Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How's YOUR Nanny?

HowsMyNanny.com is a service run by a New York City prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes who is also a mother of two. Through this site, parents can now purchase a license plate for their strollers that enables the public to anonymously report good or bad nanny observations. Registered parents instantaneously receive an email alerting them to the confidential report. Featured on Good Morning America, Fox News National and endorsed in New York's Daily News, HowsMyNanny.com has been hailed "an honest solution to a tough problem."

People often inquire how the system can deter fraud (i.e. a nanny sending a false report on another nanny whose job she covets). The system has three safeguards on it to deter fraud:

a. The person making the report has to give the date, time and location of the incident they observed. This makes it less likely that a prankster will try to submit a random report as they would not know which state the member lives in.

b. While the person making a report can choose to remain anonymous to the parent/member receiving the report, in order to make a report, the reporter must provide their name, email address and phone number to the site manager. Therefore, while we call it an"anonymous report", no one is ever truly anonymous.

c. If the same email address makes a report (good or bad) 3 or more times, the site manager is automatically notified so they can investigate the matter.

d. Parents are often pleased to hear that the majority of the reports received since the inception of HowsMyNanny.com have been "not anonymous". This means the reporter provided the parent/member with their
contact information so that they could follow up if necessary.

They are working with the INA (International Nanny Association) and NANC (National Association of Nanny Care) to educate parents on how to effectively interview a nanny and to improve communication between the nanny and parent. Nannies understand that this service benefits the good nanny as the praise reports can lead to bonuses and better communication. It is their hope that the service will ultimately weed out the bad nannies as well.

Jill often tells parents that the license plate acts as a deterrent to any harmful or negligent behavior. In the truck driving industry, when they started putting the How's My Driving bumper sticker on the back of trucks, the rate of truck related accidents went down by 20-53%. Drivers realized that because they were now accountable, they had to drive more safely or risk being reported. That in and of itself is the reason all parents with nannies or babysitters should have the plate on their stroller. Having the plate encourages nannies to behave safely.

They have been informed by various "Mommy and Me" type classes that the teachers occasionally observe behavior by the nannies that is less than appropriate. These facilities have informed us that they do not make it a practice to notify the parent (if they see the parent) because they do not want to make the parent feel uncomfortable and not want to return to the establishment. These facilities encourage the use of the HowsMyNanny.com license plate to facilitate communication in these situations.

Jill Starishevsky is interested in learning how many parents would like a HowsMyNanny.com bumper magnet for their car. Some of the suburban moms have asked for this for the nannies that take the children in the car and we are looking to see if there is a need for this addition to the service. They have been working with a car seat safety expert who is encouraging them to implement the bumper magnet in an effort to improve car seat safety and to deter nannies from talking on the cell phone while driving with children in the car. If you have an interest in this, please comment here! 

How do you feel about the www.HowsMyNanny.com license plate? I'd love to hear feedback from parents and nannies!!


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Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Transition Period

The First 3 weeks to 3 months

You’ve found “The One.” Your very own Mary Poppins. A nanny, the person who will partner with you in raising your child. And s/he is arriving tomorrow. Now what?

The first 3 weeks to 3 months is a very critical period in your relationship with your nanny! Poor communication, making assumptions, and not enough time spent educating your nanny about you and your family could easily result in a failed match. How do you avoid this? Read on for The Nanny Doctor’s tips!

The week before your nanny arrives:
Celebrate the arrival of your new nanny and his/her joining your household. There are many things you can do to help your nanny feel welcome!
• For a live-in nanny, tell the kids that you are going to decorate your new nanny’s room. Take them to a party store and ask them to pick out what they think their new nanny will like. Let them pick out whatever they want. What’s important here is they are getting excited about welcoming their new nanny into their home and their lives! If your 5 year-old boy picks out a race car motif – so be it! If you have an infant, decorate the nanny room yourself!
• Live-in or Live-out -Have your children make artwork (drawings or a banner) or handmade cards welcoming their nanny into their home!
• For a live-in, consider sending her a bouquet of flowers from the children that are there waiting in her room upon her arrival!
• Throughout the week, drop your new nanny’s name into conversation. When your child asks about something that you know your new nanny is interested in or will be involved in, say something like, “You know what? I think Katie really likes ballet, I’ll bet she’d love to see you perform on Saturday!”

The first week:
• Plan to be present more than usual during this transition period. This is when you want to spend time with your nanny and educate them about your family.

• Communication is the key! Positive, clear communication – free from emotion and judgment. Discuss what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. Empower your nanny, don’t shame them. Remember, in an emergency, you want the nanny to feel comfortable reaching out to you – not scared.

• Make your child the expert! They may be a little shy at first, but this activity will help them to gain a sense of control over this big change! When your nanny comes over, encourage your child to be the tour guide of your life! Say things like, “What do we do after dinner?” or “What time is nap time again?” Your child will enjoy “schooling” your new nanny and your nanny will appreciate your child’s involvement.

• Plan some sort of activity or plan for the nanny to attend a birthday party or soccer game. When all else fails – make cookies! Baking is a great activity to spend quality time together and start to build a new relationship!

Things to consider:
• Consider your nanny’s own cultural background. Ask your nanny about her own family’s traditions.
• Consider the last “nanny-family” this nanny had. Unless you educate your nanny about your family, s/he will operate off of the last family’s set of family rules. For example, I recently worked with a family where the family was very laid back and informal. They hired their dream nanny and were quickly upset by the way that she shuttled their children away from them in the house and said “No” quite often. The family was upset. When I was called in, I immediately got to the bottom of it with the nanny. What had been going on the whole time was that this nanny had just come from a formal household where children are literally seen and not heard and the nanny would have been fired if the children had been too loud or interrupted the parent’s schedule. By helping that family to identify their own family’s identity and facilitating communication between family and nanny, they are now a happy household and a failed match was avoided!

• Consider any special skills or training that your nanny brings to your family. Acknowledge and value these skills.

• Your new nanny needs to know she has your support! Your children need to see that you are confident and sure of your decision and that you value and respect your new nanny. Back your nanny up in front of the children. If your children behave rudely or inappropriately towards your new nanny ensure that your children know that this is unacceptable. If you disagree with your nanny, back her up in front of the children (unless its clearly a safety issue) and pull her aside after the incident and discuss your differences at that time.

Take it slow and learn from each other! Building this relationship honestly, openly and lovingly will promote a happy, healthy household in the long-term.


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