Posts Tagged ‘business’
Monday, November 28, 2011
GreatAuPair has always made it a priority to protect the safety of au pairs and their host families through our advanced security measures and Parent Editorial Team™ that carefully screens all profiles. The GreatAuPair.com web site provides the tools and support to allow families and au pairs to carefully screen each other as well as educational and security measures.
Now we would like to introduce a new organization created by au pair industry experts to promote global wareness through education and outreach. In response to the growing frequency of emotional and sexual abuse of au pairs, Talya Shoup Burnett, author of the popular au pair blog, Best Au Pair Guide, has partnered with Edina Stone, Founder and CEO of AuPairClearingHouse.com, a national U.S.-based consumer website, to create Prevent Exploitation of Au Pairs (P.E.A.P.). This new organization’s purpose is to raise awareness of the exploitation of au pairs, which is a growing problem worldwide.
Au pairs are a highly affordable means of childcare and are becoming increasingly popular for busy, professional families around the world. While most au pairs work in safe homes with good host families, many of them are at considerable risk for exploitation and human trafficking due to their youth and inexperience. Au pairs are frequently overworked and underpaid, and at times they are even emotionally and sexually abused.
P.E.A.P. was created to raise awareness of these issues and to prevent exploitation worldwide through education and outreach. By mobilizing au pair agencies, organizations, and families to join in the awareness campaign, the organization is hoping that au pairs can be made aware of how to react when something happens to them – what specific actions to take, who to call first, etc.
You can find more information about the mission and guiding principles of P.E.A.P. as well as contact information at the Au Pair ClearingHouse web site. Please help spread the word about this organization and visit P.E.A.P. on Facebook to lend your support and to share this page with the au pairs, host families, and agencies that you know.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Last week I started a list of the many ways parents can show their nanny how much they value all of her dedication and hard work and why it is extremely important to do so. Below, please find the remainder of my list that will hopefully get you on your way to creating a great relationship with your child care provider. Please feel free to leave comments or any other suggestions you have, I would love to hear from you!
Try not to add duties. This is often referred to as the “job creep,” where families add on duties that were not agreed upon in the beginning. Some examples of these extra duties may include housekeeping, family errands, cooking, taking care of family pets, family laundry, etc. Keep in mind that while it is okay to ask your nanny or au pair if she would mind taking on an extra duty, she should also have the right to say no if she feels it will be too much. However, if she does agree to your request, this added workload should be matched with an appropriate amount of extra compensation.
Avoid a growing schedule. It is important to remember that your nanny or au pair most likely has a life outside of caring for your family and children. This is one of the reasons why it is best to avoid tacking on hours to the schedule you originally agreed upon. Your au pair or live-in nanny’s free time while she is not scheduled to be working should be just that, her time. We all need time to recharge, and it is extremely important to respect this, especially if your caregiver lives with you in your home. If you happen to have a child care provider who is okay with additional hours, be aware that you will have to compensate her fairly. Constantly coming home from work late could also be an issue that may eventually cost you the loss of your nanny or au pair. If you are going to be even 10 or 15 minutes late, a phone call or quick text message is always appreciated. You should also expect this kind of consideration from your nanny if she is ever late for any reason.
Don’t leave a messy house. It has always been my philosophy and my goal to leave my employer’s house cleaner and more organized when I leave for the day than it was when I came to work in the morning. I do this because I know firsthand, as a working mother myself, how difficult it can be to keep up your home when all you want to do is spend time with your children when you are not working. With this in mind, I also know how frustrating it can be as a nanny to walk into work one day and see that the house is a complete disaster. It is even more upsetting when I made an honest effort the previous day to leave it clean and tidy. My solution to this problem is to put aside 15 to 30 minutes on Sunday evenings to pick up the house while encouraging your children to help you if they are of the appropriate age. Children as young as two years old can begin to help with this task. Your nanny or aupair will more than appreciate your efforts to help her keep the house in order and will most likely be more inclined to do more to help in the future.
Be prepared. Nothing is more frustrating than walking into work and realizing that you are missing the essentials to get through your day. Some examples of this can be as small as not having enough baby formula for the day, not having enough diapers and wipes, or not having enough food in the fridge to feed the children. The very last thing your child care provider wants to have to do is load up all the children in the car and drag them to the local supermarket to get these things. You may ask her to keep a list of the things you are running out of, but in most circumstances it is your responsibility to make sure that they are purchased and in the home when she comes to work in the morning. It is also helpful to make sure they have other things, like a good stroller, diaper bag, bus fare, and sandbox toys available, to aid in caring for your children to the best of her ability. If you do not have the time to go out and purchase these items, sit down with your caregiver and ask her if she would mind going out and purchasing them for your family. If she agrees, be sure to research how much money she will need ahead of time, and provide a list for her to take with her to the store so nothing is forgotten.
