Household Management Skills that Elevate Family Assistants and Nannies

Whether it’s part of a job or for yourself, managing a household is an important responsibility.

Whether it’s part of a job or for yourself, managing a household is an important responsibility. Many skills are needed, and these include managing a schedule, creating and implementing a chores list, shopping, and efficiently completing domestic tasks including cleaning, laundry, ironing, and sewing. Some people have a plan for every hour of the day while others enjoy living in the moment. Although the approach will differ for each person, having the tools to effectively manage the necessary tasks in our lives can help make them easier to achieve and reduce daily stress.

If you are working as a Nanny or Sitter, there may be confusion about the different roles and activities associated with your position. Some families assume Nannies are also household managers while these same Nannies may feel their role does not include any domestic chores and only requires supervising and caring for a child. For the purpose of this discussion, we will define the Nanny position as being responsible for the care of a child and the tasks associated with caring for a child which may include some directly related laundry, cooking, and cleaning.

Household managers also called Personal or Family assistants, help keep the family organized and are responsible for the day to day operation of a home with tasks including running errands, supervising home repair, laundry, cooking, and cleaning. These tasks apply to the entire family, not just the portions associated with childcare. Thus, a family could have a Nanny, a chef, and a housekeeper. Another family may have a Nanny who is also the Household Manager and cleans the home. Some families may have older children and just hire a household manager. No matter the role, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the position and what will be expected by both the employee and employer.

What type of tasks are included in household management?

Busy families, especially those with two working parents, may hire household management help so that the free time they have can be spent with the children instead of completing the household tasks. These roles provide a huge value to the family as it allows the parents time to spend with their kids, in a less stressed and often, a more meaningful way. Household management duties can include:

  • Shopping and Errands. Completing the shopping for a family may require trips to a few stores including grocery, hardware, general, drug, and pets stores as well as dry cleaning. Errands may also include getting the car washed or dropping items off at a local donation center.
  • Transportation. Transportation may involve taking the children to and from school or other activities. It may also involve taking other non-driving family members to doctor appointments or social engagements. To provide these services, you must have a safe driving record. You may be provided with an automobile to use as part of your employment, or you may have to rely on your personal transportation. Whether you use your personal vehicle or one owned by the family, it is important to make sure that you keep the automobile fueled and clean. You may like the challenge of running on empty, but a family will not appreciate the time lost to stop at the gas station when a child is supposed to be at soccer practice.
  • Food and meal preparation. Managing meals and safely handling food is a life skill. Having a basic understanding of nutrition will enhance the ability to plan healthy meals and author a grocery list. This depth of understanding in nutrition can be gained from online college courses.
  • Housekeeping. Everyone uses housekeeping skills to keep their home clean and organized. These include cleaning, especially the kitchen and bathrooms, making beds, taking out the trash, and washing laundry. Family assistants should understand what cleaners can be safely used on different surfaces, how different types of clothing can be laundered, how to unblock a toilet, and other household skills.
  • House and yard maintenance. Most household management positions do not include appliance, house or yard maintenance; however, the are becoming increasingly common with family assistant positions. House maintenance will require the identification of repairs needed such as the dryer not functioning correctly, or that the sink is blocked. To remedy, family assistants should be able to contact the service company desired by the employer and arrange for repairs. The family assistant may also be responsible for being at the home when repairmen are scheduled to arrive and collect any paperwork or invoices for work completed. In some cases, basic yard care such as cutting the grass and edging may be included in the job description. It’s not reasonable that an assistant would know how to repair a broken lawn mower so make sure the equipment is in good condition and serviced regularly. Similarly, if a large tree has died and needs removed, this is a task for a professional.
  • Pet care. Pet care will depend on the type of pet, but activities may include providing food and water for that pet. Walking a do or cleaning cat litter boxes are also common household management pet care tasks.

What is the most important task when managing a household?

