Thursday, June 30, 2011

Have You Worked for Parents Who are Divorced?

Working with Children in Non-Traditional Families

With New York making marriage equality legal this weekend we started discussing working with non-traditional family structures.

There are estimates that half of all marriages in America currently end in divorce. If the estimates are true, nannies must be prepared for working for children whose parents are divorced.

Divorce can be difficult for everyone in the family including child care providers. But it's best that nannies stay out of the middle of disputes between the parents. Nannies and parents need to work together for the children.

Nannies must communicate with the parents so there is no confusion about who is in charge and when because rules may change from house to house. Caregivers need to know about all custody and visitation issues.

Here is some advice from Cindy Strasheim of Nebraska Cooperative Extension on providing stability to children during divorce.

Keep normal schedules and routines. Encourage parents to do the same at home. Try not to change any more things than necessary.

Reassure infants and toddlers. Let them know that you are still there. Use lots of hugs and loving words.

Keep children's favorite toys, blankets, or stuffed animals close at hand. Allow children to bring items from home to the other settings. Find some things that the child can hold for a long time.

Be patient. Allow children to be upset. Let children be babyish for a while. The more advanced behavior should return soon.

Find out what the children know about the divorce. Ask the parents what they have said. Ask what the parents would like you to say.

Ask the parents about their plans for schedules and living situations. Help the child understand what will change and what will not change.

Consistent discipline. Do not change the rules just because of the divorce. Discipline as you always would. The child needs guidelines.

Both parents and nannies should consistently explain to children that they are not responsible for the divorce. You may need to say it many times. Nannies should help create stability and security in the lives of children.

What is your advice for working with parents that are divorced?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nanny Advice for Nannies from Nannies

Have You Ever Been Shorted On a Babysitting Job? Would You Ask the Parents for the Extra Money or Just Let it Slide?

Nannies constantly email Be the Best Nanny Newsletter privately for advice. In response we will post a regular feature on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog asking nannies for their advice for the questions posed to our nanny newsletter.

Our first question is asked from a nanny on the East Coast. Feel free to answer question in comments below.

Dear Nannies of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter:

I am a full-time nanny but I also work a side, part-time nanny job that pays wonderfully once or twice a month. I love the kids, parents, and the job and don't want to risk the job.

I usually arrive after the children have had dinner and baths, although I do much more than a typical Saturday night babysitter might do. We don't turn on the TV, instead I play with them, read to them, and put them to bed.

Last week the parents ask that I come four hours earlier than usual. Last Saturday I fed and bathed the children. Then, we played and read books before bed. After the kids went to bed I cleaned up their playroom and kitchen.

The parents came home, I discussed the evening with the mother, and the father rushed in and handed me the check, which I just stuck in my pocket. When I arrived home I realized he hadn't paid me for the extra four hours I had worked.

My question for other nannies is: Should I ask the parents for the extra four hours they forgot to pay me or let it slide?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Type of Non-Traditional Famlies Have You Worked for?

Children Raised in Non-Traditional Families Can Be Secure and Well-Adjusted

It is big news that marriage equality is now legal in New York. Yesterday we asked if nannies would work for LGBT parents. Today we share great advice to consider when working with children raised by same sex parents.

We tend to define non-traditional families as any family that isn't a married nuclear family including one father and one mother. Non-traditional families include: same sex parents, co-habitating families, single parent families, blended families of divorce, commuter families, and foster families. In America, the non-traditional family is becoming the norm.

Below Jan Hare, Oh.D., of Oregon State University explains that children raised in non-traditional families can be secure and well-adjusted.

Here was some of her advice:

Have the parents tell you how they want you to define their family to their children. Speak to the children as the parents direct you to. One of the best definitions of family is: A family is a group of people who love and take care of each other.

Consider your own attitudes. Sometimes caregivers unknowingly convey a negative sense of the family to children. For example, single-parent families are sometimes viewed as broken families. It is important to emphasize that they may not be broken nor need fixing. Love and caring for each other make a family strong and whole.

Talk about the many different ways people can be a family. Children can better understand your meaning if you use examples of people they know. For instance, you might say: "Jenni's parents don't live together anymore. Jenni lives with her mother and her mother's partner, Scott."

Encourage children to ask questions. In order for children to understand what might be a complicated family situation, they need to feel comfortable asking whatever questions may be on their minds.

Recognize potential societal barriers. A complicated situation may develop when adults of the same sex join together. Gay men and lesbians often experience prejudice. As a result, children can be fearful about disclosing information about their family.

Patience and understanding often go a long way toward creating acceptance. Many children who are allowed to control what their peers know about the family eventually gain the confidence to acknowledge the adults' relationship and cope well with responses from others. Peers who sense the child's own comfort often accept the family situation. Let children control the information they want to give. If a new stepfather is about to join a single-parent family, allow children to tell their friends about the marriage.

Have you ever worked for a non-traditional family? If so, what type of non-traditional family have you worked for?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nannies, Would You Work for a Gay or Lesbian Parents?

Non-Traditional Families are the Norm in a Modern World

This weekend New York became the largest state to legalize gay marriage. Click here to read about the road to marriage equality.

If you think you don't know any LGBT parents (LGBT parenting refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people parenting one or more children) statistics say otherwise -- and you probably do.

According to the Child Welfare League of America up to 9 million American children have same-sex parents.

Have you worked for LGBT parents? Would you feel comfortable working for LGBT parents?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Invisible Nannies Hiding in Plain Sight

Book Review of The True Nanny Diaries

Over the past two-weeks have been discussing the pros and cons of the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR). As we discuss nanny rights there is no better time to look inside the lives of many immigrant domestic workers. I highly recommend adding The True Nanny Diaries by Bianca Jacobs, aka Nandi, to your summer reading list.

