What It’s All About

I was once told that a romantic gesture to one, may be a creepy gesture to another. For instance, imagine that you are in a romantic relationship. You know, the new relationship, can’t get enough of your kisses, want to follow you around all day, I’ll share your drink with you, kind of love.

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23

“It’s not what you do but for Whom you do it, that gives it its significance.” – Erwin Lutzer

I was once told that a romantic gesture to one, may be a creepy gesture to another. For instance, imagine that you are in a romantic relationship. You know, the new relationship, can’t get enough of your kisses, want to follow you around all day, I’ll share your drink with you, kind of love.

One particular day you decide that you want to surprise your love with a very extraordinary act. Once he leaves the house for work, you go through the back window that you know he leaves unlocked. As you start to tidy up the place, you notice that he doesn’t have his favorite kind of cereal. You make a mental note to pick that up later and sneak it into his cupboard. The house is now completely tidy, so you open up your bag of goodies. You know he likes cake so you have brought all the fixings. He won’t mind if you use his things so you proceed to preheat the oven, take all of his mixing bowls out and prep the counter. The cake is baking in the oven and you wonder what to do. Not for long though because it occurs to you that in order to be completely ready for the night you have planned, you need to freshen up. The cake has about another half hour and that is just enough time to get in and out of the shower. Your man won’t mind if you use his cleaning products, because, well, he is just the best! The damp towel is hung, the soap and shampoo are placed back in its place and you hear the oven timer go off. Yes! Just in time. Cake is prepped and dressed with vanilla frosting, his favorite. Good thing too, because now it’s a half hour till he’s expected home. House is clean, you’re feeling fresh, cake is looking good and…shoot! The cereal. You sneak out the window, run down to the local convenient store (quickly you don’t have much time) and sneak it into his cupboard. And 3,2,1…. *doorbell rings*.

Everything is perfect. Your ‘pudding pie’ is going to be SO excited to find his lady in his house with all of these surprises awaiting him!


 

Now this is all super romantic if you are in a mutually trusting and loving relationship.

Unfortunately, though, if you were the only one to feel a romantic feeling toward a man and execute these same ‘surprises’, you would most likely be arrested for trespassing and more.

You see, there is more of a significance for Who you do an action for, than what the action is in and of itself.

God calls us to work at whatever we do as if we were working unto Him. The daily grind is not just about punching your card day in and day out for the next 30 years. Every single day is an opportunity. An opportunity to show love and care for your coworkers and customers. Is it easy? Nope. But when we think about what God has done for us, how he sent his Son to die, be raised to life on the third day, and prepare a place for all those who trust in Him, then it is more of a natural reaction that we would strive to work for the Who and not the what. On a daily basis, I strive to give my day away to God and ask him to use me in it. If my days were up to me: my reactions, my plans, my attitude, my thoughts, my mouth and my desires, well it would be a roller coaster of a ride! When I find the meaning and the anchor of do’s and don’ts in Christ, suddenly what I do throughout the day takes on more of selfless and loving light. He is the one who puts all significance to the work that we do.

As we enter this next week, let’s take the time to invite God into it. See how your attitude, interactions with your littles and outlook on the profession you are in.

Giving the WHY

Teaching moments happen almost daily when you are on child duty, but some can be a little more necessary than others.

Teaching moments happen almost daily when you are on child duty, but some can be a little more necessary than others…

I was boarding the bus heading for our midweek outing to the children’s museum. The ride had begun with a few sips of milk, a lovely rendition of the wheels on the bus and a few ‘what’s that’s’?!’ directed at people close by. All of a sudden I felt a swat on my hand. Now I knew what my little one was TRYING to get across to me. “Please move because I want to put my hands there,” is what she meant to say (and I would have gladly done it). Because I knew this, and I know that we all need reminders sometimes, I reminded her that we do not hit and if we would like to put our hand where another’s are we say ‘Excuse me’. She nodded understandingly and said excuse me. I moved my hands and life was good. Not but a few minutes later, I felt another swat on my hand followed by another. I softly, but firmly took her little hands, came down to eye level to make sure my voice was heard and repeated, “we do not hit, if you want someone to move we use our words” (Remembering that the less words we all use in correction and redirection with our little ones the better, I left it at that).

