The Importance Of Nanny Orientation: Your Nanny’s First Day

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin

Miscommunication tends to be the cause of most interpersonal conflicts, particularly in situations where the line between the professional and the familial relationship is blurred, as is often the case in a nanny-parent dynamic.  The key to maintaining an effective working environment lies in establishing an open dialogue between all interested parties. As human beings, we are all inherently flawed, but being upfront about expectations, hopes and concerns will help mitigate potential future problems.  Issues arise when our meanings and intentions become misconstrued in the delivery – or lack of delivery – of our message.

 

This actually starts before you even hire your nanny when you communicate what you are looking for. However, the communication can’t stop there. The first day your nanny works for you is vital to the future of your relationship. Whether your nanny has been working with children for years or is on the younger side, there needs to be an orientation period (more than one day!) where you not only outline your expectations but also demonstrate how you want all the details – both large and small – handled.

 

Ideally, she will be able to shadow you for a day and watch you perform the duties that she will be responsible for going forward, but I realize that it is not realistic for everyone to be able to take time off of work.  Either way, taking a few hours to introduce the new nanny to the way you expect her to run your household will be mutually beneficial and help set the stage for a healthy working relationship and an open line of communication.

 

First day orientation and on the job training may sound the same, but the concepts are actually quite different.  You should not have to teach your nanny how to take care of a baby (unless this was something agreed upon at the time of hiring), but you should give your nanny instructions about how to take care of your baby.  The same goes for any household chores that you have agreed will be the responsibility of your nanny.  For example, if your nanny is in charge of doing the dishes and the laundry, make sure that you have given her specific instructions about how you want her to do this, and where each item needs to be put away.  Although it may seem like overkill to be so specific with things that to you seem like common knowledge, remember that (particularly with nannies from different cultural backgrounds) not everyone will approach situations the same way that you do.

 

For one, making directions clear from the very beginning will set a precedent for the duration of your time working together.  More importantly, it will make it easier to objectively evaluate the job that your nanny is doing.  If she is not performing up to the standards that you would like her to, ask yourself if this is because you never set proper guidelines. For example, if your nanny is not putting your dishes away in the correct spots, is this because you never told her where you like to keep things, or is it because she just has not listened?

 

Having worked as a nanny in the past, it was comforting for me to know exactly how to handle situations exactly the way that my employers wanted me to.  Below are a few topics that you may want to cover with your new nanny before her position officially starts. I’m going to be blogging about these areas in more depth in the coming weeks!

  1. Snacks and meals
  2. Household chores
  3. Playdates
  4. Discipline
  5. Bathing
  6. Sleep schedule and bedtime procedures

8 Guidelines For Tipping Your Nanny This Holiday Season

People often wonder: What am I required to tip my nanny this time of year? Do I tip a full-time nanny the same as a part-time nanny? What about a babysitter?

 

In nearly 60% of American families, both parents are very active in the workforce. Therefore, nannies have become an important part of families.

 

It is common to express gratitude to nannies and babysitters by giving them a holiday bonus. In the past 20 years of working with nannies and families and having nannies caring for my three girls, I have heard many different versions of what is “customary” to tip your nanny. Some of us are able to tip more than others, but let’s just assume that there are some regulations/rules around this topic. Wouldn’t that solve us moms a lot of discomfort?

 

When I worked as a nanny, I usually got a holiday gift valued at about a week of my salary. There were the occasional families who tipped me up to a month’s worth of pay (yes, of course, I was excited about that!),
but let’ keep it real. When I had my first child, I was finishing up my masters and had no extra money. Everything I made went to my school and my nanny. Since I also didn’t know how much I was supposed to tip during the holidays, I bought her a gift instead.
As I got to meet other nannies and moms, I learned that no one does it exactly the same way.
So, let’s make some order in this whole BALAGAN (mess in Hebrew…:-) and agree on the following. If you are wondering why I am SO certain about the following, you will just have to trust me that after working with nannies and families for so many years, I have heard it ALL. Here are some guiding principles to help you with your decision on tipping your nanny this year.
  1. If you love and appreciate your nanny, then you want to make her happy and keep her. A holiday bonus is a good way to show that appreciation, as many other industries pay their employees bonuses this time of year.
  2. Nannies talk to each other! So, they always hear what others make and compare bonuses and salaries. While you don’t need to always be comparing yourself to every other family, know that your nanny is and if she realizes that she could be treated better somewhere else, this isn’t good for keeping her around for the long-term.
  3. Even if your finances are tight, you MUST show your nanny that you appreciate her by giving her something.
  4. BE HONEST with you nanny if your financial situation doesn’t allow you to give her an extra week pay. If you lie to her, she will find out and be resentful. I have worked with MANY nannies who, despite the families not giving them huge bonuses,  loved their job and felt appreciated in other ways. I also worked with many nannies who got $10,000 bonuses and felt miserable. It’s all about the way you show your appreciation and communicate openly with your nanny in managing expectations.
  5. If you are able to go by what’s standard, a full-time nanny usually expects to get a bonus of one week’s salary.
  6. However, besides a holiday bonus, a thoughtful gift can go a long way!
  7. Remember that your nanny is not a thrift store. I have heard from many parents who say they give their nannies their used clothing and bags and they think that this is enough for their nanny. Even if your nanny loves designer clothing, trust me, she would RATHER get extra money.
  8. WRITE a holiday card. We are all so busy and don’t always get to express our thoughts and feelings to the one person who helps make our lives much easier. Write a holiday card with a nice long message and express your gratitude and appreciation in writing.