Nandi, as she prefers to be called, is a Caribbean American migrant and former babysitter that gives us an intimate look inside the lives of Caribbean nannies across the U.S. who are helping to raise the children of many Caucasian Americans.

Nandi, told the Daily Caribbean Diaspora News that was inspired to write the novel, because of "the complexity and diversity of the experiences of the women I met...since when other African-Americans, Caribbean immigrants, other people of color see these women, we see nothing beyond those black hands on the stroller handles!"

The New Yorker, whose parents were born in Trinidad and Tobago, said she too had that perception until she too "found myself pushing a stroller."

"Actually, I was embarrassed," said Nandi of the experience. "Not because the work wasn't honest, but I figured I was 'better' than this. But it was what I had to do."

Reflecting on her experiences, she reminisced that, "The first family I worked for was very nurturing, but I was struck by how guilty my boss felt that she had a black nanny caring for her little blond son."

"She told me once she felt that she was perpetuating slavery, I had to tell her to get over it. I really need the money."

The True Nanny Diaries encompasses life through the eyes and culture of illegal nannies from the Caribbean. Beyond the obvious, there was a subtly woven story of goals and dreams, and positive attitudes. It represents a lifestyle that many have heard about, yet few talk about. She tackles some deep, dark topics, but will inspire you with hope as well.

I highly recommend The True Nanny Diariesby Nandi and can't wait to read more from the author soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Value of a Nanny is Measured By Compensation and Necessary Benefits

Thoughts on Worker Rights Bills and Nannies

The first step to increasing the prestige of the nanny profession is to raise the bar of the most basic needs and expectations.

By Stephanie Felzenberg, Editor of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter

Recently, Harold Camping, prophesied that the world would end on May 21, 2011. In Saudi Arabia, some religious leaders claim that allowing women to drive will lead to the moral deterioration of their society. Not too long ago in America there were dire predictions of anarchy when blacks were allowed to vote, tragedy when interracial marriages were allowed, and Armageddon when school integration was ordered.

Today, some domestic placement agencies, two professional nanny organizations, and attorneys who represent those who hire nannies, housekeepers, and personal chefs are predicting doom and gloom for society because of the passage of laws protecting the rights of in-home workers. The doomsayers strike us as too strident combined with strong hints of elitism.

It feels like some opponents of the CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR) view nannies in a condescending way. To work as a nanny or housekeeper in our current society inevitably labels us as of lesser value to those in other occupations. Regardless of education and experience, most nannies are considered "just babysitters."

But not everyone shares these assessments. On June 16, 2011, the International Labor Organization (ILO) convened a meeting of international government representatives, employers, and unions to debate the merits of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights similar to those passed in NY and CA. The proposal passed 396 to 16 with 63 abstentions. While this approval does not have the force of law, it does provide an acknowledgement of problems and a guide to solutions.

The IRS claims that only 76% of taxes owed are paid. Since tax evasion is the great national sport (doesn't it seem like everyone wants to pay less taxes), how can we expect compliance with these worker rights laws, even if they are enacted? After all, unless there is societal recognition and acceptance of the need and importance of nannies, no amount of legislature will prove useful to the profession.

If nannies are satisfied to be glorified babysitters, they can only expect to be compensated at a lower level than her better educated and more ambitious caregiver.

All workers deserve all the rights listed in the CDWBR, but the lesser trained employee may find the employer resistant to offer all the benefits needed.

A value-added nanny is one who is trained in child development, behavioral psychology, tutoring, child safety, CPR and First Aid, nutrition, etiquette, and hygiene of their charges. This well-educated nanny is more valuable to the child, the parents, and to herself. She has made the commitment to herself and to her profession to make being a nanny a career, not just a job.

To that end, I urge that we work to create licensing and the certification of nannies. The required education could be obtained from a variety of sources. Non-profit associations, public colleges, or private schools can be widely available sources of education, training, certification, or licensure.

I also strongly support the CDWBR and other bills that support the rights of nannies. The first step to increasing the prestige of the nanny profession is to raise the bar of the most basic needs and expectations.

In our society, the value of a nanny can be measured by a compensation package that provides a living wage and necessary benefits. The goal for the parent should be to get the best nanny possible. The goal of the nanny is not only to be the best she can be but to be the best nanny that can be.

Do you support the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights?

Special Rights for Special Workers

Domestics Deserve Some Special Rights Due to the Special Nature of Their Job

The rights in the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR) that we have examined in our series have been rights taken for granted by other workers for many years. Today, we discuss rights that are extended to nannies by the bill that are industry specific.

Right to Cook One's Own Food: Included in this bill is the right to cook one's own food of choice.

Five-Hours Sleep: For live-ins, the right to at least five-hours of uninterrupted sleep is guaranteed.

PRO: The unique demands of a nanny often allows little or no time for meals. When there is time, the nanny should be allowed to eat what they want when they can and have access to the kitchen for that purpose. Families with babies and multi-generational families who may wake often during the night often put demands on the nanny or elder care provider that do not allow sufficient rest.

CON: Bring your meals if you are fussy. The parents' refrigerator and appliances are for the family's use, they shouldn't have to worry about their employee too. Bring sleep aids if you must. Depend on yourself, not on the government.

Are you allowed to use the family's kitchen, appliances, and refrigerator for your personal convenience? Do you get at least five-hours sleep each work night?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Notice of Termination and the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

Have You Always Been Given at Least 21-Days Notice or Severance Pay When Leaving a Nanny Job?

