Would You Take a Job if the Parents Asked that You Not Make Personal Phone Calls or Texts During the Work Day?

Should Nannies and Au Pairs Make Personal Cell Phone Calls and Text When Working?

Yesterday we showed an example of a nanny texting instead of properly attending to the child in her care at the pool.

In 2009 The San Francisco Chronicle discussed the fact that nannies, au pairs, and parents are spending more energy on their cell phones and barely observing the kids in their care while at a playground.

We acknowledge that caregivers commonly carry cell phones. Many families require it for emergency situations. If a child comes down with a fever, the nanny can easily call the parent at work. Also, parents like to check in throughout the day; they might want to find out if their child went down for a nap or let the caregiver know they’re running late.

Let’s not forget that parents provide cellular phones to their caregivers with global positioning systems to track the nanny and au pair’s location as well.

But some nannies use their phones to talk to their friends and families and it’s debatable whether this is acceptable.

There are parents who feel strongly that their nannies shouldn’t be making personal calls while on the job. They believe it’s best for a child’s development to be fully engaged with an adult throughout the day. It’s not uncommon for parents to post want ads on Craigslist that include statements such as “We want a nanny who won’t talk on the phone at the park.”
But cell phones are helpful in case of an emergency for nannies and au pairs and they can also help keep kids safe. Click here for our favorite cell phone for kids.
Do you make personal cell phone calls and personal texts during work? Do you think it’s okay for nannies and au pairs to text and make personal calls when working?


  1. It wouldn't be a deal breaker for me. I have worked for a family with cell phone restrictions before. There are dozens of comments on Facebook groups with this link to this blog and most nannies would absolutely NOT work for a family with such restrictions. To me, it's work, I try to be flexible with the family's requests.

  2. I think it's case-by-case and is definitely something that should be specifically outlined in each nanny's agreement. For example, my employers stated that they do not mind if I make personal calls or emails during the day *within reason* – and only if it doesn't affect my care of their child.I've yet to take them up on that- honestly, I think we all know the answer. Don't text, don't make phone calls, don't email, don't do anything that significantly takes away from time spent with your charges. (Without significant benefit to them. I.e. I spend time "away" from my charge while preparing her food, but that is at a direct benefit to her.) People generally don't spend their time making personal calls at other jobs… the same should apply with nannies and au pairs, especially because there are little eyes watching our examples.

  3. I deal with my personal calls (dealing with businesses that are open only 9-5) very rarely and only during nap time and after all household chores are completed. My main text usage PERIOD is to text MB, grandma, or neighborhood nannies about plans for the day and to set up playdates/activities. I don't think it's unreasonable to require a nanny not to use her cell for anything but emergencies when out and about, at the park, at the pool, etc. While at home with the children independently playing the -occasional- personal text doesn't hurt, perhaps one to four a day. I think it's very important to keep under control, but at the same time, we nannies often work 10+ hour days and need to have some way of being able to be reached/reaching out to other adults during the day.

  4. I just think all the professional nannies that subscribe to this newsletter are constantly wanting nannies to be seen as professionals and constantly making personal texts and calls isn't helping our image. In a tough economy I think any employee at any job should limit their use of cell phones and being on Facebook during the work day.

  5. Due to the nature of our jobs I can't imagine not making personal business calls during the workday, as was mentioned above. Likewise my bosses understand that there is that personal business related errand that must get done during work hours.I have thought about this topic alot as I saw comments posted on this subject (temping only a few hours while charges are away). I wonder how many nannies actually track how much time they are on the phone with personal calls, texts, or posting online. Would they be surprised at what they learn if they did track this for a week?I have thought about what they have said about being lonely or bored… well one of the job realities is periods of being by oneself. I have done this position before cellphones and internet creation, and I survived. I did a lot more reading (like at naptimes). I did arts and crafts related stuff. I exercised. I gardened,it's a hobby (I was a live in and they paid for it.)Yesterday when my charge started his nap, I had 30 minutes before his mom came home to take over. And, she had told me to feel free to log on. BUT I didn't. At the library yesterday we check out a book that encouraged doing a project with paper squares in different colors. So while he fell asleep, I prepped a project related to that book. Didn't look at a phone or a computer. I felt it was a wise choice when MB saw how I used that time on the clock. This has motivated me to make a list of things I can be doing, that are more productive to the children in my care, and to me.Perhaps as a group we should do this together and get ideas from one another on what to do.

  6. Parents give us nannies cell phones also to track us with GPS systems! We work overtime, have no true lunch break, live-ins are paid under-the-table and now we cannot speak on the phone? If we are also watching the kids how is that a problem when parents do it all the time.Parents aren't speaking on cell phones at the playground? They are! When I sit quietly watching kids at activities the parents are loudly arguing with their spouse on the cell phone? Parents are more neglectful than nannies typically!Obviously I am not calling Trinidad Tobago on my EMPLOYER'S cell phone. When my boss gives me a phone I use it appropriately.

  7. Of course using cell phones to make playdates, keeping in touch with the parents, for emergencies, and occasional personal calls and texting is fine.

  8. If parents aren't intelligent enough to hire a professional, mature nanny that knows better than to be talking on the phone or texting when they should be watching the child(ren). Then that is their own fault. Don't place blame where it doesn't belong and punish everyone for one stupid person's mistake.

