Yes! This you guys..

A letter from a Mother to a Nanny:

“Dear Nanny,

I met you just a few days before my baby came. I’d never interviewed a nanny before, and I had no idea what to ask you. I read every article, and printed three pages of questions I’d found on the internet. But I didn’t ask a single one. Instead, I rubbed my belly and tried to imagine the baby that would soon be on the outside — what life would look like in a week, in three weeks, and in three months when it was time for me to go back to work. It just looked murky and abstract.

I interviewed two other nannies, mostly because I thought I was supposed to. And I couldn’t picture leaving my baby with any of you. But I knew I was going back to work, and although I didn’t know much about motherhood, I had heard that leaving a three-month baby home alone wasn’t an option. So I trusted the moms whose children you had already raised, and I hired you.

 

A week before I was due back at the office, you arrived at my door. I handed over detailed notes about everything the universe had so far revealed about my baby. I showed you how bouncing on the exercise ball calmed her, and how she’d only finish the bottle if you tilted it just so. I lectured you on her likes and dislikes, I quizzed you on her daily routine, and I made you swear up and down and back and forth that you would do everything JUST like I did it. Because after all, I was the expert. Then I cried when I left for work, just 12 weeks after my baby was born.

Those first few weeks, and even months, were incredibly difficult. Each day, I second-guessed my decision to go back to work. I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake, if I was outsourcing motherhood to you. You were a relative stranger, and you were raising my baby! Would she grow up feeling abandoned by me? Or unloved? Would she forever blame me for leaving her in someone else’s care for the better part of her days?

But as the weeks and months wore on, I watched her melt into your warm embrace each morning. I heard the sweet giggles you shared while I got ready for work, and witnessed the knowing glances you exchanged at the end of the day. It turned out that hiring a nanny didn’t mean she was losing me. It meant she was gaining you.

Thank you for letting me have the milestones — I know she first rolled over under your watchful eyes. But you didn’t tell me, and you shared my excitement on that Monday morning when I regaled you with stories of baby’s incredible feats.

Thank you for letting me take the credit — while I’m at work all day, you patiently teach all those “please” and “thank-you”s that impress all the mommies at the playground.

Thank you for letting me keep my role — she’s never once acted confused about who her mama is, a fear that anyone with a nanny knows well.

You’ve quietly become the glue that holds us all together. You remind us to buy milk, you surprise us with a home-cooked dinner on those extra-long days, and every so often, you trade in your warm bed for my pull-out couch, so mommy and daddy can have a much-needed date night. Thank you.

When I was home again on maternity leave with #2, we became a caregiving team. And this time, instead of imparting my alleged baby wisdom upon you, I asked for yours. I willingly handed her over when I couldn’t get her to stop crying, and begged for your advice when something — anything! — seemed wrong. Never once did I tell you how to take care of her. You already knew. You knew it all along.

You suddenly got sick this past summer, and I was distraught. You, who I once couldn’t imagine in my life, now I couldn’t imagine life without. Suddenly, it was my turn — our turn — to take care of you. And as we nursed you back to health, we realized that aren’t just our nanny, you are our family.

On your birthday this year, we threw you a surprise party. We invited the children who called you theirnanny, the families who you watched over for so many years. All the girls (yes, they were all girls) used familiar sayings (your sayings) and told warm stories about your life before you walked into ours.

And they were all so amazing, those generations of girls…the kind of girls I hope my girls grow up to be. The kind of girls I know they will be. Because you’re raising them, dear nanny. You’re raising us all.

http://wellroundedny.com/2014/01/15/dear-nanny/

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To Enjoy Your Kids, You Must Engage With Your Kids

A lot of you might be wondering why parenting or childcare is so stressful. Where are the rainbows and the flowers you dreamed about before you gave birth or became a sitter? Aren’t babies alway supposed to smell like fresh baby powder? Aren’t family nights supposed to be filled with movies, popcorn and laughter? For most of you, this Pinterest like outcome only comes around once in a while, or maybe just in a while. However, I am here to tell you that to enjoy your kids and to have your kids really enjoy you, it all comes down to engagement.

