Archive by Author

How to Protect Children from Perverts

15 Jul

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It is with a heavy heart that I write this today. Yesterday, a former teammate and classmate of mine from high school emailed me to let me know that our former high school soccer coach was arrested on charges of child pornography. At the time, she didn’t know that my ties with him went back as far as they do.

 

This man was my soccer coach when I was 8 or 9 years old on one of the first all girls soccer teams in my area. He was also a trusted camp counselor at the summer camp that I went to at the YMCA where I later became a camp counselor for 5 years. He was also my classic soccer coach for 2 years for a respected organization, as well as my high school soccer varsity coach for 2 years. He taught social studies at my high school, and I knew him. He was voted Coach of the Year in my home state last year after he coached my high school soccer team to a National Championship.

 

This was a man that myself and fellow teammates where supposed to trust. To be honest, I never trusted him, never respected him, and always thought he was creepy. I wasn’t surprised to hear this news, but I was still heartbroken.

 

Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant, or maybe it’s because I take care of 4 children whom I love more than life itself. Maybe it’s because my job is to put trusted babysitters and nannies (all adults) into families’ homes to take care of children. It is my job to make sure those kids are safe, but I can’t stop obsessing over how this could happen.

 

So, after hours of sitting in my office alone today and reading updated articles in between work, I have decided that instead of freaking out about it, I should write about how we can protect our children in situations like this. This is not intended to scare anyone, but I do believe knowledge is power.

 

  1. Never allow your children to be alone in a room with someone with the door closed.
  2. Before playdates, make sure that the parent you know will be home. Always meet both parents prior to sending your children there.
  3. Set clear boundaries with your children about where they can be touched on their bodies and by whom. Make sure they know that parts under a bathing suit are considered private parts.
  4. Always check your surroundings when in public. Places like public parks can seem like a safe place to be, especially if they are fenced in or in a good neighborhood, but they are actually common places that child molesters frequent.
  5. Make sure that you tell your children never to keep secrets from you. Reinforce that they should always tell you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable in any situation. It may end up being nothing, but err on the side of caution.
  6. Regulate your children’s access to a computer. Many of the people that parents need to worry about are not even people right in front of them. The internet can be a dangerous place, so make sure you set parental controls and check in often.
  7. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, be prepared to say “no.” Whether this be an answer to a playdate, a teacher, whatever. Do not be afraid of what others will think. It is more important to protect your children than to make sure no one gets upset with you.
  8. Be wary of your babysitters. Make sure they don’t make your children feel funny or uneasy.

 

 

Of course, these are only a few ways we can protect children. Here are a few facts on the subject:

 

 

Most abuse happens in the home.

 

Physical force on children is rarely used by pedophiles.

 

49% of abusers of children under age 6 are family members.

 

Pedophilia is very rare among females.

 

90% of all sexual assaults against children are committed by someone the victim knows.

A Word to All Those Without Children (including me!)

18 Jun

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 This morning I was driving to work, and I was listening to my usual radio show. They started talking about whether or not single people with no children should get so annoyed when their friends with children start talking about their children all the time.

 

I started laughing to myself in the car alone, because I am guilty of this…and I don’t even have children yet. Yes, I’m expecting, but I just “borrow” the children that I nanny for. However, they are probably the thing in my life that I talk about most when I consider my daily conversations. The other thing I just can’t seem to get myself to stop talking about is CrossFit (this is another story about how I annoy people daily), but I’m telling you, I have probably annoyed the living heck out of some people by talking about my work monkeys.

 

But, what do you expect? I spend 26 hours a week with them, and I used to spend 50 hours a week with them. My life was filled with diapers, first words, food in funny places, and hilarious encounters of children saying things to random people in public that I then had to explain away. Every day, each and every one of those 4 children does something so funny or cute that I just can’t help telling someone.

 

When I finish my late evenings at work (two days a week until 8:30pm), I get in my car, and I call my mom to tell her about my day. I can’t believe she even picks up the phone anymore at this point. She is getting serious mom points here!

