Posts

Pediatric Dietitian Advice From The Pros

How YOU Can Help Your Picky Eater By Not Jumping To Conclusions!

 

Whether you have a toddler or a teen, nutrition is extremely important for your child’s physical and mental development. I’m sure you’ve seen the research stating that one in every three children is obese. But what are we supposed to do with this information? As parents, all the information and oftentimes conflicting advice on what constitutes “healthy and nutritious” for your child can be overwhelming. And what if we have a kid who just won’t eat nutritious foods?

As an eating disorder specialist and a mom of three girls, I know the challenges that parents and caregivers go through when raising children and trying to feed them healthy foods, while promoting a positive and healthy body image. For some parents, this is not such a big deal, and they allow their kids to eat whatever it is they want without paying attention to the nutritional value. Other parents end up getting in the way of their children by worrying too much about what they are (or aren’t!) eating. Which end of the spectrum do you fall on? To what extent can you actually help your child? Advice from an expert pediatric clinical dietitian — someone who has seen it all! — may help you realize that you aren’t alone, and that your kid isn’t different! Many children experience difficulty eating, and it’s completely normal. However, as a parent you do play a vital role in guiding your child down a healthy path.

It’s important to recognize that picky eating isn’t your fault, it isn’t your child’s fault, and it is completely manageable. Children are growing creatures who experience new senses every single day in their bodies, and that includes in their taste buds! You wouldn’t expect a child to understand what a word is until they are taught to read it (and even after that it takes some time to recognize it on their own), so why would you expect them to understand their sense of taste immediately? Children are sensitive, and they are constantly learning about the world around them. Remember, it’s brand new for them! Our anxieties only worsen the situation. Read on for some advice from professional pediatricians and specialists on how YOU can help your child overcome the boundaries of picky eating and lead them on a lifelong journey to healthy eating!

Normalizing Picky Eating and Learning to Manage Anxiety from your Child’s Fussiness

Below you will find several findings from various pediatricians, eating specialists, and therapists who have either conducted studies on or worked personally with children who are extremely picky eaters. These doctors and therapists have worked closely with stressed and anxious parents who live in fear that their children suffer from eating disorders. The specialists assure these worried parents that excessively picky eating is more normal than you may think in children. Doctors and therapists also stress the importance of remaining calm and not making a huge deal out of a very common childhood trait. They outline the importance of not jumping to conclusions, and not labeling your child’s fussiness. What we as adults may see as being “picky” is often actually just a child experiencing and growing in the world around him or her.

Kristen Lee Campbell, MD is a Pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital & Instructor of Pediatrics. She is also a mom herself and has a picky eater of her own. Findings from her thesis on fussy eating in children is outlined below.

It’s Completely Natural

According to Dr. Kristen Lee Campbell, children are stubborn creatures by nature, and sometimes they simply decide their mind/body doesn’t want something. This is natural, and can be conditioned and worked with without too much cause for alarm. Just because a child is selective with his or her eating habits, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has a disorder. Being an overly picky eater is actually congruent to biology and the natural development of a child’s taste buds and tolerance for certain foods. “It does take time for children to develop the sensory tolerance for certain flavors, spices, textures, and temperatures,” Campbell says. Therefore it is totally natural for a child to be extraordinarily picky and selective with food. You also shouldn’t continually compare your child’s progress with eating habits to others because “the definition of age appropriate foods varies with culture, and a myriad of contexts,” Dr. Campbell explains.

Keep Calm And Keep Cool

Dr. Campbell also encourages parents to keep calm, and keep cool! Children are unbelievably impressionable. Believe it or not, if they sense your anxiety in a situation, they are more likely to experience their own anxiety. It is important to not project your own fears and misconceptions of possible eating disorders onto your child. The last thing that is going to help your little picky eater is a mealtime full of tension, worry, and fear. Children will often do as they see. They are little mimics by nature. Remaining calm, encouraging, and optimistic will only help ease your child’s picky tendencies. They also respond well to visually appealing and fun foods! Dr. Campbell personally knows how difficult this can be for parents, but she urges them to be patient, and remain optimistic.

Dr. Lee Hudson is a Consultant Pediatrician with expertise in feeding and eating disorders. His findings with picky eaters among children are outlined below.