If you are working for an employer or a family in a position that has you paying for family expenses, it is vital to clearly communicate how the money will be managed. Clarify how and when employer money can be used as this is very important to make sure the employer is the decision maker for how their funds are spent. For example, an employer may agree to pay for all grocery and fuel expenses that are directly related to approved tasks. Make sure to provide receipts that itemize all expenses.

Make sure you clearly understand when and how to use employer money so you can be confident and comfortable with managing the money allocated. Families may allow meals to be added if a mealtime occurs as part of a child event, such as buying lunch at the concession stand during a baseball tournament. It is never appropriate to use employer money for your personal items or expenses – these should be paid from your salary, not employer cash.

There are several ways to manage expenses including developing a petty cash process. Petty cash can be actual cash provided in advance or a pre-paid credit card. It is vital that every purchase made with employer funds is tracked with a receipt. You should be able to account for and provide documentation for every cent. This means remembering and keeping all receipts from the dry cleaner and all the stores. At least every two weeks or less, you should provide an expense report to your employer that lists the amount of money spent, date of transaction, and items purchased. The report should total the amount spent and the amount of funds remaining.

To learn more, a Household Management course is available with enrollment in the Specialist Childcare program at

Babysitter, Nanny, Family Assistant: What Do I Need?

Childcare is a must, so where do you start?

You have young children and need time to work. Childcare is a must, so where do you start? Do you need a Nanny, a Family Assistant, or should you use daycare and augment with a Babysitter? There are so many different terms and titles, it can certainly feel overwhelming! “A big challenge in the industry is that terms are often confused. It leads to a disconnect in expectations making it harder for families and nannies to manage expectations about job duties and compensation.” Shares Daryl Camarillo, Owner of Stanford Park Nannies.

While there are training programs and state requirements for daycare workers and teachers, no qualifications are required for nannies and sitters who work in our homes. “Licensed childcare certification programs for nannies, are vital in helping families ensure their children are cared for by qualified persons” shared Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval, a child psychologist, adjunct professor, and a mom. “Nannies and Sitters investing in affordable and high-quality training not only gain practical skills but also enable a career path, just like teachers and other professionals.”

Understand Your Family Needs

Childcare costs are often the second largest family expense and the salary you can afford to pay is one of the most important elements to finding a great nanny. What is your budget? When you have determined how much you can invest in childcare, you can then determine the tasks you need to be completed. How many hours of childcare are needed? Do you need backup care if the nanny isn’t available? Do you need overnight care? Take time to write out as many of the logistical needs as possible and create a separate list of all the activities and tasks that need to be completed.

Align Your Needs to Childcare Job Titles

Matching the family needs to childcare job titles and skills is vital to find the best fit. Families can’t realistically hire Nanny Poppin at a babysitter rate so it’s important to understand the different types of sitters, nannies, and family assistants. Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Babysitters may have some childcare experience but are often early in their childcare career.

1. Parents’ Helper

Parents’ Helpers are considered babysitters-in-training, as they help care for children under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian. Often too young or inexperienced to care for children independently, Parents’ Helpers play with children, feed babies or make easy lunches, and perform light housework. An entry-level position in childcare, Parents’ Helpers should have CPR and First Aid training but may not have experience working with children. For those less than 16 years old, the American Red Cross offers an online class and local YMCA’s may host a babysitter training day.

2. Babysitter

Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Usually working for a few hours in the evening or during the weekend, Babysitters may supervise playtime, provide parent-approved snacks, and help children get ready for bed. Sitters may do light housekeeping, such as washing the dishes or emptying the diaper bin. Sitters should have CPR and First Aid certification and it’s recommended they compete for childcare training.

3. Nanny (Part or Full Time)

Nannies have contracted, consistent work for at least 3 months but usually a year or more. Nannies are responsible for one or more children throughout the workday while family members are at their places of employment. Care includes providing meals and activities for the children and may also include taking the children on outings and providing additional support such as transporting children to and from school, from school to clubs, sports practices, play-dates, and other activities. Nannies work autonomously and may have full responsibility to care for the children when families are out of town.

All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and invest in childcare training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers.

