Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Use Blocks: Important Developmental Toys

Blocks, the book Block Play, and Jingle in My Pocket CD by Sharon MacDonald

Sharon MacDonald, an early childhood development expert and author of Block Playexplains that blocks are a developmental toy that are a favorite for children from infancy through grammar school. In her book, the author provides tons of activities to use with children to encourage gross- and fine-motor skills, social skills, language, math, and science.

Click here to see a handout from Sharon MacDonald's workshop for teachers of young children called How Blocks Stack Up. Check out page six on the handout for songs and activities to use with children while they play with blocks that can be found in Sharon MacDonald's CD Jingle in My Pocket CD Songs that Teach

See the links below to purchase Block Play by Sharon MacDonald, her CD Jingle in My Pocket CD Songs that Teachand where to find some of our favorite blocks.

Here are Block Play Stages:
Reference: How Blocks Stack Up Handout and Block Play

Stage One (Ages 2-3): This stage consists of children moving, touching, holding feeling and hauling the blocks around. There is little or no building. This is a time for exploring the properties of blocks. Placing wagons for hauling, baskets for carrying, and suitcases for packing with the blocks encourages children at this stage of block play.

Stage Two (Age 3): This stage can be called "stack and row" because children stack blocks vertically or lay them horizontally, repeating the same designs over and over. Putting pattern cards, cars and road signs, and floor mats with the blocks encourages stack-and-row play.

Stage Three (Ages 3-4): During this stage of development, children begin building structures, especially bridges. At first, children will set up two blocks, leave a space between them, and place a block between to span the space. As the child masters the bridge concept, the bridges become more elaborate. Bridge building can be facilitated by putting pictures and architectural drawings of bridges in the block corner. You might also want to add a large piece of blue cloth for water, cake decorating columns, and boats.

Stage Four (Age 4): Children begin to develop problem-solving skills by making enclosed structures during this stage of block play. In order to make an enclosed structure, children must plan carefully. After they have mastered enclosures with the blocks lying flat, they will move on to vertical enclosures. Block enclosure play can be encouraged by putting farm or zoo animals as well as play fruits and vegetables alongside the blocks.

Stage Five (Ages 5-6): During this stage of play, elaborate, decorative structures as well as symmetrical patterns begin to appear and children begin to name their structures. The name rarely relates to the function of the building. For example, a child might have a bath tub, store, farm yard, and swing all in the same structure. Encourage this stage of block play by providing task cards, pictures of skyscrapers, blank paper for signs, and roofing materials.

Stage Six (Ages 5-6): Children work cooperatively to build a common structure. They will decide before they start what they are going to build, and assign each other specific roles. Children will want to keep the structure up for several days to continue working and to start dramatic play around the structure.

You can offer props that go with the topic of the block structure to facilitate dramatic play. A variety of accessories might include hats and clothes, measuring tools, task cards, candles with no wicks, and bean bag figures.

1. Block Playby Sharon MacDonald
2. How Blocks Stack Up workshop handout by Sharon MacDonald
3. Jingle in My Pocket CD Songs that Teachand corresponding book Jingle in my Pocket Book...Interactive Songs, Poems, Charts, and Games...PreK through 2nd Grade

Saturday, September 29, 2012

50 Years of Clifford the Big Red Dog

Norman Bridwell's Clifford Collection

I love going to the library with the two-year-old in my care each week. She loves the library.

But I was thrilled when she announced that she wanted to borrow Clifford books on our way to the library this week. Lucky for us, it also just happens to be Clifford's the Big Red Dog's 50th anniversary.

Norman Bridwell's Clifford Collection celebrates the 50th anniversary of Clifford the Big Red Dog. This collection contains the first six stories that were originally published between 1963 and 1977 about a little girl, Emily Elizabeth, and her big red dog, Clifford. The books also includes a letter from Bridwell to the reader in which he explains how he came to write and illustrate the Clifford books.

This book is slightly larger than the typical eight-inch by eight-inch Clifford book, measuring at about a nine-inch square. It has a lovely cover with red foil and matte and spot gloss. The illustrations in this book have limited color so Clifford's fur isn't solid red in this book.

This book includes these six stories:

1. Clifford the Big Red Dog
2. Clifford at the Circus
3. Clifford Gets a Job
4. Clifford Takes a Trip
5. Clifford's Good Deeds
6. Clifford's Tricks

Check out Clifford's Big Ideas that are the basis for Scholastic's BE BIG national campaign. The BIG IDEAS are: Share, Help Others, Be Kind, Be Responsible, Play Fair, Be a Good Friend, Believe in Yourself, Have Respect, Work Together, and Be Truthful. Clifford is the perfect symbol because, while the stories about him show his kindness and good heart, like most small children with good intentions, Clifford is not perfect. It is much easier to love (and learn from) a character who tries his best than one who always does everything right.

