Saturday, May 30, 2009

Global Women: Trip to the Library

Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy

On Monday June 1, 2009 the June issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter will be sent out. The discussion of this issue covers cultural differences between nannies and mothers who hire them to care for their children. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy perfectly compliments the discussion.

Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles, there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed.

Each year, millions leave third world countries to work in the homes and nurseries of the first world. This broad-scale transfer of labor results in an odd displacement, in which the female energy that flows to wealthy countries is subtracted from poor ones—easing a “care deficit” in rich countries, while creating one back home.

The book confrotns the importation of Mexican and Latina nannies in Los Angeles and Filipina housekeepers in Hong Kong. Global Woman offers an original look at a world increasingly shaped by mass migration and economic exchange. Collected and with an Introduction by bestselling social critics Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, this groundbreaking anthology reveals a new era in which the main resource extracted from developing nations is no longer gold or silver, but love.

Check back next week for a book review. If you have a book you would like to share with our readers simply email with your suggestion.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Homesickness for Live-in Nannies and Au Pairs

There's No Place Like Home

Psychologists consider moving to be one of the major stresses in life. Leaving behind friends, familiar places, and activities creates anxiety for everyone. It is helpful for nannies and au pairs that are moving to another town to work as a live-in nanny or au pair to remember that the problems involved in moving are temporary.

Relocating nannies usually feel better once they've had time to settle-in. Moving to become a nanny or au pair in a different town means learning new streets, new faces, and new ways of doing things. People may dress or speak a little bit differently. The slang and accents may sound different in the new community. It's natural for people to feel out of place in a new situation where they don't know the customs and rules.

If the caregiver has experienced homesickness before, such as when they were a child attending summer camp, they are more likely to be homesick when they move as an adult. If the caregiver thinks that homesickness will be a problem, coupled with negative first impressions and low expectations for a new home and city they have moved to, it is likely they will feel homesick. In other words, if the caregiver thinks they will be homesick, they will be homesick.

But, secure individuals with high self-esteem, that enjoy their independence, have the personality to explore, and solid social skills, will adjust well to a new environment. Although there is no way to completely eliminate the anxiety of moving, there are many ways to make the move easier. Nannies should make a list of positives and negatives about moving before moving so their expectations are realistic. It is easy for caregivers get caught up in the whirlwind and excitement of moving, forgetting that they are moving to do a job and most of the work week will be spent working with children in the house, rather than sight seeing around the metropolitan area.

Before moving, nannies can get to know more about their new home. The Internet and library should contain information about the new community. Caregivers should make a list of their interests and hobbies, and then find the locations and phone numbers of places where those activities take place.

Once in the new environment a great way to cope with feelings of homesickness is to keep busy. Nannies should get out of the house on days off. They should travel to the closest metropolitan city and visit museums, landmarks, ethnic restaurants, and any tourist attractions they would regret not experiencing during their stay. They can attend religious activities at houses of worship and volunteer as ways to keep busy with people who share similar interests.

The best way to prevent homesickness is to make new friends. Find friendships among other staff members. If there is a chef, housekeeper, driver, or dog walker that you like, make plans to socialize after work. Be careful not to spend too much time chatting when you're working though.

Nannies and au pairs should ask the nanny referral agency or au pair agency that placed them, for a volunteer list of names and phone numbers of the other childcare providers they have placed in the area.

Nannies and au pairs can also contact local nanny groups. Just "google" the phrase "Nanny Support Groups" on the Internet to find contact names and numbers of nannies to meet.

Keep in touch with family and friends from home. The quickest and cheapest way to stay in contact with family and friends far away is by email. Nannies and au pairs can download Skpe for free and stay in contact using a web cam. But, employees must remember that they are living and working in someone else's home. In-homc childcare providers must use the Internet in a professional manner.

Although it may be inevitable that live-in nannies moving across country and au pairs moving to a new country will feel a little homesick, knowing that missing familiar places, faces, and activities is only temporary. Most live-in nannies adjust to the new location just fine. For those that love kids and to travel, being a live-in nanny is a wonderful opportunity.

Do you have any advice for caregivers about to relocate to be a live-in, in-home childcare provider?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Pros and Cons of Being a Live-In Nanny

Donna Moore is an 18-year-old high school graduate originally from Birmingham, Alabama that moved to Fairfield, Connecticut for a year to work as a live-in nanny. She has found that working for a family with three children has been a great opportunity. The live-in nanny explains, "The family welcomed me with open arms and have been very generous providing me with a beautiful apartment above their garage, a car to drive on my free time, all my meals, and travel expenses."

But Moore says that it wasn't easy adjusting to the new home and job. She explains, "The hardest part of becoming a nanny was that I became very homesick. During the long hours without the parents in the house I felt lonely only caring for children."

The job was not as easy as she had expected either. She says, "The job is not glamorous. I did not realize what a physically exhausting job caring for kids in a huge home would be."

But, the family included her in all weekend outings and socializing opportunities and encouraged her to invite other nannies over for sleep-overs which eventually helped her from feeling homesick. Now, she loves the job. Moore says, "My favorite part of being a nanny has been being able to travel to New York City on my time-off. I would not have been able to afford to travel to New York City had I not worked and lived close by to Manhattan this year."

She says to those considering becoming a live-in nanny, "The best advice for nanny candidates about to move across the country to become a live-in nanny for the first time is to remember that first and foremost you are moving for a job."

But, Moore explains, "If you don't mind working hard, long hours then the benefits of moving across country for a year can be a great learning experience."

Mariana Gonzales is a 19-year-old live-in nanny that moved from Los Alamos, New Mexico to Bethesda, Maryland who has loved becoming a working member of a family. Gonzales boasts about her favorite part of being a nanny is, "I personally love traveling and have been paid to accompany the family on trips."

Gonzales continues, "Not only have I traveled all over the east coast including Disney in Florida but I even got to see London and Paris which I never could have afforded myself."

Gonzales does warn, "Some nannies feel overworked and overwhelmed when traveling with the family. I happen to be lucky to work for very fair parents who compensate me generously with both money and time-off."

"I am allowed to take the children to any tourist attractions. museums, anywhere we want to go and they pay for everything," says Gonzales.

Patricia King is a 23-year-old nanny with a degree in early childhood education. After finding it hard to land a permanent teaching job she decided to move from Sherwood, Oregon to Basking Ridge, New Jersey to work as a live-in nanny. She has found the nanny job to be a great learning experience.

King explains, "While earning my degree I learned about being a teacher and how to work with parents from within the classroom. Now I get to learn about the children and parents from another perspective -- inside their home."

She continues, "I have been taught how to assign homework. But now I see how difficult it can become managing a lot of homework with extracurricular activities and busy lives. What an eye-opener for me."

"Caring for the children and communicating effectively with the parents and children as a nanny only adds precious skills to my resume,"says King.

She admits that the most difficult part of being a live-in nanny has been privacy. "When I first moved to New Jersey the family had never hired a live-in nanny before," says King. "At first the children did not know they couldn't go in my room any time they pleased," says King.

She continues, "Although I felt we lacked some personal boundaries in the beginning it seems trivial now. The members of the family changed immediately and give me plenty of privacy now," says King.

The live-in nanny recommends, "The most important thing for nannies to remember is to maintain some professional objectiveness with the job. Remember, this is a job, not your own family," says King.

Nancy Lacey is a nanny originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma has been working as a live-in childcare provider in Beverly Hills, California for the same family for six-years. Lacey says some of the perks of her job have been, "Meeting other nannies. Some even work for celebrities."

But, she admits it was not an easy adjustment at first. "I was very homesick for the first few months and used to call my parents crying all the time," says Lacey.