 

But this raises a question: should I expect my friends without children (which is all of them) to listen to my endless stories about how a child sneezed into my mouth not once but three times the day before, or how one of the little guys somehow managed to hit me in the cheek with his penis while I was changing his brother? You laugh (or gasp in disgust if you are one of my friends without children or not a nanny), but those kinds of things happen often.

 

My answer is no. I should be able to find something else in my life to talk about, but I am clearly doomed when I have my own baby around Christmas. If you thought I was bad now, imagine how I will be when I have FIVE children to talk about!

 

I have other amazing things in my life: fun friends, a very involved and loving family of my own, two great jobs…the list goes on. SO, on the flipside, all those with children would certainly benefit by having some adult conversation about things like: clothes, politics, books, their favorite TV show, etc! I will consider this a challenge to myself. And I know my friends and family will be grateful! 

 

And THEN,

 

The other part of the conversation this morning on the radio was how much you change when you become a parent. Prior to becoming a parent, we were all guilty of being extremely annoyed by a crying child on a plane, a loud child in a restaurant, or even the mere presence of a child in public at any time.

 

Thankfully, I’m proud to say I have never been one of those people, but that is only because I have been a nanny for a large portion of my life. The point was that once people become parents, their thoughts switch from being, “please keep your kid quiet on the dang plane” while simultaneously thinking they need to better “train” their child or that those parents are terrible parents, to “oh, those poor parents! I bet the baby has ear issues.”

 

We need to be defending the parents here. Is the child laughing about clanging the fork on the table really bothering you that much? Instead of being bothered by it, maybe stop for a minute and enjoy how cute it is that the child is actually that entertained by a fork. I certainly wish I could find that much joy out of some silverware.

 

Recently, a survey said that 9 out of 10 men want to be dads one day and that 7 out of 10 women want to be mothers, so the odds are in your favor that you will one day be one of those parents with the “noisy” child in the restaurant. Your child will most certainly throw a fit about getting some Fruit Loops in the grocery store. Your child will probably throw up somewhere nice. I even threw up on my dad’s head once in the mall. These things are inevitable, and we all need to practice a little more patience. And when you have multiple children, they may all gang up on you so loud that you have to raise your voice just to be heard….in the dentist’s office.

 

The world has a tendency to come full circle, and one day, I’m sure you will be thankful for the person that offers to help you carry one of the 3 car seats you are hauling onto an airplane after no sleep because your child coughed all night in the hotel room. I nearly cried with happiness when someone offered to help me. 

Why Having Pets Makes it Harder to Find A Nanny

18 Mar

 

ImageAs we near busy season here at North Star Nannies, we already have quite a few families that we need to place before the rush is upon us. There is only one problem: most of these families have pets.

 

There are so many factors at play when deciding which of our nannies to refer to families, but the biggest deterrent since I started the business has been the presence of pets. It may not sound like a big deal, but nannies having pet allergies automatically, and immediately, disqualifies them from being a good candidate for a job.

 

This is also one of the most frustrating parts of my job.

 

Usually, within 20 minutes of meeting with a family for the first time, I have a few nanny candidates in mind. It is nearly impossible to remember whether or not nannies have allergies, and I sometimes forget. 

 

Yes, in addition to knowing which nannies have experience with multiples, which areas they are willing to work in, whether or not they are comfortable with special needs, etc., pets REALLY affect the placement process.

 

Here are a few rules to consider when searching for a pet-friendly nanny:

 

Rule #1. Give full disclosure. Be upfront about having a pet and being an animal loving family. Whether creating your profile online or when working with an agency, be sure to include information about your pet in your family’s description. Even if you don’t expect your nanny to provide any care for your family pet, if she has a severe allergy to dogs or cats and you have one it could be an employment deal breaker.

Rule #2.  Advertise for a pet loving nanny. When you describe your ideal nanny candidate, include a nanny that enjoys being around animals. When you do, you’ll naturally attract nannies who enjoy being around pets.

Rule #3.  Be clear about the pet responsibilities your nanny would have. If you expect your nanny to walk or feed the family dog, communicate that from the get go.  If part of her job would be taking the pet to routine vet visits, be sure to discuss it upfront. While opening the screen door to let a dog out may not be a big deal to you, to a nanny who has an allergy to dogs or a general dislike of them it’s not going to be something she wants to do.

