Sunday, June 30, 2013

Visual Aids for Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Sensory Fan by ASD Visual Aids
Product Review Sunday

It is well known that visual symbols improve communication for children with social communication difficulties. Using visual cards support communication for children and young people with communication difficulties such as Autism. Research has shown that many children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder are able to process visual tools more effectively than the spoken word.

ASD Visual Aids is one of our favorite companies that make products to help children with communication difficulties. ASD Visual Aids asks us to think about how we all rely on our own visual aids such as lists, diaries, calendars, and sticky notes to begin to understand how visual can become for people with social communication difficulties.

To make life easier for parents and caregivers ASD Visual Aids has designed products which include ‘Visual Symbols’ and stories to help in social situations. They have timetable boards, key chains, stress balls, stickers, traffic lights, along with other communication tools.

The pictures are durable and transfer to a variety of settings. They are a short cut to effective, functional communication and will keep problems small. They help to clarify social situations and teach social skills like waiting my turn, eye contact, not calling out, or asking for help.

The use of visual strategies can build a bridge toward effective communication. Visual strategies can provide the support necessary for youngsters to develop appropriate skills for effective participation in life activities.

Below are some other great products for nannies and families to use with children with communication difficulties:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What to Read to Kids About the 4th of July

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Next week American's celebrate their Independence from Great Britain on the 4th of July. Independence Day is commonly celebrated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, concerts, political speeches and ceremonies celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Get the kids in your care in the mood for the holiday by borrowing the books listed below from the library. Also click here to see more children's books about Independence Day. You can purchase any of the books simply by clicking on the image of the cover or title of the books listed below.

Apple Pie Fourth of July
By Janet S. Wong

A Chinese-American girl helps her parents open their small neighborhood grocery store every day of the year. However, today is the Fourth of July and her parents just don't understand that customers won't be ordering chow mein and sweet-and-sour pork on this very American holiday. As she spends the day working in the store and watching the local parade, she can't shake her anxiety about her parents' naivity. When evening arrives along with hungry customers looking "for some Chinese food to go," she is surprised but obviously proud that her parents were right after all: Americans do eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July. Nighttime finds the family atop their roof enjoying fireworks and sharing a neighbor's apple pie.

Hooray for the Fourth of July
By Wendy Watson

Author and illustrator Wendy Watson celebrates Independence Day in America with this cheerful book for preschoolers and early readers. Tracking a family through their summer holiday, Watson begins, "Crack! Pop! Snap! Wake up, everybody--today is the Fourth of July. It's America's birthday!" The next pages proclaim, "Everything is red, white, and blue, even breakfast," and the lively illustration's accompanying verse reads, "Strawberry, blueberry, cream of tartum, tell me the initials of your sweetheartum!" Young children will enjoy the silly, often quirky traditional poems and songs, as well as the colorful, cartoonish depictions of a small-town family's Fourth of July romp.

The Case of the July 4th Jinx
By Lewis B. Montgomery

It's the Fourth of July fair! There are fireworks, parades, pies, games . . . and a jinx? When everything starts going wrong, Milo and Jazz must find out: is it really a jinx--or is it sabotage? With the help of their pen pal, private eye Dash Marlowe, the main characters of the book, Milo and Jazz, discover why everything seems to be going wrong at the 4th of July fair. The story is simple, and children will enjoy solving the mystery. Black-and-white spot art appears frequently throughout, creating a text that will not intimidate children just starting to read chapter books.

Hooray for the 4th of July:
By Rick Brown

Whoopee—it’s a 4th of July parade! Kids will happily join the celebration as marching feet keep the beat, big brass bands pass the stands, and decorated floats roll along. Rick Brown’s art makes everything look grand, from the fife and drum players to the flags flying high.

For more children's books about independence day click here.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Process of Creating is More Important Than the End Result

Separate Paint in Egg Cartons
Children and Art
Excerpt from The Child Care Textbook by Anne Merchant Geissler

Nannies must keep in mind one principle when planning activities for children. Regardless of the activity, the process of creating is more important than the end result.

When children are allowed to be creative they learn to become problem solvers as they mature, later in business, and in their personal relationships.

Searching for other ways to do things and feeling confident enough to explore those possibilities are characteristics that take root in childhood when children are encouraged to use their creative genius.

The child that is cared for by adults who nurture the creative process stands a much better chance of success than the child who approaches each creative endeavor with a specific outcome in mind.

It is part of the creative process to make allowances, to encourage the absurd, the unusual, and the ridiculous. It is perfectly appropriate to draw lips on ducks if that is what the child wants to do. However, often adults will inhibit the child by saying something like, "You know that ducks don't have lips."

When children are drawing, adults should not confuse the “process” of creating with science. It is important to note that science has made great strides via individuals who were creative and open to all possibilities.

In any creative endeavor adults should refrain from imposing structure and allow the child's imagination to determine their creative limits. When we do this we are honoring the part of the child that is patient, industrious, colorful, able to maintain concentration, confident, and spontaneous.

