Posts Tagged ‘professional nanny’
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Although it’s been quite some time since I’ve been a nanny, I still remember the infamous question that made my skin crawl: “So you get paid to play outside all day?” Are you kidding me? Little did they know I spent many days on the job up to my ears in messy diapers and laundry while trying to figure out just what can be constructed with a can of glitter and a few popsicle sticks after school today.
Let’s face it: Mary Poppins has given nannies across the globe something to work towards. Although we can’t all be “practically perfect in every way,” we certainly try our best to mirror her rosy-cheeked disposition while tackling the terrible two’s and potty training. Being a nanny is not easy; it takes buckets of patience, armfuls of creativity for a rainy day, super powered multitasking skills, and a whole lot of affection, among other things. Not only are the parents trusting us with the lives of their children, nannies build life-long relationships with their families that ultimately come very close to the bond between a parent and child.
It’s important that you build a great name for yourself by being the best nanny that you can possibly be. Here are a just a few worthwhile suggestions about how to keep it professional while on the job.
Timing really is everything. We’ve heard it a thousand times before but it should never grow old! I used to think that my mother’s obsession with arriving early for everything was something I couldn’t wait to get away from. Thankfully, this trait has stuck with me.
It is extremely important to parents to know that they have a punctual, dependable person there for their children. If you’re asked to meet them at 8 am, show up ten minutes early. There is nothing wrong with being early, but everything wrong with being late! Not only are you on time when you show up early, you’re proving to the parents that you’re someone that genuinely cares about your job. If you’re going to be late, let the family know as soon as possible, and don’t make a habit out of it. Punctuality is key!
Since the families agree to respect your time with a paycheck, the very least you can do is respect their wishes. If the parents have guidelines for things like naps, time-outs, after school snacks, bedtime routines, etc., it is your job to respect these guidelines. Routines are not easy to set in place, and the last thing a parent wants is to pay someone to mess it all up! Remember, as much as you love those little ones as though they were your very own, you are an employee for the family, and need to show your willingness to adapt on a daily basis. Think about it; if you were working as a waitress and were constantly messing up the orders, you’d be fired in no time. Be a professional!
Look Who’s Talking!
I will never forget the first family I worked for, as I’m sure you won’t either. They absolutely insisted on letting their kids splurge on whatever sugary snack they wanted after a long day at school, resulting in two hyperactive explosions refusing to do any homework! I wanted so badly to say something to the parents, but was too afraid they’d think I was being disrespectful; after all, I was the nanny, not the mom. One day I mustered up the courage to sit down with the parents and asked if it was possible to provide a healthy snack instead. The family was open to suggestions after I explained my reasoning and the kids absolutely loved my idea of helping me whip up some homemade trail mix.
All I’m trying to say is that communication is key. If something is bothering you, let the family know. Since you are spending so much time with their children, it’s important to keep them up to date. As children grow, their needs and wants can change. Instead of taking it upon yourself or resenting the family for not understanding, give them a chance to listen. I strongly recommend a chat at least once a month with the parents to air out any concerns you may have. Sitting down with the parents provides a great opportunity to stay connected and is often much-needed adult time!
Those are just a few suggestions, but there are so many other ways to prove that you’re taking your job seriously. With so many directions to be pulled, it’s no wonder being a nanny is far from the easiest job on the planet. The children are depending on you to be a best friend, a replacement parent, and a partner in crime among other things. At the same time, the parents are expecting you to love, protect and care for their children while they’re away, and to respect their wishes. Although we can’t all be lucky enough to sport around a bottomless carpetbag of tricks, being a nanny is more than just a random gig to score for some extra cash. Being a true professional is paramount to your success!
If you would like more helpful information on subjects like the difference between nannies and au pairs or tips on what to expect as a first time au pair, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions on GreatAuPair.com.
If you are a family currently working with a nanny or looking to hire a nanny, you may want to read our helpful tips on how to create a great relationship with your nanny.
~ Fallon, GreatAuPair.com Customer Support Team Leader
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.
Monday, March 14, 2011
The past nine years as a professional nanny have introduced me to some of the best baby and toddler products on the market. Today I’d like to share two products that not only have I had hands-on experience with, but I would say they are priceless lifesavers. I believe them to be some of the most innovative and helpful possessions you will ever own while raising your little ones. These products will help get your baby sleeping through the night as early as 12 weeks old and show you the best way to safely and effectively swaddle your baby to soothe fussiness.
The Woombie. Many years into my nanny career (while working for Nadya Suleman), I discovered this ingenious invention designed to swaddle a baby in a safer and more secure way, prohibiting him from getting any material close to his nose or mouth and, therefore, preventing accidental suffocation. When Nadya’s babies first came home from the hospital, they were so tiny that swaddling them in receiving blankets became a serious safety risk. After many weeks of not swaddling them at all and many nights of their startle reflexes waking them up, I decided to conduct research for a solution that would allow them to sleep more peacefully. After coming across the Web site and getting in contact with the developer and CEO of the company and explaining the situation to her, she was eager to help and immediately shipped out eight preemie-size Woombies. Within hours of putting them on, all eight of the babies were sleeping soundly in their cribs for up to five hours at a time!
Although not the most important aspect of the Woombie, they come in many different styles, colors, and different types of material. There is one made out of a lighter material for the summer months, one made out of heavier material for the winter months, and even one made out of all organic fibers. The Web site offers many other wonderful products to parents of newborns, such as the sleep donut (designed to provide a safe, clean, and comfortable place to lay your baby when you’re on the go). The Mo’Mo blankie is designed to be a pacifier holder and comfort blanket in one. I highly recommend you visit this wonderful Web site and, if nothing else, that you purchase the Woombie for your little one(s)! www.thewoombie.com
The Baby Sleep Solution. Are you a new mother or father of a newborn, wondering when you will ever be able to get a full night’s worth of uninterrupted sleep once again? Do you have an older child who suddenly isn’t sleeping completely through the night anymore? Not to worry! I promise you that this seemingly unattainable goal is much closer than you may think.
When I first discovered The Baby Sleep Solution by Suzy Giordano (also known as the Baby Coach), I was working as a live-out night nanny for newborn triplets. I was struggling to get them to sleep for more than one-hour stretches while working on getting them accustomed to sleeping together in the same room without waking each other up with every little cry or sudden movement. After many long and exhausting nights of walking up and down the hallways with three overtired and fussy babies in my arms, I decided to research online to find a solution that would allow both them and their parents to have peace and quiet in their home once again. That’s when I found Giordano’s eye-opening sleep-training book, read it in less than two hours, and started to implement it with the triplets. To make a long story short, all three of them were sleeping through the night for 12-hour stretches, as well as taking two one-and-a-half-hour naps during the day by 14 weeks old!
All of this was accomplished without using the crying-out method but, instead, by establishing a nightly bedtime routine and teaching the babies how to self-soothe without having to be picked up or fed. I highly recommend that if you don’t already have this book, go out and get your hands on it immediately! You can find it at your local bookstore or on Giordano’s Web site: http://www.babycoach.net/.