Sunday, 27 May 2012

5 ways for a nanny to lose a dream job

Nannies, at the end of last week's post I did promise you take note and practise well if you want to lose your dream job.

1. Be demanding, asking for as much money per hour as you can get, because, if people are rich enough to afford a nanny they can afford to pay more.  If possible, even if you've told the agency that you are happy with the amount being offered, try to squeeze a bit more at interview.

2. Be late, or better still, ring at the last minute and cancel the day's work, because you are only looking after children for people who should really be at home looking after their own children.

3. Be less than honest about your daily activities, after all you have the whole day to fill in and with no one watching, who knows what you do????.  Since they can't tell, park babies and young children front of the TV while you phone your friends or use Facebook.  With older children, set them to play, then get on the phone, breaking off from time to time to supervise.  When you go out with the children, spend most of the time in the neighbourhood cafe meeting up with friends.  Don't tidy after the children have played so the parents know their treasures have been busy.  Leave your dishes for the parents to wash because they'll have to clean up after dinner anyway.

4. Be disrespectful of family values, using food, especially lollies, as bribes and using threats to get the behaviour you want.  Who's going to know, and anyway, that's what most people do, isn't it?  Isn't it?

5. Be a snoop and blabbermouth, reading mail, bills etc, and telling all your friends details of the family's life.  If they don't want thins made public, the parents shouldn't leave them lying around.  And if you are really sneaky, there's money to be made from the gossip mags.

Over the past two blogs, I've given parents and nannies the benefit of my advice on what to do to break their relationships.  I'm sure you have realised that I have been somewhat tongue in cheek, and neither our clients nor our nannies fit these stereotypes.

The golden rule for the nanny-client relatuionship, as for all realtionships, is to be respectful of each other and to communicate clearly and honestly.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

5 ways to lose a good professional nanny

Parents, I'm always happy to offer advice and here is my action plan to lose your good nanny:

1. Be mean and don't negotiate with a nanny over pay increases and leave.  You could even go so far as insisting the nanny provide her own tea and coffee.  You pay the nanny to work, not sit around drinking tea and coffee.

2. Be unreliable and stay late at work without notice and negotiation.  Your time and job is important, and nannies shouldn't have a life of their own.

3. Be inconsiderate and insist on the nanny doing the housework you hate eg washing up from the previous night's dinner party; washing and ironing your clothes.  'Other duties as required' in a contract means just that, and when the children are asleep or occupied, there is plenty of time to do 'extras".

4. Be thoughtless and refuse to acknowledge the work your nanny is doing with your child/children.

5. Be jealous and accuse the nanny of trying to take your child's affection.  You are the parent and even if the nanny spends more time with and is more responsive to the child, you should get cross and put the nanny down when the children say, 'Jemima always takes us to the park' or 'lets us eat jelly'.

Watch out next time for '5 ways for a nanny to lose a dream job.'

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The N.... word

Today I want to take up the theme of professional nannies again to support the efforts of Tracey McDermott, a Susan Rogan nanny, and some of her colleagues who are trying to change public perceptions of nannies by forming a group to lobby for training and regulation of their industry.
(Article from The Weekend Australian 12-13 May 2012, reprinted at /

It is only a couple of weeks since media personality Chrissie Swan came out as having a nanny, something she previously felt embarassed to do because of the image of nannies being employed by the wealthy, upper classes.  By actually using the N.... word, she gave heart to many in the industry who are sick of being seen as simply baby sitters, or cleaners.

When I commented on the agency facebook page about the negative use of the term "nanny state" or more recently "nanny nation", nannies agreed.  It is a put down and has overtones of the state knowing best, acting to protect people from themselves.  Imagine the howls if the term used was 'mummy state'.

