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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My Nanny McPhee Moment

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I am going to preface this post by explaining my title. Nanny McPhee is a movie about a bunch of unruly children who get a nanny. She teaches them¬†“lessons” about patience, appreciation,¬†being courteous, respecting authority¬†etc throughout the movie without them knowing it. After¬†her five lessons¬†are unknowingly put into action, she disappears.¬†¬†I was beginning to think I had not made an impact like this on the children I had been watching for nine months but on my last day I was proven wrong,¬†in a very good way.

Wednesday was my last day with the kids I have been watching since last fall. While it may not seem like a long time, I have grown so attached to this family, it was VERY hard to say goodbye. The kids and I have been dreading it for the last month. But I didn’t want to go out on a bad or sad note so we planned the most super awesome week together.

Tuesday we went to Pinkberry, our favorite yogurt hangout. The kids love this place! After our healthy treat we went home for a night of relaxing while watching a movie.

Wednesday came. As usual I woke up at 4 am, got to work at 6 am.. but to my surprise, I-yo answered the door! Dressed and ALL! As I walked in she gave me a BIG hug and told me lunches were already packed, she was dressed, her room was clean and her horseback riding clothes were ready to go! Jare Bear came down shortly after, already dressed and with his riding gear on. They walked me into the kitchen where a bag was sitting by my chair. I handed them their gifts (a picture frame with pictures of us together and a special note to remember me by) and opened mine. They had gone to Starbucks (my favorite mid day hangout and gotten my favorite VIA drinks, a mug and gift card along with the sweetest card and pictures ūüôā Whew..keep it together man!

Lesson 1: Responsibility for oneself

Lesson 2: Appreciation for those around you

After I said my goodbyes to MomBoss, (who was working late and I wouldn’t see again) the kids and I started playing. We turned on a movie, played games and talked about where I was going and why.

I dropped them off at school at their usual time, said “goodbye, have a¬†great day!” like I had every day for the past nine months..¬†but just as Jare Bear got out of the car he turned around and said “Miss Kelsey, this is the last time you will ever drop us off at school… Have a good day.” (tear jerker instance #2)

Lesson 3: Kindness and Well Wishing

I went back to school mid day to watch Jare Bear get his much earned Honor Roll award. PROUD NANNY IN THE HOUSE! He was so excited and I was honored to get to see him earn this accomplishment. He started spring semester with not so great grades but pulled through and worked hard. AMAZING what effort and hard work add up too!

Lesson 4: Hard work, dedication, self control

The end of school was fast approaching so I left a little early to get in the front of the pick up line.  The kids raced out and hurriedly got in the car. We were off to the races, well.. the ranch! It seemed like forever before we got there but we did. I made a call to the owner of the ranch asking specifically for a white horse for I-yo (who LOVES white horses)! Pattie pulled through and the kids got to ride Sophie, a gentle white mare with soft eyes and gentle manor.100_1429

I-yo was first. My little cowgirl was fearless in the arena, so much so that she got to ride solo. Around she went, gliding effortlessly. Jare Bear was next. He was a little nervous at the beginning but quickly picked up the hang of things. The kids had fun playing with Yum Yum the donkey, Ernie and Hershey the pigs, Mack the cow who thought he was a dog, and the farm dog Jake. After their lessons, the kiddos got to brush down and feed Sophie her favorite treat, carrots!

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The ride home was bittersweet, happy from the fun day we had experienced together but knowing it was almost over at the same time. Not even a Happy Meal could help the ride home. Before we got out of the car I-yo said something she has never said before on her own. “Thank you Miss Kelsey. Not just for today, which was totally awesome, but for everything you have done for Jare Bear and me.” (OK if I wasn’t crying before this sent me over the edge..composure… whew!)

Lesson 5: Appreciation, Respect, Gratitude

The kids said goodbye and raced upstairs to change while I talked to DadBoss. Little did I know they had raced off to cry without me seeing them. Eventually Jare Bear came back down with red puffy eyes, asking me not to go. (ahh these kids and their ability to make a grown woman cry…which I guess isn’t that hard since we are pretty much the most emotional beings on the Earth..regardless, I got choked up yet again)

I really hope I stay in touch with this family for a long time. They are forever a part of my life.