You Are Not Alone

Dr. Lee, first and foremost, points out that parents with picky eaters are not alone! “Picky eating is very common,” he states with confidence. Dr. Lee relays that a study in the Journal Appetite, released in January 2016, evaluated the eating habits of well over 100 children ages 3 to 11. Overall, 39% of children were identified as very picky eaters. It’s common among children, and of course common among parents, to jump to conclusions and begin labeling. However, Dr. Lee stresses the importance of parents remaining calm, and not overanalyzing during a child’s “finicky phase”.

Dr. Faye Powell is a developmental psychologist at the University of Bedfordshire specializing in children’s eating behavior. Dr. Jacqueline Blissett is a reader in childhood eating behavior. Natalie Morris is a lead therapist at Integrated Therapy Solutions’ Feeding Clinic. All three specialists have worked together to study children with picky eating habits, and to assuage anxious parents. Some of their findings and thoughts on picky eaters are below.

Every Child Develops At A Different Pace

Dr. Powell believes that every child is different, and just because your child is not eating as much as his or her sibling or friend did at a certain age, there is no need to jump to the conclusion of an eating disorder. “Child fussiness is largely down to innate differences between kids.” For instance, Dr. Powell mentions that, “Children who have ‘heightened sensory sensitivity’ are much more likely to be fussy eaters. These children are sensitive to different sensory aversions and textures – it can be rather overwhelming. Kids with tactile defensiveness, where they have high oral sensitivity, will be fearful of and not accepting of foods that are different — crunchy, for example.” This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with your child, it doesn’t mean your child has an eating disorder. It simply means every child is innately different, and every child will develop his or her eating tendencies at a different pace. As long as your child is not malnourished or severely underweight in any capacity, this fussy phase is normal, and patience and optimism are key!

It May Just Be How The Food Looks!

r. Powell & Dr. Blissett also say that innately, children are fussier about foods because of how the food may look, such as toast being burned. “As they grow older, food fussiness may be because they are associating that food with something they find ‘disgusting’,” Dr. Blissett says. “If they see worms in the mud, they may associate them looking like spaghetti.” Therefore, it is actually  more normal than you think for a child’s fussy eating habits to develop past the age of 5 or 6. Believe it or not, this shows positive cognitive development, and cognitive function. It just so happens that if your child is a picky eater, their cognitive development is influencing their food fussiness.

Repeated Exposure

Dr. Powell, just like Dr. Lee, stresses the importance of remaining calm throughout your child’s picky eating days. “The key thing to bear in mind when encouraging your child to eat something is to not put any pressure on them,” Dr. Powell says. And that includes the pressure of a hypothesized eating disorder. “All research into food behavior points to putting pressure (including the projection of eating disorders and your own anxiety) on children to eat having a negative impact,” Dr Powell says. “For children who are fussy, ‘repeated exposure’, where you offer the food repeatedly without the pressure to eat it, is really important. Over time, that child will typically begin to accept the food.” The key is remembering that this is something that will happen over time.

Model Behavior

Moreover, Dr. Powell and Dr. Blissett discuss how impressionable children are. They talk about the importance of modeling while coping with your child’s picky eating. “Watching other people and learning through modeling other people’s behavior is so important,” Dr. Blisset says. “In all of our studies, we’ve shown if your child is fussy, the most effective way of getting them to try something new is if you’re eating the same thing and modeling it enthusiastically.”

Be Patient

Most importantly, Dr. Powell and Dr. Blissett encourage parents of picky eaters to be patient. Excessive fussy eating is more normal than many parents believe it to be, and widely affects children up to the age of 11. Even science explains a child’s fussy eating, and how it will eventually begin to cease, as Dr. Powell explains that, “With age, we lose sensory capacity and foods will be tasted less intensively. This is one factor reducing a child’s pickiness.” Therefore it is naturally common for young children to be exceedingly picky. It makes complete sense for a child to be very picky when it comes to foods because of their heightened sense of taste, so don’t stress!

Dr. Blisset and Dr. Powell also relay several cases of parents believing their child’s fussy eating days would never end. However, with patience and a calm demeanor, these parents overcame their fears and anxieties of their children’s projected conditions.

Don’t Project Your Anxiety

Natalie Morris, lead therapist at Integrated Therapy Solutions’ Feeding Clinic, is yet another therapist to stress the importance of parents remaining calm and optimistic throughout a child’s (very natural) journey with picky eating. Natalie explains how she has seen parents get worked up and anxious thinking their child has an eating disorder, and in turn the parents’ anxiety may be hindering a child’s appetite.  Natalie states: ”Feelings of fear and the need to control are significant. When the brain is in this heightened state of anxiety, adrenaline is released and this suppresses the appetite, making the child even less likely to eat.” When these feelings of fear are projected from parent to child, a child’s appetite can be suppressed even further.

