Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can Bed-Sharing With an Infant Be Done Safely?

Should a Nanny Speak Up About Concerns of Parents Sharing Their Bed with Baby?

An anonymous nanny contacted Be the Best Nanny Newsletter yesterday asking what she can do about parents that don't have their baby sleep in her crib but have their baby sleep with their baby in their bed.

She's not only frustrated that the baby can't sleep in her crib at nap times while the nanny is working, she is more concerned about the dangers of bed-sharing.

When babies sleep near one or both parents, it’s considered co-sleeping. Bed-sharing is when a baby sleeps on the same surface as mom and/or dad.

Dr. William Sears coined the term Attachment Parenting as it relates to babies and children forming a strong emotional bond with their parents, and sleeping together is an essential ingredient. Bed-sharing advocates tout the easier breastfeeding access, more and better quality sleep for parents and babies, and more literal bonding. Dr. Sears lists ways to keep a baby safe when sharing a bed and there are articles all over the Internet describing how parents can sleep safely sharing a bed with their babies.

However, while the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages room-sharing, the practice of bed-sharing is strongly discouraged due to the risk of injury or death to infants because of the potential for such hazards as suffocation. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages bed-sharing because it can lead to accidental suffocation of the infant in a number of ways.

What can this nanny say to the parents about the dangers of sharing their bed with their baby?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rolling With the Punches as a Nanny

Learning to Work in Someone Else's Home
By Marni Kent, Career Nanny

Having been a nanny for more than two decades I have gained some of my greatest knowledge working at the jobs that literally drove-me-crazy! I have learned that if I can do what my employers want, remembering who is boss, and staying one-step-ahead of the parents, I eventually earn their trust and respect and the working relationship improves.

Here is how I learned to work with the following difficult situations:

1. The Sterile Phobic Parent:
Remember to adapt to your employers idiosyncrasies and not the other way around. While cleanliness may be important to you as a nanny, you can't force parents to change and keep things as clean as you would like them to.

2. Recognition and Acknowledgement:
Although you want and deserve to have your employers acknowledge your diligent efforts, all the parents are compelled and obligated to do is give you your paycheck in a timely manner.

3. Rendering You Defenseless:
Situations may arise where an employer will assert their position as master-of-the-house. As the ruler of their domain they may conquer and dismiss your decisions or actions. Family dynamics can over shadow your decision making and render you defenseless, and as the employee, you've got to swallow your pride.

4. The Blame Game:
Although it may seem unfair that you should be blamed for the snafus that occur within the home, this often happens when you are the most convenient scapegoat for a family member to use. This occurs to employees in all occupations. You have to learn how to pick your battles. It may be more important to let it roll-off-your-back to ensure the parents are happy with you and keep your job, than confronting this issue.

5. Record Keeping:
Most nannies hate having to talk to their employers about money. But occasionally discrepancies will occur. Both you and your employer should keep records of what hours you worked, your overtime hours which warrant a higher pay, and the duties you have performed. Have the courage to point out mistakes.

6. Being Barked-At:
Some parents sound like they are yelling at their hired help. Hopefully you will be able to screen out parents that use aggressive tones during the interview. But, if you find a parent is talking to you in a demeaning tone, they may be doing this to others as well. So, respectfully bringing up the subject should benefit you. By explaining it hurts your feelings when you are yelled at, the parents may apologize and explain they didn't mean to hurt your feelings, and even try to speak to you in a more respectful manner. If you aren't the only person they sound like they are barking at, try not to take it personally.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nannies, What Products Can You Not Live Without?

Nannies Love Boppy Pillows

Susan Brown, a young Colorado mother, was asked by her daughter’s day care center to bring in a pillow to prop up infants who couldn’t yet sit on their own. In one night, she designed a C-shaped rounded pillow ideally suited to this task. Today, Susan’s ingenious design still holds true in every Boppy Infant Feeding and Support Pillow.

The Boppy brand has become vastly popular and now includes a prenatal collection to comfort the mom-to-be, products to support baby at play and on the go, as well as the original C-shaped Boppy Pillow that started it all.

Boppy Pillows not only lift babies to a more ergonomic position for comfortable feedings, it also transitions to support them as they grow. They offer the perfect spot for playing, sitting, relaxing, or just discovering little fingers and toes. We love many options for Boppy Pillow covers that you can just throw in the wash.

Every nanny and au pair working with a newborn or infant needs a Boppy Pillow. I know the Boppy Pillow is one baby product I could not live without.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Reviews By Kids, For Kids

The Knight at Dawn: The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne
Review by Allison, 8-Years-Old

The Knight at Dawn is the second book in a series of Magic Treehouse books. In this story, brother and sister, Jack and Annie use a book and the magic treehouse to travel to a medieval castle. When they go in the castle Jack and Annie have a lot of mysteries to solve and they get into a lot of trouble.

When they first enter the castle Jack and Annie are in a great hall where there is a feast they are not invited to. A knight sees them and chases them to a room full of armor. Three guards corner them in the dungeon, until Annie pretends her flashlight is a magic wand and scares them.

They escape the dungeon through a trapdoor into the moat filled with crocodiles. But a knight on a horse comes and saves them.

When they get back home, Jack notices the letter "M" on the bookmark, and figures out that the same person who dropped the coin in the first adventure also owns the books and is responsible for the magic in the tree house.

I like "The Knight At Dawn" becasue it is set in medieval times and the characters are frightened by what they see. I also like the characters in this story. I like Annie more than Jack because she is braver.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Redefining Mannies: Shaun Sturz of "Beverly Hills Nannies"

One Part Caretaker, One Part Secret Service
"Being a nanny enables us to chase our dreams while having a fulfilling job."

I was fortunate to interview Shaun Sturz, a nanny and a cast mate of the new reality series Beverly Hills Nannies (ABC Family Wednesday 9pm/8c). Here's what I learned about the reality television star who is helping redefine the image of a man working in a female dominated field.

