Separating Fact from Fiction: 10 Common Myths About Nannies

Whether it’s due to modern day reality shows like Beverly Hills Nannies, old school movies like Mary Poppins, or the perception the media shares with the public, when it comes to nannies, there’s definitely a mix of both fact and fiction.

Here are 10 of the most popular myths people believe about nannies.

1. Nannies are only for the wealthy. While nannies may out earn daycare workers, for dual income families, parents who demand extended and flexible coverage, and families with more than one child, nanny care may actually be a cost-effective childcare option. With a nanny you’re the boss, you pay per family rather than per slot, you make the hours, and you don’t have to pay by the minute if you’re running a few minutes late.

2. Kids cared for by nannies aren’t socialized. Professional and career nannies assume the responsibility of providing rich social opportunities to the children in their care. In fact, nannies have more freedom to socialize children than daycare teachers. In addition to national networks of nanny groups that connect nannies and facilitate play dates, nannies take their charges to mommy and me type classes, story hour at the local library, and on other age-appropriate outings to mix, mingle, and form friendships with other kids.

3. People are nannies because they can’t do anything else. Most career nannies will tell you that they can’t imagine doing anything else. While nannies have diverse backgrounds as educators, psychologists, nurses, chemists, moms, and more, there’s one thing professional, career nannies have in common: they do the work because they love it, not because they can’t find work doing something else.

4. Nannies have to be certified, like teachers. While many private colleges, career schools, and even online learning centers offer certifications for nannies, there are no across the board certifications or licensure for nannies. Nannies don’t have to be licensed or certified to accept work. 

5. Nannies only live with the families. While years ago most nannies may have lived with their work families, that’s no longer the case. Most nannies live in their own homes and commute to their employer’s home each day.

6. Nannies are independent contractors. Even those in government can’t seem to always get this one right. Nannies are not independent contractors. They are the employees of the families for whom they work. As such, both nannies and employers have legal and tax obligations. While there are some exceptions, such as if a nanny earns less than $1800 in a calendar year, 99.9% of nannies are employees. 

7. Nannies are from other countries. Many people believe that nannies are not from the United States and that a nanny and an Au pair are one and the same. This simply isn’t true. Au pairs enter the United States through the U.S. Department of State Travel and Tourism Bureau Cultural Exchange Program. In exchange for living with a family and experiencing American life, they provide limited childcare. For nannies who wish to enter the United States and work as a nanny, the process isn’t a short, inexpensive, or easy one. Nannies must be able to legally accept employment in the United States to secure a post. So contrary to popular belief, many nannies are born and bred in the USA.       

8. Anyone can be a nanny. While anyone may think they can be a nanny, it takes a special skill set and personality to be an in-home childcare provider. Nannies must have a general knowledge of children and childcare principles, have a genuine love for children, and be able to work without close supervision. Nannies must also be reliable, dependable, and trustworthy.

9. Nannies are just babysitters. Hearing this myth stops a career nanny dead in her tracks because it couldn’t be further from the truth. Babysitters provide supervisory care and are responsible for keeping the children safe while their parents are away. Nannies provide coordinated care and are hired to partner with the parents in raising their children. As such, they are concerned with the children’s social, emotional, and physical growth and development.

10. Nannies cook and clean for the families.  Nannies are generally responsible for undertaking all tasks related to the care of the children. While this typically includes doing the children’s laundry, picking up after themselves and the children, and keeping the children’s areas neat and clean, unless specified and agreed upon, nannies don’t prepare meals for the parents, do the parents laundry, or clean the family’s home.

While each family and nanny relationship is different and is tailored to the family’s individual needs and preferences, there are definite standards that separate fact from fiction. While a nanny may work in the family’s private home and outsiders may view her as being there 24/7 with no life of her own, the reality is most nannies are childcare specialists with active private lives of their own.

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7 thoughts on “Separating Fact from Fiction: 10 Common Myths About Nannies

  1. I hate hearing that kids aren’t socialized when they have a nanny – I have organized countless playdates for my charges and constantly am getting them out of the house and around other LOs.

  2. It’s sad but true – it’s such a slippery slope if you lend a helping hand and offer to cook or clean for an employer once or twice because then it can become expected. If it does, that’s when you need to sit down and either re-write your contract or put a quick stop to it!

  3. AHHH I haaaate when people think anyone can be a nanny!! Being a nanny is a profession of passion, and it’s so evident when someone is just trying to be a nanny to fill an employment void vs someone who is a nanny because she truly loves everything about providing care for children. It takes a certain person to be a nanny, it’s not a job for everyone.

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