Friday, September 28, 2012

5 Pointers to Turn Your Nanny Job into a Lucrative Business

Finding Your Niche
By Karen Smith

Being a nanny means different things for different people. Some nannies are simply trying to get by until they are able to finish school or pursue their desired careers, while others know that caring for children is what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Regardless of which type of nanny you are, if you want to take your nanny job and turn it into a lucrative business, then that means getting serious and being proactive.

There are plenty of ways a career as a nanny can be transitioned into a legitimate business. From consulting, to starting your own nanny placement service, all nannies have the power to take steps now that can set them up for further success in this industry down the line. Here are just a few ways to take being a nanny to the next level:

1. Find a target customer base.

There are many different types of people searching for nannies. What will help you succeed in growing a business, though, it to learn how to understand which types of situations are right for you and which you should pass up. Are you particular about your geographical location? Do you prefer to live in-home or come and go? Do you like families with younger or older children? Figuring out what your needs are before you put yourself out there for jobs will save you from wasting your own time. It will also help you target your search to specific types of families. Once you know what you want, you can be proactive in reaching out to and searching for those types of situations.

2. Learn how to own and market your nanny "type."

Every nanny is different. Some are more energetic, while others prefer a tea and some quite time reading books. Some are very strict and operate on a tight schedule, while others prefer a more free-form approach to taking care of the children. The best way to market yourself and your services as a nanny is to understand how you work and what unique elements you bring to the table. If you try to conform yourself to each potential employer, you could end up in the wrong situation and tarnish your professional record.

3. Be professional at all times.

This cannot be overstated, especially if you are living in your employer's home. If you wish to make a profitable business out of nannying, rather than just use it as a source of side income, then you need to always put your best foot forward. While this can be a bit exhausting 24/7, it is absolutely necessary if you wish to maintain a stellar record and reach out to only the best clients in the future.

4. Save money with a purpose.

When you are on the job, it can be easy to simply spend what you make and hope for the best. In fact, many people, no matter what they do, live this way. But, if you are serious about taking your abilities to the next level, then you will need to have some capital to fall back on when it comes time to make the leap into starting your own business.

5. Always look out for better opportunities.

This is important in every field, but is especially so for nannies. It is natural to become attached to the children you are working with and become comfortable in your particular situation. But, you must always remember that nannying is your job. It is about business, not necessarily personal friendships or attachments. You have to always keep your radar up for better opportunities that could come your way. You may have to break a contract to move up to a much higher level, but this kind of thing often happens in business, and you have to make the best professional decision for your own career, and leave the family's needs as secondary.

Karen Smith, a former newspaper reporter and globe trotter, is now a freelance writer for various publications and websites. She specializes in answering questions from students who are hoping to earn an online business degree; but she also welcomes comments or questions regarding all educational and business topics.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What Do Parents See When They Google Your Name?

What are the Most Inappropriate Things for Nannies and Au Pairs to Post Online? 

Earlier this week we shared stories of four nannies that were fired from their jobs from what they posted on Facebook and for spending too much on Facebook during work hours. But, you shouldn't just be careful about what you post on Facebook, you need to be careful what you post anywhere on the Internet.
One of the first things most employers do when they receive your resume is

Google your name. Before applying for nanny jobs it's best to google your name and see what potential employers will see.   

 When you google your name do you see?
  • Sexy photos of yourself in bathing suits, lingerie, or sexually suggestive photos?
  • Do you see any photos of yourself partying and drinking alcohol?
  • Do you see comments of political hate speech you have made after googling your name?
  • Did you make any comments on blogs or under articles that rant and rave or bully others?
If you find comments or images of yourself that would be seen as unattractive to your current or potential employers, K Jessie Austin wrote an article, How to Manipulate What Employers See When They Google Your Name, that shares a few tips on how to improve your image on the Internet.

This article explains that you can't delete what you find on the Internet but you can create more positive content, If you find information on the Internet that is unattractive K Jessie Austin suggests creating a web site with your name as the domain name such as Or start a free blog on or

Be sure to click here to see more tips the article suggests for manipulating what employers see when they google your name.

What do you see when you google your name? What are the worst things for nannies and au pairs to post on the Internet?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesdays With Whitney

Coffee Filter Bouquets

Just because the chill of fall has set in doesn’t mean we need to abandon our lovely summer flowers.  Make this colorful craft with your little ones so that when they ask to pick flowers on a chilly fall morning, you don’t have to tell them no.


·         Coffee Filters (Pocket ones work best)
·         Craft Sticks
·         Colored Paper (the brighter the better)
·         Paintbrushes and Paint
·         Scissors
·         Glue or Tape

1.  Start by tracing and cutting out flowers from the colored paper. Use the craft stick to gauge how large the flowers need to be. And don’t forget to make a bunch – you want a bouquet of flowers, not a single rose or two!

