Ultimate Guide: Traveling with Your Nanny Family

So, you’re about to travel with your family, huh? Well, here are some things to consider and hash out before you make that Jamaica dream a reality.

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So, you’re about to travel with your family, huh? Well, here are some things to consider and hash out before you make that Jamaica dream a reality…

Get EVERYTHING down in writing.

I know that many of you may have working verbal contracts with your families and that’s fine, but when you’re traveling with your family, especially for more than a day or two, it’s so worth it to write your terms down. This protects you. This protects them. Plus, if you do your write up and they refuse to sign it, you’ll know something’s not right. Then you’ll want to nix the trip altogether. I’d also suggest typing your terms ahead of time and presenting your draft to them. Make sure all points sound fair and you agree on each one. Then whip out a pen and get those John Hancock’s down to bind the agreement. With this signed, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re covered and comfortable with all the expectations. And should there be any disagreement on your terms later on, you’ll have the contract to refer to. Two copies should be made, one for you and one for them. 

Clarify what YOU are paying for and what THEY are paying for.

You don’t want to be half way around the world before you have that dreaded money or responsibility talk. Get it all out on the table now, trust me. Ultimately, everything revolving around this trip is all up to you. Worst case scenario, you could decide you just wont go and they can’t make you. So stick to your guns when you are discussing what your services and time is worth. I would suggest that you have them at least pay for the minimal: the round trip ticket, your time while you are on duty, your SEPARATE room, your food when you eat together and all travel while you are there. Beyond this, you may have individual agreements as to who pays for what. 🙂

Get your own room.

Did I say that already? 😉 Well, good. It’s important! There’s nothing more awkward than sharing a room with another couple and their kids. (well, maybe a couple things) You’re not family as much as you may feel like it. And even if you were family, you still wouldn’t wanna be stuck in a room with a couple and their kids while they’re on THEIR vacation. Its just awkward. Save yourself some very tense and awkward situations, and just have them book you a very separate living space, OK? And remember me when you are able to take an uninterrupted shower, nap on your bed or stroll on your oh so quiet patio. 🙂

Write down your hourly schedule. Be very clear about when you’ll be on and off duty.

Most likely while you’re away in Rome, Greece, Ireland or wherever you’re flying off to, you’ll want to explore. And you should! In order to make this happen, you’ll have to be forthright about the YOU time on this trip. Yes, you’re going with them to work, but just like them, you would like to have a break from responsibility at various times too! I’d suggest starting no earlier than 7 am, taking a midday break for at least an hour or two, enjoying one meal separate from the family responsibilities, and ending your work day by 7 pm. Again, this is all up to you, but be kind to yourself and don’t overwork girl!

Things will run smoother if when you are on duty, YOU are the only one.

This will be the time when the parents can get a spa session, take a walk on the riviera or go out to dinner a la solo. There is a very good reason for this. Things can get very complicated and confusing for the children (and us) when there are more than 2 adults “in charge”. The roles are blurred. This begins to create tension between everyone. Maybe you’re traveling with more than one child. Great! The parents take one child to a park or zoo and while you keep the other around the resort. Then switch. I’m just saying, if they’re looking for a tag a long who is going to corral their little ones, wipe their noses, sing distracting songs to them while waiting for dinner to be served and carry the diaper bag around, then make sure you know that. If you go into this trip thinking you are going to be assuming the same roles as when you’re a nanny during a normal work week and they think you are going to be a travel helper with all the messes and tantrums, then this will make for some tension. You’ll begin to build resentment over not being respected as the professional that you are. Open and pre-trip communication is key. Know what you’re getting yourself into before you commit to be in an inescapable situation hundreds of miles away. Doing this will make roles, duties and everything a little less awkward and messy.

Be clear about expectations.

Think about your expectations for transportation, the flight, meal times, different excursions, who’s responsible for packing and managing items, etc. It may seem like a little much but take it from me, you can’t be too clear about how this trip will go.

Take into account the family you’re traveling with.

