Monday, September 30, 2013

The Best Nannies Resist the Urge to be Average

Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

I feel like I am finally reaching the salary and professional respect that I have been striving for in the past 20-years working as a nanny. There is no doubt that there is lot of luck is involved in finding a great nanny job in which the parents and nanny work well together. But, while talking with other employees that work in the same household as I do, I realize that a lot of my career success is attributed to maintaining an optimistic, pro-active, flexible, and a professional attitude -- as well as having a little luck.

The best nannies keep their jobs and earn their raises by making themselves essential to their employers. The best nannies are willing to pitch-in beyond just basic childcare duties to help the parents as well as caring for the kids. The best nannies resist the urge to be average at their jobs.

In 100 Simple Secrets of Successful PeopleDavid Niven, Ph.D., the author explains that each day we are surrounded by average people who can easily entice us into being more like them. The book explains that it’s too easy to mirror the bad behaviors the people we see and are in touch with daily. Caregivers with bad work habits can easily rub off on us.

With that in mind I want to encourage other nannies to not allow others with bad attitudes to convince them to sacrifice their goals, individuality, professionalism, character, and strong work ethic. To be better than an average nanny we need to surround ourselves with nannies, au pairs, and parents with qualities we want to possess.

It doesn’t matter to me if the lazy, disrespectful nanny that gossips negatively about her employers across the street tells me how much she doesn’t like her job. It doesn’t matter if she’s not willing to do the same chores, errands, or duties that I am willing to do for the family that hired me. I only work as a nanny to help the parents that have hired me to do my best to help raise their kids to their wishes. I am finding it’s best to either ignore or disassociate with the other caregivers in town that drag- me-down and focus on keeping my employers and their kids happy instead.

Of course nannies must learn to be around people they don’t like at times too. There is no point in being mean towards others or alienating yourself from other nannies. But for nannies surrounded by bad influences I’d like them to remember that they don’t work for other nannies or caregivers in town and they don’t owe other nannies anything. Nannies work for their employers. To be the most successful nanny they can be they may need to ignore those that drag them down and simply focus on doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

100 Simple Secrets of Successful People, The: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It

Friday, September 27, 2013

Caramel and Candy Apples

Cooking With Kids

It's apple harvest time and candy apples are a common treat at autumn festivals. Caramel apples are created by dipping or rolling apples on-a-stick in hot caramel and you can also roll them in peanuts before cooling. Candy apples are covered in a hard sugar candy coating and we choose to roll them in coconut flakes.

Please visit our new blog  at to see how to make caramel and candy apples.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

$95 Won't Convince Nannies to Buy Health Insurance

Nannies that Don't File Taxes Won't Be Able to Get Government Subsidized Health Insurance (But They Might Qualify for Medicaid)

Here are the State-by-State Premiums Under the Health Care Law published in the New York Times.

I've often tried to explain the benefits of paying taxes to nannies who prefer to be paid in cash. Yet, it is estimated that 80% to 90% of domestic workers don't pay taxes.

I feel the same attitude of not considering long-term affects of their financial decisions will keep many nannies (that already don't pay taxes) from buying health insurance despite the fact that the Affordable Health Care Act requires American's to be covered by health insurance by January 1, 2014.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be penalizing those who don't have health insurance starting January 1, 2014. But the penalties are actually intended for businesses with employees, not families. Since the penalties are so low ($95 per adult, $47.50 per child and up to $285 per family or 1% of income which ever is greater) it won't sway most nannies that don't pay taxes to purchase health insurance. And Congress has not provided the IRS with any other enforcement capabilities.

If no taxes are filed, the nanny is already treated the same as an illegal immigrant. Undocumented nannies (American's that don't pay taxes) cannot get disability insurance, unemployment benefits, and social security. Nannies that don't file taxes won't be able to get the government subsidized health insurance either.

But, in states in which Medicaid will be expanded to include younger citizens more nannies that are paid under-the-table will be applying and getting government assistance through Medicaid. Click here to see if the state you live in will be expanding Medicaid coverage.

But, I still urge all nannies to consider purchasing health insurance now that basic and essential health insurance premiums are cheaper than ever.