Since his teenage years Shaun has been paving his path to working as a professional nanny. He has always loved working with children as a swim instructor, lifeguard, tutor, art teacher, and sports coach. But, over the past 13-years he has also been working off-and-on as an in-home childcare provider. I am also impressed that he has authored two children's books and he is currently working on a third.

The first children's book Shaun authored is called, Baxter Bu. The story is about a boy and his best friend Baxter Bu, an English bull dog. They do everything together including skateboarding and surfing. The moral of the story can best be described in a Dr. Seuss quote "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Shaun reveals, "This book was inspired from a true story and has been my passion for quite a long time now."

His second children's book is called, Sammy The Manny. The story is about a Manny and is cleverly the modern day twist on Mary Poppins.

The reality TV star is currently researching his third book about his grandmother, who he describes as the real life female version of Indian Jones. He explains, "She is so freakin' insane to me. This lady has was an archaeologist 50-years ago and did secret spy stuff, while raising a family at home."

One of the most controversial comments made on the show was when another nanny, who wants to open a nanny agency, says she only wants to place young and fun nannies. So, I thought it only fitting to ask Shaun if all nannies in Beverly Hills are as young, fit, and good looking as he and his fellow cast mates are. In response, he admitted, "I am blushing!"

"To be quite honest nannies do come in all shapes and sizes in Beverly Hills -- there is someone for everyone. But you know the saying 'birds of a feather flock together,'" adds the nanny.

Then, I asked him if there is any truth behind the rumors that the nannies that are on the show are just wannabe actors and actresses. He concedes, "It is not a rumor. Some nannies do want to act, but some also want to be singers, TV hosts, stunt doubles, entrepreneurs, or children's book author and illustrators."

Shaun isn't ashamed to admit, "Being a nanny enables us to chase our dreams while having a fulfilling job."

When I asked if being a man in a field dominated by women has helped or hurt his career he feels it has definitely helped him. He not only prides himself on being willing to get down and get dirty, literally, with the kids he also points out that celebrity parents often feel a man can protect their children. Shaun says celebrity parents have hired him because they feel their kids are more secure from the Hollywood spotlight when they can hire a man to act as one part caretaker, one part secret service.

Shaun says his pride and joy when working as a nanny is, "When the kids are smiling I know have done my job well."

His advice to other men interested in working in a female dominated industry is to, "Learn as much as you can from the families, and don't ever try and apply for my job!"

Finally, the Beverly Hills Manny says, "It is amazing to see the journey that it has taken me on when I really sit down and think about. I ask myself, 'Is this really happening to me? Is this my reality?' Reality TV that is."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What You Can Learn from Lucy's Nanny-Mama-Drama

You Are Not the Parent's Friend

Last night on Beverly Hills Nannies we saw a nanny Lucy start a new job with Tricia Fisher. Lucy has a lot of positive energy and is great with kids, when she actually attends to them. But last night we saw her spending the majority of her energy trying to be friends with the mother and socializing with the mother's friends, rather than attending to the kids.

Instead, Lucy should have tried to respect professional boundaries by doing her job and what was asked of her rather than talking about her own life and trying to befriend her employer. Friendships with employers slowly develop over time.

Another important professional boundary to consider when working as a nanny is gossiping about the family. Sometimes it seems like all in-home childcare providers do is gossip and complain about their jobs at the playground. In contrast, professional nannies don't speak badly about their employer’s publicly. A professional employee knows the only way to resolve issues with their employer's is by communicating directly with them, not by gossiping about them to other people.

It is fine to brag about a child's accomplishments or a great meal you prepared to others, but it is inappropriate to discuss their family problems. Confiding in your husband, wife, or partner is appropriate. You will likely lose your job if your employer’s find out you have been gossiping about them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thank You, Mary Poppins

Five Societal Misconceptions About Nannies
By Samantha Gray

I'll never forget the first time I watched Mary Poppinsas a little girl. Never in my life had I seen a beautiful, dancing, singing, flying, entertaining nanny. I knew all my friends had babysitters and nannies, but none ever seemed to be quite like this. I was certain of that!
When I was a little girl, my mother was a stay-at-home mom, but after seeing the remarkable Mary Poppins work her magic on film, I begged my mother to go get a job so I could have a cool nanny. Naturally, she felt it necessary to tell me that there weren't many Mary Poppins out there in the world. It wasn't until I took a job as a nanny that I realized my mother was absolutely right: the life of a nanny doesn't at all resemble Mary Poppins' schedule.

After working as a nanny in college, I quickly learned that our work is a little more complicated than dancing with penguins and feeding the birds. Yet, what never ceases to amaze me is the fact that the nanny image hasn't changed much through the years. Every time I see a nanny film, such as "The Nanny Diaries," "The Sound of Music," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Nanny McPhee," and so forth, I can't help but laugh at all the misconceptions being created around the profession. For those of you who work as a nanny or are considering going into the profession, here are five serious misunderstandings about the work of a nanny.

We Dress Cute All the Time

Sure, it was amazing when Mary Poppins showed up in a floral hat and black coat with a bottomless bag and talking parrot umbrella. Most of the time, however, nannies won't be wearing cute hats, dress stockings, and high heels around the park; he or she will be confined to a wardrobe of comfortable, worn-in clothes. A nanny's wardrobe is usually something they need to be prepared to get dirty and not think twice about throwing out. So if you've recently become a nanny and want to put on your finest attire, I'd think twice. Paint and dirt won't be very forgiving on your cute ensemble.
Children Hate Us at First, But Eventually Grow to Love Us
In almost every nanny movie I see, the children start out absolutely loathing the nanny. Yet over the course of the film, we see their relationship develop and blossom into a deep, loving relationship. Let's set the record straight: most of the time children don't hate you when you first walk in the door. They simply don't know you, so it takes them a while to accept you. You might feel like you are hated when a parent leaves the house and you're left with a crying child, but remember, they'll most likely accept you as a playmate and friend over time. Just keep in mind, you aren't there to replace a parent; you're there to make sure the child is safe, engaged, and taken care of.

