Nanny Probs 04: Attacking the problem, not the person

 

Hi everyone! 

It's been a while since i've been on the blog and I am going to be making big strides in ending my random hiatuses in the new year! Today I wanted to talk about something that i've seen a lot of in the nanny community which is addressing problems that arise with your nanny family and how some things can get a bit blown out of proportion. Sometimes it can be as minor as deciding what the child should eat for lunch and other times there are bigger issues that can get blown out of proportion because of how the nanny and parents are communicating with each other. 

One of the most difficult things about being a nanny is coming in, getting to know your nanny kids and figure out a routine of what works and what doesn't only to have the parent say let's try it this way when you know it won't work. Small battles that feel major especially when it feels to be someone disrupting your work space and can be even more frustrating when parents do not want to listen to your side or compromise. When I was talking to someone wasn't a nanny and was explaining why I didn't want to do something the way a parent was asking me they, coming from a corporate office environment, asked me "But, that's their right to do as the parent right?"

The logical answer is yes.

I really don't have any right to demand or control a situation in someone else's household while placing rules over someone else's children and say 'things should be done xyz'. Even if someone asked me to help with a new sleep schedule or trying new foods and if i presented whatever I came up with if the parent were to shoot me down, that's their right. In our field of work we're in such an intimate space that it's difficult to separate your emotions from that since we're with the children all day and have tried things a variety of different ways and decided this is how you want to do things but now someone is saying 'you're wrong'. 

What I had to learn to make discussions about how to handle little situations like these was to step back and see things from the parents perspective. Why do they feel things should go this way and why do I feel the way I do and lets see if we can come up with a solution that works for everyone. I feel like a lot of conflict can come when two people refuse to see things any other way than what they think is right and can cause a lot of tension and doesn't make any progress. The same can be said for issues that arise outside of the child and only have to do in the home. Stepping back and listening to what the parent is saying, why they feel that way and what can you do to make this situation go more smoothly are great ways that I feel i've been able to move through certain situations smoothly. 

I feel that if I keep going this will turn into too much of a rambling blog post so in summary, what i'm trying to say is, taking time to assess the situation and what problem the parent is actually trying to tackle has really helped in coming up with better solutions where no one feels like they are being taken advantage of or opinions pushed aside. I feel like being in such an intimate situation does have a few perks in that you really get to understand your nanny family and their personalities and personality has a lot to do with how some people handle situations and in understanding that you can also better understand why they might be reacting the way they are or why they decided to handle a situation completely different than you would, and that's perfectly fine. 

Ok i'm done now. I will talk to you all very soon! 

 

Lauren 

 

 

5 Tips to Encourage Communication

Hello again everyone! Today I wanted to talk about some helpful tips i've learned to help start pushing non verbal children to speak out a bit more!

1. Give them time to react

It's natural to want to speed little things up during the day and get answers fast, however non verbal children need time to process and react. If they have a particularly chatty sibling drill this into their minds. What's difficult for us is going to be 10 times more difficult for a child so make sure that they understand when interacting with their sibling to always give them fair time to answer or play and to make their own decisions. 

2. Simplify Your Language

I do not mean baby talk. Using shorter and easily repeatable words along with short and to the point sentences. If you are teaching sign language go ahead and sign while you're communicating with your child, the more practice the better!

3. But also expose them to everything

I am not a particularly chatty person so say for instance a nonverbal child and I are alone by ourselves and we're just kind of in a lull. I read out loud and I will read anything and everything. From a magazine to a Stephen King book (joking), just so every opportunity for them to learn something new is used to its best advantage!

4. Educational technology and videos

My nanny kids have learned many a things from Elmo and car ride podcasts! There are lots of great educational videos about numbers, colors and new words all over the place! Shows that really interact with children on a level where they can repeat and practice while having fun are actually way more helpful than I ever thought they could be! I also love podcasts for in the car because the kids can have so much fun with them. Last week my nanny kids and I learned all about volcanoes and learning about these new things open the doors for new conversations and experiments!

5. Imitate the child

Mimicking the child's noises and play behavior can help them feel heard can do wonders for their confidence as well as encouraging them to speak more. It also encourages them to take turns and work together.

 

That's all from me and thank you so much for reading! If you have any fun games that you like to do or suggestions you'd like to make leave them in the comments below! I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Until next time! 

Lauren

Nanny Probs 03: When is it time to move on?

Hi everyone!

