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The Role of a Nanny in a Family

A Nanny is responsible mainly for the care of the children of the family and the care of their equipment – their clothes and so on – and for any housework that has directly to do with them.She will, for example, do the children’s laundry and mending, and clean their rooms. In some cases she may also need to do the cooking for the children and for herself. In some very rich households it may be that, as well as the nanny who has main responsibility for the children, there will also be a nursery maid who will deal with the domestic side of the work. However, this sort of establishment is rather unusual these days. It was common in Victorian times but there are few families who can afford to maintain this size of household.

In some cases a nanny will have a room of her own. However, very often she will be expected to share the same bedroom with the children. Certainly she will be expected always to be within earshot of the children during the night. If one of the children awakes and needs attention it will be nanny’s job to leave her own bed and attend to him.

Her day will follow the pattern of an ordinary mother’s day. That is, she will get up before the children, get them up, wash them, dress them, and provide their breakfast, and see the older ones off to school. During the course of the morning she will supervise the younger children’s play while dealing with the cleaning of their room and their laundry, and so on. She will probably be expected to take them for a walk in the morning and after supervising their lunch spend her afternoon playing with them and keeping them happy. Again, like an ordinary mother, she will bath the children and put them to bed at the end of the day. She will be expected throughout to teach and train her charges properly. Her employers will probably expect their children to be well-mannered, toilet-trained, and so on.

Ideally she should have a full day off per week as well as a certain number of free evenings – two or three free evenings would be a reasonable amount. However, a Nanny must be prepared to have her scheduled free time altered at short notice because of family demands. A thoughtful employer will do this very rarely if at all. Unfortunately, not all employers are thoughtful and many indeed treat a Nanny unfairly, changing her off-duty periods without notice or taking away her free time altogether.

Also, some employers may expect a Nanny to do tasks that are not really part of the care for the children. For example, she may be asked to wash up the dishes after the meals taken by the adults in the family, or deal with ordinary housework.

It is necessary then for a Nanny to have a clear understanding with her employer, before she accepts a post, of what her job will be and what tasks will be expected of her, and, of course, what free time she will have. If a Nanny takes a post without getting these matters straight first and later finds that she is exploited, she has, frankly, only herself to blame. A clear understanding of the nanny’s role made in advance will be of great help to her if she is to be happy in her work.

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