This Nanny Loves::: Snack Kebabs

There have been a lot of table battles over here. The kind of epic proportions where someone goes screaming into timeout and the rest of us pretend like we can’t hear the noise in the kitchen. So when things get tough, I get out my battle swords and stick food on them. For some reason, no one fights the kebab snack. And for whatever reason, I don’t really care, because as long as we’re eating and happy, I’m not going to question it!

Here are some of our favorite afternoon snack kebabs! Am I the only one who does this little trick?  Kabob 1Kabob 3Kabob 2

 

We’re almost through the week. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

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This Nanny Loves…Despicable Me Crafts

With all of these rainy days, we’ve been watching a few more movies than our sunny schedule would include. But life is about moderation, and sometimes you just need to curl on the couch and watch a Disney movie!  One afternoon after watching our new favorite: Despicable Me, the kids and I sat down and made our own Minions. Because come on, who doesn’t want their own Minion?minion craft 1minion craft 2

And after much work, these little guys were born. Pretty cute, huh? Yes, we’re keeping them around! For as long as we can.

minion craft 5

minion craft 4(That guy on the right is a Minion in the mind of three year old. Do you see his hair and eye?)

minion craft 3Which movies did your charges take to this season?

We are Getting Ready to…

Tired from an early morning and an all together crazy week (I know it’s only Tuesday),I  decided to follow a prompt from http://www.bloggymoms.com… I might not be a mom, but I spend enough time helping them out to qualify for just one blog assist. Thanks for sharing http://www.bloggymoms.com!

We are getting ready to… NAP!

Actually, they just went down, but as they nestle into their beds it’s safe to use this opportunity to talk about napping and nannying and napping while the nanny is here. I am pretty consistent at a naptime routine, which makes all the difference around here. The kids definitely know that there is time to play and there is a time to sleep and when it’s time to sleep, this nanny doesn’t play around. Because they know this, naptime typically runs like well oiled machine.

Our naptime routine is as such:

1. Clean up our toys. Always easier said than done, but the older they get, the easier and quicker this process becomes!

2. Pull-ups on. If Step 2 is followed accordingly we advance to Step 3, if not, we just go to Step 4.

3. Everyone picks out one book. Yes, even me. We normally read our books on the couch because it’s easier for us to transition up to our beds this way.

4. Up the stairs with blankets, toys, waters, and oh yah, kids, too!

5. Lights off, curtains shut, sound machine and fan on.

6. Blankets on. Kisses. And the following dialogue everyday, “I love you both.”

“We love you, too.”

“Who else loves you?”

“Mommy and Daddy! ” (Some days they add in extra people too, to which I say, “Yes, everyone loves you! How could they now!?”)

“That’s right, they love you very much, no matter where they are. Now rest your eyes and I will see you soon.”

7. Door closes. No going back. Ever.

8. Giant sigh from me. Finally- silence!

How do you run naptimes a your place? Do you savor the silence once the door closes like I do?

Happy Tuesday all!

Trail Mix

Thursday confession: I’m freakish about cupboards filled with bags and bags and bags of food. Especially when the bags and bags and bags of food only have a handful of food left in them. Do you know what I mean, though? I’m not totally crazy, right? And why is it that kids never want that last handful of food; no matter how hard you beg?  Isn’t it the same food they had for a snack yesterday, just with less in the bag? Oh the mysteries of youth.

So, when I’m at work and I notice this phenomenon consuming our cupboards, I take it upon myself to make a big batch of trail mix. There is no method to my madness when I start. I just take every bag of food and dump it into one container. Then, we pick at the trail mix all day…at the park for our morning snack, after our picnic, after nap and again when the other kiddos get off the bus. You’d be surprised at how quickly the trail mix goes even though it was just all the food no one wanted a few days ago.

ful view trail mixtrail mix

Do you have any household confessions you’d like to share today?

Tricks for Great Picnics

Every day I go to work, I think, “Thank God I do what I do.” Then when we go to the park for picnics, I say it again, and again, and again. Being a Nanny is the best career in the world!

Once Spring comes, I believe in going on regular picnics. After being locked inside for months with all that snow, it’s refreshing, for all parties involved, to get outside for a morning of playing at the park followed by a picnic. With years of nannying under my belt, I’ve learned a few tricks about how to take the nannying show on the road and out of the house for a day.

Here are some of our tips for great picnics!

1. Don’t sacrifice good food just because you’re away from the kitchen. When I first starting nannying, I thought going on picnics meant only eating PBJ sandwiches and juice boxes. Big mistake. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a good PBJ, but the more picnics I experienced, the more I realized that I don’t have to leave all of our “good” food at home. Now, I just bring it along with us. Interestingly, I have learned that bringing a pre-made salad or our favorite: pesto; is actually easier to bring than messy sandwiches. And it’s a bonus for me, too, because my metabolism certainly can’t keep up with all of that kid food. pestoWhat are you favorite picnic lunches?