  9. I work 55 hours a week. I have to make calls occasionally to arrange my own life. An agency or a family that doesn't "get" that doesn't get my services.Do I talk/text/email constantly? No. I work as a nanny because I actually enjoy interacting with my charges, not so that I can ignore them and pay attention only to my electronic devices!

  10. @ Elizabeth: This isn't one person's stupid mistake. As an agency owner, one of the top reasons we get for families replacing a nanny is that they've caught them in situations where their children are being disregarded in favour of cell phone conversations, computer browsing and other social technology related things. This is NOT a matter of intelligence in hiring. This has become such a problem in the industry that it needs to be clarified by way of contract at our agency. We also don't allow cell phones in our office here to make a statement about what families expect.I completely understand the need for a cell phone for emergencies and that a call here and there throughout the way may be necessary to a friend or family member. But you would be fired from any other job for chatting on your cell phone or computer. Caring for children arguably requires much more attention to your work so in my opinion it is much more important to put it in your bag and pay attention to the children you're being paid to look after.

  11. The parents allow the children to watch tv, play video games and computer games that I am not allowed to do with the children. A neglectful nanny is a neglectful nanny and the cell phone is not the deciding factor.

  12. While I can say that I have worked for parents that had strict rules about TV, computer, and video games. But I can say I worked for an equal number who didn't.It is my choice to be a nanny that doesn't allow it a lot. Unless it's educational. My charges would say I let them have 30 minutes playing games. But they also tell friends, we don't always go on there are other things to do. 🙂 In DC on discussion boards this issue comes up often. Bosses get moderation. It's excessive that annoys them.And the bottom line is, you don't like it go to another job, and see if you can do it there.We are paid to do this job. It doesn't matter what parents do or don't do. That's the case in all occupations too. Nobody is holding guns to our heads saying we must be nannies. This is one of those things that does seperate the nannies on to different levels. What level do you choose to be on?

  13. Just a ridiculous concept: not taking a job because you have to work and not be texting your friends at work?! It's insane. Obviously we all will have to make a personal call here and there and we won't be fired. But to not take a job because the parents ask you to not text your friends at work is insane! You are being paid to work, not gossip!

  14. Sorry but that's not professional.Rationalize any way you want it's not appropriate for anyone in any profession. You will likely be fired if the parents find out!

  15. Interesting responses here. My situation is very unique (as I'm well aware after many years of nannying) but the family I work for currently are more friends than "bosses". They know I use my cell phone for personal calls and texts occasionally, but never at times when my charge truly needs my full attention for his safety. I do NOT believe it is in a child's best interest to be "fully engaged with an adult" for the entire day, I think they need time to be kids, be creative, and not being led in their activities. The parents I work for have the same philosophy. A typical day with my charge involves reading plenty of books, sometimes getting coffee/hot chocolate together, riding bikes to the park, a maximum of 30 minutes of YouTube cartoons, with frequent outings to hike, swim, go to the beach or farmer's market. I use my common sense. If he is safe and engaged at the park or having down time playing with his toys or watching a video, I will use that time as my "breaks" to check in with friends and family. If he is near the ocean, climbing high toys, on his bike etc. he has my undivided attention. A nice side effect of my laid back situation is that my parents and closest friends are also close with my charge and he often asks to say hello when they are on the phone. Everybody loves it, and everybody's happy. I have been taking care of him since he was 7 months old, he is now 3 and a half. I can't imagine loving him any more fiercely if he were my own. Yet I consider myself a writer and an artist, and lucky to be a nanny to a kid I adore for a stable income. I am less worried about being seen as a "professional" in my nanny life because that isn't my primary work identity, if that makes sense. I fully support nannies who do wish to be seen that way, but it's good to remember everyone's goals and situations are different. As long as there isn't any dishonesty going on with the parents, I say live and let live.

  16. I'm swaying back and forth but now seeing the fact that professionalism always should be priority and it's perfectly acceptable for a family to ask you to LIMIT personal calling and texting when at work. Sorry I know I'm swaying back and forth with this topic.

  17. Okay nannies: if you hire a babysitter or nanny do you want them to be texting and on Facebook as much as you are during the work day?

  18. I text, make/receive phonecalls and access the internet during work hours. I work 10.5 hours a day. 90% of the time I text/phone my employers/other nannies/my husband etc about things that I need to know then and that cannot wait till after work. Internet usage is generally looking up ideas for specific crafts / recipes and during nap time. I also help MB with her online business. I also upload photo's to FB regularly from my phone of things that I get up to the with children so MB can stay 'in-touch' throughout the day.They're fine with it. I don't abuse it at all and yes, if I hired a nanny / babysitter and they used the phone the same amount as I did I would be OK with it too.I think all day without any contact is a slight bit unreasonable. Plenty times I ignore my phone because I am busy and only when I have a moment free whilst everyone is happily playing then I check to see who needed me.

  19. Nannies taking calls would never be a problem as long as that calls are very important and would not harm or neglect the child’s safety. However, there are lots of reports regarding this matter and it affects the safety and well being of the children. Run a nanny background check first before hiring a nanny for you to find out if he or she has a record for this kind of matter.

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