It is extremely common now for parents to hire help or enroll their kids in after school care. As a former nanny, I absolutely support both options, however your can’t let the help take place of your own engaging. No matter the age, your kids need YOU. They want to play ball with you, paint with you, go on a walk with you. They may show preference to their nanny or sitter right now, but thats only because of the level of engagement you are showing them.

When I was nannying in New York, it was my job to exhaust the 3 year old before her parent’s got home. ( her parents literally told me this!) I was in charge of taking her to her play dates, her music class, her art class, and to the park. I could sing all of the songs her 27 year old hipster music teachers taught her, as well as knew all of her friends AND their parents by first and last name. This was all fine, but what was not fine was that due to my roll, I was sucking up all of the engagement she ever received on a daily basis. Deep down, she didn’t want to run errands and go to all of her classes. She used to beg me to stay at home and play on the floor with her, but we had so many appointments and to do’s that we rarely got the time.

This is exactly why nanny’s and sitters can begin to feel like your kids are their own, because they become all the child ever knows day in and day out. What needs to happen is parents, you need to be the engagers and sitters need to be the fillers, not the other way around. Time and time again I see parents get defensive or even jealous with how well their children respond to their caregivers; it really comes down to who is engaging more.

I understand that you may be the sole provider for your family or don’t feel like you have the time to spend, but even 20 minutes a day of one on one time with your kids will not only make your child feel important, but will also open up those lines of communication.  Try to start out with one engagement a day whether its eating a meal together, reading a bedtime story, or playing a sport. Your kids will love it, but you will love it more.

Until next time!

Lauren

Routine, Routine, Routine!

I cannot stress this enough about how important it is for kids of all ages to have some type of  routine. Every child, as young as infant, needs to have daily expectations.

Look at it as expectations, and NOT a serious structured way of living. I know some parents out there may want their kids to have free will and go and do as they please, and that’s great! However, kids will show signs of boredom faster than you can turn around. Same goes for sitters! Some sitters are more laid back and require less routine for the kids they look after, however they probably have to settle way more breakdowns than most.

I can speak from experience with an infant, that routines work wonders. For infants, it can be as small as the eat, sleep, play routine. In college I was a full time summer nanny for a baby who at the age of 3 months always had a breakdown at exactly 4pm every day. Mommy and Daddy were convinced it was just his personality and “thats just what happened” at 4pm on the dot. I on the other hand was convinced that something was up. It turned out the baby was lacking routine entirely. From the beginning I would dress him first thing every morning, and then feed him. After feeding we would go on a walk where he always fell asleep. If we couldn’t go outside I would push him in the stroller around the house (which worked like a charm) and he would take a short nap. Afterwards, I would rotate him around his toys (about 15 min on each toy) until he told me through restlessness he was ready to eat again. This method not only kept little baby from getting bored, but he had expectations of change and of needs being met. Soon enough, no more 4pm freak outs!

With older children it’s MUCH  easier because their attention spans are much longer. If I had a 9hr babysitting day I would always always break it up with activities. In the morning I would start with breakfast and a TV show, then we would play in the bedrooms, then outside, then lunch, followed by movie, followed by nap, then repeat! The kids never got bored, and I never had to deal with breakdowns due to boredom.

Honestly, you can have as little access to activities as possible and still be able to change it up for your kids. If you take three things (coloring, stepping outside, stacking blocks) and rotate them throughout the day the kids will always have something to capture their attention before shedding the tears.

Sitters and parents, any time you are at home and notice sibling arguments or even kids getting cranky or showing an  attitude, give them something new to put their mind towards and it should all go away.

Until next time!

