Nanny Responsibilities & Expectations: Consider This Before You Say, "Not in My Job Description, Not My Job!" by Matthew Lister

Opinion Career
2 months ago
Nanny Responsibilities & Expectations: Consider This Before You Say, "Not in My Job Description, Not My Job!"

Loading a dishwasher, pet sitting or taking out garbage.

I am a nanny. Those tasks are not my job and not in my job description! Or are they? If I hear one more nanny kvetch about having to put dishes from the sink into the dishwasher, I will scream!

If your nanny family pays you guaranteed hours and asks you to pet sit while they are away, then do it! It all boils down to this question: What really is the job of a nanny?

Most think a nanny is there to feed and change the children, put them down for naps and keeping them safe – anything child specific. In my opinion, the job of a nanny is to do all tasks while caring for the children that will allow the parents to come home from work and immediately give full attention to their children.

Our job is to provide quality care to enhance the family. And we can only do that when we go above and beyond. If a floor needs swept – sweep it. Do minor cleanup jobs if necessary.

For all those nannies out there who say, “That is not my job,” you might want to learn the concept of going above and beyond! You will want extra hours sometime, or take an extra day or even want a great reference; going above and beyond will help with that.

Maybe “not my job” is not the right attitude to have. This helps me decide who is a professional nanny and which ones are just in this industry for the money. If you can’t take five minutes to help the family, then maybe you’re in the wrong industry, because being a nanny is helping a family.

I hope some will reconsider their views and make positive changes accordingly.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

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Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
What a great perspective! "the job of a nanny is to do all tasks while caring for the children that will allow the parents to come home from work and immediately give full attention to their children." That is awesome, Matthew Lister . Great piece, thank you!
Francisco Santa Isabel Martin
In my case I am unemployed so I am the nanny of my twins. It is harder than commute every day but the reward is awesome
Mike Prochaska
i know i read the first draft of this and i was like dude you have to submit this as a tip so everyone can read!
sara44
I am a nanny, and the responsibilities I have with my family are big, very big, sometimes not worth it.
Ella Paynter
I believe in going over and above as well. There are however those families that take advantage of their nanny. Maybe a second article on how a family should treat their help would be good as well. I have worked for several families and some were great and others were not. I think it all comes down to reasonable expectations.
Matthew Lister
Ella, this is a great idea- I will begin working on that. Thank you for the wonderful suggestion!
Ellie Bishop
This is horribly slanted in such a way that is embarrassing for the industry. Just yuck. It does nothing but create divisiveness. And its rather arrogant.

Those who “complain” as you put it, are often frustrated & at a loss, because they are already going “above & beyond.” They look to others to vent. They need support - not shame. Or nasty criticism.

If you feel the need or desire to “do it all,” that is your personal choice. But why shame others for having professional boundaries? Particularly in an industry where household employees are often oppressed, bullied, harassed - overworked, under paid & under appreciated.

This post amounts to peer shaming. Nannies are not housekeepers or house-managers; or pet sitters. Those who are, are most often paid accordingly based on each role they fill. They are not doormats & should never expect to be one.

Yes, being flexible & helping out when necessary is ALWAYS a great attribute of a good employee (in all professions), But, they DO NOT have to “do it all,” as you put it, to be considered a professional.

Having boundaries & being an advocate for oneself doesn’t = less than.

And being a member of our industry = being supportive of each other.
Mike Prochaska
It not shaming NorthEastNanny them for asking them to do their job. You shouldn’t have to ask Someone to go above and beyond to take care of children’. Matthew is saying you see a mess instead of walking pass it you clean it up. That. 20 minutes you saved a parent could be the 20 minutes they get to spend with their kids before bed. Then they will actually have time to spend time with kids. By the time you goto work, get home let’s say at 6 feed the kids you have to put them bed by 9 because they have school the next day how
Much time does that leave parents with kids. You want to do what is best for the children.
Ellie Bishop
“Do their job.” What exactly are you talking about? And who on earth do you think you are, mansplaining what we do? Back off.

Matthew is specifically saying that regardless of what we are contracted to do - and what we actually do - we should still “do it all.”

We are nannies. If we are housemanager nannies, then yes, the expectations are different. But we are not housekeepers or pet sitters or professional laundresses. We are there to care for children. NOT personal assistants for parents.

Many household employees are exploited, paid illegally & abused. We are not covered by most labor laws outside of the FLSA. Some states have created laws for us, but we have a long way to go.

Its clear to everyone that you are a personal friend of Matthew. Coupled with your nonsensical replies & your weird campaign in social media groups created for nannies. Yes, we see you on facebook sharing this.

