Love n’ Birthdays

The kids that I watch are like extended members of my family. And in my family, birthdays are very special. We have a party, eat lots of food, and enjoy being with each other. My nanny families are no different. I was honored to be invited to Jare Bear’s birthday last spring. He had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle meets basketball party with the kids from his basketball team.

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The cake I made for Jare Bear’s b-day.

 

So fun! Now its August, and I-yo’s birthday is coming up. I feel horrible that I can’t be there since I have moved but hope her birthday note will brighten her day.

So it got me thinking, how do other nannies celebrate birthday’s with their charges? Are they invited to family parties? What about after you are done being their nanny, do you still send cards and presents..and for how long do you keep in the traditions?

What about nanny’s birthday?

For my birthday, which happened last year only a couple weeks after starting with I-yo and Jare Bear’s family, we had a fun movie night together complete with spaghetti and a birthday cake decorating competition. I made little cakes and we each got to decorate one, then ate it for dessert! So cute! Couldn’t have asked for a better party ūüôā I-yo made me a cute handmade necklace and they both made really awesome cards.

Send me your thoughts on birthday celebrations and traditions!

~Kelsey

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A Semi-Biased Review of Children Television Shows

Yesterday my big accomplishment for the day was winning a competition of¬†listing off¬†the most kid shows…with a three year¬†old. Yes, that really happened. But I realized, half those shows are even below a two year old’s intelligent level. There are 100’s of shows dedicated to children on several t.v. stations but how many of them are worth watching? Very few. Here is my Good, Bad, Ugly list of shows for children under 10.

Good:

  • 64 Zoo Lane-good for animal recognition and promotes teamwork
  • Angelina Ballerina encourages kids to dance with Angelina, promotes problem solving
  • The Bernstein¬†Bears-¬†what’s not to love about da Bears? They help kids with firsts (ie doctor’s appts, going to the zoo etc)
  • Sid the Science Kid- early insight into science and having a passion for something
  • Good Night Show- relaxing, soothing and does calm down kids.
  • Sesame Street- as much as I don’t personally like it, the show was taught to teach kids basics like the alphabet, safety, teamwork and sharing.
  • The Wiggles- I really don’t know why I put this on the good list other than it encourages dancing like Angelina Ballerina.
  • Zaboomafoo- my favorite show growing up, it is about animals, animal safety and exploring.
  • Out of the Box- CREATIVITY. period.
  • Dora the Explorer- bilingual interaction and problem solving.
  • Go, Diego Go-¬†offshoot of Dora and offers the same pros
  • Curious George- can’t say anything bad about this show…who doesn’t love an adorable monkey?
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse- Disney doesn’t get it wrong with this show. Interactive and age appropriate.

Bad:

  • Thomas and Friends-Love Thomas but the show features a lot of bullies. The little boy I watch picked up on that more than Thomas overcoming obstacles.
  • Barney- While Barney features arts and crafts and playing nice, it is just not what it used to be when I was growing up.
  • Hannah Montana- innuendos, annoying and focus on materialism and fame…need I say more?
  • Victorious- *see comment about Hannah Montana*
  • ICarly- *again…see comment about Hannah Montana*
  • Lazy-Town- It is just creepy. The bad guys spies on the little girl and they don’t accomplish much but running away from him.
  • Max and Ruby-While it shows a brother and sister learning to work out differences and be a team, Ruby is a very bossy older sister.

Ugly

  • Spongebob-¬†I despise this show. It literally kills brain cells. I feel dumber after watching for 5 minutes.
  • Cailou-¬†whiny little 4 year old who is scared about everything. Thank you for teaching kids how to complain and go to mommy about everything.
  • Teletubbies- should be self explanitory…this show sucks. No words, pointless babble and running around.
  • Simpsons-¬†inappropriate for 13 and under
  • South Park-¬†inappropriate for 16 and under
  • Family Guy-¬†inappropriate for 16 and under
  • Boobah-offshoot¬†of Teletubbies that should not have even existed.
  • Yo Gabba¬†Gabba- I can’t get past their shapes…what are they?

