Thursday, September 30, 2010

10 Million Fisher-Price Toys, High Chairs Recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) says Fisher-Price is voluntarily recalling 10.1 million potentially dangerous toys and high chairs.

The CPSC is telling caregivers and parents to stop using the high chairs and to keep kids from playing with the toys, and to call Fisher-Price fir repair kits and replacement parts.

Be Quoted in Monthly Poll

How Nannies Find Jobs and How Agencies Help Find Nanny Jobs

It's the last day to take Be the Best Nanny Newsletter's monthly poll about how nannies find jobs and how agencies work to help nannies find jobs. Nannies and nanny agency staff please click here to take our survey.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Importance of Letters of Reference

Nannies: Do You Have Written References?

Don't minimize the importance of references. You need great references to land great nanny jobs.

Written References:
Although parents should always speak directly to some of your job references, written references from are essential from people you may not necessarily be able to track down years later. Written references are important since many of your references may not remember key information included at the time they write the reference letter. A list of names and phone numbers of former employers is fine if you do not have three written references. But start procuring written references from current employers now.

Get Permission from References:
Be sure to contact your references to let them know they will be receiving phone calls to verify your work history. Do not list someone as a reference unless you have their permission. You need to be sure that you are asking the appropriate people to write a letter of reference or to give you a verbal reference. You also need to know what the reference giver is going to say about you. To do that, review the type of positions you are applying for with the reference giver, so they can tailor their reference to fit your circumstances.

Who to Ask for a Reference:
Former bosses and parents you have babysat for make good references. So do college professors.

Make a List:
Create a listing of your references. The list of references should not be included in your resume. Rather, create a separate reference list. Have it ready to give to employers when you interview. Include three or four references, along with their job title, employer, and contact information. If the employer asks you to email your references, paste the list into the body of any email letter, rather than sending an attachment.

Request a Reference Letter:
I have heard nannies should ask for written references from their employers at each job at performance evaluation time (annually or bi-annually). At the very least, you should ask for a written letter of reference every time you change employment. Make a point of asking for a reference letter from the parent. They won't write the letter unless you ask them to do it.

Keep Your References Up-to-Date:
Let your references know where your job search stands. Tell them who might be calling for a reference. When you get a new job, don't forget to send a thank you note to those who provided you with a reference.

Maintain your Network:
Maintaining your reference network with periodic phone calls or notes to get and give updates is important. Have an active network in place because you never know when you might need it.

Requesting Permission to Call Your References:
A nanny agency or prospective employer should ask your permission before contacting your references. This is especially important if you are employed - you don't want to surprise your current employer with a phone call checking your references. It's perfectly acceptable to say that you are not comfortable with your current employer being contacted at the present time. However, do have a list of alternative references available.

Click here for original article before edits.
Do you have written references?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Standout Nanny Resume

Finding a Nanny Job in a Tough Economy

Click here to see our sample resume posted to the left.

No matter the method you use to find a nanny job: using a reputable nanny placement agency, a nanny web site, classified advertisements, or word-of-mouth the resume remains the most important way for nanny candidates to market themselves.

A nanny resume often includes the following information:

Photo of Yourself:
Although not necessary, to stand out among a pile of others, caregivers should include a photo of themselves on their resume. Including a photo playing or posing with children will help parents remember your resume.

Your Name and Contact Information:
Your name should appear at the top of the page in the largest font size on the paper. Include all of your contact information: address, phone number, and email address in a smaller font directly below your name. You may want to include a mobile phone number. The phone number that you list should have a professional voice mail message available for parents and nanny placement agency staff to leave a message. Do not use songs or funny voice mail greetings on the phone parents and nanny agency staff may be calling.

Objective Statement or Summary of Qualifications:
Your objective or summary of qualifications should be concise and clearly stated. These few sentences sum up why a family should hire you as a nanny. If you have experience in child care, mention how many years experience you have. Briefly list your greatest qualities, achievements, or qualifications. For example, "I am a caring, energetic, and organized caregiver with five-years full-time, live-in nanny experience. I would love to work for a family where my strengths and talents working with multiples or newborns (be specific about what your strengths and talents are) can be used to help children develop to their best potential."

List the name and address of the school, subject studied, degree or certificate earned, and the year you graduated. Include any scholarships or academic recognition you may have been awarded. You should also list if you are CPR and First Aid certified.

Nanny Work Experience:
List the name, address, and phone number of the family you worked for in chronological order. Include the most recent job at the top of the list. Include the dates you worked for the family. Then write a brief description of your duties and responsibilities focusing primarily on child care. State challenging situations you have resolved as a nanny. For example, describing your work with physical or behavioral problems is a noteworthy accomplishment. Choose your words wisely to respect the privacy of your previous employers.

Child Care Work Experience:
All child care experience is impressive. Volunteer child care positions can also be included on a resume.

Non-Related Work Experience:
Typically you do not need to list any previous jobs that do not pertain to child care on a nanny resume. Include the job if it shows that you are organized, dependable, and trustworthy. You may include unrelated jobs if you need to show a timeline of when and where you worked for a period of time, or if you need to use the job as a reference.

Hobbies and Interests:
List hobbies or interests that may increase your chance of being hired as a nanny. For example, it is of no interest to potential employers if you enjoy reading when you are not working. But, if you are a talented musician the parents might appreciate your willingness to give the children piano lessons. A love of swimming is a plus for a nanny. A passion for making jewelry is not relevant.

Click here to see our sample resume.

Don't forget to take our quick survey about finding nanny jobs to have your answers included in the October 2010 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter coming out next week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Looking for Nanny Jobs Has Never Been So Frustrating

How Did You Find Your Nanny Job?