I really enjoy complaining, I mean blogging about particular nanny problems and so this series is never going to end. Today i'm talking again about moving on from your nanny family and how hard it is to come to that decision. 

I was recently faced with a hard decision in my personal nanny career and was struggling a lot with what direction I wanted to do and couldn't really come to a healthy solution and I couldn't understand why. I've alway done the part time nanny juggle which is where you're working full time hours but with different families scattered throughout the week. This was great when I was in school (I feel like such a grownup when I say that) but now that I have the opportunity to stay in one place it's becoming more and more obvious that this would be the best solution for me. It's the most logical solution for a lot of reasons. I wouldn't be putting so much mileage on my car, doing days of going to three different families is exhausting and my patience begins to run thin with the other children and parents which isn't fair to the families and I would be a lot more financially stable since I would be with one family who needed me versus having the possibility of my hours being cut. However and MAJOR however, I don't want to leave my current nanny families.

It's very easy to logically look at the whole of the situation and say I need to do x y and z but the stab in the chest comes when you're at work and your nanny kids are starting to do new things and you don't want to miss any of their upcoming milestones but life calls. 

I just read this on a different bloggers post a few weeks ago and it was like a slap in the face.

"When fear outweighs your faith
When frustration outweighs reward
When your health either physically or mentally is compromised
Seasonal change. This chapter is done but there’s another ahead.

Quitting does not mean you’re a failure or weak. It’s the next phase of the journey."

I began to wonder am I here because i'm that attached or am I more scared to leave and start this new chapter in my life? I think it's a bit of both. I am scared to move forward, that I will always be. I'm someone who is very hesitant and cautious of change, even moving my bed is a huge commitment for me so to completely change my working style and how I want to do things in my nanny career is going to be a process for me. Understanding that about myself and reminding myself that I need to be patient and careful with any upcoming changes has helped me a lot with the anxious and hesitant part about moving forward in this journey; but now comes the hard part. Looking for a new nanny family that I can work with full time. I've been out of the job search field for a while and going forward into it now is exhausting and so stressful but it has to be done. 

So i'll keep you guys posted on what's to come and we'll see what happens! Until next time take care!

Lauren

Nanny Probs 02: Letting Go and Keeping in Touch

    Hi everyone! Lauren here with another semi-long rambling ‘nanny experience’ post. I recently got to go see one of my first families that I worked for a few weeks back and it made me realize the importance of keeping in touch especially when you have a deep bond with the kids you’re watching. 

    Being a nanny i’ve found that the most difficult part of the job is building a healthy, open relationship with the parents and keeping that warm energy going after having to leave. Having to leave a family is never easy whether it be moving, it not being the right fit any more or even having the kids grow up to move on and after building that attachment it’s very stressful to have to say goodbye. Working with these families week to week you’re entire routine, for me anyway, is based around when you’re going to see them and what you’re going to do when you see them next. This job is different from an office where you leave for the day and works on the table, working with kids you go home thinking about how the day went, looking at pictures and feeling like you’ve had a full day of adventure. Being a nanny is really rewarding and addicting that way. No other job seems as appealing right now for melike the one I have where I can go to the zoo and go jump on the trampoline for a few hours each day. Back to the point.

 It’s very easy to break those lines of communication with the families after leaving especially if there were any negative feelings when you had to leave. Again, this isn’t a regular job where you’re leaving an office and someone will be right back in to replace you. You’re leaving those kids that you built a bond with and share memories with. When I had to leave my first family the boys were one and a half years old when I started they were only 6 months, maybe a little younger than that. My situation at that job changed a lot and I was no longer able to work there no matter how much I wanted to. 

The time leading up to my final day there I was really feeling the stress of my situation and was ready to move on until the day came. That’s when it hit me that this was it. Seeing those kids reach new milestones and learn new things was over. I was no longer going to wake up thinking about what we would learn about today or where we would go or see them smile with breakfast in their mouths when I walked into the kitchen to tell them good morning. I felt regretful that I couldn’t make this situation work and regretful that this was my last day and there was no going back this was it. It was an awful feeling to want to make something work and after thinking about it from every angle this was the best outcome. 

That was when I told myself I absolutely had to keep in touch and make myself keep in contact with the parents especially if I ever wanted to be able to go back and see how the boys were growing and learning. I’m not the world’s most social person and i’m probably the world’s worst texter but forcing myself to put effort in during the holidays and birthdays and even just regular check ups and to always respond to whatever the parents message to me has kept our relationship friendly and warm which i’m thankful for. It’s great for if I ever have a free day to be able to ask to see the boys and it not be completely awkward when I go over there and I get to see pictures of the boys as they grow older. It’s not the same of course as going on a daily basis but i’m still always grateful for update pictures and hearing about what they’ve been up to now. Do they have any idea who I am? Most likely not BUT that will not stop me from running up to them and squeezing them like crazy. 

