Nannies and Housework: What Can I Expect?

One of the top questions I’m asked is what housekeeping tasks does the typical nanny do?  Even though every nanny job is different, there are standards within the industry that apply to most situations.

So what’s typical?

Typically nannies are responsible for child-related housekeeping duties. This includes keeping the child’s bedroom, closets and playroom clean and straightened and cleaning up the daily messes that come with kids.

This includes:

child’s bedroom   emptying diaper genie, emptying trash, keeping changing table stocked, changing sheets, making the bed, general straightening up, organizing closets and drawers, vacuuming, dusting, and rotating seasonal clothes

playroom   end-of-day straightening, organizing and rotating toys, disinfecting toys, emptying trash, vacuuming or sweeping

kitchen   cleaning up after meals and snacks, loading, running and emptying the dishwasher, wiping down the highchair, chairs and place mats, cleaning used areas of counters, wiping out the sink, emptying the trash, sterilizing bottles and breastfeeding supplies, keeping children’s food and supplies (e.g. bottles, plates, cups) organized and sweeping the floor

other areas of the house   hanging coats up and putting shoes away in the mud room, organizing toys in the garage and other child-related duties

kid-caused messes while on duty   cleaning up spills on the floor, mud tracked inside, crumbs in the car seat, toothpaste in the sink and other similar messes

What doesn’t a nanny do?

Generally nannies don’t do the kind of cleaning housekeepers or homeowners do. Their focus is on quality childcare and child-related duties.  They don’t clean the kitchen, scrub the bathrooms, vacuum and dust the common areas of the house, change the sheets in the guest room, empty the litter box or take the trash out to the curb. Of course this list isn’t inclusive but you get the idea. In doubt? Ask yourself if the task you’re thinking about asking your nanny to do is primarily child-related. If the answer is yes then it probably falls into the typical nanny job description. If the answer is no, it probably doesn’t.

Does this mean your nanny will never step outside of her defined job description when it comes to housekeeping? No. One of the great things about nannies is their flexibility and pitch-in attitude. If you have a positive relationship with your nanny and you need some extra help, chances are she’ll step up and lend a hand. Just remember those are occasional favors and not additions to her job description.

Need more than occasional help? Some nannies are happy to take on housekeeping tasks outside the typical nanny duties for additional money or benefits. Just make your expectations clear when hiring and detail them in your nanny contract.


Published by

Lora Brawley

Nanny care expert specializing in helping parents and nannies painlessly navigate the hiring / job search process and develop long-term, successful employment relationships. Also a communications trainer, Positive Discipline Parent Educator and Mediator.

2 thoughts on “Nannies and Housework: What Can I Expect?”

  1. Thank you, Lora for clearfying and explaining at length the duties of a Nanny and not a Maid. There are some who feel and think that a Nanny is the same as a Maid, therefore the Nanny must do the same work as a Maid for the same salary, and no extra. There are some who have no respect, no matter what age the Nanny is. I feel respect is due to all, child and adult.

  2. Nicely put, Lora.

    Of course, every nanny job is different. Often there is a cleaning service that handles sweeping, mopping, and emptying trash, and the nanny just cleans up the everyday child-related messes (and teaches the children to clean up after themselves on a developmentally appropriate level!). And there may be 1 or 2 additional light responsibilities, such as walking a dog, or moving adult laundry from washer to dryer. A parent may say “I just can’t stand to empty the litter box, but I can empty a poopy diaper genie. How about we trade these jobs?”

    As long as the nanny’s household chores are almost all child-related, and any extras are light and are agreeable to the nanny with clear respect for her boundaries, there will probably be a good relationship between nanny and employer around the issue of chores.

    ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT is not to leave adult messes (dropped socks, dirty dishes) because it’s “The Help’s job” to clean up after the family. That is demeaning and demoralizing to the person who is expected to then find it within herself to give her best to your treasured children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.