By Stephanie Felzenberg, Nanny and Editor Be the Best Nanny Newsletter

Too many of my friends are looking for nanny jobs without luck. Too many nanny agencies have gone out of business due to a lousy economy. Of the nanny placement agencies still in business, too many don't even bother calling my friends I refer to them back, even when they submit their applications and resumes. And there are still too many low paying jobs (even below minimum wage) posted all over the Internet and even on nanny web sites.

This week we will discuss our best advice to try to help caregivers find nanny jobs.

Our first advice is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Be sure to try to find jobs using all job seeking methods.

Back in 2007 when Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asked 503 nannies how they found their nanny jobs and most used more than one method. Forty-two percent found their nanny job with the help of a nanny placement agency. Twenty percent landed their jobs by using nanny web sites. Fifteen percent found their jobs by word-of mouth referrals and classified advertisements in printed publications.

We want to see if those methods have changed. So, please take our monthly poll this week so we can publish the results of how you find nanny jobs next week.

How did you find your nanny job?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Have you Used the Bumbo Seat?

Product Review Sunday for Nannies and Au Pairs

The Bumbo Baby Sitter is a portable, soft, lightweight (just three pounds), chair for a baby that can already hold her head up. It's a great way to keep a baby in a safe environment as you and the baby move from room to room.

This infant chair is designed to fit a baby's posture. Babies can sit upright in a Bumbo Seat as soon as they have head control. More importantly, it helps them develop the trunk control they need to sit up on their own. It is recommended by pediatricians, orthopedists, and physical therapists.

This seat also offers another alternative to tummy time for younger babies. If baby doesn't like tummy time, the Bumbo seat may be a more pleasant way to keep baby from laying on his or her back too much.

The soft foam seat is easy to clean and comes in several colors. Some Bumbo Seats come with trays too. This seat is not for use for children over 22 pounds or babies that can arch their backs and tip out of the seat.

A recall of Bumbo Seats was initiated in 2007 because some parents used the seats on high surfaces and their babies were injured by falling from a counter or table. The recall involved adding more warning labels about using the seat on high surfaces or leaving baby unattended. Do not use Bumbo Seats on high surfaces or leave your baby unattended. I recommend the Bumbo Seat for use on the floor only.

When used properly on the floor, Bumbo Seats are still a great way for babies to sit up and look around from a fairly young age.

Stop by next week for another Product Review Sunday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Have You Read "Like a Second Mother" by Barbara Blouin?

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

This week Be the Best Nanny Newsletter recognized National Nanny Recognition Week by sharing short essays by great nannies that love working in their chosen profession.

The perfect ending to National Nanny Recognition Week is reviewing the inspirational book Like a Second Motherby Barbara Blouin.

The book is a collection of oral histories, memoirs, and photographs compiled to honor in-home caregivers of children. There is no other book of its kind.

Barbara Blouin interviewed over 40 adults who grew up in wealthy families and who feel immense gratitude to the nannies and housekeepers who gave them love and nurturing.

Many of these caregivers have passed on; however, the current generation of nannies also has plenty to say about the family contexts in which they are working. Eight previously unpublished short memoirs are included.

Some of the caregivers were nannies but others may have been employed as housekeepers who took on the role of care giving with the children of the home. Some of the adults who were former charges describe getting more "mothering" form their nanny or housekeeper, than from their own mother.

For example, one former charge fondly remembers helping the nanny slave over a hot stove cooking meals for the adults. Then, the parents and their guests dined fashionably in a formal dining area, while the children and nanny ate separately in the hot kitchen.

These stories describe domestic working conditions from decades ago. It is truly painful to read about the prejudice of racism and classism some of the nannies and housekeepers experienced.

But, the love and gratitude expressed by the former charges of their nannies and housekeepers who helped raise them is truly inspirational. We strongly encourage all in-home childcare providers read this book.

Have you read Like a Second Mother by Barbara Blouin? What are you feelings about the book?

Friday, September 24, 2010

In Honor of Nannies this National Nanny Recognition Week

Why I Love Working as a Nanny
By Terri Carroll

I love being a nanny because I know I make a difference in the lives of the little ones I come in contact with -- even if it's just a one-week temporary job. I could write 10-pages on why I know this is true, but I'll spare you.

What a joy to know I've been a positive influence in their lives forever -- even long after they have completely forgotten me!

The Pride of Help Raising a Child
By Sue Downey

Anyone who works with children knows the joys of helping kids to find themselves, the pride in being a part of the process of raising a child, and the simple fun of play.
We know that things we do today have long reaching effects and the work we do is important.

But to me what makes being a nanny unique is that I can interact with the whole family, which can have deeper and more lasting benefits than a teacher or coach.

I have benefited from these relationships in ways that I cannot explain. It is an intimate relationship and one that is completely unique.

It is an Honor to Work as a Nanny
By Stephanie Felzenberg

This week Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asked nannies to share why they love working in their chosen profession. I have to agree with most of the comments shared by all of the nannies this week.

Josiah Laubenstein explained on Monday, that even though working as a nanny is a messy, unglamourous, exhausting, and even dangerous job, being a nanny is about having unconditional love for children.

Andrea Flagg described the many different hats nannies wear in a work day: tutor, nutritionist, chef, hygienist, nurse, counselor, coach, and body-guard, just to name a few. Great nannies, like Andrea Flagg, really do take the extra time and effort to provide educational activities and new experiences to help spark the child's curiosity and self-esteem.

What nanny doesn't take great pride in helping to mold and shape children into the adults they will someday become, as Emelie Wingland Root described on Wednesday?

On Thursday, De-Shaun Silas explained so perfectly why she LOVES working as a nanny. How many people can say they actually love their jobs? Well, De-Shaun and others like her can. What could be more important than knowing you have made a positive difference in the life of a child that will last with them forever?