2.  Once you have your flowers ready, let the little monsters at the paints. Paint the craft sticks (stems) green and the coffee filters multiple colors!  I suggest water paints for the coffee filters as the combination creates a neat merged pattern effect. Once all your painting is done give the crafts a rest, and the little ones a bath.

3.  After a good hour or two of drying (ideal outdoor time), the filters and sticks should be ready to grow up into real flowers and bouquets. Have the children paint glue onto the top of the sticks and then place a flower on each one.

4.  Now simply finish of the bouquets by tri-folding the coffee filters and taping (or gluing) them closed.

5.  If you really want to go the extra mile on this craft, find a green slab of Styrofoam where your little ones can keep their flowers, just like a real garden!

Reference: This project is another Whitney original, born one cool morning when the two-year old she cared for asked to pick some of the long dead flowers. Determined not to disappoint, Whitney simply had to come up with an alternative.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

4 Nannies Fired for What They Posted on Facebook

What Not to Post on Facebook

I sent out an email randomly to many subscribers of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asking if anyone had ever regretted something they had posted on Facebook. I asked our readers if they got in trouble at work or fired for something they posted on the social media site. Then, I asked if they could share what lesson they may have learned from the experience.

Here are the results:

1. Complained About Boss While Using Boss's Computer

A nanny that formerly worked in Brooklyn, New York said she was fired from her job for complaining about the kids in her care and her former employers on her Facebook account. She was irritated she had to stay late at her nanny job one night without prior notice from her employers. She missed a dinner date with her boyfriend. While waiting for the parents to arrive home the nanny complained about the parents on Facebook. She was using her employer's computer and used software on the computer to scribble doodles on the photo of her Dad Boss to look like the devil. She uploaded the photo of her Dad Boss with the caption, "Thanks For Nothing Boss From Hell," under the photo. The nanny didn't realize that her password had been saved for the account and the Dad Boss saw the photo and said it was so upsetting to him they would have to go their separate ways.

Lessons Learned: Don't complain about your employers on the Internet. Don't use your employer's computer for personal use like using social media.

2. Bad Choice of Words

A nanny that is very embarrassed to share her story wants readers to know she is not a racist. She explained that right before the 2008 Presidential election her nanny job wasn't going well. She was a conservative Republican and the parents who employed the nanny were (in her words) bleeding heart liberals. The nanny explained that she was joking with her friends on Facebook and used the "N" word to describe one of the presidential candidates, which she says she knows was dumb of her. The nanny explains that she wasn't friends with her employers on Facebook so she is still upset that one of her friends told her employers about the comment. Several days after the post on Facebook the parents wrote her a long note and spoke with her. They said since they were already having problems in the work relationship this was the straw that broke the camels back. The father said that he didn't want his kids growing up to say racial slurs or hear racial slurs. The nanny says she pleaded saying that she would obviously never say anything like that in front of the kids. She claims the comment wasn't even the truth, it was a joke. But, the parents said she shouldn't even use them as a reference because the father would tell anyone calling for a reference that she publicly called an African American the "N" word.

Lessons Learned: Don't post any inappropriate terms. Don't make racial slurs. Anything on the Internet can be shared with others. Just because you are not "friends" with your employers on Facebook, they still might find out what you wrote on Facebook.

3. Posted Photo of Child Without Permission

I was babysitting overnight while the girl I nannied for had a sleep over with her friend. I let them dress up and play with the mother's make up. I posted a cute photo of the girls on Facebook with the caption, "I'm sexy and I know it." The parents of the other girl were upset that I posted a photo of their child without their permission. I don't know how they ever saw the photo in the first place. But they were ruthless about getting me fired after they saw the photo and what I wrote under it. The other girls' parents and my employers were so upset about the caption that they said I had bad judgement. They said I lacked enough common sense to care for kids. I obviously took the photo down immediately after they told me to. I kept explaining it was just a joke. I obviously wouldn't have posted it if I thought it was inappropriate! They basically called the nanny agency and said they need to find a new nanny and they felt I needed to find a new job.

Lesson Learned: Don't post photos of other people's kids without their permission. Never suggest a child is sexy.

4. Spending Too Much Time On Facebook During Work Hours

I was working as a nanny for 55-hours per week and there is a lot of down time especially when the baby was napping and the older child was in school. I was "friends" with the mother on Facebook. I actually never complained about my job in any way. I commented a lot on Facebook during the work day and below each comment it lists the time and day you write the comment. The mother actually took the time and energy to write down how much I commented. She showed me her log of my comments and said I was spending way too much time on Facebook and neglecting her children and that I was being given my four-weeks notice to find a new job.

Lesson Learned: Know ahead of time if you are allowed to be on the computer or visiting social media websites at your job (if at all).