Matthew’s blog post or op-ed - or whatever it is - is nothing but an opinion rant, aimed at shaming nannies. The back pedaling by him & the weird, aggressive defense of him by you is gross.
Matthew Lister
Dear NorthEastNanny,
First, thank you for your response. I appreciate it.
I have had two types of responses from this: Good and bad. I respect constructive criticism.

When I wrote this, I was specifically thinking of a specific instance.
If I posted this just for nannies, then I could see how it could be construed as critical or as you put it "shaming" although that was not my intention nor my main audience.

I posted it for the general public- so people see that nannies DO understand how those little "above and beyonds" go a long way, and can really make a difference. I wanted the general public (parents, families, and maybe nannies a little as well) to see that nannies DO take pride in their work and are willing to go above and beyond if treated right.

And if the nannies were reading it, I wanted them to possibly rethink their position on "not my job"-- or at least have the discussion. And for that part of it, I have succeeded. People are discussing what is the roles, and what is and is not acceptable to do that is "above and beyond".

I appreciate your feedback so thank you for responding.
Ellie Bishop
I replied with a lot of emotion & anger. I appreciate your honest reply to me, despite my open hostility.
Jacqueline Cooper
“Above and beyond” is only beyond if it’s appreciated and not expected. Very often nannies do go above and beyond. Do something extra a few times and suddenly the parents never touch that task again assuming the nanny should do it every time. Then the nanny no longer has anything to give for further “above and beyond.” The idea that a nanny is to do any and everything so the parents have to do nothing is ludicrous. According to that, we should be nannies, pet sitters, housekeepers, personal assistants cooks and chimney sweeps. Notice how those all have different titles because they are different jobs. If standing up for what their role is makes them a bad nanny then that shows that their employers never intended to respect their previous agreements about what their role is.
Mike Prochaska
No one said the nanny has to do everything. If you feel like your being taking advantage of you need to COMMUNicate with the family. There no reason for example the kids are playing nicely with legos there no reason you can’t do the dishes or take the garage out or something
Jacqueline Cooper
Mike Prochaska Actually, Matthew Lister did in fact say nannies should do everything. That is what I was commenting on. Yes, a nanny can do the dishes or take out the trash if it’s in their contract or if they just want to. If it’s not in their contract then it should not be expected. Communication is great until it becomes one sided where a nanny is sticking to their work agreement, but a parent isn’t.
Matthew Lister
Jacqueline,
Thank you for your response. It is very thought-provoking.

The fact is, a parent says "I am running late so can you check the mail?" Or "I didn't get the dishwasher loaded can you please help with that" and suddenly many in the nanny groups are screaming "quit because that is not your job. " or "they are clearly trying to take advantage of you." And sometimes a simple "okay if I get a moment I will" would go so far in the level of respect. But a clear "Sorry not my job" is certainly going to make a parent see it as a "them vs. us" and make the nanny be "just the help" rather than someone that is a part of a team of raising a child.

That was the point I was trying to make, very unsuccessfully to some, obviously.
But my target audience was not nannies- it was families (and somewhat nannies) because I wanted families to see that those in our industry DO get it-- sometimes going above and beyond is necessary to keep things flowing as a team.

By the way, one of my jobs is working in a therapy center with children- I all the time mop floors, help others clean their client's throw up, or help unplug a toilet. Clearly not my job as I am not a janitor or a plumber, but I do it because it helps the center function properly and helps save the company money.

Going above and beyond is giving a gift to someone. Not a requirement, just a gift that whether spoken or not, IS appreciated most of the time. Do some parents take advantage of that kindness? Yes. But most appreciate that kindness.

Again, thank you for your response. I appreciate all the feedback.
Ellie Bishop
In fact, the author DID say that we should “do it all” or we are not really nannies.

I am not sure what your role here is, but its clear that you are trolling everyone & lurking in the groups on line.

Matthew: if you have an sense of decency, it would be best to call your weird, lurking PR rep off. We can see what’s going on & it’s disgusting.
Ellie Bishop
Mr Prochaska seems to have infiltrated his way into at least one of the facebook groups; and another of Mr Lister’s “friends” is taking screen shots for him because it seems he was removed.

And yes Matthew, I would talk to you about my thoughts if my name was public. My name is public now, is that better?

Your friend Mike is literally quoting nannies from TNC here in this comment thread. Where do you think he got the quote regarding grace? He is trolling YOUR fellow nannies & making your blunder worse. The company you keep is a reflection of you.
Matthew Lister
I have absolutely no idea about that- please feel free to contact me privately with information on that because none of my friends are doing anything that I know of and I would certainly never encourage that since screenshots and all that are forbidden as far as I understand the rules in every single group. So if someone is doing that, then they should be held accountable.