She continues, "The hardest part of being a nanny is the schedule. The parents were so spontaneous changing my schedule all the time." Lacey explains, "I had to sit down with the parents and explain I was exhausted and that I needed to develop a set schedule so I could plan my time-off as well." "Since that talk things have improved and I truly love my job," she says.

"Working so closely with the children is so rewarding. I can see my personal influence in their development and feel so fortunate to have had this working experience," says Lacey.

Lacey's advice to others considering moving to become live-in nannies, "The homesickness bug eventually bites. But be patient. You will get over being homesick." She recommends, "Allow the family to help you get over the hump so you can enjoy the experience."

“Just a few of the aspects of the job I will treasure most is forming a close relationship with the children, being trusted by the parents allowed the responsibility for every aspect of their well being, creating a happy and inspirational environment for the children, and I have loved watching them grow and develop,” says Lacey.

“I know I sound like a brochure but being a nanny is one of the most rewarding and worthwhile jobs you can have. If you love being with children, are dedicated to keeping them safe and happy, and are interested in educating and stimulating them to prepare for later life then becoming a nanny is ideal career for you,” explains Lacey.

"I love the family very much now and no matter where I move, they will be my friends for life," says Lacey.
What do you like or not like about being a live-in nanny or au pair?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Beware of the Queen of Talk

You Can't Believe Everything You See on TV.

Daytime talk shows are the staple and most influential genre of daytime television. But, beware of what you view on TV, because not everything televised is true.

Talk shows are not unbiased documentaries of objective journalism. The guests often appear to promote their products making the show a 44 minute informercial. Let’s speed past Maury, Bonnie, Ellen, Jerry Springer, and the rest of the talk show hosts and go right to the queen of talk: Oprah.

When we say, “Oprah,” we do not mean just “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” We are talking about the major mega-media production empire that includes: “Dr. Phil,” “Rachael Ray,” and “The Doctors.” At their best “Oprah” and to a lesser extent, “Dr. Phil,” and “The Doctors” present interesting people to discuss complex subjects in an informative and positive fashion.

At their worst, they are gutless, misinformed, and misleading. Examples of misconduct of these three daytime talk shows were when they gave Suzanne Somers, Jenny McCarthy, and Robin McGraw the limelight while discussing hormone replacement therapy.

Not long ago on her TV show, Oprah Winfrey sat beside actress and self-proclaimed women's health guru Suzanne Somers and told millions of viewers to read Somers' 2007 book, "Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones." Somers was singing the benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women.

In an article by Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. entitled, “Oprah's bad medicine. Given her influence, it's a shame the TV star offers unbalanced health and medical advice,” Dr Parikh explains that what Somers was advocating was radically different from standards of medical care. He writes, “Physicians who may have been watching the show surely winced, but Winfrey was not concerned."

Oprah herself said, "Many people write Suzanne off as a quackadoo." She continued, "But she just might be a pioneer."

Dr. Parikh explains, “The word "bioidentical" has no medical meaning. All hormones, whether they're prescribed or not, are derivatives of plant or animal hormones and manipulated in a lab to get the finished product. Many bioidentical hormones (including the ones Somers uses) come from non-FDA regulated compound pharmacies, where drugs are not subject to the same quality standards as those made by pharmaceutical companies. An FDA survey demonstrated a 40 percent failure rate for compounded bioidentical hormone products when those drugs were tested for purity and potency.”

Also, Oprah didn't ask Suzanne Somers whether her super-hormone regimen could have contributed to Somers' history of breast cancer. She didn't ask Somers about her hysterectomy, the result of pre-cancerous changes in her uterus from her use of Hormone Replacement Therapy. And she didn't ask about the validity of Somer's book's sources, many of whom are neither experts in women's health or endocrinology, nor board-certified physicians, nor experienced researchers.

No one (including Dr. Phil McGraw himself) can actually expect Dr. Phil to cure, treat, or change psychotic behavior in 44 minutes. Dr. Phil acknowledges this often. He does often give his troubled guests access to professional medical practitioners which is commendable.

But beware when Dr. Phil’s dips into other medical areas that are not his expertise or basis of education. For example, his wife Robin and Dr. Phil regularly produce a show about female hormones and natural remedies used for hormonal imbalance. The typical misinformation on their annual show is that bioidentical hormones are better than synthetic hormones. Again, bioidentical hormones cannot be patented, and must be made by a compounded pharmacist.

Robin claims that natural remedies are safer than pharmaceutical products. But, the truth is that a chemical is a chemical. Identical chemicals perform the same in the body regardless of their source. Does it matter whether the chemical comes from your gynecologist’s prescription pad and then is purchased at a local pharmacy or made by a compounding pharmacy? Nope. Does caffeine react differntly in your body whether it comes from tea, soda, coffee, or a pill? Nope. No matter the source, caffeine will create side effects in your body.

In primetime on “The Larry King Show,” a recurring guest has been Jenny McCarthy. Jenny McCarthy has a son diagnosed with autism. Jenny appears on Larry King because she is an adamant opponent of childhood vaccines. She claims that vaccines cause autism. She has become the most visible spokesperson of an ardent anti-vaccine movement.

Oprah was so impressed by Jenny’s appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that Oprah has offered Jenny her own talk show. Jenny was never countered with tough questions about her scientific training, education, or lack thereof.

Dr. Parikh says once again that Oprah, “drew criticism from children's advocates, as McCarthy and her autism advocacy group, Generation Rescue, have been leading an ideological, unscientific crusade against childhood vaccines. Add in...Dr. Phil, and you might be tempted to sue her for malpractice.”

Instead of searching for scientific accuracy, Oprah sought “synergy.” Synergy is the concept that sending a guest from one show to another increases the value of each show and of the guest. So, Oprah sent Jenny to the “Dr. Phil” show and “The Doctors” as a form of advertising to promote Jenny’s views and hopefully viewers of her new show in the future.

Jenny made it to “Dr. Phil” and gave her presentation. She was welcomed with the friendliest of questions of her position possible. Any opposing scientific discussion was not thoroughly discussed.

“The Doctors” should have subjected Jenny to scientific scrutiny. Although the four physicians didn’t agree with her views saying the worst advice would be to stop getting children vaccinated, they barely challenged her views. They presented Jenny with her physician who has prescribed a customized diet to treat Jenny’s son. Jenny and the doctor saw positive results in her son. But perhaps her son was “cured” of food allergies. Perhaps the diet she prescribes helps many children with food allergies too. But, that is no proof that vaccines caused autism in her son.

Maybe some TV judges would accept this as evidence, but doctors and scientists should be more skeptical. Do the claims made by Suzanne Somers, Jenny McCarthy, and Robin McGraw ring true for some patients? Probably. But, only you and your personal doctors can determine what will work for you.

The fact remains that most doctors do not want their patients to be guinea pigs. Until the clinical trials are conducted and their claims are scientifically proven, why would you want to be the guinea pig either? Do you really want to try a treatment that hasn’t had clinical trials or scientific backing?

When watching daytime talk shows always be cautious and skeptical of the biased information presented.

Have you ever tried a treatment or product after learning about it on a daytime talk show?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Electronic Babysitter

How Au Pairs and Nannies Can Monitor Proper Television Viewing For Children
Television can have positive effects on children if we use programs to educate. Parents, nannies, and au pairs can tape videos of programs that tie into the children’s school lessons, interests, or hobbies. For example, adults should tape a show on dinosaurs or the planets from a Science Channel, a show about Christopher Columbus on the History Channel, a show about a favorite basketball player on ESPN, or look for ballets and concerts to tape for young dancers and musicians from the Public Broadcasting Channel.

