feel similarly, although slightly less so about smartphone use as I think people are more apt to put a smartphone down mid text than a book down mid sentence. I don't think age of the child or rate of pay are excuses to do so.

Manhattan Nanny said...

The only time I read is when my charges are either asleep, or in the case of older kids, if I am waiting for them in a class. When I stay in the evening I sit with them and read while they do homework or read their own books.

While ideally a nanny receiving a below market salary should still be engaged with her charges and not ignoring them by reading or playing on her phone, I think the reality is, if you pay poorly, your nanny may only do the minimum.

melissa said...

I, too, only read when my charges are asleep. Then again, my charges are young (2 and 8 months). I do occasionally text or look at my phone, but that's really during breakfast or lunch, and that's only when the baby is done eating and playing happily in her high chair. I guess I do think its weird to read a book or magazine while the children are with you though. I think as a nanny you (in general) should be engaging the children as much as you can. When they're older, I do see a difference though.

serenissima said...

Agreed with everyone that we need a bit more info, what you're describing sounds odd... I'm an avid reader and definitely read during nap time and/or wait time with older kids (I was also known to occasionally catch a nap in the waiting room during my 13-year-old charges hour and a half ballet practice lol). I've also had infants that refused to sleep unless being rocked, so I'd literally walk figure eights throughout the house with a sleeping baby in one arm and 'Memoirs of a Geisha' in the other.

MissWi said...

My charge is one, plays well alone and I sit there and study all day. Not a problem. If she needs me she walks up.to me and I take a study break until.she gets bored of me then its back to playing for her and back to studying for me.
No biggie

Nanny S said...

If the nanny is a professional, she doesn't need to be micromanaged like this. Bringing a book/time on her phone can be left to her discretion and good judgment.

I, for one, would not ever work for an employer who specifically told me "no texting or reading during working hours" or anything of the sort.

If a nanny is putting the children first, you know it. If she isn't, you know it. Everything else are just details.

knittynanny said...

I bring a book everywhere. It stays in my purse. I don't read it unless my charge is sleeping. I have on occasion browsed pinterest while he was awake to find project ideas.

nycmom said...

I would be fine with my nanny bringing a book and reading during naps or times when kids are at a class. But reading while at the park or during active work time is a big NO for me. I don't do it and I don't want a caregiver doing it. I am actually fine with my nanny taking a phone call while the kids play safely and independently, assuming they are in an age-appropriate, safe area. While talking, you can still keep eyes on the kids. While reading or texting, your head is down and you can easily lose sight of kids. I use this rule for myself too.

I would not be okay with a nanny or even a high school sitter reading while the kids are awake and unengaged unless it were during limited TV time. I am fine with some TV on my watch or a caregivers depending on the length of the work day. A nanny working 8-12 hours in a day needs and deserves to have TV/video games available for an hour or two. A sitter working for 4 hours does not.

Our ft nanny now has 10/40 hours a week with ZERO kids to care for. This is because, as many working parents know, hiring pt nannies is often unreliable and I need the security of ft care. I expect her to use this time productively as needed, and we agreed on lots of little things she doesn't mind doing then (organizing, tidying, errands, shopping; no cleaning ; ). I also assume she takes a break and rests some during this, or occasionally goes to pick up her own child. But if I consistently found she was reading, sleeping or otherwise doing nothing during most the majority of that time, I would reevaluate employing someone ft.

I have had pt nannies who I have discovered frequently surfing the web or texting while "working." They do not last long and are a not a good fit for our family. I think if you are going to work, you should expect to be mostly working with a fair break. You should not expect to be using regular work time for your own leisure.

I do not think pay scale makes a difference. I do think it matters on lots of things. A nanny or sitter paid on the low end who I hired for a date night or a few hours, I would not expect anything other than childcare. A higher paid nanny often assumes other duties and ensures the entire home runs smoothly in my absence. But I would not expect nor trade off lower pay for decreased attentiveness by essentially not doing childcare while being paid for it. This may be a personal choice as employers certainly cannot expect to have the same job description for a huge pay differential.