"But how did the baby get in her belly?"
This was the question a 3-year old boy asked his nanny. They were at a play date with the boy’s friend and her nanny, who was pregnant. There was a lot of baby talk. But the boy wanted to start from the beginning – how did it get there?!
As funny and innocent as this question may seem, the nanny still felt a good deal of fear – and dread. "How do the parents want me to handle this?"
"It grows inside the mommy’s belly" she replied confidently. This answer worked – for about an hour.
While we can laugh about kids asking about sex, anatomy and other hot topics, it’s also a really good idea to figure out how you want to answer these questions – and bring your nanny or babysitter on board. Will you be using anatomical names? Will you want to discreetly ignore the hard-hitting questions? Tell stories of the stork, explain conception – or pick something in between?
The thing is, sometimes our babysitters and nannies are our biggest ally in difficult conversations. They can seek clues to what your child is learning about from friends, they can act as role models, shaping their confidence and sense of self-worth, and they can reinforce what you are teaching your kids about life. They can also provide a little stability if the difficult conversation is focused around divorce, death or a local tragedy.
I like to remind parents to consider your nanny or babysitter as part of your parenting team. If you are interviewing candidates, think to yourself "Is this someone I want on my squad?", "Is this someone who can handle answering difficult questions with ease?", "Is this someone I want teaching my child?" If not, keep searching.
What hot topics has your child asked you – or your nanny lately? How have you answered? And have you talked to your nanny about how to handles these types of conversations?
On a more serious note, we encourage to you to read through our Difficult Conversation series and learn strategies for talking to kids about uncomfortable topics.
April 30, 2012
"But how did the baby get in her belly?"
April 23, 2012
I hear the conversation all the time: "I can’t believe she did that." "No, please tell me she didn’t!" The villain they're referring to? The Mother-in-law.
We all know how the in-law relationship is often strained. And it only gets worse when grandkids come into the picture. In-laws "swoop-in," give unsolicited parenting advice, comment on how over -- or under --protective you are. But they also babysit, buy the babies necessities, and love us unconditionally.
When I hear these conversations, often in the Care.com kitchen, I have to remind my staff that this is all done out of love. "And control" someone might say. True, it's really a control-tug-of-war, and you're on the other side.
But at least once a year we get the question: Should I have my mother-in-Law be my nanny? And here's what I say: If there's tension, any type of uncomfortable vibe that might make you less of an A-game parent, or might hurt your relationship with your partner, I have to suggest you look elsewhere.
It's just too complicated. Parents need to hire someone who they can direct and manage, not someone who will say "but when I changed your diapers, I did it this way" or "we always put blankets on you in the crib." When it comes to your baby, you are the boss. If an in-law doesn’t take direction well (ice cream for breakfast, no TV restrictions), you will either spend your days being angry – or have to fire your partner's parent.
And that's awkward.
Now, as a mom of two boys, and a future mother-in-law one day, I can’t promise you I won’t be some lovely young woman’s "Monster-in-law." But what I can promise you is that I won't be their nanny!
So tell me, what can you promise you won't do as a future in-law?
April 16, 2012
If you read the recent New York Times Magazine article on nannies receiving 6 figure salaries, you may have been as shocked as I was – you may have even considered a career change!
But I have to tell you that this salary range is not the norm. In fact, it's a little disheartening to hear. This is the type of data that gives "having a nanny" the sense that it is a child care privilege only the wealthiest families can afford. And we all know that's not true.
Nanny.org states that the average nanny brings home $600 a week ($31,200) – before taxes. And in many cases, a family with multiple children finds having a nanny is more cost-effective than daycare.
So who are these nannies who make more than some doctors? And what do they do with children that make them worth so much more than our nannies? The answer: nothing. The agency that places these high earners says that they are often asked to be more like Personal Assistants. They do things like: chauffeur 32-foot motorboats, manage art collections, wash and press up to fifty sheets and tablecloths a day, prepare 4-course gourmet meals and work with bankers to give summaries of financial statements. One even had to drive a Zamboni to clean the outside ice rink. The agency also mentioned that part of the high-salary includes working around the clock.
