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Nanny Olympics

And the gold medal goes to……

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I was asked to babysit tonight for a family I spent many a Monday babysitting for. They were my first real babysitting gig and several years later I am enjoying their children every bit as much as I did the years before. It really got me thinking about my babysitting history and where it all began. As we sat downstairs (the ten year old, twelve year old, and myself) watching the Winter Olympics and coming up with crazy Olympic races for ourselves I started to reminisce about my winning games as a babysitter and a nanny. So I thought I’d share a few of my medal winning moments with you all.

bronze

I’m going to go ahead and say tonight is well deserving of the bronze medal. We were having so much fun getting into the Olympic spirit that we decided to make every commercial break an opportunity for our very own Olympic race. First we had the showering competition. Each of the two competitors raced to see who would be the fastest at showering and bring home first place. Where showers typically take 15-20mins in this household we had first place at 03:46:53, with second place coming in at 4:24:34. After making sure the correct shampoo dosage had been used and promptly rinsed out our winner was proclaimed!

Our second competition was between three candidates. The boy, the girl, and the nanny. Each competitor had to see how many push-ups they could do in just 25 secs. My ten year old charge was the winner of that race!

Next up was the sit-up race in which this proud nanny took first. We were laughing and having so much fun that bedtime seemed extra sad this night, but each have just fallen asleep with a winning smile plastered to their face which reassures this nanny that she is in the right profession.

silver

While that was a winning round for the nanny game Olympics, I am confident that the summer I watched four sweet little rascals was worthy of the silver medal for its awesome nerf gun wars. This particular family had loads upon loads of guns and ammo at our disposal and we took pride in our well outfitted games. We strapped on our gear and set out in full stealth mode against our opposing teams. One of my favorite parts about being a nanny is getting into play mode and being a kid again. This game was an easy win for everyone!

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gold

Hands down the best game I have ever played as a babysitter/nanny was a game we came up with after watching an episode of myth busters. I was babysitting for a family that I am still close to to this day (Their children are more than old enough to be watching themselves, and one is even driving my old car, but every so often I contact them for a visit, or they ask me to come horse-sit. Yes. HORSE-sit. Which I LOVE). This particular episode of myth busters was featuring a movie myth where Catherine Zeta Jones was sneaking through lasers designed to keep her out. She blew makeup powder on the lasers and then was able to see where each one hit. We thought this looked so fun that we just HAD to come up with a way to create a similar obstacle course ourselves. We searched the house high and low and alas! We found some yellow yarn. By the time we were done setting up for this game their entire living room looked like a giant spider had come to weave a web. There was yarn EVERYWHERE. We raced and played through that course and tried over and over to see who could get through without touching our so called “lasers.” It was a game like no other and provided so much fun for hours. After we were all done and the parents got home, their kids were so proud to announce that not one shred of yarn had been wasted since we just rolled it back into a ball for the next time. They were happy, and their parents were happy. Both of which made for a happy nanny.

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Being a nanny can be so stressful. Type in the popular hashtag #nannylife into any social media outlet and you’re bound to see many complaints coming from the nanny scene. Honestly, it makes me sad to hear and disappointed to see. I’ve tasted the good and the bad of nanny life and throughout it all can still proudly say there is no other profession I would rather be in. So this one is for you nannies!

And the gold medal goes to…… all you nannies out there who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty. To play and romp around like a kid again. To put smiles on those precious faces and invest in these impressionable souls. You deserve a gold medal.

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Comment below and share a time you or your nanny was deserving of a gold medal!

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Meet mat.

This is mat.
Mat is my work space.
It is where all my best thinking happens.
It is where my creative juices flow.
All my best planning for your day happens here.
Routine is established on this mat.
The world is at our fingertips on this mat.
Mat changes.
It changes from magic carpet to obstacle course.
It has the ability to wield the most exciting of powers at the manipulation of our minds and the molding of our hands.
It’s where we create, teach, and learn.
It’s where I watch from a distance, or join in the fun of the most imaginative of games.
Mat is where I guide you with a watchful eye.
It’s where we love, where we laugh, and where we live.
It’s where I watch you play, learn, and grow.
It’s where I learn who you are, what makes you giggle and what makes you cry.
Your dislikes and your likes.
Mat holds our toys.
Mat is where we play.
Where we bond.
Where we keep each other company.
Where we pass the time.
Mat is where we spend our spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Mat is there through all our seasons.
This mat is where we experience anger, happiness, and sadness.
It keeps you safe from the hard ground.
Mat gives you something sturdy to crawl on.
Eventually it will be where you take your first steps.
Where you find your independence.
This mat has seen it all.
Every bump and every bruise.
Every drool and every tear.
Our mat has heard every laugh.
Every cry.
Every tantrum.
When sickness made us weak our mat stood strong.
It has been there for us when life got hard.
Mat has never complained once.
Mat is our friend.
Mat is our ally.
Mat is our world.