Nanny Probs 01: The Part Time Nanny Dilemma

Scheduling your different families around each other. Feeling guilty when having to prioritize a family over another. The exhausting feeling that comes from going to multiple families in one day. Along with the most difficult worry of not wanting to quit any of your families to find one full time family.

Going through college having multiple families who needed different times throughout the week worked great for my school schedule. It’s not easy to find a job that allows you that much flexibility all the while supporting you financially. However it was no way easy. Going to different families with kids of all different ages can be a strain on anyone and can be exhausting. Especially on my kid to play meter. Working with children is such a great joy but matter how much I love the work it gets exhausting to have to do the same routine multiple times in the day all the while holding on to your patience and keeping up with whatever routine you follow for different families. Then there’s the added bonus of kids are not always the most cooperative. Dealing with one family all day where the child might be having a bad day and then going to work for another family whose kid is on a rampage can be stressful and tiring and more tiring! Especially with all of lives other normal stressful things going on. 

I really don’t have a solution to any of these problems besides the obvious. Deciding what you personally want for your nanny career and going for that no matter what. 

I’m at a point where I don’t want to keep having to drive multiple places in one day when I don’t have to anymore but i’ve been with some of my families for so long thinking about leaving is almost scary. For some of my families I feel like i’ve outgrown being there and others I feel i’ve grown with them and i’ve made the biggest life changes with them around. Being a nanny really does create this sense of family and community that you just don’t get from any other job! 

Then there’s the small fear in the back of my mind about going somewhere new and having to start over. What if me and the other family don’t click as well? What if it doesn’t work out and i’m back to square one without the family that I loved? I go around and around in circles very melodramatically in my mind almost daily now and I know i’m coming to a point where I need to decide what’s best for me and where I want to head in life BUT how could I just leave my families?

The whole situation is kind of a headache so i’ll figure it out soon...if my procrastination doesn’t get the best of me.

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

Lauren

How much should I pay??!

Hello All! It is great to be back on the blog! As I stated in a recent Instagram post, trying to balance college, 2 nanny families, running a business, and trying to be a normal 22 year-old is super hard!! But, I have been making some changes that will allow me to devote more time to things like this!!

My topic for today is simple. The title says it all. This is one of the most asked questions I get or see in moms groups. This topic is very touchy, so I felt I had to voice my opinion on the subject. It is a huge issue overall and on both sides. Nannies try to drastically over charge and families try to drastically undercharge.

The average pay for a nanny in Houston is $14.65. (click to see where I got that information) It is so common for me to see a college freshman who worked for a month at a summer program and has no other actual babysitting or nanny experience getting paid $15 an hour for 1 child. Which is completely incorrect. So, I will be listing what I feel factors into pay.

  • Lifestyle: See whether who you are interviewing is a career nanny or just coming into this as an extra means. A career nanny would get paid more (because of experience, credentials, ect.) and want to discuss things like a salary and benefits.
  • Experience: This is SO IMPORTANT!  A nanny who has been actually professionally nannying for at least 2 years or more would get paid more than someone who has been on and off babysitting for the last year. This matters because a long-time nanny knows the importance of tidying up at the end of the day, making sure bags are packed for the next day, ensuring the child's laundry is done. A babysitter does not necessarily have to do those things.
  • References: I personally believe references factors into pay. My reason being that references let you know exactly what type of work the candidate has been doing. If they say they have a year experience and all of their references only use them from time to time; then you know they have no years experience being an actual nanny. (trust me there is a difference!) Ask their references what was/are their duties and how often they use them. How long is/was their child normally in their care.
  • Certifications: This is a major factor. Continuing education always ups the pay. This shows true dedication to the field. ANY PERSON CARING FOR YOUR CHILD SHOULD ALWAYS BE CPR/FIRST AID CERTIFIED. 
  • Work Load: Try to be realistic. If you want your nanny caring for your child and doing full housework, of course, the pay would be more. Duties for the child like tidying up and laundry should be included. 
  • Number children: If you have 3 young children the rate is going to be more. Things like age and how many are potty trained also factors into this.