Nannies will not be penalized much by the government for not purchasing health insurance, but everyone is at risk of a catastrophic accident, illness, or injury. Without health insurance coverage nannies could be "penalized" by a lifetime of debt and credit unworthiness.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nanny Love Message Board

Wednesdays with Whitney

It's National Nanny Recognition Week (NNRW)! Some recognize the week by a celebration dessert, others by a day at the spa. I think it's important though to use NNRW to celebrate with your charges all the reasons you love being not only a nanny, but THEIR nanny! That's exactly what this message board will encourage you to do day in and day out months after NNRW is long past!

Check out how to make this Nanny Love Message Board on our new blog at

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Obamacare and Nannies: Sign-Up Time for Obamacare

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins October 1, 2013. All uninsured Americans will be required to have insurance coverage as of January 1, 2014. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), provides a new way to buy insurance through a health insurance marketplace so can you easily compare insurance options.

If you have health insurance you don't have to do anything. For example, if you already have private insurance, employer-sponsored insurance, retirement insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, or VA health benefits you don't have to do anything. There is also a hardship exemption available.

If you or your family has no insurance, policies will be available online on health insurance exchange sites on October 1, 2013.

To apply call by phone after October 1, 2013 (800) 318-2596 or visit or check your local government to see where you can apply in-person.

The cost of a policy will vary depending on the age of the applicant, the area in which you live, the number of members in the family and whether the applicant uses tobacco.

If you don't have health insurance coverage and make more than $10,000 per year starting on January 2014, you will be subject to a penalty. The penalty is $95/adult, $47.50/child up to $285/family or 1% of income, whichever is greater. The penalties are assessed by the IRS when income tax is filed. Congress provided the IRS with no other enforcement capabilities.

For the estimated 90-percent of nannies that don't pay taxes, government subsidized insurance may not be unavailable to them but they may be able to apply for Medicaid.

As you can see, the premium on a policy is subject to many variables. Our guess from the information available currently, a single nanny making $30,000/year will pay $175 to $210 per month for a basic policy. This is a rough estimate from what we have found so far. The premiums will vary by state. You will need to check your own state web sites. Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013 and enforcement begins January 1, 2014.

More information will be available about the policies available in your state for national pharmacy chains, media and online sites. We urge you to scrutinize your choices as insurance is obviously a more prudent choice than uncertainty and debt.

Obamacare is partly a national program and partly a state and regional program. States with Republican Governors may not have expanded Medicaid and will not offer expanded benefits to the poor.

In most states, emergency room care cannot be denied regardless of insurance coverage. However, a lifetime of debt or bad credit is possible if nannies have a catastrophic illness or injury and don't have health insurance coverage.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am a nanny and the purpose of this message is to provide information I have found online in the references below. Please consult a tax professional and health care administrator for specific information.


Monday, September 23, 2013

For National Nanny Recognition Week: A Sincere Compliment is All a Nanny Needs

Take Pride Being the Most Important Person the Parents Ever Hired

There is no greater honor than being given the trust and responsibility of caring for someone else's children. Nannies not only make it possible for parents to work and enhance their financial security and career, they are given the incredible responsibility of helping raise and mold the characters of the children of hard working parents.

Not only is it a great compliment to work as a nanny, but nannies are some of the strongest, most courageous and intelligent women and men with the most incredible personal stories from every corner of the globe.

Nannies working in America come from all different cultures, experiences, levels of education and socioeconomic groups. Professional career nannies not only provide the practical needs of the children left in their care but they have long lasting influence on their self-esteem, love of learning, courage, confidence, perseverance and optimism.

And miraculously after 10 or more hours per day changing diapers, washing laundry, cooking, tidying the house, helping with homework and bathing someone else's kids many nannies go home just to do the same chores and hard work of raising their own kids as well.

That's why having a week dedicated to recognizing the essential work of nannies is so important. During this next week, National Nanny Recognition Week, I urge parents to take the time and effort to thank their in-home child care providers. Although giving gifts is always nice and appreciated, compliments and sincere thank yous are much more important to caregivers than material gifts.

What is the best compliment parents you have worked for have given you?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What to Give Nannies for National Nanny Recognition Week

What Do Your Employers Do to Show They Appreciate You?

