What Chores are the Children Responsible For?

Housekeeping Survey for Nannies and Au Pairs

Below are some responses from nannies and au pairs from our monthly poll when asked “What chores are the children responsible for?” at http://www.bestnannynewsletter.com/monthlypoll.htm
Debra Mathwig, a nanny from Plymouth, Wisconsin wrote, “I have the children help with everything. It makes them feel good to help me out.”

Gretchen Denton, an au pair from Germany working in Delaware recommended, “I fill a sink with warm water and bubbles and the kids help wash their toys and plastic dishes in the sink.”

Fern Scott, from Seattle, Washington said, “The kids are responsible for cleaning their rooms, picking up toys, and cleaning up their own messes.”

Lisa Garrelts, a nanny from New Canaan, Connecticut replied, “The children pick up their rooms, clear the table after dinner, and put toys away.”

Another nanny, Allie Kamrud wrote, “The children are responsible for making their beds and picking up toys and I help as needed. Matching socks is a great way of learning colors.”

Christine Watson, a baby nurse in McLean, Virginia wrote, “Children should be responsible for everything that they are able to do. That’s how they learn true self-esteem.”

Do you have any advice to share with other in-home childcare providers about housekeeping?

Cindy Brinkman, a nanny from West Bend, Wisconsin advised, “Never mix household chemicals and babies. Any cleaning chemical can be caustic or poisonous:”

Francine Ramsey, a nanny in Naples, Florida agrees. Francine warned, “Don’t leave buckets of water unmonitored. Children can drown. Keep cleaning supplies on high shelves behind locked cabinets.”

Nancy Ackart, a nanny from Nebraska, recommended, “Sprinkle an all-natural, antibacterial carpet deodorizer powder in the bottom of the diaper pail to eliminate odors.”

Sarah Rowena, a nanny from Indianapolis, Indiana said, “Keep a container of disinfectant wipes under each bathroom sink that the children use. Each day use a wipe to clean off the sinks, counters, and toilet bowl.”

Ellen, a professional organizer from Texas answered, “Create routines that encourage ‘organizing as you go’. Have a rule about how many toys can be taken out at one time and then pick up before taking another toy out to play.”

Au pair, Fiona McVetty, who works in the Boston. Massachusetts area wrote, “Put similar utensils together in the dishwasher to make putting them away easier. For example, put only spoons in the same bin and forks in another.”

E. Chandler a nanny from California suggested, “Have a contract that is very detailed about your responsibilities so there is no misunderstanding from.”

Julia DuBois, a nanny from Grafton, Wisconsin answered, “Obviously you should clean up after yourself and the children. Anything else should not fall on your shoulders. The parents should be aware that the more chores that are given to the nanny, the more time that is taken away from spending with the kids.”

Tina Rysio, a nanny in Wynantskill, New York said, “Don’t start doing housekeeping just to be nice.”

Judy Taylor a nanny in Snohomish, Washington wrote, “Make sure you a compensated fairly and the parents understand your primary job is to care for the children. They ought to always understand if something goes undone because of the children’s needs, it is okay.”

Mary Hoffee a nanny, house manager, and housekeeper from Ashland, Ohio suggested, “Never agree to do something that you do not feel you should have to do.”

Heidi Angulo, a nanny in Aptos, California mentioned, “Cleaning should never take precedent over the children.”

Meredith Nicholson, a nanny in Atlanta, Georgia wrote, “Always pick up after the children. Leave the house in the same or better condition then when you came.”

Melissa Hauca, a nanny from San Anselmo, California advised, “Someone once said to me, ‘The best gift that a nanny can give a parent is more time with their children.’ It is important to have a clear and fair understanding about what household responsibilities belong to which party, but going above and beyond once in a while can be a wonderful thing.”

What chores do you think the children should be responsible for?


  1. How can we expect the nannies to enforce chores for the children when the parents do not even do what we are asking the children to do?For example, the parents want the children to make their beds, but the parents do not make theirs (I amke it)! They want them to bring dishes to sink and sometimes put them in the dishwasher, but I’m the one putting the parents’ dishes in the dishwasher.

  2. Anonymous who commented before is so wrong. As nannies we simply follow through and enforce the chores. Don’t get emotional about it. Just do it and help them be rewarded for doing chores successfully and make sure the punishments are followed through too.Yvonne, Yardley, PA

  3. I am a member of nanny online chat groups and this is the topic most emotional for nannies. Nannies hate cleaning and hate trying to get the kids to follow thru with chores, but it is the most important responsibility for parents. In my experience, parents really care more about their house being clean then anything else. They could care less how it gets done as long as it’s done. They always claim child care is most important but in reality a clean playroom, bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms are more important to them. Every parent says they want a nanny but they really want a maid. I don’t like having to be the mean one that makes kids do chores, I need help from the parents.Vanessa, New Canaan, Connecticut

  4. I am sorry but housekeeping pisses me off, especially when the adult parents/employers are home. I have no problem when they must run to work and come home late and I pitch in. But when they are home and can't take 3 seconds to put their coffee cup or sandwich plate in the dishwasher it peeves me off.I really wich parents would understand that if they don't do it, the nanny does it. It appears as if they are leaving their mess for the nanny to do and it is insulting. I was hired as a childcare professional not as a maid. Frankly even if I were the cleaning lady the parents are slobs and rude to leave little gross tasks for the household help. I do the dishes clean up for the cleaning ladies since they need to clean the kitchen and haven't the time to rinse dishes too.I resent (as many nannies do) the messes left by adult members of the family.Also, au pairs are not allowed to be cleaning ladies. Why can't american parents respect their nannies as much as they do for au pairs.

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