Take advantage of the fact that many young children love to watch a favorite video over and over. If the parents agree and the video is age-appropriate and educational in-home childcare providers won’t have to worry about monitoring a video that the parents have already approved as appropriate for the children to watch.

When children are excited about a show they have seen on the television, follow up by taking them to the library and borrow books on the same topic. Compare how books and television programs on the same subject are different and similar.

Don’t assume that all cartoons are age-appropriate for children. Many daytime programs like soap operas and talk shows aren’t appropriate for young children. Tape your daytime shows and watch them when you are not working.

Talk with the children about the shows they see. Discuss what was good about a television program and what was bad in the show. Help children understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Television is also a powerful tool for selling and promoting toys and products.

Turn off the television during meals and when friends are visiting. Don’t allow school aged children to watch television until their homework is done, their pets are taken care of, they have practiced their musical instruments, and their daily chores are completed.

The goal is to allow children to watch only an hour of television a day. This may be a challenge at first, but is easier if you let the children help you decide what programs they are allowed to watch each day. You are a role model for children so refrain from making the television your primary recreation.

Children may balk at first at making changes in their viewing habits. You have to be prepared to stick it out by having many fun and interesting alternatives to television. You will be encouraged to reduce television viewing once you see the results. Not only will you see the children develop and grow, your bond with the children will increase as you do activities together.

What shows are your charges allowed to watch?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trip to the Library for Au Pairs and Nannies

365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do with Your Child
By Steven J. Bennet and Ruth Bennett

Make the most of your time with your charges-whether it's five minutes or a whole afternoon-with simple, fun activities that will excite the whole family. From arts and crafts to toymaking to math and number games, 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do with Your Child will help take the kids away from the tube and stimulate their minds. You'll promote better health, improved mental abilities, a stronger caregiver-child bond . . . and the best part is you'll never hear "I'm bored" again!

Best of all, these 415 activities require little or nothing in the way of props-usually anything around the house will do-or set-up time. Extensive indexing makes it easy to choose the best activity for any day according to:

*Age group
*Exhaustion factor
*Indoor vs. outdoor
*Materials required
*Skills learned

Now featuring 50 bonus activities, 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do with Your Child is a great book to use instead of watching TV each day.

Stop by next Saturday for more book reviews.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Daytime TV for Nannies and Au Pairs

The News, The Noise, The Courts, The Soaps
Children have trouble separating fantasy and reality. For example, in a television show the actors are not really hitting one another. They are acting and they aren’t even bruised or bleeding. In real life getting hit is an awful experience.

Courts are convened to rend a legal opinion. TV court shows are produced to be entertaining. Journalists are taught to investigate in a clear and factual manner. Cable news outlets often have anchors who are nasty, condescending, and mugging designed to appeal to a certain niche viewership. The most popular of each genre provides more noise than light.

If you learn anything about the law from "Judge Judy" or "Judge Joe Brown" is that these TV judges have self-righteous indignation. Ghetto humor with tough love and homespun country wisdom. Your charges certainly do not need exposure to the absurdity of girlfriend and boyfriend cell phone disputes and bills left unpaid by nasty roommates. The nanny would probably be better without those stories too.

Cable news is bipartisan buffoonery. That is regardless of their political stant, the news is presented in a smug, emotive, and condescending way. The guests are often nasty and uninformed. Kids should be insulated from this type of discourse. Your charges should learn to think, not react. And so should their nanny or au pair.

How many years have your mother, your grandmother, and you watched a favorite soap opera? The adventures and misadventures of the soap operas has enchanted generations to daytime alliances, death, and resurrections. Once in a long while the perfectly attired prima donnas and prima dons are forced to struggle with realistic problems in a realistic way. The producers proclaim their groundbreaking and daring portrayal of moder moral dilemmas.

For kids: Do not expose them to these programs.

For nannies: If you must watch soap operas video tape them and watch them in the evenings. Do not worry about missing much in your soap opera, to keep updated you only need to watch the last ten minutes of the Friday show anyway.

Do you let your charges watch adult daytime television programs? Why or why not?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Should Nannies and Au Pairs Allow Children to Watch Game Shows and Situation Comedies?

Daytime television is filled with game shows and with reruns of syndicated situation comedies. Most adults assume there is no harm if nannies, au pairs, and kids watch "Seinfeld" or "The Price is Right." Right? Wrong.

Children are tough and resilient. Seldom are there single events that shape their perspective of life, rather, a culmination of experiences and influences mold the child into the adult. Those influences should mainly be family, caregivers, teachers, and friends.

Children cannot understand or appreciate the humor of sitcoms. The media often uses verbal aggression to be funny. Caregivers must discuss with their charges that making fun of other people, or being sarcastic, isn’t funny. In shows, actors are exaggerating behaviors that aren’t acceptable in real life. Jokes at another’s expense are never funny.

A playdate is better than a television show. At best, shows like "Everyone Loves Raymond" or "The Cosby Show" portray the foibles of family life in an amusing way. But children are not even mature enough to understand the humor of these sitcoms.
Game shows typically give the impression that you have to know something to win. And some knowledge and some skill is definitely helpful, but game shows are often games of luck. Neither the nanny nor the child learns anything from game shows. Mindless entertainment is not evil or dangerous, just a waste of time that saps mental and physical energy.

The best nannies and au pairs celebrate and enjoys the family whose children they help raise.

Do you watch game shows and situation comedies with your charges? What is your opinion? Do you think these shows are harmful?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Violence in the Media

Nannies and Au Pairs Must Monitor Media for Children

Television, movies, magazines, newspapers, radio, music videos, video games, and the Internet are strong influences on children. Modern media technology greatly improves our lives with immediate access to news throughout the entire world, as well as educating us to other opinions, and our total learning. But, those same media sources can be harmful, especially to children.

The biggest concern is the number of real and imaginary violent acts children see on the television, in video games, and in the movies. Do you remember seeing children act like Power Rangers, pretending to stab or shoot their friends while playing?

Children under five-years-old do not understand the difference between real and unreal violent acts. Repeatedly seeing violence desensitizes children to the dangers of negative behaviors. For example, young children may not understand that using guns like their heroes in the cartoons is dangerous.

Hearing and reading about violence can be as dangerous as seeing aggressive behaviors. For shock value movies use profanity and make fun of people. Children repeat the profanity and may think it is funny to say nasty things about others, or make fun of other people when it is not.

To reduce a child’s exposure to violent acts, the television industry has a rating system for television shows called V-Chips. Learn more about the V-Chip ratings from the Federal Communications Commission at:

Nannies must monitor how children use media. Always follow the parents guidelines when choosing what children can play and watch. Use the television to educate rather then to baby-sit.
Signs Of Children Seeing Too Much Violence In The Media

-- Too aggressive
-- Rejected by friends due to bad behavior
-- Less sensitive to pain
-- Not sensitive to suffering of others
-- Argues or disobeys authority

Ask the children you care for if they can find examples of verbal aggression in programs. Discuss if shows try to make verbal aggression seem funny or exciting.

Do you think your charges are influenced by violence in the media? Do you have any tips to share with nannies and au pairs on the topic?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"...after these messages."

Effect of TV Commercials on Children
The most dangerous words your charges will ever hear broad-casted on the television are, "We will return after these messages." The "messages" are not benign sources of information intended to benefit your life or the life of your charges. Advertisements, marketing companies, and sales pitches take up one-fifth of most television shows and their sole purpose to to make money for businesses and television networks.

Commercials are often brilliantly produced telling a complete story in as little as 10 to 30 seconds. Sometimes the commercials are more entertaining than the program being watched. Advertisements are the life-blood of the media. Broadcasters exist for the purpose of making money; the commercials are the way they make money. The programs are timed to be made so ads can be sold, not the other way around.

