Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Helping Kids Learn the Alphabet

Arts n' Crafts for the Letter "A"

You can help children learn the the letters of the alphabet by reinforcing letters with fun activities. Here are some letter "A" activities shared by Chris Yates of

Thumbprint Ants – Draw an ant hill with a marker on a plain sheet of construction paper. Use a black washable stamp pad or black paint and have your child put a thumbprint on the paper (or several thumbprints). Draw six legs and eyes on the thumbprints to make them look like spiders.

Ant Thumbprint Counting Book – You can also adapt this craft to create “Ant Books” to go along with “The Ants Go Marching” song. Create counting books using one page for each verse of the song. On the first page, make one thumbprint ant. If old enough, have the child write a number one. If not, write a one for them. Continue counting up for as many pages and verses you wish for your “Ant Book” when singing the song. This is a great way to get in a little counting practice with children too.

Macaroni “A” – Use this “A” template and print it out onto heavy construction paper. Spread glue onto the A and let children glue different shapes or sizes of macaroni onto the A until it is filled in. You can also have them color the pasta with markers before or after they glue it on the sheet of paper. Of course, you could also use the “A” template and use other media instead of macaroni like tissue paper, beans, buttons, colored sand, or just let them color the letters.

Stop by tomorrow for our monthly To-Do List.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do You Have Tips to Help Kids Get Up in the Morning?

Are Your Charges Moody in the Morning?

Getting ready for school is stressful enough, but when greeted with whiny children that complain each morning it makes caring nannies and au pairs want to pull their hair out. Some kids just can't get up in the morning. Some don't function well when they first wake up. Some are tired from not getting enough sleep. Some are simply not a "morning person."

Here are some thoughts and suggestions for changing your morning moods:

1. Don't serve children breakfast immediately. Wait until kids are dressed, beds made, washed, and ready to talk.

2. Watch your pace. A child who feels rushed may resist by getting slower. Nagging, moaning, and screaming might get them out the door now, but tomorrow morning, they will be complaining again.

3. Don't force the children to talk. Nannies and au pairs may be alert and wide awake, but don't force kids to be peppy immediately after waking up.

4. Allow more time. Wake kids up earlier, or set their alarm clock for 10 or 20 minutes earlier.

5. Get it done the night before. Organize the backpacks, jackets, homework, sports supplies, and put them near the door or, better, in the car. Pack lunches and choose clothes before they go to sleep.

6. Get into a rhythm and routine so children can operate on cruise control without having to think.

7. Don't forget the positive reinforcement. When children have a better morning, mention it. Bring it up after school.

What are your tips for a good morning with your charges?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Make and Freeze School Sandwiches in Advance

How Do You Help Kids Get Ready the Evening Before School?

If school hasn't started yet for your school-aged charges it will this week or immediately after Labor Day. Last week we recommended getting ready for school the evening before.

In FamilyFun Magazine a mother suggests that a great way to get a head start on making school lunches is making a variety of sandwiches beforehand and freezing them. You can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ham and cheese sandwiches (without condiments) and freeze them. Just pop the frozen sandwich into the lunch box (we love bento lunch boxes) with a packet of mayo or mustard if needed and by lunchtime the sandwiches are thawed and ready to eat.

What other ways can you help students get ready for school the evening before?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Four Million Americans Lose Power from Hurricane Irene

Best Emergency Radio, Flashlight, and Cell Phone Chargers

Here on the East Coast of the United States we were just slammed by Hurricane Irene, leaving four-million homes without power. The American Red Cross recommends everyone have an emergency radio. They feel so strongly about it that they have created their own line of radios with the Eton Corporation. Three of the things you desperately need in an emergency are light, information, and the ability to charge your cell phone to communicate. The Best Emergency Radios provide these three needs.

Eton American Red Cross FR160 Self-Powered Radio, Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger

The American Red Cross MICROLINK FR160 by Eton is a compact Solar Radio and Hand Crank Emergency Radio. This Solar and Hand Crank Radio Flashlight store anywhere and is perfect for a safety kit and provides you with an AM/FM radio with weather bands, a flashlight, and a emergency cell phone charger in one small compact unit for under $30.

This may be the best compact emergency radio. It has a high-quality AM/FM tuner, providing you with news, entertainment and public service announcements. Not only that, but it also integrates a NOAA Weather Band receiver that brings you weather forecasts, alerts and other emergency messages. Information vital to backpackers and travelers. At only 5.25 inches, the MICROLINK FR160 literally fits in the palm of your hand.

This emergency weather radio can be powered by it's solar panel, by hand cranking, or through its internal rechargeable batteries. It gives you the freedom to explore without the hassle of disposable batteries or adapters. If that was not enough, it also has a full sized USB port to easily charge any small electrical device like your cell phone.

Combine all those features with the 3 LED flashlight and you can not go wrong with the MICROLINK as it is a great emergency radio.

Eton ARCPT300W American Red Cross Axis Self-Powered Safety Hub with Weather Radio and USB Cell Phone Charger
American Red Cross Hand Crank Digital NOAA weather band radio with weather alert, USB cell phone charger, LED flashlight and flashing red emergency beacon all in one compact emergency radio.  The Hand Crank Turbodyne is a powerful direct power transfer device that will charge a cell phone and the internal batteries for the radio, flashlight and emergency beacon. Can be powered from three different sources: 1) Self-Powered Aluminum crank with Hand Turbine Technology. 2) From 3 AAA batteries (not included) 3) AC Power (not included).