For all the stories of nannies who  have lost a job for posting unprofessional comments and photos on Facebook, there are many more who upset their employers for what they have posted on the social media giant. The biggest lesson I learned from the nanny's that were fired above is that nothing is private on the Internet.

To be true professionals, nannies must refrain from complaining about their jobs online. No one should post a photo of a child without the parent's permission. All employees should limit the amount of time spent on Facebook during working hours.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Tell Your Employers About National Nanny Recognition Week Without Sounding Self-Serving

Practically Perfect Podcast by Lora Brawley and Sue Downey

It is National Nanny Recogntion Week (NNRW). NNRW is September 22 to 29, 2012. and is a great time for parents to appreciate the important work their nannies do. But, a lot of employers don't know about it. This podcast by Lora Brawley of and Sue Downey of suggest how to tell your employers about NNRW without sounding self-serving.

Click here for the Practically Perfect Podcast.

On the podcast Sue Downey recommends taking the focus off yourself and make NNRW a celebration about your great working relationship with the parents as well. She says, "It takes a great nanny to raise a child. But it takes great employers to support that nanny so she can do a good job."

If you are only bringing up NNRW just to get a gift that's not the spirit Lora and Sue think we should share on NNRW.

Sue recommends brining up NNRW with the intention of sharng the concepet that the parents and nanny feel lucky to have found each other. She says you can say, "I am very proud of the work that I have done and I hope that you see I work very hard and take a minute to notice that. But, also I am very happy that you support me in what I am trying to accomplish with your kids."

Another way to bring up NNRW is to say, "It's National Nanny Recognition Week and there are events going on all over the country, but I really think we should celebrate our great relationship."

Sue also suggests that if you don't have the best relationship with the parents, you can at least celebrate with the kids. Perhaps you would be more comfortable explaining to the parents, "We are going to go out and have pizza this week or grab and ice cream cone after school to celebrate National Nanny Recognition Week because it takes all of us to make this [relationship] successful."

Take the focus a little bit off of yourself and include the kids and parents in the celebration.

Lora also suggests contacting Kellie Geres at the NNRW blog
Kellie is sending out postcards and letters about NNRW to send your employers. 
Sue also recommends sharing the NNRW logo on Facebook and adding it to the bottom of your email signature. When the parents ask you how was your weekend say you attended a NNRW event. Or, when the parents ask what you are doing this weekend say you and another nanny friend are going out to dinner to celebrate NNRW.

The podcast encourages us to take a minute to thank any nanny mentors or nannies you admire this week too. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No More Sorting of Whites and Colors: SHOUT Color Catcher

Products Nannies Love

Over the past 19-years working as a nanny I have always done the children's laundry and many nannies wash the the entire family's laundry.

The very first thing I learned about doing laundry is to sort the white clothes from dark clothes or clothes with bright colors. My grandmother told my mother, my mother told me, and I have told the children in my care that even one red stripe on one white shirt can turn all the white clothing in a load of laundry pink.

The only major change in doing laundry over the past two decades that I've found is the SHOUT Color Catcher and I highly recommend the product to other nannies and au pairs because it eliminates the need to sort clothing!

The SHOUT Color Catcher sheets feel and look similar to the average dryer sheet. I just throw the sheet in with the load of laundry and the sheet absorbs and traps loose dyes in the water, safeguarding the laundry from colors that bleed.

When I use SHOUT Color Catcher sheets, I wash darks, bright colors, and whites together and the white clothes stay white. The color is on the SHOUT Color Catcher sheet and not the white clothes.

I highly recommend the SHOUT Color Catcher because it's easy to use and it has saved me a lot of time.

Don't forget to stop by again next Sunday for antoher product review.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Yawn" by Sally Symes and Illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Weekly Trip to the Library

This week my charge and I picked up a copy of Yawn by Sally Symes and illustrated by Nick Sharratt at the local library. It's already one of her favorite books. We started reading it at nap time and now she's reading it herself to her baby dolls.

The book is an adorable rhyme that's easy to learn with big colorful pictures. The picture book starts with a boy named Sean yawning and he passes the yawn to a Cat. Then the Cat makes a yawn and gives it to a Bird. On each page the animals give a yawn to an animal on the next page until it's time for them to go upstairs to bed.

When I read the cute rhyme to the little girl in my care, I make sure to make a loud and animated yawn when we read the word "YAWN" on each page of the book. The little one I care for giggles each time I make the loud yawn.

The rhyme helps the child anticipate what animal will be found on the next page. So now, as I read the book to the little girl, I pause before I turn each page, and my young friend yells out what animal is on the next page.

We even mimic the simple rhyme all through the house. I replace the animals in the book with my charge's stuffed animals and we even give yawns to one another. At breakfast we have the plate give a yawn to the eggs. It's such a simple way to have fun.