Commercials are misleading by glorifying and exaggerating products that are not good for children. Children tend to gain weight as they sit on the sofa watching promotions of starchy and greasy foods that are unhealthy for them. Many commercials disrespect women by providing sexual and unrealistic images of women. These images attribute to low self esteem in girls and may influence disorders such as anorexia.

For example, some children may derive some entertainment from the cartoon "Sponge Bob Squarepants", but cannot get any redeeming value from a Burger King ad displaying dancing sex symbols with square tushies. Children are getting confusing and nonsensical messages from the commercials and develop a curiosity for unhealthy and unneeded foods and products. No one benefits from advertisements. They are a lose-lose proposition.

Nannies and au pairs are as susceptible to marketing as any other consumer. Tempted by sales to buy stuff that does not improve their quality of life in any way. Forget the "money saving" marketing tricks. The only real way to save money is not to spend it.

Ignore the beauty product advertisements. Shopping and buying cannot validate your existence. Stuff get in the way of what makes you special.

Activity to Do with Children:
Have the children use a chart to count how many commercials they view during a television show. How many commercials do they watch every day? Explain that many advertisements exaggerate products to make them seem much better then they actually are. Was there a time when the kids bought an item that looked really good on television and didn’t seem so great once they got it home? Which commercials are really making toys, foods, movies, and stores seem much better then they really are? List products that are exaggerated and which are advertised honestly. Also count the number of public service announcements. Look through magazines and newspapers to find advertisements that exaggerate products too.

Do you think television commercials effect children? How have television advertisements effected those under your care?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Television: Here, There, Everywhere

Daytime TV and the Nanny
Television is so pervasive, easy to use, and always available. It has expanded from the living room and recreation room, to the bedroom, kitchen, and even the bathroom. The television is in grocery stores, cars, and waiting rooms. Television is here, there, and everywhere.

But, should nannies and au pairs turn on television programs while working? If so, when should nannies and au pairs turn the television off? Everyday this week we will focus on the effects of daytime television on the nanny or au pair and their charges.

Nannies and au pairs cannot turn on the television unless their employers allow them to use it during working hours. If the parents do not want their children to watch television than the nanny or au pair must not turn it on. Certainly live-in caregivers can watch television in their bedrooms when not working. But during the work day, nannies and au pairs can encourage imaginative play, educational activities, and free play to fill the day for the children.

It can be difficult for nannies and au pairs to start a job that does not allow them to watch the television. For many it will be the first time in their lives that they are asked not to turn on the television during the day. The temptation is compelling. Daytime television is an unparalleled babysitter. It is free, reliably available, and versatile. Undoubtedly, all children will view some TV and there are many educational programs, children's programs, and age-appropriate movies to view. The television can also be something to listen to when a nanny or au pair may not have meaningful adult conversation during the day working with children. Whether used as entertainment or as white noise many caregivers are in the habit of keeping the television on all day.

But, is daytime television good for the children, or just for the nanny or au pair? Clearly there are whole categories of television that are inappropriate for children and of little value to the childcare provider. There is no debating that shows like "Jerry Springer" or "The Steve Wilkos Show" do not air behavior that children nor adults should model.

Children benefit most by doing the things that all kids need to do to be healthy and develop to their best potential: using their imagination, socializing, playing, exercising, eating, and sleeping. All these functions are accomplished best not in front of the television set. Plus, television should not be a reward because it soon becomes an addiction and can lead to an unhealthy "couch potato" lifestyle.

Of course, there are some programs that are appropriate and suitable for children, that are entertaining and educational.Those program choices should be decided by the parents and adhered to by the caregiver. The child should be having a life full of involved activity, not just watching others being active in television programs.

But, to make the day enjoyable for nannies, au pairs, and children is to plan fun activities. Children won’t even want to watch television if nannies and au pairs have other activities planned. Caregivers have the power to make each Monday board game day when they play at least one board game together. Nannies and au pairs can schedule Wednesdays as "Manners Day." Each Wednesday the children cook with their caregiver, set a formal table, and play restaurant when everyone has to use their best manners. Fridays might make a great book day when nannies and children go to the library and read the books when they arrive home. Children will be planning what recipes to make and what games to play a week in advance. Who would turn on the television when they’re having this much fun?

Do you watch television while working during the day as a nanny or au pair? Do you allow the children to watch television while you are working?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

International Nanny Association Salary Survey

The 2009 International Nanny Association Salary Survey is based on the year 2008. Six hundred and sixty seven (667) in-home child care providers responded to the survey. The respondents included nannies, traveling nannies, temporary nannies, newborn care specialists, doulas, and governesses.

The summary of the report can be found at:

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the results by clicking "comments" below.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nannies and cell phones

By The San Francisco Chronicle

Visit any San Francisco park on a weekday afternoon and you'll likely see babies snoozing in strollers and toddlers pushing trucks through the sand, snacking on goldfish, and zipping down slides. You'll also likely find a gaggle of nannies (and a handful of parents): some attentively watching their kids; others yakking away on their cell phones. Marina resident Kathy Hallinan regularly observes this scene at Moscone Park on Chestnut street.

"I walk by the park nearly every day with my dogs and see these babysitters ignoring the children while they talk on their cell phones," Hallinan says. "It's really sad and dreadful that no one is playing with or talking to these children. I saw a young boy last fall in a facing-forward stroller, with his 'minder' pushing from behind and talking on the cell phone. The kid literally had his fingers in his ears keeping out the conversation. Lord knows what the effect will be when the future unfolds and we have hundreds and thousands of children in their earliest developmental stages being watched by minders who don't communicate with them. Neglect, loneliness, confusion, and frustration come to mind."

Caregivers commonly carry cell phones. Many families require it for emergency situations. If a child comes down with a fever, the nanny can easily call the parent at work. Also, parents like to check in throughout the day; they might want to find out if their child went down for a nap or let the caregiver know they're running late. But some nannies use their phones to talk to their friends and families and it's debatable whether this is acceptable.

There are parents who feel strongly that their nannies shouldn't be making personal calls while on the job. They believe it's best for a child's development to be fully engaged with an adult throughout the day. It's not uncommon for parents to post want ads on Craigslist that include statements such as "We want a nanny who won't talk on the phone at the park."

Other parents such as San Franciso mom Bao-Tran Truong aren't as adamantly against cell phones. "Our nanny had major family life issues," Truong says. "Her husband was going to be deported and she was trying to get her first child to immigrate to the U.S. from El Salvador, so I understood she did a lot of her 'business' when the kids were napping. She once made a call to El Salvador on our home phone that cost more than $600 but she paid it all back. I felt bad for her 'unique' situation and didn't press her on how she was spending her time with the kids. Also, the kids seemed to be happy and I understood that she was trying to work while balancing her private life as we all do when we are at work. We check our personal email, make a personal call here and there."

Veronique Lauriault, another San Francisco mom, feels similarly. "I know our nanny spoke to her friends during the day," Lauriault says. "But I speak on the cell phone myself when my daughter is around. In fact because of work today, I was on the phone every hour. Sometimes you just have to do it! No choice--I have a client with a major crisis on their hands. My daughter understood but it bugs her clearly. On days when I'm with her normally--picking her up from school--I am 100 percent there for her, but a day like today, there's no choice."

Nannies often work long days: eight- or nine-hour shifts, five or six days a week. They're typically on the job the entire time. Even when a child goes down for a nap, they might do household chores such as loading the dishwasher, picking up toys, and folding laundry. Andrea Lee, codirector of Mujeres Unidas Y Activas, thinks it's reasonable that a nanny might make a personal call or two throughout the day. "Many families don't realize that they're failing to give their children's caregivers basic labor rights such as rest breaks and lunch breaks," says Lee, whose organization trains Latina immigrant women to be caregivers. "These workers often don't have time in their workspace to take care of their own families. Maybe their child is sick and they need to get her to the doctor or call a family member to pick her up at school. We train women to be professional and sing to and talk to the children but it's reasonable that they might have to make a call once in awhile."