We have been discussing the two views of the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR) -- trying to explain why some oppose it and why some support it.

This legislation requires at least 21-days advance notice before termination, or severance pay in lieu of 21-days notice.

PRO: Many domestic workers live-in the home where they work. There is no other worker in any other profession that lives permanently at their job. When live-ins are fired, they are also being evicted. Whether nannies are fired by their employer or whether they decide to leave on their own, nannies are often mistreated when leaving their jobs. Reports are that nannies are often terminated arbitrarily, capriciously, and with no notice and without concern for the welfare of the nanny or the resulting trauma on the charges. Severance pay is expected throughout all industries. It is a sad state of affairs that this common benefit must be legislated for nannies and other domestic workers. This law does not apply to instances of cause (if a worker ever breaks a law they should be fired immediately). But, when domestics are fired at the whim of the parent, the live-in employee is often not only losing their job, but also their housing.

CON: Those who hire domestics and in-home caregivers have the fiduciary and moral responsibility to terminate anyone they choose at will. These decisions must be left to the discretion and judgment of the employer (parent) and not subject to due process protections.

Have you always been given at least 21-days notice or severance pay when leaving a job?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When Was the Last Time You Got a Raise or Paid Vacation Days?

CDWRB and Right to Wage Increases and Right to Paid Vacation Days

Today, we continue examining rights guaranteed by the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR).

The bill gives the nanny the right to an annual minimum wage increase equal to the rate of the annual cost of living increase. The bill also gives domestics the right to paid annual vacation days.

PRO: These guarantees help bring equity to workers in a poorly paid industry. As prices increase, so does the cost of living. Nannies have little bargaining power and are easily intimidated by employers. These rights are assumed by most workers but something nannies are not often given.

CON: Wage increases and vacation pay must be earned, not mandated. Government should not force a parent to compensate an undeserving nanny at a higher rate.

Do you get an annual wage increase? If so, at what rate? Do you get paid vacation days? Can you carry vacation days from one-year to the next?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Are You Paid for Every Hour Worked?

California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and Time

We have been discussing the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR). Click here to learn about why some people support the bill and some don't. Click here to see the pros and cons of paid sick days for nannies.

The CDWBR proclaims that workers have the right to report and to be compensated for the actual time that they work.

Also, the CDWBR hopes that nannies and other domestic workers will receive overtime pay of time-and-a-half after eight-hours of work in one workday, 40-hours in one work week, and double time after 12-hours in one workday. Therefore, nannies would have the right to report work time and collect overtime pay, rights that are not currently guaranteed.

PRO: This is the most basic of rights that must be enforced! It is easy to record work hours and be paid for hours actually worked. A mere 20-minutes of unpaid time per day, a common occurrence, equals more than two-weeks of uncompensated work time a year. Not being paid for overtime hours is a particularly common abuse, especially for live-in domestic workers.

CON: It is a given that being a nanny requires a flexible schedule due to the demands of the employer's job. Plus, a nanny has down time when babies nap or children sleep at night when she is not engaged in actual work.

Have the parents ever "forgotten" to pay you for some of your hours worked? Does this occur on a regular basis?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Products Nannies Love: WaterGeeks Filtered Water Bottles!

Product Review Sunday for Nannies and Au Pairs

Earlier this year we posted the bottled water scorecard from the Environmental Working Group. The highest grade (an A) and only type of water to get the highest grade is filtered water. Click here to see dangers of bottled water and how your bottled water measures up.

That's why for this Product Review Sunday we recommend the WaterGeeks Pure Blue Filtered Bottle! These portable, stainless steel bottles come in a variety of fun colors. Best of all, they're equipped with a water filter. That means the kids can refill their water bottles easily during the day without worry of contaminants.

The filter effectively removes Chromium 6, heavy metals, chlorine, VOCs and other potential tap water contaminants as you drink. Can you imagine how helpful that is if you are camping this summer?

They aren't made of plastic so there's no BPA and they are reusable so won't be littering the land fills with plastic containers. Even better, you cannot believe how much better tap water tastes with the filter!

Have you tried portable, reusable, filtered water bottles yet?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

If You Loved The Help, You Will Love This Book More!

Telling Memories Among Southern Women: Domestic Workers and Their Employers in the Segregated South by Susan Tucker

There is much buzz about the fictional novel, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Every person (not just those who work today as nannies and housekeepers) that I know who have read the book, love it. Plus, we can't hardly wait for The Help (Movie Tie-In) to be released as a movie on August 12, 2011.

But, if you liked The Help by Kathryn Stockett you will absolutely love the real interviews of 42 black domestic workers and their white employers from the deep South in the 1960s in Telling Memories Among Southern Women: Domestic Workers and Their Employers in the Segregated South by Susan Tucker. In fact, Telling Memories Among Southern Women is referenced in The Help as the author's inspiration for the novel.

Although some of those interviewed worked under the same roof, they definitely had two different lifestyles and viewpoints. While reading the interviews you will clearly see the polar opposite lives of the black workers to the white employers. The stark difference is just so sad. You cannot read this book and not admire the black domestic workers who endured a racist society.

Ironically, as I have been reading Telling Memories Among Southern Women,I have also been sharing articles on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog about the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Supporting the Bill of Rights while simultaneously reading, Telling Memories Among Southern Women, has me thinkinng that even though the slaves were freed, many domestic workers still feel like slaves today (of course they aren't slaves and they are paid). I definitely thought of some of my dear, impoverished nanny friends that share very similar stories and feelings today. The stigma today for my friends, though, isn't due race. The similarity between the working women in the book and those today is similar disrespect, ignorance, and mistreatment by pretentious, wealthy employers. It's sad to admit that I know some exhausted and defeated nannies even now, in a modern world.