In the words of Nanny McPhee:

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I am NOT the Mom, I’m the Nanny

I often say being a nanny is like being a mommy in training. Changing diapers, making meals, helping with homework, driving kids to soccer practice and dance class.. The list is endless. But I am only 19 and I don’t plan on having a kid anytime soon. So I always find it humorous when I take my munchkins out and people mistake me for the mom. When I work for my families with younger-not quite school age yet- kids, I love taking them out to lunch or to the Dollar Store. It gets them out of the house and they love the excitement of shopping and feeling like a big kid. So one day, while on the way to the park, I stopped at the Dollar Store with a 9 month old and a 2 year old to pick up water and a snack since I had forgotten to pack it. Mace, the 2 year old, was extra talkative, pointing out every food item, toy and candy. We kept passing an elderly lady, who would give me the stink eye every time she passed. Of course she thought I was a teen mom, in way over my head. I am old enough to have a two year old and nine month old. I have friends who do. Fast forward and we find ourselves in line behind her at the checkout. Mace saw a toy he really wanted so he said “Miss Kelsey, toy please?” To my surprise the lady turned around and apologized. She had wrongly made assumptions about me being one of “those” girls. She was very impressed by Mace’s vocabulary, manners and personality for a two year old. I said it was a common misconception and I am lucky to have two munchkins as cute and well behaved as these two kiddos. She agreed and went about her merry way.

On another one of our adventures, we went to the park. I was sitting feeding Matt, the 9 month old, a bottle. A mom came up and started lecturing me about how babies should be breast fed as long as possible and formula was bad for their development. And while I agree, there are times where breast milk just isn’t an option. I looked at her, stumped. How could someone come over and voice their opinion so bluntly and accuse me of being a horrible mother? So I looked at her and said I am the nanny, the mom couldn’t breast feed this morning so this is my only option other than letting the baby starve..which when given the option I think I pick formula. I am not the mom nor are you. Thanks for the concern though. Should have seen her face as she walked off.

While on my most recent excursion to Chuck E Cheese, a mom went as far as to give my “son” Mace coins since she felt bad that I probably didn’t have “extra income” to give my kids fun stuff. Can I just say What the H.. E.. double hockey sticks?? While I am not an advocate of teen pregnancy by any means, treating the girls that are young mothers like bums is totally unacceptable! I handed the coins back to her, and said his mom gave us fun money for the afternoon, thanks. Wish you could have seen her face.. it was priceless.

Now please don’t think I am a Smart¬†Alec¬†with all the people who ask me about “my kids”. Often times people are cordial saying “your kids are so well behaved” or “how old is your son”. Some times I just answer “thank you” or “two, thanks” since explaining my job would take to long. Other times, like while waiting in line, I will respond “thank you, but I can’t take all the credit for their manners, I am the nanny”

What is my point? I don’t mind being assumed as the mom of the kids I nanny. In fact, I hope someday my kids are as well behaved, cute and funny as these kids are. But I do mind insensitive and rude comments that are hastily made based on stereotypes and cultural assumptions. My point of this posting is this, be respectful of people’s situations and don’t be quick to judge. Who knows, the young girl with two kids could just be the nanny.

 

Has this ever happened to you? How did you handle the situation?

Monday Giggles

Friday morning started out like any other Friday. Woke up at 4:45 am, left for work at 5:30 am, was briefed by mom boss at 6:30 am. Woke the kids up at 7 am. Now this is where it took a turn for the worst. As I was waking up Jo Jo, I felt something “pop” in my stomach followed by excruciating pain. It was to the point where I couldn’t get off the couch.¬† I quickly got them to school and hurried for home. The pain was so bad I went to urgent care. They sent me to ER. I texted my mom boss to tell her what was going on. She¬†was very sympathetic and understanding about me not being able to pick up the kids from school. She had been in an administration meeting when my text came through. Her boss stopped the meeting and said “your kids put your nanny in the hospital?” (note it wasn’t a surprised like-omg how unexpected..it was more surprised they waited this long to do me in)

When mom boss told me of what her boss had said my only response (while on morphine I might add) was “haha I think¬†they would put me in the nut house before sending me to the hospital”…

Now its Monday, no more happy pills….woke up at 4:45, left for work at 5:30, briefed by mom boss at 6:30. Kids are awake and no sign of pain ūüôā

Happy Monday Everyone ūüôā

 

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!

Nanny No-No

In my seven years of watching kids, I have NEVER called a kid a bad name or cussed in front of them..

Today I did a double whammy.

Let me start by prefacing that I was enraged by disrespect and constant rudeness from the kids I watch. After talking about RESPECTING adults, the children started giving excuses, blaming me, etc etc.. Everything but simply apologizing. So I told Jay to stop acting like smart ass. Errrcchh!!!

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Oops.

I hate when my mouth works quicker than my brain. I saw the word leave my mouth and there was no going back. Of course at that point he shut down and refused to talk to me, the meanest-baddest-worst nanny ever. My sincerest apology wasn’t enough.

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Lesson Learned. Tomorrow is a new day.