Monday Problem: Should I move heavy boxes?

Hi Nanny X,

I’m in a sticky situation at work because I’m a live in Nanny and I like my job a lot. I’ve been with the family for 8 months now and care for two infants, twins. My job involves housecleaning and sometimes I walk the dog. I don’t mind because it’s all part of my daily job. I like to stay busy. The mom and dad work all day outside of the home, long hours like 7-7. At weekends they go to the country and I am off. I really like this family and up until now have been very happy. 

Then last week my boss (mom) asked me to sort out the family storage in the basement of their building over the weekend.  It’s like one small room. I said ‘okay’ I don’t mind. I figured it would take like hour tops. When they came back she looked at the storage and frowned. “Oh I needed that stuff boxed up” She pointed to a pile of heavy folders.  “Okay” I said “No problem”. I got old boxes and put folders in the boxes after 7pm when they got home.

Today she (mom) send me text “Oh P….. can you bring up the boxes to apartment because my husband’s assistant will pick them up.” I’m like ‘are you serious?’ with two little ones plus those boxes are too damned heavy. I don’t want to hurt my back. I know she won’t like it if I say ‘no’ – but I’m p****d she’s asking me to do it. Can you help me?


Dear P.G,

you sound like a resourceful Nanny. Organizing a client’s storage area on your time off quite frankly was a generous gesture. If it was a one-off request (which I suspect it is not) going the extra mile for your client is a positive move. The employer/employee relationship especially if it is in the home, involves plenty of flexibility. 

But as you suspected I think a line has been crossed this time. Moving heavy boxes is not a Nanny’s job. Plus it’s asking you to compromise your primary care of the children, because how can you move heavy boxes and watch them? 

There are ways around this without causing a major confrontation. 

Why don’t you ask your client whether the super or building staff or her husband’s assistant could move the boxes for her? You can cite health and safety rules adding that you would not want to risk injuring your back. I doubt she will have an issue with that. If for some strange reason she insists that you move the boxes you must politely but firmly decline. 

I had a good (Nanny) friend once who moved some heavy boxes for her employer. She injured her back and was off work for 6 months. The employers paid for chiropractic adjustments but she did not receive any sick pay or compensation for a loss of earnings. As a gracious gesture the said family kept open her position for her. But my friend declined. It had proved to her what little security the job held for her.

A job is important but not as important as your health. Here are some tips for lifting boxes should you need to – in the future for yourself. But for here and now, say ‘no’. A Nanny’s spine must be protected without it, she cannot do her job.

Nanny X