And one last thing, "NorthEastNanny": I don't hide behind anonymity as you do- would you talk this way about me if you were not anonymous?
Mike Prochaska
I was quoting Matthew FYI!
Mike Prochaska
Job is to help make life easier for parents period. It called having a good work eithic
Mike Prochaska
Taking pride in our job- going above and beyond to ensure parents can spend quality time with their child should be a gift, not a requirement. If it becomes a requirement, then it is a problem- if a family makes it a requirement, then a nanny should speak up.

You say "If you'd like me to show you grace, maybe I'll consider it."
Goodwill/Courtesy (which is what grace is) SHOULD be mandatory in this world-- very very few people do not deserve Goodwill or Courtesy. 99% of the population deserve it.

I am sorry that you feel courtesy and goodwill is something you should be paid for. You get paid to do your job. Goodwill comes from the goodness of your heart and seeing how it helps the child in your care should be payment enough for goodwill gestures.. Matthew Lister (just wanted u to know I Sharing your words here )
Jacqueline Cooper
Mike Prochaska I can’t begin to explain what little sense you make. Or do you just not grasp that hardly ever is a nanny making an issue of a one time request. It’s an every day request that changes it from goodwill to job creep. Courtesy is about mutual respect, if there is more give than there is take in a relationship then it’s not mutual. Mutual would be that if the parent wanted garbage or errands or whatever then they should have asked at time of hire and the nanny would have said yes or no and would have based their rate on it. Employers don’t get to add on extra for free just because they are parents. Nannies do what is agreed upon and often more, but what happens after they leave for the day is not on them. The kids will be fine. If the parent doesn’t get to spend time with the kid because they didn’t do their own laundry that has nothing to do with the nanny.
Matthew Lister
Jacqueline, I can certainly appreciate the "job creep" concept- it happens in almost every industry. You say that if a family wants garbage or errands or whatever they should have asked for that at the time of hire.

Many times things come up (i.e. "can you get the meat out of the freezer to thaw- I forgot this morning before I left the house?" or "Today is garbage day, can you please take the cans out since I forgot.") Not job creep, because it is occasionally/not all the time and not required (the nanny can say no, or "if I get a chance I will" )

So many think that the parents are out to get us and that we have to look out because they will try to get away with it if we allow it once or twice.
You are correct- mutual is important- but mutual is not just about getting something instantly for doing extra. Sometimes the good is not instant gratification.
I get great perks (seats to the theater, flowers on my birthday, heck, once even an expensive hand made a piece of furniture which I still have) and I feel good about it and usually good things happen because of it- not always- sometimes they don't even notice, and that is okay too.

Sometimes going above and beyond is a matter of just making life easier on ourselves or our nanny kids (loading the dishwasher so I can easily access the sink, or sweeping to prevent the baby from putting the fuzz balls in her mouth).

You are right- if the parents doesn't get to spend time with the child because they did not do laundry, that is on them-- but if a nanny has a 2-hour break while the child naps, and there is nothing child related to do, then what would it hurt to take 15 minutes to fold the towels?

Again, I thank you for your response. I am listening to everything you are saying.
MaeMae
It's interesting to me that you'd write an article like this without interviewing some nannies to get their perspective. Many families pay nannies under the table, therefore, robbing them of social security benefits, health insurance and more. Not to mention that's all illegal. I am sure in your chosen profession you receive overtime pay? Nannies do not. Many of them work 15-20 hour days which adds up to a lot of unpaid overtime. While I do agree that a nannies job description is to care for the children, clean up after the messes they make during the day, feed them, play with them, help with their development, change their diapers and provide loving care when a parent is not available, I don't believe they should be washing and folding laundry for the other family members, shopping and preparing meals and doing housework a housecleaner would do unless they have come to a wage that is appropriate for that kind of workload. Taking care of children full time is exhausting. We have all kinds of articles where Moms talk about how overwhelmed they are. What about the nanny? She doesn't deserve to feel the same because she's being paid? She's a human being with stresses and fatigue as well. I live in Southern CA and I have talked to nannies at the park and some of their working conditions are just so sad and demeaning. Many I have spoken to are Hispanic, the employer knows they are poor and need the work and takes advantage of them. Of course, there are some cases where a nanny has shared with me that their employee does treat them with kindness and respect and pays them a fair wage as well as overtime but it's few and far between in my experience.
Matthew Lister
MaeMae,
I greatly appreciate your response, and you make some wonderful points. I have been a career nanny for 26 years. I am in most of the nanny groups and had spoken to nannies before I wrote this.
Yes, we nannies DO get overtime. Anything over 40 hours, by law, requires us to get paid overtime. If we work under-the-table (which I do not) it is illegal and that is NOT only the parent's fault. A nanny shouldn't (or should not have to) work illegally. So if they don't get social security or other benefits (unemployment, etc.) because they accepted a job that pays under-the-table, it is unfortunate- very unfortunate.
I encourage ALL nannies to only work legally.