Each animals' mouth has a big round hole that the child and nanny can play peekaboo with as well.

I highly recommend this cute book for infants and toddlers of all ages.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poor Communication is Bad for Your Health

Learn to Be More Assertive
From The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook by David S. Sobel and Robert Ornstein

In The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook, David S. Sobel and Robert Ornstein write that evidence suggests that communicating effectively enhances our health and self-esteem, nurtures our relationships, and helps us cope with stress. Healthy communication is the lifeblood of relationships, and relationships are a lifeline to health. Those who have close relationships in which they can share their feelings and feel supported tend to live longer lives.

The authors explain that those who don't communicate effectively are more vulnerable to disease, and may be at an increased of death. Several studies suggest that hostile, confrontational people have an increased risk of heart disease. And those who feel misunderstood report more of a kind of depression that weakens the immune system.

When communication breaks down, your heart rates speeds up. Cholesterol and blood sugar levels rise. We become susceptible to headaches, backaches, and digestive problems. We are more sensitive to pain. At work, worry over conflict and misunderstandings can make us irritable, unable to concentrate, and increase the risk of accidents.

You can learn to express yourself more effectively.
To communicate assertively:

1. State Your Observations:
Explain your thoughts or perception of the situation in an objective and nonjudgmental way as you can.

2. State Your Thoughts:
This is your opportunity to express your opinions, your beliefs, your interpretations, and your interpretation of the other person’s observations.

3. State Your Feelings:
Use “I” statements. For example, say “I get really upset when I’m late. It’s important for me to be on time,” instead of “You’re always making me late.” Focus on your own emotional reaction to the situation rather than blaming the other person for making you feel this way. State only the impact of the situation or someone else’s behavior on you.

4. State Your Wants:
Make clear, specific requests of the other person.

So nannies, don't blame your employers for your problems. Just learn to speak up assertively and improve your work relationships.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dangers in Feeding a Baby Rice Cereal: Avoid Rice Grown in the Gulf Coast

How to Reduce Arsenic in Your Diet

Yesterday we learned that the rice grown from Texas and Louisiana and along the Gulf coast where fields were used to grow cotton a century ago have the highest level of arsenic because when there was cotton there they had to treat the cotton with arsenic pesticides to control the bowl weevil. Now, that arsenic is still in the soil. The arsenic is also found in the rice grown today in those fields. So the FDA recommends eating rice from California and Asia, not from the Gulf coast.
This is especially upsetting since the first cereal most infants eat is rice cereal.
Here is a list from ConsmerReports of arsenic found in foods.

In response to this news the Environmental Working Group explains how to reduce arsenic in your diet.
With two reports out today from the federal Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Reports magazine showing that a number of popular rice-based foods are contaminated with arsenic, a known human carcinogen, Environmental Working Group offers several easy-to-use tips on how to reduce your dietary exposure.
"In many cases the arsenic found in food comes from natural sources, but that doesn't mean it is safe," said Sonya Lunder, senior research analyst at EWG. "Arsenic is known to cause cancer in humans, and FDA needs to do everything possible to reduce people’s exposure. Unfortunately, the agency has spent the past 20 years testing foods without making any recommendations on what consumers can do to reduce their risk. The public should not wait for FDA; there are number steps people can take that will dramatically reduce the amount of arsenic they ingest."
What consumers can do to reduce their own exposure:

  • Eat a varied diet and try out alternatives to rice such as quinoa, barley, grits/polenta, couscous or bulgur wheat.
  • Boil brown rice in a lot of water (as you do with pasta). Evidence suggests that can lower arsenic levels. White rice does not hold up as well to this method of cooking.
  • What parents can do to reduce children’s exposure:
  • For babies, try orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and squash, bananas and avocados as first solid foods.
  • Buy non-rice baby cereals, such a s oatmeal or mixed grains.
  • Do not use rice milk as a dairy substitute.
  • Limit fruit juices to a maximum of on-half to one cup per day.
    • CONTACT: EWG Public Affairs: Alex Formuzis (202) 667.6982 or

    Tips on How Nannies Can Say “No!”

    According to the authors of The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbooklearning how to decline a request is an essential life skill. Many of us have a hard time saying no, even when we’re overwhelmed with things to do. We may say yes from an exaggerated desire to please, but in the end we often feel angry with ourselves. Remember, you have a legitimate right to decline any request, even if it’s a reasonable request.

    Here are Some Tips on How to Say No:

    1. Take some time before you answer. Say you have to think it over or check with your family or boss.

    2. Think of how you want to respond, and rehearse your answer.

    3. Separate the person who is asking from the task you are being asked to do; say no to the request without rejecting the requester. Acknowledge the importance of the request to the other person. You can say, “Thanks for calling. I appreciate your asking me, but I can’t take on any more tasks.”