And of course, even when we work just temporarily for a family we have a great impact on the children, as Terri Carroll explains above. I only hope all caregivers that choose to work as nannies benefit as greatly from each of their nanny jobs as much as Sue Downey has.

As the parents that employ nannies honored them this week for National Nanny Recognition Week, I want to thank the parents that entrust us to help raise their most precious children.

There is no greater honor I can think of than helping raise children by working as a nanny.

How were you honored during National Nanny Recognition Week?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Do I Like Working as a Nanny?

There is Nothing Better Than Helping Raise a Child

By De-Shaun Silas

Why do I like working as a nanny? For me, there is nothing better than knowing that I have had a hand in helping raise a child and had a life-long impact on their lives.

I don’t just like what I do, I LOVE what I do. Not many people can say they enjoy what they do for a living, and really mean it, but I can.

No matter how many tantrums, errands, dirty diapers, spit up, last minute school projects, and chaotic days you have, when you work as a nanny you know at the end of the day the children will look at you with pure admiration.

They admire you because they know they can trust and count on you to wipe every tear, to laugh at their jokes, to play a round of hide and seek, to comfort them when they are sad or sick, and to just be silly with them.

These are the reasons I love my job, because no matter what happens, I know I made a difference in the life of a child and my positive influence will stay with them forever.

De-Shaun Silas is a Professional Career Nanny and Newborn Care Specialist and Owner of All About Nanny Consulting

In honor of National Nanny Recognition Week why do you like working as a nanny?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why Working as a Nanny is so Important!

In Honor of National Nanny Recognition Week

By Emelie Wingblad Root

I've spent the last 16-years working in the child care industry and feel that one of my best assets is the way I relate to children!

Caring for children is the one thing in my life that I can confidently say that I know how to do, and being a nanny allows me the opportunity to put that knowledge into practice five days a week.

I enjoy the one-on-one time that being a nanny allows me to spend with the children I care for as well as the feeling that I'm taking part in something bigger, in some small way, helping to mold and shape these children into the adults they will someday become.

I can only hope that as their caregiver, some small thing that I have taught them, or said to them, will stay with them throughout their lives just as I will always remember my time with them!

Seeing these kids grow and change everyday is a blessing and I can't see myself doing anything else.

Why do you think working as a nanny is important?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What it Means to Me to Be a Nanny!

In Honor of National Nanny Recognition Week

By Andrea Flagg

I greatly enjoy being an interactive nanny who truly enjoys being a part of a child's life. Their energy is contagious and you can't help but to see the world through their eyes, where everything is new and amazing!

Working as a nanny, there are endless moments to teach through exploration, discovery, observation, sensation, and performance. I seize every opportunity to expose the children to new activities and experiences which would be of the greatest benefit to them.

I receive the most satisfaction when I am involved with helping a child to develop their interests and learn new things. It is very fulfilling to be a nanny and teach children skills that they will have for a lifetime!

Nannies nurture, teach, discipline, love, and become an extension of the family. Nannies fulfill many roles.

This definition of a nanny sums it up really well:

Nanny (nah-nee) n. childcare provider, activities director, teacher, dresser, beautician, nutritionist, chef, hygienist, janitor, nurse, dramatic reader, performer, entertainer, costume-maker, arts-and-crafts instructor, dance partner, chauffeur and stroller pusher, personal shopper, secretary, historian, detective, confidant, companion, counselor, coach, body-guard, self-defense instructor, tutor, cheerleader, appreciative audience, hugger, boo-boo kisser, potty trainer, learner, listener, helper, arbiter, peace-keeper, honorary extended-family member, life-long influence, shaper of the future.

What do you think it means to be a nanny?

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Being a Nanny is All About!

National Nanny Recognition Week

It is National Nanny Recognition Week. While this is a week parents are encouraged to show appreciation for their nannies, Be the Best Nanny Newsletter will share stories from caregivers expressing why they love working as nannies and why their profession is so important.

Our first essay if from Josiah Laubenstein, a manny (male nanny) from Minneapolis who is just finishing his 14-month nanny assignment working for a family with three children.

What Nannying is All About!
By Josiah Laubenstein

In the past year working as a nanny I have been punched, poked, kicked, bit, scratched, bled on, pooped on, and sneezed on. I have also had my hair pulled and braided and had my nails painted (not odd for most nannies but I am a man). I have had a mechanical hamster named Num-Nums hurled with pinpoint accuracy at my right temple. I have been bruised, have bled, and have had my family jewels assaulted on at least five, terribly vivid, occasions.

If anyone else had done any of these things I would have a restraining order to keep them away from me.

Working with children can be stressful. Children exist in a world of sharp objects that are fun to run with, imminent death on wheels, and precipices from which to fall. It seems like anything that is fun to do for a child is either messy, obnoxiously loud and repetitive, or dangerous.

Kids will do anything and everything just to get what they want, while they have a staunch refusal to do what you want.

And so, nannying is about endurance. One can endure anything, because eventually children will have to go to sleep. Or, you could just give them the attention they want and deserve. This past year I have learned that children really just want attention, love, affirmation, to know they’re special, to have fun with you, and to know you care. They literally wear their pretty little hearts on their grubby little sleeves.

So, nannying is also about love. I feel confident saying this, for in a week or two after I leave this job, when my blood pressure lowers and my mental acuity returns, when the screams stop ringing in my ears, and the bruises (physical and mental) fade, I will miss these children. And when I think back, it is the bad that will sublimate and dissipate, and the good that will remain.

