setting nanny boundaries with families


Like any industry, setting nanny boundaries with an employer can be awkward and uncomfortable. As an employee, you want to be seen as willing and able to take on all tasks, but you also don’t want to be taken advantage of. So how can nannies set boundaries with your employers in a healthy, professional way?

Understand your worth

It’s important to recognize what exactly needs to be addressed when you feel the need to set a boundary arise. What is it that makes you uncomfortable or exhausted about what your employer is asking of you? For nannies, boundaries usually need to be set and cleared around job expectations. Nannies are first and foremost there to nurture and care for children, so you need to know that your value to the family lies in how great of a role model and caregiver you are. If you feel confident and worthy about your position and your strengths, it becomes a lot easier to assert yourself. You deserve to be treated with respect and it’s more than okay to ask for what you need.


Families are not mind readers! Busy parents have a lot going on in their lives, and that’s why they’ve hired you to help out. The unfortunate reality is that they may not stop and think about how asking you to stay late impacts or life, or how leaving messes for you to clean up without asking is disrespectful to you. Most parents are not doing these things maliciously, so it’s important to communicate clearly and articulately how their actions effect you, and how that in turn effects your ability to care for their children.

“If after you assert your boundaries and communicate your needs and they still are not being met, or you are being continuously disrespected, it may be time to reconsider the family you are working for.”

Address a boundary violation as it happens

Being an employee, and even more so being an employee in someone else’s home, it can be difficult and awkward to call out your employer on things that upset you. However, never forget that you are entitled to being treated how you want to be treated. After you have a clear conversation about setting a boundary, let’s say on advance notice on working extra hours, and a parent comes home late without communicating to you, it’s important to address that boundary violation right away. This way, the parent is able to recognize their behavior in the moment and more readily rectify it in the future. It does no good for anyone to stay silent, nurture resentment and explode at a later date. You don’t watch a child put a rock in it’s mouth and then tell it next week not to eat foreign objects, and the same goes for their parents.

Offer suggestions

An issue with setting boundaries with employers is the fear of not being seen as a hard worker. A great way to offset that fear is by coming into the conversation with suggestions on how to make the situation work for you. If your concern with the family is that they repeatedly come home late without letting you know in advance, stress the fact that it’s not that you are unwilling to stay late, but that you have a personal life. Offer the suggestion that if they know it is going to be a busy week in advance, they please let you know so that you know what to expect. Offering a solution is a great way to redirect, like you would with their child. It shows you want to do the best you can, but that something isn’t working out. It also helps set parameters moving forward to ensure that the boundary is not violated again in the future.

Be specific

Explain how the boundary violation is affecting your work. It is very beneficial if you can remove the “I” out of the need for the boundary and instead reflect on how it is affecting your employer. Get specific about how their lateness affects your ability to care for their child, reminding them that their actions not only affect you, but their child as well.

If after you assert your boundaries and communicate your needs and they still are not being met, or you are being continuously disrespected, it may be time to reconsider the family you are working for.
If you are a nanny now seeking a new family and need any assistance in the process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. Please also check out Homework Solutions, who has fantastic resources available to you



Have you been through this situation with something to share? Let us know below.

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