National Nanny Recognition Week begins today! So, for Product Review Sunday we recommend parents buy gifts for their nannies from Cafe Press. What nanny wouldn't love an adorable tote bag or shirt given to them to show their employers' appreciation? Click here to shop for nanny gifts.

Some of our readers told us the gifts they loved recieving from their employers. Feel free to share how your employers have shown they appreciate you.

For example, Maria Lopez of Miami, FL says, "One morning the mother told me she got a bonus at work so she's giving me $100 and a day off of my asking. She said I was a very important part of the family. Although it wasn't for Nanny Recognition Week this unexpected gift was so amazing."

Another nanny, Imani O., also has been given cash and time-off from the parents as a way for the family to show their appreciation. She explains, "This summer the parents asked me if there were a few extra days I would like off this summer (paid). We scheduled the days off and they handed me a Thank You card with cash in it to spend on my days off!"

Fiona Littleton, a nanny in New York, NY said, "Other than saying 'thank you' often the parents allowed me to stay in their summer house in the Hamptons this summer while they went to Disney. They allowed me to use their credit card to buy food too. They said this was sinmply a Thank You gift rather than using it as vacation time of sick days or holiday bonus."

A full-time, live-out nanny Kimberly shares with us, "My Mom Boss gets a lot of gift cards from work whenever she reaches sales goals. Typically she gives the gift card to me. She has given me American Express gift cards, several Barnes and Noble gifts cards, and a Nordstrom gift card."

Erin, a nanny in Greenwich, CT says, "The parents gave me a week off to spend without them at their shore house. Free rent and I got paid my regular salary. I can't complain."

What have your employers given you to show they appreciate you?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Book Review by Kids for Kids
Review by James, 12-Years-Old

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis is my favorite book. In the story, four children named Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter find a magic wardrobe that takes them to a magical world called Narnia.

While they are in Narnia they meet lots of interesting characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, Mr. Tumnus, Aslan, (the Lion King) and The White Witch.

The White Witch is very evil and wants to rule Narnia. She captures Edmund and makes him her slave. As the other children search for Edmund they get help from the beavers and Aslan. Aslan speaks to the White Witch. In exchange, for Edmund, Aslan must surrender to the witch. She kills Aslan and the children have to save Narnia without the help of Aslan. But, don't be too sad Aslan comes to life again in the story.

I love that there are interesting characters that are talking animals in the story. One interesting character I like is Mr. Tumnus, who is half goat half man that is captures by the witch. My favorite character is Aslan, who is a lion and is the king of Narnia.

The book teaches how to be good friends with other people and how siblings should be close and help one another. I think that main message that the author is trying to share is that good always overcomes bad. I loved the part where the brothers fight against the white witch because it the fight between good and evil. I learned to help others in difficult situations when they are in need just like the children helped Aslan.

I recommend this book to people who like to read suspenseful stories. I also recommend watching the movie about Narnia after reading a book. Children that are 9-years-old and older and their parents will love this book.

You can purchase your own copy by clicking the links below:

The Book:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Movie:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Best Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Soup Soothes Sore Throats

There is nothing like warm soup to soothe a sore throat. The family I work for and I have had terribly sore throats this week. But, we have a viral infection that antibiotics cannot treat so we only have hot fluids and rest to ease the suffering. I served the sick kids plenty of hot tea, hot cider, and chicken soup. But the best remedy was this broccoli cheddar soup I made for the kids that can be found at CDK Kitchen.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
3 cups water
4 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon
2 packages (10 ounce size) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups half and half


In large saucepan, cook onion in butter until tender; stir in flour, and blend well. Gradually stir in water; add bouillon and broccoli. Cook and stir until thickened and broccoli is tender.

Stir in cheese and half and half. Cook and stir until cheese is melted and soup in heated through. Do not boil.

Reference: I found this soup at CDK Kitchen

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Four Ways to Stop Kids from Whining

Break the Whining Habit
Advice shared from Dr. Ray Guarendi the Author of Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime

When reading Discipline That Lasts a Lifetimeby Dr. Ray Guarendi you will learn that all kids whine sometimes — it’s part of their childish nature. Contrary to popular belief, not all kids outgrow the practice. Some grown-ups can still whine with the best of kids. But prime whine time lies in the heart of childhood, roughly between the ages of three and ten.