It's all Fun and Games

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all we did was skip around the park, go to museums, pick fruit from trees, and live happily ever after? Alas, a nanny's work is more complicated than that. Most days we will either be inside switching between playful tasks and learning tasks or outside playing in the sweltering heat. Whenever a parent hires a nanny, they often have a set of goals they want the nanny to accomplish each day with their child. Try to keep in mind that games and movies are a lot of fun, but it's important not to get too caught up in all the fun. Stay on track and remember to embrace a well-rounded routine and schedule.

You Meet Men on the Job

The Sound of Music gave us way too high of expectations about the chance to meet an eligible bachelor on the job. I must clear the air, though; there aren't many men you will be able to meet when you are a nanny. First of all, much of the time your attention will be too focused on the children to look around and see if there are men roaming around. Second of all, if it's your goal to meet men on the job then you are probably in the wrong profession. If you are looking to get into the dating game, wait until after work at a happy-hour bar or on a blind date. Children should always be priority when you are working.

Parents are the Enemy

I don't think I've seen one nanny film that hasn't labeled the parent as the antagonist. Let's clear the air: parents are not the enemy. They should always, always be viewed as your ally. Even in the situation when you are working with a difficult parent, try and be on their good side and ask them for help when you need it. To put it blatantly, they are the ones paying you, so it's important to treat them with respect. Never let the child tell you something is one way when you know the parent would see it the other way. As long as you keep the parent's demands priority, you'll be good to go.

As I've learned through my own personal experiences, the life of a nanny is not for the faint of heart. If you find yourself interested in the profession or about to take on your first nanny job, remember these five serious misgivings about the nanny profession thanks to modern-day pop culture and film.

Samantha Gray is a freelance writer. She would love to hear from you at samanthagray024@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Painting With Colored Ice

colored ice finger paint
Colors and Creativity Flow With Exciting New Art Materials
By Scholastic
Children use fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and creative expression as they paint with colorful ice cubes. Invite children to help you make frozen paint-brushes. Fill two to four ice-cube trays with warm water. Using different colors, add a teaspoon of powdered tempera paint to each cube section. Stir until paint is dissolved. Then place an ice-cream stick in each section and freeze overnight. (It's okay if the sticks don't stand up straight.)
colored ice paint brushes

·         4 colors of powdered tempera paint
·         Ice-cube trays
·         Ice-cream sticks (one for each of your trays)
·         Bowl
·         Freezer
·         Newspaper
·         Heavy white drawing paper

Together make a list of everything you know about ice. Invite children's comments by asking questions: What does ice look like? Does it have a smell? A taste? How does ice feel? Have children seen ice used in beverages before? What does it do to the beverages? What are other ways children have seen people use ice?

Next, offer a bowl of ice cubes and invite each child to take one. Talk again about how ice looks, feels, smells, and tastes. But this time investigate the ice hands-on. End by talking about how you might use ice to paint.

Cover a low table with newspaper. Put out a pile of heavy white drawing paper and ask a few interested children to join you in an art experiment. First, be sure everyone is wearing a plastic smock and has his or her sleeves rolled up. Then bring out one tray of tempera-paint ice cubes. Pop a few cubes out of the tray and invite children to hold the sticks and paint. Watch as the ice leaves colorful prints on the paper.

As children paint, they'll probably notice the cubes beginning to melt. Be sure to talk about what's happening to the ice. Then bring out a fresh tray and continue your ice-painting experiments.

For younger children
Give children the opportunity to wear gloves or mittens and paint with the ice cubes before trying the frozen paintbrushes. Later, encourage children to talk about the differences between painting with two different kinds of paint.

For older children
When the ice melts, encourage children to experiment by adding greater or lesser quantities of tempera to the water and painting with the resulting mixtures.

Preschoolers need lots of time to experiment with art materials and techniques. Avoid suggesting that children should "draw something." Instead, encourage their free-flowing designs and patterns. Remind children not to taste the ice that has paint in it.

Mix and melt. As the ice begins to melt, encourage children to mix various color cubes together. Observe the new colors the melting cubes create. Invite children to guess what colors might result from various cube combinations.

Monday, July 23, 2012

10 Challenges for the Nanny of Work From Home Parents

Do You Work for Work From Home Parents?
By enannysource

When a household includes both an in-home business and in-home childcare, the situations which the nanny deals with may have some unique challenges. Discussing the various issues and keeping the communication open between employer and nanny is important in working through these situations.

1. Noise levels – There may not be a lot of sound proofing between the home office and the rest of the home. Small children are bound to be noisy when playing and babies sometimes can only communicate through crying. The nanny should not feel a need to keep the children any quieter than in any other household. It is up to the parent to protect themselves from those distractions.

2. Saving Questions – When the parent is in the home, rather than a phone call away, a nanny can be tempted to interrupt them with questions that would normally be saved until the end of the day. Remember that etiquette regarding interrupting them ‘at the office’ applies equally, no matter where that office is located.

3. Clinging children – Most work from home parents will not be hidden away in their office for the entire day. They are bound to come out for lunch and breaks, just like any other worker. This can be an issue with the small children who don’t understand what ‘going back to work’ means.

4. Known presence – The presence of the parent or parents in the home is not going to be a secret from the kids. Even when they are not in sight, the children will be aware of their presence. In order for the nanny to maintain her leadership role with the children, the parents must cooperate in not giving in to demands by the children for their attention during the work day.

5. Listening ear – Unlike the nanny whose employers leave the house in the morning and return in the evening, a nanny for work from home parents is likely to be questioned about every bump, cry or other strange sound that is overheard by the parents during the day.

6. Variable hours – Unless the parents are strongly structured in their own work hours, a nanny may find that work from home parents expect her to be as flexible with her schedule as they are with theirs. This is an important item to be well clarified in the work agreement.