I knew that at this point, she was testing out the waters of ‘well, what are you going to do about it’ pool. Every child does. For some it may be more around 1 or 2 years of age and for others you may see a huge display of this when they hit their teen years, but either way it does need to be addressed. You see, our children (as we did) need a reason WHY not to do something that you kindly request or require they not do, not just a no or please don’t. Can I get an amen from anyone who has ever tried to just talk a kid out of not grabbing that cookie off the counter? This was one of those times. The next time she attempted to swat at my hand I was ready, caught her little hand before it could reach mine and held it safely for one whole minute. I reassured her that she would have her hand back but if she was going to use it to hit then it needed to take a break. There is absolutely no hurting involved with this ‘why giving’ and there should be none. Providing the why should be affective and immediate not dragged out and painful. There are many some other forms of ‘why giving’ that could be given as well:

  • Because if you don’t, you will need to serve 2 minutes in break
  • Because if you don’t, we will not be enjoying any more chocolate milk
  • Because if you don’t, you will need to sit on my lap for the rest of the ride

Remember that the ‘why’ that you are giving must match the crime and their age. I will talk more on this later, but here is a good place to start.

When the time was up and her little hand could go free to either make the kind decision or unkind one. The choice was hers, but now she had the ‘why’.

We soon exited the bus, dug out a yummy snack from under the stroller and continued to the museum. There was not another incident of hitting.

Have you ever experienced a teaching moment with your little? I’d love to know how you handled it! Comment below!

How to Deal with Your Child’s Hurt Feelings

At one point or another we have all had our feelings hurt. he truth is, dismissive actions and words from others (especially close to us) can cut deep. For children, learning all about this thing called hurt and forgiveness is a tough road. It is our job as the nanny to help guide the learning and teach correct responses when it does happen.

At one point or another we have all had our feelings hurt. Sometimes it is easy to get over and other times we stew over the pain for weeks or more. The truth is, dismissive actions and words from others (especially close to us) can cut deep. For children, learning all about this thing called hurt and forgiveness is a tough road. It is our job as the nanny to help guide the learning and teach correct responses when it does happen.

Madison and Olivia are the best of friends and the worst of friends. When it comes to playing together on the playground, they seem to make it work until one wants to play a game that the other does not. This seems to create a part in the close-knit relationship that they have created over the years of knowing each other. Suddenly it is as though they cannot stand another second with the other person. Not only can Madison now not stand to look at Olivia, she must make their close mutual friends feel the same way. Kids can be mean. Can I get an amen?

Suddenly this fun play date turns into a war for popularity and attention. Madison rallies her closest friends (apart from Olivia) and moves forward with convincing them that playing with HER is the best option for their playground experience. If they only follow her to the other end of the playground they will have the swings to themselves and be able to sing all the latest Taylor Swift songs. Olivia, begins to sell her friends on the idea of creating a fort with sticks and rocks on the opposite end of the playground. Madison won. Now the quarrel has turned from a divided view on play activities, to who has more friends, to name calling. You can see where this is going.

Feelings have been hurt. The lines have been drawn in the sand and someone needs to intervene with some wise counsel before this play group turns into a fight club. This is where we come in.

I make my way over to sobbing Olivia on the stump to the left of the tree house. As I kneel down, before I can get a word in that would provoke her to spill her side of the story, she begins, “Madison is so mean! She says that nobody likes me and all our friends are her friends now. She doesn’t want to play with me anymore and I want to go home.” Realizing that for an 8-year- old this fight is as real as if it were my husband and I fighting (but we don’t do that 🙂 ). With careful words, I reassure her gently, “Olivia, I am sure that Madison did not mean all of the words that she said. I think that her feelings we hurt as well when you said that you didn’t want to participate in her activity because it was dumb.” “Sometimes when we get hurt, we say really mean things that we don’t mean.” I continue on about how Madison and her have been friends for a very long time, that her Madison work great together and then present the question, “Would you like to ask her if there is something that you both can agree on to play?” Faced with a choice of sitting on the sidelines of her friends playing, having one of her best friends upset with her, or moving forward to resolve the matter with a compromise, she chooses the latter.

Madison is eager to reunite! Once Olivia apologizes for her part in the disagreement and hurt feelings fiasco, they both share in a long giggle filled hug.

It is so important to reiterate to children that we are not perfect. There are going to be times when our friends lose their cool and grab the toy from our hands. When our mom comes home stressed from work and blows us off for her latest work text. Our dad cancels for the 2nd time because he just can’t miss this meeting. And yes, when we just plain do not agree with other people’s opinions or agendas. But this is the perfect time to teach: forgiveness, patience and self-control.

If the situation can be resolved? Try to resolve it. If it can’t? Try to teach and grow through it.

This is what we do as nannies. We teach our children how to forgive those who have wronged us, own their own part in the matter and move through and past the offense.

Meet Lindsay!

Read my interview with Lindsay, Owner and founder of the Nanny League!