    4. Offer no further explanation. Give no details of your busy schedule.

    5. If the person is persistent, use the “broken record” strategy. Just keep repeating, “I just can’t take on any more tasks,” or “I’d help out if I could, but I can’t take on any more tasks.”

    6. Make a counter offer along these lines: “I won’t be able to drive tonight. Perhaps you can ask Anna for a ride.”

    Ways to Say No:

    1. “I’m not the best person to help on this. Why don’t you try X?”

    2. “I’d love to do this, but …”

    3. “I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Wednesdays With Whitney

    Get Organized

    When school starts, the chance of missed communications between nannies and parents increases greatly. There are so many permission slips, class requirements, and activity lists that run the risk of getting lost in the shuffle of the day (or in the middle of a tantrum). Follow these easy directions to build a fun binder which will keep everyone on the same page!
    ·         Binder
    ·         Markers and Stickers
    ·         Loose Leaf Paper
    ·         Binder Tabs

    1.      Start with the fun part – decorating! Make the binder bright and colorful so it fits in well with your little one’s School Corner. Make sure to follow a theme with the rest of the school stuff so even your little one who can’t read will know where his/her school binder is.

    2.       Separate your binder the following way:

    a.      Place a few pages of loose leaf in the front for quick after school notes. Did the teacher recommend tutoring? Was an assignment missed? Jot it down before you get too busy!

    b.      1st Tab - General School Information. Here you put all the important information you got at the beginning of the year (Calendar, Class List, In Class Requirements)

    c.       2nd Tab - Homework. I find it easiest to put the “to be done” homework in the front pocket of the binder and the “already graded” homework filed under this tab.

    d.      3rd Tab – Permission Slips. Do the same thing you do with homework. Keep “to be signed” permission slips in the front pocket, and “already signed” slips in the back.

    e.      4th Tab – After School Activities. Keep all the papers related to your little one’s after school activities kept under this tab.

    f.        5th Tab – Special Announcements. Place things like that flyer about school spirit day under here.

    g.       6th Tab – Miscellaneous. Everything you can’t fit into the other tabs should go here.

    3.     Don’t forget to include a calendar somewhere so everyone has their days coordinated! It could go on the back of the binder or even on the front pocket. If you can’t find a place for it in the binder, then make sure it’s in a nearby and visible space, like Whitney’s Practical Homemade Calendar. 


    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Do You Speak Up at Work?

    Are you Aggressive, Passive, or Assertive at Work?

    This week we are sharing information from The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook by David S. Sobel and Robert Ornstein. The authors of the book explain that there are basically three ways we communicate with other people: aggressively, passively, or assertively. Effective communication is usually assertive communication. When you communicate assertively, you stand up for your rights in a friendly way. Assertive responses consider both your own feelings and the feelings of the other person.

    Aggressive Responses
    Aggressive responses are angry or defensive towards others. Aggressive people blame others for their problems. When you respond by yelling or blaming others you aren’t respecting the others person’s beliefs or feelings. Aggressive people blame others and appear angry.

    Passive Responses
    Passive responses usually lead to anger, resentment, and hurt feelings. Typically people with low self-esteem or who feel inferior blame themselves for problems. Instead of standing up for themselves, passive people turn blame inward and often feel depressed.

    Assertive Responses
    When you respond assertively you express your personal needs and opinions, you can disagree openly, and you can say no. Assertive responses usually result in improved self-esteem, less tension, and often resolve the problems. It is not selfish to assertively express your beliefs, communicate your feelings, and stand up for your values. The key to responding assertively is to be kind and respect other’s feelings, while respecting and expressing your feelings.

    Many of us carry unhelpful assumptions about ourselves; our rights to express ourselves and to be respected. These assumptions make it more likely that we’ll respond in either an aggressive or a passive manner rather than an assertive one.

    Our ability to communicate well often depends on examining – and sometimes challenging – our assumptions about our own legitimate rights.

    Consider the following:

    1. Do you believe it is selfish to put your needs before others’ needs, or do you have a legitimate right to sometimes put yourself first?

    2. Do you assume that other people’s views should win out over your own opinions and convictions?

    3. Do you think you should always be flexible and adjust to others, or do you think it’s better to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution?

    4. Do you feel that you shouldn’t take up other people’s valuable time with your problems, or do you have a legitimate right to ask for help and support?

    5. Do you assume that when someone is in trouble you should always help them, or do you have the right not to take responsibility for someone else’s problem sometimes?

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Say No to Say Yes! Are You a People Pleaser?

    Why We Say Yes, When We Want to Say No

    We all do it. We say yes when we really want to say no. Many nannies are people pleasers, especially at work. Plenty of nannies have difficulty saying no to their employers because they want to be nice and show their employers that they appreciate the job – even at the expense of themselves.