For Ella, I will remember her startling intelligence and wit. I will never forget how she read the entire Harry Potter series in the year, her touchingly genuine mothering of Joe and Abby, her wild laughter, her spirited imagination, and her fierce need for hugs.

For Abby, I will remember how her emotional poise was slightly out of place for a four-year-old. I will remember how she loved to get up early on Wednesday mornings when no one else was up and help me make pancakes. I will never forget her inability to pout without the tiniest slip of a smile peeking out and how she never failed to come up and calmly slip her hand in mine.

For Joe, I will always remember he first time he called my name "Yaya." How could I ever forget potty training? I will remember the first morning he was excited to see me, and the first night he cried when I left. I will never forget how he hated to put on a diaper after using the toilet, preferring to run around in the nude. I will remember the times he fell asleep on me and how when held him in my arms he would giggle. I will never forget him rubbing his tiny hands against my beard and press his cheek to mine.

As for their memories of me: I hope they’ll forget the occasional frustration, anger, and the yelling . I hope they will not remember the times I didn’t want to play and the times when I just wanted to leave.

Instead, I hope they remember the times I stayed for dinner and making Joe’s birthday cake together. I hope they will remember swimming lessons and walking to the four-block park, donut time, being excited to see me after school, and climbing trees at church. I hope they remember the wild and crazy stories on long, hot, car rides.

I hope they will remember airplane rides, dance parties, and being thrown in the air so high it scared them, but they still wanted to do it again. I hope they will remember the eyes that watched their tricks, the hands that held their hands, the shoulders that caught their tears, and the lips that kissed their hurts.

And I hope they will remember for a brief moment in their lives they were content, in the still of a bleary-eyed morning, to come downstairs and sit on my lap, lean their head against my chest, have my arms wrapped around them, and just be held by me.

I think that’s what love is.

And that, I think, is what nannying is about!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

National Nanny Recognition Week Sept 19th - 26th

Product Review Sunday

The Laundress Detergents and Cleaning Products

Last week we discussed some housekeeping duties that nannies often are responsible for in the home. We discussed doing baby and children's laundry and getting the children involved in helping do the laundry.

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter loves The Laundress cleaning products.

Their products are high efficiency, highly concentrated (three times concentrated for machines and two times concentrated for top-loading machines), free of toxic chemicals, 100% biodegradable, and eliminate 99% of dry cleaning needs. Scents contain essential oil blends, not artificial fragrances, do not use artificial colors, dye, or unnecessary additives, and are allergen, phthalate, phosphate, and paraben free. Their products are animal cruelty free and use only plant-based ingredients.

The products come in seven various scents. See their web site by clicking here to choose the scent you prefer.

Do you employer's have a newborn? The The Laundress BGB-001 Baby Gift Bag makes a great baby gift. Not only will your employer's love the products The Laundress Lady Gift Bag makes a great housewarming gift.

Stop by again next week for another Product Review Sunday for nannies and au pairs.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Professional Housekeeper

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Housekeepers

This past week we discussed some of the basic housekeeping duties some nannies might do around the home such as, washing a baby's laundry, getting the kids to help do laundry, making beds, and ironing.

While some in-home child care providers strictly won't do certain The Professional Housekeeper explains that being a professional housekeeper can be very rewarding.

In Marta Perrone's book The Professional Housekeeper she shows us how to be a great housekeeper.

She says, "The ability to create an environment of cleanliness, order, charm, and beauty is but one of the many talents of a wonderful homemaker and housekeeper."

She continues, "Becoming a... professional housekeeper can be rewarding. It makes you an important part of a family’s every day life. Often, households require someone else to do the homemaking for them. To be a good household employer, you must know what is needed to get the job done right."

Marta Perrone also offers a Professional Housekeeper Certification. Household workers can take the certification exam that comes with the career and training guides to receive a course completion certification.

Information for housekeepers to learn includes:

- How to put together the necessary resume and qualifications.
- How to interview properly to better your chances of being hired.
- How to negotiate a job offer before accepting the position as it relates to: benefits, labor laws, salary and payroll, and more.
- How to maintain your job by staying professional at all times.
- How to handle problems on the job to avoid unnecessary terminations.

For those willing to pitch-in and help clean the home they work in, they will have a better understanding of how to have an efficient, stress-free, clean, and organized environment. Anyone completing this training will be empowered and proud to illustrate all skills and professionalism with confidence.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nannies and Au Pairs: Are You Responsible for Cleaning Out the Fridge?

If in Doubt Throw it Out!

1. Throw away any food that is moldy, expired, or otherwise spoiled.

2. Take all removable parts out of the refrigerator, including shelves, wire racks, and drawers.

3. Fill the sink with warm, soapy water (use a mild dish soap). Never use harsh cleaners or scouring pads in or on the refrigerator.

4. Wipe any food matter out of the drawers.

5. Hand-wash the shelves, wire racks and drawers, then rinse them in warm water.

6. Let the shelves, wire racks, and drawers drain in a dish rack, on paper towels or on newspapers.

7. Remove any food matter from the bottom of the refrigerator.

8. Wash the inside of the refrigerator using a sponge or dishcloth and the warm, soapy water. Remember the compartments and door racks.

9. Rinse the inside of the refrigerator with a sponge or dishcloth and clean warm water.

10. For odor control, use a solution of 2 tbsp. baking soda to 1 quart warm water to wash the inside of the refrigerator. A solution of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 gallon warm water is also effective; apply and rinse. A box of baking soda placed in the refrigerator will also cut down on odors.

11. Replace all shelves, wire racks, and drawers.

12. Wash the outside of the refrigerator and the gasket (rubber molding around the door) with warm, soapy water; rinse and wipe dry.

13. Return the food to the refrigerator, first wiping off any bottles or jars that are sticky.

Click here for reference.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nannies and Au Pairs: Do You Make the Children's and Parents' Bed?