Much whining is transitory. It comes and goes with the coming and going of a child’s wants. If the child doesn’t desire anything from you, the child is less likely to whine.

Here are four ways to get kids to stop whining:

1. Planned Stupor: The most basic approach to end whining is to use planned stupor. Once the whining starts, you should cease to respond. Act as though no one is even there.

2. Deliberate Distance: If planned stupor isn’t appealing to you, turn to whine tactic number two, deliberate distance. Wherever and whenever possible, as soon as the whining begins, put distance between your ears and the child’s vocal chords.

3. Anything Whined for is not Given: A third option is the anything whined for is not given rule. If the child whines for something, tell her once, “that’s whining,” and then don’t give her what she’s asking for. She has to ask appropriately to receive it the first time around.

4. Post Reminders: Finally, to remind you and the children that whining is not a form of communication that gets any results in the house, put up a sign on the refrigerator door clearly spelling out “NO WHINE.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Home Care Workers Included in Fair Labor Standards Act!

Major Step for Domestic Workers

Yesterday the White House released new regulations to include home care workers in the Fair Labor Standards Act!

Last Wednesday, the California State Senate passed the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, AB 241!

The announcement from the White House is part of a broad movement to win dignity, respect, and labor protections for domestic workers whose labor makes all other work possible in the United States.

New York and Hawaii have both passed Domestic Workers Bills of Rights, the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights awaits the Governor’s signature, and our members are organizing to pass similar bills in Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and Connecticut.

The Federal Government has taken a major step forward to provide minimum wage and overtime pay to the workforce!

Spoon Painting

Wednesdays with Whitney

Painting is such a great way to express yourself, but sometimes paintbrushes just don't tell the whole story. I find that this unorthodox method of painting is a great way to help children express their high powered emotions, like anger or excitement. Try it out the next time your little one gets mad and doesn't know how to correctly express it!


1. Start setting up by taping a large piece of paper to either an easel or the floor. Now be sure to tape lots of newspaper around it to capture any pain flyaways!
2. Next set up the paint in bowls and instead of placing paintbrushes in them, place spoons in them!
3. Now let your little ones fling their emotions on the paper with the spoons. They can even smear it around with the spoons to create a more cohesive art piece.
ccc4. Once your child is done painting, use the opportunity to talk about their emotions and what they thought as they were creating the art piece. It opens great communication lines and can help them understand their emotions better.

Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for a fun project by Whitney Tang and to check out Nanny Magazine. Click here to take a Nanny Magazine survey for nannies.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nanny Confessions: It is Just Easier to Work When I am Sick

Does the Family You Work for Have a Back-Up Plan in Case You are Sick?

If you get sick do you and the parents have a back-up plan? In all the nanny jobs I have ever worked at for the past 20-years the families I work for and I have never had a temporary nanny or babysitter backup to fill in for me when I’m sick. And with the stress it takes to find someone to care for the kids, let other workers in the house, getting the kids to activities, helping them with homework, and feeding them what they like, I confess, sometimes I think it’s just easier to work when I’m sick.

Some parents can call a family member such as a Grandparent that lives locally to help care for their kids when their nannies get sick. When in a pinch some parents can try hiring a nanny friend who knows the kids well. Before asking a nanny friend if she could pitch-in, the parents in need of child care should call the other nanny’s employer for permission. Of course, your employers would pay the backup caregiver for helping out in this time of need.

Finally, parents should consider hiring a screened temporary nanny through their trusted local nanny agency. There is a piece of mind in contacting your local nanny agency who interviews their nanny candidates thoroughly if parents need to hire a temporary nanny while their caregiver is sick. If parents have enough time prior to your sick leave, for a surgery or medical procedure, the parents can go online and interview and hire a temporary caregiver from nanny web sites as well.

Typically domestics don’t qualify for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which requires employers to provide unpaid, job guaranteed leave to heal from serious health conditions. So nannies should always negotiate to have paid sick days included in their work agreement.

What is the plan if you get sick?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Daily Nanny Logs

Click here to print out Infant Daily Log
Professional Nannies Log Their Day for the Parents

Anne M. Geissler of The Child Care Textbookexplains that each day upon the parent’s return, nannies inform the parents on how the children ate, slept, and what they did during the day. After an evening out, babysitters who are merely adequate don’t usually think of this and sometimes the parents are either too busy or too tired to ask.