Now these are obviously not all of the shows out there. If there is one you are particularly passionate about let me know, I would love to add it to the list. I am not against television, but if children sit in front of it for hours on end, it would be nice if they could at least learn something positive from it. Kids are so easily influenced and I don’t think people have fully caught on to that yet. And while I could go into a long drawn out debate on the increase in violence being in part caused by increasing violent shows and games…I will save that for¬†another day. I will say on a personal note, I was addicted to Rugrats¬†when I was little. My mom noticed I was becoming increasingly bossy and aggressive¬†with my sister. If you watched Rugrats, you know Angelica was the older cousin who bossed the babies around. The consequence? I couldn’t watch it if I was going to mimic Angelica. Case in point, be mindful of what your charges are watching.

ūüôā

DO NOT ENTER: the realm of privacy

It is funny how inspiration hits sometimes. I had a situation yesterday at work where one child was running around in their underwear and the other was locked in his room and I couldn’t get in. Then, the wonderful carliedash from Superhero of Imperfection left me this note:

 I have been thinking a lot lately about a topic I am interested in hearing your opinion on- Privacy. As a babysitter/nanny it is our job to keep children safe. But sometimes, older kids want (or should we say need) privacy. What do you do when what you think is right conflicts with the child. A four year old wants to bathe alone? A three year old refuses help wiping? Or what about the other way around? Have you ever been in a situation with an older child where you thought they needed privacy but they asked for your presence? I realize I am being vague, but I am mostly talking about bathtime, potty time, and dressing. It’s a gray area because we need to keep children safe, but we also need to show them that we respect them! What are your thoughts?

Let me start off by saying there is a difference between privacy, independence and rights. Your parent’s stopped watching you go to the bathroom probably by the time you were four or five years old right? One, they knew you were independent enough to do your business, wipe and flush. Second, around the age of four is when children start wanting to be left alone. Children want to test the boundaries of what they can and can’t do by themselves, it is a natural process of learning. Fast forward to when you are say..13. Now you are independent and have earned privacy but you have an attitude. Did your parent’s ever take the door to your room off because you slammed it one too many times? You lost¬† your right to have a door as a consequence of your actions. Ok so now that we have that situated, what is the line between safety and privacy.

Different age groups have different levels of privacy, independence and rights. Toddlers for example are still heavily reliant on parents to complete daily tasks. As a babysitter/nanny, you are taking the place of the parent and thus have the same responsibilities. Carliedash¬†asked at what age is it appropriate for children to shower alone/without supervision. I don’t think there is a defined age but this is what I do. I watch a three and five year¬†old on Thursday nights. One of my duties is to make sure they are showered and put in bed. We created a¬†called scuba time. The kids (little boy and girl) wear their swim suit in the bath. (this solves the awkward nakedness and keeps bathtime¬†fun).¬† Since they want their ‘independence’ I put the curtain up (which is pretty shear so I can see their outlines) so they can splash about and have fun with a sense of privacy. I sit next to the tub and listen to what they are doing. I never leave them alone. It is pretty apparent¬†if they are doing something they shouldn’t like jumping or fighting. At that point I can easily intervene. This was our compromise. Now I also have charges that are eight and ten years old. They can shower by themselves with the door closed as long as it remains unlocked. Unlocked you ask? My worst fear would be that they slip and fall in the shower and get knocked unconscious. If that ever happened, it would be vital that you be able to get into the bathroom to help them. At that point, nakedness, self-esteem issues, etc are thrown out the window. They will understand. Again this was the compromise between privacy and safety. They know I won’t enter if the door is closed and I know that I can still do my job, should an emergency occur.

As a nanny, your bathroom duties don’t end there. (no pun intended). When it comes to potty training, toddlers will insist they can “do it”. However, we all know sometimes they can’t reach or get it all. Most parents will tell you it is all part of the learning process and I agree. One of the little boys I watch wouldn’t even let his mom help him wipe (let alone me) but he learned quickly that he needed help when he started getting sore back there. If your little munchkin is refusing help, reiterate¬†that if they miss any, they will have a sore bum and that’s no fun! Always be positive when dealing with a new potty trainer. “Good job buddy, you went potty like a big boy. Don’t forget to wipe like one” Then follow-up with “can you show me what a big boy( or girl)¬†you are?” You don’t have to watch like a hawk, just stand by the door and listen to what is happening. If you hear the toilet paper roll spinning, that is a good sign.