Those who you spoke to (many who are Hispanic) are being taken advantage of and they should contact the appropriate people to report that. Otherwise, it is very very unfortunate, but they have to find some way to fight for their rights. I will be glad to privately provide resources if you need. Again, as a career nanny, I understand what you are saying.

You are correct- nannies are overwhelmed. VERY overwhelmed at times. But some (the ones I referred to) are not. Some go in groups and brag about how the newborn they care for sleeps most of the day so they get to relax for a few hours. Others boast of having a nanny kid who naps for 2+ hours at a time, and so they get extended breaks and then complain when the parents ask them to do something that "is not in their job description."

I have had those 16+ hour days with multiple children to care for. I have worked for two lawyers and two doctors. VERY long hours.

Again, your response is very well thought out and I greatly appreciate that. When I am talking about the laundry, etc. I am talking about a very select group of nannies who have guaranteed hours but then get mad when the family goes on vacation and expects the nanny to go to the house and organize the children's clothes or toys. Or the nanny who boasts about having 4 hours of rest during the day because the baby sleeps constantly and refuses to even load the dishwasher since "it is not my job."

That was the group I was specifically speaking about- not to- my target audience was mostly to the general public-- I know there is a group of nannies who work around the clock and unfortunately ARE taken advantage of, who deserve the utmost respect and deserve to have the rest of us fighting for their rights.

Again, though, I GREATLY appreciate your well thought out response and appreciate each and every nanny you refer to that is not getting the respect and wages they deserve. I long for change and I fight for change.
Mike Prochaska
would like to hear from some parents
Alisha Wiles
See Matthew the problem with this article is that you didn’t touch on any of the other issues that domestic workers usually face and you used a platform where you think your audience knows both sides of our industry. You may be a great nanny and maybe have only worked for good families. Not everyone is that lucky.

As a member and admin of many of the nanny groups you discuss, I see a majority of nannies who aren’t paid legally, who aren’t paid overtime, who aren’t respected, who are often micromanaged, without contracts and are 1099’d at the end of the year. These nannies are there to do their job and it isn’t our place to decide what the nanny should do out of the kindness of their hearts. There is no reason for you or anyone else to say what a person should do if we aren’t in the nannies shoes.

Is it hard for me to load the dishwasher to help my employers out? Of course not! Should I do it every day even though it isn’t an agreed upon responsibility of mine because they didn’t? Of course I shouldn’t!

If we are even more honest in some places nannies are treated in a “they can’t do anything else so they nanny” type of way. Let’s use NYC as an example: more job posts than not require their nannies to speak another language, cook, clean , actively engage the children for 12 hours a day and then commute an hour and a half round trip to work for less than 20 an hour with no health benefits, no overtime, Salary instead of hourly, no unemployment to use if the family decides they no longer need them, no sick days and the bare minimum when it comes to PTO if they even get it at all. Meanwhile the minimum wage is 15/hr and comes will all of those standard benefits with a clear list of roles and responsibilities. Newborn care specialists in NYC are working 24hour shifts 7 days a week for 300$ a day which breaks down to 12.50 an hour. In other parts of the country NCS’s easily make 30-50 an hour.

Your article does nothing to teach families and gives them more of a reason to think their nanny isn’t doing enough. It gives people on the street a reason to take a picture of a WOC with a white child on the street and say the nanny isn’t working hard enough and possibly get her fired.

I think many nannies are innately good and we have a level of compassion for the families we work for that isn’t often acknowledged. Allowing job creep is something the nanny should take control of but for you to write an article that is one sided and doesn’t convey what you were maybe hoping it would is unfair to all of us who are working hard to elicit a change in this industry.

Having a nanny is luxury and for those of us who are treated correctly by our nanny families going above and beyond isn’t as big of a deal because our employers respect what our roles and responsibilities are and appreciate when we go above and beyond. My hope at the end of the day is that my employers get quality time with their children and if they need me to do extra once in a while I will do it. When I start showing up to work with all the weekend dishes or the dishes from the night before to do, both parents and children’s laundry to do, the house a complete wreck everyday then no, I’m not going to do- there is a difference between it being to help and it being expected and your article should have clarified that.

You had a position where you could educate both nannies and parents and you could have used this platform for educational purposes on both sides but I’m afraid you dropped the ball. I hope in the future you refrain from stating your opinion in such a way that it could do more harm than good.
Matthew Lister
Thank you for this deep, well constructed response. I will take it to heart- when I wrote that, it was a while ago- I had essentially just rewrote a Facebook response I had given- and it was before I realized that people listened.
It’s been getting reposted often and no- it’s not my shining moment. You are correct-I dropped the ball.
I now use my voice a lot more wisely and cautiously and do a LOT more research.

Thanks again for your response. I appreciate every word you wrote and am humbled by your words.

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