Some parents think that just because they’re paying a nanny’s salary, they are entitled to ask the world of her. I’ve had parents who are running their nanny ragged say to me, “I don’t care if she’s tired, I’m paying her to watch these kids!” Taking advantage of your nanny is not only wrong, but it can lead to safety issues. Nobody can be up all night with a baby and then chase after two older children all day long without mistakes and accidents occurring. If you stretch your nanny too thin your children will suffer and the nanny will quit; no one wins.

There is an illusion among some parents that money can buy anything, but that is simply not true. Just because you are paying someone to do a job doesn’t mean they are your property. As we said earlier, there are some things that parents have a right to expect from a nanny: warmth, love, respect of the rules, and devotion to all things childcare (physically, emotionally, and otherwise). Still, unless discussed ahead of time and the nanny agrees, parents do not have a right to ask the nanny to do anything that is not directly related to the child, no matter how much the pay. Some younger or inexperienced nannies, especially those new to the country, may desperately need the money and be uncomfortable saying “no” to employers. This is when exploitation can occur, and it is up to the parents to draw the line.

I always remind my clients: If your nanny is exhausted and overburdened, she is not going to be at her best for your child. Accidents happen when people are tired and distracted, and you want her to bring her A-game every single day. Above all, you need to be realistic about your expectations, and recognize that your nanny is a person, just like you.