It’s tough this time of year with having to spend money on so many different things, but I urge you to not let this be an area you overlook. For more info on this, here is a great resource.

I’d love to hear from your in the comments section. What do you typically tip your nanny? What other questions do you have?

3 Tips For Parents To Make Thanksgiving Week Special For Both Nannies And Your Kids

With Thanksgiving next week, I thought it would be a good time to discuss holidays and how you as a parent can make them festive, free of stress and days your entire family and your nanny actually enjoy.
Child Drawing Turkey Hand Thanksgiving
Once a week, I teach a class of continuing education for nannies and in almost every class, I find nannies who feel appreciated at their jobs perform much better and are much more motivated to work. And let’s admit it: They work very hard!!! Holidays are the perfect time to show your nanny your appreciation. Weeks like Thanksgiving are also times when communication and the little extra things will go a long way in keeping your nanny happy in your home.
During one of my  training sessions recently, one nanny actually started crying tears of happiness as she told me the story of how the parents she works for said she could have two extra paid days off around Thanksgiving. She said at first she figured  the parents would negotiate with her and ask her to work extra hours during other days or come on the weekend, but they simply told her  they appreciated all her hard work and wanted to thank her by giving her those days off as they were going on a trip anyway.
I encourage you to talk to your nannies about holiday weeks sooner rather than later and come up with a schedule that works for both of you. While you don’t have to do anything extra, these are often weeks you will want to spend more time at home with your kids anyway, and giving your nanny some unexpected breaks/perks around the holidays is something that will encourage your nanny to be loyal. It’s important to be considerate of your nanny’s family obligations and remember that Thanksgiving should be a special time for them, too.
Here are three specific ways you can make next week special for both your nanny and your child.
  1. Encourage your child to make something special for your nanny. It can be a simple drawing. Even when you baby is only 6 months old, you can always use a handprint or a footprint as something tangible to say thanks. If your children are older, encourage them to write a note of gratitude (and you should write one too!).
  2. Give something. That something doesn’t necessarily have to be money or a gift, but it can be time. You can let your nanny leave an hour early or if you come home early from work one day, then it is OK to give your nanny half a day off or even a full day off. I have always considered my nanny to be a co-parent because the fact is that when you have a nanny (part-time or full-time), she is there to help you parent and help support your family. When I worked as a nanny, I used to get mani-pedi gift cards and I loved them and was so grateful. Anything from a gift card to a candle to a small decorative box with notes from your kids goes a long way in showing your thoughtfulness and gratitude.
  3. Decorate your home. Suggest that your nanny schedule special activities related to Thanksgiving with your kids. You can either use Amazon to order some arts and craft supply related to the holiday or you can ask your nanny to come up with some creative ideas for craft projects if you think that’s something your kids would enjoy. There are festive books, movies and music you can fill your home with that will make things festive for both your nanny and your children.

Of course, we all get super busy during this time of year and often even more stressed. A lot of times we need our nannies even more hours than usual and at the end of a long workday, showing your appreciation for your nanny can be the last thing on your mind. This is why Thanksgiving is a good time and an opportunity to let your nanny know how grateful you are!

If nothing else, treat your nanny to her favorite drink at Starbucks — and grab yourself a Pumpkin Spice Latte too! Trust me, it will get you both in the spirit of the holiday.

On The Anniversary Of My Eating Disorder Diagnosis…

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Since yesterday was the anniversary of my eating disorder diagnosis (26 years ago!!), I got to thinking about how grateful I am for everything I’ve been through and where I am now as a mother of three. I thought it would be a good idea to blog about motherhood, gratitude and ways that we, as parents, can help prevent eating disorders/ways for us parents to promote wellness and prevent mental illness.
limorrecovery
My anorexia arrived when I was 14 years old and stuck with me for about a year and a half. I then, secretly, became bulimic for the next 8.5 years, and as crazy as this sounds, I considered myself to be the best bulimic ever. It was all about secrecy.  Without getting into too much of the horrifying details, I can tell you that it was a terrible disease that affected all parts of my life, and thankfully, I was finally able to overcome it at the age of 24.
Now at age 41 and as a mother of three girls ages 6, 9 and 12, I have a new understanding of my mental illness at that age and why I was particularly vulnerable.
I look at my 12-year-old who is kind, happy and confident, and I think of myself as a 12-year-old. I was a neglected, abused teen whose parents couldn’t afford to keep her and was sent to live with a foster family. Yes, in hindsight this was the best thing for me, but as a 12-year-old, it felt like the end of the world. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep as a teenager.
While instilling confidence in a child and providing a safe, loving home goes a long way, I also know that eating disorders affect people regardless of upbringing. As someone who lived with the illness and understands the mindset behind it, I know that it is one of my top priorities to prevent eating disorders in young people.
So, as a parent, what can you do?