7. Wandering workers – Not all work from home parents stay confined to their home office. Wireless Internet connections and cell phones enable them to do much of their work from any room in the house. This can mean that the nanny needs to adjust her work habits to fit in with various unoccupied territories within the home each day.

8. End of day – Most people who work from home are also doing a job that they really enjoy. When you love your work and you work within the comfort of your own home, it is easy to lose track of time. Rather than waiting for the parents to ‘come home’, the nanny may need let her employer know when it is time for the work day to end.

9. In and out – Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean that all the work is done from the home office. Most likely, the parent will have outside appointments that they will need to attend. This means there will be some coming and going of the parents at various times, which can be disruptive for the children.

10. Roles and duties – A parent may take on some of the nanny’s duties from time to time, at their own discretion. This requires much flexibility on the part of the nanny and consideration on the part of the parent. Open and honest communication will be a key ingredient for nanny positions of this type.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Okkatots Travel Baby Depot Bag and Backpack Diaper Bag

Product Review Sunday

I prefer using backpacks to slings or one shoulder bags because backpacks have two straps to help distribute the weight of the contents evenly on both of my shoulders instead of putting all the weight on one shoulder when using totes or messenger bags.

Doctors recommend not carrying a back pack more than 15% of your total body weight.

To help prevent shoulder or back pain, the bag should not fall more than four inches below the waist and the shoulder strap anchor points should be one to two inches below the top of the shoulders.

That's why I love Okkatots (pronounced "Auk-ka") Okkatots Travel Baby Depot Bag and the Okkatots Backpack Diaper Bag. They are both backpacks that carry a lot without putting too much weight on either shoulder. If you travel with a baby or toddler, no other diaper bag can compare to the Okkatots Travel Baby Depot Bag. The features of both the Okkatots Travel Baby Depot Bag and smaller daily Okkatots Backpack Diaper Bag are described below.

Okkatots Travel Baby Depot Bag
  • Diaper station with soft changing pad, removable wipe dispenser, and space for sixteen large diapers.
  • Insulated pocket holds several baby bottles or sippy cups.
  • Ventilated pouch keeps two pacifiers clean and dry; removes for easy cleaning.
  • Outside pocket securely holds DVD player for viewing then zips and stores easily when done. 
  • Waterproof pouch locks in moisture to keep everything else dry and perfect for wet clothes or food.
  • Padded shoulder straps provide a convenient hook for keys and a pocket for cell phone or mp3 player.
  • Multiple pockets and pouches keep small or important items from getting lost, such as keys, toys, travel papers, DVDs, and books.
  • Opens two ways for convenient access: like a regular backpack from the top or unzips all the way around to open like a book.
  • Versatile carrying handles clip and unclip to hang from hooks, rods or stroller handle bars while the hard, durable base keeps bag upright by itself.
  • Inside lining made of durable, polyurethane-coated nylon is hand-washable.
  • Perfect size for an airplane carry-on, measuring 19" high x 15.5" wide x 8.5" deep.
  • Six-month manufacturer's warranty included.
Included Accessories
1. Waterproof pouch for laundry or food
2. Wipe dispenser
3. Pacifier pouch
4. Large, soft changing pad - meets safety standards for minimal lead and phthalates

Okkatots Backpack Diaper Bag

If you are looking for a functional day pack and don't need the larger carrying capacity of the Travel Baby Depot Bag this bag is for you. The Okkatots Backpack Diaper Bag offers the same convenient change station features. Strap it on the front seat of your car and you can easily get to snacks, drink, toys and cell phone. This bag is perfect for day trips or for everyday use. Its multiple pockets keep every thing organized, reachable, and upright. Okkatots is there when you've got just one hand to spare. It is available in red and gray.

Exclusive Features of Okkatots Backpack Diaper Bag
  • Diaper station with soft changing pad, removable wipe dispenser, and dispenser for ten diapers.
  • Easy access pocket for cell phone, keys, wallet and other items.
  • Versatile carry handle - Opens to attach bag to seat belt.
  • Insulated bottle pocket holds two larger bottles.
  • Zip pocket for personal items.
  • Multiple pockets at top of bag keep smaller items easily accessible.
  • Internal pocket holds drink container for quick access.
  • Removable water resistant laundry bag.
  • Unique Pacifier Pouch keeps two pacifiers accessible and sanitary.
  • Lock firm baseboard into fabric tabs to help keep bag upright making it easier to store items neatly.
  • Strong nylon lining wipes clean and the light color means contents are easier to see.
  • Shoulder straps zip together for use over one shoulder.
  • Measures 16" high x 14.25" wide x 6" deep
  • Six-month manufacturer's warranty included

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review by Kids for Kids

Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
Book Review by Julian, 12-years-old

This summer, I have an assignment from school to read Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America,a humorous memoir written by Firoozeh Dumas. At first, I was upset that I had to read it and I complained to my parents, "Why do I have a school assignment during summer vacation?" But, once I started reading the book, I didn't want it to end.

When Firoozeh was seven-years-old she moved to America from Iran with her parents and two brothers. She describes the troubles she faced in a hysterical way. Although the book is funny, Firoozeh also effectively covers some serious topics such as the language barrier, religious controversy, female body image, and the impact of the Iranian hostage crisis.

She describes her first days of school and when she attends sleep-away camp when she was 11-years-old which was her first time away from her large and loving family. At 14, starts working jobs to earn funds for college, including a house-sitting and cat-sitting neurotic cats Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, and Mayo. At the University of California, Berkeley, she began dating a student from Paris, France. Anecdotes from their courtship and eventual marriage are great.

Although it's a serious topic and her biggest hurdle, how she learned English is funny and she makes light of how Americans had trouble pronouncing her name let alone remembering it. She was forced to start school before she learned English. Her mother went to school with her on the first day of school and when the teacher asked Firrozeh's mother to point out Iran on the map her mom didn't know and Firoozeh was embarrassed.

