Professional vs. Unprofessional Phone Use by Nannies and Caregivers

CUP0094991As the largest domestic placement agency here in California, we see a lot of what works and what doesn’t work for the families who hire through us. Most of the families we’re working with these days want to be able to communicate easily and effectively with their in-home employees, including through emailing, texting and good old fashioned phone calls. And just like so many of us these days, our candidates are doing their emailing, texting and phone calls using their smart phones. No doubt about it, smart phones are fun and super useful, and every day they’re becoming a more important as work tools.

The best piece of advice we can give is to talk to your employer about their rules and expectations. Start your job off right by having a conversation about how the two of you will try to communicate day to day. That said, after having had many, many conversations about it with families, here are a few examples of what we have found to be appropriate or inappropriate phone usage while on the job:

Appropriate Phone Usage:

  • Mid-day updates for mom & dad.
  • Using the alarm and timer features.
  • Photographing cute events throughout the day that may be of interest to the parents.
  • Communicating with parents throughout the day addressing any concerns or requests they might have.
  • Making shopping lists requested by employers.
  • Recording important notes given from employers.
  • Using the calculator for superior math tutoring.
  • Surfing the web for fun craft and activity ideas.


  • Personal calls and text messages.
  • Asking for a raise. Discussions about compensation are completely appropriate, but they should always be done in person.
  • Canceling with your employer at the last minute via text message. Cancelling should only be done as an absolute last resort, and if you have to do it, please call instead.
  • Asking for vacation time via text message. Again, conversations like this should be in person, with any confirmation on dates or other arrangements made by email.
  • Scrolling through and posting on various social media sites.
  • Playing games on your phone.
  • Any cell phone use that distracts your attention away from your job, especially any use that distracts your attention away from the kids you are caring for.

We haven’t tried to address every situation here, and these are just some examples. Open, honest & direct communication is key to building trust and a positive working relationship! And a great place to start those lines of communication is to have a conversation about it with the family you work with. You’ll end up improving your own level of professionalism while also taking advantage of all that modern technology has to offer!