When we honor the process, we are looking at the effort the child expends, which determines satisfaction more than the end result could ever command. It is in the process of creating that children learn vital skills.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Ice Eggs

Wednesdays with Whitney

Do you see any hot, blistering days coming up on the calendar? Prepare for them with this easy activity which will keep the kids busily entertained both today AND on your sweltering hot day!

 Eggs
 Push pin
 Water
 Small objects (Lego people work great for this!)
 Food dye (optional)


1. Start by hollowing out your eggs. To do this, prick your eggs with a push pin and then gently widen the hole until it’s about the width of your thumb. Now let the little ones shake out the insides until the egg is completely empty – they’ll love watching the gooey stuff come out and it gives you a great opportunity to teach them about the anatomy of an egg!

2. Once your eggs are hollowed out, be sure to rinse them out thoroughly.

3. Next have the kids slip their favorite small toys into the eggs through the hole.

4. Now just fill the eggs with water and place them in the freezer until your hot day arrives. Ask the kids what they think will happen to the water. What about the eggshells?

5. On your hot day, break out the eggs and examine them. Explain why water freezes and explain why the ice expanded to crack the shell.

6. Finally, let your kids go at their eggs in any way, shape, or form they want in order to get their toys out. They can let them melt, take a toy hammer to them, or even slam them on the sidewalk!

Reference: This project and photos  are by Whitney Tang compliments of her mother who used to do this project with her when she was a child. Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for another fun project by Whitney and to check out Nanny Magazine at Take her survey for nannies at

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nanny confessions: Why I love Working with Children

What Do You Love About Working with Kids?

I love working as a nanny because my office is the kitchen, playroom, pool, and playground. I love working as a nanny because I appreciate living-in-the-moment when caring for kids. For me, there is simply nothing better than knowing I am making a positive influence in the lives of the children in my care.

The very best part of working as a nanny is the kids. I love a newborn’s innocence, vulnerability, and sweetness. I love the way their fingers and toes curl around my fingers. Infants are cuddly and warm and have that powdery baby smell. There is no better feeling than hugging and rocking a warm infant that is full of love.

I love a toddler’s wide-eyed curiosity to learn. I love when they mispronounce words and common phrases, that they celebrate every milestone with enthusiasm, and just praising them makes them feel so good about themselves. I love how the most basic items (like a leaf, twig, water, or a cup) can become a toy that brings great joy.

Even through the boogers, bloody knees, and temper tantrums I appreciate kids' complete honesty. I love that little kids don’t hide their true feelings.Through the bad manners and angry outbursts I am proud that I know how to be patient and handle children's little imperfections. 

And as kids age (and talk-back more and become more manipulative) I still enjoy helping them with homework and helping them gain confidence and develop a high self-esteem. I find much joy in creating a loving, nurturing, happy environment for children of all ages left in my care.

Perhaps the best part of working with children is that I have gained more than I have given to the children in my care. Over the years children have taught me patience, compassion, unconditional love, and joy. 

Why do you love working as a nanny? What ages of children do like to care for the most?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Nannies Don't Want to be Caught in the Middle

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents: Do Not Take Sides with Either Parent

Nannies don’t want to be put into the uncomfortable position of having to listen to deeply to personal details of her bosses’ lives.

Some parents make sarcastic comments about their spouses to their nannies, putting employees in a terrible position. During marriage disputes, separations, or divorces, nannies don’t want to feel caught in the middle.

Sometimes nannies get caught in the middle because a parent doesn’t want to, or doesn’t know how to, handle a conflict with their spouse so they voice their frustrations to their nannies. But, the awkward negativity wears heavily on employees.

It is also terribly difficult for nannies to get different instructions from each parent. To help prevent this, parents should discuss their nanny’s schedule and job together before discussing the nanny’s schedule or job duties with her each week. When parents spend a few minutes each week to ensure they are both on the same page it helps reduce confusion and frustration for nannies. Another way to reduce confusion is for nannies to send all emails and texts about their jobs to both parents to make sure both parents know what the other is discussing with their employees.

When nannies feel stuck in the middle of marital disputes, or when parents make nasty comments about their partner to their nannies, the caregivers should speak up. It’s always scary to discuss issues with employers but nannies should ask themselves what is the best thing and worst thing that could happen if they speak up? Just privately telling the offensive parent quietly that when they make nasty comments about their spouse it makes them feel awkward is an honest and appropriate to try to stop feeling stuck in the middle.

Once nannies respectfully explain to the parents that they don't want to be put in the middle any more, parents will typically stop making as many awkward comments. Speaking up also helps parents understand that they need to work to be on the same page when giving nannies instructions.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How to Use Ziplocs When Traveling with Kids

What are Your Favorite Ways to Use Zipper Storage Bags?