There are some tasks that nannies and au pairs despise. Doing housekeeping duties for other adults in the home enrages some nannies and au pairs. But, many of us do make the adult's and children's beds and here is advice on how to do it properly.

Remove Used Linens
Take off the used linens and put them in the laundry. Shake out any mattress pads, pillow protectors, and comforters that don't need to be laundered. If you use a bed skirt and it needs to be laundered occasionally, remove, and replace it.

Put the Bottom Sheet On
If the bottom sheet is fitted, simply slip the corner pockets onto the ends of the bed and adjust the fitted sheet around the perimeter underneath the mattress pad and mattress. If the bottom sheet is flat, arrange the sheet so that 1 foot of sheet hangs over the edge of the top of the bed. Beginning with the sides of the bed create hospital corners and fold under the mattress and mattress pad. Continue on each side, creasing and folding as you go.

To Make Hospital Corners
Tuck the foot edge under the mattress from corner to corner. Make sure the sheet lies smoothly. Pull one long edge onto the mattress so that the sheet goes smoothly around the corner. The folded edge of the sheet should form a 45 degree angle (approximately) from that corner on the surface of the bed. The neater and more wrinkle-free you can pull this off, the better your hospital corner will be. Put your hand on the long side of the corner to keep the edge smooth. Tuck in any part of the sheet that is hanging below the mattress. You should be able to remove your hand, and the corner will stay smooth and tight. A good rule of thumb is that both edges of the sheet should be lined up and vertical (only one edge is vertical in this case). Bring the sheet corner on the bed over the edge of the mattress. In some hospital settings, you stop here, as shown in the picture. Some families prefer you to tuck the hanging edge tightly under the mattress.

Add the Top Sheet
Place the top sheet evenly on the bed, and fold under with hospital corners only at the end of the bed. Leaving the sides untucked, makes it easier to get into the bed, but if it is a guest bed that is only rarely used, or you boss is a stickler about folding under, you can tuck under the sides as well. Just remember your comforter, quilt, or duvet will likely cover up the little bit of sheet hanging down.

Add a Blanket, Comforter, or Duvet
Smooth your choice of blanket evenly over the top of the bed, smoothing the edges as you go.

Add Pillows
To place pillows under the blanket, fold the top sheet down over the blanket. Place pillows flat on the top sheet at the head of the bed. Fold blanket over the pillows towards the head of the bed, and smooth. Pillows can also be laid upright against the head of the bed. Do what makes the bed have that finished look that you love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do You Iron at Work?

How to Iron a Shirt from the Chicago Tribune

Gwen Whiting, co-founder of The Laundress has a degree in textile science from the Ivy League, and was actually graded for ironing. Her advice is below.

Step #1: PREP
Check for grime on the bottom of the iron. Also clear the ironing board of any debris. If it's really dusty, throw the cover in the wash.

Step #2: START WET
Skip the dryer, ironing straight from the washing machine. Not possible? Use a spray bottle of water to dampen.

Heat: Crank iron to whatever temp matches your shirt. Look for the itty-bitty words on the dial and on the back of your shirt tag. If your shirt is oxford cloth, crank to "cotton/linen."

Step #3: STARCH?
It's optional and builds up over time, so you should occasionally throw the shirt in the wash to remove build-up, even if you usually dry clean.

Types: Corn starch is for natural fabrics; sizing for synthetic fabrics. Spray on before ironing begins.

Collar: Pop it and iron from the tips toward the middle. Iron the inside. Flip. Do the outside. Don't turn down the collar until the rest of the shirt is ironed. Do NOT iron a crease into the collar.

Cuffs: Starting on the inside, iron from bottom edge toward the sleeve. Flip cuff. Repeat. Also poke the tip of the iron into the pleat(s) just above the cuff.

Sleeves: Hold up and tug taut the arm so you've got a crisp straight fold from shoulder to cuff. Lay sleeve on the board, and in long sweeping strokes, iron in a straight solid crease. Do the back of the sleeve first because inevitably you'll get creases, so save the front for last. Slide the armpit part of the sleeve over the tip of the ironing board, and iron flat the shoulder.

Yoke: Staying in that position, hit the yoke, that double-layer strip that connects the collar to the shirt body. Swing the iron from shoulder to mid-back. Switch shoulders. Repeat.

Front non-button side: In long strokes from collar down, start with the placket (the strip with all the button holes).

Pocket: Iron from the bottom up.

Back: Iron below the yoke, from top to bottom.

Front button-side: Lastly, using the tip of the iron, weave in and around the buttons.

Done: Hang it up so as not to have to do it again (wooden hanger preferred).

Do you iron at work?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Do You Use Cloth or Disposable Diapers?

How to Properly Wash Baby Clothes

Cloth Diapers:
Flush solid waste away. Some people use disposable liners inside cloth diapers to make this easier. Put diapers in a pail half-filled with a mixture of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar or Borax, to control odor and to make stain removal easier. If you will be washing them frequently, you can also put them in a dry pail. Soak diapers until you are ready to wash them, then drain excess liquid into the toilet. If necessary, use your spin cycle to help remove the soaking solution. Wash the diapers in hot water. Double-rinse in cold water and add some vinegar to the second rinse cycle, to help freshen the diapers. Check for stubborn stains before putting the diapers in the dryer; if you catch them before they set, you will be able to remove them more easily. Dry the diapers on high heat in the dryer, or in direct sunlight.

Wash Baby Clothes Before Wearing:
A minor skin irritation or allergy could make the baby uncomfortable. Babies are sometimes sensitive to the sizing, a finish put on new clothes to keep them looking nice in the store. Shipping clothes can be a messy process, so those new clothes also could have come into contact with many types of dirt, bugs, or rodents.

