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Diary of a Dogwalker, a Nanny and a Cleaner in NYC

This is the supplement that is mentioned in my book: The Nanny Time Bomb: Navigating the Crisis in Child Care. Diary of a dog-walker, a nanny and a cleaner. Circa 2004*

“To put hourly rates into perspective I collected a one-day-journal from three service sector workers. They were a local dog-walker, a cleaner, and a nanny. Below, I provide a basic detail of the daily tasks performed by each during a 5-day workweek.

Nanny – Arrive at work clear up children’s bedrooms, make beds get toddler up and change diaper. Put washing load on, get pajamas out for that evening and hang in bathroom. Make breakfast for older child and toddler, and for mom and myself: scrambled eggs, bacon and beans. Clear up dishes and load dishwasher, pack snack and drink for toddler. Get both children dressed for the day.

Dog Walker: 8:15AM – 9AM: Arrive at DOG A’s apartment and pick them up. I will walk them for 1/2 hr. I immediately head over to pick up DOGS B also walk for 1/2 hr. I circle around the neighborhood for 15 more minutes or so until I can take DOGS A back. Their owners feed them and give them water. Then I drop DOGS B back. I feed them and give them water.

Nanny: 9AM: Go to store to do the family shop with toddler. Drop older child to school en route at 8:45. Walk down to an arranged ‘play-date’ at 9AM.

Dog Walker: It’s now 9 o’clock and I have an hour off to have coffee and breakfast.
Nanny: While on a play-date I help the other babysitter to prepare lunch for kids.

Dog Walker: 10AM: Pick up DOGS C for 1/2 hr walk and head down to DOG D for 1 hour walk. We then slowly make our way back up to DOGS C then return to DOG D’s apt. I give her a couple treats. I have a half hour till my next walk so I check my email and chill out for a while. DOG D’s owners allow me to use their apt as my home base.

Nanny: 10AM: Play-date. We both decide as it’s nice, to stroll to the park. Watch as kids play. Play in sand pit.

Cleaner: 10AM: Arrive at Studio apartment on the Lower East Side. Empty trashcans in Kitchen and Bathroom. Remove dog pad from floor, put in garbage and replace with new one. Start cleaning in Bathroom. Dust and Clean all Surfaces top to bottom. Disinfect and clean toilet. Clean and disinfect sink and faucet. Scrub and disinfect bathtub, tiles, faucet and showerhead. Dry and polish. Clean door handle and any smudges on door. Refold and place towels neatly on towel holder. Remove rug, bath mat. Vacuum rug. Vacuum floor. Mop and wash floor. Replace rug and bath mat and trash can.

Dog Walker: 11:30AM: Pick up DOG E for half hour walk and DOG F both of whom are in the same building. I head up to a “poop zone” next to the Holland Tunnel. There is a collection of stones there which dogs LOVE to pee and poop on. I would usually pick up more dogs but the Super of the building will not allow me to have more than 3 dogs, so I return DOG E and DOG F home. 12 Noon: I grab DOG G for half hour walk and head a few blocks up to grab DOGS H. Drop DOG G off. Give her a treat if she pooped. Leave a note

Nanny: 11AM-11:45AM: Leave play-date to pick up older child from school. Take children home and prepare lunch for kids, myself and mom. Unload dishwasher, put washed clothes in dryer before toddler’s nap.

Cleaner: 11:00AM: Dust tall lamp fixture. Dust and polish large picture over couch. Fold blanket and place neatly on couch. Dust and polish coffee table. Straighten and place scattered items neatly on coffee table. Dust desk, chair and straighten pillow. Dust bookshelves, books and TV, and stereo equipment and CDs. Dust and clean window sill. Remove dirty linens and pillowcases from bed. Replace with clean sheets and clean pillowcases. Make bed neatly and place decorative pillows back on bed. Put dirty linens in hamper in closet. Dust tall bedside lamp. Dust and polish top surface and outside of chest of drawers and all picture frames. Clean and Disinfect Countertops in Kitchen. Wash Dishes in sink. Dry and put away in cabinet. Wash stove top parts in sink. Wash and degrease stove top, dry and put back clean dry parts. Scrub, polish and dry inside of sink and faucets. Clean inside and outside of microwave. Clean and dry outside of refrigerator. Wash kitchen floor.

Dog Walker: 12 PM: I grab DOG G for half hour walk and head a few blocks up to grab DOGS H. Drop DOG G off. Give her a treat if she pooped. Leave a note. 12:30PM I collect DOG I for half hour walk.

Nanny: 12PM: Clean up lunch dishes and reload dishwasher. Tidy dining room and kitchen. Change toddler’s diaper.

Cleaner: 12:05PM: Vacuum all floors and rugs. Damp mop wood floors. Put back vacuum and mop into storage. Empty bucket in toilet. Put cleaning supplies back into storage.12:30PM: Turn off all lights and take garbage down to basement.

Dog Walker: From 1-2PM I take lunch.