I love using Ziploc bags when traveling with kids. I use a variety of sizes of zipper storage bags to fit all the children's traveling needs. I put an entire outfit for an infant or toddler in gallon-sized Ziploc bags, while I use small snack-sized bags for carrying small jewelry, and I use Ziploc Brand Big Bag with the Double Zipper Seals for carrying wet suits and wet towels. Here are just a few ways I use Ziploc bags when traveling with kids. What are your favorite ways to use zipper storage bags?

To see the entire article please visit our new blog at:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Malibu Nanny: Adventures of the Former Kardashian Nanny

Review of Malibu Nanny by Pam Behan

I typically avoid tell-all books thinking that the authors are trying to capitalize on the celebrity or popularity of others. Surprisingly, most of the book Malibu Nanny, written by Pam Behan the former nanny of the Linda Jenner, Kris Kardashian and Bruce Jenner, doesn’t bash the large celebrity family.

The author describes caring for Linda Jenner and Bruce Jenner’s sons, Brandon and Brody Jenner for three-years. Then, when Bruce Jenner married Kris Kardashian, the author becomes the nanny to the four Kardashian kids -- Kourtney (12-years-old), Kim (10-years-old), Khloe (six-years-old), and Robert (four-years-old).

The nanny has a positive experience working for Linda Jenner and Bruce Jenner. She boasts about her friendship with Bruce Jenner and compliments as a great role model and father.

She also describes the perks of working for Kris Kardashian and Bruce Jenner. She loves traveling with the family on yachts and to Mexico, trips that she could never personally afford.

The author also shares feelings many nannies can relate to. Nannies often feel lonely living-in their employer’s home, they feel like they do not have a social life of their own, they feel like they lose a bit of their identity, and often feel consumed by the job. The author also expresses that there were not enough professional boundaries and feeling like she was working 24/7.

The nanny describes Kris Kardashian as a less-than-perfect employer. Kris didn’t compliment her nanny, but the mother was not mean either. Pam Behan describes Kris Kardashian as having high standards for herself, family, and employees – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I personally prefer working for a mother that is honest about her needs and wants and doesn’t play games, in the way that Kris Kardashian Jenner is described in the book, (and we see on her television show Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Unfortunately, at the end of the book the former nanny makes assumptions about the family that she no longer knows well. She comments on Kim’s short marriage to Kris Humphries and about the unfounded rumors about Robert Kardashian not being Khloe’s biological father.

The former nanny should not have included her opinion about the grown women she cared for 20-years ago. She no longer has a close relationship with the girls, she wasn’t invited to Kim’s wedding, and she never met Kris Humphries. Yet, she shares her opinion on the topic which I would have preferred she not include in the book.

The night I finished reading Malibu Nanny I watched the Keeping up with the Kardashians television show. In that show Brody Jenner confronts his father Bruce Jenner as being an absentee father that didn’t even bother calling to wish his son a Happy Birthday. His sentiments shared on the show contradict Pam Behan's view of Bruce Jenner. The nanny and author greatly admires and appreciates her friendship with Bruce Jenner and describes him as a great father, while Brody doesn't share her opinion. Keeping Up with the Kardashians also shared that the rumors about Khloe’s paternity aren’t true.

Malibu Nanny is a quick read, making it a good summer book to read. The bulk of the book is insightful. The nanny expresses the same feelings most nannies experience and she respected the family, parents, and children in her care. I am pleased that she doesn’t bash the family but would have preferred the book ended when her nanny job ended.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Save Time Taking Inventory: Making a Grocery List

It is typically a nanny’s responsibility to help keep an ongoing inventory list of all the food and hygiene items her employer’s family needs. The trick is to save time by having the list in the order you normally shop in at your favorite store. Bring a pen and a notepad with you to the grocery store and write down the names of all of the aisles and departments in the store. List them in the order in which you shop.

Later, make a shopping list using a computer. Place the name of the aisle or department at the top of each section and then list the favorite foods and items the family usually needs in each aisle. For example under the heading, Dairy, you might type blueberry yogurt and skim milk.

Leave space under each aisle title to write in other items you might need. Shopping with a list that is customized to your store ensures a more efficient grocery shopping trip.

A great place to keep it is on the side of the fridge. Use a pencil so you can erase items when they are bought.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kid Friendly Organizing
"After the verb 'To Love,' 'To Help' is the most beautiful verb in the world." -- Bertha Von Suttner

An attitude of helpfulness creates a feeling of togetherness within the family as everyone works toward common goals. Encourage the child's creativity by enlisting their help for novel solutions for storage and cleaning up their messes.

Cleaning Game:
You will be amazed how fast you can tidy a house when the children help you pick up a room at a time. Each person will love doing their part. Make if fun by hiding a few pieces of candy before you start. Every once in a while blow a whistle, ring a bell, or simply announce “treat time!” Then the kids can look for the treats and enjoy them together. (Ellison p. 182)

Clean as You Go:
Allow children to only play with three toys, then it's time to put them away before dragging out another one. This rule works well with puzzles, books, and other toys. If you start young, they will clean as they go as a normal habit and be more willing to help clean up on playdates and at school as well.