Dr. Powell, Dr. Blissett, and Dr. Morris all assure parents with picky eaters that they are not alone, and that, despite their hardships with fussy eating, what they are experiencing is actually a very normal and natural phase for numerous children. They encourage parents to try as best they can to eliminate anxieties and simply “take each day as it comes.”

How Can I Find a Great Pediatric Dietitian Near Me?

A pediatric registered dietitian can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Let us help you in your search to help your child! After thorough research and interviews, we match clients with the perfect fit for their needs, whether it is a registered dietitian pediatric specialist, a nutritionist, a coach, or something else entirely. We have a fantastic base of specialists, including, of course, professionals who work in clinical dietitian pediatric nutrition! Check out our website to view our many professional specialists, or email or call us to chat about connecting you to someone who can help change your and your child’s life for the better.

 

Helpful Tips About Your Nanny’s Legal Status From An Immigration Lawyer

,

Our guest blogger this week is Wendy Yevoli, an incredible Immigration Lawyer and partner with Yevoli and Malayev, PLLC. Wendy is often asked by parents how they can help with their Nanny’s immigrations challenges.

We understand that finding a reliable caregiver for your child is one of the most stressful – and important – parts of being a parent. Once you find your trusted caregiver, the thought of losing that person because she or he does not have legal status in the United States can be terrifying. As immigration attorneys and working mothers, we are often asked, “How can I sponsor my caregiver for a green card?”

Can I sponsor my caregiver for citizenship?
This question breaks our hearts, not only as attorneys, but also as mothers. We know that many families would do anything, and pay any amount, to sponsor their caregiver for a green card. But the reality is that in most situations, you cannot sponsor your caregiver for U.S. citizenship. If she or he is here illegally (e.g., by overstaying her or his tourist status or entering the U.S. without inspection), the law essentially says that there is no way for that person to become legal. As immigration attorneys, however, our job is to come up with solutions to help you – and your caregiver.

What are my options?
Through our years of experience working with caregivers (and the families who hire them), we have found that in some cases there may be a way to help them legalize their status.
For example:
-If the country your caregiver is from is undergoing political unrest, the U.S. may have issued TPS (Temporary Protective Status) for the citizens of that country. If so, your caregiver may qualify for TPS and be able to obtain an immigration benefit for as long as the TPS is in effect.
-If your caregiver’s family had filed a green card petition for the caregiver before April 30, 2001, she or he may be able to benefit under the life act.
-If your caregiver has a child or spouse who is a U.S. citizen, she or he may have an opportunity to legalize her or his status.

These are just a few possibilities, and every person’s background and situation are unique.

What should I do now to help my caregiver apply for a green card?
Your first step should be to speak with a reputable immigration attorney. If your caregiver has already engaged an immigration attorney, you can help by speaking with the attorney to understand the strategy he or she is using in the green card process. If your caregiver does not yet have someone representing her or him, this is the time to consult an experienced immigration attorney with a solid reputation to learn what options may be available.

What should my caregiver and I be careful about?
Unfortunately, many caregivers go to agencies or visa consultants for help with immigration matters. Often, these agencies and consultants file frivolous green card applications that they know will not be granted. If that happens, your caregiver will become known to the immigration authorities and at risk of being put in removal proceedings. It is very important to understand the risks associated with filing an application with the Department of Homeland Security, and to speak with an immigration attorney before the application is filed.

And finally…
Immigration laws are complex and constantly changing – which is why it is so important to speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney. Keep in mind that any conversation you or your caregiver have with an attorney is confidential, so do not be afraid to sit down with the lawyer, provide all relevant information, and express your concerns.
We understand the bond that you and your family have with your caregiver, and the importance of protecting that special relationship by helping her or him remain legally in the U.S. Please feel free to call us at 212-634-6322 or email us at wyevoli@yandmlaw.com with any questions you may have.

Yevoli & Malayev, PLLC (www.yevoliandmalayev.com) is a full-service immigration law firm located in New York City. Our firm represents individuals and businesses across the country and around the world. Immigration law is highly complex and individualized. Our firm offers personalized service. We help our clients define their immigration strategy, taking into consideration long-term goals as well as short term needs. You will get advice tailored to your unique situation. Unlike most other law firms, our services are conducted on an affordable flat-fee basis. You’ll know in advance the costs involved. The information on this website in this post is for attorney advertising purposes only. No Attorney-client relationship is formed out of reviewing this post. Do not rely on information found in this post to make any decision concerning your legal rights. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page  or contact us today.