There are many, many, many different personalities within a family. Now you’re adding to the mix. To nanny for a family Monday-Friday, 9-5, is completely different from being on a trip with them. Now you’re technically available 24/7. (Even if you say you’re not, technically you ARE. So think about whether or not you can stand being with this family for a week or two) Once you’ve decided, yep, I can do this. Think about the personalities you’ll have to navigate and expect throughout the duration of the trip. Does the father like to control situations and get tense when they’re out of control? You may want to prepare for some of that. Do the parents get along or will you be needing to referee some disagreements on the trip? (That could get awkward) Think about it. Weigh the pros and cons.

Power to you, Nanny, who is choosing to travel with your family! You’re serving them in a huge way. Remember: know what you’re worth and own it. Hey, why not enjoy some sunshine and beach too? Go for it!

Buen Suerte!

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NannyBeth

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5 Alternative and Effective Disciplinary Techniques

As a nanny or non-parental figure in a child’s life, how do you exercise authority and disciplinary actions without overstepping your bounds? Read below to learn about some alternative and effective disciplinary techniques which can be used for children of all ages.

As a nanny or non-parental figure in a child’s life, how do you exercise authority and disciplinary actions without overstepping your bounds? Read below to learn about some alternative and effective disciplinary techniques which can be used for children of all ages.

1. Removing immediate fun (young children-6>)

The most effective way to grab a young child’s attention is to stop all fun for the moment, in the moment.

Say you are a babysitter and the children you are watching are not used to hearing your voice. Not only are they not used to hearing your voice but they are most certainly not used to the different tone. Because of this, it is easy for them to tune you out. You could now find yourself in one of two positions. 1) You find yourself with the upper hand because you are different. You are the cool, new thing, they want to please you and will do all you ask. 2) You find yourself at a disadvantage because they don’t know you. They don’t have an earned trust or respect for you and they certainly do not want to listen to you. The former would of course be preferred. But you now find yourself with the latter. So what do you do?

I have found a very effective way of gaining attention and listening ears, is to remove other competing distractions.

For example: If your child is not responding to your request to start getting ready for bed, it may be possible that they do not hear you. The TV is on and you have a different tone than the normal voice they are use to hearing. They are oblivious. A perfect way to aquire their attention would be to turn off the TV. This may be a startling move, but an effective one. Once you state your request and give direction, it will then be your prerogative whether or not you allow more television. The goal is to have their attention and let them know you are serious. You want them to be listening when you are speaking to them.

2. Time out/ Break

Sometimes children need  time to recoup and get their heads about them.

The ‘witching’ hours from 5 pm-7 pm are the prime hours when breaks will need to be taken.  It is, however, very important to recognize that your child has had a full day of listening and trying to obey under their belt. Giving your child a chance or more than you usually would, may be a good idea at this time. There are those times though, when you just cant let it slide. Your oldest has pushed her little sister over one too many times. Though you know you should probably enforce your boundary line, you find yourself wondering if you should discipline her. It’s late, she isn’t trying to be mean or rough and lets face it, you have had a long day yourself. But it is so important that after the correct amount of warnings, redirecting and talking, that action is taken.

This would be the time to tell your oldest she needs to sit down. A break (time=age) will hopefully be just what she needs to show her that you are serious about your set boundaries. This break lets her know that her actions were not okay and she needs to listen to you. It is more likely than not that she will respond to this time out. Once she is ‘let off’, she will dart to a new toy that has caught her attention and offers less drama.

3. Slap on hand/ Eye to eye

Eye contact is important when trying to keep the complete attention of your child. 

For me, the use of a slap on the hand is reserved for extremely important and urgent issues. This is the last ditch effort to get your child to understand that you are serious. To make it clear that what you are asking of them is serious, before you perform the ‘insistent move’. Ill explain.