Nanny: 1PM I put toddler down for nap. Play with older child until 1:30pm when mom relieves me for my 1-hour lunch break; before I go the grocery order is delivered and I must put that all away before I leave. (Most Nannies do not get a 1-hour lunch break)

Cleaner: 12:30PM-5:30PM: Off duty.

Dog Walker: 2PM: Grab DOGS C for 2nd 1/2 hr walk and head to get DOG J for 1/2 hr walk and DOG K for I hour walk then around the block to get DOG L for 1/2hr by this point a half hour has passed and I drop off DOGS C.

Nanny: 2:30PM: Get toddler up from nap and give him a bottle. Get both children ready for older child’s judo lesson at 3.30-4pm.

Dog Walker: 3PM: Drop off DOG K. Grab DOGS B for their second walk 1/2hr. Drop off DOGS B.

Nanny: 3:15PM: Leave apartment with two children and walk up Broadway. While older child in judo class I occupy toddler in lobby.

Dog Walker: 4PM: Pick up DOG F for his second walk 1/2hr. Grab DOG D for a quick second walk 15min. She is spoiled and hates walking if she has done her biz. Drop DOG D off. 4:30PM: Pick up DOGS H for their second walks 1/2 hr.

Nanny: 4:10PM: Walk both children back to their friend’s apartment for a 1-hour play-date. (4:30-5:30pm)

Dog Walker: 5PM: Drop off DOGS H. Pick up DOGS A for last walk of the day. 1 hr. Drop them off and give them a treat.

Nanny: 5:30PM: Prepare children’s dinner and feed them. Unload and put crockery away; reload dishwasher with dinner dishes. Quickly mop dining room floor and wipe all table surfaces.

Cleaner: 5:30PM: Arrive at one bedroom, Upper West Side apartment. Take out all cleaning supplies. Mop, Broom, Vacuum, Windex, Paper Towels etc. Starting in bathroom. Going left to right. Dust all moldings. Clean light fixtures and doorknob. Dust and clean all bottles and decorative items on shelves over toilet. Dust shelves. Polish and clean mirror over sink. Wash and clean soap dish and decorative items on sink. Scrub sink and faucets. Dry and polish. Scrub bathtub, tiles, showerhead and faucets. Dry and polish. Empty trash can and remove rug. Vacuum rug. Vacuum floor. Wash floor and replace rug,

Dog Walker: 6PM: Finish. ** Additional duties include: drying off the dogs on rainy days, make sure they don’t walk on salt in the winter, keep them cool in the summer. Administer medication, put “lampshade” collars on, insulin shots. **

Nanny: 6PM:Run bath for children and fold dried clothes and put away. After bath I get both children dressed for bed. Mom comes home with new clothes; I remove tags and plastic and put new clothes away in cupboards. 6:45pm give toddler his bottle, read 3 picture books and he falls asleep by 7:05pm.

Cleaner: 6:35PM: Dust moldings and baseboards in bedroom. Working left to right around the room. Dust TV stereo equipment and CDs. Move papers and misc. items to dust under and replace neatly. Clean and polish mirror on wall. Dust leather seat. Dust top of electric organ. Dust bookshelves with decorative items. Dust each item, underneath and replace. Dust and polish picture frames. Dust and polish wooden bed frame. Empty ashtray and clean. Dust top of bedside table and all decorative items. Straighten quilt and pillows on bed. Empty trash can and replace liner. Dust exercise equipment. Vacuum floor. Damp mop wood floor.

Nanny: 7PM: I then go and read older child 3 stories and settle him for sleep by 7:30pm.

Cleaner: 7:35PM: Dust and polish picture frames in hallway. Dust and polish mirror. Dust and polish stand and decorative item. Dust shelves in hallway and pick up and dust all collectible glass items on shelves. Dust and polish entrance hall table. Dust decorative items.

Nanny: 8PM: Tidy playroom, unload dishwasher and have a general tidy up. I am finished by 8:45pm. Sit down and watch TV.

Cleaner: 8:50PM: Wash and clean outside of fridge. Wash and dry dishes in sink. Wash surface of cabinets on left side of sink. Wash countertop on left of sink. Put parts of top of stove in sink to soak and clean. Wash and degrease top of stove. Wash and dry stovetop parts and replace. Clean outside of oven. Clean kitchen table and dust and clean items on table. Empty kitchen garbage can. Replace liner. Clean outside of garbage can. Scrub inside of sink, dry and polish. Fill bucket with fresh water and detergent. Vacuum kitchen floor. Mop and clean kitchen floor.

Nanny: Tonight I am babysitting until 10pm. My regular hours are from 7AM-7PM.

Cleaner: 9:30 PM: Finish

It is demonstrated from the diaries above that all three entrants work extremely hard. The difference I am highlighting is the hourly rate of pay. A nanny’s work is more emotionally demanding and multi-faceted than that of a cleaner and a dog walker. A nanny is in constant demand by the children in her care, so why are nannies routinely paid less? In fact, why are nannies paid on average less than any other person who comes into professional (non-relative) contact with a child?”