How To Tap Into Your Mommy Intuition And Why It’s So Important

,

Happy Mother’s Day!

In honor of this special holiday honoring moms, I wanted to blog about something that is often uniquely associated with mothers: intuition.

As moms, we often talk about intuition and wonder what specifically that means. We know intuition is something that’s important for us to be in touch with, but when it comes to dealing with that in actuality it seems to be a very challenging task.

How can we become more aware of our intuition? How can we teach our children that when they feel something they shouldn’t ignore it?

I have a great example. I was standing in the elevator with my 7-year-old daughter. On the sixth floor, an older man walked on and my daughter looked at the guy, made a strange face and whispered to me, “He is strange…”

My first response was to scold her for being disrespectful and tell her that she needs to be nice to everyone, but then I looked at her kind, innocent face and I realized…. She felt something that wasn’t right about this strange man. Weather it was right wasn’t the point. The point is that when your child or anyone you know for that matter tells you about how he or she feels about someone else it is important to be aware of those feelings and to take them into consideration.

Especially when it comes to our children, we want to teach them to be aware of their feelings because intuition can help get them out of dangerous situations. Children are often better than adults at listening to their intuition. They tend to make decisions off how they feel and don’t worry as much about how they will be perceived.

Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. Mother’s intuition has actually been well-documented by research. It makes sense. You are the expert when it comes to your child so your “gut feelings” are going to be more accurate than someone who has only known your child for a brief time. Children, in particular, often aren’t good at expressing how they are feeling, but as a mom, you learn to read their cues. You know their faces, their moods, and their body language. Therefore, you can probably sense when your child isn’t feeling well before he or she is even showing physical symptoms of being sick.

It’s productive for mothers, and really all people, to learn to become more connected to their intuition. Of course, we have to be careful to not let fear guide our actions. There are several things you can do to become more connected with your intuition – and a big one is meditation. Taking time to sit still, breathe, and be in the moment allows all the clutter to leave our minds. The more present and focused you are, the more you will be able to listen to your heart so to speak.

Another suggestion is to pay attention to your dreams. This doesn’t mean you need to analyze every dream you have, but if you are having recurrent nightmares about something there’s a good change your subconscious is uneasy about something. Also, pay attention to your body. What is it telling you? Like my daughter in the elevator, if someone or something makes you feel uneasy you should be responsive to that feeling and take the time to identify why you are feeling that way. Most adults have learned to shut down a lot of their anxiety because they believe it’s a hindrance to their daily life. It’s important to remember that we shouldn’t ignore our feelings because they can be helpful.

For more ways to tap into your intuition, check out this list.

What To Do When There’s A Conflict With Your Nanny: Best Practices For Communicating

All relationships – even the best ones – will involve conflict at some point or another. Conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can be a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and another person and really grow your relationship.

As parents, it’s important to model good communication practices for our children because they see and mimic everything we do. One relationship that I often see get overlooked when it comes to good communication skills and handling conflict is the parent-nanny relationship.

Here are some best practices to employ when resolving conflict with your nanny, but they can also be used in a more general sense with all your relationships, whether that be with your spouse, friends, teachers and even your children.

Soften the Startup. This means that you approach the conflict with a level head, not in a heated moment. Don’t come at the person with a list of accusations. You want to make it clear that this is a conversation and there will be time for both parties to talk. It’s always good to start on a positive note, so perhaps you point out something that is going well before getting to what your feel is problematic.

Take Breaks. Sometimes it’s necessary to take breaks. It’s important to initiate these breaks as well as be receptive of them. In other words, if you are trying to resolve something and the other person says they need time to process, this is a fair request. This doesn’t mean the conflict needs to get dragged out over multiple days, but if someone needs a minute to think or gather themself, taking a time out will only help in the long run. Also, if you feel like you aren’t communicating effectively and also need time to formulate a response or process new information, don’t feel like you can’t ask for a pause.

Use “I” statements. It’s always important to use “I feel” statements rather than “You” accusatory statements. Let the other person know how you interpreted their actions and how they made you feel.