American Red Cross ROVER TurboDyne Weather Radio USB Cell Phone Charger

American Red Cross Hand Crank Digital NOAA weather band radio with weather alert, USB cell phone charger, LED flashlight and flashing red emergency beacon all in one compact emergency radio. The Hand Crank Turbodyne is a powerful direct power transfer device that will charge a cell phone and the internal batteries for the radio, flashlight and emergency beacon. Can be powered from three different sources: 1)Self-Powered Aluminum Dynamo hand crank that generates massive power; 2) From 3 AAA batteries (not included); 3) AC Power.

Do you have an emergency radio, flashlight, and cell phone charger?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What Do You for Fun With Kids When the Power Goes Out?

How to Have Fun with Kids When the Power Goes Out

Show kids how to make shadow puppets using flashlights.

Play board games.

Play musical instruments.

Read a book by candle light or kerosene lantern.

Sing songs - little kids love this activity. Come up with funny songs you sang as a kid and teach them to the children. Let the kids teach you some of the songs they sing in school.

Play card games. If you're alone - play solitaire. There are lots of card games you can play. This is a good time to learn a new game or teach someone a card game they've been wanting to learn.

Work on a jigsaw puzzle. This can be done alone or with others, and can be extra challenging in the darkened conditions.

Play charades by candlelight (flashlights are safer around kids). It will add a whole new dimension to the game when you have to stay in a tiny circle of light.

Build a tent in the house by putting blankets over tables and furniture. Use flashlights and pretend you're camping.

Having Age-Appropriate Discussions About Hurricanes

Children's Books About Hurricanes!

As the east coast of the United States prepares for a hurricane this weekend it's important to have age-appropriate discussions about hurricanes with children to help relieve some of their anxiety. We recommend including the following age-appropriate children's books about hurricanes to help children understand the storms. We have included both fiction and nonfiction stories that focus on preparing for hurricanes, living through them, and dealing with the aftermath.

Yesterday We Had A Hurricane, (appropriate for three- to six-year olds) is a bilingual picture book in English and Spanish, provides an introduction to the effects of a hurricane. The author, Deidre McLaughlin Mercier, a teacher and counselor, has done an excellent job of presenting information in an age appropriate manner for children three- to six-years-old. Narrated by a child living in Florida, the book is illustrated with wonderful bright fabric and paper collages that effectively illustrate the damage a hurricane can do in a way that will not frighten small children. With humor and emotion, the child describes the loud wind, trees falling, the driving rain, and the good and bad aspects of being without electricity. Yesterday We Had A Hurricane is a good book for young children. Review by Elizabeth Kennedy.

Molly the Pony (appropriate for four- to eight-year olds) is a true story by Pam Kaster. This is the story is about a pony that waits in her stall for her owner to return during a hurricane. The abandoned pony was rescued from a south Louisiana barn and relocated to a farm. But Molly's story took another turn when she was attacked by a dog on the farm and her leg had to be amputated. Fitted with a prosthetic leg, Molly now travels to children's hospitals and retirement homes. Kaster, who lives in Zachary, is also the author of Zydeco Goes to Horse Camp and is an editor of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association newsletter. Review by Susan Larson.

Set in San Juan, Sergio and the Hurricane (appropriate for five-to eight-year olds) tells the story of Sergio, a Puerto Rico boy, and his family and how they prepare for a hurricane, experience the hurricane, and clean up after the hurricane. When he first hears that a hurricane is coming, Sergio is very excited, although several adults warn him, “A hurricane is a very serious thing.” The story emphasizes all of the preparations the family makes in order to get through the storm safely and the change in Sergio’s feelings as he moves from the excitement of preparing for the storm to his fear during the storm and shock at the damage caused by the storm. The gouache artwork by author and illustrator Alexandra Wallner gives a real sense of Puerto Rico and the effects of a hurricane. At the end of the book, there is a page of facts about hurricanes. Review by Elizabeth Kennedy.

The children's picture book Hurricane! (appropriate for six- to nine-year-olds) by Jonathan London and Henri Sorensen tells the dramatic story of two brothers and their parents who, with little notice, have to flee their home for an inland shelter. It starts as a beautiful morning in Puerto Rico. The two boys walk from their home on stilts down to the ocean where they go snorkeling. Just as they realize the weather has changed, their mother rushes to tell them a hurricane is on its way. The weather gets progressively worse, and the family packs and flees their home just as sheets of rain begin to fall. Author Jonathan London’s dramatic language and artist Henri Sorenson’s double-page oil paintings capture all of the drama and fear of the family’s evacuation and the waiting in the shelter until the hurricane ends. The book ends with storm cleanup and the return of good weather and regular daily activities. Review by Elizabeth Kennedy.

Hurricane is a novel by Terry Trueman (appropriate for ages 10 and up) is a book that is not about Katrina (though the book offers a postscript about what happened here) but about Hurricane Mitch, which devastated Honduras in 1998. Thirteen-year-old Jose must care for his family -- and his village -- in the horrific aftermath of the storm. This book would be useful for young Katrina survivors, who will see that they're not alone, and that children are far from powerless. Review by Susan Larson.

Hurricane Song is a novel about New Orleans by Paul Volpone (appropriate for ages 12 and up) about a young football star and his father, a musician, who seek refuge in the Superdome together during Katrina and later return to rebuild their lives in New Orleans. The novel ends on a triumphant note, when the Saints -- and Miles and his father -- return to the Dome. Review by Susan Larson.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Creating a Homework Contract

What Are Your Best Tips to Help Kids With Their Homework?

One of a nanny's or au pair's most important role with school-aged children is being a homework helper. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) studies show that families that hire great child care providers are in a stronger position to have children that are successful in school. Children of working parents that do not have the support of great homework helpers are less likely to achieve as well in school.