Rule #4. Be willing to hire a dog walker or pet care provider and make that clear in your family profile. Dogs with lots of energy and young children with equal amounts of energy don’t always mix. If a nanny candidate is aware you’re willing to outsource the pet duties, a pet may be a nonissue.  If you love a nanny who doesn’t really love dogs, hiring a dog walker or taking the dog to doggie daycare may be your only chance of securing her.

Rule #5. Compensate your nanny if she agrees to take on any pet duties. When discussing compensation be sure to include what you’re offering to take care of the family pet in addition to her nanny salary. Showing your nanny that you appreciate her going above and beyond the call of duty will go a long way in helping her to feel valued and respected.

If you’ve hired a nanny and then decide you want to get a family pet, it’s important to discuss the idea with your nanny first. If you decide you’d like to get a puppy, for example, the reality is that your nanny is going to be spending the majority of time with the puppy, unless you make alternative arrangements. If she’s not willing to train the puppy with you and give the puppy the care it needs, getting a new pet will be problematic.

 

 

Best of luck!

❤ Katie

For All Mothers (and Nannies!)

14 Mar

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I was up late last night working, when I read this posted on a friend’s Facebook page. I’m always a sucker for anything that has to do with motherhood (yes, I am aware I am not a mom yet!), but I got more than I bargained for when I read this. I immediately sent it to my mom, mother-in-law, and the mother I work for, knowing that they would relate to this. In my next blog, I will discuss how it really feels to be a nanny, and how sometimes the bonds developed between family and nanny become unbreakable and last a lifetime. This will bring a tear (a happy one!) to all the moms out there that I know, and those of you that I don’t know. I also think it will have the same effect on those of us who love children that are not our own, that dedicate our lives to ensuring the health, safety, and happiness of those children.

Happy Reading!

<3Katie

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.” “We’re taking a survey,” she says half-joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”

“It will change your life,” I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral. 

“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.” 

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. 

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable. 

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. 

That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die. 

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of “Mum!” will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation. 

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her 
baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right. 

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming 
children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom. 

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. 

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. 

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs. 

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. 

My daughter’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. 

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. 

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic. 

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. 

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. 

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts. 

My daughter’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. “You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter’s hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. 

Is it OK to Text Nannies After Hours?

7 Mar

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Lately I have been reading quite a few blogs on whether or not it is ok for a boss to contact a nanny in their off hours.

 

Since I am a bit conflicted myself about doing that with our own staff, I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of both parties and to come up with a general consensus on what is appropriate. While being a nanny technically has a starting and ending point (when a nanny goes home each evening), being a mom or dad does not, and this can be tough when a family needs to ask a nanny a question.

 

Not only do I work for the family I care for, but I also consider the mother to be one of my best friends. We often text each other during  “off” hours about our work-outs, recipes, or just funny jokes, and I enjoy it. To be honest, I actually love it when I get a message on my off days with a picture of the kids or a funny joke, because I miss them.

 

However, I know another nanny who gets messages non-stop during the late evening hours and early morning hours, so here is the question I would like to ask, “Under what circumstances should an employer contact their employee outside of work hours?”

 

This answer can be a slippery slope.

 

Since nannies often become a part of the family, the lines between employee/friend can often be blurred. Naturally I did some additional reading through nanny support groups to see what I found other nannies to be saying, and here are some general rules I came up with:

 

When it is ok:

  1. Schedule changes: Always give your nanny as much heads up as possible if you are going to ask them to stay later or come in earlier. Nannies also need to remember that sometimes the answer has to be “no”, but giving the family that response as soon as possible helps with any scheduling conflicts and ensuring the family has back-up care.
  2. If the family can’t find something that could avoid a potential child breakdown, but only AFTER the family has searched themselves (ie: missing a blankie or stuffed animal before bedtime)
  3. Sending an occasional message with a cute picture of the kids or something funny that they did. This always makes my day (but some nannies may want to leave work at work).

