Nanny Perks: Working Out While on the Job

A PSP member's nanny asked if she could go to the gym while she was working. Members discuss the pros and cons of giving a nanny this perk.


Original Post:

Hoping to get some feedback from the group about a request made by our nanny. Our building has a small gym space in it and has asked if we are okay with her using it while watching our child. A portion of the gym space is also the children's play area with some toys for children. I'm really torn on how to respond to the nanny's request. Part of me thinks it is not a big deal if our 6 month old is in a jumparoo or blanket with some toys while the nanny runs on a treadmill/works out. I mean, I've considered doing that myself to sneak in a quick workout. And when the weather gets bad, it will be nice to have a space to get out of the apartment to. But part of me is also I'm paying you to watch my kid, not workout. I also don't want it to turn into her going down while she is napping or the gym turning into the babysitter's babysitter. And while she is still not mobile, in a couple of months that will be changing and it's scary to think she could get into something while the nanny is focused on her workout. Am I being unreasonable/over thinking this?




Allow, with conditions. Compromise with a solution you feel comfortable with:

I think that I would ask myself would my boss (even if you work for yourself, you're still a boss to yourself;) pay me to work out while at work? I work for myself and would be disappointed that I used my work time to regularly focus on personal time.  Everyone occasionally needs to use work time to take care of their personal life. Whether it is running out to go to the dentist/doctor/therapist, etc, pay a bill or stop at a store. But these are "sometimes" personal activities, not every day.  I think to keep the peace, I would allow for a once a week work out.  Keep a set day for this. If it is a flexible situation where your nanny can choose when she wants to work out, you may find yourself not knowing if she is sticking to the one day a week agreement. Meaning that if the day of the week changes regularly this may lead to the opportunity of working out more than once a week."


Don't allow. Your nanny should use her downtime to do additional household tasks:

"I write as a mom who employs a nanny and as a former nanny. Personally I think it takes a lot of gall to ask and is totally unreasonable. If your daughter is sleeping her time could be spent tidying up the child's clothes, bottles etc. I had a lot of downtime as a nanny and I did light laundry, cooked, tidied and if all that was finished I read- you're paying for her time and that time should be dedicated to you and yours. I love our nanny and we are on very friendly terms but if she asked me if she could use our buildings gym and work out while she was on the clock I would seriously question her commitment to the care of my child.  Just one person's opinion."


Don't allow.

"I would not be comfortable with a nanny working out while watching my child. I am paying her to work not workout.  Maybe she could use the facilities after work as a perk? I think you are right ---there are not- so- great scenarios for the future if she gets into the habit of working out while watching your child.  Maybe she could walk your child in the stroller for a nice outing for them with a side benefit of exercise for her. (I always want to support people exercising, so I can see the flip side...)"


Allow, with condition. Working out happens after working hours:

"I wonder if you can offer your nanny the option of using the workout space before or after work/watching your daughter.  That might be a compromise - she can use the equipment and it is a nice perk if she doesn't have someplace else to workout, but it doesn't affect the quality of time/attention paid to your child.  Otherwise I think you have to decide for yourself what you are ultimately comfortable with during the time you are paying her to watch your child - which is not unreasonable - and it doesn't sound like you are comfortable with this.



"I say let her. As with any other employer, it benefits you if your employee is healthier. Fewer sick days, more energy and lower stress while looking after your child. It's nice that she asked you; suggests that she may have good discretion in deciding when is an appropriate time for the baby to have some independent playtime. It benefits even a young baby to have some alone time on a blanket to develop motor skills and take in the world. Also, as you say having a different playroom to go to in cold weather could be invaluable."


Allow, with condition. See how it goes.

 "This is a unique nanny situation, but as far as these things go a "good" issue to contemplate. I've employed a nanny for 6 years and have 3 kids. My gut says that this is absolutely okay for NOW. I think that it's better to try out seemingly reasonable and low-risk requests but evaluate them along the way. You may want to say ok now but perhaps not when baby's more mobile- you'll talk abt it then. Feel free to put some other qualifiers on it, like not during naptime (or maybe during nap time if you don't mind a stroller snooze, so awake time includes more interaction). Or maybe a time limit, no more than an hour. Also, kind of an odd question, will she  shower after? In short, this seems like a nice little perk to offer, as long as you emphasize that it baby is first priority, rest of day is baby focused. Good luck mama!


Don't Allow.

"That is an inappropriate request, although I can see her thinking. Would your employer allow you to do something similar? Most likely not. What she is asking for is something she should do on her personal time, not when she is watching your baby."