To develop good study habits nannies should make a Homework Contract that spells out what
is expected of the student.

First, make a checklist for each day of the week and every subject the student is studying at school. As they complete each assignment everyday the student should check the box when the work is completed. If no assignment is due in that subject fill in N/A for not applicable. Leave the subject blank if the student needs extra help when the mother or father arrives home after work. After explaining the checklist to the child, be sure to have the parents, nanny, and child sign the Homework Contract.

1. The homework area to study will be _____.
2. Assignment notebook will be checked by nanny and student before starting homework.
3. All homework and school materials are to be placed in backpack for the next day of school by
4. No homework in front of TV, with music on, or talking on the phone.
5. If nanny and student cannot complete assignments tell the parents to ensure the parents can help the student complete their homework.

Click here for a great homework contract from

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How Nannies Can Help Kids Develop a Homework and School Routine

Nannies and Au Pairs as Homework Helpers

Evening Before School: The daily school routine should begin the evening before children go to school. In the evening nannies and children should gather all school supplies and completed homework needed for the next day. Backpacks should be packed, school lunches and snacks should be made and stored in the refrigerator, and clothing should be picked out for the next day of school. Having these tasks completed before going to bed helps the children get ready for school in the morning.

In the morning nannies should provide children with a healthy breakfast. Once dressed and fed nannies and students should check one last time to ensure that children have their lunches and snacks in their backpacks and that they have all schoolwork and materials needed for that day in school.

After school nannies need to help children develop a daily routine. Start the homework routine by taking a few minutes to talk about the children's day or chat over a snack. Remember, children have been in school for six or more hours before sitting down to do homework. A moment to decompress, collect thoughts, and relax the body and mind will result in a more successful study time. It is best to have children complete their homework before going to other activities or playdates. Extra curricular activities may require children to complete homework after activities or dinner.

Do you have any tips on getting kids on a good school routine?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nannies Do You Know How to Report Child Abuse?

Do You Remember the Mother Who Used Hot Sauce to Discipline Her Child on Dr. Phil? She's Been Convicted of Child Abuse!

Click here to see article.

If suspect child abuse each state has different reporting agencies. The International Nanny Association has listed those agencies by state as well as the phone number. If your state is not listed, or if you are calling from a different state other than the child resides, call Childhelp, 800-4-A-Child (800-422-4453).

Here are the general definitions of child abuse by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Physical abuse is physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child. Physical discipline, such as spanking or paddling, is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and causes no bodily injury to the child.

Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child's basic needs. Neglect may be:
Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)3
Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child's emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs)

Sexual abuse includes activities by a parent or caregiver such as fondling a child's genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

Abandonment is now defined in many States as a form of neglect. In general, a child is considered to be abandoned when the parent's identity or whereabouts are unknown, the child has been left alone in circumstances where the child suffers serious harm, or the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or provide reasonable support for a specified period of time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Survey Project by National Domestic Workers Alliance

Are you a nanny, caregiver, or house cleaner who works in a private home?

A project of National Domestic Workers Alliance, DataCenter and Center for Urban Economic Development, University of Illinois, Chicago

If so, you may be eligible to participate in the National Domestic Workers Survey Project, the first national survey of domestic workers in the United States!

This participatory research project is designed to document the demographics, wages, working conditions, and training needs in the domestic work industry. Approximately 2,300 nannies, house cleaners and caregivers will be surveyed in 14 major metropolitan areas representing every region of the country. The survey is being conducted in nine languages.

If participants qualify, they will receive a small compensation for completing the survey and will have the chance to make history by participating in the first national survey of domestic workers in the United States!!!

The survey is confidential and anonymous!

Interested? For more information please contact:

Atlanta – Jerretta,  404-453-9208
Boston – Jenn,
Chicago – Sandra,  312-355-2446
Houston – Laura, 713-862-8222
Los Angeles – Angela,  213-252-2952
New York — Helen,  646-354-8861
San Diego – Nidya, 760-658-1985
San Francisco — Renee,  415-553-3404
San Jose – Jamie,
Seattle — Lupita,  425-208-6543
Washington, DC – Ashwini, 240-705-2953
For more information visit: or

Monday, August 22, 2011

Domestics Rally In Support of Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in CA

Right now, there are hundreds of supporters in the CA state capital lobbying in support of AB889 the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

The CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file meaning that it is at risk of dying. Deadline to get this out of Appropriations is 8/25. If you support the bill take action NOW.

"I ask the Senator to support the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB889) in the next appropriations committee hearing. Domestic workers are the bedrock of our state’s workforce. A vote in support for AB889 is a step forward in shared economic prosperity and growth.”

Christine Kehoe (D- San Diego) (916) 651-4039
Mimi Walter (R- Laguna Hills) (916) 651-4033
Elaine Alquist (D- San Jose) (916) 651-4013
Bill Emmerson (D-Riverside) (916) 651-4031
Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) (916) 651-4028
Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica) (916) 651-4023
Curren Price (D- Los Angeles) (916) 651-4026
Sharon Runner (R- Santa Clarita) (916) 651-4017
Darrell Steinberg (D- Sacramento) (916) 651-4006

"I ask the Senator to oppose the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB889) in the next appropriations committee hearing. The penalties associated with non-compliance would be a reason for domestic employers not to hire domestic workers on a legal payroll to avoid statutes in AB889. I feel many of the rights listed in the bill are redundant and already exist in CA labor laws."