Take turns speaking and listening. This one can be difficult, especially in situations when you are employing a person to look after your child. While you may be the boss, all good employers take the time to listen to their employees. If you are trying to resolve a conflict, it can’t feel like a lecture. Make sure you are practicing good listening skills – like making good eye contact, avoiding aggressive body language and refraining from interrupting.

Paraphrase. This is a technique that goes a long way to prevent hurt feelings. After someone has explained their side of things, it’s a good idea to paraphrase what you heard. You don’t need to repeat back to them word for word what they said, and you should avoid using the accusatory “You said…” Instead, try something like, “I hear that you felt this way, when I said this…” Putting words in other people’s mouths is the easiest way to escalate an argument. You want to make sure the other person is also interpreting what you are saying the way it was intended to be understood. Listening back to someone paraphrasing will help you know you did a good job in effectively communicating your point.

Conflicts are a normal part of all healthy relationships and it’s important to remember that the nanny-parent relationship will be no different. Effectively communicating and working through issues will help you both to grow and the relationship to last.

Remember to never handle conflicts with your nanny in front of the child. Also, if your child has a specific complaint about the nanny, you’ll want to do your due diligence to verify the complaint before becoming accusatory. If there is something seriously wrong, I always recommend a third party for mediation.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page  or contact us today.

A Note To Nannies And Parents About Social Media

,
nannies and social media

The other day, I met with a family who wanted me to consult with them on a nanny-related issue.

Marci has been their nanny for the past two years, but they recently started following her on her various social media channels. Now, to be honest, if I wasn’t in the nanny management business and a stranger told me about stalking an employee on social media, I might think it’s over-stepping. BUT since we are talking about someone you are trusting with your most precious possession – your child – in the privacy of your home, I have no problem with social media stalking.

“We noticed that the past month Marci has been partying a lot, which of course is not our business… but we saw on Facebook that while she was at a party she smoked and had some very provocative photos,” this family told me. They also said they noticed a change in Marci’s behavior and that she seemed less involved with their two kids.

When I asked if there was anything else that was bothering them about Marci, they said they also saw a video of her drinking and acting out of control with a few other people.

What would you do if you found this out about your nanny?

We all might answer that question differently, but I am writing this because my goal is to help nannies understand the power social media has on the many aspects of their lives, but particularly their job security when it comes to being a caregiver.

As most young people are aware of these days, it’s not just families who are using social media. Some studies show up to one-third of employers actually use social media to recruit employees. Things like references to marijuana, photos with alcohol and spelling and grammar mistakes in posts are cited as potential red flags, according to recruiting software company Jobvite.

It’s becoming a very common thing for me to have parents tell me about disturbing things they see their nannies do on social media. Another mom called me in panic because her friend saw a picture of her nanny wearing Chanel glasses that were identical to the pair that mom had lost two weeks earlier. I have countless stories about nannies who lost their jobs because they posted horribly negative things about the families they worked for on social media.

My hope is that parents realize their nannies are allowed to have lives outside their job and enjoy social media, but at the same time, I caution nannies to think twice before posting photos or videos of anything that could call into question their character.

When I ask parents why they feel it matters what their nanny is doing on social media, the most frequent answer I get is perception – it’s easy to judge from photos. At the end of the day, parents wants the peace of mind that the person looking after their kids is also a role model for their kids. If a parent’s perception of a nanny is tarnished because of some photos or offensive language on social media, there isn’t much the nanny can do to undo that negative judgment.

Another note to nannies: If you think blocking your social media from strangers or using privacy settings to keep parents from searching you on social media… Think again. I know of a few companies that will crawl through almost every social media site and will be able to access private information. You also have to remember a parent’s network is huge. Just because you don’t think the family you work for is on social media doesn’t mean their friends aren’t.

I write this as a wake-up call to both parents and nannies. Social media has damaged more than a few employer/employee relationships, but when it comes to caregivers, the stakes are so much higher. In certain jobs, partying all the time may have no effect on a person’s job performance. But watching someone’s child will always be different because if a parent loses faith that the person looking after their kids is an upstanding person and always in the right state of mind when with those kids, then the relationship is forever damaged.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page  or contact us today.

The Best Interview Questions To Ask A Potential Nanny

People sitting in the raw at the passage

I’ve done a few posts about qualities I look for in a potential nanny. However, if you’re interviewing a nanny for the first time, it can’t be daunting to know where to start and what you should ask to elicit the best responses. Below I’ve listed out some of my favorite questions to ask potential candidates. Remember to try to keep the conversation flowing and ask for clarification on any points you don’t understand. Also, be sure to look out for this list of red flags, as those should immediately be of concern. Do other parents have any other questions they think are good to ask? Share with me in the comments!

