10 things your nanny won't tell you
For starters, they need a vacation. Secondly, there may be something wrong with your child. Plus eight other things your nanny is too scared to tell you.
Mon, Mar 14 2011 at 4:38 PM
You leave your child with her day in and day out, and you trust her completely. But there are some things even your nanny won't tell you — about your child, your household and your peers. In real life and pop culture, nannies button up for fear of losing face. For example, not much said about a snobby boss in "The Nanny Diaries," a 2002 book by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, or racial tension in the South in "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett — but in both cases, the issue is just beneath the surface. More often than not, a nanny's gripe is how you treat them as hired help.
The following are 10 things your nanny won't tell you. (To protect their anonymity, most of the nannies interviewed asked that we identify them only by first name.)
1. Nannies are not your maid
Lisa, a nanny in Greenville, S.C., said she was fired when she refused do housework. "Because I didn't feel like cleaning the bathroom, they decided to put [the child] in daycare," she said. Nonetheless, families can confuse the role of a nanny. For her part, Tina Carey, a full-time nanny in the Boston area, once quit a job because she didn't want to polish the family's silver. "I said, 'No, ma'am. If you're looking for a housekeeper, that's not me.'"
2. Nannies need a vacation
Bringing your nanny along while you hit the beach doesn't count, either. "They get real huffy and puffy if I want to take time off," said Lisa. "They wanted me to work Thanksgiving Day, not with the kids, but their two large dogs." She refused. "It's Thanksgiving, I would like to eat dinner with my family."
3. You need to discipline your children
"Some parents don't believe in discipline," said Carey. But giving in to temper tantrums essentially tells kids that yelling and screaming will get them what they want. "Kids are smart," Carey said.
4. Nannies want a raise
They are with your children for most of the kids' waking hours — don't they deserve a little more? "I would expect a little something at the end of the year, especially if you've proven yourself as a good nanny, came in with good qualifications and you go above and beyond," said Carey.
5. They see other nannies yelling at — or ignoring — other children
For every nanny who engages her charges at the park, there are countless others chatting on their cellphones or talking with friends. Carey said she once witnessed a little boy nearly get hit by a car while his nanny napped on a blanket at the park. "There used to be a caregiver I would see at the school ... who would constantly scream at and berate the child she looked after," said a nanny named Jennifer. "I wondered how the child's parents could have hired a woman like that."
6. That Christmas present? They hated it
Don't skimp on the person who ties your children's shoelaces, fixes them a snack and wipes their tears. "I spend five to seven days a week helping her raise her kids and for Christmas, I got a re-gifted mud mask," said Lisa. "I totally cried," she said. "I didn’t even write a thank-you note."
7. Your kids need more attention … from you
Lisa works for a family where both parents travel often. "The kids do miss them," she said. But parents also need to be present when they are home. The 10-year-old boy she babysits was trying to read his father a story he wrote recently. "The dad had his face in his Blackberry and was like, 'Uh huh, uh huh.'" Lisa said the boy acts out when he's missing his parents. "He wakes up every night, at least twice in the night and asks for his mom. He starts to cry," she said.
8. Your kid has a developmental problem
No parent wants to hear that something is wrong with her kid, but caring for Little Johnny for 10 hours a day makes a babysitter pretty observant. "Being a parent myself, it's a sensitive subject," said Carey. "You want the best for your child, but you don't want to hear that."
9. It is not OK when you don't pay on time
Lisa said her boss has been a month late with her paycheck in the past. "As fun as it is to hang out with their kids, I'm not in a position that I can volunteer my time," she said.
10. Nannies want to be treated with respect
Don't treat them like hired help when they're looking after your children day after day, essentially co-parenting while you are at work. "All in all, I just wish that employers would take the time to see that the caregivers that look after their children are people, too," said Jennifer. "No matter their social status or race."