2. Pack your sun screen. Duh. Who wants a sunburn?

3. Keep your picnic blanket in your car. I always keep my picnic blanket in the car. With two-year olds sitting at picnic tables is a challenge! The distance between the seat and the table itself makes it hard for little bodies to lean in for their food without falling forward. Also,  a lack of backing on the picnic tables makes it very hard to eat and chatter without falling backward. Because we’ve learned these lessons the hard way around here, I am sure to always keep my blanket in my car. A huge bonus for me with this trick is that as long as I keep the blanket in my car and only take it out for picnics, I can never forget it, because it’s always with us. In turn, we never have to deal with those pesky picnic tables again. There’s nothing better than lounging on a big red blanket while we eat! Then, after we’re done making eating our lunch mess meals, all we have to do it shake it off and throw it back into the trunk!

4. Pack small to-go containers. The mom I work for is always buying these cute portion-sized containers of hummus and other side dishes. Recently she found out that Jif makes to-go peanut butter! Luckily, we don’t have any peanut butter allergies here, because taking our Jif to-gos with us to the park makes snacking away from the house much easier! We can get some much needed protein, as well as a sweet-fix in one sitting. These are perfect for dipping pretzels, apples and animal crackers in without bringing a mess along.  If you haven’t bought any before and you have some peanut butter loving charges, I highly recommend them!peanut butter

5. Don’t forget your favorites at home. I used to a have a “no toys outside of the house” rule. I was always worried about having to keep track of more things and leaving “someone” important behind. I have since revised my rule to “if you can carry it, then you can bring it” rule. The truth is, I have learned, that if a child brings along a favorite toy to the park, it teaches them to be responsible for something other than themselves. It encourages them to love and nurture, as well.

One day, we brought Buzz along to the park and their imaginations soared! They pushed him on the swing & down the slide and he even got to join us for our picnic. There is always room on the red blanket for one more! The hardest part was keeping Buzz out of trouble!DSCF6685

What are your tricks of the picnic trade? Do you spend as much time on picnics as we do in the summer?

Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel.

There comes a point in every nanny’s career when you realize that your little birdies aren’t really so little anymore. It’s very bittersweet, but it’s also incredibly exciting, too. Because this means those young minds you’ve been helping develop are now beginning to sync with your own. All that molding and hard work is shifting in your favor. Suddenly all the pictures you once wanted to color, they are now interested in coloring, too. That park you wanted to visit, well guess what?! Now they want to go, too! And the best part of all… they suddenly want to play board games with you! If you’ve never played a board game with a preschooler, you are really missing out. The preschooler’s mind is ripe yet naive. They are new to competition, which means you can teach them how to compete with style, with humor, with class. Luckily for the world, they aren’t sassy and they aren’t mean. They just want to play. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about: good ol’ clean fun!

This week, my little birdy, who is almost three years-old, and I played our first game together. I’d never played it before, but I’m pretty sure it changed my life just as much as it changed her’s. Drum roll please…. announcing the GREATEST game on Planet Earth: Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel!

As we sat playing, just she and I, we laughed and poked humorous fun at one another. There were lots of sound effects like “doot” and “gah”, “”yeeeks” and “yelp”. And for every ridiculous sound effect there was just as many squeals of laughter. In all honesty, this moment tops my list of top ten favorite nannying moments. She was enthralled in the game and she wanted to learn. But, on the flip side, she also knew she was ignorant. She knew she had to look for me for direction for the first part of our game. She needed me to show her the way. And I was more than happy to! And I like to think I taught her with style, with humor and most importantly, with some serious class.

Do you and your little birdies have favorite games to play? Please share them below.

Nanny Must Haves

This week’s list of Nanny Must-Haves includes but is not limited to…

1. Coffee.

coffeeI have to feed my morning addiction. Sometimes, I even feed it in the afternoon. And while I know all that caffeine can’t be the best for me, I’m a much better dancer, pretender, chef extraordinaire, basketball player, hide-and-seeker, painter…and so the list goes… when I have my morning coffee.  How two-year old’s don’t consume coffee and have that much energy is beyond me.

2. Bubble Gum. Gum

It’s my best bargaining device ever. With years of experimental proof behind this claim, I can guarantee GUM to give any nanny a sense of peace throughout their day. Going on a long car ride with an unwilling toddler? There’s gum for that! Need to stop at the grocery store a little too close to meal time? There’s gum for that! I’m not saying I believe in bribing children…wait, yes I am. A little sugar-less gum never hurt anyone.