  • How did you become a nanny? What made you decide to want to be one and how did you get started?
  • Why do you think you’re right for our family?
  • What do you like about being a nanny?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What is your family like? What is your living situation like?
  • How do you think past employers would describe you?
  • What are your safety and first aid qualifications?
  • What would you do in case of an emergency?
  • What age children are you most comfortable working with? What are your experiences with different ages and multiple children at a time?
  • How do you like to communicate throughout the day? Are you open to recording simple notes in a daily log?
  • How would you describe your style of working with kids? Are you hands on? More authoritative?
  • What is your general childcare philosophy?
  • What are your thoughts and strategies on discipline?
  • How would you handle _______ situation? (Ask them to guide you through a few scenarios. For example, how would you handle a temper tantrum in the middle of a crowded store?)
  • What are your expectations for this job as compared to your last one?
  • What do you know about the area? Do you know people in the area? Do you feel comfortable getting around the neighborhood and could find activities throughout the day for children?
  • Can you tell me the best child you ever took care of and then one whose behavior wasn’t so great?
  • Have there been certain parenting styles you feel you can’t work well with?
  • What have been your specific duties at previous jobs? What have you done in terms of errands and housework? Do you feel comfortable making playdates for the kids? Are there things you have been asked to do previously that you don’t feel comfortable with?
  • What are you looking for in a potential employer?
  • If you were hiring a nanny for your child, what would be the most important things you would look for?
  • What is your availability like? How flexible is your schedule? Are you OK with travel?
  • How will you handle transportation to and from work? Are you someone who can consistently be on time? Do you have any special circumstances or illnesses or ongoing family issues that you feel I should know about?
  • How do you feel about spending the night occasionally? How would you feel about switching the occasional night for other days off?
  • Would you sign a confidentiality agreement?
  • How have you typically been paid – on or off the books – and how would you prefer to be paid?
  • What are you salary expectations and what are you comfortable with in terms of hours per week and weeks per year?
  • Why do you want this job? (This is a good last question)

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

7 Ways To Keep Your Nanny Around For A Long Time

Young woman standing near refrigerator filled with products

Finding a good nanny can be such a relief. So, what do you do when you have finally found that person who you can depend on and who you and your kids both get along with? How can you ensure the nanny will stick around?

I’ve come up with a list of  7 suggestions that can make a huge difference to your nanny and will help guarantee the relationship continues to prosper like you need it to.

Do you have any to add? Comment below!

  1. Trust your nanny. Trust is the first step in any healthy relationship, and this pertains to a parent/nanny relationship as well. When you trust your nanny it makes her feel empowered. It makes her feel confident in her choices and not have to second-guess every decision. It also shows your children the nanny is competent enough to take care of them and they should listen to and respect her. If you don’t trust your nanny, how will your kids?
  2. Offer to pay for  transportation. Of course, if your nanny is transporting your kids around, you should be paying for any and all transportation. However, if your nanny stays late it is a really nice gesture to pay for a cab or an uber ride home occasionally as well.
  3. Leave petty cash for your nanny. If your nanny will be out with your kids and buying snacks etc. for them, leave cash ahead of time. This way your nanny doesn’t feel like she is digging into her own pockets. It can be awkward for your nanny to request you pay her back for a $2 bottle of water, but at the same time, she should never have to use her own cash on your kids.
  4. Offer her food, especially if she is there around mealtime. If your nanny is always there around a meal, make sure you offer her food or tell her she can take what she would like from the refrigerator/ pantry. You can also text her beforehand and order her food, or make extra of whatever the kids are having. Keep in mind that if your nanny is constantly having to order takeout to your place, she is going to start seeing this as an added expense of what it costs for her to keep herself fed while she takes care of your kids.
  5. Tell your nanny of any change of plans. If you know you will be away one weekend or your kids’ schedules are changing, give your nanny a heads up. Your nanny sets aside time for you and it is only respectful to give her notice as soon as you know of any changes that may affect her. Don’t announce at the last minute you don’t need her the following week. Give her a chance to plan accordingly.
  6. Be respectful of her time. Similar to the last point, your nanny sets aside a specific amount of time for you each day or week depending on your agreement. It is okay if you are going to be late one day, things happen. But understand your nanny may have other obligations and this should not be an ongoing occurrence. The same way that you want your nanny to be on time getting to you, as parents you should treat your time being home the same way.
  7. Give her time off. Everyone needs a break. Being aware of when your nanny needs time off and offering it to her without her asking may go a long way in your relationship with your nanny. Don’t let your nanny burn out; a short break can recharge someone for a long time. Even if it’s simply asking if she would like an afternoon or a day off. You can make it work for your schedule. If it’s her birthday, try not to make that the day you come home really late. Certain things can’t be avoided, but awareness, respect and communication make all the difference.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today!

