In his blog post on 30 Seconds, "Nanny Responsibilities & Expectations: Consider This Before You Say "Not My Job," Matthew Lister suggests a one- size- fits- all approach to being a nanny. According to Lister our job is to do enough housework and other things that our nanny parents can come home and do nothing but give all their attention to their children. It may be convenient for parents to come home with dinner on the table and a clean house, but I think Mr. Lister misses the point of being a nanny. His condescending approach, and his way- too- short for comfort blog post lacks any evidence his approach works for everyone and implies that all nannies who disagree with him are somehow lazy, entitled and not doing their job.
The post lays out a series of one to two sentence arguments that are difficult to understand. There seems to be four main points in his less than 400-word piece. These points are so nuanced that one could write a book on each of them. While reactions have varied, many nannies (the very people the post seems to target) have not taken kindly to his condescending attitude. Going point- by- point, let's talk about the supposed 'lazy nanny' Mr. Lister has described.
"Most think a nanny is there to feed and change the children, put them down for naps and keeping them safe- anything child specific."
Our job is to work with parents to raise happy, healthy, capable and thriving adults. If we are focusing too much on house work and organizing the family schedule, we can't truly do our job. Nannies do many things, but keeping the house spotless so parents don't have to clean is our last priority. We are educators, nurses, facilitators, counselors and much more, but we are not the maid. If parents want a pristine house when they get home from work, they need to hire a maid. Parents won't come home to a thrashed house, but they should not expect every chore to be done either.
Many nannies do extra housework when we have time and energy, because we genuinely care about our nanny families, but our first priority is our charge. Our job is also not to organize the household. If the nanny family wants a household organizer, they can hire one. We are nannies. Many of us are also household organizers, but we charge extra for that. Families should only expect us to do the chores and planning outlined in our contract, anything more than that is our choice. Most nannies will do a little extra housework if a parent asks nicely, though.
Seattle Area Nanny, Carissa Moran says in part, "… getting kids on a functional sleep schedule, teaching self- soothing, helping children with behavioral issues, potty training etc, are all things that are just normal parts of the job that help parents a ton." A nanny does a lot more than just keeping kids alive and feeding them, but that is an issue for another post.
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"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."
Believe it or not, most nannies go above and beyond what is in their contracts. We just have to be careful how much more we do, because so many nanny families become entitled and start to expect us to do way more than what was originally agreed upon. Domestic workers like nannies are taken advantage of often. When we go above and beyond, we are doing it because we want to, but some parent come to expect it and become rude and disrespectful if we suddenly don't go above and beyond one day.
Countless nannies who have gone above and beyond every day have had their nanny family turn on them and start treating them like 'the help,' instead of an equal. Some nannies have had parents refuse to pay them when they can't go above and beyond one day. Our job is to follow our contract and help parents raise thriving adults. Anything we do outside of that is 'above and beyond' and we expect to work with parents who are grateful we are working so diligently to help raise their children to be healthy and productive human beings.
"If you can't take five minutes to help the family, then maybe you are in the wrong industry…"
Helping a family looks different for different nannies and families. Some families want a nanny to focus entirely on their child without worrying about housework or watching their pets. 'Helping' is not a one- size- fits- all concept. One thing to keep in mind is that most chores take more than five minutes. Most nannies are willing to do an extra chore here and there to help a family, but it is not our job to clean the whole house so Mom and Dad don't have to do anything but play with their kids. Again, ask nicely and most nannies are completely willing to do an extra chore that isn't in our contract once in a while, but if parents start expecting or demanding it, they can also expect to lose their nanny.
"I hope some will reconsider their views and make positive changes accordingly."
This author seems to think that any nanny who disagrees with how he thinks our job should be done is doing something wrong. What happened to an open discussion? Who is he to say that the changes he thinks we should make are positive for everyone? If he wants to engage nannies in a constructive way, implying anyone who disagrees with him is not good at their job is the wrong way to approach the subject. Who among you would want to listen to someone who is essentially saying you are bad at a job you've been doing for years just because you disagree with him? Mr. Lister should consider opening the conversation to different perspectives.
This is not to bash Mr. Lister, so please keep it constructive. Don't send this author comments that don't add to the conversation. Don't send hate. Am I angry? Yes, but more about the condescending tone than the points he made. This piece hurts my fellow nannies who have wonderful jobs and do them well. The condescending and entitled attitude of this author astounds me. If he wanted to criticize his fellow nannies, he should have done it in a less condescending way, and maybe asked some of his nanny friends for their input. I hope Mr. Lister stops writing pieces that treat anyone who disagrees as less- than.
I was a nanny for over ten years. Now, I make homemade toys and write full time. Occasionally, I work at my local schools and provide back- up child care for some parents I used to work for and for my church's nursery. I am multi-talented and loves to paint, draw, crochet, write and sew.