My Top 5 Tips:

  1. Teach your kids to be grateful. Gratitude is one of the biggest mindsets I have taken away from my struggle with eating disorders. It’s something that affects your whole outlook on life and allows you to stop focusing on what you don’t have and what you can’t control (both of which fuel negative eating habits). Of course, you don’t want to be one of these annoying parents who constantly nag your kids and tell them how lucky they have it (Yes, I have been guilty of this a few times), but REMEMBER that while you think your kids “struggle” if you don’t give them a lot of “stuff,” in the end it’s our job to breed gratitude in our kids.
  2. Practice mindful eating and MUTE the media. I can’t tell you how important it is to practice eating mindfully. In today’s world where everything is electronic and our kids grow up with exposure to SO much, it is essential to keep the important moments of mealtime as mindful as possible. Specific guidelines that we have created in my family include: Enjoy the food by paying attention to what you are eating and using all your senses; Talk about the good parts of your day and the least favorite part of your day. (Talking as a family and making mealtime an activity and not something your kids dread will help everyone focus on the moment); Lastly, no electronics at the table while eating.
  3. Be a role model. Model healthy eating and healthy body talk when your kids are around. I once saw my 6-year-old  getting herself on the scale and when I asked her why she was doing that she said that “daddy gets on the scale every day…”  As adults, a lot of us are guilty of this, but who is around to see it? We are also all guilty of making various comments to friends or family related to food or weight and we don’t always pay attention to who is listening. Think about what you are saying, especially when you are around your kids. “Fat talk” is so popular, especially among women, once you start the trend of NO FAT TALK, I promise your friends will follow and you will find that you are leading a healthier lifestyle!!! Make it a blanket rule that you do not discuss diets or weight in front of your children.
  4. Educate yourself and your child. Educate yourself about the various eating disorder. 10-15% of Americans suffer from some kind of eating disorder. A new study estimates that about half million teens suffer from eating disorder or disordered eating. It’s important to recognize the signs of a developing eating disorder and know that they manifest in a ton of different ways. It’s not always that you are starving yourself…
  5. Build your child’s self-esteem. You can do that by giving them choices, let them know no one is perfect, don’t draw comparisons between children, encourage independence, assign age-appropriate household chore and spend special time with your child, focusing on his or her unique qualities and gifts.
Most importantly, if you think your child has an eating disorder or even if you suspect one may be developing, seek help as soon as you can, there are a lot of free resources out there. In addition, LW Wellness partners with Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can find out more here.

 

3 Quick Tips For A Less Stressful Week

With Halloween weekend and trick-or-treating last night, I’m sure many moms are feeling exhausted. When any kind of holiday throws off the routine, it affects children even more than parents. It makes getting everyone off to school and to do things like homework way more stressful when you are dealing with exhausted kids (who have probably had quite a lot of sugar).

Over the past weekend, I was talking to a mom who called me in a panic. She said her 3-year-old was driving her crazy. After venting for 15 minutes, she told me she felt terrible because she felt like she sounded just like her own mom, and that made her upset. She didn’t want to always feel so annoyed.

Together, we came up with a list of three action steps she could take to alleviate her stress and turn her interactions with her daughter into more positive ones. I think these are particularly relevant for any parent who is feeling extra exhausted or on-edge, especially when maybe your kids have been particularly busy or are acting out.

  1. Don’t take things personally. In general, people who don’t take things personally are more easy-going and less stressed as they don’t let situations affect them. Especially when it comes to being a parent, you can’t take your kids’ actions personally. If they are exhausted and yelling at you, this is not a reflection on you as a parent. Kids’ emotions and temperaments can be so fragile. Keeping this in mind and not blaming yourself as a parent will help you stay calm.
  2. Forget about perfection. As parents we often expect our kids to look and act “perfect,” whatever that means to each parent. When we stress out over the fact that our children don’t want to wear the outfits we picked out for them or stayed up past their bedtime or perhaps the house hasn’t been cleaned – we aren’t forgiving ourselves for being human. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.
  3. HAVE FUN! We often forget that it is ok for parents to also have fun and enjoy parenting. If you think about what you do as a parent and review the past week in interacting with your children, your list will be similar to most parents I work with. When I have parents list it out, their interactions are basically a series of commands to their kids. Particularly on a fun week like this one, where there is a holiday and our kids are dressing up and acting fun, remember to take part in that joy with them. Experiencing the joy simultaneously will not only be a bonding experience, but it will help you keep focused on what’s really important.