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and the winner is…..

*drumroll*

MEGAN BRAWNER!!!!

#lifeofananny is proud to present Megan Brawner and her little one two sign and sing along books by Annie Kubler, as well as a free ticket to Communication Junction’s upcoming Sign and Fun Trick or Treat event!

Thanks so much to our participants for entering our contest here at #lifeofananny! We had fun hosting this giveaway! Look for more to come in the near future 🙂

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GUEST POST: Abbey Cook-Communication *GIVEAWAY*

Engage. Enhance. Enable…. those are the three words that come to mind when I am asked to talk about the benefits of signing with little ones.  I have been teaching sign language classes to parents and children for over four years.  Personally I have been using sign language for over 15 years.  As a mom of two, I used sign language with both of my boys (now ages 4 and 6).  I immediately saw that their vocabulary and verbal skills were much higher than their peers.  As a speech language pathologist, I see the benefits of using sign language with little ones and its impact on language development.

Let’s explore the three key words I mentioned before and how they describe the benefits of signing:

Engage– signing allows you to engage with your little one and increase your bond.

Enhance – signing allows you to enhance your little one’s communication skills by allowing her to communicate before she can talk.

Enable – signing with your little one enables literacy success by laying a good foundation in letter sounds and vocabulary.

Using a visual language, American Sign Language or gestures, to support vocabulary or key words is easier than it seems.  Here are five steps to getting started:

  1. Pick 2 to 3 signs and look them up.  You can use www.signingsavvy.com or watch this video.  I recommend starting with MILK and ALL DONE
  2. Be consistent.  Sign the word every time you say it.  Also, everyone caring for your little one should be signing.
  3. Be frequent. Say and sign the word as often as you can.
  4. Sign in your little one’s line of sight.  This may mean a little acrobatics for you.
  5. Be patient.  Language takes time to develop.  Know you are laying the foundation for language and vocabulary development.

Ultimately your little one will achieve the most signing success if all caregivers are involved in the process.  In the classes that I teach I have had every combination of Nanny, Parent, and Grandparent you can think of.  Making sure everyone is involved is much easier than it seems.

  1. Educate those in your little one’s environment on the signs you are consistently using.
  2. Ask each caregiver to be frequent and consistent in their use of these key vocabulary words.
  3. Make signing fun and enjoyable.

Good luck on your signing journey.  Rest assured that you are laying a great foundation for lifelong learning with your little one.

For more information about Communication Junction please visit Abbey on Facebook or on her website.

To learn more about the GIVEAWAY, please go to our previous post on communicating with your little one! 

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Communication Skills *GIVEAWAY*

Communication with the little ones can often be frustrating and stressful for parents, nannies, and children. In my last nanny job I was introduced to the world of sign language. The twins I cared for used signs for “please,” “more,” “diaper,” “milk,” “eat,” and “all done.” It was a wonderful way for them to learn to communicate and tell us what they needed. Watching them grow in these communication skills was so exciting and inspiring that I transferred what little knowledge I had to my current nanny job. It sounded kind of extreme to start signing with my new little charge who was just shy of four months old at the time, but now at five months old it is very rewarding to see him signing “milk” and growing in awareness of the signs we’re using with him every day.

When I first brought up the idea of attending a sign language class, my employers asked me what my experience was with this. I explained to them the benefits I experienced in the signing I did with the twins and they agreed to sign us up for the class. Through the class I was introduced to Abbey Cook, a Speech Language Pathologist and Master Signing Time Instructor. Her classes are a delight to attend and my little guy soaks up every second we spend in the class. In the few weeks we have attended, we have learned signs for everyday use as well as some super fun signs for animals and common songs. I have not only heard Abbey’s stories on how signing has changed people’s lives, but I’ve had the chance to experience seeing little ones grow in their communication with their caregivers.

One of my first conversations with Abbey was about the dynamics between a family and their nanny while collaborating together in these classes. Abbey mentioned that she has families sign their nanny up for a daytime class, and then the parents will attend her evening class to ensure that they are all on the same page. As a nanny myself, I attend one of her daytime classes and come home with a plethora of signs to introduce to the little guy’s parents to add consistency with the signing.

In my excitement over attending this class and experiencing its benefits, I had high hopes of spreading awareness of this beneficial communication within our community at #lifeofananny. I asked Abbey Cook of Communication Junction to write a post explaining the benefits sign language provides children and families. To my delight she accepted the offer and in honor of her post I am hosting a GIVEAWAY! You can view her post by clicking this link.