Use Hot Water:
While you don't need to use hot water to wash the entire family's laundry it is recommended for baby clothing because hot water is more likely to kill germs.

Only Some Babies Require a Special Detergent:
There are a few extra-gentle laundry detergents on the market that are targeted toward baby clothes, but that doesn't mean you have to use one of these special soaps. Some families alleviate the risk of skin allergies by laundering baby clothes in a dye-free, scent-free detergent, such as All Free & Clear or Tide Free. If the baby isn't bothered by clothes washed in your family's regular detergent, there's no need to buy a special laundry soap just for the baby clothes. But laundry dryer sheets should be avoided since they are known to irritate sensitive skin.

Basic Baby Clothes Stain Removal:
Pre-treating stains is the best way to keep baby clothes looking like new. If stained clothing will sit for a while, try using a paste-type pretreatment that can sit on the fabric for up to a week. Otherwise, a spray-on stain treatment or laundry additive should handle most stains.

Reference click here.

Do you use cloth or disposable diapers?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Do the Children Help With Their Laundry?

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Teach Children to Help Do Laundry

Since nannies and au pairs typically launder the children's clothing during the work week, it's a great opportunity to get the kids involved in learning a necessary life skill. Here's how kids can help nannies and au pairs do laundry.

SORTING: Kids love helping sort the laundry into whites, darks, bright colors, and so on. It is easier if they have a hamper that is divided so they can easily sort whites and colors.

PRETREAT STAINS: Kids as young as five-years-old can use a stain stick to treat stains before tossing them into the hamper. Before washing you should also spray with stain remover.

CHECK POCKETS: Before washing clothing check pockets for gum, tissues, crayons, and so on.

TURNING KNOBS: Always wash dark colors on COLD/COLD because dark colors bleed in warmer water. Wash white clothing on WARM/COLD.

POUR DETERGENT: For young children you can pour and measure the detergent for them and allow them to pour it into the machine. If they have the strength and a steady hand they can measure and pour liquid detergent as well.

WET CLOTHES INTO DRYER: Remove the laundry a few pieces at a time and hand it to the child. He can shake them out to remove all washer-induced twisting, and place them in the dryer. Some clothing will need to be line dried. Show them how to hang clothing properly so that it can dry quickly on a clothesline.

CLEAN OUT LINT FILTER: You must clean out the lint filter between each drying to prevent fires.

FOLD THE LAUNDRY: Children of any age can help match socks. Proper folding of clothes may be tricky for youngsters but once kids are 8-years old or so they certainly can fold clothes properly.

PUT FOLDED CLOTHES AWAY IN DRAWERS: It's even easier to put folded clothes away in drawers than actually neatly folding clothing.

SAFETY FIRST: Explain to children that they must never, ever play around the laundry machines. They are not permitted to use the laundry washing machine or dryer without adult supervision. Never allow a child to help iron.

Do you only launder the children's clothes or do you wash the parents laundry also?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Product Review Sunday

Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock and Nightlight by American Innovative

This week we discussed helping kids with homework and changing moody mornings for kids into happy mornings. Here's a great way to teach kids to tell time and wake them up in the morning.

Teach Me Time! is an adorable child's bedside alarm clock, time-teaching tool, and dual-color nightlight all in one. Color-changing nightlight teaches kids to stay in bed until it's time to wake; parents program "OK to wake" time, when glow changes from yellow to green. Clock is white with interchangeable blue, pink, and yellow bezels; face display options, volume, and brightness are adjustable. For children 5 and above, Teach me Time! is a fully functional alarm clock with a snooze function, just like their parents' alarm clocks.

Do you have to wake up the kids in the morning?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Review of Homework Without Tears by Lee Canter (HarperCollins)

This week we described how to help kids with homework. Nannies and au pairs that care for school-aged children will find in this volume the help they need to create an non-stressful learning environment in the home and motivate their youngsters to succeed in school.

The problems most often encountered with children on this topic such as forgetting to do their homework, not doing their best, and refusing to do assignments are each dealt with individually in a systematic way. The book is very clear in stating the importance of homework in learning responsibility, and that parents must stand firm no matter the age of their children. Consequences are also discussed. It also includes helpful charts and checklists.

Tomorrow: Product Review Sunday

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do your charges have a tutor or go to a learning center for extra help?

CBS Discusses What Study Habits to Leave Behind

Myth One: Study in One Spot
The brain makes associations between what is studying and the background sensations that are occurring. Forcing the brain to make multiple associations with the same material, may provide the support needed to improve recall.

Myth Two: Focus on One Skill
Participating in multi-modal learning (reading, speaking, listening) leaves a deeper impression of the material on the brain.

Myth Three: Cram for Tests
Mix up the type of practice being done in a specific subject. Spacing the studying improves later recall. Testing helps this process. Don't underestimate motivation. Find help by using external support like learning center and tutors.

Click here to see entire article.

Do your charges have a tutor or go to a learning center for extra help?

Do You Ensure it is Quiet When Kids Do Homework?

Angela Norton Tyler, author of Tutor Your Child to Reading Success, explains that, "When it comes to noise tolerance, every person and family is different. I have visited homes where I could barely stand the noise, yet the family seemed happily oblivious."

You might be thinking, "I like a noisy house! I thrive on commotion! It energizes me!" But, you must reduce noise when children do their homework. Children may be used to a home's noisy environment in general, but doing homework requires concentration.

Distractions must be kept to a minimum so that children have no choice but to focus on their studies. That means nannies and au pairs should not watch television while kids are doing their homework.