Christine Kehoe (D- San Diego) (916) 651-4039
Mimi Walter (R- Laguna Hills) (916) 651-4033
Elaine Alquist (D- San Jose) (916) 651-4013
Bill Emmerson (D-Riverside) (916) 651-4031
Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) (916) 651-4028
Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica) (916) 651-4023
Curren Price (D- Los Angeles) (916) 651-4026
Sharon Runner (R- Santa Clarita) (916) 651-4017
Darrell Steinberg (D- Sacramento) (916) 651-4006

Chicago Casting for "America's Supernanny"

Lifetime is coming to Chicago searching for "America's Supernanny."

Producers of the upcoming reality series have set up a casting call from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. August 28 at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St. They're looking for a dynamic, caring and credentialed person to star in the series.

"If you are a nanny, a teacher, a parenting coach, a child psychologist or another type of viable family sspecialist, you are invited to attend the casting call," says a Lifetime release.

Producers recommend you RSVP for priority consideration by emailing with their first and last name, contact information, a few sentences about themselves and a photograph.

Also, interested applicants should bring the following to the casting call: a hard copy photograph, an updated resume that highlights all relevant experience and a completed application that can be found at Shed Media.

At the web site, you will see the producers also are seeking parents from a variety of backgrounds, with extraordinary circumstances, who are desperate for supernanny help. If you're an interested parent, email or call 877-NANNY-TIME.

The Importance Nannies Play in Helping with Homework

Are You Required to Help the Kids With Their Homework?

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) shows that the defining factor in having academically successful children of parents that work outside the home is the household help that they hire. The NAS studies show that families that hire great childcare providers are in a stronger position to have children that are successful in school. Children of working parents that do not have the support of homework helpers are less likely to achieve as well in school.

Assisting children with homework helps you identify problems or difficulties students are having learning.  Homework is an opportunity for children to review what they have learned and prepare for the next day's class. Homework helps teach students to use resources, manage their time, meet deadlines, and become more independent.

While helping children with homework nannies and au pairs can help children develop a love of learning, help encourage self-discipline, and ultimately help children to be successful in school. Doing homework is also an opportunity for children to gain self confidence and good self-esteem.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Does the Movie "The Help" Live-Up to the Book?

Racism, Classism, Feminism, and a Great Cast Lead to Applause in the Theater

Strong Women Are the Heroes of This Story

I finally got to see The Help on the big screen last night and can officially recommend the movie to others. The Help by Kathryn Stockett is one of my favorite books ever. Click here for my book review of the novel.

I worried that the movie might not live-up to the book. It did! Although much detail had to be edited out to make the film, I think the director and author of the screenplay, Tate Taylor, did an excellent job of making it a glossy Hollywood movie with just enough humor and tears to move the audience.

I can thank the excellent cast for pulling me into the story and making me cry. I absolutely fell in love with all the main characters. Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, who is played by Emma Stone; Aibileen Clark, who is portrayed by Viola Davis; and the little girl Mae Mobley who is played by twins Emma Henry and Eleanor Henry are likable and believable. I barely recognized Cicely Tyson who played Skeeter's childhood, elderly maid Constantine.

What finally struck me when watching the movie, that I failed to mention when reviewing the book, is that the book and film aren't only about race and class, but also about feminism. In fact, we don't get to know the men in the book or the movie at all. Strong women are the heroes of this story.

One of the important characters in the story is the colored maid Minny. Minny is beaten by her husband, (who we never see), and she finally takes her kids and leaves him. Though poor, beaten, and disrespected by whites and her husband, Minny is a strong, good woman.

Skeeter is the only white woman her age, in her circle of friends that gets a college education and uses it to liberate and empower herself to work, be independent, and not rely on a man. She even changes her mother's mind about what is most important for her daughter: from dreams of finding Skeeter a husband, to being proud of her for being a successful journalist.

Originally, my one and only complaint about the book was that I didn't understand why Skeeter had a love interest at all. Her relationship with Stuart never developed deeply in the book. I didn't get a sense of why she loved Stuart. His family didn't approve of civil rights which was interesting, but I still felt that relationship was a waste of time when reading the novel.

In the movie Stuart's family isn't mentioned. But, when Stuart breaks-up with Skeeter in the film I finally realized the importance of the relationship. She had the chance to fulfill the Southern woman's destiny -- find a husband. But, in true feminist spirit, Skeeter could let him go. She didn't need a man.

When going to see the film prepare to cry, (three times says my friend and I who viewed the film together), and laugh. As the film ended, the audience applauded! I've never seen and have heard an entire theater full of people applaud at the end of a film, like I did last night.
If you haven't read the book, you will cry and laugh when viewing the film. If you loved the book, you will notice the movie lacks some of details of  the civil rights movement in 1963 that were strong in the book. But, the film does not disappoint. Even without every detail from the novel included in the film, I believe you'll still love the movie The Help.

Products Nannies and Au Pairs Love

Sleep Mat for Preschoolers - My NapPak

These ingenious Nap Mats by My NapPak are the perfect all-in-one pillow, comforter and attached fleece blanket! Mixing fun prints, trims and snugly soft fleece, these mats are not only great for nap time, but slumber parties or just hanging out in the living room for Saturday morning cartoons. Best of all, these mats are machine washable and roll up for convenient storage and travel. Each NapPak can be monogrammed on the blanket with the child's name in either block letters or script. All monogramming is centered on the blanket approximately eight-inches from the bottom.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Do Nanny Salaries Cap-Out? Is There Much Room for Advancement?

Nanny Jobs Provide a Steady Source of Income, Yet Promise Little in the Way of Advancement

Below are some interesting thoughts found in the Huffington Post by Rebecca Carroll comparing nannies today with the movie "The Help." Click here to see entire article.

