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Dishes in the sink

2015 January 19


  • Is this a familiar sight on your Monday (or Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday) morning?
  • Are you fed up of having to empty the sink and clean the worktops before you can start work?
  • Is this in your job description?



We’re going to bet that your answers were ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’. It’s a pretty common nanny gripe. Parents who leave their dirty dishes from the night before for you to clean up. And it’s not cool. Nannies are there to look after the children, not clean up after the parents, but when you have to clean up after the parent in order to look after the children, what’s a nanny to do?

  1. You can wash up, or load the dishwasher, and seethe quietly. The upside is that the kitchen in clean and you can use it. The downside is that the parents are going to keep doing it.
  2. You can leave the dishes. Upside is you don’t have to do it and the parents might get the point, downside you have to work around last night’s dirty dishes and if they don’t get the point you’re going to run out of pots and pans at some point.
  3. You can wash up their dishes but leave yours. Upside you save yourself some washing up. Downside clearing up after yourself probably is in your job description, and tit-for-tat is just petty.
  4. You can talk to them about it. Upside you look professional and hopefully it will resolve the situation. Downside you have to pin them down and be diplomatic about it.


If you’re worried about tackling your employers then take heart – you are not the only nanny who doesn’t want to wash up after your employers.

Don’t know what to say? Try these phrases:

‘It makes my job very difficult when I need to wash up the previous night’s dishes. Could you leave the kitchen in a useable state in the morning, please?’

‘I’m happy to do the odd piece of washing up – breakfast coffee mugs and so on – but it isn’t really part of my job description and it takes time and attention away from the children.’

‘I feel like you undervalue the work I put in to providing care and education for your children when you assume I will do household jobs like washing up.’

‘I’m happy to be flexible but this is happening regularly and I’d like to find a solution.’


And just in case there was any doubt – no, it’s not okay to expect nannies to do washing up they didn’t create!

One Response Post a comment
  1. Jo palmer permalink
    January 31, 2015

    I come in to work to this sort of thing morning, i have to wash down the worktops to enable me to start work with the little one, it’s so unfair, and takes time away from her.
    I have noticed that over time the dishes and general mess has doubled, the bins overflow, the waste food bin (stored on the draining board) is also overflowing.. not a nice sight and smell first thing in the morning!

    Can someone tell me why parents assume as well as looking after the children (that is what we are there to do) we as nannies are expected to wash clothes, clean and cook for them too!
    I thought our duties were supposed to be all child related, unless of course we are employed as nanny/housekeepers.

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