Storing Artwork:
Hang a clothesline on which you can clip a child’s artwork. Ask the local pizza place for a couple of clean pizza boxes that the children can use for storing artwork under their beds. We made this Art Portfolio with a large piece of poster board.

Using Photos for Labels:
Buy clear tubs to store toys and stuffed animals. The clear tubs make it easier to see what is inside the container. Label the tubs with pictures for younger children that cannot read words yet. Get creative and let the kids help you label the boxes with photos or magazine clippings of the items. Cut out the picture of a toy from the box it came in and tape the picture of the toy to the spot where it belongs on toy shelves. Tape pictures or photos of what belongs in each dresser drawer to the front of each drawer. As children begin to read replace pictures. (see above left)

Place Lower for Kids:
Place the children’s favorite foods within easy reach in the fridge and in the pantry by
storing them on low shelves. Have coat hooks and closet rods at kid height.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Igloos

Wednesdays with Whitney

The best part about summer by far is the warm weather, allowing us to spend oodles of time outside with the kiddos. However, the worst part about summer is also the warm weather! In some places, the temperatures can reach up to the 100’s on a daily basis. Definitely NOT the type of weather you want to be in with the kids. Break up the summer heat with this fun “winter” activity!

  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Glue, Frosting, Peanut Butter


1. Start by having the kids spread a thin layer of glue on a piece of paper.

2. Now let them start stacking the marshmallows to create an igloo. Begin with one layer curved like a “U” then build on top of that.

3. Once the igloo is tall enough, start angling the layers towards the middle – you’ll need extra glue for this.

4. Don’t forget the door!

5. If you want to really make this a summer treat, create an edible igloo by using frosting or peanut butter instead of glue!

Reference: The project and photos by Whitney Tang. Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for another fun project by Whitney and to check out her new venture Nanny Magazine at Take her survey for nannies at

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The “Perfect Fit” Means Something Different for Everybody

Nanny Confessions: Nannies Can’t Tell Me How to Do My Job

Nanny jobs vary tremendously. The reasons people choose to work as nannies vary tremendously.

Just as all families that hire nannies have different needs, so do nannies. Some nannies don’t want to help do dishes, laundry, or run errands for the parents. Other nannies gladly work as housekeepers or personal assistants along with caring for the kids.

No one has the right to tell another person they should or should not leave a nanny job (or any job). Yet, nannies attack one another on social media judging others on their choices to accept or not to accept specific job duties and salaries.

Nannies should mentor one another and give advice on handling tricky situations when asked, but not judge one another for making different choices than they would personally accept.

Finding the “perfect fit” means something different for everybody. So, nannies shouldn't criticize or judge others for accepting different job terms than they would.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Treat Your Boss’s Home Better Then Your Own

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents

Plenty of live-out nannies leave for their jobs each morning without making their beds or washing all the dirty dishes in their kitchen sinks. But, at work, they have higher standards and nannies make beds and clean up dishes at work. While nannies might not make their own children put toys away in their own homes, they always put toys away at their employers’ home.

Live-in nannies are expected to keep their bedrooms clean and tidy to the parent’s standards, since they are living in their employer’s home.

All nannies know a normal part of their job is cleaning up after kids and keeping the kids’ living spaces organized, neat, and hygienic. But, not all nannies realize how important it is for them to help keep the parents’ areas of the house neat as well. Since the parents are paying nannies, making the parents’ beds and making sure the kitchen is clean before the parents come home from work is not too much for nanny employers to ask.

Nannies are hired to help the children and the parents. It’s not just about the kids, because if the parents are happy, nannies keep their jobs. If the parents are not happy, nannies lose jobs. When nannies don't help the parents, nannies don’t get raises or have job longevity.

Nannies should expect to do light housekeeping. Nannies need to keep their employer’s home cleaner than their own house, because that is their work environment. Nannies are paid to help the parents, as well as the kids left in their care.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sun Protection Clothing

Products Nannies Love

Did you know that you can burn through a cotton t-shirt? Did you know that not only do sunburns put you at a greater chance of skin cancer, but a tan puts you at a risk for skin cancer too?

When choosing SPF clothing look for the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) on the label:

Good UV Protection-UPF 15 to 24
Very Good UV Protection-UPF 25 to 39
Excellent UV Protection-UPF40 to 50+

To see entire article please visit our new site at:

Friday, June 14, 2013

What to Do with Kids for Flag Day

What Are You Doing for Flag Day?

Flag Day recognizes the June day in 1777 when the "Stars and Stripes" was adopted as the official flag of the United States.

To this day, 13 stripes still commemorate the original colonies. Instead of thirteen stars, today the number of stars on the US flag has grown to 50, representing every state in the Union.

