10 Dos and Don’ts of Being a Nanny

The Do’s…


Families want to see that you are a professional, mature individual, and not some punk off the street that could possibly be spending time with their kids. For the initial interview with a family, dress conservatively. Wear dress pants or a long skirt, with a nice dress shirt or blouse. Don’t be revealing in what you wear. Parents don’t want you to come to their door dressed like you are going to a club. However, you should dress comfortable. Don’t wear extremely high heels, and save the perfume for another time. You will most likely be interacting with the child(ren) during your interview, so you want to wear something that will enable you to get down on the floor and play if necessary.


Working through a nanny agency allows you to get your background clearances done, become CPR and First Aid certified, and have all of your information in one file. Although there is usually a fee to use an agency’s services, families can rest assured that the nanny has gone through an extensive background check and has experience with children. Most agencies require a minimum amount of years that you have been working with children. For example, Nanny Poppinz Agency of North Pittsburgh requires at least 3 years of experience with children, or equivalent degree. This is important when families are in the hunt for a good nanny. It’s hard to rely on the people behind the Craigslist ads or any online ad service. Also, websites such as Care.com, Sittercity.com and Nannies4hire.com are good options for nannies who are searching for a family, and vice versa.


Before you even agree to accept the job, get all of the facts. You want to know what your exact responsibilities will be, how much you will be getting paid, what hours/days you are needed, and how you will be paid. Remember, in most cases, nannies are not considered “independent contractors” and you should not be paid this way. You should either be paid by W-2 (with taxes taken out), or by cash/check if the amount of pay is under $600 in one year. All of these facts should be cleared up upon hiring.

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This is very important, especially because you want everything outlined about your job as a nanny. For example, the contract should include your salary, raises, hours and days expected to work, how sick or personal days will be handled, vacation time, job responsibilities, and other details about the job. The last thing you want is to have the family turn around and change the details on you a year into your job. If a family says, “Oh, we never agreed on a paid vacation for you”, you would have the contract that says you do get a paid vacation after one year of employment to prove them wrong. Make sure a contract is signed by both you and the family, and that copies are given to each party.


If you are becoming a nanny, or starting with a new family, you should always assume that the family has nanny cams or some sort of recording device in their home to watch over what you are doing. This means, be extra careful of what you say and what you do. You shouldn’t be using any type of swear word when you’re around kids, and you should never use your hand to discipline a child either. Things like this are not tolerated, and will probably get you fired if the family sees you doing it. If you are having problems with this, then you should look elsewhere for a job. If you work for a nanny agency, then most likely, the agency owner will let you know if a family has a nanny cam in their home, since families are supposed to tell the agency.

The Don’ts…


If you are unemployed, then you know how hard it may be to find a job. Child care providers find it a little easier to find work, but in the same aspect, you should never just jump into any nanny job that you find. Your interview with a family is their interview too, meaning, you are learning what their family is like and whether you would be a good match or not. If the only open job is for a family with 5 kids, don’t just accept the job because it’s the only one open, especially because working with 5 kids is a lot of responsibility, and it’s stressful too. Do your research, find a good nanny agency or website you can work through, and let them match you with a family that is similar to your personality and character.

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This annoys me the most when I see other nannies constantly texting on their cell phones, when they should be taking care of the children. It’s a different story if the kids are sleeping. A lot of times, nannies sit around and use their phone, while the kids are off doing whatever. This is extremely irresponsible and immature. You are the child’s care giver, meaning, you are there to take care of them and watch over their every move. Just imagine if something happened to the child while you had your eyes on your phone typing up a text message or talking about this weekend’s plans. Keep your phone in your purse, until the kids go to sleep or you have a break. You should only use your phone in an emergency situation, not for casual talk and texting.


If you have a problem with any aspect of your job as a nanny, don’t be afraid to speak up and let the family know what’s going on. If you don’t like the fact that you have to answer the phone during the day and take messages, let them know. Don’t think that little issues are too small to be brought up. Remember, these people are your employers, and just like any job you would work at, you should not be afraid to tell your employer about any problems or issues are you facing.


This is a common problem when you are a nanny. Of course, you should get along with the kids and the parents, but don’t let yourself become so attached to the family, that you couldn’t imagine ever leaving them, or you think of them of your own children or family. This can cause a lot of stress. You need to remember that this is a workplace, and the family is your employer. They are not your family, and the kids are not your own. Not matter how much time you spend with them, you should have your own life to live when you walk out of their home at the end of the day. Also, do not let them call you at all hours of the day/night when you are not working, unless it is an important emergency and they must talk to you. This gets to be extremely annoying and also controlling. When you develop a friendship with your employers, it becomes hard when something needs to be brought up (such as an issue with your job). You shouldn’t be so attached because there will be a day when you’ll need to move on from this family and look elsewhere. Just keep that in mind.

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Since you are going to be working in their home, you are probably going to hear conversations or see things about their lives that is private and personal. Everybody is entitled to their privacy, so you should just focus on taking care of the children, not spreading gossip.

Overall, if you follow these tips, and common sense, you should turn out to be a wonderful, caring nanny. Just keep in mind that the kids are your number one priority while you are employed as a nanny.