 

When it is not ok:

  1. Telling a nanny you’d like them to do something different, or that they are doing something incorrectly.
  2. After 9pm and before 9am on days off, unless it is an absolute emergency. Nannies often do have other things going on their lives (ie: another job, school, and just downtime in general). I was once texted during my grandfather’s funeral by a former employer (this was 5 years ago) when she knew I was there.
  3. Following up a text less than an hour after the first text. This has never happened to me unless I am on the clock, when I should always be available. However, when I am off, there are a few hours here and there where I put my phone down.

 

 

Please remember, this is different for every family and nanny! If you are respectful of other people’s time, you will be fine!

 

<3Katie

Top 10 Reasons Nannies Quit

7 Mar

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Here are the top 10 reasons nannies quit, according to Nanny Network (www.nannynetwork.com): 

 

Top Ten Reasons Nannies Quit

10. ISOLATION: This can be a problem for both live in and live out nannies – however the nature of the problem can be different. Occasionally a family hires a nanny and either outright forbids the nanny to leave the home with the child or will only approve on a case by case basis. Some will even refuse to allow a walk with the stroller around the neighborhood. A nanny who is required to spend 8 – 10 hours a day inside the family’s home will not stay long. Nannies look forward to taking a walk with the baby on a nice day, perhaps walking with another neighborhood nanny or at-home mom, chatting, enjoying the interaction. Toddlers look forward to spending an hour exploring the local playground. Criminals get sentenced to house arrest – please don’t do this to your child’s caregiver. 

A live in nanny, especially one who has relocated for the job, must have the opportunity and means (transportation) to establish a social life outside the home. Generally a live in nanny who does not have reliable access to a vehicle in the evenings and weekends will not stay long.

9. LACK OF RECOGNITION: Nanny spends long hours with your children, with little interaction with other adults. The weekly cleaning crew many be the only other adults she sees in a work day, and they don’t speak the same language. Parents who are so preoccupied with the demands of their own careers and lives that they forget to express appreciation for the nanny often find themselves without a nanny unexpectedly. Words really do matter.

8. FAMILY DYSFUNCTION: Where to start? Parents constantly fighting in front of the kids and nanny. Dad makes sexually inappropriate comments to nanny. Junior runs wild and Mom refuses to allow time outs, loss of privileges, or any other age-appropriate discipline – “Kids will be kids.” Alcohol abuse, physical abuse, emotional instability… any and all of these in a household can cause a nanny to quit.

7. MICRO MANAGEMENT: (SAHM and WAHM) When one or both parents spend a considerable amount of time at home while nanny is on duty problems often develop unless steps are taken up front to establish boundaries. Nanny may be reluctant to act with authority (“Nap time, Junior. Let’s pick up the toys and wash up and we can read a story before you take your nap”) when a reluctant Junior runs whining to Mom in her home-office. Nanny may resent micro management – “I always wash the breakfast dishes before getting Junior in his clothes for the day” (Does it really matter?) or nanny cuts the sandwich in triangles and Mom suggests square quarters are preferred (Huh?).

6. EXPENSES: These fall into 3 broad categories – petty cash, transportation, and travel. 

Nanny receives $20 petty cash each week. Junior buys school lunch and needs $2 a day. The field trip costs $5. Then there is no milk in the fridge and Junior asks for toaster waffles for tomorrow’s breakfast so nanny runs to the market while he is at school. The paperboy is collecting and needs $15 for the month. Before she knows it nanny has spent $20 of her own money for her boss. 

Nanny is told that Junior is starting pre-school three mornings a week and needs to be dropped off and picked up – a 12 mile a day round trip. Nanny has a her own car and is expected to use it. No mention is made of mileage reimbursement. Nanny asks family for reimbursement and they offer her $10 a week for gas – or worse, nothing!

Family is taking a vacation and nanny is to come and help. The destination is wonderful. Beaches, soft breezes, oh and nanny is working (or must be available) every day from the time the kiddos wake up until they nod off to sleep. Nanny is sharing the room with the kiddos – if she wants her own room she needs to pay for it. And family generally takes the children for meals, leaving nanny to her own devices (and cost). Let’s see – longer hours, no days off, and the expense of resort meals. This doesn’t sound like such a treat to the nanny!