One of her teenage jobs was house sitting. She went to water the pants and heard music in the parent's bedroom. She thought there were robbers but didn't know what to do. So, she actually finished watering the plants and then ran out of the house. When the neighbors came home they told her she just heard their clock radio alarm they forgot to turn off.

My favorite chapter in the book is after Firoozeh was married to her French husband they go on a trip to the Bahamas. They thought they were going on a relaxing trip only to find it was Spring Break for college students in America who took over the island.

Basically the entire book helps us see America from an immigrant's perspective. The author has an amazing ability to see stressful situations as funny. This book is a great read for middle school students. If you thought you had a funny and strange life, this book will prove otherwise since most people haven't had as crazy and as fun a life as Firoozeh Dumas.

Friday, July 20, 2012

7 Reasons Not to Bash Your Nanny Boss

Beware of Venting About Your Job
By NannyJobs.org

Everyone has bad days at work, and nannies are no exception. Since nannies don’t have co-workers to chat with each day, they can be more susceptible to talking to others about the good and bad of their work day. However it’s vital that nannies are sensitive when sharing their work place happenings, as talking negatively about your boss or your position can come back to haunt you.

1. You never know who is listening. While you may feel comfortable enough to talk about anything around members of your nanny group, mommy and me classmates, or playgroups, negative boss talk should still be off limits, especially in public forums. While everyone needs a close friend or two to really confide in, it’s important that the friends you choose are completely committed to keeping your confidence. There have been plenty of cases where one nanny overhears another nanny speaking negatively about her boss and she happens to mention it to her own boss, who turns out to be friends with the other nanny’s employer. Of course she tells her friend, and the badmouthing nanny is left embarrassed, her head hung in shame. These situations never end well for the nanny.

2. You never know who is watching. Anything you write is part of permanent history. Whether you share something negative about your boss in an online nanny forum, or if you post a vague Facebook status update that you think only insiders will be able to understand, the reality is that there is always a possibility that what you put out there will get back to your boss. When it comes to social media, it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid mentioning work related issues. You never know if your privacy settings are working as planned or if someone who knows your boss has access to what you share.

3. You are your own HR. Talking to other people about your work related issues isn’t really helpful when it comes to resolving them. Unlike in other professions, nannies and their employers serve as their own human resources representatives. For issues to really be resolved you need to bring them to your boss directly. While it may make you feel better to vent about your work issues to a group of friends or other nannies, only you and your employers, after all, have the power to make a difference.

4. Confidentiality is crucial. An integral part of the nanny and nanny employer relationship is trust. As a nanny you see things, hear things, and are in the middle of things that you’d never be part of in any other work setting. Whether you have signed a formal confidentiality agreement or not, as a nanny you have been trusted to keep private family information private, and it is crucial that you do so.

5. It makes people think you talk bad about them. When people hear you talking bad about someone else, they can’t help but wonder if you also talk bad about them. After all, history does tend to repeat itself. When you gossip about others, you quickly become labeled as a gossip. If you want to give the impression that you are a trustworthy individual who never says a bad thing about anyone, don’t. The short-term feel good feeling of getting something off your chest isn’t worth the potential long-term ramifications, like losing your job.

6. Word travels fast. Today everyone is their own reporter. From text messaging to email, Facebook to Twitter, we can communicate with others and report things faster than ever before. Perhaps you say something you didn’t mean, or you make a comment jokingly, only to realize that others around didn’t quite get your joke. In today’s digital age you don’t even have time to take back what you said. Be safe and filter your work related comments. You could be glad you did.

7. It can only hurt you. No good can come from badmouthing your boss. When you speak negatively about your boss, you risk getting caught, which could mean losing your job. You also risk having others question your character and loyalty, which is never good, especially if a future reference or even future employer overhears you.

Click here to see the original article.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More Reality in Episode Two of "Beverly Hills Nannies"

"Beverly Hills Nannies" partying on a work night
Nannies, Do You Have a Back-Up Plan if You Can't Make it to Work?

Call me crazy I love watching "Beverly Hills Nannies." Important topics of working with pretentious employers, if nannies should go out and drink on a work night, how to ask for a great hourly rate, and having back-up plans when the nanny is sick or cannot make it to work are exposed in the second episode.

I thought nanny Justin was shallow in the first episode. But tonight we see that he was just treating the pretentious mother he worked for in the first show in the same way she was treating him. He wasn't being respected by his first employer and so he complained and wasn't very professional in that environment. Tonight, when Justin met a wonderful, big-hearted, divorcing (single) mother we see he is very warm, sincere, flexible, dedicated, and willing to work hard for a family he respects.  We see he truly loves kids and he will go the extra mile for a parent he respects.

We also see an unflattering side to Kristin (the self proclaimed most sought after nanny in Beverly Hills) who gossips way too much and criticizes other nannies that drink too much after hours, but then she does the same.

In this episode Kristin agrees to fill-in for another nanny, Amber, who cannot make it to work. Kristin says in the show that having a nanny group is a great way to have back-up in case a nanny cannot make it to her job. Then, after a night of drinking Kristin doesn't show up for the job we assume because she is hung over.

In my 19-years of working as a nanny I never had a back-up plan in case I am sick or cannot make it to work. In fact, even on days I was hospitalized one parent had to stay home from work and work from home to care for their kids in my absence.

Do you have a back-up plan in case you cannot make it to work?

Milk Banks: Safe Alternative to Wet Nurses

How a Mother Who Cannot Breast Feed Can Still Give the Baby Breast Milk
We have all heard that "breast is best." Before infant formula was invented wet nurses helped nourish  babies who couldn't be nursed by their biological mother. But, in the 1980’s, it was discovered that AIDS and other viruses could be transferred in breast milk and the La Leche League discourages wet nursing and cross nursing for similar reasons.

