Friday, July 31, 2009

Nanny Doctor - Nanny Survey For You!

Hiring a nanny or thinking about hiring a nanny? Check out this Nanny Doctor survey! Only 2 questions, it will only take a moment!


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Monday, June 29, 2009

So You Are Going To Hire Your First Nanny...

Written by Lindsay Heller, Psy.D. for

Nannies can provide a level of professional care for your child that is simply not available in a day care setting. Your nanny will be focused on your children and your children alone and they will not be required to divide their attention amongst many different children as it is in a daycare. Also, your children will have the opportunity to be cared for in the comfortable environment of your home and to develop a close bond with a nurturing caregiver. Remaining in the comfort of your home can help children with changes like your return to work. Minimizing changes during transitions such as these will be very helpful in keeping stress low and for your child.

There are many other things to consider when you are hiring your first nanny. You may be becoming an employer for the first time and you will need to learn about the responsibilities associated with having an employee. It’s important that you think about your specific families needs including your cultural background and how that influences your life, as well as the activities you and your family enjoy, whether or not you have pets, also practical needs like days and hours. Additionally, you may want to think about what type of nanny do you envision in your home? A young college co-ed? Or a grandmotherly sort? Someone whose responsibilities include other household duties or will they be responsible for all things child?

Once you find a few candidates, you’ll want to review their resumes and then place a call to each candidate and conduct a preliminary interview over the phone. Additionally, you will want to begin employment checking as well as their personal references. Once you have a few “finalists,” you’ll want to set up an in-person interview. Having a first interview at a coffee shop near your house will help you maintain a level of privacy. The second interview should definitely take place in your home with your children.

Once you have interviewed the nanny a second time, its time for you to schedule a “try-out” period where your nanny comes in and completes a trial day or up to a week. After you find the right nanny, you should let the candidate know that you are interested in hiring her pending a nanny background check. Following a clean nanny background check , you should offer the position as well as develop a formal work agreement. The first 3 weeks to 3 months is a period when nannies and families are learning about each other. It’s important that during this time period you check in with your nanny on a weekly or at least monthly basis about what is working and what is not working.

It’s important for you and your child that you develop a good working relationship with your nanny. The most important piece to this is good communication. Good Communication needs to start from the very beginning.

Congrats, you are on your way! The benefits of having a nanny and in-home care are so rewarding for children. Hiring your first nanny may feel scary and you may feel as though you are in uncharted waters, however, as long as you do your homework and learn about the process, you are going to do just fine!


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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Nanny Doctor in LA Times,0,4179351.story
From the Los Angeles Times

Nannies take on extra duties as households economize
Along with child care, nannies are asked to do the cleaning, shopping and other tasks once done by others.
By Christy Hobart > > >

March 21, 2009

When a nanny with 10 years of experience was let go last year after her Hancock Park employers divorced, she had a hard time finding a new job. After five months of looking, she changed her application at the placement agency from "nanny" to "housekeeper" -- and lowered her hourly rate.

It worked. Soon she was hired at a 10,000-square-foot house near Malibu as a housekeeper -- until the family's nanny was laid off. For $3 more an hour, the housekeeper began steaming the carpets -- and feeding the dogs and making dinner -- with a baby on her hip. When the family also let go its personal assistant, she took on grocery shopping, managing the gardener, directing the pool man, helping with the family business . . .

"I definitely can't say no," says the housekeeper-nanny- personal assistant, who asked that her name not be used for fear of getting fired. After all, she has four children of her own to support.

Households everywhere are looking to economize at home, perhaps switching to generic products, starting up (or letting go of) a membership at Costco or dropping premium channels from their cable service. But when these efforts don't make a material dent in the finances, they search for bigger cuts -- and that can mean the household staff. Do they really need a nanny? Or a housekeeper? And for those lucky enough to have both, couldn't the jobs be combined?

For people who went into the nanny business with a love of children and clearly defined boundaries about what they will and won't do -- yes to making the kids' lunch, no to cleaning toilets -- the recession is blurring those lines. The bosses' finances and nannies' own tenuous job security are forcing many workers to redefine not only what they do, but also who they are.


