Monday, February 18, 2013

On proper etiquette; working as/hiring a nanny

If you simply type into your Google search box, "things your nanny won't tell you" as I just did, the number of results you'll generate is a whopping 2,550,000. Literally.

This is clearly a communication problem that can easily be resolved by creating an environment that is open enough to where topics deemed forbidden can be openly discussed. This can and will save you from having to find a new nanny at the expense of your current, seemingly content one. If he/she is experiencing the 'last straw' syndrome, they might turn to finding new work before giving you a chance to openly converse about whatever unspeakable issues may be at hand, which you may be oblivious to as a parent. 

My advice to parents is to educate yourselves. Coming from experience, it is awkward for nannies to approach our employers about touchy subjects such as the etiquette of proper payment, possibly feeling taken advantage of, needing a break, and other areas that may create friction or discontentment in your child's caregiver. 

As for nannies, sometimes it is necessary to break that discomfort and open up to your employers about matters they may not be familiar with yet. For example, some parents with infants are first-time nanny-havers, so they don't quite know the ropes of having a nanny, and how it all pans out. Sure, they can do the research, but sometimes it's the simple fact that they don't even know what to search or where to start. I, for one, know that I was completely unaware of the proper etiquette of paying a nanny before my first full-time gig a few years back.

I had no idea that we are supposed to be paid even on days that they don't need us; ie. days that the children are sick or the parents have the day off work or they choose to take a vacation for even a full week. I had no idea! But, I was delighted to learn that this is standard. To be a nanny is to have a job, after all, and if it is not at our fault that we are not working, we should be compensated as if we were working the same way that any other employee is compensated for vacation time.

It's fabulous to learn tidbits such as this, but it's also necessary to inform new employers if they are unaware so that you are treated fairly as you know you should. It's a bit awkward and uncomfortable at first, but if they love you and appreciate your services, they'll be sure to compensate you properly in order to keep you around. Nannies are in high demand, and parents are very aware of the difficulty that lies in finding a reliable, compassionate nanny above all to care for their pride and joy.

Below I've shared a couple of links to the concrete rules of nanny etiquette. Feel free to use these as resources when conversing with your employers in regards to being properly compensated, or in regards to any other issue that may have gone unresolved for far too long. It is very possible that they have no idea, so be sure to give them the benefit of the doubt before letting that 'last straw' syndrome take over!

Find a babysitter- Nanny etiquette - do's and dont's

Best of luck to all mommies and nannies alike. May we communicate freely without unnecessary boundaries and keep our environments comfortably open to little talks! :)


Brittney Schering

Monday, February 11, 2013

Let's Get Festive! Valentine's Day Week Fun: Crafts, Cookies, and Heart-shaped Everything!

I spent Valentine’s Day last year the way that I've spent every weekday lately— nannying! Back then though, I was with my favorite two and four year old near my hometown in Michigan. 

We made heart-shaped everything from crafts to quesadillas! We also used one of their gifts from me—a massive book of hearty Snoopy stickers— to create a sweet, serendipitous project that is to be framed and displayed in their house soon. Their mom was so pleased by it!

What could possibly be that cool? Well, I did not know she would think that it was so great, as it was a very random, “Hey let’s do this!” thought process that came as a result of knowing these little ones love to slap stickers onto anything.

Here is what we did! First, I lightly wrote each of their names— Rylie and Christopher— on large pieces of white construction paper with a black, ballpoint pen. I told them to follow the lines [not expecting they actually would; keeping in mind that they are only two and four years old] with the stickers from their new sticker books. This was the result (after I outlined the stickered letters with a Sharpie).

Pretty impressive considering their incredibly young ages, huh? I would say so! Later in the afternoon, we made jumbo-sized, heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies, topped with chocolate frosting, and of course, multi-colored sprinkles. Note to self: Never take eyes off of Rylie [4] when baking. Five seconds of being turned from her resulted in a wrist-deep frosting dive. Whoopsies! 