I know we often think more expensive things are "better." I have friends who refuse sale items because they must not be as good as the full priced options. But when it comes to nannies, let's not miss the part about taking care of the children. I ask you to go home early one day this week and peek in on your kids playing with their caregiver. See them in action. Watch your nanny do what you hired her for – to care for your kids.
And maybe the next time you’re running an errand, you can pick up a token of appreciation for your nanny. A gift card to the movies, a restaurant, or a manicure. Give her a small thank you for committing to your family – and let her know that her contributions are priceless.
April 09, 2012
My family is getting healthy. Over the past few months, we’ve been following what we call a "nutritional plan." We all drink a nutrient-packed smoothie in the morning (kale and pumpkin seeds included!), we're exercising and we're just making smarter choices at dinner time. It’s not a diet, but we’re doing our best to get those essential nutrients and vitamins in our bodies, monitoring our unhealthy snacks, and consciously eating leaner foods. And yes, this includes our 12-year old son, Adam.
For me, being healthy means feeling confident about what I'm putting into my body and more important, how it makes me feel. But teaching our kids about nutrition comes at a risk, right? My husband and I talk about what message we're sending our son. We want him to make smart choices and to be conscious of what's healthy and what's not, but we don't want to overwhelm him either. Even more, we don’t want him feeling insecure or any pressure to "diet."
I'm not sure if you've heard about the Vogue Magazine article about a mother who made her 7-year-old daughter lose 16 pounds with a strict diet. It was called Weight Watcher and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Not because this mother wanted her daughter to get healthy, but because of the extreme measures and public action she took in the process. Once, according to the article, she deprived her daughter of dinner after learning that she consumed up to 800 calories while celebrating French Heritage day at school. Another time, she grabbed a hot chocolate out of her daughter’s hand when the coffee shop barista couldn’t tell her exactly how many calories were in it. This ridicule and public embarrassment is extreme and reeks of potentially hazardous side effects. When teaching our children about healthy habits, this cannot be the right message.
In this family’s case, the young girl needed to lose weight for her health, according to the article. For us? We're just trying to teach our son how to make healthy choices. Instead of the macaroni and cheese, opt for lean protein and greens. If you have to order pizza, take some of the cheese off first. We also got rid of soda. But around his friends, we don't restrict, and we let him choose what he wants, hoping he will someday enjoy the more healthful path.
What did you think of this Weight Watcher Mom? How would you help your child lose weight, if medically necessary? And do you think parents put more pressure on their daughters to be health conscious – than their sons?
April 02, 2012
This topic recently came up on a parenting blog – and at first, it made me laugh. The writer said she was looking through Care.com and saw pictures of attractive young women looking for babysitting jobs – and her gut instinct was to NOT hire them.
She wanted someone who wouldn’t make her feel insecure about her new "mom" body.
We all get that. And I’m sure we can all relate to feeling insecure at times. But if a babysitter is good, she’s good. And her looks shouldn’t keep her from getting a job.
On the other hand, I do warn parents to get a sense about how "into" their looks a babysitter candidate may seem. I’ve heard some of my staff talk about their sitter search exclaiming that if a woman is too "done up" or "constantly playing with her hair" they will not hire her. They fear her focus would not be about their kids, but how she’d look while with their kids. They imagine her trying to get the kids out the door or supporting them on the monkey bars, and feeling her own self-consciousness about who might be watching. They want a babysitter who comes ready to work and play, without a concern for what she looks like.
When it comes down to it, an attractive nanny or babysitter is really determined by her level of confidence. We parents see it during the interview. True beauty flows from these women when they talk about their love of kids, their experience, the joy they feel when caring for children. Then we see it when we come home from a long day at work – and the nanny and kids are squealing about the fun they had and smiling from ear to ear talking about the day’s adventures. Yes, our babysitters are beautiful.
So while I do agree with trepidation over hiring a sitter who works hard at being "hot," I warn you: your babysitter will only become more attractive the more she loves your kids.
What are your thoughts on hiring an attractive babysitter or nanny?
How to Raise a Confident Girl