Unlike live-out nannies who start and end their day on the front steps of the family’s home, live-in nannies often retreat to their bedrooms or end their day sharing dinner with the family for whom they work.
“During the interview process, live-in nannies must remember that they are interviewing not only for a nanny position, but also for a roommate situation” said Gael Ann Dow, a seasoned nanny with 26 years of live-in nanny experience and a 1986 graduate of the National Academy of Nannies, Inc.
While all nannies should have a contract that outlines their duties and responsibilities, live-in nannies must be sure to cover items that address house sharing, advised Dow. “It’s essential that live-in nannies cover things like food, meals and dining out and get a specific list of what board covers. Does it cover toiletries, like toothpaste and shampoo, or are these items something the nanny will need to cover the cost for?”
Since live-in nannies also share the homes of their employers, they’ll want to have a clear understanding of the family’s comfort level when it comes to the nanny being around during off hours. “While you’re house sharing with your employers, it’s really not an equal roommate situation. You live there but it is their house and you aren’t paying half the bills” cautioned Dow. Live-in nannies should seek clarification on what common areas can be used and if there are any restrictions on using them.
And when in their private living quarters, Dow suggests that live-in nannies know if their telephone, shower and television can be heard from outside their private space. The last thing a nanny wants to do is have what she’s thinking a private conversation, only to be overheard by her bosses or her charges.
But what if there isn’t a clear understanding of the boundaries? Dow suggests a simple solution. Just ask! “Especially in the beginning, don’t be afraid to ask roommate related questions. Doing so shows that you have respect for your employers and their home and sets up the precedence for comfortable communication around these issues.”
Dow suggests asking questions like:
- Would it be alright if I watch TV in the den in the evening or is that too loud when you are working in your office?
- I would like to order a Pay Per View movie. How should I reimburse you?
- I know you have your boss from work coming to dinner next Tuesday. Should I plan to eat early with the kids or later in my room?
But as most nannies know, some issues don’t come up until the nanny and employer relationship is firmly established. Dow suggests using monthly meetings as an opportunity to bring up house sharing issues or any concerns about housemate responsibilities. “For example, if you notice that the recycling builds up and is not getting tended to in time for pick up day, but you aren’t sure what part of recycling, beyond putting yours and the children’s recyclables in the appropriate containers, is your responsibility, ask what your employer considers your responsibility. If you feel that they’re asking you to take on too much, suggest a compromise and ask if you can revisit the issue in a month.”
“It’s always the little things like not removing the dryer lint or using the wrong kitchen towels that drives everyone crazy if no one brings them up” said Dow. Keeping the lines of communication and discussing housemate responsibilities as they arise can help to facilitate a lasting, working relationship.