|Posted on April 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM|
Since the appearance of the recent New York Time Article, The $200,000 Nanny Club appeared (known as The Best Nanny Money Can Buy online) there has been a tremendous amount of debate as to what constitutes high quality childcare. As a nanny, it makes me perform a self-evaluation of my services and what they are worth.
In the article it states
A nanny can increase her marketability if she can :
help manage an art collection,
wash and fold 50 linens a day
help set up philanthropic events.
be comfortable flying privately and in helicopters.
Bonus points if she can do it all in Mandarin.
Okay, well I have taught in volunteer settings at school and privately to my own charges the masters of the art world. In the past I even worked in an art framing shop and had to prepare things for shipment. I also have figured out ways to hang kid art with Pottery Barn like room décor items for that purpose. But I enjoy refrigerator art the best. And, if the magnet won’t hold it, tape is our friend.
Draft correspondence. Yes I know how to type, generally (please excuse blog errors formatting can be a pain here.) and I even understand grammar thanks to high school teachers. Not to mention those college professors who were into style sheets, margins, and citing sources.
Wash and fold linens. Well yes, I have done catering. And in one of my former jobs we used a lot of cloth napkins that I would iron while thebaby napped and I caught afternoon soaps. I actually can do some various funky folds and find it fun.
Help set up philanthropic events. Yes been there done that. Actually continue to do through some volunteer causes that matter to me.
Awww dang Mandarin, I like Mandarin oranges, sigh …I can speak some German and a little Spanish though.
Travel that way, I have flown first class and could adapt to that one, really how much work is involved in that. Although doing that with children...um???
Ah but then the challenges come in
In addition to the generic stuff like skiing and snorkeling, some wealthy families request a nanny to:
steer a boat
groom a horse
operate a Zamboni
or use a firearm to scare off a bear (at the country house).
Is steering a boat any more difficult than driving in a blizzard? Yes I can checkoff the latter, thank you Wisconsin Winters.
Speaking of Wisconsin, this farm girl knows how groom a horse. And ride a pig. (It doesn’t last very long, but you learn how to fall which is helpful to know.)
Is there much difference between a Zamboni and plowing fields with a tractor?
Yes,I can shoot a gun, learned how as I kid, but now only if I was genuinely standing my ground against a bear.
Okay wow, I am missing out on the opportunity to be a 200K a year nanny. Oh wait, I don’t want to be one.
My understanding is I would hate the number of hours in the work week that a salary like that requires and what is also implied in the article. Almost any nanny could and should be making that much money if their employer was following US labor laws.
I look at that insane amount of time spent at work performing those duties, and think I much happier be the high quality nanny I am.
I would like to talk about what does matter.
Top of the line care is not dependant on where it occurs but how it happens. It’s not safe easy or fun to be a nanny in an environment where things are dirty, toys may be broken or unorganized, and the room may not be child-proofed. I have also walked into some very neat immaculate homes for interviews and see illusions of “the best”. Then told I needed to be maid too.
Being caring and loving are givens, but sometimes those two words have broad meanings. A genuine nannie knows to listen and be aware of how children communicate with you whether they speak or not. The nanny watches for signals of how the child feels and responds to them as they interact.
A real nanny knows to tune out all electronics and focus on the important job in front of her.
A nanny is going to be affectionate. Perhaps, holding a baby in her arms, while being able to have a conversation with a jealous sibling needing attention too. While watching a third sibling working on homework, ready to help out when needed or saying “let me review it” when they say they are done.
A real nanny doesn’t just talk about what she feels about kids, her actions demonstrate it. If she is successful one can see it in how the children respond to her.
A high quality nanny knows to respect children. Something many adults don’t understand how to do. Not all people, including some parents don’t have a natural ability to be good childcare providers. Nor, even some that work in the childcare field.
Children require patience and perseverance. I was told in a former job by a mom who was dying I had a ton of it and that she was thankful.
A real nanny listens to very young children and understands the ideas they are trying to communicate is vital to showing respect for them.
Besides listening, sensitively responding shows consideration the complete needs of the child. Children then feel validated.
Often nannies that can appreciate children in these ways often show the same respect toward the parents. And hopefully, they aren’t being taken advantage of. So parents treat your nannies as you would your co-workers and business associates. Or how you would want your bosses to treat you.