I have met a handful of six-figure nannies. Yep, there are a few in-home childcare providers that make $100,000 per year. Despite a college degree and 18-years nanny experience, I'm still not one of those nannies.

As I read this article in the Huffington Post I wonder if it's true what Enobong Hannah Branch, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst says,"The expectation of the [nanny] job grows, but the salary does not."

I'm paid well, but didn't get a cost-of-living raise at my four-year Nanny-Versary. I did get raises other years and a ten-percent increase with the birth of the family's newborn. I am not complaining since I make a good salary and for a lovely family with great kids. But, the sociologists comments do make me wonder: Do nanny salaries eventually cap-out? How much can we ever actually expect to make? Is there really any room for advancement?

Here are some highlights of the article:
The high-profile success of the movie "The Help" has thrust nannies into the center of the American conversation, while projecting the notion that taking care of other people's children amounts to a viable early-stage career opportunity, the first step on the pathway to better things.

But this comes as news to real-life nannies encountered this week in the affluent New York City neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, where women described their work as just that: a basic job in an American economy that does not have enough of them.

Despite the mythologies surrounding the life of nannies, their jobs operate at the intersection of the American underground economy and the homes of wealthier people. Many are employed by white collar professionals who work for major corporations, yet most are paid under the table, without health benefits. In an economy marked by high unemployment, nanny jobs continue to provide a steady source of income for thousands of women, yet these positions promise little in the way of advancement and are rife with exploitation, say labor experts.

"These jobs are not good jobs," said Enobong Hannah Branch, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of the forthcoming book "Opportunity Denied: Limiting Black Women to Devalued Work." "They are not jobs that are above the table, with set hours, clear expectations, health insurance, vacation, a process for grievances."

In New York, a law passed by the state legislature last year officially extended myriad labor protections to domestic workers. But many nannies working in the more gentrified areas of New York City are undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean, and many employers pay under the table and are reluctant to renegotiate that arrangement.

Click here to see entire article.

Children's Books About the First Day of School

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Reading children's books about going to Preschool, Kindergarten, or First Grade is a great introduction to school and to help reduce separation anxiety for kids.

Also, since all kids like to play school we recommend playing Kiddie College to help prepare children for school. Children learn through play and playing school with children is an effective, non-threatening way to prepare them for a new school year or a way to learn about how they feel about their new school.

The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing

It's the night before preschool, and a little boy named Billy is so nervous he can't fall asleep. The friends he makes the next day at school give him a reason not to sleep the next night, either: he's too excited about going back! The book's simple rhyming text and sweet illustrations will soothe any child's fears about the first day of school

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

'Twas the night before kindergarten, and as they prepared,
kids were excited,
and a little bit scared.

It's the first day of school! Join the kids as they prepare for kindergarten, packing school supplies, posing for pictures, and the hardest part of all-saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. But maybe it won't be so hard once they discover just how much fun kindergarten really is! Colorful illustrations illuminate this uplifting takeoff on the classic Clement C. Moore Christmas poem.

The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing

It's the night before the Big Day — first grade. Penny is excited to start the year with her best friend right beside her in the same classroom. This humorous take on Clement C. Moore's classic tale has a perfect twist ending that will surprise readers — as well as the heroine of the story — and help all about-to-be first-graders through their own back to- school jitters.

Friday, August 19, 2011

How Do You Feel About Parents Giving Nannies and Au Pairs Cell Phones With GPS to Track Where They Go?

Do the Parents Provide You with a Cell Phone?

Over the last few weeks we have discussed nanny and au pair use of cell phones when working. Although nanny industry experts recommend employees limit their personal use of cell phones while working, it's obvious that caregivers should carry mobile phones in case of emergencies.

In fact, some parents actually provide their nanny or au pair with a cell phone for work related calls, emergencies, and because they have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in the phones.

In fact, mobile phones advertise the fact that when equipped with GPS it helps parents track and monitor their children and child caregivers. One cell phone company with GPS capability says, "Responsible parents want to KNOW their children are safe when they're in the care of the nanny or babysitter. Don't risk your child's safety, get a cell phone with GPS technology."

How do you feel about parents using of GPS in cell phones or cars to track the nanny's or au pair’s location?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do You Text With Your Boss During the Day?

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open with Your Boss

We have been discussing ways we communicate with the parents that employ nannies and au pairs. Most nanny and au pair industry experts recommend having a weekly meeting and using daily logs to keep parents updated on the children and the job.

Last week we had a heated discussion about using cell phones and texting on the job?  Twenty-seven nanny and au pair industry experts recommend employees limit the use of cell phones for personal calls while working. But, many nannies commented that they use their phones to keep in touch with their employers.

Do you text your boss during the day?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do You Use a Daily Log?

Helping Nannies and Au Pairs Communicate with Parents

Most nannies and au pairs find working with children comes naturally. Communicating with parents (employers) can be much harder for most in-home childcare providers.

Yesterday we explained that most nanny and au pair industry experts recommend parents and nannies have a weekly meeting to discuss issue that may come up with the job. Another way to promote communication between parents and in-home childcare providers is the daily log.

A daily log is simply a three-ring binder or folder kept in the kitchen, near a phone. The daily log should contain all emergency phone numbers, schedules, and any emergency information that may be needed such as health insurance numbers, allergies the children have, and medications children may be taking.

Nannies and au pairs should list what the children eat each day on the daily log sheet. When working with infants caregivers should record the times and amounts the infant eats, when and how long they nap, and how many times their diapers were changed. Any change in feeding or diaper changes should be noted.