A healthy nanny is a happy nanny. It is essential for your caregiver to be healthy in order for her to be able to perform the job she has been hired to do. Your part in helping with this should be to provide an agreed-upon number of paid sick days per year, which will enable her to be able to stay home and get well should an illness or injury arise. I have seen many different proposals for sick days in my career, and what it really boils down to is not only what is fair, but also what you are comfortable with. Just as important as providing these paid sick days is allowing your nanny or au pair to take them when needed without making her feel guilty for doing so. I can’t tell you how awful it is to wake up the morning before work with a stomach bug and have to call into work when I know my boss is going to be upset with me because I have inconvenienced them. You have to think of it from this prospective: If the caregiver comes into work when they are ill, not only will they not be able to care for your children the same way they would if they were well, but you run the risk of everyone in your household catching the bug as well. Make it clear to your nanny or au pair in the beginning of her employment with your family that you understand people get sick from time to time and that you will line up backup child care should she ever need to take a sick day or two.
It is my sincere hope that this blog will help you to create a wonderful working relationship with your caregiver and that it will become a tool you can look to should a problem ever arise. My advice is to make sure that you create a nanny/family agreement to ensure that all of these bases are covered. This will prevent most of these issues from ever happening and will help to establish both boundaries and your expectations up front. It might also be helpful to your family to have either a monthly or bimonthly review, where you evaluate your nanny’s or au pair’s job performance and she does a self-evaluation as well. Not only will this help to alleviate any issues that are arising, but it will also help to foster one of the single most important aspects of the nanny/family relationship: Communication.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I was asked an interesting question yesterday afternoon while attending a children’s music event with my eight-month-old charge, Maya. Soon after we got settled and sat down, one of the mothers with a baby around the same age came over to join us and struck up a conversation with me. She said, “Wow, your daughter is beautiful! She has your gorgeous blue eyes!” “Oh, thank you,” I replied. “She’s not mine, though; I’m her nanny.”
She then asked me if I had any children of my own, and I told her that I do, in fact, have a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter. “Really?” she asked. “Where is she today?” By this point I already knew where this conversation was going, and I was afraid to even answer the question. “She’s at day care,” I said. She then asked the question that I have been asked almost on a weekly basis since I put my daughter in day care a little over two years ago. “How in the world can you justify placing your own child in day care so that you can go love, care, and nurture someone else’s child?”
My very first instinct was to tell her that it really was none of her business, but I went with my second thought, which was to try and explain the situation and my opinion on the topic to her. While I love my daughter more than anything in this world, I am like any other working mother out there who has to work to support herself and her family. I thank my lucky stars that for the first year and a half of her life, I was fortunate enough to be employed by a family who wanted nothing more than for me to bring her with me to work. They viewed it as an opportunity for their son to have age-appropriate interaction with another child while supporting my desire to be my daughter’s primary caregiver for at least the first year of her life. I want to note that this is definitely not the norm in the nanny world. In fact, most families have a completely different view on the subject, as they would much prefer that their nanny cares exclusively for their children while on the clock. Although I treasured each day with my daughter, when I was privileged enough to have her with me while on duty, my opinion on this has changed a great deal over the years. Soon after my little one’s first birthday, I started to realize that this was quickly becoming not an ideal situation and a huge conflict of interest.
I can’t even begin to convey to you how much it hurt my heart when I was put in a position to tend to my charge first when both he and my own child needed me at the same exact moment. I felt like I was the rope in a game of tug-of-war, wanting desperately to take both sides and comfort them both; however, as his nanny, it was my duty and obligation to make sure he was okay first. This was only one of many times I was faced with this type of situation, but it was ultimately what led me to the conclusion that I was going to have to become a full-on working mother without having the opportunity to spend that time caring for my daughter as well.
The decision to place her in the hands of a full-time caregiver at a home day care was one of the most painful and gut-wrenching things I have ever experienced, but at the same time, I knew that it was in everyone’s best interest. The way I saw it, I owed it to my child to put food on the table, clothes on her back, and a roof over her head. It was also of the utmost importance to me that I was able to give my charge my full attention while caring for him and his needs, which is what I was hired to do. I was grateful that I got to stay in the career I loved while also being able to devote every single moment that I was not working to my daughter and her happiness.
In conclusion, my answer is this: Not everyone has the luxury of being lucky enough to stay home and raise their children, and we shouldn’t let anyone make us feel guilty or judge us for not having that option. Also, for those of us who have chosen a career as a professional nanny (and also to the working moms out there who have chosen a different profession), we are no different than the nurse who must go to work to care for a critically ill patient or even the schoolteacher who goes to work each day to teach and enrich the lives of her students. To my fellow nannies out there who are trying to balance two of the most wonderful jobs out there (being a mother and a nanny), please always try to remember that you are no less than an excellent mother because you must work to support your family. There is no doubt this is a hard balancing act to handle, but take it from me: With a lot of love and dedication toward both the children you care for and your own children, it is possible to have the best of both worlds.
Sunset Image: Gabriella Fabbri