5. TAXES: Nanny is hired for $500 per week. The first pay day she receives $460. She asks and you explain that you talked to your accountant and are deducting taxes. Oh. And then at the end of the year nanny gets her W-2 form and has her taxes done. She finds out she owes $1500 in income taxes and comes to you with questions. “You said you were deducting taxes – why do I owe so much to the IRS? Why does my W-2 say that you deducted no income taxes?” You explain that you were only deducting Social Security taxes because that is all your accountant told you was needed. You are both upset. You are both right! Employers, take the time to discuss wages and tax issues SPECIFICALLY at the very beginning and memorialize this in your Work Agreement. Consider giving the nanny a breakdown of the tax deductions from her paycheck with her first payment, and any time there is a change to her compensation. Consult a nanny tax specialist for assistance.

4. POOR COMMUNICATION: Many of the same characteristics that make a “good” nanny may also result in a person with poor communication skills, a non-confrontational person, or both. Nanny is a peace keeper. She is a pleaser. She loves the hugs and cuddles she receives from her charges. She is not competitive and gladly lets her charge win at checkers. Add to this an analytic employer, climbing his/her career ladder, who is perpetually busy, giving nanny a quick hello and good bye at the beginning and end of each day, and you have a recipe for disaster.The employer must make the time to establish regular communication with the nanny. Find 15 minutes once a week to just sit down and talk over the relationship and how things are going. Give the nanny the opportunity to ask for the two days vacation she is afraid to approach you about. Explain to nanny when you aren’t feeling snippy that while you appreciate her working with your toddler to decorate holiday cookies, the mess in the kitchen including the sugar on the floor really needed to be cleaned up too. Consider requiring a Nanny Log and actually look at it every 24 hours, jotting a note to nanny every few days with recognition, suggestions, or just the information that you might be a few minutes late on Thursday.

3. NON-COMPETITIVE COMPENSATION: Susie is a 19 year old high school graduate from South Dakota and has never nannied before. She finds this great family in Boston who needs a live in nanny and offers her $250 a week plus room and board. Susie arrives and finds that the family expects her to be on duty from 7 until 7, and she has all household laundry and housecleaning in addition to taking care of the 2 year old twins. She meets some other nannies at the park and they clue her in – no one else works for less than $400 per week and most work 50 hour weeks, not 60 hours. She hears of a nanny leaving a job a few blocks away and applies to that family. She is offered a $100/week raise, a 10 hour day, and no family housecleaning or laundry. Adios family #1.

2. DUTIES ADDED ONE BY ONE: Nanny is hired to care for two pre-schoolers, with responsibility for their safety, laundry, and meal prep while on duty. She negotiates an hourly rate that she agrees is fair for the duties described. Two weeks after she started she is asked “Could you add our sheets and towels to the weekly laundry – we really appreciate it.” Then the day before dinner guests are expected she is asked to dust and vacuum the living room and dining room and deal with the clutter that has collected on the dining room table. Then the morning after she comes to work and all the dinner dishes and pots and pans are piled in the sink, on the counter and on the stove. She has to do the dishes just to find room to make the kiddos breakfast. Then summer arrives and the employer, who is the non-custodial father of an 8 year old daughter, tells nanny that daughter will be arriving next week for a 6 week stay. They missed the camp sign up so employer hopes nanny can dream up activities to keep all three children happy. There is never a mention of a change to her compensation, despite the creep in job duties.

1. SCHEDULES THAT GROW, GROW, GROW: The nanny is hired to work Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 6 PM. Then Mom complains about traffic and decides she needs to leave for work at 7:30 – can nanny start coming in at 7:15? Then there was this really important meeting she needed to stay for and she doesn’t get home until 6:45 – and was too busy to call and let nanny know. Nanny misses her 7:30 class at the community college. When nanny asks about overtime on pay day (she worked 4.5 extra hours after all), Mom is startled and states “But we pay you a salary!”

What Britney Spears Should Look For in Her Next Nanny

22 Feb

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Happy Friday, everyone! 

Abby from NannyClassifieds.com sent us a very funny, but true blog on what Britney Spears should look for in her next nanny. Sounds like it is not easy!

<3Katie

Read below: 

http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/what-britney-spears-should-look-for-in-a-nanny/