Everyone should understand that safety and security are the foundations of high-quality care. A child has to be safe physically and emotionally with their nanny.
Rooms in the home where care is provided must be clean, uncluttered, and free of hazards such as uncovered electrical outlets, loose cords, window blinds, accessible drapes, poisonous chemicals, matches, and small objects. Fire places must be blocked off.
Furniture,materials, and toys should be age-appropriate if it is a play space. If it’s a living room, avoid rough corners, and sharp edges. Put up the breakable antiques you cherish. Secure doors, drawers, and anchor furniture that can tip, close, or crash down on little people, or the nanny who will try to prevent injury. Move those toxic plants to other rooms.
Also, the toys within reach of infants and toddlers, who put everything in their mouths, need to be large enough so that the children cannot choke on them.
The outdoor environment must be inviting and secure— safe, easily accessible, withage-appropriate outdoor equipment and lots of space for running and other large motor activities. Think carefully about what treatments you put on your grass.
This space should be designed so that the nanny can observe all the children at all times to be sure they are safe. Even if it means the nanny stands in some middle spot and keeps their eyes constantly moving from one to the other. In that case consider fencing to assist them. Keep the yard clear of pet droppings.
Obey guidelines for safety guidelines regarding backyard pools, hot tubs, ponds, and other water. Properly cushion the ground under jungle gyms.
Remember, your nanny can only be as high quality as the environment you provide.
Emotionally safe children dare to discover and try out new things. They are spontaneously affectionate with their nannies and each other. If they have done something they were not sure they were allowed to do, perhaps to risky, they don’t hesitate to admit it and accept the consequences.
These are ways children show trust and confidence that their nannies are really concerned about them and will help them through theday in a caring, affectionate fashion.
Any discussion with a nanny in an interview should include the issue of child abuse and maltreatment. Learn and share philosophies on discipline. A few highly publicized cases of suspected child abuse in have inflamed public opinion o fnannies. It’s still okay to discuss things. Personally if a parent spanks, I want to avoid working for them too.
Screen carefully and comprehensively there are many nanny industry sites out there that can guideyou on this.
In addition, you need to tune in to your child’s feelings and moods before and after their time withthe nanny. Yes they will be sad when you go and happy to see you as well. But generally they look forward to seeing the high quality nanny and will miss them when they depart too.
Star Qualifications and Practices of Great Nannies
Infants need lots of love and attention in order to develop optimally. Consistency and emotional support are crucial, along with good physical care and a safe, healthy environment. Before you even leave your baby for the first time to observe the nanny in action with your kids.
Learn about the nanny’s educational backgrounds and how long they have been one. Have they been attending workshops or other continuing education opportunities to keep their skills and knowledge up to date? Educational opportunities are all over the place and a smart nanny is going to ask around and find them. Several are even online now.
Ideally, a nanny shouldhave a combination of a solid educational background in early childhood andsome practical experience in working with young children. Nannies who work with infants also need specialized knowledge of infant development, health, and nutrition. It’s really what our country asks of childcare workers in licensed centers. It’s fine to expect and demand it of the person you paying to care for your children. Generally can often make more than a childcare worker.
Look for in an infant nanny, the way she interacts with the baby or babies and other siblinds. Does she respect each infant as a unique person, seeming to understand that each baby is different from the others? Does she take time to observe the infants and take her cues from what she sees, or does she follow her own adult routines without regardf or how the baby is feeling? Is nanny in tune with the babies’ rhythms? Does she listen to a baby vocalizing, respond with a sound or a word, and then wait for the baby to coo or chuckle again? Does she interact with the quiet babies as well in ways they are comfortable with, because even the quiet, shy, independent ones need connection too?
A real nanny NEVEREVER labels a baby “bad” or hard work. Very young children cannot understand the difference between right and wrong or how their behavior affects others. Therefore, they do not act undesirably deliberately. There may be times when we want them to stop doing something, like crying or tossing food on the floor. But babies are not doing these things with us in mind, and they do not understand that they are wrong.
Nannies of infants must spend a lot of time on routine things like feeding, diapering, and putting babies to sleep. They should also read to the infants, play games like patty cake and “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” exercise each child’s arms and legs, sing, hand toys and receive toys back, and simply hold children in their laps andconverse with them (not just talk to them).