    Why some nannies say yes when they want to say no:

    1. They want to help. Most nannies have kind souls and hearts. They don’t want to turn people away and want to help where possible, especially at work.

    2. Afraid of seeming rude. A lot of us were brought up under the notion that saying no, especially to people who are our senior, is rude.

    3. Fear of conflict. We fear our employers might be angry if we say no.

    David S. Sobel and Robert Ornstein authors of The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbookexplain that how we communicate has a very real impact on our happiness and our health. When we communicate effectively, we feel understood. If we communicate effectively we feel connected, valued at work, and people trust and respect us.

    The authors say there are three ways we communicate with other people: aggressively, passively, or assertively. To communicate effectively we have to communicate assertively.

    So, stop by tomorrow, when we will discuss these communications styles and how to communicate more effectively on this blog.

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Products Nannies Love: Origami Stroller

    You Have to See it to Believe it!
    Review by Maria Lopez, Nanny, Miami FL

    Everyone in the neighborhood where I work as a nanny is talking about the Origami stroller. It's amazing and unlike any other stroller on the market!

    What I love the most is that the stroller is that it is motorized and opens and folds with a push of a button. It has a low-force motor that self-charges in the tires as you walk. I also love the LCD screen dashboard on the handle that lets you now how much battery power remains and includes a thermometer, speedometer, and trip and lifetime odometers. Unlike other strollers, the Origami folds in three dimensions, folding up to half the size of most strollers.

    Another cool fact is that the Origami is constructed of 90 percent recyclable parts. A bassinet may be purchased separately, allowing the Origami to be used with newborns. A child snack tray can also be bought separately.

    The only two possible drawbacks are that this stroller is expensive and the stroller is heavy. But, The price is not a problem for the parents my friends and I work for as nannies. In my opinion, the price is well worth the investment.

    The Origami stroller has:

    The stroller opens and closes itself at the touch of a button. There is a sensor in the seat that lets you know whether or not there is a baby in the seat and thus prevents the stroller from folding so you don't have to worry about it folding with your baby in it.

    LCD Screen Dashboard
    Includes a thermometer, speedometer, how much battery power is left, and trip and lifetime odometers.

    It has daytime running lights and pathway lights located under the stroller that turn on automatically in low-light conditions.

    Plenty of Storage
    The stroller has four cup holders, storage pockets, and a big removable storage bag.

    USB Charging Outlet
    You can charge an iPod, smartphone, tablet, or camera.

    I think the Origami stroller is the best stroller on the market. If you care for a baby or toddler be sure to share this information with your employers. If they can afford the Origami stroller it's well worth the investment.


    Saturday, September 15, 2012

    Weekly Trip to the Library

    Nanny Etiquette by Lynn Wariara
     "As nannies our duty is to positively enhance and respect the family’s household values not to overtake and usurp their values." Lynn Wariara

    Lynn Wariara, author of the new book NANNY ETIQUETTE kindly shared a sample of her book with me to review. The book is merely six chapters and under 20-pages in length. It has quite a few grammatical errors. But, if you can disregard the typos there is some good advice, it's a quick read, at an inexpensive price.

    CHAPTER ONE: Professional Nanny Interviewing

    The short chapter is divided into two headings: Interviewing Process and Be on time!!!.

    Under the heading Interviewing Process the author discusses how to dress on a nanny interview. Ms. Wariara says when possible nannies should wear their hair in a ponytail. She also recommends always asking before holding a baby and to wash your hands before holding a baby.

    The next heading is Be on time!!! Prior to the interview the author recommends googling the directions to the interview to ensure the nanny arrives on time. She advises allowing an extra 15 to 20 minutes in case of traffic. She writes, "If by unavoidable circumstances you notice you are going to be late, call them and address your reason, don’t wait till you get there."

    Then, she includes more information about the interview process. She urges nannies to introduce themselves with a firm handshake, soft eye contact, and a smile. She explains how to sit with legs crossed. The author cautions nannies not to cut-off the interviewer when they are speaking and not to take over one minute to answer questions because some people are turned-off by others that talk to much.

    After thanking the parents for taking time to for the interview the author writes, "Don’t impose an urgency on them getting back to you on your terms, that can also be a turn off. Wait at least two or three days or until the time frame they suggest to you."

    Then she explains on the first days of the job to pay close attention to instructions and not discuss or compare your last working position with the one you are in now.

    One of my favorite quotes in the book is the last sentence in the chapter: "As nannies our duty is to positively enhance and respect the family’s household values not to overtake and usurp their values."

    CHAPTER TWO: Communication Pointers for Nannies

    I like chapter two of the book. Ms. Wariara directs nannies to schedule a weekly or monthly meeting with the parents and how to discuss problems that may arise at the job.