I think there is a misconception that babysitters/nannies shouldn’t see their charges naked out of fear. This is a sticky area all around. Parent’s may feel uncomfortable with the vulnerability of their children naked (let’s face it, even babysitters can be perverts unfortunately). Nannies feel uncomfortable with the possibility of being accused of molestation/inappropriate behavior. And kids just feel embarrassed¬†with strangers looking at their body, especially if you grew up like I did where my mom reinforced “only mommy, daddy and the doctor should see your body..”. So with all this walking on eggshells, it is reasonable to understand why nannies do not want to see their charges naked. STOP! the parent’s are intrusting you with their most precious possessions. You are the parent in their absence. SO!! be sensitive to the child’s privacy but don’t fear accusations. There are cases where you gotta do what you gotta do. Let me repeat: Please don’t let a fear impair your job or the safety of the children you watch. Perfect example. I had a friend who was watching a toddler for the first time. She had to get him dressed for a playdate at the park. However, neither the child or the babysitter felt comfortable with her clothing the child. So she let him close his door, pick out clothes and change by himself while she went through the house to clean up. What toddler do you know that can do ALL of that?? I don’t know any who can pick out their own outfit! As he went to pull out a tall drawer to get pants out of the dresser, it fell out and on top of him. The babysitter walked in on a pinned down, hysterical, NAKED, two year¬†old. My point with this is, sometimes, out of the safety of the child, you need to stay in the room and assist. So that was obviously the wrong way to handle the situation.. This is what I do. I pick out three outfits, underwear and all and sit it on the bed (or floor). Then I tell the child they can pick one of those outfits. I tell them I will stand right outside in case they need help but they can be a big boy (or girl) and get dressed. Now, pants might not get zipped, buttons may be misaligned, they may have their shoes on the wrong feet, BUT they were safely independent and have a sense of self accomplishment. Bonus! you didn’t have to be in the room when they were naked.

I started my nanny job with the 8 and 10 year old¬†about 10 months ago. It was my responsibility to make sure the kids looked appropriate for school. When I started, the kids were very adamant¬†about me not seeing them naked or in their underwear, so I would wake them up and wait downstairs for the morning fashion show. They would come down in the outfit they chose and show me for approval. If it didn’t work, they would go change. Now, since we have been together for so long, sometimes they will walk around in their underwear or ask me to help pick out their clothes for the day. One time Jo Jo was in the shower and forgot a towel so she asked me to give her one, since I am a girl with girl parts like her and it was less awkward than having her brother do it. Out of respect I didn’t look at her as I handed her the towel.

Respect for children is so key to building a relationship with them. With that said, each child is different. Some are very independent, some are very clingy. Some don’t mind nakedness and others are very shy about their body privacy. Bottom line, you need to keep them safe. If you have to walk in on a shower or while they are using the bathroom, explain that it isn’t a breach of privacy, it is because it is your job. If you have a situation where the child is naked, don’t stare or make them feel uncomfortable. Never touch them inappropriately.

Have you ever been in a situation where privacy and safety conflict? Tell me about it!

Being Billingual

I check popular childcare job postings on a pretty regular basis and I am finding more and more that parents are looking for bilingual nannies. The family I work for now did not have that as a requirement when I was hired but I have to say, knowing Spanish has been a lifesaver since I work in an area with a high Spanish population.

A while back I had a conversation with Jay, the 10 year old I watch. He came home saying a phrase that took me by surprise. Jay has been bullied in the past but this really hit hard. He said some boys at school kept repeating “Tu es feo y estupido.” “Espero que morir” y “ir al infierno” to him. For those of you who don’t speak¬†Spanish¬†the translation is this: “You are ugly and stupid.” “I hope you die” and “go to hell”. People, these are elementary school kids…

My heart broke.

I am by no means¬†bilingual¬†but I do have 5 years of¬†Spanish¬†classes under my belt. ¬†(I still sound ridiculously white and can not roll my rrr’s)..regardless I know enough to ask questions and comprehend when someone is being rude. I told Jay never to repeat what they said but didn’t translate for him. I talked with the mom, who emailed the teacher and called the principal.

The worst part was knowing Jay didn’t understand what they were saying. He thought they were welcoming them into their group.. Kids can be so hurtful.

Now Jay is obsessed with Spanish culture, language, money and people. He wants to travel to Mexico when he is older and speak the language. I am conflicted with teaching him the basics of Spanish since I know I might be adding fuel to his burning passion to learn but I am an advocate for children learning multiple languages. It has been shown to improve cognition and knowledge as well as compassion and the ability to communicate with people around the world; all which are important in our ever changing, more globally connected world.

