MORE families are employing nannies to care for children in their own home.


The demand for in-home childcare has increased so much that last year the Australian Nanny Association was established to provide a support network for professionals in the field.

It’s an attractive option for families striving to achieve a work-life balance but, before entering an agreement, it’s worthwhile considering the implications, as outlined by our friends at MarketWatch.

These are the things that nannies will not tell you about – until it’s too late.


1. “Your kid loves me more than you”

Nannies spend so much time with children, some kids become more attached to their caretaker than to their own parents, says Chicago-area psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo. “I had a child ask to call me Mommy,” says former Atlanta nanny Sarena Brook Carter, 35, which, she adds, wasn’t surprising: “The parents were never there, I got the kids up and put them to bed and went everywhere with them.”

2. “You’re the worst part of my job”

Parents are the worst part of the job, nannies say, for many reasons. They sometimes become jealous of the caretaker-child relationship and act out by yelling at the nanny, for instance. Or they develop typical terrible-boss behaviours: asking the nanny to do tasks he or she didn’t sign on for, demanding lots of extra work hours, or just being downright unpleasant to work with.

3. “I can’t save your kid’s life (or treat injuries)”

If a child is injured – or worse, in a life-and-death situation – the childcare provider may or may not know what to do. Some 13 per cent of nannies surveyed in the US admitted that they aren’t certified in CPR, and 20 per cent reported that they don’t have a first aid certification.

4. “My presence is a threat to your relationship.”

It’s not just the rich and famous who engage in a little hanky-panky with the nanny. While this behaviour is rare, it does happen. Often, it’s because they’re convenient – the nanny is in the home – and there can be a high level of emotional intimacy because you are jointly caring for the child. Some couples actively seek out caretakers that neither one will be attracted to, experts say.

5. “You’re not paying me enough”

Most nannies are paid under the table. This can be problematic for people employing domestic workers because it’s illegal in most cases. A US survey found only 38 per cent of nannies got a raise in 2011, only about half got a year-end bonus, and roughly one in four didn’t get compensated for travel expenses.

6. “I’ll sue you”

Some childcare workers find that their working conditions are so awful, they’re worth going to court over. While it’s the celebrity cases that typically make the news – Sharon Stone and Alanis Morissette have been sued by their nannies – it’s not just famous people that get taken to court by their household help. The biggest thing that nannies sue their employers for is wages, as many nannies are entitled to minimum wage and overtime but don’t receive it. After that, the most common complaint is on-the-job injury.

7. “I’m smarter than you are”

Childcare providers nowadays are often better-educated than in previous decades. Within the relatively elite circle of nannies surveyed in the US in 2011, 85 per cent have a least some college under their belt, 30 per cent have a bachelor’s degree, and 6 per cent have a master’s or Ph.D. Conequently wages increase as skills increase.

8. “Your secret’s not safe with me.”

What happens in your home doesn’t always stay in your home. Nannies talk to each other, friends and sometimes (ahem) the media about their bosses. Former nanny Pam Behan, for example, wrote a book – Malibu Nanny – about her experiences as a nanny for the Kardashian clan; former nanny Suzanne Hansen did the same, penning You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again (published in 2006) about her experiences working for a high-powered Hollywood agent among others.

9. “I know about that nanny cam.”

More and more parents are using nanny cams to “secretly” spy on their nannies: Brickhouse Security, a leading US security and surveillance firm, says it has seen a spike in both sales and searches for nanny cams on its site.

10. “You’d better do a thorough background check on me.”

Unlike many other professions, like doctors and lawyers, there is no official license required to serve as a nanny. In the US, only six per cent of nannies have attended nanny training school, and nearly 16 per cent of nannies have three or fewer years of experience. These facts make it especially important for parents to thoroughly check a child caretaker’s background.


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