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  • Writer's pictureGenna McGahee

What Does a Nanny Do While My Child Naps?

Updated: Apr 29

I find that parents are in one of two camps with their initial understanding of this question:

  • parents who don't have expectations and assumed the nanny would simply hang out at the house, read, etc. and so they thought that they'd pay less during this time

  • parents who thought the nanny was going to mop, prep dinner and wash sheets

Neither of these perspectives is correct. So, what does a nanny do while your child naps? Your nanny will:

  • be the responsible adult at home who is checking your child's monitor

  • take a 15 minute paid break or take a 30 minute paid lunch break if they work 5+ hours during the shift

  • perform child-related tasks such as fold children's laundry, wash bottles/children's dishes, sanitize/organize toys, tidy craft supplies, sort clothes your child grew out of

  • plan learning activities/outings for your child, or...

  • something else entirely: I know parents who share their Peloton membership with their full time nanny so that the nanny can essentially "go to the gym" during their child's nap

Some nannies will complete laundry for the whole family or prep family meals, and that usually calls for a higher hourly rate. These are family assistant tasks. It's a common misconception that nannies should "stay busy" with all types of housekeeping or cooking while a child naps. Some nannies enjoy organizing and projects and they have the skills to do it. That said, your home is simply the childcare workplace where your child's caregiver comes to do their childcare work. Great nannies are not necessarily cooks or home organizers. If you need more support you could consider speaking with your nanny about becoming a family assistant. Alternatively, you could ask the nanny to research some good housekeeping or meal preparation services for you to call.

Encourage breaks, rest and lunches. Nannying is physically demanding work: lifting and lowering children, running around, getting down on the ground, picking up toys over and over again, and so on. All of these repetitive movements fatigue the back. Taking appropriate rest breaks and stretching is incredibly important. Understand that your nanny might start their break and then need to attend your child multiple times, so they will try again later to finish that partial break or lunch. This means that you may see your nanny appear to have lunch twice or take several breaks. You as the employer want to foster an environment of trust and professionalism where your employee can be responsible for their breaks and monitor their own energy levels. Nannies sometimes worry about taking any breaks if a parent works from home. They're concerned the parent might walk by and think that they are "just sitting around." This causes nannies to burn out or injure themselves.

Caring for children calls for emotional energy, vigilance, creativity, planning, and patience. It is wonderful work that is also tiring and each day is different. Ensuring that someone else's child is safe and well is a huge responsibility. Ensuring that the nanny is safe at work, is well and is taking sufficient breaks is the parent's responsibility. You succeeded in hiring a great nanny, and you can succeed at being a great employer, too.


Genna Hackley

Founder & Owner, Babysitters Of Boulder

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