Nannies air their frustrations at the Nanny and Me group at the parenting center of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles. Gabrielle Kaufman facilitates the group, which started as a place where Spanish-speaking nannies could engage in educational play with their charges while learning about nutrition, safety and health. It's also a place where nannies can swap stories, and Kaufman has noticed more anxiety creeping into their conversations.

"Even though they're doing a lot more than they used to," she says, "they feel they can't complain. They feel lucky to have a job."

Kaufman hears of nannies offering to take on more responsibilities in an effort to make themselves indispensable -- or to squeeze another household employee out of a job.

Joanna Brody of Culver City doesn't question the motives of her nanny, who offered to take on more cleaning duties while her toddlers napped.

"She likes to keep busy," Brody says.

Although the extra help was appreciated, it put Brody in a difficult situation as it became clear she didn't need twice-monthly cleaning service. Now the service comes just once a month.

"I feel bad for Philip," Brody says of the owner of the cleaning company she's been using for more than a year. "He's a hard-working entrepreneur, and he's always done a good job. I don't want to take work away from him, but it just doesn't make much sense to keep them both."

Katie Vaughan, head of Westside Nannies, a high-end placement agency whose clients might seem recession-safe, has found lately that families new to the service have been asking for workers who can combine jobs.

"They'll ask for a nanny who can do some cleaning or, even more," she says. "They're looking for a nanny who can take on assistant duties, like buying groceries and gifts, writing thank-you notes, party planning and secretarial work."

Realizing they need to compromise to get a job, prospective employees are more flexible than in the past.

"The typical English nanny or governess used to roll her eyes when I'd ask if she'd be open to cleaning," says Claudia Kahn, owner of the Help Co., another placement agency. "Now they're all saying, 'Send me on the interview.' "

During these tough economic times, a nanny may agree to take on household chores to keep her job, but there are risks to asking for too much, says Lindsay Heller, a psychologist who consults on family and nanny issues and who runs the Nanny Doctor, a service aimed at improving relationships between the two parties.

"It's tempting, financially," she says, but as a result the nanny may feel resentment. "You might see some passive-aggressive behavior," she says, such as showing up late for work.

Heller, who was a nanny for 10 years, warns that employers also could offend a nanny or housekeeper by suggesting that the positions are interchangeable. They are professional roles, she says, and should be respected. Not every nanny is a good housekeeper, and not every housekeeper can take on child-care duties.

"If not done properly," she says, "the child is at risk."

A housekeeper who has children of her own, she adds, is not necessarily qualified to become a nanny. Driving record, language skills -- these become important as soon as duties are expanded to include transporting and caring for children.

"The nanny's role is to provide a healthy and safe environment for children," Heller says. "They work out routines and schedules and arrange play dates and activities."


If you have to ask an existing employee to take on more responsibilities, Heller recommends being honest about your reasons. If you're not, she says, the change in job description could be seen as a demotion, and resentment could build. The employee should know if the change is short-term or permanent. And though some adults may consider household help interchangeable, children rarely do. Having a beloved nanny or faithful housekeeper change positions or leave a household can be emotionally difficult and requires conversations with the kids.

Above all, Heller says, if you're going to increase an employee's responsibilities, make sure to increase his or her salary accordingly -- or by as much as you can.

The housekeeper who saw her job expand to include nanny and personal assistant duties actually can muster some compassion for her employer's family. "I understand the economy is very bad," she says. "Maybe when the economy is more stable, they'll hire someone to help me."

Until then, however, it's hard for her to see the three luxury cars in the family's garage, the new landscaping going in around the pool and the media room under construction. She's not sure which would be worse: keeping this job or looking for a new one. Until she decides, her résumé is back on file at the placement agency.


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Friday, October 24, 2008

$50,000 Tribute to Nanny

By Mitch Fryer
Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Ford City woman who became a modern-day "Mary Poppins" for a Connecticut family for 13 years didn't have to use "a spoonful of sugar" to teach their two boys manners and respect, but she did help raise them "in a most delightful way."