Shalini Azariah, owner of Bay Area 2nd Mom, Inc., says her referral agency has a policy that nannies can't use cell phones except to call the children's parents. She expects her caregivers to be fully attentive to the little ones because that's what they're paid to do. "We eliminate the problem by saying the phone can't be used for personal reasons," says Azariah, whose service has locations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Milpitas, and Emeryville. "We require that the family provide the caregiver with a 'nanny phone' that she can use to communicate with the parents. The caregiver's personal phone needs to be turned off or left in the car as soon as she arrives at the child's house." Azariah also requires that her caregivers watch no television.

Jens Hillen, who owns the nanny referral service Town & Country Resources in San Francisco, says families haven't complained about caregivers talking on their cell phones but texting is an issue. "The nannies perceive this somehow as being more acceptable because it seems as if you're more alert and able to focus on the child," Hillen says. "We advise caregivers to not use their cell phones for personal reasons even if they're only texting. When this comes up, we talk to the caregiver to resolve the issue."

What do the nannies think? Eve Fisher says she's not one of the nannies who gabs on the phone at the park. After caring for 3-year-old twins and now a set of 9-month-old twins she knows that she can't multitask--i.e., talk on a phone while pushing two kids in swings. She sees nannies on their phones at the park all the time--but she thinks parents are just as guilty. "I think parents sometimes hold caregivers to a standard they rarely adhere to themselves."

What do you think? Is it okay for a caregiver to chat with friends and family while also watching a child at the park? Or should the cell phone be used only in emergency situations?

Posted By: Amy Graff (Email)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nine Ways to Ensure Siblings Get Along

Here are some simple things nannies and au pairs can do every day to prevent sibling fighting.

1. Set ground rules for acceptable behavior. No cursing, no name-calling, no yelling, no hitting, and no door slamming allowed.

2. Solicit their input on the rules and consequences. This teaches kids that they are responsible for their own actions.

3. Do not let children make you think that everything always has to be "fair" and "equal" — sometimes one kid needs more than the other.

4. Give kids one-on-one attention directed to their interests and needs.

5. Make sure children have their own space and time to do their own thing — to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50.

6. Have fun together. Fun activities can help reduce conflict.

7. If children frequently squabble over the same things, (such as video games or dibs on the TV remote), post a schedule showing which child "owns" that item at what times during the week.

8. Recognize when children just need time apart from each other. Try arranging separate play dates or activities for each kid occasionally. And when one child is on a play date, you can spend
one-on-one time with another.

9. Keep in mind that sometimes kids fight to get adult attention. When possible let siblings work out their own issues. If you give bickering too much attention, squabbling may be a way to
get your attention.

Photo by Jennifer Echols

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Advice from Nannies and Au Pairs About Caring for Multiples

In each issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter we conduct a survey. The link for the current poll about cultural differences be found at the top right corner of this blog. In the February, 2007 poll 259 in-home childcare providers answered our questions about caring for multiple births. Just some of their responses are summarized below. For complete results see the February, 2007 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.

What are the greatest challenges working with multiples?
Jamie, a nanny from Denver, Colorado answered, "Twice the potty training, twice the whining, twice the tantrums, and twice the mess."

An anonymous nanny and home manager from Madison, Wisconsin responded, "Time management is my greatest challenge working with multiples."

R. Smith, CPN/INS from Dallas, Texas said, "The greatest challenge is finding time for each of them and getting out of the house."

Nicole from Marlboro, New Jersey said, "The greatest challenge has been splitting my time equally between the three children in my care, (the twins and their two-year old sister)."

Do you think it is better to have multiples on the same schedule or do you think it is better to have more one-on-one time with the children?
Kristin from Highland Park, New Jersey responded, "I think it is better to let the children create their own schedule. It is easier for the parents and caregiver to have the children on the same schedule, but that may not be the best for the children."

A nanny, Bethany, from North Andover, Massachusetts siad, "A schedule is much easier, especially when they are infants, otherwise it’s just chaos!"

Becky Kavanagh from Minnesota answered, "I assess what each child needs. Some multiples naturally fall into the same schedule or routine, other’s do not. Reading their cues is important."

Heather from Minneapolis, Minnesota responded, "Definitely try to have twins on the same schedule. You would never have any down time if you did not have them on the same schedule."

Clelie Bourne, a temporary nanny and newborn specialist said, "I don’t believe it has to be an either or choice. I always put multiples on the same schedule and am able to make time for lots of one-on-one time too."

What tips would you suggest when caring for twins or multiples?
Sue, a nanny from New York wrote, "Wash their laundry separately on different days. They hate it when you mix their laundry with their siblings and put it in the wrong drawers."

Lisa Stipe from Arkansas recommended, "Co-bed them when they are newborns. It simplifies soothing them without picking them up (you can pat two tummies at once). The key to a successful tandem feed is having all babies tightly swaddled so that you don’t have arms going everywhere. Playtex Premium bottles with the drop-in liners cuts down on bottle washing. A crock pot for bottle warming is so much better than a bottle warmer because you can warm all the bottles at one time."

Kim from Boston, Massachusetts said, "Get on a schedule. Don’t look at the twins as being the same, they are still individuals and ought to be allowed to grow and explore without being constantly attached to their twin."

Melissa from San Francisco, California answered, "Don’t stress too much. Don’t forget to sit back and rest sometimes."

Andrea, a nanny from Northern New Jersey explained, "I like the double strollers where one child is in the back and sits up a little higher than the child in the front. I’ve used the side-by-side strollers and they are hard to push and maneuver. They are too wide to get through many doors."

Jane from Pleasanton, California said, "Use a four seat double wide stroller for triplets to use the extra seat for a diaper bag. A three wide stroller is too wide to fit into stores."

Another great tip from Densie Blackford was, "Color code the children’s possessions, such as cups. Put colored tape or rubber bands on their bottles. That way everyone, (including siblings and relatives), will know which bottle belongs to whom."

Heather from Minneapolis, Minnesota replied, "Get organized. Use a daily log."
Items listed that are helpful when caring for multiples included: boppy pillows, Miracle and Bug N Belle blankets for swaddling newborns, Graco SnugRide infant car seats, Bumbo Seats, Happiest Baby on the Block book and DVD series, and white noise machines for cribs.
Feel free to share more tips about caring for multiple births.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Comment About Nannies Vs. Daycare

Click this link to continue the conversation about daycare versus nanny care for toddlers.

Type of Help Mothers and Fathers of Multiples Want from Nannies or Au Pairs

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asked mothers and fathers of multiples that employ nannies or au pairs what help they need most from their in-home caregivers. The answers from 383 mothers and fathers of multiples is listed here.

Mothers and Fathers of Multiples Want Their Nannies or Au Pairs to Help Them With:

1. Bathing the babies while the mother or father plays with, or bathes, the other baby.

2. Help with feeding the babies.

3. Cleaning the kitchen.

4. Go grocery shopping or help with running errands.

5. Take the babies' older brother(s) or sister(s) out for an outing.

6. Care for the babies while the mother or father sleeps, runs errands, goes to the gym, or steps out for fresh air.

If you are a partent of multiples what type of help do you need most from an in-home childcare provider? If you are a nanny or au pair how do you help the parents of multiples?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Siblings that Share a Room

Siblings often have to share a bedroom (especially when a family has multiples). Nannies and au pairs can help siblings share a room successfully by remembering the children are individuals and helping them keep their belongings organized. Here are some ways to help siblings who share a bedroom.