Lindsay Thomason-Owner and Founder of The Nanny League

Meet Lindsay. She is originally from a small town on the outside of Philadelphia. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and little dog. She attended Syracuse University to pursue an undergrad in Communications. When she graduated (Cum Laude), she very quickly got a position working in Political Marketing and Advertising. This wasn’t something that she envisioned herself doing, but it was definitely a way into the LA scene, which was what she wanted. To trade the snow in for sunshine was a dream for her! She moved to Los Angeles in 2005 and began working as a Page for NBC. Fairly quickly, she found herself working her way up within Publicity and Production. Though this was an amazing experience, especially at 22 years old, she was a little disappointed. There was no one around her that she really looked up to as a mentor. It was around this time, Lindsay recalls, “My heart strings were really pulling me back into childcare. Children have always played an integral part in my life. I grew up being the oldest on the block, and since I didn’t have any younger siblings of my own, I kind of adopted all the neighborhood kids and did my fair share of babysitting.” 

How did you get into nannying?

I had become a little frustrated and at my wits end with publicity and production. One night, I was on IM (instant messenger) with one of my girlfriends and was expressing my frustration with the situation. She suggested, “Why don’t you become a nanny and work for a wealthy LA family? I hear about people making a great living at it and you can travel! Look into it.” So, I randomly went on craigslist and saw this amazing nanny ad. I applied, got a call the next week and got the job the following week. I worked as a live-in nanny for them for about a year and continued to nanny with them as a live out nanny for another year and a half. Having this nanny position has led me to where I am now. It was a huge stepping stone for me. I took that leap of faith, left entertainment and became the help. It was something that I was kind of embarrassed of at first, but what I found was that it was quite possibly the most rewarding and incredible job i’d ever had.

A live-in nanny position definitely comes with its positives and negatives. Can you tell me one of the best and worst things about being a live-in nanny?

I think one big positive is the convenience. You’re also saving a lot more money. In my situation, though,  I actually was paying for rent so I didn’t save as much as someone else might have. In hindsight, I may have been a little smarter in negotiating. But for most people, a real positive is that you can save money and pay off student loans! I also put money aside to enter into the next chapter of my life. I think working as a live in nanny proves your dedication. The position in and of itself is just so unique. It’s definitely not like a corporate job. You’re having dinner with your boss every night, doing their laundry, and learning those intimate details that you’d only find in this line of work. It’s the position that really makes you feel like the superhero and such an important part of the child’s life because they’re choosing you. It’s something that’s very fulfilling.

Now the downside I think, is taking the job with you. There’s that boundary that can very easily be crossed. You can be very easily be taken advantage of. You have to be mindful about making sure you’re getting compensated for those middle of the night wake up calls. Whether you are a work horse or not, everyone has to refresh and turn off their job. So, I believe the most challenging part of being a live in nanny, would be placing and keeping these boundaries successfully.

What has surprised you most about working as a nanny?

It’s so much more fulfilling than I ever thought it would be! I think this would be because it’s so ‘tangible’. It’s not something you can put down on paper. It’s that common sense, that former life experience that you pull out of a hat during various situations. And you ask yourself, “Where did I come up with that? That was PERFECT.”

What prompted you to go from being a nanny to starting a nanny agency?

I will say this, I think that the stigma correlated with being a nanny is just so wrong. I think so much of my passion in starting this agency has come from me wanting women, especially college educated women, to really be proud of this profession and own it with a badge of honor! It’s such an important career that we all need to celebrate rather than look down upon. So, I think that its really important that we change the conversation about nannying as a career.

What kind of  leader  do you strive to be for the nanny community, both personally and through The Nanny League?

Well, I treat all the nannies I work with as friends. We are all on an even playing field. I am the connector and the matchmaker. I am not your boss, mom or dad. I am not going to tell you what to do, but I will give you advice. I will tell you what I believe is the proper way to handle a situation vs. the improper way. I believe there is an importance of showing up on time and for that matter showing up at all. The importance of being fully present. You can show up physically anywhere, but if your heart and mind is not in it, especially with children, they will read you immediately.

Part of why I exist is to help nannies get the best package at their time of hire, but also after their placement I strive to be there as a shoulder to cry on. I try to extend a helping hand when its needed. That’s something that I really wish I had when I was a nanny. It’s hard to talk to your friends or your spouse about your work when you’re a nanny. People really don’t understand if they haven’t been there themselves.

I think that the nannies within The Nanny League really appreciate not only my candor, but also the fact that I know what I’m talking about. I strive to treat them with the same level of love and respect that I’d want in return. I love offering extra events as well as networking with other brands and companies to get our nannies extra money. I believe that people should ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. This work is personal for me, it’s a friendship.