So, since it is illegal to use wet nurses in some places such as in New York, mothers who believe that breast milk is best but cannot nurse their own baby, there are breast milk banks and breast milk swaps to get breast milk for their infants.

In an article from time.com "Milk Banks vs. Milk Swaps: Breast Milk's Latest Controversy,"  Bonnie Rochman explains that milk banks are a safe way to get breast milk to feed an infant but there are dangers in using breast milk swaps. She explains that milk banks that are part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) are a safe way to find breast milk for premature babies and sick infants with breast milk.

The article states that milk banks intensively screen donors via multi-page questionnaires and pay to get them blood-tested; they also underwrite the cost of shipping frozen milk to the milk banks, where it’s pasteurized to kill bacteria, processed and triaged to those most in need. But all these steps cost money; as a result, many milk banks charge $4.50 an ounce.

Ms. Rochman's article says that while online milk-swapping groups are becoming more popular (such as Eats on Feets or MilkShare) as an inexpensive ways to share breast milk, the practice of sharing breast milk through the Internet isn't recommended.

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises parents against using milk-sharing groups: "When human milk is obtained directly from individuals or through the Internet, the donor is unlikely to have been adequately screened for infectious disease or contamination risk. In addition, it is not likely that the human milk has been collected, processed, tested or stored in a way that reduces possible safety risks to the baby."

Have you ever worked for parents that used breast milk from a breast milk bank or breast milk swap?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coping with Homesickness for Au Pairs and Live-in Nannies

Do You Ever Feel Homesick?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nannies and au pairs can also contact local nanny groups. 

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

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

Do you have any advice for caregivers about to relocate to be an au pair of live-in nanny?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is it Possible to Find a Nanny Job Online Without Your Employer Finding Out?

How to Find a Job While You Have a Job

We usually recommend that job seekers find a new nanny job before quitting their current job. If you try to find a job with the help of a nanny agency they will honor your wish to be discrete while you are interviewing for jobs. But, when using nanny web sites, we aren't sure if there is a way a nanny can ensure people they know won't see their name online.

If you know how to keep your employer from seeing your nanny profile online please let us know how you do that.

In the meantime, consider the following tips to keeping your employer from knowing you are looking for a new job:

If you want to take your time to find a better job while currently employed use discretion. People gossip so you should be careful whom to tell that you are looking for a new employment. Gossip can spread like wildfire. You cannot blame someone when your job search reaches your boss or if he or she heard it from their friends.

However, you can tell your family about your current situation. This can advantageous for your sake because they can be your assistant and take messages for you while you're at work. Just make sure you tell them not to tell anyone that you are looking for a new job.

Explaining to a prospective employer that you can't use your current employer as a job reference because you want to keep your job search confidential for now should not harm your chances of getting a job offer.

Don't use your employer's computer, phone, or email to conduct your job search. Set up interviews after work or on time-off.

Finally be prepared in case your employer does find out you are looking for a new job. Be honest about why you are seeking new employment without making any personal attacks. Go out on a good note so you will be able to get a great reference from your current employer.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Amber Teething Necklaces: Helpful or Hype?

Product Review Sunday

Parenting message boards are filled will discussions about Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces. Baltic amber necklaces are made to wear but not to chew on. Baltic amber necklaces are supposed to help reduce teething pain. The theory is that baltic amber contains a natural analgesic, succinic acid, that can be absorbed through the skin to relieve pain. The body heat from the child will heat the amber, which then releases succinic acid which is then absorbed by the child's body through the skin.

Supporters of amber teething necklaces claim they support the immune system, have anti-inflammatory properties, and calm a baby without resorting to drugs. But, isn't any chemical that can be absorbed by the body, enter the blood stream, and be able to reach the source of the pain a drug? Click here to see how to properly use homeopathic remedies.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the popular spokesperson for a natural healing approach to health and wellness explains promoters of baltic amber teething necklaces claim that they stimulate the thyroid gland (to control drooling) and improve the ability of the immune system to reduce inflammation in the ears, throat, stomach, and respiratory system.

He asked Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., director of the fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and an authority on botanical medicine about amber teething necklaces. She told him that the use of these necklaces is not supported by modern science. She also noted she is not a huge fan of putting necklaces on infants due to the potential risk of choking any jewelry poses, including hazards from swallowing a bead if the necklace is broken.

What do you think? Have you ever used baltic amber teething necklaces? Did they work? Are they helpful or hype?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Reviews For Kids By Kids

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
Review by Camila 10-Years-Old

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning Thiefis a book about a boy named Percy Jackson. Percy doesn't study much because he has dyslexia and gets in a lot of trouble in school and gets kicked out of school. After getting expelled he has to go to boarding school.

Except for his dyslexia, he thinks he is perfectly normal. But, when his class goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art he accidentally vaporizes his pre-algebra teacher. The other kids don't even remember their teacher being there, but Percy's friend Grover begins to suspect something.

When Percy and his Mom go to the beach, there is a hurricane in which a monster tries to attack Percy but ends up killing his Mom.

Percy and his friend Grover go to a camp called Camp Half-Blood where Percy learns he is a half-blood, which means he is half Olympian God. He is a son of Poseidon.

At the camp he meets a daughter of Athena named Annabeth, and discovers that his Dad's brother, Zeus, suspects that Percy stole the Master Bolt -- a lighting bolt that is very powerful. But Percy is not the Lightning Thief. So, Percy must go on a quest with Annabeth and Grover to prove that he isn't the Lightning Thief.

All the other half-bloods all have dyslexia just like Percy. I think it shows that the kid that struggles isn’t a dumb kid and in fact can be really awesome.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Is it Okay to Use Leashes for Kids?

Are Child Harnesses Cute or Cruel?
In the past I've seen parents and caregivers use harnesses with their children in public. When used properly the harnesses are actually cute. When I've seen the harnesses used it never appeared as if the adult was walking the child like a dog. The harness was loose, the harness looks like a backpack , and both child and adult seem happy and fine. I thought it was a brilliant way to ensure a caregiver and child will not get separate in a busy public setting.