That being said, there were some good relationships between domestic workers and their employers in the book as well. It's wonderful to read about some of the domestic workers that were taken care of their whole lives by their loving employers. I also know a few nannies that boast just as much about their great nanny jobs today.

So, in a nutshell, if you loved The Help, you will love these interesting true accounts of black slaves and domestic workers in the 1960s. Borrow it or buy it today!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nannies Must Read!

The Forgotten Population: Domestic Workers in Our Homes
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz wrote this wonderful article for Some of the article is below. Click here to read the entire article.

Ever stop to ask the salary of the woman washing dishes on Shabbat in your neighbor’s home, or the gentleman mowing your friend’s lawn about his vacation, or the nanny raising the children down the block whether she had time to sit down for lunch today? If you did, you most likely discovered an unpleasant situation of inadequate pay, few or no breaks, no paid sick or vacation days, and perhaps even bullying or verbal abuse. But how can it be? Those employers (neighbors) seem so nice, and their domestic workers always seem to be smiling and content.

This summer, let us use our loving embrace of our tradition and narrative as a springboard into the issues of domestic workers’ rights. Let us welcome freedom into our homes by looking domestic workers in the eyes and expressing our gratitude. Let us exemplify the proper treatment of domestic workers for our children. Consider acting on the courage to see the reality of most domestic workers’ situations. Consider utilizing the ability to see the possibility for change for the most poor right here in our homes. And let us collectively enact a vision that moves the reality of domestic workers to the possibility of better treatment.

Please click here to read entire article.

Are You Giving Your Dad Boss a Father's Day Gift?

Father's Day is this Sunday. If you want to do something nice for your Dad Boss, just make a gift with the children to give to their father.

Here are some ideas:

A personalized mug: Buy a kit at the craft store and have the children paint or color the mug for their father.

Picture frame: Either buy an inexpensive frame for the children to decorate or they can make their own gluing together Popsicle sticks or craft sticks. Place a photo of the child(ren) in the frame as a keepsake.

A personalized t-shirt, cap, or tie: Using fabric paints children can personalize clothing for their father.

Hand print stepping stone: Kits for hand print stepping stones are available at craft stores.

Tennis balls or golf balls: What sport does the father play? Purchase equipment for the sport.

Sports team t-shirts or caps: Find the father's favorite sports team clothing at a local sports store.

What are you giving your Dad Boss for Father's Day?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Do You Have Paid Sick Days?

Have Your Employers Paid for Medical Expenses When Hurt on the Job?

Yesterday we started discussing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR).

This bill guarantees equal right to a safe and healthy workplace. Domestic workers are currently excluded from protection under California’s Occupational Safety & Health Act (CAL-OSHA). The CDWBR would extend CAL-OSHA protection to all domestic workers.

This bill also guarantees equal right to worker’s compensation. Workers compensation allows the worker to be paid for work-related injuries or death on the job. Workers compensation insurance most commonly pays for the medical expenses of a work-related injuries, in return the employee won't sue for those expenses. Domestic workers are carved-out of California’s worker’s compensation laws when they work in private households less than 52-hours or earn less than $100 in the previous 90-days. The CDWBR would cover ALL domestic workers under California’s worker’s compensation laws.

PRO: This is a protection nannies need and deserve. Few nannies have the funds to be able to afford health insurance or to afford emergency health care. It is fair and equitable that a nanny can receive preventive and acute care when injured on the job.

CON: This provision is too expensive and too burdensome for the employer and will ultimately discourage the hiring of nannies. The specific terms for these issues should be negotiated by each family with each nanny on a case-by-case basis and not mandated by government action.

Do you get any health care benefits?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Have Your Workers Rights Ever Been Violated?

Whether You Love it or Hate it, You Must Develop an Opinion About it!

The CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

The California Assembly approved the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR). Whether you will ultimately support it, or hate it, my goal is to make you learn about it and develop an opinion about it.

The legislature of the State of California is now considering the CDWBR to give legal protection to domestic workers, including nannies. The goal is to provide recognition of domestic workers as a real workforce and to provide a set of basic protections based on the unique conditions facing domestic workers employed in the private home.

Here's the general overview of the basic arguments of those who oppose the bill and those who support the bill:

Those who oppose the bill say that government regulations are expensive, burdensome, and unnecessary. Critics of the bill want the hiring and the compensation of domestic workers to remain solely between the worker (nanny) and the employer (parent) and left to the forces of the free market. For example, if a nanny or housekeeper are mistreated they should just leave the job.

Those who support the bill say that if the laws and job market continue as they have, (without domestic worker rights), the same domestic worker injustices that exist today will continue. If changes aren't made, supporters of the bill believe that in-home employees will continue to be the poorest of the working poor.

Those who support the bill believe that employers (parents) that already refuse to pay their domestic help (nannies) legally on-the-books or to pay them fair market rates (such as at least minimum wage) won't do so without laws. Supporters of the bill believe that domestic workers, including nannies, require industry-specific regulations unique to the nature of their jobs and responsibilities.

Those who do not support the bill also believe that the CDWBR destroys the special relationship of workers such as nannies within a family. They claim that the bond between the caregiver and parent is more important than some specific government labor protections.

Those who support the domestic worker and this bill say that this relationship is often exploited to the detriment of the nanny, especially when the employee is a live-in.

Finally, opponents of the bill claim that the CDWBR will doom an effective, vital, and unregulated system of domestic worker hiring and compensation already in place.

Supporters of the bill counter that a similar bill has already become law in the State of New York. The New York bill had the same dire predictions by opponents, yet they have not occurred. Despite the passing of the Domestic Workers Rights Bill in NY, the in-home employee market is still active and has not been negatively impacted.