We have also just recently started a new nanny training program which I think is so important. This program educates nannies on sexual abuse and teaches how and with whom to hand it. We are trying to mandate this training for all of our nannies. I think it’s so important to be educated on this topic. We should know what to look for and how to handle this type of situation should it arise.

Where do you hope to take The Nanny League over the next five years?

Yea! I mean, I want us to be everywhere! I want it to be a national and international brand. I truly believe that the light of the tunnel is infinite! It’s really about growing and touching people’s lives. It means something to me. I’m working toward the Nanny League stamp of approval being the A++ in service. I want families to be sure that with The Nanny League they’re getting the best nanny, and the nanny is getting the best agent to represent them. I hope that we become a leader in this childcare industry!

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Getting to speaking with Lindsay in depth about her journey through college, nannying and ultimately owning her own agency, was inspiring! I know that I’ve personally been encouraged in a few different ways. 1) Nannies who are college graduates don’t need to feel ashamed of the profession that they love! Nannying is a real job and a GREAT one. 2) Nannying provides the opportunity to put various and diverse skills to use that you might not tap into with other careers. It’s not a boring job, that’s for sure! 3) You can become whatever you want to be! The sky is the limit for those nannies who have a dream, a passion and the work ethic to make it happen. To be a nanny doesn’t mean you can’t have your own children, doesn’t mean you need to give up your idea of becoming something more over time and it definitely doesn’t mean you’ve failed in career choice!

Thank you, Lindsay, for your honest answers and hard work to impact the nanny community in such a positive way!

If you would like to learn more about what Lindsay is doing with The Nanny League, definitely check it out here!

 

5 Ways to Impress the Family

As nannies, we can experience a lot of pressure from the family we nanny for. Want to go above and beyond your family’s expectations? Make an impression by following these 5 ways to impress the family.

As nannies, we can experience a lot of pressure from the family we nanny for. Want to go above and beyond your family’s expectations? Make an impression by following these 5 ways to impress the family.

1. Dress for the job

Casual and Active attire is the name of the game. When we come to work dressed formal or to ‘uppity’ it doesn’t give off the impression that we will be interactive and relaxed with the children. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Will I be able to walk at least an hour, sit on the floor play, get spit up on, or climb a ladder in what I am wearing.” If the answer is yes, you are good to go. Some ideas for comfortable work attire would be: jeans or work out pants, simple t-shirt or sundress, and definitely sneakers, sandals or boots. (I tried heels when I first started out…not a good idea!)

2. Have an art or craft to show at the end of the day

A drawn picture hung on the refrigerator, clay creation on the dining room table or a fort set up in the living room is a perfect display of the fun you and the child have had! It is so nice for a parent to come home and see evidence of their child learning and being creative. I would say though, with the fort in the living room or bedroom, to just ask the parents before you venture into this project. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to come home and find sheets, towels and pillows strewn all over. Better to ask first than be greeted by an unhappy parent later.

3. Bake or cook a snack

This is such a fun thing to do with the children and also a great sight and smell when mom and dad come home from work! By baking or cooking with the child, you have provided an example of how they could include the children in baking adventures in the future, displayed one of your skills as a nanny, and also supplied a yummy snack for them to enjoy when you leave for the day. Toddlers could be your expert pourers/mixers and older children could practice their measuring and adding skills.

4. Offer to do extra activities and take interest in the ones they attend

Switching up the ol’ routine is a great thing to do sometimes to keep you and the kids from getting bored. A few creative and fun adventures could include a trip to the Zoo, Aquarium, local nature reservation or beach. Another great way to let the parents know you care about their children’s development, interests and activities is by noticing when their current activities end and start back up. A friendly reminder to their busy parent about when the next music class will be starting is so helpful and appreciated.

5. Be reasonably flexible

It is a good rule of thumb to plan for occasional overtime hours when a parent has to work late or is stuck in traffic. The original hours that you agree upon at the time of contract SHOULD be the hours that are normally kept. If the tardiness or expectation of you staying 20-30 minutes late becomes normal, then this should be addressed. But it is good to be somewhat flexible with the give and take that comes by nannying. For example, I have been asked to come in 2 hours early on Monday because a parent is leaving for a business trip, in exchange for me leaving 2 hours early on Friday. Likewise, I have asked for an early leave one day in exchange for a little extra work on another. Some parents and some careers do not allow for such flexibility and availability, but it is good to be aware that this could happen.

Follow these 5 tips and you’ll be well on your way to blowing your family away!