Nannies should encourage older babies to move so that they can safely pull themselves to theirf eet and walk around holding on to furniture and larger pieces of equipment.
Different toys need to be added as the babies grow older—toys that link cause and effect (like jack-in-the-box) and small baskets with a few blocks or other items that thechildren can dump out and then refill (over and over again). Mobile infants like push-and-pull toys, balls, and large wooden trucks and cars. Parents who provide this range of toys are well prepared to promote the optimal development of their child.
If you have a chance to ever observe high quality nannies, you will see them hold the babies and talk softly to them as they give them their bottles. Infants should never be sittingi n high chairs drinking from bottles that nannies prop on pillows. Babies should also be talked to while their diapers are being changed, as they are rocked to sleep (a lullaby or soft humming would be appropriate), and when they are lying on the floor on a blanket, exploring a rattle. Real nannies don’t care about their singing ability.
Nannies should be dressed in comfortable, easy-to wash clothes so they find it easy to spend time on the floor with the babies and won’t worry about drooling or overflow as theyburp them over their shoulders or carry them in their arms.
Provide your nannies with ample soap and hand sanitizer, and then pay attention to it being used. Restock. I have actually had colleagues mention problems about this.
High chairs, toys,and other equipment also need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Don’t leave things untidy when your nanny is off duty and left for her to clean. Dried on food is a real pain to have to deal with. Make sure your kitchen sink isn’t full of dishes.
At first, it may bedifficult to tell the difference between one caregiving style and another. It may not be entirely the same as your own either. As you spend time watching any adults with young children, you will begin to see who is comfortable with and knowledgeable about them and who isn’t. Careful observation does take time, however.
A nanny of toddlers has to be an exceptional person because the toddler time is such a special period in a child’s life. Toddlers want to be “big” and independent, but they easily crumble and fall apart, needing your love and comfort. This is the time of biting and temper tantrums, the age when “mine” and “no” are the two most common words in the child’s vocabulary. Toddlers have lack control over their emotions and actions. They try very hard to follow your wishes and instructions but are often frustrated when they fall short of even their own expectations.
Toddlers are growing rapidly in every way. Their bodies are learning to do many new things, likerunning, hopping, and throwing. Their language development is amazing. New words are being added every day. Yet at the same time they often cannot find the words they need in an emotional moment— suddenly you hear a scream and realize a child has used teeth or hitting instead of words to make her point.
As they grow and learn, toddlers test everyone and everything. Nannies of toddlers have to know all this and more to be good nannies. They have to understand and appreciate that every child goes through this stage. They also need to be able to pick their battles because toddlers will test everything. The solution is not to respond to every challenge but to guide the child firmly in the right direction, toward patience, self-control, competence, developing verbal skills, and self-sufficiency.
Ideally you want a nanny to have both experience and some theoretical knowledge about toddlers. If they have not had specific education or training related to working with children under age three, ask them if there is interest in starting and continuing education and what plans are under way to make this possible. Otherwise, look for another nanny. A nanny who wants to be good will of course say yes. Avoid the bad ones.
Preschool children learn through play. Good nannies understand that children are not “just playing”; play is the way they learn. This is being spoken about everywhere!!!
Great nannies are important in this process because they help the parents and children get accessto the materials and toys that they need for playing and learning. Nannies also guide the children when they don’t know what to do next, help them resolve interpersonal conflicts, and teach them how to get along with one another.
Preschoolers are old enough to begin playing more group games. For these they need balls of all sizes. Simple hoops and goal posts will be all children will need to imagine themselves as athletes. They are also old enough to be creative, they want to build and be engineers or artists.
Preschool nannies should have experience working with children this age with the understanding of what three- to five-year-old children are capable of and why they think and behave as they do.
Preschool-aged andschool aged children should be following a predictable daily routine. This schedule can contain some flexibility, but children this age like the feelingof being able to predict what will happen next. Serving snacks and meals at a regular time and having a set rest or naptime helps them feel secure. Yes I have a quiet time for my old charges when they are home. I learned the acronyma while ago DEAR, drop everything and read. There are times even my 4th grade charge has said I wanted DEAR time after lunch at school. I told her so do some adults at work.