This is what I think the rates should be: 

Nanny

  • $11-14/hour live-out -- for a nanny who is 18-20 years-old or has less than two years verifiable child care experience. (more experience, higher pay) Ex: 18 year-old, did occasional babysitting in high school, CPR/First Aid Certified, 1 child, 3 years old (potty trained), duties include laundry. $11 an hour.
  • $14-20/hour live-out -- for a nanny who is 21 years or older, has two or more years verifiable child care experience. (more experience, higher pay) Ex. 25 year-old, nanny for 5 years, solid references, CPR/First Aid Certified, Early Childhood Development Certification, 2 children, 6 months and 2 years-old (not potty trained and in MDO 2 days a week), duties include laundry. $15 an hour.

Babysitter (added this in by request)

  • 18-20 years-old, up to 2 years experience, CPR/First Aid (1 child: $11 an hour, 2 children: $12-$14 an hour. (depending on ages and how long children are awake while the sitter is there) 3 children and up: $15 an hour and up (depending on ages and how long children are awake while the sitter is there)
  • 21 and up, 3 years or more experience, CPR/First Aid (1 child: $12 an hour, 2 children: $14-$15 an hour (depending on ages and how long children are awake while the sitter is there) 3 children and up: $16 an hour and up (depending on ages and how long children are awake while the sitter is there)

I bet you are wondering about raises? If you or your nanny notices that their duties have increased, they have obtained some certifications that can be beneficial to your child, or you want to talk about something more permanent, that is the perfect time to talk about a raise. A good time frame would be from about 6 months to a year of working together.

I hope you find this helpful! Please feel free to comment and let me know if you have any questions or topic suggestions!

-Brooklyn

5 Things I've Learned Working With Special Needs Kids

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to make a little list of things i've learned while working with special needs kids. Being in the special needs childcare field is so important to me and i’ve learned a lot about myself and what i've improved on by being in the field and thought I would share.

  1. To Stop Comparing

Working with typically developing kids and working with special needs kids I would say the biggest differentiating factor is learning that their milestones and development are happening at a different rate. This of course doesn’t alter that exciting, screaming ‘you did it’ feeling in the slightest. Why would it? I never look at what my typically developing children are doing in comparison to what my special needs kids are doing nor do I compare what one child with special needs is doing to another. There are so many different complexities in each child it’s impossible to try to keep everyone side by side on one developmental train. I’ve found it’s best to know your child, know what works best for them and push them in a way that is beneficial for them. 

2. Other Kids Ask Questions, Be Prepared

I love when were out where there’s large groups of kids like the park or a play center and kids come up to ask questions. Usually they ask questions just because they're a little unsure and want the green light to go play crazy with my kids or just want to know why. Curiosity isn't something that should be negated, especially in younger kids, and I am always reassuring parents that it’s much better to approach the child’s caregiver and ask questions versus not getting all the information and the subject of special needs becoming some sort of taboo. 

3. People Who Work With Special Needs Kids are Not Superheroes

Whenever I am talking to people about my job and future education goals working with special needs kids comes up. More often than not people will get a look of sympathy or guilt and congratulate me on wanting to go into that field. Caregivers who work with special needs kids are not doing anything that requires that type of reaction, we’re doing our job.  No, it’s not easy, but point me to an easy child to take care of. 

4. Patience and Creativity Go Hand in Hand

Some days can get rough and I have had to pull patience from out of nowhere, more than once, and that usually includes making up a game on the spot or making up a new song and dance.

5. To Look at All Sides At All Times

One annoying thing about myself is that I can never pick a side, I can’t lay things out and only see two options which is great when working in childcare and horrible when trying to find a place to eat. Working with different special needs families i’ve found two children can have the same disability, be the same age and are different developmentally and emotionally. Again like I said earlier, same for typically developing kids. By knowing everyone is wired differently, everyones processing for different situations is different it’s so hard not to see an argument or discussion and get an understanding for each individual factor and everyone’s thinking. 

I am sure as time goes on I will come back and expand on this list! Thanks for reading!


-Lauren

Learning to Communicate Nonverbally

This post is going to be a little different. It’s not really an advice blog but just more of my experience with first working with kids who have special needs and are nonverbal or typically developing kids who just prefer to communicate through sign language. 

 

 

When I first began working with children who have special needs a big part of my adjustment was learning to slow down and communicate non verbally. Working in childcare, and generally being with toddlers, the kids i’ve watched that have been typically developing talked a mile a minute and so to begin working with kids who have special needs or with kids whose parents taught them sign language at an early age weren’t as talkative as I was used to. 