4. Professional Nanny and Family Assistants

Professional Nannies are the central core to managing all schedules, logistics, and needs for the entire family. Daryl Camarillo describes the role of a professional nanny. “Families think of [professional] nannies as in-home professionals who do everything to care, nurture, and develop the children. These include household duties related to childcare and the upkeep of the home such as washing bottles, meal preparation for the children, emptying diaper bins, and the child’s laundry. Families are seeking nannies to take the child to activities and invest in their development and growth. They view the nanny as part of the childcare team.”

Professional Nannies can have different types of specialization based on training and experiences that elevate their skills as family assistants, early childhood educators, or special needs caregivers. Family assistants (sometimes referred to as Household Managers or Nanny Managers) perform childcare duties with additional responsibilities such as managing a weekly schedule, scheduling and attending doctor appointments, picking up the dry cleaning, planning and hosting birthday parties, household organization, shopping, pet care, meal planning, and preparing meals for the family. Family Assistants are often committed to the role as their primary employment and have the maturity to work unsupervised while remaining responsible for several children and an allocated budget.

Family Assistants have a combination of childcare experience, training, and organizational skills. Family Assistants often have between 2 to 5 years of in-home childcare experience with additional experience managing their own household or working in the service industry as a personal chef, pet sitter, or cleaning service provider. The majority have CPR and First Aid certification, and most have completed childcare and household management programs.

Specialist Nannies have varying qualifications that often include college degrees in Early Childhood Education, Special Needs Education, or Psychology with diverse work experiences as a nanny, in daycares, teaching, or advocacy positions. Specialists may also be travel nannies or are specially training in Montessori, RIE, or Waldorf child development approaches. Specialist Nannies are passionate about their work and are often leaders in the nanny industry. Many Specialist Nannies work for high profile and/or high net worth families and find themselves extremely desirable within the nanny market.

Leverage Resources

After listing your family needs and matching job titles, you can use online resources and local networks to seek candidates or work through a nanny agency. Many families network with other parents, talk to daycare and children activity leaders, as well as use online job boards to find great nannies and sitters. “It’s time-consuming to screen and interview potential sitters,” said Lisa Merriweather, a working mother in Los Angeles. “I look for an investment in childcare training and I always call their references after conducting a background check.” A reputable nanny or domestic placement service can also help find top nannies and sitters in your area, saving you time and effort.

How Children Can Discover and Share Their Family History

Learning about their history, children can gain a sense of self by knowing more about their heritage and culture.

Many children are interested in the history of their family although they don’t always seek out and ask about family members. Learning about their history, children can gain a sense of self by knowing more about their heritage and culture.

Holidays and family gatherings such as reunions and weddings often bring together extended family members. Children may not spend a lot of time with some of these relatives and may feel shy or a little uncertain at first. Encouraging children to politely ask questions about a person and their memories can help ease this uncertainty and provide the child with a sense of belonging.

Photos and letters were once the way to store family memories; however, technology has given us a myriad of ways to preserve our family stories. Digital photo albums can be turned into books with scripts to document the pictures. Online family trees can give children and other family members a sense of who their ancestors were and where they once lived. Audio files can be used in documenting a life in the person’s own voice. Formal and informal videos can be used to document an individual’s or family’s journey. With modern technology, family histories and e can be captured and preserved in many ways.

Children of all ages can be encouraged to listen and learn about family history. Young children may be encouraged to draw pictures to illustrate the stories they hear. If a child is into photography, they may take portraits of the family members they visit. Older children may want to create audio or video computer files. A great way to preserve a family recipe would be to make a video of elder family members teaching the younger generation how to fix the special meal. It doesn’t matter what medium is used, the focus is on sharing and preserving the stories and memories.

Some people are more comfortable talking about themselves than others, so make sure this activity doesn’t result in a stressful or tense situation. The goal is relaxed storytelling. Guiding regular conversations with leading questions can garner a lot of information. Here are a few traditional questions children can use to start a conversation:

  • Where were you born?
  • Do you have brothers and sisters?
  • Who were your parents and how did they meet?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Did you have any pets when you were growing up?