But, while picking up a nanny friend at the airport last week I saw a child harness being used in a terrible fashion. The parent was pulling the harness more like a leash.

If used properly I think harnesses can help ensure no separation of caregiver and child. Part of the benefit of using a child harness may be that it allows the caregiver to keep their hand free while still keeping children safe. But after seeing the insensitive use of a child harness as a leash at the airport I would have to say holding hands or simply using a stroller the more appropriate way to keep track of kids.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Beverly Hills Nannies" is as Real as it Gets

Nannies Expose Taboo Topics
 Like it or not, this is what nannies are talking about.

The first episode of Beverly Hills Nannies on ABC Family discussed all the most difficult topics nannies privately gossip about but are too afraid to discuss publicly in the fear that they would lose their jobs if their employers heard what they are saying.

Gossip is the name of the game in this show. While shopping in the same store on Rodeo Drive two nannies compare their current hourly rates and benefits, while the parents who employ them compare what duties their nannies were willing or not willing to do. This impromptu gossip sessions leaves nanny Justin feeling unappreciated because he is paid half the rate of other nannies in Beverly Hills. But, this trip to the store also exposes the fact that Justin is only doing half the work as the higher paid nannies.

Nanny Kristin proclaims she is the top nanny in Beverly Hills. Kristin gathers her best nanny friends to a party to announce she is opening an exclusive nanny agency. This party lends itself to another gossip session in which the caregivers swap horror stories about sexual harassment on the job and whether Kristin's best friend can cut it as an elite Beverly Hills nanny considering how much alcohol she drinks on her time-off.

Kristin confirms another taboo topic (age discrimination) when she announces that the nannies she's looking to refer to families are the ones we seated at the party -- those that are young and fun.

After discussing whether a father the nannies interviewed with was good looking or not, Kristin tells two of her blond bombshell nanny friends the reason they didn't get a nanny job they interviewed for was that their brunette friend, who was offered the job, wasn't as attractive as they are. Kristin explains to her blond friends that they are too good looking to get some nanny jobs because pretty caregivers are threatening to mothers who see attractive nannies as competition.

In the first episode we also learn that nannies don't want to be pet-sitters, or dog poop or duck poop picker-uppers and working for vegan families may be harder than some nannies can handle.

I can't believe they tackled all these taboo issues already in the first episode. Although I wouldn't recommend nannies compare fathers they work for to George Clooney or that they announce to friends that a child needs speech therapy, this reality show did show us what does happen in real life. Like it or not, nannies and the parents that employ them gossip and this is what they are talking about.

Why Nannies Should Not Walk Out on Their Job

Leaving a Job Professionally Ensures Good References
By Maria Lopez, Nanny, Miami FL

I have prided myself on being the best career nanny I could be for over a decade. I have a college degree, have worked for each family for a long time, and I have wonderful written references. But, I made one huge mistake, the biggest mistake I ever made as a nanny, by walking out on a nanny job.

Walking out on the job was a mistake because every agency owner and parent I interviewed with after walking out on the job asked me why I left my last job. Up until that time, I was offered most nanny jobs I interviewed for. But, after I walked out on a job without notice (no matter that I was mistreated and it was justified) the agencies wouldn't send me on interviews. The parents I interviewed with who asked why I left and found out I didn't give notice, didn't call back for second interviews.

One agency owner made a good point when she asked me, "If the job was so horrible why did you work there for nearly three-years?" She was right. I wasted nearly three-years, because I could have and should have had a glowing reference from the family, but instead I ruined that reference by getting angry and hurt and walking out without notice.

I actually had to accept a lower paying nanny job I found on a nanny web site, with an hour commute each way because I was desperate for a job.

I read an article on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter  web site by a nanny and founder of Nannypalooza, Sue Downey that explains that the lasting impression made by employees becomes the basis for reference checks for years to come. Nannies that leave families in an unprofessional manner will not be able to depend on glowing recommendations.

Instead of walking out on the job Sue Downey explains that the last days of a job are an opportunity for nannies to demonstrate to parents that they are deserving of great recommendations. This may be difficult to accomplish when a nanny feels angry and hurt. But, the employees last days and weeks are the memories parents remember most when giving job references.

When  giving your reasons for leaving keep the discussion as positive as possible. While it is fine to admit you need a higher salary or to work less hours, personal attacks will hurt your chances of getting a good reference. Make it clear what day will be your last day of work and ensure the parents that you will work just as hard the last days of employment as you have before you gave notice.

Obviously, if a nanny feels unsafe at a job or is being sexually harassed they should definitely walk out on the job. Otherwise, learn from my mistake. Stick it out until you find a better job, then quit in a professional manner allowing the parents a minimum of two-weeks (but typically a month in most nanny work agreements) to ensure you get a great reference from the parents.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Not to Include on Your Nanny Profile

10 Things That Aren't Appropriate for a Nanny Profile by NannyJobs.org

Although nanny web sites are a convenient way to apply for nanny jobs there are many safety concerns when using the Internet to find a job. You don't want to provide too much personal information online. Always remember that when using a nanny web site no one has pre-screened the parents posting jobs online. Click here to see more about safety concerns using nanny web sites.

Another concern when using nanny web sites are nanny scams. Click here for more information to protect yourself from nanny scams.

In the article, "10 Things That Aren't Appropriate for a Nanny Profile," found on the NannyJobs.org   the author lists some information that is better left out of your nanny profile until you are sure you want to work for a family.

Below are 10 things that aren’t appropriate for a nanny profile from the article found on NannyJobs.

Social Security Number – Although at some point you will need to provide this to your prospective employer, it should be left off your resume/profile. This is something that need only be shared when you’re reasonably certain that you’ve got the job.