First make sure children of the same age share a bedroom. Siblings in the same bedroom should have similar waking and eating patterns. Newborns and infants wake up ofter during the night and will wake up the other siblings sharing the room. It is best to not allow newborns or infants to share a bedroom with other children in the home. It is best to not have a sibling with special needs or chronic illness share a bedroom with siblings if possible. It is usually easier having multiple newborns or infants share one bedroom so they can be fed at night together.

Children that share a bedroom should be allowed to separate their individual belongs. Separate closets, separate dressers, separate desks, and separate everything you possibly can.

Use labels or masking tape to identify personal space on shelves and belongings. Give each child their own containers to hold their personal belongings. Let them decorate a space in the room that is all theirs. For example, ask the parents if they can each decorate a door anyway they like. Finalize ideas with parents before changing their room.

It is fun for children to decorate their own cardboard and plastic containers to store belongings they don’t want anyone else to touch. Let the children paint, draw, and glue the box however they like. They should clearly place their name on this container so there will be no mistaking who’s it is and who is not allowed to use the box. If the child owns something very important that they don’t want their siblings to touch, it belongs in this box. Outside of the box, everything is fair game and can be used by anybody.
Create a checklist or star chart for chores. Positively reinforce age-appropriate chores. It isn't fair if only one sibling is responsible for turning off the lights each day. Each sibling that shares the room should be responsible for taking care of their own dirty laundry, making their own bed, and cleaning up their own toys.
What are your tips for siblings sharing bedrooms?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Diapering, Bathing, and Dressing Multiples

Just like feeding babies, diapering, bathing, and dressing babies is a time consuming task. But, diapering, bathing, and dressing multiples can feel overwhelming without help. That is just another reason why nannies and au pairs are so helpful to parents raising multiples.

DIAPERING: The advice about diapering by hundreds of nannies and au pairs that answered a poll about working with multiples is to diaper babies BEFORE feeding them. Typical advice from pediatricians and mothers is to diaper babies after feeding. But the nannies and au pairs that responded to our survey about caring for multiples answered that babies tend to fall asleep after feeding and the last thing a caregiver ever wants to do is wake a happily napping multiple.

BATHING: Bathing multiple babies can be quite a challenge. Some caregivers bathe the children separately in the interests of both safety and one-on-one time. For higher-order multiples it is best if the mother and nanny to work together, especially at first. When the infants are older, it will become easier to bathe more than one at a time.

DRESSING: Dressing babies in the first few months does not have to be a big production. Some nannies and au pairs that took our survey on caring for multiples recommend color coding wardrobes to see at a glance whose clothes belong to whom. It may make sense to have multiples share some basic items of clothing, such as onesies and pajamas. As the babies get older, it becomes more important to give the children their own clothes and establish their unique identities.

Do you have any tips to share with nannies and au pairs about caring for multiples?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Helping Parents With Multiples

Feeding Multiple Babies
We started a discussion about caring for multiples last week click here to see article.

Now we will discuss specific ways nannies and au pairs can assist parents of multiple babies each day. Some of the helpful tasks nannies and au pairs caring for multiple births provide include helping feed the babies, bathing the babies, shopping for food, and some light household clean-up. In-home caregivers also provide mothers the chance to get a nap or just to get out of the house.
Feeding of multiple babies consumes a large chunk of each day. Collyn, a nanny of five children that cares for two sets of twins in Alphraetta, Georgia declares, "My biggest challenge has been feeding. With sets of twins it is hard to remember which one I propped last so that I could prop the other during the next feeding."

That is why tracking the feeding schedule on a chart or in a daily log is so important to ensure every baby is being fed enough.

In an article entitled, "Parenting Multiples," on the Kids Health web site at it explains, "Multiples have been both breast- and bottle-fed successfully and each approach has passionate advocates."

The article explains, "If the parents choose to breast-feed, it's a good idea to seek help from a lactation consultant. It's possible to nurse two babies simultaneously, but it may take some time to master. A lactation consultant can show [the mother] basic positions to help the mother nurse her babies either two at a time or singly. A nursing pillow designed for twins may also be helpful."

The article also explains, "It may also be helpful to pump and store breast milk, so that other caregivers can help with the feedings. These pumps help [the mother] to collect milk from both breasts, allowing [caregivers] to dump old milk or collect milk for future feedings."

"Bottle-feeding may take some of the pressure off exhausted mothers, especially if there are more than two infants to feed," states the Parenting Multiples article. "Some mothers use a combination of breast- and bottle-feeding, to keep some of the benefits of nursing while still getting help with the feeding.

Most nannies like to develop a feeding schedule. Nanny Emilie, from Canton, Michigan suggests, "[Keeping] the same schedule as far as feeding twins helps out and works well."

Mary, a nanny from Washington, District of Columbia agrees. Mary points out, "It is better to
have all children on the same schedule. Otherwise you can forget who was fed."

An anonymous nanny and home manager form Madison, Wisconsin says, "The same schedule just keeps everything flowing and everyone on track."

Stop by again tomorrow when we will discuss bathing multiples.
Do you have any tips to share with nannies and au pairs about feeding multiples?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Children's Books for Mother's Day

Weekly Trip to the Library

By Alison McGhee
Ages: All
This picture book for all ages traces a mother's hopes and dreams for her young daughter. A powerful story about the potential of love and the potential in life. Someday is the perfect gift for Mother's Day.

Mother's Day
By Anne Rockwell
Ages: 3 to 6
Each child in Mrs. Madoff's class knows just how to celebrate Mother's Day. Jessica and her mom go hiking together. Sam helps pick out a new kitchen table. Sarah and her dad take Grandma to her favorite restaurant. Here's a loving tribute to all the mothers, grandmothers, and mothers-to-be everywhere, perfect for sharing any day of the year.

Before I Was Your Mother
By Kathryn Lasky
Ages: 3 to 7
To Katie, it seems as if her mother has always been her mother, with her grocery lists, her purse full of bills to pay, and her boring, sensible shoes. But when her mother reveals that she once was a girl who bossed her little brother, wore firefighter boots to bed, and dreamed grand ballerina dreams, Katie realizes that she and her mother might be alike after all.

I Love You the Purplest
By Barbara M. Joosse
Ages: 4 to 8
Early in the evening two young brothers and their mother finish supper in the sturdy red cabin and set out to fish. While digging for worms, rowing the boat, and pulling in fish, each brother asks his mother which one is the best at each task and, as they are being tucked into bed, which one she loves the best. They discover that their mother loves them equally but in different ways.

For more children's books for Mother's Day see the May 2009 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter. Stop by again next Saturday for more library books suggestions. If you have a book review to share email

Friday, May 8, 2009

Making Mother's Day Cards with Children

Make a Coupon Card

Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday. Nannies and au pairs should help the children make cards for their mother.

Making a card with valuable coupons for the mother to redeem from the children is a fun card to help children to make for their mother.

Some coupon ideas include:
  • It's Your Evening -- This coupon entitles you to a relaxing evening doing whatever you want.
  • An Uninterrupted Afternoon Nap -- Present this coupon and we will be quiet and let you rest.
  • Help Wash the Dishes -- Present this coupon and I will help you wash the dishes
  • You Pick the Video -- We will watch the move you want to rent.
  • You Pick the Task -- Present this coupon and I will do any household task without complaint.
  • First Time is the Charm -- Next time you have something important to say, present this coupon and you won't have to say it twice.
  • Hugs and Kisses -- Present this coupon and I will give you as many hugs and kisses as you desire.