Couple with laptop

Non-traditional questions can provide interesting and previously unknown information about a family member. Some non-traditional questions may include:

  • What was a normal day like when you were a child? What time did you wake up? Did you have chores? What did you do on an average school day? What types of foods did you eat?
  • How did you celebrate different holidays as a child? What foods were served? Where did you celebrate? Who came to the celebrations?
  • What do you remember about school? Who was your best friend? Who was your favorite teacher? What was your favorite subject? What did you like the least?
  • What type of music do you like? What is your favorite song? Who is your favorite singer or group?
  • What happened during your life that I might learn about in history class? Were there any significant political events? Were there any wars, and if so, how were you impacted personally? Were there any large major disasters like the Kennedy Assassination or 9/11?

Gathering and sharing important family memories and stories is a tradition that should be passed to our children. If you need more ideas for conversation starting questions, there are a lot of examples on the web. Although this activity is designed to share family history, it can also be important to discuss family medical histories. In an age of modern medicine, knowing the family prevalence of heart disease or breast cancer can help younger generations get health screenings.

Creating a digital family history should not be a one-time activity, but should be maintained and expanded as the family grows and changes. As family members gather, it is an opportunity to expand the digital family history to capture new stories and memorabilia. A digital family history facilitates sharing photos, stories, and videos with everyone so that great, great, great, great-grandchildren can feel a connection to our lives today.

Add Colorful Autumn Fruits and Vegetables to Family Meals

When Autumn arrives, most people think of the beautiful colors of the trees that fill the hillsides and incorporate these colors into their décor.

When Autumn arrives, most people think of the beautiful colors of the trees that fill the hillsides and incorporate these colors into their décor. The reds, yellows, oranges, and other Autumn colors are used in both indoor and outdoor displays. Why not brighten your table by adding these beautiful colors to your meal plate?


Colorful foods can make your meal more enticing and children often respond to color. To get into the Fall spirit, show children the various fruits and vegetables available at a neighborhood farmer’s market or grocer. Let each child “design” their meal plate by picking out 3 fruits and vegetables.

For meal preparation ideas, let’s start with breakfast. A colorful breakfast can be tricky as many foods lack color – eggs, pancakes, waffles, cereals, and toast are all neutral colored. Even the proteins we traditionally add such as bacon, sausage, and ham are not particularly colorful. The easiest way to add color is through fruits. Colorful, seasonal fruits include blood oranges, Barbados cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, grapefruit, lemons, cantaloupe, blackberries, and raspberries. These can be added as a side dish, incorporated as a breakfast juice or smoothie, or added to yogurt.

Lunch and dinner are good times to incorporate colorful seasonal vegetables in your meal plan. The dark greens are in season this time of year and include broccoli, spinach and kale. Orange vegetables in season include carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Yellow corn and squash can brighten a plate as well as the more dramatic purple eggplant.


There are numerous sources for recipes involving all these seasonal foods with cookbooks, recipes on Pinterest, and a website dedicated to healthy meals. Remember, for most foods, they should be minimally processed to get the most nutrients. Berry cobblers are delicious, but a simple serving of washed berries in a healthy yogurt can give the appearance of a treat while keeping the nutritious value high with a reduced caloric intake. For example, 1 cup of blackberry cobbler may contain 488 calories, providing 12% Daily Value of Vitamin A, 29% of Vitamin C, and 27% of Calcium. A half-cup of blackberries in a ½ cup of plain fat-free yogurt may contain 176 calories, providing 9% Daily Value of Vitamin A, 37% of Vitamin C, and 48% of Calcium.

Kids may have strong ideas about foods and be hesitant to try new things. Don’t be discouraged – to try new recipes. Children should learn about new foods, textures, and combinations so they can find foods they enjoy while getting the nutrition they need.

To learn more, a Nutrition Basics course is available with enrollment in the Advanced Childcare program.

Benefits and Considerations Before Accepting a Live-In Nanny Job

As a live-in nanny, you will work, eat and sleep under the same roof as the family and children.