Lauren

Sharing Is Caring, But Not Always

It definitely becomes apparent (no pun intended) around age 2 or 3 that sharing can become quite the traumatic experience  for both kids and parents. Kids are at the age of what’s yours is yours, and whats mine is mine. The problem with this phenomena is  young kids can’t comprehend the basis of time, and what time is and what time does. Most importantly, when time ends. So what happens is that when Bobby takes Charlie’s toy, Charlie can’t determine when he will get the toy back. The same idea goes for telling kids they have to go to bed or leave the park. They 100% have no idea that they will ever get to return to their favorite TV show or return to their favorite monkey bars.

Parents and sitters, it’s important that you understand this concept when trying to work out sharing between two children. Just telling kids “to share” will definitely NOT be effective if the kids don’t understand what sharing means, therefore you have to show them. The best way to teach kids how to share is to make them realize what time is and that time can start as well as  stop. I suggest using a timer or a stopwatch. When the kids in question get into a temper tantrum about “Billy took MY toy!” and “Charlie had it first!”, tell the child who took the toy that you will set a timer, and once the time is up he or she will have to return the toy back to its original holder.

Start out setting a realistic time to show kids how quickly the time can end. Start with about 3 to 5 minutes and set the timer to where the kids can actually see the numbers getting smaller and smaller. What will happen is the children will begin to lose that fear of something they love never returning to them again, and in time they will form a concept of what sharing really means; if they let others play with the toy, the toy will come back to them shortly.

Pretty soon no more timer and no more screaming.

Until next time!

Lauren

Different Day But Same Page!

Parents, Sitters, Parents AND Sitters! It’s super important that no matter what’s going on inside the household that every single one of you remain on the same page. This means NO undermining! Doing so, will show the kids that they can get candy from Daddy although Mommy says it’s bedtime or Miss Lacy is a mean babysitter when Mommy calls off the time out. Your children are super smart and they will be able to pick up on this behavior in no time.You must show kids from the beginning that when Mommy, Daddy and Sitter’s say no they mean no. And when Mommy, Daddy and Sitters lay down the rules, the rules must be followed.

I can’t tell you how many times I was working with one of my toddlers on not talking back to me and to do so it took several rounds of time out. After many attempts to get him to stay seated, he finally got the idea that I wasn’t going to give in so he calmed down and sat quietly. Then SECONDS into his 3 minute time out, his mom pulled him off his time out seat because she felt bad for him. When this happens children realize that you aren’t an effective rule maker and they will continue with their bad behavior. Kids realize really quickly that you aren’t going to give in to their attention and its important that parents and sitters remain a consistent and united front when trying to change a child’s behavior.

Consistent discipline will actually yield to a lesser and lesser amount of discipline needed. For example, taking children out in public. It’s always a challenge trying to get everyone to stick together, not touch the clothes and to use inside voices, but what’s even harder is accomplish an outing without a temper tantrum blowout. The key for surviving  any public situation is to lay down the rules prior to the outing. Tell the kids beforehand the consequences of behaving poorly in public i.e. they will get toys taken away or they won’t get to go to Sally’s birthday party. Tell them the consequences for running off, that if they were to disappear they wouldn’t be able to play with Mommy or Daddy anymore. Make it clear to them that at the first sign of misbehavior you will leave the mall, restaurant or store immediately and they won’t be able to go back until they have learned a lesson.

This sounds a little extreme, but you can actually start teaching this behavior at the ages 2 and 3. Believe it or not, kids need and want boundaries. I’ve experienced many mall temper-tantrums and even if I was walking out with both kids in my arms screaming and crying, I took them all the way home. But what helped was the parents were on my same page. They sat each child down and had a firm talk with the 2 year old and the 4 year old. They explained to the kids that when they are out in public they should behave and listen to Miss Lauren. They also explained to the kids they were grounded from the mall until they could show they were ready to go back. Additionally, they received a spanking, but any type of firm punishment will let a child know what he or she did wrong and what they should do in the future.

It’s definitely best to get on the same page with your spouse or sitter early on in the game. But practice working on a challenge together for a week, and you’ll be super surprised at how quickly things can turn around.

Until next time!

Lauren