Allow. Considering the inconsistent scheduling of a nannying, she might not get the breaks she deserves to take care of personal needs.

"Do you get a lunch break on your job where you are able to do whatever you like? You don't have to do your job on that lunch break unless you want to, correct?  Does your nanny get a lunch break to herself? Say, when the baby is sleeping? I am only saying this because some people are saying when the baby is sleeping, she should be cleaning, cooking, etc.. IMO, the nanny is there to take care of the child and the child's needs. Yes, some cleaning (for the child) and cooking (for the child) and various other things for the child (laundry), should be done especially if the child is an infant and sleeps for long periods of time.  But, if the child is sleeping and the nanny has a half hour or an hour to herself, why begrudge her that time when most everyone out there does get some sort of lunch break by their own jobs?"


Allow. Keep the relationship great.

"How true. Why do so many parents want to wring the last nickel out of their nannies?  Be grateful that you have a nanny who is responsible and caring. The more you respect them and treat them the way you expect to be treated as an employee, the better your relationship and your child's relationship with the nanny will be."


Allow. It's a nice perk that doesn't cost you anything.

"Being a nanny is an intense job. I think this could be a nice perk. Whether OK in working hours I would likely decide based on your nanny's response to how she would make sure your child was cared for properly during this time. I would also be prepared for 'sticky beaks' if any of your neighbor's notice your nanny working out while supervising and come to tell you out of concern!!"



"Do you work from home?  If you work from home, I would say give your nanny a lunch break when you can and let her know that is her free time and she can use the gym at that time. If not, let her know that you're not ok with her working out while watching the baby. Its going to be hard for her to concentrate on her workout and the a sleeping baby in a stroller. i don't know how the gym is set up, but its makes no sense for her to try and do it.  What about before she starts work or after? When I was a nanny a few years back, my DR was on my case to lose some weight. My family was on 4th street and I would run over to the Y on 9th street and get in a quick work out for 30 mins because my boss worked from home. On days that she had meetings around that time, I would go in the morning or after work.  You want to make your nanny happy yes, but sometimes you have to be stern about.  Good luck, A former nanny and someone who now have a nanny :)"



"I would let her work out at least for now. If you trust her to watch your child you should trust her to be able to use judgment on what would be appropriate. Having the baby in a bouncy seat while she does some planks or stretches will amuse the baby. And even some elliptical time while the baby naps or plays in an exersaucer doesn't seem bad to me. Once the baby is mobile I would think she would stop working out based on judgment of not being able to watch the baby as easily. But then she will also be able to get out of the house more. Oh and it seems ridiculous to think the nanny should only clean or do other housework while the baby is napping. Let her manage her time to get both her responsibilities done as well as take care of her personal needs."


Don't allow. Working out takes more than an hour when you factor in stretching and showering.

"I agree with the poster who says you should offer to let her use the gym before or after her work is over. That is a huge perk. I am very surprised people are saying you should let her work out while on the job.  I can see what she is thinking-- I thought the same thing. I have a stationary bike in our apt and I was sure I'd be able to use it, but keep mind it's not just 20 minutes working out, you are then sweaty and have to clean up plus stretching and warm up. Even a simple workout ends up taking an hour. I also found I would get frustrated because I'd be in the middle and the girls would start fussing. It's not like reading a book or even talking on the phone, where you can pause and go right back.  (Also I would note when my babysitters have down time on the job they have offered to do something else to help out. One sitter started folding baby clothing. The other has offered to make baby food. I didn't ask them to do these things --they offered and when needed I accept.)  Good luck!"


Allow, with conditions.

"I think the answer depends on the setup of the gym- if she can keep her eye on your child the whole time she is working out, or someone else can do so during brief periods when she cant, then I'd be open to allowing it. it also depends on your level of trust of your nanny and her judgment.  Your child's very young age doesn't help- I think with some older ages if they can talk to you and listen to direction it helps to allow this. I have a 9 year old and could see this as an option if there was a place for him to do his homework for a half hour while she exercises for a half hour, for example. Maybe not the very best thing for him but once a week, why not. But a baby- tread carefully for safety reasons.  Here is an example of what may be very inappropriate - I saw a nanny bring 2 kids or something, to my gym which has free childcare. If she got approval from the family great- but if not, it occurred to me that she was getting paid to work out for that hour or more and that was pretty ballsy."


Disclaimer: This post has been written for educational purposes only by Park Slope Parents and is not meant to be legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice or be relied upon. The post may contain errors, inaccuracies and/or omissions. We recommend checking with a professional for specific advice.