We’re proud of the community we have at Sittercity. Babysitters and nannies regularly check in with each other to share info and ask questions in our Facebook group. Everyone is so willing to share their experience and advice to build up others and the profession as a whole. It’s really a beautiful thing.

To continue supporting our sitters and nannies in their professional development, we asked our community, “What advice would you give to other sitters about respecting your boundaries?” Thank you to everyone willing to share your thoughts and make us stronger for it!

This is important, you don’t want to end up resenting or feeling stressed. Make it clear and respectful from the start. If it gets pushed, ask for either a pay raise or put your foot down.
Alexis W. | Sacramento, CA

I personally am almost always flexible on times so before parents leave I just ask them what they think their “ish” will be for return times. If I’m asked to sit on a day I have specific time constraints I let the family know as soon as asked. I also let them know that basic sitter side tasks (clean up of messes made, getting dishes done etc) is something I always do, and that if they need me to do any driving, do laundry, or other tasks I certainly do not mind but it would involve a $5/hr upcharge for the time needed for those things, with a minimum of 1 hour.
Marie M. | Bensalem, PA

I encourage nannies to have a contract written up. Parents outlining the responsibilities and things in place like fees on overtime, or if a family needs more additional duties taken care of. Don’t be afraid to say “I need a day or two notice if you require this.” Parents need to remember you are there to provide a wonderful service to them and their children. You have your own personal life that is separate.
Linda S. | Tewksbury, MA

My sincere advice on all these issues: If you are finding they come home late due to weather, let it go. If it has to do with their job, ask to be compensated for your additional time needed. As far as having more work duties added after you negotiated a pay rate, politely state these were not considered when you were negotiating the pay rate. Let them know you would like to be compensated for the additional duties
Catherine S. | Limerick, PA

Have a contract. And learn to be a good communicator.
Celeste D. | Pacheco, CA

Sitters have to set up all details in a contract. Emails at least. It’s essential to know the boundaries of the family as well. If the professional follows the rules and demonstrate is working satisfied, the confidence between family and sitters increases.
Elce M. | Miami, FL

Charge a late fee. Obviously life happens and you can accommodate that as needed (if there was an accident on their way home or something), but if they are just staying out to stay out, I would charge a late fee after your agreed-upon hours. If you are adding more work duties, increase the pay. You were hired for a job so do it thoroughly. But if parents want you to do more, it’s fair to ask for more in pay.
Holly B. | Appleton, WI

It is much easier to establish boundaries in the very beginning. Before employment, have your boundaries written into the contract so you are on the same page.
Kim G. | Philadelphia, PA

The key to this is setting those expectations BEFORE you begin working with them. In my experience, having an employment contract is critical. My employers have provided this in the past, but going forward, if I were to take another job where this was not offered, I would write one myself for both parties to sign. This can be a simple document that can be negotiated outlining what your responsibilities are, what times you’re expected to work, how time off will be requested, holidays, traveling with the family, what your pay rate will be for overtime, how/if extra duties should be added to your workload, etc. This will ensure you and your employers are on the same page about everything, preventing confusion and tension later. If boundaries aren’t set before you begin, it is very hard (though not impossible) to set them later. But if you and your employer have this contract to look back on, it can be clear that them asking you to wash the car, for example, is not part of your duties and that if they want you to do it, you need to be additionally compensated. This helps clear any and all confusion and keeps both you and your employer accountable. Protecting your boundaries is the number one most important thing in keeping you from feeling burnt out.
Hannah B. | Austin, TX

As much as you may grow to love the family you work for and vice versa, it is still your job and you should expect to be treated as any other professional. Working overtime or having added work duties, should be discussed beforehand and compensated accordingly. A nanny’s off time/personal time is not up to anyone else to dictate and if a parent was repeatedly coming home late with no notice then it would be time for a serious sit-down. Your personal time is not invaluable just because you are working in someone’s home.
Jamie M. Weymouth, MA

Be flexible if possible as long as you are compensated and it’s not interfering with your personal life. Bare in mind Daycare’s charge high rates for lateness because there’s always that one person who will take advantage if they can. Be firm to stick to the original agreement as much as possible. You can’t play by the rules if the rules keep changing. You require mutual respect. Always be punctual and expect them to be. Anything out of the ordinary should be optional. Don’t be afraid to say no. If you do and they retaliate you’re in the wrong home.
Rajean C. | Palmetto, GA

Looking for more advice from other caregivers? Check these out:
Getting Started As A Sitter
Setting Your Pay Rate
How To Get To Know A New Family
How To Tell A Family It’s Not A Good Fit

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