Let her have enough noise to feel comfortable, but not enough noise to take the focus away from her homework. Most children can work quite well with low noise and no action. This usually means you can keep their bedroom door open to hear -- but not see -- what is going on in the rest of the house. Please turn off all radios, cell phones, and televisions on while children are doing homework.

Tomorrow: Avoiding Moody Mornings

Do your charges have a quiet space to do their homework?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Choosing the Best Place for Children to do Homework

According to Angela Norton Tyler, author of Tutor Your Child to Reading Success, children don't need a lot of space, but they do need to create a specific spot to do their homework.

In an ideal world, all children would have sturdy desks and comfy chairs, huge areas to spread out materials, bulletin boards, computers, and easy-to-reach bookshelves. In real life, however, clearing off the kitchen table or counter during homework time is fine. Just be sure the space has adequate lighting, plenty of homework supplies, and proper posture for perfect penmanship.

Ms. Tyler also explains that a good homework helper makes it possible for a student to become an independent, self-sufficient, and highly motivated learner.

Contrary to most media images, being a great homework helper does NOT mean:

Hovering- sitting next to the child while he does his homework. You don't even have to be in the same room!

Prompting- giving hints and answers.

Convincing- bribing the child to start and finish his homework, threatening him if he doesn't do it, promising him the world if he would just do it. What a waste of your time and energy.

Plus, none of these things work in the long-run.

Tomorrow: Keeping Noise Level Down When Kids do Homework
Where do the students you care for do their homework?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Homework Ground Rules for Nannies and Au Pairs

Rules and Routines Make Children Feel Safe

By Angela Norton Tyler, author of Tutor Your Child to Reading Success

Children like knowing what is expected of them and what is going to happen next. They also like knowing that they can count on the adults in their lives to lovingly enforce those rules and stick to the routines.

In the beginning, your charge may fight against homework rules and routines, but you must be strong! Soon, he will accept the rules and secretly be happy they exist.
Here are some common homework issues and questions:

1. What time must homework be started?
2. How late is too late to do homework?
3. Are breaks allowed? How many and how long?

1. Where can homework be done?
2. Where can it NOT be done?

1. Can friends come over and do homework? Which friends?
2. Can you talk on the phone during homework time? (Come on, now!)

1. What happens if homework is not completed?
2. What happens if homework is not completed regularly?

Ground Rules must be short, simple, reasonable, and clearly understood by every member of the household and any regular visitors such as Grandma.

Ground Rules should be posted. Get creative and fancy or keep it simple, but post the Homework Ground Rules so that everybody can see them. I recommend putting a copy on the refrigerator, a copy in your child's homework binder, and a copy in the 'homework area'- if you have one.

Ground Rules must be enforceable. There is no point in setting rules if nobody is going to follow them! If the child does not do his homework or follow an agreed-upon rule, the consequence must follow. Children are masters at making us feel guilty, but enforcing rules that benefit them is part of our job.

Tomorrow: Proper Space to do Homework

What are the household homework rules for the students in your care?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Setting a Homework Routine

Routines Help Kids Succeed

If your school-aged charges haven't started school yet, they will tomorrow.

In the September 2010 Be the Best Nanny Newsletter we discuss how nannies and au pairs act as tutors helping children with homework and school work. We discussed multiple intelligences and how each person has a different learning style. This week we will provide more homework advice.

According to Angela Norton Tyler, author of Tutor Your Child to Reading Success, as with everything you do with children, setting a routine is important when it comes to homework.

The whole point in establishing a solid routine is so that homework gets done with a minimum of stress and fuss. Homework should just be a small part of the day, like brushing one's teeth. Do not constantly talk about, debate, discuss, or fine-tune the homework routine. Set it up, and then expect every family member to follow it.

Nannies and au pairs should do their best to make homework time free from outside distraction. Don't schedule appointments or run errands during those times if you can help it. And, that's the thing: sometimes you can't help it. Stuff happens, plans change, Grandma arrives for an unannounced visit. Oh, well, the homework routine gets thrown out the window for one day!

We want children to become independent and self-motivated learners. In order for this to happen, we must give kids a routine, help them follow it, and then step back so that it becomes their own. Really, we don't have to be the Homework Police forever. If we expect and allow children to be in charge of their own homework, the day will come when they do it all by themselves.

Help your charge to be organized by creating routines. If she always does her homework in the same spot at the same time, it will become a part of how she does things throughout her school career.

Tomorrow: Making Homework Ground Rules

Have you helped the kids develop a homework routine?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Labor Day Children's Books

Most nannies and au pairs do not work on Labor Day. But each year my charges ask me, "What is Labor Day?" Here is an answer and some children's books to share with children on the topic.

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. Speeches or political demonstrations are more low-key than May 1 Labor Day celebrations in most countries, although events held by labor organizations often feature political themes and appearances by candidates for office, especially in election years.

Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, parades, water sports, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer recess. Similarly, some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school, although school starting times now vary.

Here are some children's books to share with children about the holiday.

Labor Day by Robin Nelson
A basic overview of Labor Day for emergent readers. Color photographs reflect the short, easy-to-understand sentences that improve vocabulary and comprehension.

Labor Day by Mir Tamim Ansary
This book introduces Labor Day to children entering Kindergarten to second grade. It explains the historical events behind it, how it became a holiday, and how it is observed. Labor Day reminds readers that the labor-union movement brought about laws keeping children out of the workplace and in school.

Community Helpers From A to Z by Bobbie Kalman and Niki Walker
Community Helpers shares information about many careers. Occupations are enhanced by the photographs of workers. A great book to share with small children to teach about the many jobs that different people do.