Social Networking Profiles – Unless you use it for business purposes, it’s best to leave your Facebook profile off of your nanny profile. Separation of personal and business lives, as a rule of thumb, is the best approach when creating a resume or business profile, and you don’t want any non-work appropriate wall posts or pictures influencing your potential employer’s decision.

Photos From Inappropriate Settings – No one wants to see their prospective nanny getting down at Tootsie’s Roadhouse. As fun a night of dancing and revelry as it might have been for you, save that story for another time, audience, and venue.

Salary Requirements – You do need to have a good idea of what your requirements are, but it’s not necessarily a good idea to state them in your profile. There may be other compensation available to you in jobs that would not otherwise meet your criteria, which you could then miss out on by pricing yourself out of consideration.

Driving Record – Unless it’s clean and current, it isn’t a good idea to provide this information up front. A background check will be included in the hiring process anyway, and if there are some questionable transgressions you would be better off giving yourself a chance to explain them in an interview than potentially being flagged as someone who isn’t a safe driver and thus not an option.

Personal References – You can list former employers, teachers, and the likes as professional references if you choose. Family members are not considered objective references, for obvious reasons. Using your friends as references could raise a red flag with potential employers.

Unexplained Gaps In Employment History – Whatever the reason for periods of unemployment, they should be addressed accurately and honestly. Too often job seekers will fudge in areas like this, and almost as often it results in a disastrous effect.

Political Leanings – Regardless of how passionate you may feel about a topic, a candidate, or a cause, a resume or job profile is not the appropriate place to express it. Anything that isn’t specifically relevant to the job should be left out.

Derogatory Remarks About Previous Employers – No matter how badly your past work experience may have been for you, it’s deadly to refer to prior bosses in an unflattering light. No prospective employer wants to be faced with the prospect of being in that employer’s shoes one day.

Inaccurate Data – Your dates of employment, education, degrees and certifications should all be up-to-date and accurate. You don’t want to have to explain later, after a background check, why your profile contains false information.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Do Parents Prefer to Hire Younger or Older Nannies?

photo from aupair-grandmas.com
Is There Age Discrimination for Nannies Looking for Jobs?

Whether the age of a nanny candidate effects their chance of getting a nanny job is a topic I try to avoid because I abhor stereotypes of people of different ages in the workplace. But, recently a nanny friend did mention to me that I'm not getting any younger. She implied it will be harder for me to find great nanny jobs as I get older.

Although there's no doubt age discrimination exists, there are businesses that market au pairs and nannies that are at least 50-years-old. For example, a business Au Pair 50+ left a post on our newsletter Facebook page explaining that older caregivers have vital experience handling children and households and have the maturity, patience, and understanding that young people have not yet acquired. The fact that many parents want to hire experienced caregivers may explain the success of a company called Rent-A-Grandma that only places carefully screened caregivers 50-years-old and up.

It appears some parents might see a younger nanny as more energetic or athletic and able to keep up with high energy children. In contrast, the older nanny may be seen as an expert, mature, and patient.

It is unfair to assume a younger job candidate isn't experienced enough to be a great nanny. Many college students working to earn an Early Childhood Education degree, and those having just graduated with degrees in education, child development, or psychology make great nanny job candidates due to their proven dedication and interest in the field of child care. Job seekers with a lot of babysitting experience can often transition easily into the role of being a nanny. The young, single, unattached caregiver is typically more available for live-in nanny positions than caregivers that are married with children of their own. Some parents may prefer the lower salary expectations from young workers who are just starting out. Plus, successful young nannies with great attitudes, that are willing to learn and be directed by the parents can be excellent in-home caregivers.

It is also unfair to assume simply because a caregiver is a Grandmother she hasn't the energy to keep up with active kids. Clearly with experience comes maturity, confidence, and patience. Caregivers that have raised their own kids also have plenty of other household skills including cooking, organizing, and keeping a tidy home. Many mature caregivers can accomplish all of this without being overwhelmed or burnt-out and are willing to make a long-term commitment that young nannies often cannot make. If the parents are looking for an expert nanny experienced with newborns (such as a newborn care specialist, a night nanny, a nanny nurse), or to care for a child with a special need, along with the expert experience, comes an older caregiver.

Do you think age really matters when parents are hiring a nanny?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Products Nannies Love for Baby Sun Protection

BabyBjorn Sun Cover for Baby

The American Academy of Pediatric and the American Academy of Pediatric Dermatology recommends keeping infants out of the sun as much as possible.

Most of the sunscreens found commonly in stores contain chemicals which are absorbed by baby’s skin. Therefore it’s important to use a sunscreen that does not have chemicals on babies. Safe sunscreens that do not contain these chemicals and the ones are recommended for babies under and older than six-months are Blue Lizard Sunscreen, California Baby Sunscreen Lotion,and Neutrogena Baby Sunblock Stick.Also diaper creams with zinc oxide or zinc oxide itself can be used as a sunscreen. Babies can have allergic reactions to sunscreens so you need to use very sparingly on babies under six-months and watch for allergic skin reactions such as redness or a rash after placing sunscreen.

When outside you should keep baby in the shade as much as possible. Keep the baby under a tree where there is shade or under an umbrella. Have the baby wear a wide brimmed hat, which also covers and protects the back of the neck, baby sunglasses, and clothing with UV protection too.

The BABYBJĂ–RN Sun Cover for Baby Carrierprovides excellent sun protection for a child’s sensitive skin. The light fabric of the BabyBjorn Sun Cover is breathable, but still provides good wind protection. The sun cover also features a protective, detachable hood. It can be used both when you carry the child facing you or facing forward. You can even lift the child out of the baby carrier without taking the sun cover off.

The sun cover has ultraviolet protection factor UPF 40 and blocks out 97% of all harmful UV radiation. UPF is the global rating system for sun protective clothing.

Made from thin textiles with mesh openings in the hood for ventilation and is machine washable.

You can use the sun cover both when carrying your child facing you or facing forward. The hood is detachable and can be used separately.