Why You Should Pay Your Nanny To Do 'Nothing'

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“My nanny has it good. They basically get paid to sit around for two hours while my baby naps every day.”

“My wife and I need a sitter this Saturday night. The kids will be asleep the entire time so it’s an easy job. Because of this, will you reduce your rate?”

“Since you’re only going to be feeding the kids and putting them to bed, can we pay you your usual rate for while they are awake, and then half your rate for while they are asleep? Y’know, because you really won’t be doing anything except watching Netflix…it’s easy money.”

“OK, so we can offer you $16/hour, but the kids nap every day, so we don’t pay for the hours they nap. If you need the money, we are happy to compensate you while they are napping, but you would have to take on extra tasks around the house during that time. We don’t feel comfortable paying you to do ‘nothing,’ but there are a lot of chores we need help with such as our laundry, ironing, sweeping, organizing, filing, tidying up, watering plants, preparing family meals, etc.”

No, these are not hypothetical scenarios — these are real. And sadly, they happen more frequently than you might think. Parents, I can see where you are coming from. Truly, I can. Child care is expensive. The idea of paying top dollar for someone to sit at your house while your child is sleeping can be difficult to swallow. But here’s the thing: Your nanny/babysitter isn’t doing “nothing” — they are taking care of your child. Your child needs to be cared for even when asleep; otherwise you wouldn’t have hired someone in the first place.

What if your child wakes up? What if there is an emergency? That is what your nanny/babysitter is being paid for. To make it out like they are doing “nothing” and suggest they offer a reduced rate is simply insulting. They are ensuring your child is safe and loved while you are out. I think we can all agree that’s a pretty important job. Plus, if you’re hiring a babysitter for a Saturday night, you are paying a premium for your babysitter to give up their Saturday night. Time is money!

Let’s do my favorite and flip it: I’m sure at your job there are times when things slow down a bit. How would you feel getting paid a reduced rate during the “slower” times even though you are still on the clock and can’t go anywhere? It’s unfair and would imply that your time isn’t valuable.

Unless a nanny can leave the house (without the kids) and go grab a coffee or lunch, they are not on a “break.” In fact, nannies never get a break, because even when the kids are napping, they are still on the clock, caring for your children. Plus, most nannies have child-related chores to catch up on so they are lucky if they get 30 minutes to quickly eat their late lunch (y’know, because at a normal lunch hour they were busy feeding your kids).

Nannying all day is non-stop. If the kids are napping and the nanny is lucky enough to be all caught up on chores, let them just chill. Let them watch some TV or do whatever they want to relax. It’s a small price to pay to ensure your nanny doesn’t get burnt-out. Parents, I highly doubt you are “on” all day with your kids on the weekends. For the most part (unless it’s a really crazy day), I’m sure you sit down and take a breather. I’m sure you let your kids entertain themselves for a little bit — maybe even turn on the TV. To this you might say: “But it’s a job, and you are being paid.”

You’re right. It is a job, and we are being paid. But that’s a very dangerous mentality to have. The fact that nannying is a job doesn’t make it OK to have unrealistic expectations of a human being. Nor does it make it OK to expect a nanny to take a reduced rate, if for a couple hours their job is “easy.” I need to tread lightly here because I absolutely do not want to come across as someone who complains about having to work hard. Anyone who knows me will attest to what a hard worker I am. I have been working since I was 15 and I have an extremely strong work ethic. But I’m still human. I’m not a robot. Just like you, I need breaks. Just like you, some days I need to let the kids entertain themselves a little bit more than usual. And just like you, I believe my time is valuable and should be compensated for what it’s worth, even if it’s just coming over to babysit for date night and your kids are already asleep when I arrive.

So, parents, please don’t ever say our job is easy because we get to sit around for two hours while your kids nap. Please don’t ever ask us to reduce our rate when your kids are sleeping (unless it’s an overnight job — that’s different). Please don’t ever say we will only be paid during naptime if we take on extra tasks and never stop. I mean, really? We are literally still working simply by being in your home and not being able to leave. Please remember we are human, and even though it’s a job, we simply can’t “go go go” 10-plus hours a day, 5 days a week.

And lastly, please remember that you are entrusting us with the most important people in your life, so it’s imperative we feel valued and don’t get burnt-out by being overworked. Because it’s not just us nannies who are affected — your children are directly affected by nanny burnout, and if nothing else, that is something you should care about.

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