One winner will receive TWO Sign and Sing Along books by Annie Kubler and a free ticket to Communication Junction’s next event Sign and Fun Trick or Treat!

 

 

To enter:

You may enter your name several times into the giveaway by doing all of the above options stated (for a maximum of five entries), and comment below listing how you have entered. The giveaway will close at MIDNIGHT CST on Friday, October 18th.

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The Nanny Taxi

Do you trust your nanny to drive your precious littles around? This seems to be a pretty controversial topic within the nanny world. Some parents can’t bring themselves to agree to let someone else drive their children around. My mom used to say she didn’t want to lose all her “eggs in one basket.” It can seem scary letting someone else drive your kids around, but I think you will find that asking the right questions, offering the right instruction, and talking openly and honestly with your nanny will go a long distance as far as comfort and safety are concerned.

The first question that needs to be considered in this decision is whether or not your nanny drives a reliable car. Will your nanny’s car be able to get your child from point A to point B safe and sound? Doing some research on the safety ratings of your nanny’s car, as well as checking for proper car seat specs, can serve to set your minds at ease. If your nanny has a car that isn’t quite up to your standards, consider letting her have use of your car (if you are comfortable with this kind of arrangement) as long as her and your insurance has coverage in case of an accident.

Secondly, remember in the FAQ section of the blog where we talked about background checks? These serve a very helpful purpose! Background checks not only check for ya know… sex offenders and the like, but they also check driving records. Not all background checks are guaranteed to give you all the information you are looking for so doing some additional research may be necessary (see post: Crooks and Nannies).

Another option for parents to become more comfortable with their nanny as far as driving is concerned, is to ask for a test drive. If your nanny really wants to drive those kiddos around, she should be more than willing to comply with this part of the interview process. In addition to this requirement, before letting your nanny hit the road, be sure to set clear guidelines of how you expect your nanny to handle herself while driving (I.e. no texting, speeding, or phone calls while operating the vehicle). It may seem as though mentioning these things isn’t necessary, but being sure to cover all your bases will set a good foundation of communication between you and your nanny.

One of the most key factors in your decision to let your nanny drive your precious cargo around is making sure she is properly trained in the ways of car seat installation. It isn’t enough to simply make an assumption based on the knowledge that she has had experience in her profession to date that she automatically knows how a car seat should be properly installed. Due to the fact that there are so many brands, styles, and models of car seats these days, your nanny should be properly trained in the use of YOUR particular car seat.

A side factor that I just want to throw out to you is that of gas reimbursement. We all know that gas prices keep going up and up, which could mean your nanny will expect a reimbursement of the funds she spends on driving your children around. Some employers will work out a deal with their nanny where gas money is already included in the weekly pay rate. This isn’t to say that if your nanny goes out for her own personal reasons that she should expect you to reimburse her for the gas she spends. However, if you are asking your nanny to run a few errands for you, such as, driving your kids to extracurricular activities and doctors appointments, you should probably think about reimbursing your nanny for the money she spends in gas.

I would like to leave you one final thought before this post is over: The idea of hiring a nanny is to hire someone that you trust to care for the well-being of your children in virtually every aspect. If you are intending on hiring a nanny that you wouldn’t trust to drive your children around… maybe you shouldn’t be hiring that nanny.

I would love to hear from some of your experiences as a parent/nanny! Comment below with your own opinion on this subject! It would be great to hear from you!

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Crooks and Nannies

I found an interesting article this morning relating to background checks on Sittercity and Care.com. Please read the article before reading this post.

Background check service on popular caregiver sites fail Unit 5 tests

In my FAQ page I mention several times to request a background check on these sites. I still stand by my statement. However, I do want to emphasize that these background checks are not fail-proof. Do your own research! Interview your candidates multiple times and ask lots of questions. If you know what to look for you may be able to easily detect a lying nanny. Go with your gut and keep yourself informed!

I have had an account on Sittercity and while I think they are a pretty reliable site… I would agree that they are not THE best. Care.com is where I’ve found the majority of my nanny positions (besides word of mouth), and I truly believe the statement they made to Unit 5 about the safety of their community is accurate.

“The safety of our community is of paramount concern to us and we are deeply disturbed by these findings … The unfortunate reality is that currently, there is no centralized database encompassing all criminal convictions, charges, arrests and violations…”

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/unit-5-babysitter-background-checks-179041071.html#ixzz2bOPYDkxq

Unfortunately, Care.com background checks aren’t all-encompassing, but I personally believe this is a challenge that can be overcome while maintaining the credibility of the website. As previously stated, do the research. Don’t give out your personal information right away. Set up a meeting over email at a public place and ask a lot of key questions during the interview. The more time you invest into finding the right nanny for you and your family the more success you’ll have.