See photo above. Fold red construction paper into seven strips accordion style. Have the kids follow the fold lines and cut out seven red strips of red construction paper. Have them use a glue stick to attach the red stripes evenly to white construction paper to make six white stripes. We folded blue construction paper into four sections then made one quarter of the blue paper into a square and had the kids glue the blue square on the upper left corner of the flag. We cut out little white triangles to resemble stars and had kids glue the stars to the blue square.

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

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

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

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

Click here to see how to make the Flag Jell-O mold in photo to the right.

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

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

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

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Using Time Blocks to Plan Your Day

How Nannies Should Schedule the Children's Day

When working as a nanny with small children try using time blocks to plan the day. To use time blocks rather than following a strict time table with toddlers, schedule the same activity following the one before, in the same order daily. For example, if lunch is followed by a nap, then it must follow that schedule each day.

Children need to know what comes next. This helps them feel more secure. They develop trust in the adults who care for them. They also feel empowered. They feel they have some control over their lives. They like knowing the order of events during the day. Slowly, young children will begin to get a sense of time as they become familiar with what comes first, second, third, and last.

Time blocks also help to make your day calmer, while ensuring you meet your goals. You can spend time working with children for whom you’ve made special plans within a time block.

Babies and toddlers often create their own schedules — you feed them, change their diapers, and let them sleep when they want to. But preschoolers need structured days.

Below are a few suggestions to help you plan your day. Always post the schedule with photos, cut outs, or drawings so the children can understand to help them feel confident
and comfortable all day.

Tips to Help Plan Your Day

1. Always allow more time for activities than you think you will need.
2. Know the children so well that you can predict how they will react during various parts of the day.
3. Keep your schedule balanced with active/quiet, indoors/outdoors, free choice/adult directed activities.
4. Allow plenty of time for coming and going.
5. Plan for transition times between activities such as cleaning up or calming down before resting.
6. Allow plenty of time for meals and snacks.

Source: By Kathy Fagella, Everyday TLC, 2004.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Journal

Wednesdays with Whitney

Now that school is letting out the kids have the whole summer ahead of them to run through sprinklers, hunt for fairies, and drip delicious popsicles all over the newly painted patio!  Summer is a wonderful time to lose track of…well, time. However, when the summer comes to a close you want the little ones to remember all the fun things they did. Try starting their summer memories off right by creating a colorful summer journal for them to use and record their fun summer days’ activities with!

·        Notebook
·        Crayons
·        Camera


1. Start the hype over the summer journal early on by letting the kids pick out their own notebooks. Let each notebook speak to each child’s personality; perhaps fairies for the dreamer and paint splotches for the artist!

2. Next, make sure each child writes his/her name in the front of their journal – we don’t want memories getting lost or traded throughout the next few months!

3.  Be sure to label the days on each page for the little ones to both keep track of days and to sneak a few extra lessons in there (days of the week and months in the year).

4. Finally, let your charges draw away on each page at the end of the day. If your charges are older, ask them to write out what they did in addition to the pictures to keep their spelling skills up to snuff over Summer Break. If your charges are younger, feel free to draw the pictures for them but be sure to let them have full control over what you are drawing so they can remember the summer as they saw it.

5. Optional Bonus: Have the kids add pictures to their journals! The world is so digital and visual these days; most kids know how to use iPhones and tablets better than their nannies. So let them put those skills to good use by documenting their summer digitally. Add an educational twist by having them look for letters or numbers in nature!

Source: Whitney decided to start keeping a journal with her charge when she realized that the little one couldn’t remember all the fun they had had their previous summer together. It has been a staple ever since! 

Check out Whitney's new venture at  Stop by next Wednesday for another fun project by Whitney!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Keep Your Ego in Check

Work Relationships Require Compromise
Do you know nannies making less money now than they did years ago? Do you know arrogant nannies that think they know more than the parents that hire them?

Parents like hiring confident nannies but no one likes egotistical employees. Despite many years of experience and education that nannies may have, the parents are still the boss and they make the decisions on how to raise their children.

Ego comes into play when caregivers are looking for nanny jobs as well. Nannies should set realistic expectations about what they will earn and the services they can provide. If the area where the nanny is looking for a job is hard-hit by a struggling economy, they may need to keep their egos in check and understand that they may not command the salary and benefits they did a few years ago. Nannies should also realize that having to compromise on their salary or job description is not a personal reflection on their abilities. They are not alone. Many workers are facing the same harsh reality.

All relationships require compromise, including work relationships. When parents cannot give nannies a raise or the exact hourly rate they want, nannies should try to be creative in the ways to find benefits or perks of value. Nannies need to figure out what they need and what is negotiable and be willing to compromise to create a salary and benefits package both the employer and employee are happy about. Extra vacation time-off during the work year, personal use of the family’s car, or separate living accommodations (such as living in a guest house or carriage house) are great examples of ways to make nannies happy by providing perks of monetary value, without making employers dish-out more money.