"I did it like they were my own grandchildren," said nanny, Edna Garth, 82, now back home in Ford City living in retirement. "I didn't do too bad with my grandchildren and children. I just love children. I loved being their nanny."

Garth's efforts as a nanny for the family's sons Nicholas and Jacob earned her the appreciation of Mark and Lisa Krosse, who recently honored her by committing $50,000 to Penn State University to endow the Edna Garth Trustee Scholarship.

The Krosses, of Westport, Conn., are retired IBM executives. Neither is a Penn State alumnus or previous donor to the university.

The scholarship will support undergraduates in academic programs in the College of Health and Human Development. First preference for the award will go to graduates of Ford City High School, Garth's hometown.

The program has a unique matching component. The university matches 5 percent of the principal of each gift and combines the funds with income from the endowment to effectively double the financial impact of the scholarship. The matching funds become available as soon as the donors sign scholarship guidelines.

Recipients of the Edna Garth Trustee Scholarship will be determined by the College of Health and Human Development scholarship committee in coordination with Penn State's Office of Student Aid.

Mark Krosse said he selected the College of Health and Human Development for the endowment because of its strong programs in family studies and childhood development.

Garth has a strong connection to Penn State. Her son, Gregory, holds an associate's degree from Penn State New Kensington and a bachelor's degree from Penn State Harrisburg. He graduated from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine as a medical doctor.

This past weekend, Garth's family and the Krosse family surprised her at a party in Ford City with the announcement of the Penn State scholarship that's established in her name. "I was so honored and proud," Garth said.

"Edna is one of the most wonderful caring people that Lisa and I have ever met," said Mark Krosse. "She has a natural ability with small children and we wanted to honor this special person in a very special way."

Garth recalled the time she took Nicholas and Jacob to an IHOP restaurant one weekend.

"I always let them order those great big waffles with the faces on," Garth said. "The lady at the counter said, 'The children have such nice manners. Are you their grandmother?' "I said no, I'm their nanny."

"After I paid the bill, Nicholas said, 'Come on, let's go, grandma.' I asked him why he did that? He said, 'Because you treat us like grandma.' They never called me nanny."

Garth said she would take the boys to the store and say to them, "If you touch one thing, you will never go back there again."

"They walked through the store like soldiers," she said.

Garth spent her days and nights taking the boys to places such as Scout meetings, soccer games, the beach, to catch the school bus and violin lessons.

"You are always moving," Garth said. "Everything they were in, I went to."

Garth said she is especially proud of Nicholas' Eagle Scout award and his attending American University as a freshman and having an internship with a congressman on Capitol Hill.

"I expect he will be president of the United States someday," she said.

Garth decided to try her hand as a nanny after the death of her husband.

"I had to get out of Ford City," she said. "My husband was well-known and every time I came out the door everyone looked so sad and I didn't want to be feeling down. I had to get away to feel better. I knew I could be a nanny."

Garth searched for a job as a nanny and in the early 1990s she went to work for the Krosse family who liked her resume of watching children.

"I felt just like family," Garth said. "They were excellent parents. I loved working for them. The boys were so good. God saw to it that I had a nice family to work for."

Mitch Fryer can be reached at or 724-543-1303, ext. 242.


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Top 10 Ways to Care for your Nanny

In an effort to maintain a healthy, loving and long relationship with your nanny, its important to start the relationship off right and to care for your nanny throughout your relationship. Here are some tips!