 

To go from being with toddlers and kids who are able to communicate their needs quickly and loudly to kids who communicate through sign or actions was a bit of an adjustment. The first big problem I had that frustrated me was not being able to know the child’s needs quickly. It’s different going from a child talking a mile a minute and telling you what they need versus having to ask and not get a verbal answer. My first experience with having to watch a child who was nonverbal was frustrating not because I was annoyed with the child for not being able to tell me anything but with myself because at the time I didn’t know any sign language or how to be able tell from the child’s actions what they needed. As a nanny it’s my job to keep my charges safe and happy and to feel like I couldn’t do that to the best of my capability made me want to pull my hair out, to say the least. 

 

One of my biggest help in being able to build my confidence and patience was watching the kids interact with other sitters and take note of the kinds of questions and energy that they brought around the kids. I would never want a child to feel uncomfortable with me or feel like i’m not understanding them so it was comforting to see other caretakers going through the same round of questions and having to figure out what the child needed. Another was forcing myself to learn the basic sign language signs and practice it with my kids. Since sign sort of turns into the best way for them to learn new words teaching them new vocabulary with sign language was a great way in helping them learn new things and building up our communication. 

It still gets tricky sometimes but looking back on my nanny life from when i've started i've made huge progress and just thought i'd share. Until next time, thanks for reading!

 

-Lauren 

Healthy Treats During the Holiday Season!

 

I have a major sweet tooth and so does E and i'm partially, if not solely, to blame for her love of cookies and sweet treats so this year I am going to try and keep healthy alternatives available for her to munch on. 

Last week I made gluten free zucchini muffins, E and Little G aren't gluten free but in using gluten free flours you can give yourself and your kids a little nutritional boost! The best way i've found to get the 'hey these are gluten free' tough, grainy texture out of gluten free baking is mixing flours. So if a recipe calls for 1 c. flour you can take gluten free baking flour plus tapioca flour or tapioca flour plus coconut flour. Here's a rundown of gluten free flours so you can see what works best for you and your taste preference!

https://glutenfreegirl.com/a-guide-to-gluten-free-baking/?v=7516fd43adaa

Another way to add little boosts in desserts is by substituting sugar with agave syrups, honey, or molasses. I personally love using agave in baking recipes versus honey since honey has it's own distinct flavor and agave is a sort of neutral sweetener. 

If you wanted to make any of these recipes vegan and gluten free replacing the eggs with bananas or applesauce is a great substitute. Replacing the butters with coconut oil, olive oil or a vegan butter substitute is a great route to take. I've found coconut oil is the best neutral butter substitute as olive oil has its own taste. When using coconut oil it can begin to solidify when coming in contact with cold milks and eggs but placing it in the microwave for 10 seconds or placing the bowl over a hot stove plate will melt it down again.  

I attempted zucchini muffins last week and they weren't perfect, I was missing a few things, but they were good and I loved being able to throw the girls a muffin in between adventures. I'm definitely going to try to keep up with baking them a sweet treat once a week, and maybe even have a few baking days with the girls! Below i'll list the muffins as well as some other great recipes I want to try that i'm sure the girls and possibly your young ones would love! 

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2015/01/healthy-blueberry-zucchini-muffins/

Healthy Banana Bread

http://cookieandkate.com/2015/healthy-banana-bread-recipe/

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

http://hintofjoes.com/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-cookies/

Rhubarb Pies

http://heartbeetkitchen.com/2014/recipes/raspberry-rhubarb-hand-pies/

Applesauce Muffins

http://lilluna.com/mini-applesauce-muffins-2/

No Bake Cake Batter Bites

http://thebigmansworld.com/2015/10/04/healthy-no-bake-cake-batter-bites-paleo-vegan-gluten-free/

Spinach Muffins

http://www.messforless.net/spinach-muffin-recipe-food-fun-friday/

 

Until next time!

-Lauren 

 

 

Sneaking in the greens!

So, a couple of weeks ago I wanted to try and get S & L eating more greens. But of course I knew the whole, "Here eat this nice piece of tasteless broccoli!" Wasn't going to work. Instead, we made Green Monster Smoothies!!! (Came up with that name so there was no wondering why it was green) I also had them help me so th y could watch the spinach go in. It made it easier to explain how the spinach was a cool veggie that helped the green monster come to life! It was super fun, super healthy, and a total hit! 

 

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