This negative image is perpetrated by those in the child care field who now prefer to use the term 'early childhood educators' for anyone who works in long day care, as though the only proper role in caring for children was to educate them.  Now perhaps this is intended in the widest sense of the word 'educate', relating to programs aimed at developing children's social, emotional, cognitive and cultural skills.  As such, all parents are educators, though they would probably be surprised to know that trickling warm water over a baby in a bath was allowing them to experience gravity (in the action of the water), developing their awareness of warmth as opposed to cold, and learning what sensations are pleasurable.  And so on...But this use of 'educators' overlooks the care function, the attachment to a stable caring figure possible when there are only, typically, one or two children being looked after by a nanny.

The majority of our nannies have formal qualifications ranging from TAFE diplomas and certificates, university degrees including early childhood, nursing and teaching.  These are not Mickey Mouse, two hour, or one day courses: they involve child development, and practical work over a considerable period of time.

The Australian Childcare Alliance which represents long day care  has stated that child care at home is dangerous to children.  This is offensive, to nannies and to parents. It is a scare tactic to protect the interests of its members.  Child care centres are regulated but are not inherently safer than family homes.  Accidents still happen, the result of behaviour of other children, inattentive supervision of a large group of children and chance.  I recall a boy at my children's kindergarten breaking his leg in a fall, right in front of the teacher.

As the cost of formal daycare rises, it also makes good economic sense to employ a nanny if there are two or more children in the family, and who can be there even when the children are unwell, a circumstance that would see them excluded from formal care.

Professional nannies, who take their work seriously, provide a range of activities for children and keep their skill up to date through in-service programs deserve the support of the community, and are to be congratulated for their attempt to improve the image of their industry.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Somebody has to do it!

Definition: cleaning, maintaining a home
Synonyms: administration, bed-making, cooking, domestic art, domestic science, dusting, home economics, homemaking, housecraft, housekeeping, ironing, laundering, management, mopping, sewing, stewardship, sweeping, washing

Monday, 7 May 2012

Flexible Care for Working Mothers/Parents

In ancient history, when I was young, hardly anyone's mother worked.  In fact, public servants, on marriage often lost their permanent positions, and I think bank staff had to resign.  In the seventies, when I was having my children, it was acceptable for married women to work, but still, as there was no maternity leave, having children generally meant long periods out of the workforce, losing seniority and dulling skills.

While some still debate the pros and cons of working mothers compared with stay at home mothers, we now have maternity leave, paid for a period, flexible working hours, job sharing, working from home, all attempts to cater for the needs of working parents.

We have certainly come a long way, thanks to the feminists and women's liberation and the efforts of unions and some far-sighted politicians.

Some employers are more flexible than others, and there is no doubt that for small business in particular, it can be difficult to offer flexibility while ensuring that the needs of the business are met.

Alongside this growth in work options for women has come the growth in the childcare industry.  Centre based care, family day care and home based care are the main sectors, interestingly enough, a largely female workforce.

As director of Melbourne's premier nanny agency, Susan Rogan Child Care I face the issues for employers and employees.  As an employer of approximately 100 nannies as well as office staff, I am affected by maternity leave provisions, and I am closely involved in supporting parents to participate in the workforce. 

My agency offers many possibilities for care, private and government funded.  In private arrangements we can, for a fee, recruit a nanny whose employment then becomes the responsibility of the family, or we can recruit a nanny and act as employer taking on all the tasks this involves: WorkCover, tax and sick and annual leave provisions, charging a family on-going fees.

The  Federal Government's In-Home Care Program, is targeted at  working parents whose cannot access other forms of approved childcare.  This includes shift workers, families with sick or disabled children and families in crisis. Families who can access In Home Care get government funding to help with the cost but government limit the number of places we can provide.

The issue of childcare is now recognised by major political parties, and has become an area where different bids are being made to win the support of the electorate.  This process has started to pit the different sectors of the childcare industry against each other, each seeking to promote the needs of their sector for funding and future viability.  The In-Home Care sector is probably the smallest and thus has the weakest voice.  Sneering remarks are made about 'middle class welfare' but this ignores the needs of particular groups of workers and the right of parents to choose the model of childcare they prefer. The National In-Home Care Association continues to lobby for the program to continue as one part of a broad range of initiatives to offer flexibility for the care of children.