When 4:30 rolled around, it hardly felt like a nine-hour workday. It was a Valentine’s Day well spent; I had so much fun with the little ones! I always do, but Valentine's Day just felt extra special with all of the crafts, activities, V-Day love, and hearts everywhere!

This year it will be a bit different because I am caring for a babe who's just shy of 10 months old, but we will still be as festive as we can with copious amounts of the color red in the form of foods and clothing and perhaps a trip to the toy store across the street from our favorite place: Starbucks! Okay maybe that's just my favorite place. ;)

Happy Valentine's Day Week!!



Monday, February 4, 2013

Mistaken for Mommy: How to Respond

Working as a full-time nanny with an infant presents the issue of being mistaken for 'Mommy' when out and about. I have experienced this first-handedly, as a nanny in Beverly Hills for a family ever since the little babe was three months old. He's now coming up on 10 months, and with that, the familiarity of us being seen out and about multiple times a day has assumed the regular belief that I am his mommy.

Having been stopped on the sidewalks of Rodeo Drive and nearby streets more than daily to receive comments in regards to me being his mother, I generally respond with a polite smile and say, "Thank you, but I am his nanny." I understand that being 23 years old and walking the same streets daily with the same baby, it is easy to assume that this perhaps could be my child. My own mom, though, came up with a brilliant idea to create t-shirts that say, "Nope! I'm the nanny." She executed her plan and sent a few t-shirts with the message in big, sparkly lettering. You would think that would help the situation, yes? Nope!

With the shirt on, I was still asked five times if he was my baby and referred to as “Mommy” by people passing by us on the sidewalk. One woman came up to me in Whole Foods and said, “I can tell just by how you hold him that you are an amazing mommy. He’s a beautiful baby.” I said, “Thank you so much, but I am his nanny,” with a smile. She responded, “No way. There’s no way.” I laughed and said, “Thank you; I take that as a compliment.” She said, “I bet you hear it often.” If only she knew how often! 10+ times a day out on our walks around The Hills. But I do take it as a compliment, very sincerely so. If mistaken for 'Mommy' by an outsider, a nanny must be doing something right!

The situation got sticky about a week ago, when the babe himself said "Mama" for the first time while I was feeding him lunch. I got scared, so I rushed him to his mom to tell her, but she was in her room on a closed-door phone call, which generally translates to, "Do not disturb unless it's urgent," so I waited. The baby's father, however, was right there to witness as he continued to say, "Mama." I avoided the reality of the fact that he was saying this to me. This is because the way I see it, when I have a child, and if that child is ever to call anyone "Mom" other than myself, especially for the first time, it would break my heart. I couldn't let that happen, or be responsible for saying it did, so I pretended it didn't.

The baby continued to say, "Mama" blatantly in a way that was directed towards me despite my efforts to make it seem otherwise. I even tried to teach him how to say, "Brittney," although I knew without teeth and at nine months old, that'd be a long shot. His mom did a bit of research to see if he really thinks I am his mom. She was comforted by the results provided, which read that he is probably just discovering the consonant “M” and playing around with it. This put me at ease, as well, because the last thing that I want to do is confuse the little man. However, I do understand that as he spends a good majority of his time during the week with me, a slight bit of confusion is natural, and it will pass as all things do.

This brings me to the appropriateness of kissing on babies for whom we, as nannies, care for regularly. I personally shy away from the idea, even with the fact that the parents have given me permission to kiss on him the way that they do. I feel like it crosses a line, or more-so a professional boundary, that I don't feel comfortable doing. While I absolutely adore the baby, and I take care of and love him as if he were my own, the reality is that he is not my own. My job as the nanny is to keep everything at a healthy balance so that he knows this, as well. Are any other nannies facing this same predicament of how much is too much? Or do any other parents have feelings towards this topic of affection with nannies and babies, or if infants should be seen in a different light as young children in this respect?

I'd be ecstatic to hear other opinions on this subject matter, as I know it's one of many perspectives. Please feel free to leave you comments and questions below! Let's get a conversation started.

Thank you, always, for reading! It means the world, sincerely.