When working with older children, nannies should list the indoor and outdoor activities of the children, homework completed, and their mood during the day. Parents love when nannies list developmental milestones or describe funny moments with the children.

Do you use a daily log?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Do You Have Weekly Meetings with the Parents?

How Often Do You Meet With the Parents to Discuss the Job?

Since I started working as a nanny in the 1990's both nanny agency staff, my employers, and nanny friends have recommended that I schedule weekly meetings with the parents.

The idea is for the nanny and at least one parent to meet weekly without the children present as an opportunity to talk to one another about the children or any issues that come up about the nanny job. Although most meetings are simple and brief, the idea is to bring up any issues during that time each week.

I think the idea of a weekly meetings is terrific but I have never followed through and actually had a weekly meeting with parents at any of my seven nanny jobs.

Do you have regularly scheduled weekly (bi-weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly) meetings with your employers?

What People Don't Get About My Job: The Male Nanny

"Please stop calling me a manny."
This article can be found on the Atlantic web site

"I am a nanny. I care for a rambunctious one-year-old and occasionally his nine-year-old brother.

I am not starting a daycare, I am not a babysitter, and I do not nanny to make extra cash. Nannying is what I do. Seeing the world through children's eyes is intense and beautiful and fleeting, and I get to experience it every day. I don't just change diapers, I teach a new person how to engage and interact with the world. Right now I am teaching the kid I care for to sign before he can speak. I am teaching him to be gentle and kind, to appreciate music and books, and to respect boundaries. At his age, children can make between ten and twenty thousand new connections in the brain every second they are awake. That's an incredible amount of 'teachable moments' where I can actually change the course of this child's life. It's an awesome responsibility and I take it seriously.

What I don't love? All of the good-natured ribbing about how what I do is so easy. The questions about why, as a guy, I am a nanny. Childcare isn't the sole domain of women and I am not engaging in role-reversal. It doesn't mean I'm feminine. It doesn't mean I'm gay (It doesn't mean I'm not any of those things but I shouldn't have to go into this). And please stop calling me a "manny." What it means is that I'm well equipped for and interested in caring for children, and that I have found a way to match that with a child that needs looking after.

But what I do isn't easy. For example, diaper-changing time. This is an exercise in rule-enforcement: there is no wiggling, no kicking, and no stray hands groping for the diaper straps. Then it's breakfast time while I go over his development with Dad. We quibble over things like allowing him to climb a playscape unattended (absolutely not!) and what he's not allowed to eat yet and why (let's wait on that brisket, hm?). Then Dad goes to work and it's playtime til his first nap. Naptime is a ritual that I follow so he'll be comfortable, get to sleep quickly, and stay asleep as long as he needs to. Any interruption of the ritual is a domino that sets off the rest of the day so it is important that it remains undisturbed. The fan goes on high, the blinds are drawn, and the pacifier (only for sleeping) goes in. I lay him down in the same direction, tuck the blanket around him so he's comfortable enough to close his eyes. Then I leave immediately, perhaps read a few pages in my book before I start cooking lunch so it can be ready when he wakes up. Having lunch ready is important because if he doesn't eat right after nap #1 he won't release breakfast before nap #2. Which means he will wake up in the middle of the nap needing a diaper change. Hence, domino effect. Then Mom comes home and we go over when he's scheduled to sleep the rest of the day, what signs we are learning, problems in behavior that need to be addressed.

I love teaching and I love children. The amount of attention required to raise a small child precludes my watching more than just a few at a time so I am a nanny. It's sometimes stressful but always rewarding. As long as the adults don't make my profession a joke."
Do you know any male nannies?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nannies, Are You Also the Family's Housekeeper?

CA Bill for Housekeepers

Below is just a small portion of an article from the Los Angeles Times about a bill requiring fitted sheets to protect housekeepers. Since many nannies also work as housekeepers it may be of interest to nannies. Similar to the CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights some feel it's a frivolous bill, while those who work in the industry that have sustained back injuries feel it is an important piece of legislation.

Business owners and others who have long complained that companies are overburdened by state regulations say a proposal now moving through the Legislature shows that lawmakers have lost all touch with reality: It would require that hotels use fitted sheets.

The bill is intended to address back injuries sustained by hotel housekeepers. But it has revived a long-simmering debate over whether California has become a hyper-regulated "nanny state."

"Housekeepers have the highest rate of lower-back injuries in the hotel industry, and these workers deserve much better," the senator said.

More than 7,400 housekeepers working in California hotels have filed workers' compensation claims for injuries they say they suffered last year, including 883 who said they hurt their backs, according to the state Industrial Relations Department.

Click here  to see entire Los Angeles Times article, "Bill would require fitted sheets at hotels to protect housekeepers."

"Be the Best Nanny Newseltter" Welcomes You to Repectfully Disagree

Recently some others and I were censored on a nanny site when we commented on the topic of Domestic Workers Rights Bill. On one site, remarks were directed at me personally, yet I was not allowed to respond. My comments to these posts were calm, with no personal attacks or shrill remarks.

When I presented details of the DWRB on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog I made the effort to represent the views of both sides of the issue, and I urged opponents and proponents to post their opinion on the blog. In my opinion piece on the topic I also welcomed and allowed differing opinions, and continue to do so. I have never censored a comment.

My promise to readers of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter and our blog is that I will welcome all comments on this site, regardless of whether I agree with the opinion or not. Though I retain the editorial option to delete abusive posts, I have never needed to. The comments by readers of this site have overwhelmingly been thoughtful, insightful, and civil. I express my deep appreciation.