By keeping a daily log nannies are able to inform the parents of the habits and behaviors of their children. The parents will have a clearer perception of how their children spend their time, providing an opportunity to evaluate the quality of time they have spent with their nanny.

The parents will feel more knowledgeable and involved with their children since detailed information is available.

Without the daily log important milestones, trends, and development might be missed or forgotten. The daily log reinforces what areas nannies must observe. This can be accomplished by using an inexpensive notebook kept in diary style with entries made daily. It should be left in a common area such as the kitchen or study, where both the nanny and parents can have easy access to it.

Click here to print school-age daily log
Basics of a Daily Log Include:

  • activity/exercise
  • appetite/diet
  • elimination
  • growth/development

When commenting on these areas, nannies should do so in a narrative style. Nannies should make it as interesting as possible. Rather than writing, “He ate tuna salad and apple for lunch,” make comments on appetite compared to how well the child eats at other meals. For example, “Although he wasn’t hungry yesterday, he had a great appetite for lunch today. He ate an entire tuna salad sandwich and apple today.”

Remark on the child’s mood and activity level. For example, you might write:

  • “He refused to sit on the potty so we used diapers instead today.”
  • “She has been taking a longer nap in the afternoon and not as long in the morning.”
If you prefer to purchase a daily log book we recommend The Nanny Notebook by Julie Kemsley.

The Child Care Textbook

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lollacup: Products Nannies Love

No Spill Straw Sippy Cups

Typically nannies expect a big, wet mess when kids are learning to use a straw. Kids instinctively tip cups up like they do when using a bottle which makes liquid spill when using a straw. But not anymore. Now there is Lollacup.

Lollacup is an innovative straw sippy cup that makes a great starter cup for infants and toddlers. The valve-free, weighted straw allows children as young as nine-month-old to easily and effectively drink from the straw, even when the cup is tilted.

The handles make the cup easy for small hands to hold, but they detach easily so you can put your Lollacup in a cup-holder.

The cup is dishwasher-safe, easy to clean, and comes with a straw-cleaning brush for added convenience. Lollacup is proudly made in the USA with safe materials that have been FDA approved for use by young children as young as nine-months-old.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech

Book Reviews by Kids for Kids
By Josie, 10-Years-Old

The story Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech is my favorite book of all time. I love the main character, Mary Lou Finney. Mary Lou is a 13-year-old girl and has a crazy summer. Mary Lou writes a diary about her summer because her new English teacher asks her to write a journal during the summer. Once she starts writing the journal, she can't stop.

Mary Lou has a huge family of six and things get crazy when her cousin, Carl Ray, comes to live with them for awhile. Carl Ray really comes to visit to find his real father, Mr. Furtz. Mr. Furtz is Mary Lou's next-door neighbor. While Carl Ray is visiting Mr. Furtz he has a heart attack and dies.

But, that's only a little bit of the drama in the book. You'll have to read it to find out what happens with the other characters.

This book is unique because throughout the whole book Mary Lou is telling the story through writing in a journal. This way of writing helps the reader understand what the writer is thinking, and what the characters are thinking and feeling. This book made me feel like I was actually in the story. I like that feeling, because you get more in the book and want to keep reading.

I wouldn't have changed anything in the story because I liked every part of the book. But, if I had to pick one favorite party of the book it would be when Mary Lou goes on a date with Alex.

I recommend it for girls aged eight-years-old to 13-years-old because some things are too sad for younger children, and it might get boring for children over 13-years-old. I think girls would like this book more than boys because it has a lot of parts that relate to young girls and teens.

You can purchase your own copy of the book by clicking the links below:

Absolutely Normal Chaos

Friday, September 13, 2013

Making Soft Pretzels

Cooking with Kids
Recipe from Taste of Home, photos by Stephanie Felzenberg

Baking encourages children to be creative using all of their senses. Seeing their friends and family eat what they helped to bake improves their sense of achievement and self-esteem. These soft pretzels from Taste of Home can be made salty or sweet -- your choice.