What are you doing for your employer for Mother's Day?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Caring for Multiples

Twins are Individuals
The most important priority for nannies and au pairs caring for twins and multiples is to prioritize! It requires a tremendous amount of energy to care for even one baby then add another one, or two... As Sarah, a nanny working in the Atlanta area says, "Basically, if you can survive the first year, you can do anything."

When caring for multiples in their first year of life make caring for the children your first priority. Don’t waste all of your energy on the household chores. But, let’s face it, if the parents didn’t need an extra pair of hands with the domestic chores they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. Just don’t feel guilty if you need a break due to exhaustion now and then. When the children are napping make it your chance to rest too. Parents of multiples understand the need to rest.

As the twins develop, nannies and au pairs should appreciate the children as individuals. Allow the children to express themselves separately. Avoid comparisons between children. Also ignore comparisons with other nannies or mothers. Until they have had to care for two or more babies at the same time, they haven’t a clue about how hard it is.

Lynn, a nanny of triplets in South Dakota says, “Having a sense of humor is the only way to successfully care for three babies at the same time. Have you ever tried to feed three hungry babies, bathe three babies, or go on a walk with three babies at the same time? You have to be able to laugh at yourself.”

Pat, an au pair in the Boston area recommends, "Allow the children to each have their own toys. This will actually help them learn to share and see themselves as separate people in the long run."

Anastasia, a nanny in Los Angeles says, "Help each child to develop to their own separate and individual best potential. Never compare them. Let them be themselves."

Do you have any advice to share about caring for multiples?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Preparing Children for an Adopted Baby

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Help Siblings Prepare for a New Adoption

A new baby coming home is always stressful experience. The adjustment will be very similar to any family bringing home a newborn but when parents adopt a child it is often after much effort and expense. Before a new child is adopted into a family with children, nannies and au pairs can help prepare their charges for the new sibling’s arrival. Nannies and au pairs can help children with the transition tremendously by staying calm, maintaining the siblings normal schedule, reading age appropriate books on the topic, by listening to children, and by validating all of their feelings.

In an article, "Preparing Your Child For a Sibling," by Jane M. Dalton on the Adoptive Families web site Ms. Dalton shares the following advice for those caring with children about to have an adoptive sibling become part of the family.

Be honest: According to Joan Regan, a social worker with Holt International Children’s Services, children can sense when something is changing, and they may be anxious about the unknown.

Regan suggests approaching the subject of an adopting a new baby by "gradually talking in very general terms about the possibility of another child joining the family. Parents may then define time frames in terms that children can understand, such as ‘after your next birthday’ or ‘after summer vacation’ to anticipate the arrival of the new sibling."

Susan Watson, Director of Birth Parent Services for Spence-Chapin NewYork City, has worked with older siblings and their families for years. She encourages parents to avoid the desire to ask a child if he or she would like a sibling. "A child shouldn’t have the sense that he has the power to make this enormous family decision. Parental authority in this area should be recognized from the start."

"When an arrival date seems likely," says Watson, "children can be involved with preparation like buying bottles, formula, and diapers, and setting up the nursery. Older children can discuss the differences in building a family through adoption or by birth."

Reassure: Once a child is introduced to the idea of adoption, fears may surface about whether adoption is permanent. A child may fear being placed for adoption if her parent becomes ill. Regan asserts, "Explaining that birth parents are unable to parent at all, due to age, chronic poverty, or cultural stigmas, may help eliminate fears of abandonment if illness or temporary economic reversals hit your family." Nancy Borders, a psychotherapist specializing in adoption, recommends explaining that adoption is a plan that biological parents make for their child, not a haphazard decision.

A child’s fears may surface as questions, disruptive behavior, or negative comments like, "Mommy will love the new baby more than me." Borders says that one of the best ways to reassure the child is to "constantly reaffirm her place in your family."

Children may also fear that their sibling could someday be taken away. Borders suggests reassuring the child that "when you adopt, you become that child’s family forever." Parents, Borders asserts, should impress upon their children that "siblings, like husbands and wives, develop relationships not because of blood but because they are raised together."

Encourage discussion: Watson advises, "Include children—but don’t overwhelm them with complex information. Procedural, legal, and emotional issues in adoption are tough for adults to understand. Most children are not developmentally ready to take these on."

Prepare for questions: Reading books about adoption, role playing responses to intrusive questions, and using positive adoption language helped us prepare our daughter for questions from family and friends. It also helped, after adoption, when we responded with authority to questions others asked in our daughter’s presence.

Watson advises providing children with basic adoption facts and then allowing them to decide how to answer questions. They will model their answers on what their parents say. She adds, "Children should not be given private information that parents want kept within the immediate family. They shouldn’t have to feel that they are keeping secrets. We want siblings to feel proud to tell their family’s adoption story without having to censor themselves."

Network: Borders says, "Children who have a network of adopted friends do better. I think it’s very important for the adopted child and the biological child to see that their family is as normal as any other family."

Networking is especially important for families who are adopting transracially. "International celebrations can be fun," says Watson, "but they are no different than any other family activity. They may be a big hit with some family members and not for others. Your biological child may enjoy Korean Culture Day while your Korean child does not. Parents should set the tone for what they think are important ‘all family’ events."

Discuss the adjustment: A new sibling, no matter how he or she comes into the family, is a big adjustment. Add to that the possibility that parents may have to spend extra time with a child who has developmental delays, and the sense of being displaced can be overwhelming. "Making special time for your older child is especially important," Watson says, "even though it can be difficult with all of the demands and activity surrounding a new child."

Empathy is the key: Sometimes it’s really hard to share Dad with a new baby, isn’t it? Babies can be a lot of hard work, can’t they? You seem really angry today. What’s up? Such questions, explains Watson, demonstrate your recognition that it’s not always easy to be a big brother or sister.

Children may behave negatively during the adjustment period. This is normal, says Watson, "excessive clinging, needing a great deal of attention, regression to an earlier stage of development, misbehaving in unusual ways, or even trying to harm the newcomer." If you are having a difficult time coping, or if your child does not seem to be adjusting well to the arrival of his or her sibling, contact your pediatrician or social worker for help.

Watch and enjoy: Because so many dreams are invested in adoption, we hope that children will be instantly delighted with their new sibling. Borders cautions, though, that "if you try to force it, you’re only going to cause anger, hurt feelings, and tension. You have to let the kids develop their own relationship."

Jane Dalton is a writer and mother of two.

Do you have any advice to share about caring for children in families about to welcome a newly adopted child?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Celebrate Sibling Day

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Teach Siblings to Celebrate One Another

Sibling Day
Mother's Day is coming up, but why not celebrate Sibling Day? Pick a separate day, other than a birthday or holiday, during the calendar year to celebrate a sibling day for each child in the family. A good day might be exactly six months after the child’s birthday which would be their half birthday. Rather than purchasing expensive gifts focus on making the child’s favorite foods, playing board games the entire family can enjoy, and by playing their favorite music during the day.

For Sibling Day only express and celebrate what you like about the child. Have children make a T-shirt showing what they like about their sibling. Give everyone else in the family a sheet of paper to write a description of the sibling’s unique qualities, talents, likes and dislikes. Buy a T-shirt, fabric pen, or paint and help write the best qualities of their sister or brother on the shirt. Children can also write a poem that includes their siblings characteristics or make a fancy card as a gift as well.

Do you have other ideas on ways to celebrate siblings?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Trials and Tribulations of Raising Siblings

Last week we started discussing siblings. But with so much news about the swine flu we got a little side tracked. So this week we will continue discussing siblings.

In the book, 365 Ways to Raise Great Kids, Sheila Ellison writes, "Siblings have the unique opportunity of going through life together, growing into adulthood side by side, sharing the same parent, and sharing life experiences.