Are you considering a position as a live-in nanny? If so, there are a lot of things to consider as this is not a typical job. As a live-in nanny, you will work, eat and sleep under the same roof as the family and children. This means you do not leave your job in the same manner as others, so you will have to be disciplined to ensure you have time off and leave your job duties.

A live-in nanny wears many hats. Sometimes you will be a teacher, a best friend, a mediator, an assistant, a first aid technician and so much more. Whenever you are in the home, even if you are not ‘on the clock’, you must act as an extension of the parent, guardian or employer in regard to the care of the children and household management. This means that although you may have your own style, it is imperative that you be cohesive with the parent’s philosophy on raising their children with their household rules.

There are some unique and wonderful benefits to live-in nanny jobs. These include:

1. Special bonds with the children and family. This is a wonderful way to engage on a more personal level with the children and parents as you will be there for the bumps and bruises but also the milestones and triumphs. You gain an extended family as you are part of the family day-to-day activities.

2. Save money. By living where you work, you can save money on housing, utilities, food, and other household costs like buying pots and pans. This really adds up and you can save a lot more of your income for other things.

3. Save time. Since there is no commute to work, you can save a lot of time each day and re-allocate that time for other activities such as fitness, education, or fun.

4. Benefits. Depending on the family, you may get additional benefits which may include a paid cell phone, use of a family car, domestic and international travel, and access to community amenities such as pools, basketball courts, and walking trails. Families may also invest in online training, so you can better care for the children and advance your childcare career. If you are seeking a career in a new city, being a live-in nanny or childcare provider can take you almost anywhere you wish to go, especially big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

woman placing children in car seatsWorking as a live-in nanny is a unique job and comes with some important considerations:

1. Household Management. It’s important to know that living with an Employer is different from sharing an apartment; a Nanny is not an equal housemate. Therefore, you must be sure to discuss all information including the policy for friends visiting, overnight guests, and pets during the interview process.

2. Privacy. When moving into the house, it’s important to establish privacy rules for the quarters that are dedicated to the Nanny. This means politely but consistently asking the family, including children, to knock at your bedroom door and not to enter the room. This may be best accomplished by keeping your bedroom door closed when you are not working.

3. Professional Boundaries. As you become more comfortable with the family and they become comfortable with you, make sure you keep some professional boundaries. This is where the delicate balance of being a live-in nanny comes into play. Its best to decide which information, in terms of yourself, should remain personal or private. It’s up to you to be able to differentiate which boundaries you hold in your professional life vs. your personal life.

When interviewing for a live-in nanny position, there are a lot of things that should be discussed with the family. A work agreement or employment contract can be used as a tool to help cover all the topics. A free 30-minute class, as well as a live-in work agreement template, can be found at Sharing this agreement and discussing the details for employment, childcare needs, and household management expectations will make sure everyone has the same expectations. A mutually agreed-to work agreement created before accepting the live-in nanny role will help ensure you get uninterrupted time off as well as prevent job creep (additional duties that arise and get added to the job as time passes).

Mother and daughter having fun time in bed roomHaving a great relationship with the family is a wonderful benefit. You may become great friends but remember that you are also an employee. If you are going through a personal issue that may impact your work (such as learning a direct family member has a serious medical issue), then it’s important to share this information with your employer. However, if you and your best friend are having another argument, it’s likely not good to share this personal information with your employer.

Being a live-in nanny is a very rewarding experience but do not accept this type of position without understanding all the expectations. Honestly, working and living within the same residence as your employer takes a certain amount of discipline, character, and hard work. If you truly love children, and you present yourself in a professional manner both on and off work hours, you may find a live-in nanny position to be a very rewarding job.

To learn more about becoming a Live-in Nanny, a Tips for Live-In Nannies course is offered free with enrollment in any Amslee Institute program at

About the Author. Karli Ortmann is a professional nanny with over 8 years of experience including live-in and live-out positions. Karli is working on her Master of Art in Counseling from Chicago Professional School of Psychology and earned a Bachelor of Art in Psychology from St. Xavier University. Karli is an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute.