Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Homemade Finger Paint Recipes

Wednesdays With Whitney

Making finger paint with the kids is an easy and fun project to do. These homemade recipes are great because they are non-toxic and the ingredients can be found in most kitchen pantries. Simply cover the kitchen table with thick paper and let the kids feel the different textures while painting with their hands. Allow youngsters to start out using one primary color then add other colors gradually so they can mix them and see how they change. Although these are finger paint recipes feel free to allow the kids to use paint brushes and other tools to create with the paints as well.

Easy Finger Paint Recipe

You Will Need:

1/4 Cup Corn Starch
4 cups Boiling Water
Food Coloring

What To Do:

Dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of cool water. In pot gradually add in boiling water stirring constantly, till mix thickens. Add food coloring.

Ivory Flakes Finger Paint Recipe

You Will Need:

1 Cup Cornstarch
3/4 Cup and another 1/4 Cup of Cold Water
2 Cups Cold Water
1 Envelope Gelatin
1/2 Cup Ivory Flakes
Food Coloring

What to Do:

Mix together cornstarch and 3/4 cups cold water. Soak one envelope unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup of cold water. Stir 2 cups hot water into the cornstarch. Cook and stir until mixture is clear and boiling. Remove from heat and blend in gelatin. Then add Ivory Flakes, stirring until the flakes are dissolved. Cool. Divide into small covered containers. Add food coloring.

Sugar Finger Paint Recipe

You Will Need:

1/4 Cup Warm Water
1 Envelope Gelatin
3 T. Sugar
2 Cups Cold Water
Food Coloring
Dishwashing Liquid

What to Do:

Soak gelatin in 1/4 cup warm water and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch and sugar. Gradually add water and cook slowly over low heat, stirring until well blended. Remove from heat and add softened gelatin. Divide mixture into separate containers for each color. For each color, first add a drop or two of dishwashing detergent and then add food coloring a drop at a time until you have the shade you want. Store up to six-weeks in the refrigerator.

Reference: Recipes from Messy Art Class at Geyer YMCA. Photo by Stephanie Felzenberg. Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for a fun project by Whitney Tang and to check out her new venture Nanny Magazine. Take her Nanny Magazine survey for nannies at

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What I Love About Working as a Nanny During the Summer

Nanny Confessions

I confess I love taking advantage of the fact that play and fun are the name of the game for nannies and kids during the summer and I don’t look forward to the start of the school year again.

It’s so nice to spend hours at the park, in the fresh air, sunshine, and in the pool instead of being stuck in an office when working as a nanny during the summer. I confess, being barefoot, picnics, and endless days playing with the kids in the neighborhood makes working as a nanny a joy.

Although I make some time for the kids read each day, it’s a lot easier to get kids to read than forcing them to do homework and school projects like during the school year. During the long days of summer I love that the kids can choose what science projects they want to do with me and they can learn at their own pace.

I also love taking them to the farmer’s markets that have a huge selection of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to make snacks and meals from.

Families typically travel more in the summer months while kids are off from school as well. Traveling with employers is a perfect opportunity for many nannies to visit destinations they don’t have the means to visit otherwise. Traveling is a great way to have fun while making money as a nanny during the summer.

What do you love about working as a nanny during the summer?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Have You Ever Had a Trial Period?

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents During Trail Periods

Some nanny agencies recommend nannies and families have a trial period before signing a work agreement. Although I don’t like the idea of having caregivers being on probation, I do understand that trial periods can be arranged professionally to benefit both parties. Most importantly, parents must realize that having a trial period does not excuse them of the responsibility of paying their nanny legally. Here are some professional ways to have a trial period.

Those who encourage trial periods believe that within a few days the parents and nannies may be able to determine if the arrangement is the right fit or not without either party being penalized. The benefits to parents include that they won’t have to pay the agency a placement fee until after the trial period which helps reassure the parents that the nanny is a good match for their family.

The parents also won’t be required to provide severance pay if they decide to hire another nanny and the caregiver can also choose not to accept the job gracefully without having to give the parents a lengthy termination notice.

But, nannies still must be paid for the days worked during the trial period. If the trail period only lasts a few days both the parents and nanny can save the time and energy of filling the work agreement, (and perhaps W-2 forms) until after the brief trial period.

However, Breedlove and Associates explains, “…please know that the law does not absolve families of their tax and legal responsibilities during the trial period. Families are legally considered to be employers the first day the employee shows up for work – whether it has been labeled a “trial period” or not. Therefore, in order to prevent potentially-expensive tax and legal mistakes, it is important to understand the law and the compliance process from the outset of the employment relationship.”

After the trial period the parents and nanny will need to sign a work agreement with the details of the job, benefits, and submit the required tax paperwork if both parties want to work together.

Do you prefer having a trial period before signing a nanny work agreement?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Squooshi Reusable Food Pouches and Filling Station

Products Nannies Love

Squooshi was started by a father daughter team who wanted to help families eat healthier, save money, and reduce waste. Squooshi is a patent pending reusable food pouch.  They are are adorable and refillable squeeze packs that give you the freedom to give your babies and kids healthy food in a fun container they'll love to use. With a sturdy zip-lock style seal located on the bottom of the pouch and a choke-proof cap, Squooshi reusable food pouches can be filled with whatever squishy wholesome goodness you and your little ones desire for a healthy, on-the go snack or meal. Fill. Eat. Wash. Repeat. It's that easy.

Click here to see entire review.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pinwheel Sandwiches

Making Hor D’oeuvres for Kids 

I don't know where I found the recipe for pinwheel sandwiches but I started making pinwheel peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for kids when I first started working as a nanny 20-years ago. Since 1993 I have been serving the tiny sandwiches because all the kids I have cared for love the bite-sized snack or lunch. I started calling them hor d'oeuvres so they can use the fancy sandwiches for their tea parties.
You Will Need:

Wheat or multi-grain bread
Sandwich toppings such as peanut butter, jelly, thinly sliced cheese, ham, or turkey
Rolling Pin
Sharp knife

What to Do:

  1. Use a rolling pin to flatten the bread as thin as possible without breaking the bread.
  2. Trim off the crusts.
  3. Spread peanut butter and jelly on the bread.
  4. Roll the thin slice of bread into a log.
  5. Gently slice the log into 1-inch circles with a very sharp knife (so not to smush the sandwiches).
Tips: You can use wheat flour tortillas without having to use a rolling pin but you might need toothpicks to hold the pinwheel sandwiches together when using tortillas.

If using cheese briefly microwave the bread after placing on a slice of cheese (in 5 second intervals) so that the cheese slightly melts so that it will stick to the bread and you won’t need toothpicks to hold the pinwheel sandwich together with toothpicks.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

12 Tips for a Skype Job Interview

Have You Ever Used Skype for a Job Interview?

Nannies, au pairs, and parents don't have to leave their own homes to have real-time, face-to-face interviews anymore. With modern technology not only are nannies finding more jobs online then ever before, they are also using the Internet to have job interviews with potential employers.

Skype is a free software program that can be used to have interviews via video by using a webcam (a video camera that feeds an image in real time to a computer). Unlike email interviews or telephone interviews, parents and nannies can actually see what the other person looks like and see their facial expressions as they interview using Skype.

Since potential employers can see the caregivers they are interviewing, job candidates should make a good first impressions during Skype interviews just like they would during an in-person interview. Here are some tips for using Skype I found on the Internet.

Before the Skype Interview

1. Download the Skype Software for Free:
Well in advance of the interview download the software to make sure it runs properly on your computer.

2. Create a Professional Username:
I kid you not a friend of mine had a Skype username with the word "hussy" in it because she used Skype to keep in touch with her long distance boyfriend, (and then she wondered why she wasn't getting nanny jobs).

3. Clean Up Around Your Computer:
Remove all distractions in view of the webcam. Move pets into another room, clean up clutter, and turn off televisions and telephones. Close all the windows, so outside noise won't interrupt the interview.

4. Adjust the Web Camera:
Adjust the web camera so you are in the middle of the screen. Do not zoom in so the employer can only see your face or zoom out, so they can see everything in the room.

5. Practice by Looking Into the Camera Not the Screen:
According to job candidates should look into the camera, rather than on the screen. You have to look into the camera to look like you are talking to the potential employers.

6. Lighting:
Check to be sure you have enough lighting that doesn't create shadows or throw too harsh a look into your screen.

7. Choose What Colors You Wear:
Certain colors like many shades of blue -- royal, navy, sky blue -- look great on video while others like reds and hot colors like magenta can be too bright. Patterns like small dots or stripes can be less attractive than solids so think about a color to wear that is easy on the eye and a pattern that won't be distracting to your viewer.

8. Dress Conservatively:
Parents want to hire conservative caregivers so cover tattoos, excessive peircings, and dress conservatively like you would in an in-person job interview.

9. Hair and Make-Up:
High quality video shows details on screen. See webcam interview make-up tips on

10. Practice Makes Perfect:
Have practice interviews with your friends and family to become more comfortable using Skype. Accept their constructive criticism.

During the Interview

11. Close Other Software Programs:
Close all programs on your computer, such as chat programs and email, so the alerts do not distract the employer or you during the interview.

12. Smile and Focus:
According to one of the easiest rules to remember when interacting with anyone is simply to smile. There is nothing more engaging than smiling throughout your call with a friendly expression. It is also important is to make direct eye contact. If you scan the room or look away from the camera, you might appear untrustworthy or indifferent. So, look into the camera even though you won't see the interviewer in the camera.

REFERENCES: The advice in this article was found at and

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Outdoor Water Activity: Bike Wash

Wednesday with Whitney

Water play is key during the hot summer days. Keep the kids cool with this fun water activity published by Parents Magazine. Invite all the kids in the neighborhood to bring their trikes, scooters, and strollers along too.

What You Need:

Washable Markers
Bike, Trike, Scooter, or Even a Bunch of Small Matchbox Cars
Lots of water!


1. Start by letting the little ones color all over their "vehicle(s)" with washable markers. They'll give you a crazy look, but their car needs to get "dirty" somehow, right?

2. Next take them outside and let them fill up their various buckets -- some with soap, some without.

3. Help them lather up their bike with lots of soapy suds! The water spills all over them? Great! That's one less bath you have to give later!

4. Rinse off the bike with all the non-soapy water. Let the kids splash the water as much as they want -- it is summer after all!

5. Finish off the bike wash with lots of towels for the bikes and kids both!

Reference: Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for another fun project by Whitney Tang. Whitney is co-founder and editor of Nanny Magazine. Take her survey for nannies at

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Be Patient with Your New Nanny

Nanny Confessions: Starting a New Job is Difficult

The first days and weeks of a new nanny job can be fun and exciting, but it is also stressful. Nannies have so much to learn about the parents, kids, and the home that they need the parents and the kids to be patient with them. What comes naturally for the parents when caring for their own children is literally unknown to the new caregiver.

New nannies have tons to learn. They have to learn each child's favorite songs, foods, games, activities, and lovies (such as security blanket or doll) to help them bond with the children. They have to meet the neighbors, friends, and other nannies as well. New nannies have to learn about any and all allergies and treatment protocols needed for each child that will be left in their care.
They have to find out where the fire extinguishers are, where the main water can be turned off, how to use the fuse box, and alarm systems. New employees have to learn how to adjust the heat and air conditioning in the home.

New employees are learning how to get to the grocery stores, parks, schools, and pediatrician’s office. Nannies will be running errands and trying to learn the family’s favorite foods and products as well.

Nannies need the parents (their new employers) to be patient and open with them to make the transition into a new nanny job go more smoothly.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Don’t Cross the Line: Don’t Snoop

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Au Pairs

Nannies and au pairs work in the homes of their employers giving them access to nearly all the family’s intimate belongings and personal information. It may be tempting to look at a bill or financial statement left out on a desk or counter, but in-home caregivers must resist the temptation to sneak-a-peek at the family’s personal and private information. It is unacceptable and it is reason enough to terminate a nanny or au pair that is found snooping through family paperwork, bills, bank statements, or private files.

Whether a nanny signs a confidentiality agreement or not, an important characteristic that separates a professional nanny from a mere babysitter is that a professional respects the private family issues of their employers. A good guide is for nannies to consider how they would feel if the parents saw their personal information that they would prefer kept private.

We recommend that nannies and au pairs consider our confidentiality checklist below:

1. Use discretion about the family’s privacy. Do not gossip about private family issues. Refrain from using names of family when getting advice for general issues.

2. Do not post photos of the children in emails, on web sites, Facebook, or anywhere online without parental permission.

3. Do not share personal information about the children online or in nanny chat groups (ages, names, addresses, or where they attend school).

4. Do not read family personal mail, emails, or snoop into their personal affairs.

5. Do not enter the parent’s bedroom, closets, drawers, and bathroom without permission.

6. Do not discuss important issues about the child to the teacher or doctor without the parent’s knowledge (unless criminal child abuse may be suspected, when communicating with teachers and doctors for advice is recommended).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Absolute Green Kids Natural Bug Repellent

Don't Use DEET on Kids

You should take precautions using insect repellents containing DEET on children. Most doctors advise not to use products with DEET on children because it gets absorbed through the skin and eventually goes into the bloodstream. It runs through the nervous system and has been proven to cause neurological damage. It Interferes with medication and over-the-counter antihistamines. DEET is toxic to fish and wildlife. It does not dissolve in water and it even melts plastic.

Concentrations higher than 30% are not more effective and the chemical (which is absorbed through the skin) can be toxic. Be sure to follow the directions on the label.

Do not use a single product containing both sunscreen and DEET — sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, while DEET should not be applied more than once a day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that repellents containing the ingredients picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus also can protect against mosquitoes.

Picaridin is a compound found in many mosquito repellents used in Europe, Australia, Latin America, and Asia. Its chemical name, which you might find in the list of "active ingredients" on a product, is KBR 3023. Years of safe use of picaridin in other parts of the world attest to its safety and effectiveness.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus is also known as P-menthane diol, or PMD, for short. PMD is a plant-based repellent that gives protection time similar to low concentrations of DEET products. It is not recommended for kids under three-years-old.

That is why today we recommend Absolute Green™ Kids Natural Bug Repellent. This organic buy spray only contains: witch hazel, Ethyl Alcohol (from corn), lemon grass eucalyptus essential oil, neem seed oil, cedar wood essential oil, and other essential oils.

Absolute Green™ Kids Natural Bug Repellent is a non-toxic bug spray that works great, isn't greasy when it dries, and has a pleasant aroma. Convenient 4oz size allows for an easy travel companion. Lasting four to six hours between applications. Although it is marketed for kids it is recommended to be used for the whole family.

Absolute Green Kids Natural Bug Repellent 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Learning with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This story describes a day in which everything goes wrong for a boy named Alexander. When Alexander got up in the morning, he found gum in his hair, tripped on his skateboard, and accidentally dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running.  Things got worse at breakfast when Alexander’s brothers got prizes in their cereal boxes while Alexander only got cereal in his box and after that incident, Alexander thought about moving to Australia.  Things got worse at school when Paul, Alexander’s best friend, told Alexander that he was no longer his best friend anymore.

After reading this story it is a great opportunity for the kids to discuss and write about bad feelings and to learn more about Australia. Allow the children to learn about Australia’s animals, language, and geography. Try speaking in Australian slang for a day and kids will love making an aboriginal musical instrument.

Activity One: Speak Australian Slang for the Day
Find the meaning to Australian slang at:
Look up the meaning of the following words: Mate, bush, G’day, outback, boomerang, down under, didgeridoo, Barbie, car park, cozzie, joey, knickers, mum, roo, round-about and any other Australian term you find in the book or would love to learn. Do American’s have slang words too? Have a blast spending the day speaking in Australian slang. It’s hilarious.

Activity Two: Australian Animals
Help the kids discover what kind of animals live in Australia, You can find coloring pages of Australian animals at Click here to make masks of Australian animals and pretend you are visiting an Australian zoo.

Activity Three: Make a Didjeridoo
Listen to didjeridoo music for free at: Ask the kids to describe what they hear. Does it make a sound of an animal? Make a digeridoo using two cardboard wrapping paper tubes taped together. For children, make it only three or four feet long. Once the cardboard tubes are taped together, allow the kids to decorate it in bright colors using paint, markers, stickers, and anything else they can glue to the instrument. To play it, have the kids place it in front of them with one end resting on the ground. Have them place their mouths inside the tube and make the sound of a motorboat.

Activity Four: What Can You Do With 16
Sixteen is the number Alexander forgot in the book. Ask the children you care for how many ways can they come up with 16 cents? How many tens and how many ones are in the number 16? What grade will they be in when they are 16-years-old? How long do they think 16 paper clips will be (put the paper clips together and measure them).

Activity Five: Write or Tell a Story
Help the children write a story about a time they had a really bad day (like Alexander did in the book). Did the day get better? What happened to change their feelings? Ask them to write about a place they would like to move to when they have a bad day. Why did they choose this place? What would they do there? Could what happened to Alexander happen there too? Encourage them to use words found in Judith Viorst’s book such as: sailboat, invisible, sixteen, Australia, terrible, skateboard, breakfast, cupcakes, dessert, cavity, pajamas, dentist, horrible, and strawberry.

You can purchase the book by clicking the image or title below:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Friday, July 19, 2013

Making the Kids Egg Pie

Easy Recipe for Quiche Lorraine

The children I care for love anything that they can call pie. So as a yummy lunch, dinner, or treat I often make them Quiche Lorraine, but I tell the kids I am serving them "Egg Pie." Here's an easy recipe for Quiche Lorraine / Egg Pie I found at I changed the recipe ever so slightly and describe the adapted recipe below.

What You Need:
1 ready-made 9-inch frozen pie shell
3 eggs, beaten
6 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 small chopped onion
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 t. salt
1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 T. flour

What to Do:

1. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees.

2. Cover pie shell with aluminum foil and bake pastry shell in oven for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

3. While pie shell is cooking cook bacon until crisp in a large skillet. Drain onto paper towels and crumble the bacon and set aside. Cook the onion in the skillet until tender and drain.

4. Remove pie shell from oven and turn temperature down to 325 F degrees.

5. In a large bowl mix milk, salt, and eggs. Stir in bacon and add onion.  

6. In a separate bowl mix toss cheese with flour, then add to egg mixture. Be sure to mix it well.

7. Pour mixture into pie crust.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until knife inserted in center of quiche comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil while baking to prevent burning or over-browning. 

9. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Reference: and photos by Stephanie Felzenberg

Thursday, July 18, 2013

At What Age Should You Stop Letting Kids Win at Every Game?

Teaching Kids to Lose Gracefully

The 13-year-old I care for has been complaining about another friend who is a terrible poor sport. When the teen I care for was moved up in rank at soccer camp his "friend" jealousy gossiped to others that my charge isn't a good enough player that didn't deserve to be moved up as a higher ranked player.

Of course these comments are made after the same 13-year-old just recently stormed out of our house when he was losing in a NERF gun war (even four-year-olds don't cry when playing with Nerf guns)!

So, it has me wondering: when should we stop letting kids win while playing games with them? Is poor sportsmanship created by a family and caregivers that overly indulges a child by letting him win, or is poor sportsmanship a result of extremely demanding caregivers?

I typically allow the three-year-old left in my care to win the games that we play. I think it builds her confidence and self-esteem. But, by letting her win am I missing the opportunity to teach her how to lose gracefully?

In a concerted effort to not create a poor-sport in the future I will be sure to listen more intently on the play-by-play details of the games the kids share with me, rather than asking about the score or who won or lost the game.

I will also be on the lookout for signs of poor sportsmanship. A huge red flag will be anytime a child I care for isn't enjoying a sport or game anymore because they are becoming too competitive or too focused on whether they lost or won a game.

Encouraging kids to do their best and to keep learning is a good thing. Having fun, improving self-worth, learning about teamwork, and cooperation are more important skills for kids to learn and to carry with them throughout life, than whether they lose or win a game.

Do you let kids win when playing games with them?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Learning: Phonics Flower

 Wednesdays with Whitney

I'm not sure when or where I first learned to make phonics flowers but I started making them for the kids in my care in 1993. The goal of phonics is to enable beginning readers to decode new written words by sounding them out. Phonemic awareness helps children hear, identify, and manipulate spelling patterns. Phonic flowers are an easy and quick way to encourage learning for the kids this summer.

You Will Need:

Construction Paper or White Paper Plates



What to Do:

1. Cut one large circle out of paper plates or construction paper and a small circle out of a paper plate or construction paper.

2. Cut out small "V" shapes along the edge of the larger circle to make petals.

3. Allow the kids to color the petals if they want to.

4. Each petal should have one or two letters for the beginning of a work (prefix) and the center circle should have the last two letters (suffix) of the word.

5. Other suffixes could be "CK," "OT," "OP," "IG," "OG," or "TH."

6. Play by sounding out the words.

Reference: Photos and project by Stephanie Felzenberg. Stop by next Wednesday for a fun project by Whitney Tang.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Don’t be Shy About Telling People Not to Smoke In Front of Your Charges

How to Ask People Not to Smoke When Caring for Kids

Everyone knows that secondhand smoke is harmful to children. But it’s also hard to confront people. Although I used to try to hold my breath and ignore it when someone smoked because I didn’t want to be rude, I am now convinced it’s okay to ask people not to smoke in the presence of my charges. Most smokers today understand that it is rude to smoke in tight spaces or in the presence of children.

In the article, “The Effects of Secondhand Smoke on Children” Terry Martin explains that secondhand smoke is a nasty mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals, 250 of which have been identified as poisonous, and upwards of 70 that are carcinogenic.

The article further describes, “Children face a greater risk than adults of the negative effects of secondhand smoke. When the air is tainted with cigarette smoke, young, developing lungs receive a higher concentration of inhaled toxins than do older lungs because a child's breathing rate is faster than that of adults.”

The way I recently handled it was to be super nice and kind, making no judgments, no ultimatums, or rude comments.

Here are some ways to politely ask smokers not to smoke in front of the kids:

“Would you mind terribly moving outside so the smoke won’t bother the kids?”

"Could I ask if you wouldn't mind not smoking in front of the children?”

“Can I please ask you not to smoke when we are in the car? You could have a smoke when we stop for breaks. Thanks."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Service as a Profession: Standards for Household Managers

A Household Manager Understands Service as an Expertise

For many years I have been saying (and writing) that nannies are in a service industry. As children grow and family needs change some nannies are willing to adapt their job duties as childcare provider to become household managers.

In Mary Starkey’s Original Guide to Household Management: The Key to Meeting Service Expectations for Private Homes Mrs. Starkey describes the role of the household manager from the service perspective, helping the service provider to directly identify and meet a family’s service expectations.

The Starkey Service Management System teaches service as a profession that requires mature management abilities, a customized service delivery model, and an educated understanding of service relationships and household needs.

In Mary Starkey’s image (and mine) the role of the nanny or household manager is to make the lives of the family members and their guests easier.

Yet, daily I hear complaints and judgments from nannies and household managers criticizing their employers to me. To succeed as a household manager I strongly feel professional protocol requires an attitude of helpfulness and service, not criticism. To be a successful household manager the employee cannot possess an attitude that they know better than their employers, or begrudge a direction given to them from the family.

Nannies should not list themselves as “household managers” on their resume in hopes of making more money when in fact they refuse to sign for deliveries for their employers, complain about having to take out the trash or recycling at the house they work in, or refuse to clean up some dishes left by the family.

Before calling themselves a household manager, they ought to consider if they have a working knowledge of human resources, management and training of service contractors and personnel, and the hands-on technical experience necessary to personally perform or train others within the service environment including administrative, cleaning, maintenance, clothing, cooking, and entertaining.

Before boasting that they are household managers they should ask themselves if they are in fact acting as administrative assistants to their employers? Are these nannies actually helping maintain the cleaning standards and managing the cleaning staff? Are they managing a chef or developing menus, stocking refrigerators, and maintaining inventories of the pantries themselves? Are they pitching-in as a personal shopper, organizing closets, and keeping a clothing inventory? Are they willing to help manage seasonal lawn and garden care, including the trimming of trees and shrubs, caring of cutting garden and flower beds, apple grove, and backwashes of the pool, fish pond, and other water features? Is the employee willing to help the family plan their international and domestic travel? Are they willing to support the family’s values when it comes to child care, elder care, guest, and pet care?

Before putting “household manager” on their resumes most nannies need to consider if they are truly service professionals willing to manage and pitch-in by serving the family that hires them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Use Filtered Water: Bottled Water Doesn't Make the Grade

In 2011 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a bottled water scorecard. The highest grade they gave was an A and only type of water to get the highest grade is filtered water. Bottled water did not get a high grade. Click here to see dangers of bottled water and how your bottled water measures up.

Although the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter was intended to aid in disease control for developing countries, the LifeStraw is so inexpensive, compact, and useful we highly recommend every family have one in case of emergencies, or when hiking or camping.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. LifeStraw contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries, and no moving parts to break or wear out. LifeStraw is perfect for the ultralight backpacker, traveler, boy scout, hunter, and especially for emergency preparedness. But it fits easily in a diaper bag too.

How does your bottled water brand stack up? Here’s a look at the 10 top-selling* U.S. brands:

1. Pure Life Purified Water (Nestle), EWG grade = B
2. Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = C
3. Aquafina Purified Drinking Water (Pepsi), EWG grade = D
4. Dasani Purified Water (Coca-Cola), EWG grade = D
5. Deer Park Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
6. Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
7. Ozarka Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
8. Poland Spring Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
9. Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
10. Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water (CG Roxane), EWG grade = F

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Learning: Africa, Anansi the Spider and the Ashanti

aaaWeekly Trip to the Library

I care for three kids all of different ages. The three-year-old girl I care for was frightened of spiders so I borrowed the following books from the library to help her face her fear and now she loves spiders. Her 10-year-old brother is obsessed with the rain forest, while their teen brother loves teaching his siblings about Africa. So, on our trip to the library this week we borrowed children's books that appealed to all three of my charges. The following activities nicely parallel the children's books.

First we read, Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashantiby Gerald McDermott. The book is a trickster tale from the Ashanti culture of West Africa. In trying to determine which of his six sons to reward for saving his life, Anansi the Spider is responsible for placing the moon in the sky.

Then we compared and contrasted other stories about Anansi by reading: The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Arkhurst, Anansi and the Talking Melonby Erick Kimmel, Anansi Goes Fishing by Eric Kimmel, The Cow-Tail Switch: And Other West African Storiesby Harold Courlander, and Anansi Does The Impossible!: An Ashanti Taleby Verna Aardema.

Activity One: Learning About Anansi and the Ashanti

Read Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti aloud beginning with the prologue. Explain the unusual African words and names in the book such as: Anansi, mythology, Ashanti, Ghana, trickster, Kwaku, skinner, Nyame, artisan, shrewd, and rogue. Discuss the importance of the sons in the story. Ask the child what would happen if one or two were left out? Ask the child to think of a new son or daughter for Anansi. Allow older children to write a short story explaining the special ability of the spider they invented. Encourage children to “storytell” their own stories about Anansi as storytelling is a major form of communication of the Ashanti.

Activity Two: Be a Travel Agent

Have the child pretend to be a travel agent. You, or another child, should role play as a traveler who wants to go to Africa on a zoologist visit. List the animals the traveler would see and the locations where the animals live. The travel agent must tell the traveler when is the best time to visit Africa. What kind of clothing should the traveler bring? Map out the travel route.

Activity Three: Zoo Keeper of the Rain Forest

Discuss the types of animals that might be found in the rain forest. Discuss the environmental issues associated with the rain forest, such as removing too many trees leads to global warming and destroys the homes of the animals. Look at different designs on each animal in the book. What geometric shapes are represented? Spiders are not insects. Research spiders and find out how they got their names and other unusual facts, using our listed resources. Have the child write and illustrate a book of spiders.

Activity Four: Make Chocolate Pudding

Cocoa is a main crop of the Ashanti. Here is a chocolate pudding recipe to make with the kids from

You Will Need:
4 T. cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 t. salt
3 cups milk
4 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract

What to Do:
Mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly stir in milk and chocolate. Place over boiling water and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Cover and cook for 15-minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate until chilled.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Making Pizza Bagels with the Kids

Kid Friendly Recipe

What kid doesn't love pizza? Who doesn't love bagels? Kids will love making pizza bagels as much as eating them. Below we describe how to make a basic pizza bagel but nannies can mix it up and use other ingredients to make other types of pizza bagels as well. For example, to make a barbecue chicken pizza bagel just substitute the tomato sauce with barbecue sauce and use chopped cooked chicken as the topping. To make a white pizza bagel replace the tomato sauce with ricotta cheese with some Italian seasoning and a little bit of garlic powder to season the cheese. Here's a basic pizza bagel recipe:

You Will Need:

Tomato Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Other pizza toppings that the kids like such as, pepperoni, ground beef, or olives.
Italian spices or oregano (optional)

What to Do:

1. Preheat toaster oven to 400 F degrees.
2. Slice bagels in half and toast them lightly in the toaster oven to prevent the pizza bagel from being soggy.
3. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce onto the bagel. It's important not to put on much sauce so the bagel won't be soggy.
4. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on the bagels. Then add the toppings. Sprinkle with oregano or Italian spices if the kids like spices.
5. Heat in the toaster oven for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Reference: Photo and recipes by Stephanie Felzenberg

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Making Vacation Journals with Kids

Template from
 Writing, Drawing, and Painting Help Record Trips and Outing with Kids
This article is adapted from an essay in Outdoors with Kids New York City: 100 Fun Places to Explore In and Around the City.

Journaling can be a wonderful part of a family vacation or outing. Writing and drawing foster a connection with the natural world around you, while creating a lasting memento. With a flexible interpretation of what journaling is, children of all ages can participate.

A plain, unlined notebook works well, especially one with a blank cover that children can decorate themselves. Each piece of paper is a clean slate for rendering and doodling, and it liberates writers from the need to use perfect penmanship. Journaling is a personal experience and an expression of creativity, not an assignment that needs to have all i's dotted and t's crossed.

When traveling on day trips or overnights, bring the journals and a plastic bag with markers, pencils, and crayons. Older children may like using watercolors. Before or after mealtime, or whenever there's a lull in activity, pull out the materials and allow children to express themselves on paper however they want. Perhaps ask them if they can sketch a landscape or detail that they saw during the day, or draw a scene of what they loved or found challenging.

A family journal can take this process to the next level. Parents or caregivers might write a description of an entire day's excursion, or everyone can participate, round-robin style. One person has the power of the pen, and everyone offers an impression or memory from the day. Each description is jotted down next to the person's name.

Maps also make terrific ad hoc journals. If your destination provides paper maps, record notes on what you see at various places, or scribble down who made a poignant observation at a particular point. Such personalized maps can become keepsakes that just might inspire a passion for cartography. Maps mounted on bulletin boards at home also allow you to mark destinations with different-colored pins for everyone who made a trip.

Flip through the journals weeks and months later, and the trips come alive. You may also scan journal pages into your computer and make them part of a digital book of your travels, perhaps combined with photos. Print copies for your own keepsakes or share with family and friends.

Reference: This article is adapted from an essay in Outdoors with Kids New York City: 100 Fun Places to Explore In and Around the City (AMC Outdoors with Kids) and template for cover from

Outdoors with Kids New York City: 100 Fun Places to Explore In and Around the City (AMC Outdoors with Kids)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer Science: Making Floam

Wednesdays with Whitney

Incorporating learning into the summer benefits the children. If done properly, the kids will will be having so much fun they won't know they are having lessons at home. Making Floam is a great science lesson and is a great medium for kids to create with when they are tired of the same old playdoh or modeling clay.

What You Will Need:
2 tsp. Borax (found in laundry aisle at stores)
1/2 c.Water and another 1/4 c. Water
1/4 c. White School Glue
Food Coloring
Air Tight Plastic Bag (like Ziploc)
1-2/3 c. of Polystyrene or Micro Beads or Rip up Styrofoam

What To Do:
1. Dissolve 2 tsp. borax completely in 1/2 cup of water. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl mix 1/4 c. white glue and 1/4 c. water. Add food coloring of choice.
3. Pour the glue solution into the air-tight bag.
4. Then add 3 Tbsp. of the borax/water solution. Do NOT mix yet.
5. Add the polystrene or micro beads or tear up chunks of styrofoam into tiny pieces.
6.Seal and knead the bag by hand until thoroughly mixed. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then knead for a few more minutes.

Reference: We found the Floam recipe at and the photos are by Stephanie Felzenberg. Stop by next Wednesday for another fun project by Whitney Tang.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Not Just Hang Up Your Phone?

Nanny Confessions: Stay off Your Cell While Out with the Kids This Summer

In 2011 we asked 27 nanny industry experts if nannies should be allowed to text and use their cell phones while working. An overwhelming number of the experts recommend limiting personal cell phone use and personal texting while working. Some actually suggest nannies should never use their mobile phones to make personal calls or texts while working.

All nannies’ priority is safety of the children in their care. The concern is that whenever nannies are talking, texting, or surfing on their cell phones, they are distracted.

We all know the dangers of texting or chatting on cell phones while driving. But multi-tasking when caring for kids always puts the children’s safety at risk. For example, when nannies are texting or calling friends on their mobile phones they are distracted when crossing streets, riding bicycles, in a parking lot, in a museum, at the playground, and at the pool.

Plus, it’s rude when nannies text friends and visit social media on their mobile phones during playdates instead of socializing with the nannies in their presence.

Of course, as with most things in like, balance is key. Cell phones are a great way to keep in touch with parents, for making playdates with the children’s friends, and in case of emergency. But always remember, the parents aren’t paying nannies to take photos of the kids or text friends. Nannies are paid to nurture children and keep kids safe.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Professional Nannies Don’t Hit (Spank) Children

Corporal Punishment and Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies

Despite the fact that nannies may have been spanked as kids and turned out fine, whether they would spank their own children, and even if the parents that employ them tell them spanking their kids is okay, nannies must never ever spank a child left in their care. In fact, although spanking isn’t outlawed in most states in America, there is a risk of being arrested for spanking kids.

If a child hits someone else, nannies and parents punish the child. Yet, according to an article by Steve Hendrix of The Washington Post “Depending on how you ask the question, most surveys show that between 70 percent and 90 percent of parents in this country spank their kids at least once during childhood. In 2013 America, spanking a child is about as common as vaccinating one.”

In the article, Does spanking control a child’s bad behavior?, Christopher Johnson, MD, explains, that pediatricians have been telling parents for many years that spanking, is not a good way to discipline children. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on disciplining children, says this:
"Spanking may relieve a parent’s frustration for the moment and extinguish the undesirable behavior for a brief time. But it is the least effective way to discipline. It is harmful emotionally to both parent and child. Not only can it re­sult in physical harm, but it teaches children that violence is an acceptable way to discipline or express anger. While stopping the behavior temporarily, it does not teach alternative behavior. It also interferes with the development of trust, a sense of security, and effective communication. (Spanking often be­comes the method of communication.) It also may cause emotional pain and resentment."
In A Parent's Guide to Understanding and Motivating Children,Amy Lew, Ph.D. and Betty Lou Bettner, Ph.D. explain that hitting doesn’t instill confidence or courage. It is humiliating and teaches fear. They say that spanking provokes a poor self-concept, desire for revenge, and the idea that it is okay to hit the ones you love.

They write, “When we hit we are modeling negative behavior. We succeed only in teach that violent acts are a way to let off anger or it is acceptable to hit people.”

Despite personal beliefs about spanking their own children, nannies must never use any form of corporal punishment when caring for other people’s children, including spanking.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Summer Learning: The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Weekly Trip to the Library

Please visit to see the entire book review and activities to do after reading the book to the children in your care.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister has shimmering illustrations of a beautiful fish, who is very vain. His scales sparkle and shine as he swims through the ocean, but he is very lonely. The other fish attempt to befriend him, but he ignores them until one day a small blue fish approaches him. The small blue fish compliments the Rainbow Fish about how beautiful his scales are, and asks for one of them. The Rainbow Fish refuses and swims on. A crab directs him to an octopus, whose advice is very simple, give away his scales to the other fish and he will be happy. After some thought, the Rainbow Fish decides to take the octopus's advice and finds friendship and happiness and gives the little blue fish one of his scales. The moral of the story is that through sharing and giving we can find happiness and friendship.

Please visit to see the entire book review and activities to do after reading the book to the children in your care.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Touch and Feel Balloons

Is this sand?
Summer Learning: What Do You Feel?

Summertime is a great time to head outdoors into nature's classroom. Summer provides a perfect opportunity for kids to touch and feel new things. Kids love to feel and play in the sand, touch soft petals on flowers, play with mud (click here to see how to create mud pies), touch and paint with soft feathers, and simply walk barefoot to feel the grass between their toes. Be sure to allow the children to splash, measure, pour, and play in the cool sensation of water on hot summer days. Here is how to make sensory balloons.
Can you feel the rice?

You will need:

Small balloons

Kitchen ingredients and items you find in nature with different textures such as: rice, sugar, pebbles, marbles, cotton balls, dried beans, water, and sand.

What to do:

Simply fill different colored balloons with different items you already have around the house or in the backyard.

Tie a knot around the top of the balloon so the kids can't see what is inside the balloon.

Let the kids squish and feel the balloons and try to guess what they are feeling.

See how many they can get right.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How the Immigration Bill Affects Au Pairs

Au Pair Agency Hires Two Lobbyists to Sway Lawmakers on the Immigration Bill

We all know that immigration reform will affect the nanny industry in America because a large number of nannies working in America are illegal immigrants. But immigration reform will also affect the au pair cultural exchange program. 

Most au pair agencies and au pair host parents oppose changes to immigration laws because they fear reform will create more regulatory complexity and endanger the future of the cultural exchange program.

In fact, it worries au pair agencies so much that yesterday the Huffington Post published an article that was originally posted by Politico stating that Cultural Care Au Pair, a Massachusetts-based au pair agency, has hired two lobbyists to try to sway lawmakers on the immigration bill. Politico reports the company wants to ensure lawmakers don’t further regulate the au pair industry.

According to statistics in the Washington Post, about 350,000 people enter the country to work legally with J-1 visas each year, and about 20,000 of those are au pairs. 

Those statistics prove that nannies not only have to worry about illegal immigrants taking their nanny jobs, nannies should worry about the 20,000 au pair jobs legally working in jobs that are not being filled by American citizens.

Do you think immigration reform will help or hurt the nanny industry?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Alphabet Cookies for Summer Learning

Wednesdays with Whitney

Summer is a wonderful time, but with it comes the “Summer Slide.” Learning slips and even basic knowledge takes a vacation. This is especially true with preschoolers and kindergartners who are just learning their letters, counting, and the like. Making alphabet cookies is a sweet way to keep learning in the home and make the best kind of craft: one you can eat!

To make the alphabet cookies, simply mix up your favorite recipe of sugar cookies with the little ones and finish them off with some alphabet cookie cutters! But don’t leave it at just that. There is so much learning that comes with baking these cookies, so make sure you cover all your bases!

Calculating amounts of ingredients is a great way to introduce fractions to even the youngest of children. Instead of using a 1 cup measuring cup, use two 1/2 cups or four ¼ cups. Or for an even trickier math problem, cut the recipe in half, or in fourths! For younger ones, simply focus on the counting – how many eggs do you need? How many cookies are on the cookie sheet?

Fine Motor Skills
Scooping out flour, pouring vanilla, and even dumping out sugar are all great practice for refining fine motor skills. Even the act of positioning the cookie cutters and moving the cookies from the pastry board to the cookie sheet are great practice for the little ones.

For the youngest of children, making alphabet cookies is great for letter recognition. Simply ask for the kids to find certain letters. For older children, spell out a word with the cookie cutters and have them try to read it. For even more advanced children, give them a mixture of alphabet cookie cutters and ask them to spell a word with the letters you gave them. Kids will also love spelling out their names in the cookies, so make sure you have enough cookie cutters to go around!