Children do not always see the great value in having a sibling. To a child, a sibling can be a friend one day and an enemy the another. A sibling can share a great secret or give a great secret away. A sibling can be a their side in distress, or can lead the attack party.

As [caregivers] the best we can do is encourage communication, love, and respect, trusting that there is a rive of love that floats beneath them even when they are not in the same boat. So, even if today a child cannot see the value of their sibling, someday they will."

Sheila Ellison shares wonderful ideas on how to encourage the sibling relationship, which we will share with you this week. Feel free to share your trials and tribulations of caring for siblings.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nanny Service Offers "Swine Flu" Discount


By Amy Allen
Staff reporter
May 2, 2009

A western Washington nanny service is reaching out to help families who need childcare because of school closures. Annie's Nannies is waving their $250 membership fee for anyone who needs help to find temporary childcare because of closures related to swine flu concerns. Families left without childcare because of swine flu will also be able to get membership discounts on daily babysitting rates.

In his Saturday radio address, President Obama said the CDC is recommending that schools that have confirmed swine flu cases close for up to 14 days. That could mean extended closures for several Puget Sound area schools, if test results confirm swine flu outbreaks.

Annie Davis, the founder and owner of Annie's Nannies said "with everything going on, it just seemed like the right thing to do now." Davis says their nanny service cannot care for children that are ill.

To take advantage of the discounted membership rate for the nanny service you can call (206) 784-8462. Their service covers people all over the Puget Sound region.

Copyright © 2009, KCPQ-TV

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Closed Schools Leave Parents With Daycare Woes


With more North Texas schools closing because of the H1N1/swine flu outbreak -- many parents are left wondering what to do about childcare.

Even though many daycare centers across the metroplex are still taking kids, they want to stress that children shouldn't come if they're sick.

The Tarrant County Health Department made it clear, after closing the Fort Worth Independent School District, that kids should not be put in other group settings - like daycares.

Since the school closures, North Texas 'Nannies On the Go' locations have been swamped. "They [parents] don't want to take their kids to daycare or they are scared to take them to school but they still have things to do," said Becca Epps with Nannies On the Go.

Epps works as a nanny for the Brown family. "We've always been skeptical of daycares," explained BJ Brown; who said Epps was hired so their family could avoid situations like the one going on now.

Some parents, like Cristi Kanapkey, are looking to give a helping hand. "There has got to be a lot of parents out there that need help with their children," explained Kanapkey.

The North Texas mother is one of dozens of parents who has placed on posting on, offering to babysit children who are suddenly out of school.

Police advise adults going to a craigslist posting, or trying to find any babysitter, to thoroughly check out the individual they plan to leave their child with.CBS 11 News found a helpful website, that's run by a non-profit organization, that can't help in the search for quality childcare in your communities. Click here for a list of child care resource and referral agencies, on the Child Care Aware website.

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Children's Books About Siblings

Weekly Trip to the Library

Mail Harry to the Moon!
By Robie H. Harris
Ages 3 to 6
Harry’s older brother is enraged when he cries, spits up, or puts him on Grandma’s lap. Big Brother demands that Harry be thrown in the trash, flushed down the toilet, or put back inside Mommy. Finally, on a double-page spread he screams, “Mail Harry to the Moon!” Then one morning Harry seems to have disappeared, so Big Brother decides he really has been sent to the Moon and sets off in his laundry hamper rocket ship to rescue him. The book’s turning point suggests that a tantrum results in a change of heart.

Sisters and Brothers
Sibling Relationships in the Animal World

By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Ages 4 to 8
Steve Jenkins and Robin Page investigate sibling relationships throughout the animal kingdom. In this book you will learn that anteaters are always only children and nine-banded armadillos are always born as identical quadruplets. You will also learn that falcons play-hunt in the sky and that hyena cubs fight to the death. This is the perfect book for animal lovers young and old! Jenkins's collage illustrations are great.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
By Patricia Polacco
Ages 4 to 8
There's nothing worse than a rotten redheaded older brother who can do everything you can do better! Patricia's brother Richard could run the fastest, climb the highest, and spit the farthest and still smile his extra-rotten, greeny-toothed, weasel-eyed grin. But when little Patricia wishes on a shooting star that she could do something — anything — to show him up, she finds out just what wishes — and rotten redheaded older brothers — can really do. Patricia Polacco's boldly and exuberantly painted pictures tell a lively and warmhearted tale of comic one-upsmanship and brotherly love.

Cool Zone With the Pain and the Great By Judy Blume
Ages 5 to 9
This is the second in a series, this easy-reading story collection presents Jake (the Pain) in first grade and his sister Abigail (the Great One) in third. The pain and the Great One hardly agree on anything. But deep down, they know they can count on each other, especially at school, where it often takes two to figure things out. Like when that first baby tooth falls out on the school bus. Or when an unwanted visitor on Bring Your Pet to School Day needs to be caught. Or worst of all, when a scary bully says you’re burnt toast. On days like these it can feel good not to go it alone. (And don’t forget Fluzzy the cat, who knows a thing or two himself.)

The Kite Fighters
By Linda Sue Park
Ages 9 to 12
In Korea in 1473, eleven-year-old Young-sup overcomes his rivalry with his older brother Kee-sup, who as the first-born son receives special treatment from their father, and combines his kite-flying skill with Kee-sup's kite-making skill in an attempt to win the New Year kite-fighting competition.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wars Between Step Siblings and Biological Siblings

Caring for Step Siblings

With the divorce rate so high in America it is likely that many nannies and au pairs work with blended families with step parents and step siblings along with biological parents and biological siblings.

When working for a blended family there really is no way in-home childcare providers cannot become involved with the new members of a step family. If you think one family has disputes, putting two families with children together just multiplies the potential problems. The key is to encourage a respectful and loving home environment rather than a war between step kids and biological kids. To do that in-home caregivers must be mature, be patient, listen, and understand the difficult feelings all of the children in the blended family express.

Children in blended families have gone through a lot of stressful change. By the time of a second marriage, it is often a child’s third family unit. The first was the biological parents’ marriage, the second was a separate or single family unit, and the third as the new relationship which involves a step parent. (Schwartz). That much change requires a lot of adjustment for children.

Caregivers must allow children time to mourn their former family unit. “Children need [adult] permission and understanding to grieve these losses, before embracing the new family system. Failure to accept mourning as a natural feeling may result in angry outbursts and potential alienation,” (Schwartz).

Nannies and au pairs must never take sides by speaking negatively about any parent (biological parent or step parent) or any sibling (biological sibling or step sibling) at anytime.

Undoubtedly step siblings will argue how unfair the rules are in their new home. Although there are undoubtedly different "rules" at different homes, nannies and au pairs can only enforce the rules of the home they work in. Caregivers should emphasize that they will be enforcing rules of the home rather than allowing children to focus on the “mean” rules of the step parent.

The reality exists that children may never “love” their step siblings. But, if they have to live under the same roof together, nannies and au pairs can help the children adjust and accept the new relationships in their family.

Each child is unique and a small child will react to a new step parent, step sister, or step brother very differently than a teenager. As the child’s age increases he is less likely to fall in love with his step siblings or step parent. But, as she develops and matures she may feel maternal (or paternal) to the little child.

Nannies and au pairs can help step siblings aim towards friendships and mutual respect. In-home caregivers can take time to listen to all of the children. Au pairs and nannies can help children negotiate but never take sides. Childcare providers should not allow any name-calling, criticizing, or inappropriate behavior at anytime between their charges and their new step siblings.

Shwartz, Abby: “Eight ways to help build a healthy stepfamily,” Home & Family, iVillage Inc.

Have you worked in a blended family?