The Key To Conscious Parenting

Happy mother and daughter at summer field

For the past 12 years I have had the pleasure of being the mother to three girls, and in that time, I have learned more about myself than I ever expected. I am writing this post because I want to propose that we occupy the role of parenthood in an entirely different way, with a renewed curiosity, a heightened awareness and a fresh sense of commitment.

Our children are facing challenges today that we couldn’t have dreamed of, and evidence suggests they are buckling under the pressure. One in five children in America show signs or symptoms of a psychological disorder, and that is a hair-raising statistic. The use of ADHD drugs is at an exponentially high 274% global increase. UNICEF did a study a few years ago and found American children are the second unhappiest in the world.

Each one of us holds transformative power, and there is real science behind this to show how the parental relationship can affect us as adults not only psychologically, but also biologically. Dr. Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist and one of my favorite authors, talks about how early interactions affect our brains in his book The Whole Brain-Child. I highly recommend the book, but I want to share with you a few key takeaways, one of those being the idea of conscious parenting.

Conscious parenting doesn’t necessarily mean spending every waking hour with your children, rather it means that when you do spend time with your kids, you make it meaningful and make sure you are present in the moment. You can practice the idea of conscious parenting when you help with your children’s homework or spend 10 minutes with them while they get ready in the morning. Listen with empathy and respond to what is said with full awareness. In their essay, called “Recognizing Our Hidden Wounds”, Psychoanalysts Harville Hendrix and Helen Lakelly Hunt discuss “the importance of recognizing when and how we slip into the past.” When we have a problem-causing “automatic, unexamined reaction” to a child’s behavior, that’s an indication that we are approaching the situation from an unresolved childhood wound.

The idea is obviously fairly complex, but simply making an effort not to bring the past, or your stresses and anxieties, into the time you spend with your child will go a long way. Conscious parenting might sound like work, but it can actually be executed rather easily. I found that remembering the acronym “AFTER” works for me when I’m dealing with a situation with one of my children and my first reaction is to be upset.

A-aware (Be aware that you are reacting to what is going on internally for you and not responding to the situation at hand)

F-focus (Focus on what is happening in the moment)

T-time (Take time to count to at least 5 so you can calm down)

E- Empathy (Forgive yourself for what you had done in the past and have empathy for yourself)

R- Re-enter (Re-enter the interaction with a new insight and respond appropriately with empathy)

Until about 10 years ago, I wasn’t sure what being conscious meant, and all I wanted to do was be a mom and to become a psychologist. As the years went by, I realized that I was often busy thinking about the goals I wanted to reach and thinking about my past. When I became a mom, I wasn’t really aware of how my level of consciousness and awareness would affect my children. Being a mom brought up things in me that had nothing to do with my children, but rather made me realize there are some things I’ve carried with me since I was a child. I had a lot of insecurities and there was a part of me that was still that little child who was crying and screaming out for attention, who was hurt and abused and needed guidance and support, and nobody was there. While my children are clearly not in the same situation, they were victims of my insecurities when I projected them through my parenting. Once I became aware that this was happening, as I progressed with my education of child development and mindfulness, I realized how important it is to be a parent and how much attention/responsibility and self-awareness is required on a daily basis.

As a therapist, it is my job to help people explore their inner worlds. After years of clients sharing their stories, it became clear to me that no matter what I would tell them, they weren’t readily accepting what I was saying because they had internalized the voices of their parents. It became so evident how very hard it is to erase that first blueprint as it comes to the way we define ourselves and the air we breathe. As parents, we hold a greater power and an immense responsibility, and our actions and behavior help provide our kids with the strong foundations they need to become competent adults.

Next time your child is asking you a question or telling you something exciting that happened, ask yourself if you are listening. Really listening?