3. Library Card.

Books bW

We have a close, personal relationship with our local librarian. As she says, “when they walk in here, they look like they own place!” To which I tell her, “probably because they do think that!” Their confidence, however, is attributed to the fact that I have been taking the twins to story time since they were one. They are incredibly comfortable there because it is a part of their normal routine. The librarian has even started calling them the President and Vice-President of her Fan Club. When things are rough at home, we load up and head to the library, where some extra hugs from the librarian always recharge our positive attitude levels. Going to story time and connecting with the library has helped to instill a passion for reading at a very young age, as well as increased their self-esteem and social skills. If your little kiddos are looking for something to do, I highly recommend this from one nanny to the other.

4. Creativity.

BW PlaydoughWith each of the families I have worked for, art has always been a priority. I like to craft and create, so naturally, I want my little ones to experience the same pleasure. My philosophy at art time? We all have a right to create, whatever way we choose, but please, don’t paint the furniture.

While the Parents are Away, the Nanny Will Stay

After a day spent with little ones, there comes your first moment of silence. It’s blissful. Jubilant,  even. And then you realize that still echoing in your head are the voices of those little chicks. And then you realize, huh- this is kind of boring now that they’re asleep. Because, for as much work as it can sometimes seem, those little chicks totally make your day worthwhile. This past week, I have been doing overnights with the family I work for. It has been crazy & fun, stressful & hilarious, but above anything else: satisfying.

I love the last moments of the night (before you turn off the light and hear screaming). I love the snuggling in the rocker and re-capping our days. I love the extra time to make a connection and feel the love. Really, I do. There aren’t many jobs people enjoy having overtime at, but working as a nanny definitely has that perk.

And while the cats have been away, we mice have sure played. And as my week winds down, I thought I would reflect on things that I have learned and done. 

1. Choices. I’m typically pretty good with giving kids choices, but when parents are away there is a larger tendency for kids to want control. And it makes sense: their lives have been a bit rocked, they may feel like you are attempting to boss them around or “be their parent”, and suddenly this person they are used to seeing leave at 5pm is watching them in their pj’s, watching them wake up, eat breakfast, all of those things they would normally do with their parents and not you.  And honestly it is strange.

I’m the type of person who likes boundaries myself, so when I feel like my boundaries are being encroached on, my defense mechanism is to recoil and take control of everything I can. This is the same feeling a lot of kids have when their parents leave. As a caregiver I have learned the best thing I can do is boost up my Love & Logic in these situations. I am all about choices. I am so about choices that by the end of the week the kids just tell me to decide myself and stop asking. But this is a much better option to be than having them storm to their rooms, fight you and be bitter the entire week, wouldn’t you agree? And hey, I like choices, so why wouldn’t they? 

2. Routine. Thankfully I work in a home that runs like clockwork. It’s sometimes chaotic clockwork, but it’s clockwork nonetheless. This is mostly because the parents  I work for have taught their children how to respect themselves, their caregivers, their house and their time. Yeah, I’m pretty lucky. And a very important note: the children have a pretty normal routine they are comfortable with. They know their expectations. They know the rules. They know the schedule.

It was really important for me to carry on with those expectations, rules and & schedule, even while their parents were away. Yes, it’s fun to be the “cool nanny”, to break the rules and let them veg in front of a TV and not have to communicate with one another (wait, no it’s not!). But more than being fun, kids need to feel normal. I needed to give them the closest thing to normal that they knew so that their separation anxiety wouldn’t intensify.Completely throwing off their routine simply to have fun would have been selfish on my part. Plus, there are always ways to have fun within the rules, you just have be creative. 

3. Recognition. This is definitely the easiest one to to add to the mix. In an odd way to connect this philosophy I think of how I felt the summer Sean was in India. It was terrible. The person I trusted and loved the most was gone. In general it was just very lonely. But, when I would go out and people would pay me the extra mind, I could feel my spirit lift. When friends would send a quick text or note of encouragement my happiness would rise. Positive energy smothers bad feels any day of the week! We have all felt it, so we know it’s true.

So one thing I am sure to do when parents are gone to thicken my compliments. “Wow, thanks for helping with your dishes this morning.”And, “hey, I was watching you in basketball and I noticed you were the only kid who…” Not to mention that I “sent your mom a text about how well you have been getting up in the mornings and how kind you have been”. That last one always knocks it out of the park! Kids LOVE knowing you have been praising them to their parents. It shows them that you went the extra mile to not only notice it, but report back. Often nannies get a rap for only reporting the bad stuff, so reporting the good stuff is a great thing to do! I don’t think it’s always necessary to reward kids for their behavior with gifts. It can definitely help, but in general I think taking the time to pay the compliment sticks with them longer than anything else. 

And the best news of all is that I survived the week! And everyone was happy and smiling, still liking each other and me. So, here’s to the start of fun and relaxing weekend- sans children.