Jobs People Do by Felicity Brooks
For any kid who has ever wondered about what their Moms and Dads do when they are gone all day, this book provides some answers. Kids who have a working parent or who are curious about various professions will enjoy this introduction to a variety of jobs. They will learn about farmers, chefs, doctors, firefighters, teachers and veterinarians—some of whom they will have encountered early in life, like a doctor. There is a good range of professions, men and women, and ethnic groups. All of the scenes include models which are then photographed to become the images shown on the pages. The stories are interesting, fact-filled, and even have little extras at the end of each. At more than 100 pages, this is a big book. It looks like an oversized board book with its padded cover, but while the pages are sturdy, it is definitely not a board book. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

Friday, September 3, 2010

14 Ways Nannies Can Market Themselves

U.S. News and World Report asked Stephanie Felzenberg, editor of the Best Nanny Newsletter, to share her best advice for nannies who want to market themselves and stand out from the pack:

1. Standout Résumé. The résumé remains the most important way for nanny candidates to market themselves. To stand out among a pile of others, caregivers should include a photo of themselves on their résumé. Including a photo playing or posing with children will help parents take notice. The résumé should be printed on high-quality paper. Nanny candidates should spell check and proofread the résumé to make sure the grammar is perfect and the meaning is clear.

2. Nanny Portfolio. Nanny portfolios can be made in a scrapbook, photo album, or a three-ring binder and should include any information a nanny candidate would like to share with parents. The portfolio should include a current résumé, letters of reference, copies of degrees, and a listing of classes taken, workshops attended, or awards received. Also include a current CPR and first aid certification, a Social Security card, and a driver's license. Photos of activities and projects done with children are a great way for caregivers to show future employers their creativity and enthusiasm for their job.

3. Proof to Work Legally. Parents who do not pay their domestic employees legally are risking their professional careers and licenses. Nannies should have identification and paperwork proving they can work legally in the United States always available for potential employers and nanny referral agency staff. Job applicants should carry their current driver's license, Social Security card, or green card when applying for jobs.

4. Drive. Nannies who have a current driver's license, are willing to drive, and have a clean driving record have an advantage in landing nanny positions over caregivers who cannot drive. Employees who drive can help parents tremendously by taking children to activities and doctor visits and can run errands to the dry cleaners, post office, or grocery store.

5. References. Nothing is more important to landing a great nanny job than great references. Caregivers should ask former employers, parents, teachers, or neighbors to write letters of reference.

6. Remain Competitive. Job seekers should keep their salary requirements reasonable. They should speak with all local nanny placement agencies to determine the going rate where they hope to work. Caregivers should be flexible and professional when asking for salary and benefits.

7. Evaluations. Nannies should have their employers complete a written nanny evaluation every three to six months to include in their portfolios.

8. Contact Nanny Agencies. Reputable nanny placement agencies are nanny candidates' best advocates. Agency staff know how to market nannies. One way to find a good nanny placement agency is by asking other nannies and families which agencies they have used.

9. Nanny Websites. Sign up with nanny employment websites.

10. CPR and First Aid. When working with children, caregivers should take a CPR and first aid course. Nanny candidates should be CPR- and first aid-certified or renew their certification. If the nanny can swim well or has lifeguard certification, even better.

11. Education. Having earned a bachelor's degree or higher is very impressive to parents. Job seekers should let parents know the amount of time and effort they have devoted to earning a degree. Nannies should be sure to list scholarships or awards they have earned.

12. Network. Child-care providers wanting to find nanny jobs should tell anyone who will listen that they are searching for a new nanny position. Some great jobs are found by word of mouth.

13. Use Hobbies to Their Advantage. Caregivers who are strong swimmers or gifted musicians can use these skills to their advantage. Perhaps the parents will pay them extra for swimming or piano lessons for their children.

14. Great Interview Skills. Nanny candidates should dress cleanly, neatly, and conservatively for job interviews. To be considered for the position, they must arrive on time, be polite, and carry with them their résumés, portfolios, and any identification needed to prove they can legally drive and work in the United States when meeting potential employers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Should Breastfeeding in Public Become an American Norm?

Why Children Should Witness Breastfeeding in Public

This article from Nursing Freedom a mother describes her experience of breastfeeding in Europe compared to in the United States.

The mother explains that in Sweden and Denmark she observed three women nursing babies, uncovered, at the table at restaurants, and many others nursing at parks and playgrounds.

She writes, "The cultural contrast between Scandinavia and the U.S. was incredible to take in, particularly in how I observed children reacting to the sight of breastfeeding. In Scandinavia, I never once saw a child or a child’s parents react with alarm, disgust, shame, or even slight concern when they witnessed myself or other women breastfeeding in public."

She explains that in the Northeast United States, she has had several experiences with nursing around groups of pre-teen and teenage boys. What has happened every time was this: one boy noticed, and immediately a storm of whispers, giggles, double-takes, stares and/or shyly averted eyes commenced.

Click here to read the entire article.

What do you think? Should public breastfeeding become more accepted in the United States?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September To-Do List: Do You Have Health Insurance?

Responsibility, Reform, Research

Earlier this year we presented a series that highlighted the year-to-year changes mandated by new health care laws. Click here to see a summary of the series or enter "health care reform" in our search engine.

You should be aware that these newly enacted laws and regulations do not form a socialist system where the patient receives free medical care from the government. Instead, the linchpin of this set of laws places responsibility on the individual or the head of household to obtain health care insurance.

This is an ideal time to research insurance policies, specifically in regards to coverage and to cost. Even if you have coverage, this reform package should provide more choices at lower prices. An excellent, useful and user-friendly site for research is

At the same time, familiarize yourself with the "Patient's Bill of Rights."

Informing yourself of the law and its effects on you and your family is a "must-do."

If you work as a nanny do you get health insurance as a benefit of your job?