Do you know arrogant nannies that think they know more than the parents that hire them? Do you know nannies making less money now than they did years ago?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Respecting a Nanny's Time-Off

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents

When caregivers live under the same roof as the family that employs them children and parents often unintentionally forget to respect their nanny’s time-off. It is common for children to want to play with their caregiver on the weekends. Parents often rationalize since their employee is home anyway they can just run to the grocery store really quickly. Many families may go away during the weekend but ask their nanny to care for their pets on while they aren’t home, despite it being their employee’s time-off.

It’s important for parents to not make it a habit to consistently text, email, or call live-in or live-out nanny on their time-off. Most communication can wait until Monday morning.

How to bring up this topic with the parents:

Begin with something positive
Tell the parents that you love working for them and love their children. You want to help out their family whenever you can.

Focus on positive results
Explain that to do your best work caring for the kids during the work week, you need rest on the weekend. If you can have two full days off each week, you are always excited to work on Monday mornings.

Be patient
Allow the parents to speak without interruption. Listen to what each person has to say with an open mind. Let go of judgmental thoughts. This allows each person to express their feelings freely and comfortably.

Be empathetic
Acknowledge each other’s feelings and concerns. You might say, “I know you and your kids would never intentionally intrude on my personal space or time-off.”

Talk honestly about your feelings and concerns
You could say, “I work really hard during the week and am tired on my weekends. I need to rest on my time-off. I need the kids to respect my private space and time-off. I don’t feel as if I get time to rest when I am responsible for caring for the pets on the weekends. To feel rested and ready to work Monday mornings I need some time-off to recharge my batteries by not having to play with the kids, walk the dog, or babysit while you run an errand on my time-off.”

Develop an inquiring attitude
Ask the parents, “What do you think I should tell the children to help them understand to respect my private space and time-off instead of coming into my room on my time-off?

Use “I” statements
“I hope the kids can learn to respect my time-off as my private time so I can rest on the weekends.” Or, “I am exhausted on the weekends, so I would love it if you could hire a pet sitter on the weekends to care for your pets when I have time-off.” Or, “I am so tired on the weekends and need to rest, I’d like to recommend hiring a part-time babysitter to help you care for the kids on my time-off.”

Paraphrase and use expanders
Say, “I understand, you would never try to take advantage of me or not respect my time-off.”

End on a positive note
Always end conversations with parents by thanking them for their time and effort for participating in the communication process. You might say, “Thank you so much for listening to me and willingness to teach the kids to respect my private space and time-off. I really appreciate that you are going to look into hiring a pet sitter and hiring a college student to babysit on my time-off.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Nannies Love Using Kumon Books

Product Review Sunday

Boost your charges' brain power over the summer with Kumon books. Kumon books facilitate learning of basic skills and concepts without frustration. Once children start holding a pencil they can start using Kumon workbooks even as young as two-years-old.

Kumon's research has found that children learn more easily when they tackle one skill at a time. That's why Kumon Focus Workbooks focus on one topic per book and help children improve these essential skills and gain confidence in their abilities. Each workbook utilizes the Kumon Method — a step-by step, incremental approach that helps children learn at their own pace, and without anxiety. By rigorously practicing each skill, children will be proficient in the math that is crucial for future learning.

The First Steps Workbooks
The First Steps series is designed for young children, aged two and up, who have never used a workbook before. The colorful and easy exercises in each First Steps workbook provide toddlers with the opportunity to become comfortable with the tools that are essential in every school—scissors, glue, pencils and crayons. These workbooks also teach the motor skills and problem-solving abilities that are a child's First Steps towards success.

Kumon Summer Review & Prep Workbooks
Kumon Summer Review & Prep Workbooks are designed to help school-aged children retain the skills they have learned and get a jump start on new lessons. Each colorful workbook is a complete program aligned to state reading and math educational standards. Each book also includes a recommended reading list, an educational poster, a calendar so children can chart their progress, stickers, and a certificate of achievement. Kumon workbooks go beyond review and offer fun activities that help children get comfortable with the concepts they will encounter in the next grade.

Kumon Focus Workbooks
Kumon's research has found that children learn more easily when they tackle one skill at a time. That's why Kumon Focus Workbooks shine a spotlight on one challenging math topic per book and help children improve these essential skills and gain confidence in their abilities. Each workbook utilizes the Kumon Method — a step-by step, incremental approach that helps children learn at their own pace, and without anxiety. By rigorously practicing each skill, your child will be proficient in the math that is crucial for future learning.

Kumon Speed & Accuracy Workbooks
In our fast-paced world, precision and speed are valuable qualities. Kumon Speed & Accuracy Math Workbooks give children the competitive edge they need for school and beyond. On each page, children time their progress, so they can see their skills and speed improve.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Activities to do After Reading "Harold and the Purple Crayon"

Weekly Trip to the Library

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a timeless classic that has delighted readers of all ages for over 50-years. In the book, Harold goes on a moonlight walk and draws himself a landscape of wonder and excitement with an over sized purple crayon.