Tomorrow we will begin examining the proposed bill point-by-point.

Have you ever felt that your workers rights were violated?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Day for Nannies and Au Pairs

What Are You Doing for Flag Day?

Flag Day recognizes the June day in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the "Stars and Stripes" as the official flag of the United States. Flag Day is always June 14th.

The red color symbolizes hardiness and courage, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance and justice. Why thirteen stars and stripes? They represented the thirteen American colonies which rallied around the new flag in their fight against the British for self-governance. The thirteen colonies included Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.

To this day, thirteen stripes still commemorate the original colonies. Instead of thirteen stars, today the number of stars on the US flag has grown to 50, representing every state in the Union.

This is the easiest project for Flag Day we recommend. Simply click here and print out the flag at this link.

The kids may like to draw their own flag. Click here for an accurate sample of the flag to follow.

Attach several red and blue star stickers at random all over a piece of white paper. Invite the child to connect the red stars with red crayon lines and the blue stars with blue crayon lines any way she wishes. Display her finished picture for everyone to admire.

Staple together five pieces of paper to make a blank book. Number the pages from 1 to 5. Give the child 15 American flag stickers. Then help him name the numeral on each page and attach a matching number of flags. To complete the book, add a cover with your child's name on it for him to illustrate.

Take the child on a walk or ride to look for American flags on display. Count the ones you find and record the number, if you wish. Talk about the ways that the flags are hung. When you return, let the child help you display a flag in a window or in front of their home. Remind him that when handling the flag, it should never be allowed to touch the ground.

Give the little kids supplies to decorate their bikes for your own personal "Flag Day" parade. Have the kids decorate their bikes and wagons with patriotic crepe paper.

This game requires music, and a large, uneven group of players. Players split into two teams: “stars” and “stripes” with one extra player on one team. The music starts, and players dance or run around. When the music stops, each player must pair up with someone from the opposite team, forming a “stars and stripes” pair. The player left without a partner must leave the game. The game continues until there is one pair left, who are declared the winners of this fun Flag Day party game.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flag Day Recipes

Tomorrow is Flag Day. Flag Day recognizes the June day in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the "Stars and Stripes" as the official flag of the United States. Flag Day is always June 14th.

To prepare for Flag Day tomorrow I suggest making these recipes:

She's a Grand Old Lasagna
You will need:
Your favorite lasagna recipe
Mozerella cheese
Marinara sauce
Black olives, chopped
Aluminum foil
Start by preparing your favorite lasagna recipe in a 9- by 13-inch pan.
Be sure to finish with a top layer of cheese to create the background for the flag.
Just before serving, brush on stripes of marinara sauce.
In the top left corner, add a field of chopped black olive stars.

Red, White, and Blue Snacks
Make one of these patriotic snacks for the children to enjoy.
1. Place strawberries and blueberries in a small bowl and add a dollop of whipped topping.
2. Use a cookie cutter to cut a star shape out of a slice of bread. Spread on softened cream cheese, and top with strawberry slices and blueberries.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Do You Ever Nap at Your Nanny Job?

On the Cafemom web site Michele Zipp asks if it's wrong to not allow her nanny to take a nap while the kids nap.

She writes, "Was I being an unrealistic ass for thinking it was wrong of her to nap? I mean, my kids were napping. I nap sometimes when they nap. But I'm the mom. I'm in tune with my kids. I wake when they cry out. Would she? And then I remembered that I pay her by the hour. GOOD money, might I add. I live in NYC and nannies get paid well and I know for a fact she's on the higher end of the going rate. So I am paying her to nap?!

The mother also says,"So now I'm looking for a new nanny. I just feel it's unsafe if she's half asleep and really tired when she's with my kids. What if she falls asleep when at the park and the kids are playing in the sandbox? What if she isn't alert enough when she's crossing a busy intersection?"

What would you do? Do you think it's okay for her to nap on the job?

Flag Jell-O Mold for Flag Day

Products Nannies and Au Pairs Love

1. Add 1-1/2 cups boiling water to dry berry blue gelatin mix in medium bowl. Stir at least 2-minutes until gelatin is dissolved. Dissolve dry red gelatin mix in 1-1/2 cups boiling water in separate bowl. Stir 1-1/2 cups ice cold water into dissolved gelatin in each bowl.

2. Spray entire flag mold with cooking spray. Place the mold on a baking sheet. Pour red gelatin into mold. Refrigerate 45-minutes until set but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched and should mound). Meanwhile, refrigerate berry blue gelatin in bowl for 45-minutes.

3. Meanwhile, stir remaining 1 cup boiling water into dry lemon gelatin mix in bowl at least 2-minutes until dissolved. Refrigerate 25-minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites), stirring occasionally. Stir in Cool Whip whipped topping with wire whisk. Gently spread over red gelatin in mold. Refrigerate 10-minutes or until set but not firm. Gently spoon thickened berry blue gelatin over lemon gelatin mixture in mold.

4. Refrigerate for 4-hours or overnight until firm. Unmold by dipping the mold in warm water. Then, gently pull gelatin from around the edges with moist fingers. Place moistened serving plate on top of mold. Invert mold and plate while holding the mold and the plate together. Shake lightly to loosen. Gently remove old and center gelatin onto the plate.

