Being a nanny is a career choice created in a grey zone. In Canada the role has been blurred significantly with the introduction of the “Live In Caregiver Program.”  Expectations on both the part of Employers and Nannies alike vary greatly. This miscommunication is the main cause for the high rate of disgruntled Nannies, disappointed employers and abandoned childcare contracts.

There are as many different childcare positions as there are childcare workers. Roles (and rates of pay) can range from, first time supervised babysitter to Executive Nanny. Titles that get thrown about with abandon can also include Mother’s Helper, Au Pair, Nursery/Maternity Nurse, Nanny, Night Nanny, Child minder, Nanny/Personal Assistant, or Nanny/Housekeeper and on and on and on.  In North America we seem to flail about defining and redefining the job as each interview presents itself.  How confusing!!

So without further adieu let’s have a long hard look at what is expected of a “Nanny” and in turn …what a nanny expects!

What is Nanny Territory?
What is a nanny (usually) responsible for?

  1. First and foremost the safety, care and well being of your children.
  2. That the house is as clean when she leaves as when she arrived. (This means if you had a huge dinner party and there are mountains of dishes all over…those dishes are not her responsibility. It also means it should not take two hours to clean up the toys and playdough after she has gone)
    Then…if time permits…(and only if time permits) she is responsible for;
  3. Children’s Laundry
  4. Children’s rooms/tidy/organized/notes left if things are running low
  5. Children’s snacks and meals.  (Possibly cooking and freezing/labeling baby food)
  6. Maintenance, cleaning & care of children’s belongings (highchair, crib, toys, stroller etc.)

* This type of contract would be said to include “only childcare related duties.”

What is generally considered  “Light Housekeeping?”

  1. Unloading/Loading the dishwasher
  2. Occasional family laundry, including folding & putting away.
  3. General tidying/straightening
  4. Sweeping/light mopping/wiping of kitchen
  5. Taking out Garbage/Recycling

What is definitely EXTRA?

  1. Vacuuming
  2. Dusting
  3. Meal Prep
  4. Errands (mail, groceries, picking up dry cleaning, etc)
  5. Ironing
  6. Any additional specific tasks (ie; wiping down cupboards, sorting closets etc)

What is usually considered off limits?

  1. Bathrooms
  2. Washing the car
  3. Heavy duty cleaning (the oven, inside the fridge, flipping mattresses etc.)

What Every Nanny Wants

Most nannies will say that being treated as if they are a part of the family is what they are looking for the most when considering job offers. This seems simple, but it also creates some blurred boundaries. We often ask more from those who are in our immediate family than we would ever reasonably consider asking from a co-worker.  A Nanny/Family relationship is intimate and always evolving…it is of utmost importance no matter how close you become with your nanny to always remember that this is her JOB, and to respect that fact.

Nannies also cite families who respect them and the work they do as being the type of employers they would like to work for. Keep in mind that you should not only respect the nanny, and the job, but also the written contract that has been negotiated. Families who continue to add more and more jobs onto an already negotiated contract are likely to find themselves out a nanny…quickly. This is one of the most common reasons nannies give for quitting or choosing not to renegotiate a contract with a family.

The absolute biggest reason given for an unhappy Nanny/Family situation is when a nanny finds her efforts with the children are being undermined or unsupported by the mother or father. Nannies and parents need to work as a team. Communication is absolutely key.

Nannies do love kids…and great nannies love their families…but they are not doing this for fun. This is a job, and for many a lifelong career.  Let’s be honest, a housekeeper in Vancouver makes between $15-$25 an hour. How on earth can anyone think it is okay to have a nanny take care of three children AND do all of the housekeeping for $15 an hour? This may sound absurd…but it’s not unusual. The counter point to this rant is…. what employer is going to pay someone with the absolute bare minimum of experience and NO training $20 an hour?? Okay everyone… let’s take a wee step back and perhaps into the other person’s shoes.

Live out nannies can make anywhere from $10-$35 an hour….seriously. This is a pretty broad range.What factors affect how much a nanny should make?

Have a look at the following variables;

1) How many children?
2) Ages of the children?
3) How much experience/training/education the nanny has.
4) Does the nanny drive?
5) Availability/Flexibility
6) Additional Tasks (see list at top)
7) Type of contract…Part Time/Full Time/Nanny Share
8) How badly the family wants that particular nanny.
9) Where you live
10) Are there any extra perks/bonuses being offered? (use of a car, a trip home paid for, paid vacation with the family)

A Couple of Examples…

An entry level nanny (two years experience, two verified positive references, CPR/First Aid)  working in Vancouver with two children under the age of five, responsible only for duties related to childcare is looking at 14-16 an hour.

An executive nanny with 10+ years experience, her ECE, CPR/First Aid, multiple positive references who drives…and is willing to do some specifically negotiated light housekeeping is looking at making 18-22 an hour for that same job.


When negotiating this murky grey zone of roles, rules, responsibilities and eventually resumes…try and keep two very important things in mind.
How would you feel if you were in the other person’s shoes…and two more often than not you get what you pay for.

Good Luck Nanny Hunting!!
By Leanne Hume

Leanne Hume has been a live in, live out and on call nanny and a teacher in Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Canada, and Fiji. She is first and formost a Mum and she now works as the Nanny Recruiter for Nannies on Call Vancouver’s premiere Nanny Agency.