Here are some specific things to look for when your preschooler or school age nanny if you work from home, happen to be home, or you have a working interview and you are taking the backseat:
How do the nannies handle transitions from one activity to another, such as getting everyone ready to go outside for a particular type of weather or season? Children often get antsy and frustrated when they are kept waiting for something to happen. An experienced nanny anticipates these moments and eases the tension with a song or small quick game. They stay calm and find ways to make it fun.
Do the nannies sit and work with the children as they explore new activities and try out new skills? Are they close by when homework is being done? Or do they simply start the children out on projects and then stand back and watch? All adults should actually engage with the children during these activities to give them confidence and ease them through frustrations.
Are the daily routines and activities set up in ways that allow children to make choices? If the room or play space is organized into different activity areas, children should be able to choose among those opportunities during free play time. Having materials and toys stored on shelves that are clearly labeled and easily accessible also helps children choose among various alternatives.
Are nannies alert and ready to assist children with personal care routines if they show need for that assistance?
Do you see indications that the nanny respects your child’s individual needs and characteristics? Nannies should recognize and respond to the unique personalities and particular habits of individual children, even while they are careful not to play favorites.
Do the nannies set appropriate and consistent limits on the children’s behavior? Children and nannies can together create the rules they all need to follow and list them for all to see. I even post a list for my charges on morning routine they need to do. The rules should be stated in positive terms (e.g., “We use walking feet inside” or “inside walking!”). “Time out” should be used only if the child needs to calm down and collect herself.
Does nanny greet the children when they arrive in the morning and then make an effort to favorably transition them to their care? This is a difficult transition for some children, who need special attention from the nanny in order to adjust smoothly to the new environment each day.
Watch what happens at snack time and outdoors. Are the nannies actively involved with the children during these times, or do they see these as “time off” periods for themselves?
Does your nanny expect your child to help clean up any and all messes they make? Good nannies know to teach children manners and responsibilities?
Good nannies of preschoolers and school age children are explorers, scientists, artists,discoverers, and more. They delight in “playing along” as the children leadthem into worlds of fantasy and imagination. Along the way they assist the children in finding new props for the plays they are creating. They also offer advice when conflicts occur and ask good open-ended questions that help the children expand on their ideas. They will come up with ideas for creative fun learning things for kids to do I don’t mean just at a table or desk, especiallynot that. Look for these interactions. If you see them, you will know you have found a talented early childhood professional.
Good nannies are comfortable expressing warmth and caring toward all children. They are not afraid to hold or hug or simply touch the children they work with. All human beings need physical contact with others. Ensuring that this need is met for children who spend a large part of their day in a child care setting is especially important. Of course, certain kinds of touching are inappropriateand children can be taught what kinds of contact are good and what kinds are not right.
Nannies should feel comfortable scooping little children up in their arms and hugging them. With older children there should be more boundaries butthat doesn’t mean you can’t have high five. Smiles, soft voices, and caring and encouraging words are also a regular part of being a high quality nanny.
As a parent, you mayfeel jealous or envious at first, knowing that an adult other than you is holding your child’s hand and receiving her hugs. It is important for you to work through those feelings and move beyond them to appreciate the wonderfulcontributions these special people can make to your child’s development. Know that you are not alone in feeling envious or jealous, but know too that these feelings can be conquered.
Children need to become attached to their nannies and to feel secure that these special adults will be there for them when they are upset or in crisis. This is especially true for infants and toddlers but is a real concern for preschoolers as well.
Unfortunately, the most common cause of a nanny leaving is low pay. Consider what a nanny needs to live and survive in your area. But sometimes the problem involves working conditions that can be adjusted. It is worth your while to find out why nannies leave jobs and think through possible ways to keep them emplued with your family.
Being a high quality nanny has nothing to do with quirky job abilities. It has little to do with a high number of hours a nanny is willing to spend on the job each week. Some nannies prefer having lives, hobbies, interests, families and friends of their own. Being a high quality nanny is about providing a high quality childcare. Every great nanny knows that!
Do I believe I am worth a 200K salary? Yes, could the fantastic families I worked for afford that? No!I am so grateful to the children who have cared for who have helped me becomethis high quality nanny I am today. The cost of that – Priceless!