Like Harold in the book, all children begin to express themselves by using lines. All children need to be provided with many experiences and opportunities to use lines to express their feelings and help them define their world.

After reading Harold and the Purple Crayon do the following activities:

Draw Lines with a Purple Crayon
Read Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and then have the child draw lines on a piece of paper with a purple crayon.

Line Dropping
Using strips of construction paper have the child drop “lines” onto white paper. First paint glue onto white paper and put on the floor. Allow children to stand above the paper and drop the “lines” from different standing positions.

Tape and Color
Let children place clear sections of scotch tape (lines) in random places on their paper. Younger children may need help with this step and place the tape for them. Have the children apply watercolors over the paper and the tape, rinsing the brush between colors. Then repeat this process by using rubber cement that cam be rubbed away later.

Reference: Art for the Very Young by Elizabeth Kelly and Joanne McConville

Friday, June 7, 2013

Easy Banana "Cupcakes"

Cooking With Kids

Call anything a "cupcake" and my three-year-old charge will eat it. Instead of throwing out a few over ripe bananas, use the extra sweet fruit to make banana muffins. Over ripe bananas are extra sweet so there is no need to add much sugar to our simple banana muffin recipe below. Just make the muffins in cupcake liners and the kids will be excited to make, eat, and share their banana cupcakes.

You Will Need:

1/2 Cup Butter (softened, don't use microwave to soften butter)
1 Cup Banana, mashed (about two bananas)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg, beaten 
1-1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt


Mix all of the ingredients.
Fill each muffin tin until half full.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

What is the Hardest Topic to Discuss with the Children?

"Where Do Babies Come From" isn't the Most Difficult Question for Nannies to Answer

When I first became a nanny I thought the most difficult question a child could ask me was, "Where do babies come from?" But, after working as a nanny for 20-years I realize that telling the kids about the birds and the bees is one of the easier topics to discuss with the children left in my care. Before I even start a new nanny job I always ask the parents how they would like me to answer the question if their children ask me how babies are made. I respect their decision.

We asked 775 nannies what is the most difficult topic to discuss with children. Only 18-percent of the caregivers that participated in our survey answered it is very difficult to discuss where babies come from with children.

Of those who participated in the poll 96-percent answered the easiest topic to discuss with kids is manners and the most difficult topics to discuss with their charges is gay couples and families, followed by God and religion.

In the chart above we list the most common results from nannies that took our survey. But, survey participants included other topics as well.

For example, Beth, a nanny in Los Angeles, CA explained, "I do my best to be a good representative of the parents and their family values. One subject I had difficulty discussing was suicide. I tried to change the subject and then called the children's parents to give them a heads-up so they could have further discussions with the kids."

Debra, a nanny in Milwaukee, WI answered, "We are having issues with the eight-year-old boy I watch having night terrors."

Katherine, a nanny from Munich, Germany said, "Once I had to explain some abortion protesters to some upset kids who had just seen signs about decapitated babies."

What has been the most difficult topic for you to discuss with the kids in your care?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Making a Birthday Book of Knowledge

Wednesdays with Whitney: Celebrating Knowledge

In their book Playwise Denise Chapman Weston and Mark S. Weston explain that children have a natural appetite for information and that their caregivers must nurture their curiosity in order for them to enjoy acquiring knowledge.

After reading their book it is clear that nannies help parents prepare the ground for a fertile learning environment. A child’s knowledge blossoms when there is an open and a non-critical learning atmosphere in their home. In this setting, a child feels good about learning and they become individuals who remain active knowledge seekers.

Nannies should celebrate the knowledge the children in their care acquire. With knowledge children can make better decisions. Knowledge allows children to ask questions and challenge information that doesn’t make sense or feels wrong. With knowledge children know the joy of feeling the pieces click into place — that moment of awareness when they say, “Aha! I get it!”

Making a "Birthday Book of Knowledge" is a great way for nannies and children to celebrate the knowledge the children have acquired each year. In preparation for a child’s birthday, nannies should record all the things he has learned over the past year in a large notebook.

Caregivers should include practical information (how to make peanut butter sandwich), academic acheivments, sports skills, and more. Nannies can treat the book like a journal and date each entry or they can sit down with the child and recall the physical feats, intellectual growth, and bits of knowledge the child acquired since his last birthday together.

You can also add information throughout the year. But then, tuck it away and don't read the entire book until the following year. On each birthday present the new book and read the old ones. When the child flips back through the books he will be proud to have a concrete symbol of his vast knowledge.

Stop by our new address next week for more fun projects by Whitney.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How Have You Helped the Parents Out When Not Expected?

Nanny Confessions: Random Acts of Kindness Go a Long Way in Maintaining Nanny and Parent Relationships

Anne Merchant Geissler, author of The Child Care Textbookexplains that random acts of kindness in a nanny and parent relationship are essential in maintaining a great working relationship.