Please feel free to respectfully comment to any opinion piece or any topic discussed in Be the Best Nanny Newsletter or on our blog. We welcome all opinions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Please Take a Second to Vote That You Like Our Blog!

Please vote for us as one of the best blogs on Parenting Magazine!
By Best All-Around Mom Blog

Why I Love the Boppy Newborn Lounger!

Have You Tried the Boppy Newborn Lounger?

Review by Maria Lopez, Nanny, Miami, FL

The manufacturer of the Boppy Newborn Lounger describes the Boppy Newborn Loungeras the perfect place for wee ones to coo and kick in comfort. It is uniquely designed with a recessed interior perfect for a newborn's bottom. The lightweight design makes this pillow a portable must have. And because babies are cute, but messy, the washable slipcover is easily removable for cleaning after every oops.

I love that a newborn can lay safely in the Boppy Newborn Loungerno matter what room of the house I need to be in. When they get older, it can be used as a pillow for a child's head. Plus, I can throw it in the washer and dryer when it needs refreshing. In fact you don't even need to use the stylish Boppy Newborn Loungerpillow covers every day. Instead, I just cover it with a receiving blanket that I change daily.

I highly recommend the Boppy Newborn Lounger! Do you like the Boppy Newborn Lounger?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reading and Learing About Caterpillars and Butterflies

Weekly Trip to the Library

Each Saturday on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog we take a Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs. The following book and activity are from Scholastic, a terrific resource for reading and learning with kids.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a simple one that emphasizes numbers and days of the week. Kids can touch and feel the book while learning how to count. After popping out of an egg on Sunday, the very hungry caterpillar eats holes through the book's pages as he eats his way through a variety of foods, beginning with one apple on Monday, two pears on Tuesday, ending with five oranges on Friday, and 10 different foods on Saturday (chocolate cake, ice cream, a pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, a lollipop, cherry pie, sausage, a cupcake, and watermelon).

Not surprisingly, the very hungry caterpillar ends up with a stomach ache. Fortunately, a serving of one green leaf helps. The now very fat caterpillar builds a cocoon. After staying in it for two weeks, he nibbles a hole in the cocoon and emerges a beautiful butterfly.

From Caterpillar to Butterfly Activity:

Provide children with cardboard egg cartons, paint, and pipe cleaners. Invite children to make their own caterpillars. Separate a row of eggs cups (about four, to six cups) from an egg carton. Using the point of a scissors, an adult should make two small holes at one end for the antennae. Insert pipe cleaners for the antennae. Add eyes, a mouth, and decorate

Ask children to write, draw, or dictate their own stories about the different kinds of foods their "very hungry caterpillars" eat.

Children can then make butterflies from their caterpillars. Provide children with large sheets of paper glue, brushes, and a variety of tissue paper Children can glue the body of their caterpillar onto the center of their paper and create the wings of their butterflies using tissue paper and glue.

Raise Butterflies:
Insect Lore Butterfly BungalowScience Games)provide the opportunity to observe and study the different stages of the caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly.

Click here to find toys and games to supplement The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Related Books:
1. The Butterfly Alphabetby Kjell B. Sandved
2. From Caterpillar to Butterfly Big Bookby Deborah Heiligman
3. The Little Butterflyby Sherry Shahan

Reference: The cardboard egg carton and tissue paper activity originally appeared in the April, 2000 issue of Early Childhood Today. Stop by next week for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Have You Heard of National Nanny Night Out?

Do You Want to See the Movie, The Help? 

This weekend, August 12th and 13th, nannies from across the country are coming together in their local areas to see the movie and enjoy dinner afterwards. Check the list below to find an event in your area. Don’t worry if you don’t know others going. New faces are always welcome! Contact Nanny Biz Reviews for more information.

Atlanta, GA
Organized by Metro Atlanta Nannies
Sunday, August 14th

Baltimore, MD (Hunt Valley, MD)
Organized by Rochelle Matheson
Contact Rochelle Matheson:
Saturday, August 13th
3:10 movie at Regal Cinemas Hunt Valley Mall (arrive at 2:45 to meet group) then dinner at California Pizza Kitchen located next to the movie theatre.

Northern, NJ
Organized by Andrea Flagg
Contact Andrea:

Boston, MA
Organized by Massachusetts Alliance of Professional Nannies
Contact Jennileen Joseph:
Wednesday, August 17th

Chicago, IL
Organized by First Class Care
Contact Erin:

Denver, CO
Organized by Denver Area Nanny Association
Contact Christy Ochs:

Detroit, MI
Organized by Michigan Professional Nanny Association
Contact April Krause:

Durham, NC
Oganized by Triangle Area Nanny Group (T.A.N.G.)
Contact Tracey Chipps through the T.A.N.G. Facebook page

Los Angeles, CA
Organized by Westside Nannies
Updates posted on Facebook fan page

Milwaukee, WI
Organized by Northshore Professional Nanny Agency
Contact Mary Boyle:

Orlando, FL
Organized by Central Florida Nannies and Loving Arms Orlando
Saturday, August 13th
Meeting at noon for a 12:30 movie at Regal Cinema’s at Winter Park Village then to The Cheesecake Factory afterwards for lunch. All interested parties may RSVP on their Facebook page or contact MARCIA at 407-490-4236 or All who RSVP will be entered into a drawing for a FREE ticket to the show!