1. Encourage your nanny to attend a nanny support group. Your nanny needs an outlet and it can really help them to process their experiences with other nannies who are having similar experiences.
2. Always have a daily check-in but certainly have a 6 month and annual check-in about overall job satisfaction and experiences.
3. Value your nanny: Remember important anniversary dates: birthdays and date of hire. Celebrate & acknowledge these dates.
4. When you travel longer than a regular work week, utilize hotel sitters to give your nanny some respite.
5. When your nanny first shows up to your house for employment, welcome her into your family. Decorate her room, bake a cake, have a special dinner. Make sure the children are included!
6. Reward your nanny when they do something that stands out.
7. Treat your nanny as part of the co-parent team
8. Don’t assume, always inquire. Consult with professionals when issues arise. Don’t jump to conclusions!
9. Offer Benefits such as – medical/dental, cell phone, occasional paid day off. Plan for an annual raise and holiday bonus.
10. Use language that empowers and educates your nanny – avoid language that is shaming or judgmental.


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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Top 10 Nanny Safety Tips!

Top 10 Nanny Safety Tips

1) Know your nanny – conduct a thorough background check and acquire a copy of her or his current driving record.

2) Make sure your nanny is CPR/First Aid certified.

3) Create a House Book – keep a binder in your home with important safety information, such as any pertinent emergency phone numbers, hospital and pediatrician addresses, copies of your children’s medical cards, a consent release for your nanny to make decisions in an emergency, etc.

4) Provide your nanny with a cell phone.

5) If your child has allergies, make sure your nanny is well-aware.

6) Be sure your nanny knows your family’s emergency plan.

7) Your nanny should always carry your child’s medical card, pediatrician’s address, and the address of the nearest hospital.

8) First Aid Kits – one for the home, one for your nanny’s car, and a travel-size kit for the stroller.

9) Provide a neighborhood map to be kept in your child’s stroller.

10) Positive communication is key! You don’t want your nanny to be afraid you when an emergency arises.


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Monday, August 4, 2008

Nanny Says: "I'm your Mommy"

"My nanny told my son, "Scott, you have to listen to me, I am your mommy." is this ever okay to do? when I told her that it was not okay, she got very defensive, told me that she needed to be like that with the kids and that I am at work and she is with them more than me. She did not understand that it was simply the words that I did not like. Also, then she changed her stance and said that she did not say that, she said nanny. i feel like it is obvious that i should fire her but i worry about the effect on my kids. She has only been with us for 4 months. any advice?"

Your nanny is absolutely in the wrong here. Her stance and approach is devisive and manipulative and if it continues may harm and confuse your children. Parent & nanny should be working together as a parenting team. It also sounds, at least based on your e-mail she wasn't able to integrate the feedback and concern. Was this due to a language issue between the two of you? Was she scared of you? Sometimes under stress individuals lie and muddle their words.

Now, let's get down to it. You have a couple options here: make it work or plan an appropriate ending. A lot of this depends on the age of the children and your nanny's ego strength. First things first, if you think you can salvage this and she is able to learn from this, then sit down and have a discussion clarifying what is ok and what is not ok. This is not a negotiation- you are the employer stating what you expect.

If she is unable to accept this, then you move to planning an ending. You may also choose to skip right to the ending and not even have a discussion. The best thing to do is have a planned ending. You should speak with the nanny and let her know of your concerns and that you have made a decision that this relationship isn't working out the way you had expected. Think, do you want her to stay for a couple of weeks or a couple of days or a couple of hours?

Plan ahead! Speak with her at the beginning of the work day so that if she just wants to leave the children are present and you are present to manage the situation. Be prepared to stay home that day if necessary. When speaking with her just stick with the facts - make statements that are free from emotion and judgement. If she is able to stay for a few days, or weeks and you feel safe with this and are not worried about her saying or doing harmful things to the children plan a good-bye. Inform the children, decide what you will tell the children. Have a good-bye "party" have the children draw pictures, take a picture of the children with their nanny and give a copy of the pic to the nanny and frame one for each child- nannys are a part of your childs story and children like to hear about who took care of them. Talk about favorite memories, events,etc. Answer the children's questions about where the nanny is going, or why the nanny is going in the least angry and judgemental way possible. They need to understand that they didn't do anything wrong and this is part of a natural transition, a change.

Now, if there is to be an ending, you will need to consider if you will pay severence, if you will write a letter of reference, etc.

Best of luck, please let me know if you have any further questions!


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