How much cleaning can a Nanny do?

A recent post here about our household management service touched on the difference between a Nanny and a cleaner. More specifically, it made the point that a nanny is not a cleaner and should not be expected to do general household cleaning or other household chores. The only exception are tasks that are associated with child care.

In practice, of course, this distinction is not always black and white. It should be obvious that a Nanny should not be asked to do the ironing or cook a family meal, but what about, say, hanging out a load of nappies or preparing an after-school snack? Where do you draw the line?

We like to say that a Nanny is only responsible for ‘proactive child care’ and doing household duties related to that responsibility.

Here are some specific examples of these, i.e. things a Nanny can do:

  • Tidying up toys, and teaching children how to tidy up their own toys.
  • Unpacking the school bag – removing wet bathers, dirty lunch boxes and school notices straight after school always makes a parent’s life easier. (Thankfully email seems to be largely doing away with the challenge of the school notice entangled with a discarded banana skin!)
  • Unpacking the dishwasher.
  • Baking with the children, and cleaning up with them.
  • Making playdough, and doing other craft activities.
  • Helping children tidying their rooms.
  • Organising clothes for a child
  • Cleaning up spills.

If you’re thinking that your Nanny should be able to do more than this while your child is having a nap, bear in mind that she is entitled to breaks as much as any other worker. Not to mention the fact that her primary responsibility is your child – even when he or she is asleep.

On the other hand, parents should expect that they can come home to a house that is more or less the same state that they left it. Leaving the antique dining table covered in glitter (true story) is a no-no. (This assumes that the house is in reasonable shape – it is difficult for a Nanny to do her job properly amongst a constant mess, and you are unlikely to retain your Nanny for long in such circumstances.)

The bottom line is that a Nanny isn’t a replacement for you. You shouldn’t expect your Nanny to multi-task between child care and domestic chores. Her single job is looking after your children.


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