When asked or as a reward for getting his homework done quickly, I will translate certain words like homework-la tarea,  boy-el nino or good job-bueno! or exelente!

I think it is a good compromise to my dilemma. What do you think? Share your stories and comments!

Happier Than a Kid with CANDY!

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Three months ago I started this blog as a way to share my experiences with other sitters and nannies. It was almost therapeutic for me to write out some of my frustrations and joys of the job. I hope if nothing else, you get a little humor and entertainment out of my postings.

This morning I woke up at 4 am like usual and got ready for work. (I have to commute about 30 min away).  I was surprisingly running ahead of schedule-even after curling my hair and getting make up on (a task sometimes impossible this early in the morning)- and decided to check my email. To my surprise I saw a message from Nanny Magazine. Here is part of the email:

Hi Kelsey –

 I was on the search for nanny bloggers and came across your blog. I hope you are doing well.
 
You may not yet be aware but Nanny Magazine is launching in January 2014, so I was wondering if you would do us a favor to help us reach out to other nannies.
 
Also, we have a growing community (500+) of nannies on our Facebook page, which you could potentially tap into for further exposure for your blog.
 
If you are willing to give us a shout out on your blog, we are willing to post a link to it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/NannyMagazine), which could increase traffic to your blog.
 
And lastly, we are also open for submissions. We are publishing lots of amazing articles online leading up to our print launch date, so if you have any article ideas you would like to write about, please feel free to submit something. Our author guidelines are on our website (www.nannymag.com).
 

HOW COOL!! A magazine for nannies by nannies!! I was so excited when I got to work I shared the news with my nanny family. The kids were jumping up and down asking if I would write about them, and if they would get famous and have to sign autographs. So cute ūüôā

I highly suggest checking their Facebook page and website out. It is put together really well.

Let me know what you think about having a magazine dedicated to nannies ūüôā

Have a terrific Tuesday!

An Alternative to Video Games

 

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Ok, it might sound like I am anti-technology but I do allow the kids that I watch some time on the computer, tv an with video games. I just think there are other, more stimulating, activities for children to do.

Recently, I was talking to a fellow blogger about what to do since the little boy she watches has become consumed with video games. My response: Comic books.

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Not only does it¬†promote reading and imagination, but it allows kids to still get their adventure and favorite character fix. Then I was asked what kind of comics to buy for an elementary school kid. Well, lets face it, kids go through lots of stages. Jay, one of the kids I watch, has gone through an animal, zombie, soldier, and superhero stage since I’ve been his nanny. BUT, there are comic books for everyone! I am personally a fan of the classic Superman and Batman series but for younger kids here is a list of 10 Great Comic Books for Children Under 12¬†by GEEKGIRLCON.COM.

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What comic books do your kids read? What¬†was your favorite growing up? Let me know ūüôā

Happy Thursday!

 

 

The Television

The television is a gathering area for families, a kid magnet, a distraction from homework and a nanny’s easy way out of activities. We all know kids will sit in front of the tv for hours watching Spongebob and other equally mind numbing shows. But if it comes down to tv or a tantrum…most nannies give in to the tv. I am here to say STOP!!! There are a 100 other things to do besides sitting down and watching television! There are 3 reasons why I hate when kids watch tv excessively.

1) tv promotes bad behavior. Lets face it, watching good kids follow the rules would be boring..Hollywood knows that. Disney channel has kids sneaking out of their house at night, Nickelodeon has shows about pranks and being bossy. You make it harder on yourself if you let kids sit and absorb those behaviors. They are notorious for mimicking! The longer you let them watch, the more difficut it will be to break them of the habits. I know you aren’t the parent, so talk with the parent’s and come up with a tv plan.

2) Research shows that 2 or more hours watching the tv idly per day increases obesity chances. The time that kids spend on tv, videogames and other electronic devices cuts into the time they should spend outside and playing. Without that vital play time, kids become couch potatoes. The more lazy they get, the more difficult chores, tasks and willingness to play outside will become.

3)TV is a huge distraction! when the tv is on, the kids I nanny for completely zone me out. Simple tasks become huge chores because they don’t listen. Kids procrastinate homework, hanging out with friends and even eating for television!

Now I’m not saying you can’t do the occasional movie night and you need to cut off tv all together, BUT limit the kids’ tv time and monitor what they are watching. Talk to parents about what programs are appropriate for their kids.

Hope you all have a fabulous Friday!