5. There are two ways I like to decorate the Jell-O flag. The easiest way I have found to decorate the flag is to frost the entire Jell-O flag with whipped cream. I like to use defrosted Cool Whip. Then use sliced strawberries to create red stripes and blueberries in the upper left-hand corner to symbolize stars. A prettier but slightly more difficult way to decorate the flag is to use whipped cream already in a spray can or to put Cool Whip into a frosting bag and use a tip to add white stripes to the flag. Simply press out small dots of whipped cream into stripes on the flag. Then, place some blueberries in the upper left corner for stars.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Children's Books for Flag Day

Weekly Trip to the Library

This week (June 14) Americans will celebrate Flag Day. Flag Day is a day for all Americans to celebrate and show respect for the flag, its designers, and makers. Here are some children's books we recommend reading to your charges this week.

Betsy Ross by Alexandra Wallner

This story will teach kids all about Betsy Ross and the legend behind her creation of the American flag. An author's note provides some background about conflicting stories in history regarding her life. The book concludes with directions for making a five-pointed star.

F Is For Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison

June 14 is Flag Day, but with so many American flags proudly displayed, every day seems like Flag Day. Perfect for reading together with a young child, F Is for Flag shows in simple terms how one flag can mean many things: a symbol of unity, a sign of welcome, and a reminder that-in good times and in bad-everyone in our country is part of one great big family.

Red, White, and Blue by John Herman

This book introduces the history of the American flag in a way which is fun, informative, and supportive to commonly held attitudes regarding the American flag. Kids will learn the long history of our flag, its evolution over time, and an acknowledgment that it has served as a rallying point for the American spirit. This text should be used to introduce a young child to the flag's history.

Stop by again next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Make the Trip to the Zoo a Summer Learning Experience

Once at Home from the Zoo

All this week we shared fun ways to help kids learn when taking a trip to the zoo this summer. Once back at home from the zoo, allow the kids to finish their Zoo Books.

Ask the kids what were their favorite animals at the zoo and help them make their own animal picture books of their favorite animals. Allow them to cut out pictures from magazines of animals you saw at the zoo. Glue them onto pieces of paper, then write down their names and as many details about the animals you can remember.

Help the kids answer these questions about the animals for their books:
Where do they live?
What do they eat?
What species do they belong to?

And don't forget to keep making animal crafts all year long:

Make a Snake
You Will Need: Card stock- one white sheet per child, round head fastener, crayons, scissors.
Prior preparation: Draw a spiral pattern on the white card stock pattern which should end with the snake's head.
Directions: Have the child color both sides of the paper, making patterns of their choice. The other side won't have the spiral pattern, however, it doesn't matter. Just ask them to color it and once it is cut, it will look just fine. Once they are done, place fasteners at the center point of the card stock, which will be the tail end of the snake. Next, cut out the outer edge of the spiral until you reach the tail and tie a piece of wool to the fastener. You could even use red felt and cut out the serpent's forked tongue and attach it to its mouth. And you will have a dangling snake ready.

Make an Elephant
You Will Need: Any can or tin which is about 4-5 inches tall, gray construction paper, makers, wiggly eyes (if available) or else, white and black construction paper for the eyes and glue.
Directions: Cut out a piece from the gray construction paper and wrap the can completely. For the ears of the elephant, fold the gray paper into half and then draw a large ear. The ear should be extended into a narrow strip of excess paper positioned towards the mid section of the ear. Now cut this out. You will have two ears with their extensions ready. Paste the extensions of the ear on the sides of the can. The ears will stand up. For the trunk, cut out a rectangular piece from the gray paper and roll it will a pencil to give it a nice curl. Use markers to draw wrinkles on the trunk. Cut out tusks from the white construction paper and paste it. Paste the eyes and the elephant pencil holder is ready.

Since the children will love animals after the trip to the zoo encourage them to borrow animal books from the library all year long.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Does the Age of Your Nanny Matter?

What are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Hiring a Nanny Over 50?
photo from

In the article Does Age Matter in a Nanny? posted by cafemom web site the author says she's lucky to have her their Grandma watch them when she works.

She says, "I understand that lots of moms feel better going with a seasoned vet, which explains the success of the new company Rent-a-Grandma." The web site says they place experienced, carefully screened caregivers 50-years old and up. The site boasts that their grandmas don't text or tweet while they are watching your kids!

According to Business News Daily, the company currently has 40 to 45 women working in the L.A. area working at rates that range between $16 and $23 an hour. The women pay the company an employment fee and/or a percentage of their hourly compensation.

What do you think? Are there benefits to hiring a nanny over 50? Or, are there more benefits to hiring a younger nanny? Or, is the fact the women pay the company a percentage of their compensation more controversial?

Preventing Summer Slide at the Zoo

Be a Zoo Detective Using Zoo Checklists and Zoo Scavenger Hunts

We have been discussing ways to make going to the zoo with the kids this summer a learning experience.

First, we recommended reading books about the zoo and a corresponding art project. Next, we suggest visiting the zoo web site and print out maps of the zoo to encourage map learning skills. Don't forget to play plenty of zoo related games before your trip, play with zoobies, and make a Zoo Book that includes coloring pages and zoo checklists to take along to the zoo.

While at the zoo use the Zoo Book you made to have a zoo scavenger hunt. Have the kids find each of the following and write it down: a warm-blooded animal, a cold-blooded animal, a bird, a reptile, a mammal, an insect, and animal that walk on two legs, an animal that walk on four legs, an animal with no legs, an herbivore, and so on. Add your own categories depending on the age of the child. For little children that cannot read click here for a zoo scavenger hunt of drawings of animals.

Another tip is to see if you can find feeding times for the animals, then make a list in order of earliest to latest (this also helps reinforce the concept of telling time). Some zoos even allow you to make advance reservations for a personal tour with a knowledgeable staff member.