You are in the grocery store with your 2 1/2 year old boy. He is safely sitting in the top portion of the cart while you are shopping. He sees a candy bar that he REALLLY wants. You politely explain that he will not be getting it today but he could have a comparable snack if he would like. This sets him off. What starts out as a somewhat quiet whine, quickly turns into a louder whine and eventually scream. This situation needs to be controlled. Now he is already sitting and you are in a store, so the ‘break’ idea is not going to work. You would really rather stay in the story to grab the last few items if you could, so you implement the ‘slap on the hand/eye to eye’. You take his little hand, get down at eye level and give a firm 1,2,3. This is followed with a soft but firm voice saying, “Stop”. You’ve now gotten his attention, taken control of the escalating situation and have an opportunity to talk to him. This provides the moment of turn around and moving forward. You have avoided carting a screaming and kicking child up and down the grocery aisle. You have completed your shopping adventure successfully! If the situation was not able to be solved with this step, then the next step would be to park the cart and take your child out of the store.

4. Removing future fun/privileges (school age children- 6+)

“If you do not complete your disciplinary writing assignment during recess today, you will miss tomorrow’s recess as well. This must be completed.”

This technique is teaching that there are consequences for every choice a child makes.

When children are young, under 6 years of age, they require ‘immediate discipline’. Once a child reaches the age of 6 years of age, they are now ready to learn more complicated lessons. One such lesson being: If you make a decision today, it may very well affect fun and events tomorrow.

For example: Displayed on your third grade classroom wall, there is a poster that states: CLASSROOM RULE #3 NO CHEATING. The children see this poster as they enter your classroom and you review classroom rules every morning. One day, you observe Johnny looking over Olivia’s shoulder during a History test. You continue watching for a few minutes. After a few minutes, you call Johnny over to your desk and confront him quietly about this behavior. He acknowledges his fault. You kindly remind him of the class rule and necessary subsequent consequence. You let him know you will not call his parents this time, but he must now finish the test next to your desk and will also be required to write a disciplinary assignment during recess.

He is learning that his actions have consequences, either good or bad. I say, when you are old enough to complete mathematical equations, you are most certainly old enough to assume responsibility for your behavior. 🙂

5. The ‘insistent’

“You do not have the final say, I do.”

I have told you to stop hitting, you continue. I have sent you to time out, told you to sit down and you get up. All my attempts in removing immediate fun to get your attention have failed. The last resort, a slap on the hand, did not do the trick. I am now left feeling defeated. I don’t want to spank my child, but what am I suppose to do now?

The ‘insistent move’ as I like to call it, is where you insist that your child obeys. Keep in mind that this is no way an aggressive or hurtful action. This is an insistent action.

For example: It’s now time to pack up and leave the park. You give your child ( 3 years old) one last go down the slide. Once you finish loading the diaper bag with the last of the picnic left overs, you look up and your child is still playing. One last call and you let her know you’re heading out now. She looks up, acknowledges your words, turns on her heels and scurries up the play set once more. Implementing the ‘insistent move’, you leave the stroller, climb onto the play set, and pick your child up. This is when you reiterate, “It’s time to go.” “I need you to use your listening ears and come please.” You have just pulled off the insistent move!

You insist.

Most insist scenarios come out of health or safety situations. This could look like your child holding your hand when you cross the street. This could be insisting that your child not open the gate leading to a fifteen stair drop. It could possibly be insisting that your child does not hit others. In either of these cases, it is important enough for you to step in, take action and implement authority for their good and their health.

There must be consistency, love and concern present here. If not, these techniques will not be nearly as effective.

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NannyBeth

5 Ways to Stop a Crying Baby

It’s Tuesday afternoon. The toddler is set up for another hour of play before nap time and the coffee is brewing. You have just fed baby and things are looking good for staying on baby schedule. Then it hits you: you need to use the bathroom. There is nothing you can do but put baby down. You promise it will be for just ONE minute. Things are looking good so far. You’ve placed him down in his bassinet and he is calm. You set up a few toys around him so she can play. The light is on so she doesn’t confuse it with nap-time. Things are all set. You slowly edge toward the door of the baby room ensuring him you will be right back. A few steps down the hall and…*commence screaming*. There is no turning back now. You have to go and he has to wait. Unfortunately, by the time you return he is now in such a state of deep crying that it is going to take some work to bring him back. You have to hurry because now your toddler is taking notice of increasingly loud crying baby and is becoming irritated herself. If you don’t do something soon, you will have two crying babies on your hands and that’s never good. At this very moment, you remember the blog post you just read on how to stop a crying baby and you are filled with relief! You pull it up on your screen and see just what to do:

BLOW IN THEIR FACE

This usually acts like more a “snapping them out of it for a quick second” rather than a long-term solution. It is, however, very useful if you need them to open their eyes long enough to: look at themselves in the mirror (my little on LOVES this), see that you are holding up their favorite stuffed animal, or notice that you are preparing their ever so coveted milk. This is not meant to be a hurricane/blustery type of blow but more of a nice day at the beach, wind in my hair type of blow.

DO THE ROLLER-COASTER JOSTLE

This has a 99% success rate and has the added benefit of toning your legs while you’re at it. It is mostly useful for sleepy babies or infants who just need that extra push, though it can be used for other fussy situations as well. To implement the “roller-coaster jostle” as I like to call it, you will need about an arm’s length of space clear on either side of you. Take the baby in your arms either facing in or facing out, lying down or sitting up, whichever way they enjoy most. Now instead of just a mere jostle and the ever-so-popular “shhh”, try dipping low into a squat (while remaining upright) and back up again. This creates the sensation of a mini roller-coaster for the little tot and usually works quickly with or without the “shhh”. To really be successful this needs to be done at a fairly moderate pace (not too fast or too slow) and for a consistent amount of time. If it is not working right away, do not give up! I would give it about 10 minutes before moving on to another technique.

GO FOR A STROLLER OR ERGO RIDE

When it comes to raising baby, a stroller or ergo ride can do wonders! But as wonderful as these two inventions are that these can quickly turn into crutches and become a habit which the baby will specifically cry for until he gets it. So be weary of turning to this option every time you have a fussy baby on your hands. Once you get into a baby habit it is pretty painful to back out of (we will talk more on that soon).

The ergo is fabulous for those rainy or blustery days when you just cannot get out with baby. Simply put the ergo on, strap the baby in, and take them along with you as you go about your daily duties. Note to nanny: In your hurry to stop crying baby, do not place your baby in the ergo with a dirty diaper. It may squish up his back and all over the ergo. Take it from me, check the diaper first! 🙂 Using the ergo with the roller-coaster jostle, you will have him calm in no time! If it is a lovely day outside, I would definitely suggest taking him out in the stroller. You will be delighted by the warm sun on your face and the fresh air and be in a better state to handle crying baby.

SING OR HUM A SPECIAL TUNE

I have found songs grab baby’s attention best when they are coupled also with signs or hand motions. For example: the itsy-bitsy spider or twinkle-twinkle little star. These are both fairly common children songs and so are the motions that go along with them. The trick is to get baby quiet enough so they can begin to hear your singing and their eyes open long enough to see your hand motions (insert blowing in his face here). When singing children songs, especially with hand motions, the more animated the better. The more you are enjoying yourself and creating a world of fun learning, the more he will enjoy himself and try to join in on the fun. In my experience, signing while singing to a child is one of the most effective ways to teach both language and concept to a child.

CREATE SOME FACE TIME

I don’t know about you, but I have learned that there are times when the little one cries just to be seen. Many of us, including me, get so busy in the to do’s (laundry, dishes, cleaning big sisters mess in her room or just taking a bite to eat for ourselves) that baby begins to beg for attention. Now, here are those times where they just need to wait. This should not be a ‘every time my baby cries I run to her’ scenario. It is crucial, though, especially in those first 12 months, that we are purposeful in giving that personal response to their facial and vocal communication. This is one of my favorites to stop crying baby because the most smiles and laughs are created here.

So you decided to go with steps 2 and 4. Baby is smiling, the toddler is playing, you are now sipping your afternoon cup of joe. Things are still on track for your 2:30 pm nap time bless. Life is good again.

I hope one of these works for you! I know it’s not easy, but the most important jobs aren’t, so keep at it!

What are your best tips for how to handle a crying baby? Let me know in the comments below!