Nannies 101


Below is a list of what we consider core duties and supplementary duties for a nanny. In order to avoid confusion about your nanny’s duties, it’s a good idea to put together a simple letter agreement that outlines her basic duties, pay and benefits and household roles to ensure you and your nanny are on the same page. Don’t ever assume that your nanny will take on additional responsibilities without discussing it first.

Core duties:

  • Basic childcare – feeding, meal preparation, dressing, changing, bathing, maintaining a safe environment, keeping toys cleans
  • Accompanying children to activities – school drop off/pick ups, doctors’ appointments, playdates, classes
  • Light housekeeping related to childcare – emptying diaper pail, dishes after mealtime
  • Children’s laundry – washing clothes, changing sheets, putting away clean clothes, towels, linens
  • Children’s food and pharmacy shopping
  • Playing with children, engaging in age appropriate acitivites
  • Communicating openly with parents, reporting any accidents

Supplementary duties:

  • Children’s ironing – this is a real point of contention for some nannies
  • Traveling with family, caring for children overnight, weekends, evening babysits
  • Shopping for children’s non-essentials – clothes, toys, gifts, school supplies
  • Occassional household errands – dropping off dry cleaning, picking up food at the store

The following duties fall outside of a nanny’s typical job description:

  • Heavy housekeeping such as cleaning the bathroom
  • Running frequent errands for the parents
  • Parents’ laundry or ironing
  • Cooking or preparing meals for the parents
  • Household management/personal assistant work for the parents
  • Caring for or walking family pets

Interview Questions

Below is a list of questions that you might find useful when interviewing a nanny. When you schedule an interview ask the nanny to bring a copy of her resume. If she doesn’t have her own resume it’s a good idea to write down her work history during the interview process, especially if you are interviewing multiple nannies. You should also take some time during the interview to describe what you’re looking for in a nanny and what type of duties you will expect from your nanny.

  • Describe your previous childcare positions. What hours did you work? How old were the children you cared for? How many children did you look after at once?
  • What were your job duties? Did you do anything on top of childcare such as running errands for the parents? Describe your typical day as a nanny.
  • Explain the gaps in your resume or work history.
  • Did you travel with your families or work any overnights?
  • Why did you leave your previous jobs and/or why are you looking to move jobs?
  • What kinds of food do you cook for children? (Baby food and older kids.)
  • Have you worked in this neighborhood before?
  • Have you dealt with any emergencies?
  • Are you happy if we call your previous employers for a reference?
  • What are your interests?
  • Do you have any other jobs or commitments? (Is this going to be problematic?) Are you available to babysit? Travel? Work overnights? Are you flexible to stay longer (on a paid basis) if we run late from work?
  • Do you have kids? If yes, what are your childcare arrangements? What if your kids get sick?
  • How far away do you live? How long is your commute?
  • Describe what kind of nanny you are. What do you like about being a nanny?
  • Do you have any medical issues that could interfere with the job or that we should know about?
  • Do you have pediatric CPR training? If not, are you willing to do a course at our expense?
  • Are you legal to work in the US?

Questions to Ask When Checking a Nanny’s References

Below is a list of questions that you might find useful when checking a nanny’s references. Some of these questions may not be relevant to your particular situation. Use the opportunity to discuss any uncertainties you may have about the nanny.

  • When did nanny work for you? How many children do you have? What ages were your children when nanny started working for you?
  • How much vacation time did she get?
  • How much did you pay her? Was she on or off the books?
  • What duties did she perform in her job?
  • Did she have her own children when she worked for you? If so, did she ever have to bring them to work or call in sick because her children were sick?
  • Was she reliable and punctual? Was she flexible?
  • Did she ever baby-sit for you in the evenings? If so, how did she get home?
  • Did she travel with you or do overnight care? Did she ever work weekends?
  • How was her communication with you? Did she keep a journal for you?
  • Did she take direction well? Did she take criticism well? Did she have an attitude if you asked her to do something differently?
  • Was she sociable with other nannies/parents?
  • Did she drive your child?
  • Was she neat and tidy?
  • How was she on discipline?
  • Was she able to follow a schedule or implement one?
  • Did she cook fresh foods?
  • How would you describe her personality?
  • Do you stay in touch with her?
  • Why did she leave? Would you re-hire her?
  • What are her strongest points and would you recommend her?
  • Did she have any weaknesses?

Nanny Contracts

Here is a list of things you may want to think about when negotiating employment terms and conditions with a nanny. It is good idea to write everything down in a simple letter agreement and get the nanny to ok it so there are no misunderstandings.

  • When do you want the nanny to start work?
  • What will her working hours be?
  • What will her weekly salary be? What is her overtime pay rate? Will you pay her a different rate for holidays or weekends?
  • Is this weekly figure net or gross of employee taxes? Be very clear on this.
  • What is your plan re taxation? Are you offering to withhold all employee taxes or just social security and Medicare?
  • Will the nanny be paid in cash, by check or by direct deposit?
  • What day is pay day? What if a holiday falls on pay day?
  • How many paid vacation days will she get?
  • Which paid holidays will she get?
  • Will the nanny get any paid personal or sick days?
  • Will the nanny get free food and drink at work?
  • Will the nanny get a Metro Card?
  • If your nanny lives in, what will her accommodations be like? Will she have a private bathroom? TV with cable? Internet access?
  • What are the nanny’s job responsibilities? Be precise, particularly if they involve non-childcare related duties.
  • How often will you expect the nanny to baby sit? Will you provide taxi-fare home?
  • Will you need any other overtime? Do you want the nanny to track her overtime?
  • Will you expect the nanny to travel with you? Roughly how often?
  • Will you negotiate a separate flat rate for travel and overnights?
  • Do you plan to travel without the nanny? Will she still earn her full salary nevertheless?
  • Do you summer outside of NYC? Will you expect the nanny to accompany you?
  • By how much will you raise the nanny’s pay if you have another child?
  • What will the nanny’s notice period be?

Keeping Nanny Happy

Hiring a great nanny is only half the battle. It takes work to keep your nanny happy, just as it takes hard work on her part to keep your family content. Here are out top tips for maintaining a harmonious nanny/parent relationship.

  • Always maintain an open line of communication with your nanny. Encourage her to share her ideas and thoughts about your child.
  • Your nanny isn’t a mind reader. Let her know if something is bothering you.
  • Learn to trust your nanny and her judgment.
  • If you’re going to be late home, call ahead. And don’t make a habit of it.
  • Keep in mind that your nanny has her own life. It’s unfair to expect her to continuously change her out-of-hours plans to accommodate you.
  • Inform your nanny as soon as possible of any changes to your plans or circumstances that may affect her.
  • Your nanny is your employee, not your best friend. Respect this boundary.
  • Don’t discuss your marital problems with your nanny. She has two employers.
  • If your nanny is doing a good job, show your appreciation. Give her an annual pay review and a holiday bonus.
  • Pay your nanny on schedule. She depends on this income and has her own financial obligations.
  • If you vacation without your nanny, pay her as normal (or arrange for her to take her paid vacation at the same time).
  • Your nanny may love your child, but first and foremost being your nanny is her job.