Tomorrow: continue to use your Zoo Book and other activities after you get home from the zoo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Making a Zoo Book

Preventing Summer Slide

The kids love it when I help them make a Zoo Book to take with us when we take a trip to the zoo. I print out free coloring pages, checklists, and scavenger hunts from educational web sites for free. I staple the pages together or punch three holes down the left margin of the papers and use yarn or ribbon to tie them together. Then, one or two days before our trip to the zoo the kids can start coloring the books to help build anticipation for the trip.

Great free coloring pages can be found at the NationalGeographic website. Collect pictures of zoo babies and their mothers to bring to the zoo so the kids can match the animal babies with their mothers.

Many great zoo-themed words searches, mini books, crafts, games, and zoo puzzles can be found at the busybeecrafts website.

I highly recommend visiting the kidsoup website for free zoo crafts and activities as well.

Most importantly, print out Zoo Checklists to add to your Zoo Books that the kids can bring with them on the trip to the zoo. Click here for my favorite Zoo Checklist or the abcteach website for an easier checklist for younger kids.

Stop by tomorrow for a Zoo Scavenger Hunt with the kids!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Preparing Summer Slide Going to the Zoo

Games to Play Before Going to the Zoo
Here are some games to play with kids to get them prepared to go to the zoo.

Animals and Their Young Ones
You will need:
Pictures of animals and their young ones, white construction sheets (one for each child), and glue.
Place the pictures of different zoo animals onto a center table. Place the pictures of their young ones onto another center table. Ask the children to pick an animal of their choice from one table and then go and find its young one from the other table. Once they have the mother and young one, ask them to paste them onto the construction paper. Have them paste as many pairs as they can.

Animal Puzzles
You will need: Large animal pictures, glue, and construction paper.
Cut the animal pictures into two and shuffle them together. Place this mix onto a center table. Give each child, half of the animal picture and ask them to find the other half from the table. Ask them to paste the parts correctly onto the construction paper. For this activity, use animals which have distinctive coats, such as tigers, leopards, zebras, etc., which will make the task of matching, easier for the children.

Animal Sound Games
This game aims to teach children different animal sounds. Put various pictures of animals in a cardboard box and then pull out one at a time.

Monkey Game
This game is a lot of fun and also educates children about the monkey's mimicking nature. Have the children stand in a circle and choose a leader within themselves. This leader will choose actions and perform them and the other monkeys will follow. Make sure each child is given a chance to be the leader.

Make Animal Masks
Click this link to print out free animal mask templates. Although these masks are under the title of Halloween, they are perfect zoo animals to print, color, then wear.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Preventing Summer Slide

During the summer months nannies and au pairs don't want the children to have all of their academic progress go down the drain (often called the Summer Slide). We hope to inspire you to incorporate lessons into fun activitties this summer.

The Zoo is a great learning experience because there are so many different lessons that could spin off from going to the zoo.

Before going to the zoo check out the zoo website. Download a map of the zoo and get the kids involved using the map.

First, help the kids learn what the symbols in the legend mean. Then, ask them to find: all the bathrooms on the map, all the exits, where do the birds live, where is the petting zoo, and where is the train ride?

Next, using the legend you can measure how far it is between one exhibit to another. Have the kids try to estimate how long it might take to walk from one exhibit to another.

Have the children mark their favorite animal exhibits on the map. Then, have them you plot out the sensible route from exhibit to exhibit.

Keep the maps because once they get to the zoo you will have them use the Zoo map for other activities.

More resources to help kids learn about maps:
1. Owl and Mouse: Interactive, printable, and puzzle maps

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nannies and Au Pairs Love Zoobies

Products Nannies Love

This week we will show how to make a trip to the zoo a learning experience for the kids this summer. First we recommend borrowing books about the zoo from the library. For example, after reading 123 to the Zoo by Eric Carle do the fun art project related to the book.

In keeping with our Going to the Zoo theme on this Product Review Sunday we recommend Zoobies.

Zoobies are adorable stuffed animals with a bonus! They are pillows, blankets, along with adorable stuffed animals. They have an adorable zoo line. Zoobies are nice toys for children, that also make a great gift for birthdays, holidays, and more.

They offer a safari collection, along with the new Zoobie Pets zoo collection. These are a great alternative for your small child!

Zoobies 3 in 1 pets really do look like regular stuffed animals! However, with velcro, they easily turn into a pillow, and then a quick zip of the bottom zipper reveals the hidden blanket (which can be fully removed).

What's your favorite Zoobie?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

123 to the Zoo by Eric Carle

Make Going to the Zoo a Learning Experience for the Kids

The summer is approaching (even started for some) and time for nannies and au pairs to prepare fun and safe activities to do with kids.

At the same time, we need to keep the kids' brains form turning into mush in what is often called the "summer slide." While they are out of school, we need to provide structured activities that will keep the kids learning during the summer. The goal is to keep them having so much fun, they won't even notice they are learning.

In preparation for going to the zoo, read 123 to the Zooby Eric Carle. Not only is this book a great counting book but if you are teaching zoo themes this book is a must.

Discuss how he uses pain textures and cuts paper to create his illustrations. Cut large pieces of white poster board paper for each child. Allow them to use paint brushes, sponges, toothbrushes, and combs to create different textures on their paper with paint. The kids can paint spots, stripes, and any other shapes they want.

After the paper has dried, give them patterns to trace out and cut. Use scraps from their cut outs to make eyes, eyelashes, trunks, ears, hooves, horns, and manes.

Stop by Monday for more fun learning activities to do with kids when going to the zoo.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What If Nannies Went on Strike for a Day?

You Think Their Job is Not Necessary?
You are Treated as You Treat Others. You Get What You Pay For!