What To Include In A Nanny Contract

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it’s a really good idea to draw up a contract when you hire a nanny. This is good for both you and the person you hire, as it outlines your expectations, sets up terms of payments and gives you both something to refer back to so there is no confusion. As someone who worked as a nanny, I know I appreciated understanding my role, and my most successful relationships occurred when there was ultimate transparency.

nanny contract

Here’s a quick breakdown of what should go in a nanny contract:

  • The timeframe of the agreement. This can be ongoing, but you should establish a minimum timeframe (like a year) that you expect payment conditions and responsibilities to be relatively stable.
  • How amendments can be made to the agreement. Include something about how you will notify your nanny of changes and how she can suggest changes.
  • Termination conditions. Make sure to include how the contract can be terminated.
  • Nanny’s duties and responsibilities. This is where you should be as specific as possible, but without going overboard. Make sure to include things like if you expect your nanny to travel with you occasionally.
  • This is where you want to list out days of the week and hours. Include how you will handle any overtime or additional days needed.
  • Driving rules and responsibilities, if any. If your nanny will be taking public transportation or cabs, make sure to outline how you will reimburse or pay for these things.
  • Compensation package. Include a schedule of payments, health benefits, overtime and fringe benefits like paid holidays, vacation, sick leave and bonuses.
  • Social media. I wrote about this in my last post, but make sure to include any privacy stipulations you have when it comes to your children appearing on social media.

Because as parents we sometimes want to know what typical benefits look like, I’ll list out what is pretty standard when it comes to vacation times. Keep in mind that all families are different, and what is most important is working out a schedule and vacation time that works for both you and your nanny.

  • 8-10 paid holidays a year
  • Health insurance or a percentage of health premium
  • Paid sick days

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

Navigating Nannies And Technology: How To Keep Your Nanny Off Her Phone

Things have changed a lot since I was a nanny, and one of the biggest challenges I see today that didn’t exist in generations past is navigating technology and
childcare. Not only is the constant presence of technology – smart phones, iPads, video games, etc. – something we have to monitor with our children, it’s something that needs to be considered when it comes to your nanny.

First and foremost, nannies who are on their phones all the time are putting children in serious dangerous. I actually witnessed a child cross the street by himself while a nanny was texting and she didn’t see the car coming that almost hit the child. I think this is something that parents and babysitters/nannies alike have to be very conscious of in today’s world. I also think it’s a good idea to practice what you preach. If your children see you on the phone all the time, not making eye contact, not paying attention to what’s going on in the present moment, then that is what they are going to model as they grow up. We can’t expect our children – or other who watch our children – to put down the screens when we aren’t willing to do so ourselves.

When it comes to making sure your nanny isn’t texting, tweeting, Snapchatting and Facebooking on the job, here’s what I recommend.

1) A Contract. I advocate all parents have written contracts with their nannies because it establishes ground rules and expectations so that everyone is on
the same page. I definitely recommend putting in a line or two about social media and cell phones in general. If you don’t want your children to be posted about online, you need to explicitly state this in the contract. Oftentimes, nannies will post photos when a child does something cute. Or, maybe they are sending a Snapchat video to a friend. There are so many different outlets where people are documenting their everyday lives in today’s world that there are probably social media channels you don’t even understand or know about. It’s best to outline from the beginning what you are comfortable with and what you don’t want to happen. If you don’t want your children to be posted about, make sure to set a black and white rule from the beginning.

2) Set realistic expectations. It’s not realistic to tell your nanny she should never be on her phone and then expect her to always be in constant contact with you. If you are the type of person who wants to be able to send a text and find out how the kids are or be able to call and give an update about your arrival time, then you are also setting the expectation that your nanny has a phone on her at all times. This is fine as long as you also communicate that your children’s safety is of the utmost importance. Make sure to remind your nanny you want her holding your kids’ hands when you cross the street, are getting in and our of cabs, etc., and that in these situations you’d rather your phone calls be ignored.

3) Monitor. If you happen to be on social networks, it’s not a bad idea to occasionally check to make sure your nanny isn’t posting unwanted photos of your kids. If you are at work or out at night and you see your nanny, who is with your kids, posting status updates constantly, this is a major red flag. Remind your nanny that you prefer she limit her phone time when she is around your children. It’s like any other job in that you want her complete attention on her job – which is keeping your children safe. Also listen for your children’s feedback. If they make comments about the nanny always being on her phone, this is something you should address immediately. As with most things, the more clear and direct you are about rules and expectations, the better things will go. Make sure you convey all of your privacy concerns in a contract and remind your nanny that you prefer to have her off her phone as much as possible for safety reasons.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.