What You Need:
• 3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
• 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup warm water (120° to 130°)
• 1 Tablespoon softened butter or vegetable oil

• 3 Tablespoons water
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• Kosher salt
• Coarse sugar
• 2 Tablespoons butter, melted, optional
• Cinnamon-sugar

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, water and butter; beat until smooth (mixture will be slightly sticky). Sprinkle with 1-2 Tablespoons water if dough is dry. Cover and let rest in a warm place 30 minutes.

2. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly greased surface; divide into six pieces. Roll each piece into a 24-in. rope. For topping, combine water, sugar and baking soda in a shallow bowl.

3. Shape each rope into a pretzel and dip into the baking solution. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt or coarse sugar. (We made some of the pretzels into shapes of letters. See the "S" pretzel above).

4. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter. Dip in cinnamon-sugar, if desired.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Dos of Communicating with Parents

Talking with Your Employers
By Anne Merchant Geissler, The Child Care Textbook

Before talking with your employers, set an agenda. Decide on the topic for discussion and
agree on how much time will be allotted with the understanding that there may be future meetings. Keep focused on the current issues and keep track of time.

Be patient. Allow each person 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.

Focus on positive results. Believe that everyone’s needs can be met in a satisfactory way. There are solutions that can work for everyone. The challenge is to honor everyone involved in the communication and to be open to all possibilities. It may take several meetings to explore and create the best environment.

Give empathy. Acknowledge each other’s feelings and concerns. Practicing empathy instead of opposition or intellectual feedback can bring remarkable results in creating nurturing, and mutually supportive relationships.

Talk honestly about your feelings and concerns. You have a right to express your feelings but do so without accusing others or making others feel they are wrong. Take a few moments so that you can state your feelings clearly and directly without being overly emotional.

Develop an inquiring attitude. Ask open ended questions — not statements hidden within questions. For example, “Why do you always…?”

Use “I” statements. Avoid defensive reactions by coming from your own personal experience. Instead of beginning with accusations that begin with “you,” shift the tone by stating how you feel. For example, “When I heard what you did, I felt angry because I felt like my input was ignored.”

Paraphrase and use expanders, such as, “You felt sad. Tell me more.” This conveys understanding, interest, and inquiry. Use eye contact and nodding of the head.

Begin and end with something positive. Acknowledge the positive aspects or qualities of the situation or individuals involved before addressing frustrating or difficult issues. End on a positive note by thanking others for their time and effort for participating.

This advice is from The Child Care Textbook by Anne Merchant Geissler. You can purchase your own copy by clicking the links below:

The Child Care Textbook: Required Reading in the Nation's First Tuition-free, College Credit, Child Care Training Program

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dry Erase Surfaces

dry erase board
Wednesdays with Whitney

Dry Erase boards are great for practicing letters, learning math, and playing games like tic tac toe over and over again. Plus, they’re mess free! Unfortunately, small dry erase boards get lost easily and large ones can be expensive. Try these alternatives for some everyday around the house fun!

Did you know that dry erase markers work on mirrors? It’s a great place to write an important note about not forgetting lunch, an encouraging word for the first big game, but above all things, a mirror is the perfect surface upon which to draw silly faces! It’s the photo booth you’ve always dreamed of where you can be whatever you want to be without any props at all! Make a mustache, some curly hair, or even a top hat - the kids are sure to giggle the afternoon away!

Glass works as a great dry erase board as well! Take to that big family room window with lots of colors and make a giant rainbow or write a secret message to a neighbor friend! Window already taken up with the morning’s masterpiece? No worries, try out the glass coffee table! It’s the perfect spot to play hangman with your charges on a rainy day.

Take caution with this one as dry erase markers don’t work on every fridge. Make a small mark on an unseen part of the fridge in order to test yours out. If it comes off with the swipe of a finger, congratulations! You have found yet another surface on which to expand your charge’s imagination! The fridge is a great, large surface to practice things like difficult math problems for the older kids. It’s also a great surface on which to make a weekly calendar to make sure everyone is up to date on the week’s activities. Something changes? No problem! Just wipe it off and reschedule!

Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for a fun project by Whitney Tang and to check out Nanny Magazine. Click here to take her Nanny Magazine survey for nannies.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Don’t Ignore 9/11 with Children

Nanny Confessions: It's Hard to Discuss 9/11 with Children

I confess I hate talking about 9/11. And I confess it's even harder speaking to kids about 9/11. But, I have been seeing public service announcements on television about the importance of speaking with kids about what happened on 9/11, rather than ignoring the topic.