If you follow this blog or subscribe to our newsletter you certainly have heard about Domestic Workers United, the organization that helped form the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York that establishes a basic standard of pay and vacation for workers.

Here is an interview with the director of Domestic Worker United Ai-jen Poo on

In comments about the interview Jonathon K. writes, "They get paid little b/c their job is not necessary. If all of the domestic workers went on strike for a day, people would do their own chores and save a little money."

It is estimated that in 12-million households both parents work full-time. Millions of working parents not being able to go work would not matter?

Childcare is essential to our economy!

Custodial care is not enough. Quality care is essential.

Custodial care is sub-standard childcare (care that merely keeps children safe, warm, and fed). Custodial care does not consistently include planned age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate social, physical, cognitive, and psychological care.

In fact, a study shows that low-quality care can have a lasting impact. Click here to learn more about the study.

Nannies provide quality care by providing individual care following the specific needs and desires of the parents about nutrition, learning, and discipline. Babies are held more often, and comforted when crying with a nanny. The child is cared for in the comfortable environment of their home. Nannies can transport kids to activities and doctor visits. Nannies can be flexible with the parents' work schedule. Parents do not have to dress and pack up kids to transport them to outside care. Plus, nannies can run errands, tidy the home, wash laundry, and more.

Do you really think a nanny's job is not necessary?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Celebrate Dental Health Day with Kids

Have you had any negative experiences taking children to the dentist?

By Anne Merchant Geissler, author of The Child Care Textbook

Today is Dental Health Day. Choosing the right foods in your diet is an important aspect in having healthy teeth and good oral hygiene. Discuss with the children how making healthy food choices, that are low in sugar, helps to prevent cavities and gum disease. Below is advice from Merchant Geissler the author of The Child Care Textbook

By the time children have reached their second birthday they are ready for their first visit to the dentist. It is important that the first dental visit be relaxing and uneventful. Be certain not to relay any negative feelings about visiting the dentist with youngsters. Any anxiety could cause children to fear going to the dentist which could affect their dental health for years to come, since people who fear dental visits avoid going for regular visits.

As soon as the first teeth appear, caring for teeth should become part of the daily routine for children.

How to Clean Baby Teeth

From birth until after teeth have erupted, use a piece of gauze or damp wash cloth to help remove plaque at bath time, at which time caregivers may introduce soft bristle toothbrushes.

Preventing Dental Disease

Never put babies to bed with a bottle. Not only is it dangerous since it may cause choking, but liquids like milk, formula, and juices can cause nursing bottle syndrome. Nursing bottle syndrome is a dental disease that rots the teeth, causing teeth to crumble. This may first appear as white spots on the teeth, which may later turn into yellow or brown spots. Early detection can prevent further decay and discomfort.

Nannies can help with the responsibility of caring for children's teeth until they are about the age of seven. Preschoolers and young school-age children are not yet ready to care for their teeth properly without help from adult caregivers.

The Proper Toothbrush

Buy child-sized brushes with soft bristles that do not scratch gums. Never use a brush with hard bristles.

The Proper Way to Brush

The proper way to brush teeth is to hold the toothbrush at a 45 ° angle facing bristles where the gum line ends and tooth begins. This helps loosen and remove harmful bacteria before it is lodged under the gums. Gently brush all teeth surfaces thoroughly and both sides and top.

Setting a Good Example

Children learn better when caregivers illustrate the proper tooth brushing procedures for them. Nannies may want to brush their teeth at the same time as the children. Children love to imitate grown-ups and nannies can help with this important hygiene task at the same time.

Before Visiting the Dentist

1. Prepare children by explaining that the visit to the dentist in a very simple conversation. For example, start by saying, “Oh by the way...”

2. "The dentist is the tooth doctor and we have to go for a checkup."

3. "You will sit in a Mommy, (Daddy), size chair that can move up and down so the dentist can look in your mouth."

4. Nannies should role-play the dentist visit by pretending to be the dentist to help prepare children for the initial visit.

Prevention is Half the Battle

Do not give children soft drinks, candy, (especially sticky candy like licorice or taffy). Get in the habit of providing snacks like fresh fruit and vegetables to children. Nannies should check their teeth and clean them at least daily as soon as the first tooth appears. Ask the doctor about fluoride drops if their town water does not contain fluoride.

Have you had any negative experiences taking children to the dentist?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What, Me Worry? June To-Do List

What Do You Worry About at Your Nanny Job?

Alfred E. Neuman is the long-time cartoon icon of Mad Magazine. His motto and rhetorical question is "What, me worry?" The answer for many nannies is: "Of course! I worry about everything and everybody."

What you worry about, how you worry, and the results of the worry says a lot about you as a person and about your chances of success as a nanny.

Life is not always fair, the world is full of injustice. But outrage and angst -- worry combined with anger -- is not a useful response. Feelings of anxiety, fear of confrontation, a need for avoidance, or despair will not help you or your loved ones. We note this not to be preachy but to be practical and realistic.

Avoid the "karma worry"-- that is the belief that if you worry, the spiritual world will magically reward your anxiety with a balancing amount of good things.

Avoid "earned worry"-- that is the feeling that if you suffer internally, you will earn happiness and goals will be achieved through chronic cynicism rather than through focused planning.

Avoid "fear worry"-- that is, insecurity about the complexities of life while viewing obstacles as more than they should be or more than they ultimately seem to be.

What, me worry? Of course. You are the alert problem solver. But for the nanny, worry should spur action, not procrastination, stress or delayed fulfillment.

Worry is contagious. The best nanny displays serenity and calm confidence. No one should worry about you losing your serenity and calm confidence.

What do you worry about at your nanny job?