Philadelphia, PA (Main Line area)
Organized by Nannypalooza 2011
Contact Sue Downey:

Seattle, WA
Organized by Nanny Biz Reviews and Northwest Nanny Association
Contact Lora Brawley of Nanny Biz Reviews:
Contact Jenny Brown of Northwest Nanny Association
Saturday August 13th
1 PM movie at Lincoln Square Cinemas in Bellevue, WA with a late lunch at Z’Tejas

Washington, D. C.
Organized by Metropolitan Nannies

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are You Going to See the Movie "The Help?" It Comes to Theatres Today!

Does Racism Still Exist in the Nanny Industry Today?
Review of the book, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Talk about a page-turner! I have never had more trouble putting down a book than the novel The Helpby Kathryn Stockett.

Anyone who gravitates towards the passionate issues of civil rights will love this book about black domestic servants working in Jackson, Mississippi households in 1962. Domestic employees may love the novel even more for the affectionate intimacy shared by the white children and their black servants in the South during the civil rights era. But, the book has me wondering if things really have improved as much as we would hope since 1962 in the deep South.

The story is written from the perspective of three different women. Aibileen and Minny are black servants that share the narration with Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, the white college graduate hoping to become a writer. Skeeter unintentionally becomes a civil rights activist in her attempt to become a writer. With the assistance of the black "help" she is able to write the book about working as a black domestic in the white households of Mississippi.

Although the media televises the tragic murders of black men Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. in the novel, the white community of Jackson, Mississippi seem unaware of the civil rights activism occurring in the rest of the country. By the end of the book Skeeter decides to move to New York, being shunned from the white community in her hometown.

Have things really changed since 1962 in the deep South? Of course, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws major forms of discrimination against blacks and women today, especially segregation. Today, it is not only politically incorrect to discriminate due to race and gender, it's illegal. Obviously black nannies and housekeepers share the toilets, plates, and tables of their white employers today, which they did not in the novel. Black Americans employ white domestics today. Clearly black history is improving -- Barack Obama has been elected President.

But, with the in-home caregiver industry highly unregulated is there really anyway we can be certain that domestic employers aren't choosing white employees to work in their homes instead of African or Caribbean caregivers? Are parents choosing to hire white caregivers over a black nannies because they are secretly racist (even if it is illegal)? I think so, and I'll explain why.

I currently have a white Italian-American friend and a Caribbean-American black friend looking for nanny jobs. They both have nearly identical resumes. They both have more than six-years experience at their previous jobs, in the same town, and both have stellar references. They are both using the same nanny placement agency and the same online placement websites. The Caribbean caregiver has been out of work one month longer than the white nanny. My black friend has had a total of three interviews while the white nanny candidate went on five interviews the first weekend she was unemployed. The white nanny has been offered jobs, while my black friend cannot even seem to get interviews.

I may be making a sweeping generalization. There could be many other reasons why parents are interviewing my white nanny friend and not my black nanny friend. But, my instincts, and these same nanny friends' instincts, say this theory is what seems to be affecting who is getting interviewed and who is getting offered jobs. Although it's illegal for agencies or parents to accept interviews or hire employees due to race, can anyone really enforce that in someone's private home?

But, more shocking is that a parent told me that she has been asked by nanny placement agency staff, "Would you be interested in interviewing nannies from the Islands?" The parents was shocked and offended. That is illegal.

On the surface, and certainly for my friends and neighbors, diversity is much more widely accepted today than in the South in the early 1960s. There are civil rights laws and labor laws protecting the rights of every race, religion, disability, and gender today. But in a highly unregulated industry of in-home, domestic employees it's nearly impossible to enforce these most basic rights and laws.

I am excited and cannot wait for the film based on the novel The Help with a script written by Tate Taylor and produced by Chris Columbus. I highly recommend reading this novel, and can't wait to see the movie this weekend!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When Was the Last Time You Updated Your Resume?

You Never Know When an Opportunity May Come Knocking on Your Door

Nanny agencies always tell me to update my resume every six-months. But, who really does that? Since I am happily employed, I am not looking for a new nanny job. I have a full-time nanny job and since I work such long hours each week, I seldom even take on extra weekend babysitting jobs.

Each summer I get two-weeks paid vacation. When an owner of a nanny agency asked if I'd be interested in working a few evenings for a friend of hers during those two-weeks I decided, "Sure, why not make a few extra bucks?"

But, the agency owner needed my resume, written references, and identification to run a background check before she could introduce me to her client.

Thankfully, my resume was already on my computer and all I needed to do was update the resume with my current job. Having the resume, copy of my CPR/First Aid certification and driver's license, and five written references all stored in my personal computer I was able to email my information to the agency owner quickly. Even the parents mentioned how impressed they were at my organization and ability to provide so much important information so quickly.

I am happy to say I not only got that extra babysitting job at a great pay rate, I babysat for a celebrity family!

I highly recommend updating your resume and getting all important documents scanned into your computer so they available at a moment's notice, even if you aren't looking for a new job.

Well Before Your Next Job Search Prepare the Following Documents:

  1. Your Standout Resume: Click here to learn how to make a stellar nanny resume. 
  2. Written Letters of Reference: Click here to learn how to obtain written letters of reference. 
  3. CPR/First Aid Certification: If you already have your CPR/First Aid certification scan the card or certificate into your computer to provide to potential employers. Or, take a class now so you are certified before you have to start looking for your next job.
  4. Driver's License: Driver's licenses  are the most common form of identification. But, more imporantly, nannies that can drive are more in demand. Be sure to scan your driver's license into your computer so you can have it when needed. If you can't drive, consider getting your license as most parents want to hire a caregiver that can drive. 
  5. Nanny Portfolio: Finally, start organizing all this paperwork in your nanny portfolio.
When was the last time you worked on your nanny resume?