    She writes, "Emailing and texting is not the correct way of communicating to try and resolve emotional matter. A lot has been and can be miscontrued through written communication, it is better to wait meet face to face."

    She continues to describe the proper etiquette of sharing feelings and having conversations about difficult topics with employers.

    She includes advice on asking for a pay raise annually and when there is an additional child or duties.

    CHAPTER THREE: How a Nanny Should Handle Hiccups/Issues Professionally

    In this chapter the author provides a hypothetical situation between a nanny named Susan and her employers, the Smith family. Ms. Wariara explains again that having open and honest meetings with the parents at least once a month can help alleviate misunderstandings.

    CHAPTER FOUR : How to Professionally Draw the Line Between Nanny and Friend

    Ms. Wariara effectively points out how important it is for nannies to maintain professionalism and separate their private and work lives at all times.

    She writes, "So keep your relationship professional first at all times and learn to balance between friendship and professionalism. This will make things way easier and healthier."

    She briefly discusses the uncomfortable topic of affairs and sexual misconduct. She says, "I always tell a nanny, If by any chance the client makes a pass at you, then it is time for you to leave the job. Don’t hang around in hopes that the situation might change!!"

    CHAPTER FIVE: How to Handle Private Matters of the Family Professionally

    In this chapter Ms. Wariara suggests nannies refrain from lecturing parents how to care for a child. She also recommends having a written work agreement to avoid conflicts at a later stage or her employment.

    She warns nannies of showing too much affection towards a child. She writes, "Few families let nannies develop a motherly rapport with kids, especially when the nanny is an elderly lady."

    CHAPTER SIX: The Essential Nanny Vitamins

    This is a cute article describing the best characteristics nannies should have.

    You can pick up your own copy of NANNY ETIQUETTE by Lynn Wariara below.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Mandated Reporter or Tattle Tale?

    Have You Ever Reported Unethical Behavior of Another Caregiver?

    I have written many articles about mandated reporting. We know that as nannies, we are Mandated Reporters and are required to report neglect and/or abuse of children, as should every adult over the age of 18. From a distance we all want to protect children and say we would report suspected neglect or abuse of children to the proper authorities but in reality it's difficult to be the one who starts the process that may separate a parent and a child.
    But, there are also many other ethical issues nannies and au pairs experience everyday.  Should we intrude in situations when behavior is unethical or inappropriate but does not directly impact a child?

    Ask yourself what you would do in these real situations shared with us from other nannies.

    Scenario 1: Abusive Nanny
    A nanny and her charge saw a playmate at the playground. The toddler had a new nanny that she had met before, but didn’t know well. As the toddler friend tried to climb a toy she whined a little bit, as toddlers do when they are having trouble climbing. The new nanny grabbed the young child with great force and the nanny yelled at the child so loudly that everyone at the playground stopped what they were doing and looked over to see what was happening. The nanny's angry reaction towards the child was completely inappropriate and unnecessary, although not necessarily criminal.

    What would you do? Would you call the former nanny that was your friend or the parents of the child after you saw her being yelled at inappropriately? In this situation would you call the parents, teacher, doctor, or police?

    Scenario 2: Stealing Nanny
    A live-out nanny complained about her job to an au pair. The au pair suggested the nanny leave the job and find another job she might like better. The live-out nanny confided that she buys her own groceries on her employer’s credit card. The au pair asked if her employer said that was okay to do that. The nanny answered, “She never looks at the receipts. I just throw them out. I feed my family this way. I can’t leave this job when I can feed my family on her credit card.”

    Please note: au pairs are offered room and board while living in their employer's home as part of a cultural exchange program. Live-in nannies are also expected and allowed to eat with the family that employs them. Most live-out nannies are invited and expected to eat meals with the children while they are working caring for them.  
    What would you do? Tell the parents that employ the nanny that she’s been stealing from them or the police?
    Scenario 3: Uncaring Nanny

    Most parents and caregivers that attend Mommy and Me classes participate in the class when expected. But a nanny refuses to join in a class and texts during the class entire class instead. The bad attitude of the new nanny is discussed by all the other mothers and nannies after class as inappropriate and they all want to say something to teacher or parents about the non-caring nanny.
    What would you do? Do you say something to the teacher about the attitude of the nanny? Do you tell the parents about her bad attitude?

    Scenario 4: Stalking Ex-Husband
    The divorced father of the children has a restraining order to not come on the property of his estranged wife and their children. Everyone has told the nanny to not get involved with the parents‘ divorce. The nanny does her best to remain neutral. The nanny sees the father sitting in his car in front of the house in the street making the nanny uncomfortable. The nanny doesn't leave the house with the kids fearing a confrontation.

    What would you do? Would you call the mother to tell her you feel as if the father is stalking the house? Or, do you call the police?
    Click here to see how to report suspected neglect or abuse of a child.