Reference: This project and photos are by Whitney Tang. Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for another fun project by Whitney. Whitney is also co-founder and editor of Nanny Magazine. Take her survey for nannies at

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Being a Live-in Nanny

The Benefits and Difficulties of Being a Live-In

Donna Moore is an 18-year-old high school graduate originally from Birmingham, Alabama that moved to Fairfield, Connecticut for a year to work as a live-in nanny. She has found that working for a family with three children has been a great opportunity. The live-in nanny explains, "The family welcomed me with open arms and have been very generous providing me with a beautiful apartment above their garage, a car to drive on my free time, all my meals, and travel expenses."

But Moore says that it wasn't easy adjusting to the new home and job. She explains, "The hardest part of becoming a nanny was that I became very homesick. During the long hours without the parents in the house I felt lonely only caring for children."

The job was not as easy as she had expected either. She says, "The job is not glamorous. I did not realize what a physically exhausting job caring for kids in a huge home would be."

But, the family included her in all weekend outings and socializing opportunities and encouraged her to invite other nannies over for sleep-overs which eventually helped her from feeling homesick. Now, she loves the job. Moore says, "My favorite part of being a nanny has been being able to travel to New York City on my time-off. I would not have been able to afford to travel to New York City had I not worked and lived close by to Manhattan this year."

She says to those considering becoming a live-in nanny, "The best advice for nanny candidates about to move across the country to become a live-in nanny for the first time is to remember that first and foremost you are moving for a job."

But, Moore explains, "If you don't mind working hard, long hours then the benefits of moving across country for a year can be a great learning experience."

Mariana Gonzales is a 19-year-old live-in nanny that moved from Los Alamos, New Mexico to Bethesda, Maryland who has loved becoming a working member of a family. Gonzales boasts about her favorite part of being a nanny is, "I personally love traveling and have been paid to accompany the family on trips."

Gonzales continues, "Not only have I traveled all over the east coast including Disney in Florida but I even got to see London and Paris which I never could have afforded myself."

Gonzales does warn, "Some nannies feel overworked and overwhelmed when traveling with the family. I happen to be lucky to work for very fair parents who compensate me generously with both money and time-off."

"I am allowed to take the children to any tourist attractions. museums, anywhere we want to go and they pay for everything," says Gonzales.

Patricia King is a 23-year-old nanny with a degree in early childhood education. After finding it hard to land a permanent teaching job she decided to move from Sherwood, Oregon to Basking Ridge, New Jersey to work as a live-in nanny. She has found the nanny job to be a great learning experience.

King explains, "While earning my degree I learned about being a teacher and how to work with parents from within the classroom. Now I get to learn about the children and parents from another perspective -- inside their home."

She continues, "I have been taught how to assign homework. But now I see how difficult it can become managing a lot of homework with extracurricular activities and busy lives. What an eye-opener for me."

"Caring for the children and communicating effectively with the parents and children as a nanny only adds precious skills to my resume,"says King.

She admits that the most difficult part of being a live-in nanny has been privacy. "When I first moved to New Jersey the family had never hired a live-in nanny before," says King. "At first the children did not know they couldn't go in my room any time they pleased," says King.

She continues, "Although I felt we lacked some personal boundaries in the beginning it seems trivial now. The members of the family changed immediately and give me plenty of privacy now," says King.

The live-in nanny recommends, "The most important thing for nannies to remember is to maintain some professional objectiveness with the job. Remember, this is a job, not your own family," says King.

Nancy Lacey is a nanny originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma has been working as a live-in childcare provider in Beverly Hills, California for the same family for six-years. Lacey says some of the perks of her job have been, "Meeting other nannies. Some even work for celebrities."

But, she admits it was not an easy adjustment at first. "I was very homesick for the first few months and used to call my parents crying all the time," says Lacey.

She continues, "The hardest part of being a nanny is the schedule. The parents were so spontaneous changing my schedule all the time." Lacey explains, "I had to sit down with the parents and explain I was exhausted and that I needed to develop a set schedule so I could plan my time-off as well." "Since that talk things have improved and I truly love my job," she says.

"Working so closely with the children is so rewarding. I can see my personal influence in their development and feel so fortunate to have had this working experience," says Lacey.

Lacey's advice to others considering moving to become live-in nannies, "The homesickness bug eventually bites. But be patient. You will get over being homesick." She recommends, "Allow the family to help you get over the hump so you can enjoy the experience."

“Just a few of the aspects of the job I will treasure most is forming a close relationship with the children, being trusted by the parents allowed the responsibility for every aspect of their well being, creating a happy and inspirational environment for the children, and I have loved watching them grow and develop,” says Lacey.

“I know I sound like a brochure but being a nanny is one of the most rewarding and worthwhile jobs you can have. If you love being with children, are dedicated to keeping them safe and happy, and are interested in educating and stimulating them to prepare for later life then becoming a nanny is ideal career for you,” explains Lacey.

"I love the family very much now and no matter where I move, they will be my friends for life," says Lacey.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Has a Mother Ever Offered You a Nanny Job Knowing that You Already are Working as a Nanny for Someone Else?

Is it Unethical to Use Nanny Poaching as a Negotiation Tactic?

Has a mother ever offered you a nanny job, despite knowing that you work as a nanny for someone else? When a parent or nanny agency offer you a nanny job, (when they already know you are working as a nanny), it is called nanny poaching. Nanny poaching makes unsuspecting nanny employers feel like their nanny was stolen right from under them.

We have a free market. If parents treat their nannies with respect and dignity their caregivers won’t even consider another job offer. But, when parents treat their nannies poorly the caregivers may consider the offer.

I often get weekend babysitting jobs from mothers I know through school or see at the playground. I don’t feel like it’s unethical to get part-time babysitting jobs this way. But, I understand why reputable nanny agencies, professional nannies, and parents that employ nannies feel nanny poaching is unethical.

If nanny poaching is unacceptable, is it also unethical for nannies to use being offered another nanny job as a negotiation tactic with their current employers? What do you think? If you were approached by another parent who is offering you a better paying nanny job is it tacky to use that job offer as a negotiation tactic?