Everyone who was old enough remembers what they were doing that day. But, according to 60-Minutes nearly one-quarter of the population was too young to remember 9/11. It is an important part of history and students will start learning about the attack once they enter Kindergarten until they graduate from high school and beyond, so parents and caregivers should be prepared to talk to kids about 9/11.

With difficult topics I typically recommend nannies ask the parents how they would like them to discuss the topic before speaking to the kids. I still encourage nannies ask the parents how they would like them to address the topic if the kids ask questions. It's difficult to think and talk about, but it is an important part of American history.

Below are some ideas by Richard Rende, PhD from his Red Hot Parenting column on on how to discuss 9/11 with kids:

You Can Bring it Up: You can say, “You might be hearing about 9/11 on TV or at school (or on the computer). Let me know if you want to talk about it, okay?”

Be Prepared For Many Small Conversations Rather Than One Big One: Kids often formulate questions over time. It’s common for them to ask you something “out of the blue” that’s connected to something they saw or heard the prior day or two. And they will also be hearing and seeing lots of things over the next week. So it may be that you get a question or comment here or there — but spread over days or even weeks.

Let Kids Dictate How Much Information They Want: If a child wants to talk about 9/11, be an especially good listener and give them short answers so you can let them tell you what they really want to find out. Just follow their lead, one step at a time.

Be Factual But Supportive: It’s important to be factual with the child — you want to provide correct information for them so that you can be their trusted source. This can be difficult with an event that evokes a number of very strong emotions (sadness, grief, anger, etc.). However remind yourself that the goal is to be honest without overburdening. You can also say that, in the moment, they are very safe.

Pay Attention to Kids’ Emotions: Kids differ in their personalities. Some might not get emotional, whereas others might be very reactive (and seem scared or upset rather quickly). Keep in mind the child’s personality and remember that a critical objective is to offer emotional support. If the child gets upset, simply comfort them and reassure them as best you can.

Tightly Monitor Exposure to the Media: Part of your discussion may be to talk about how you will monitor exposure to media, particularly TV and Internet. Media coverage is pitched to adults (unless it is explicitly designed for younger ages), so also assume that the verbal and visual content will be emotional and potentially distressing to kids.

Keep Life Normal: With the exception of monitoring media use, it’s best to try to keep life as normal as possible. So even after you have a potentially emotional discussion with the child, move on to the next thing and send the message that the child’s life is not changing and safe.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Nannies Must Support the Parent and Child Bond

Respecting Professional Boundaries: Don’t Speak Badly About the Parents in Front of Their Kids

There are few things as horrible for a nanny to do than speak despairingly about their employers in front of their employers’ kids. Yet, so many nannies gossip about their employers right in front of the children. No child wants (or should) hear negative comments about their own parents, and certainly not from the caregivers the parents hire to care for their children. Instead, professional nannies encourage the parent and child bond.

Children notice when nannies disrespect the parents by lying to them or by not following the rules of the house. Ignoring parents’ wishes not only destroys employer/caregiver relationship, but it confuses kids and hurts their relationship with the nanny and the parents.

Instead, nannies should help encourage the parent and child bond by following the parents’ directions and wishes.

Caregivers with a strong knowledge of child development recognize how important it is for children to feel loved by their parents, have a sense of belonging, and trust in their environments. To encourage this love, trust, and bond nannies should intentionally speak positively about the kids’ parents when in the children’s presence.

Nannies should also know when to step-back gracefully when the parents arrive home allowing parents plenty of opportunities for to spend quality time with their children.

In-home child care providers should ensure the parents that they aren’t trying to replace them. Nannies should never let the kids call them “Mom” or “Dad” and should correct others if they address them as “Mom” or “Dad.”

Nannies should ask the parents if they can look at and share family photos with the kids and share stories about the kids and parents. In-home child care providers should keep a daily log so the parents know the milestones and difficulties their kids experience each day.

Finally, before gossiping about their bosses in front of the kids, nannies should consider how they would feel if they were a parent and their caregiver spoke negatively about them in the presence of their kids.