From letting an employee have paid time-off when not expected, to saying “thank you,” or giving the nanny a monetary gift by replacing tires on their car, or giving them plane tickets and hotel accommodations for a vacation, nannies don’t forget the nice things the parents that hired them provide.

We all know how hard it can be to run a home filled with children. That’s why parents often appreciate random acts of kindness from their nannies as well. Nannies can show their appreciation by pitching-in once in a while to help the parents in ways that might not be included in their work agreement. Running an extra errand, staying late once in a while or during an emergency, or filling-in to help a parent out when they can’t make an appointment makes nannies indispensable in their employers’ eyes.

What random acts of kindness do you show your employers? How have you helped the parents out when not expected?

Monday, June 3, 2013

When Nannies Are Asked to Travel with the Family

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents
Families are making their travel plans for the summer and asking their nannies to travel with them. Many nannies see traveling with their employers as an opportunity to see new destinations they might not be able to visit otherwise. But, while the family is on vacation nannies must always remember they are being paid to work. While the family may be relaxing nannies still need to be prompt, professional, and reliable.

Before traveling with their employers, nannies should discuss the schedule, accommodations, and pay rate. Typically, it is easiest to keep the hours and pay rate when traveling about the same as a normal work week. But, sometimes that is impossible. Therefore, it is helpful if nannies keep an open mind and be a little flexible with their hours while working while the family is vacationing.

When traveling with nannies parents should be as welcoming and appreciative as possible offering their employees plenty of time off to explore their vacation destinations and be willing to splurge on food, comforts, and souvenirs when possible. All expenses including food, board, and travel should be paid by the employer. Nannies should expect to pay for some personal expenses of course. But, the price of food, lodging, museums, attractions, admissions, and taxis are the parent’s responsibility.

Before Nannies Travel with Their Employers the Parents and Nannies Should Discuss:

1. Will the nanny be working more hours than usual?
2. Will the nanny have their own room or be expected to share a room with the children?
3. What will the nanny’s role be? Will the nanny be accompanying the family as an extra set of hands, or will the caregiver be solely responsible for the children during the day while the parents are out?
4. What are the spending guidelines?
5. What is the pay rate? Will nannies earn a bonus?

Do you have any advice to share with nannies about traveling with their employers’ family?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Monthly To-Do List

Monitoring Kids in the Month of June

Here in America, some kids are off from school for the summer already. Summer is a great time to have fun with the kids on a more relaxed schedule. But, nannies still need to work hard and monitor the activities of the kids in their care. Here are some things we suggest nannies monitor that are usually considered suitable for children, but may not be age-appropriate in this day and age.


√  Comic Books: The days of silly and non-offensive accounts of the lives of Archie and Veronica are long over. Comic books have become the domain of collectors and aficionados featuring bold art, x-rated adult themed stories, and violent depictions of action. Be forewarned -- check it out before the kids do.

√  Happy Meals: The King, the Colonel, and the Clown have devised menus of fat, sugar, and salt that are intended to addict kids for a lifetime. The portions are too big, the ads are too seductive. Keep the kids out of those restaurants and take them to a farmers market (that can be found all over the nation in June) instead.

√  Sports on TV: With the saturation of HDTV containing "stretch" and "zoom" screens, it is easy to hear or lip-read profanities and trash talk from the mouths of sports heroes. Consider that your charges should be playing sports more than watching sports.

√   Clothes: Youngsters should be dressed as youngsters, not as small adults. Kids like to imitate but a six-year old should not be attired like a 26-year old. Teens typically shouldn't be allowed to purposely have their undergarments showing (such as bra straps for young ladies and boxers exposed above their pants or shorts for young men). Be sure the children in your care dress in an age-appropriate manner.

√   Youth Team Sports: Kids are supposed to enjoy the games and sports they play while learning the virtues of fair play, discipline, and teamwork. Parents and caregivers should not interfere to the extent of subsuming the play of the child to their own dreams and memories. Remember, it doesn't matter if they win or lose, but how they play the game.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Slip! Slop! Slap! Protects Kids from the Sun

Living Color by Nina G. Jablonski
Minimizing risk of skin cancer while retaining benefits of Vitamin D

In her book Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin ColorNina G. Jablonski extols the virtues of the Australian government program called "Slip! Slop! Slap!"

"Slip! Slop! Slap!" is a campaign to encourage Australians to protect themselves from the sun by slipping on a shirt, slopping on sunscreen, and slapping on a hat. Seeking shade, avoiding sun exposure and wearing sunglasses complete the multi-faceted approach to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Although the book is best known for insightful information about how skin color has come to be a biological trait with great social meaning, and about discrimination and racism, Ms. Jablonski discusses at length the benefits and need of Vitamin D in all humans.

She explains the following determines risk for skin cancer:

1. Family history and comparative skin color of others in the area in which a person lives
2. Lifestyle, diet, and determining how much Vitamin D is obtained from a person's diet and from sun exposure
3. Consulting medical professional to help customize and balance the need for Vitamin D with the risk of sun exposure