This Nanny Loves… The Zoo.

I love the zoo. Don’t you? And the zoo is always better with kids, and I mean lots of kids, in tote. Whenever I’m at the zoo with the kids I have a blast! And the more kids there are, the more fun it is. I love the chaos of it all. I love all the different reactions. I love that I have toddlers on ridiculous stuffed animal leashes so that they can explore without getting lifted or lost. I love getting ice cream after we see the animals because zoo days clearly require ice cream. I just love it all. It’s one of the moments I experience as a nanny that makes we excited to have kids of my own someday. (And yes, Sean, lots of kids.) Because more kids  = more fun.

Here were our favorite animals at the zoo. What exhibits do you stay the longest at during your visits?

flamingo feetPenguins at the zooThese sweet little birds always hold our attention spans the longest, making us laugh hard and stare longingly because “no, we can’t take them home with us today kids”. As I watch the kids at the zoo, looking at these animals, I see their little wheels turning and I wonder what they could be imagining? The zoo is a magical place for children. And yes, for nannies, too.

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A Case of the Mondays

We had a really bad case of the Mondays. It was rainy. We were tired; of one another, of being inside, of everything about the day. I wanted to pull my hair out and I didn’t care how bad it would hurt. But I didn’t. Instead I decided to find something we could all do together. Typically when I’m bothered with the little ones I don’t try to take time away, instead I drop everything I have to do or should do and I dive head first into a game or activity with them. I don’t know why, but this always cures me. So I thought and thought, and then I remembered a post from my favorite blog last week. And like magic, our Monday turned right around. Ultimate forts have a way of doing that, you know?

tent fort

As they played I couldn’t help but snap a picture and send it to my mom. There were so many days when me and my siblings would work hard creating our ultimate fort. And our mom always let us keep it for days at a time. It became our home inside our home. We would pull our sleeping bags and flashlights in it, staying up late and sleeping in the next morning. It is a feeling I treasure. Wanting these kids to have that same nostalgic memory, I let them make a mess as big as they wanted inside. They built puzzles, we read stories in crazy voices, they told secrets and even watched a movie. And I still haven’t asked for them to take it down. Why would I? Truth be told, I kind of like it, too.tent tent top

Whats your best cure for Monday’s? And have you made a fort lately? I highly recommend it! They’re not just for kids. And be sure to stop over and check out my favorite blog today.

heat wave

When you’re a nanny on hot days, you only have one choice: fill up the kiddie pool, roll up your skirt and bring your coffee outside for the morning. And when they spray you with the hose, don’t complain! Just grab it and spray them back. Hey, it’s a Darwinian world– only the strong survive.
poolside nanny spraying me

Now turn off your computer and go play in the sun!

Hope you’re surviving the heat this summer. What are your nanny survival tips for the summer?

Visiting Leelanau County

This past week, the family I work for, asked me to travel with them to Leelanau County. I said, “yes!” of course! Leelanau County ,in addition to being one of the most amazing places on Earth, also happens to be where I grew up.  So, we packed up their car and headed up North for the week! We would be staying at the Homestead, in Glen Arbor, Michigan and I couldn’t wait to spend the week with the kids, running around, jumping in the pool and exploring the beaches for rocks.

homestead signski lift at homesteadAs the week slipped by, I couldn’t believe how easy it was traveling with this family. I’ve traveled with many families before, but traveling with this family took me back to my own childhood. Part of this nostalgia may have been linked to the fact that we were in my hometown, but a larger part of it was watching the playful and loving relationships between the siblings develop. Being around, or rather, being a part of a large family lets me enter my comfort zone. How fortunate I was to spend the week with this family.Feet on dock at homesteadRiver at homestead

Wednesday morning, I had a few hours to myself. Around the woods and down the beach I walked, feeling so at home being back in Leelanau, feeling so happy to have moments of silence, feeling so thankful to have had this beautiful nature surround me. Bridge at homesteadbeach peebles on the beachbeach at the homestead

Now I’m itching to get back up North! Soon, very soon.

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?

Yes, But Who Dressed the Nanny?

Today I’m going to talk about fashion. Errrr.. well kind of… Insert hysterical laughter here.

You see, the kids I watch always look cute. Yes, even when their clothes don’t match and they have three different patterns on. It doesn’t seem fair sometimes. Because after getting their hair brushed, their teeth brushed, their shoes tied, we have to leave and there isn’t much time to pull myself together after all that getting ready. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, don’t you go to work ready? Well, yes, I do, of course. But after getting little ones ready, as any caregiver can vouch for, you tend to come a little unraveled at the seams. In my case, to put it honestly, I’m usually a mess. And even though the kids laugh at my crazy hair days and different socks, I can’t always find the humor. Hey, I’m not asking to look great, I just want to look human.

So how excited was I when I finally got on board the maxi skirt boat?! Seriously, this one little piece of clothing is a nanny’s dream for so many reasons. Like, 1.I feel super comfortable; 2. I can still play at the park and 3. I look like I actually got dressed (until people’s eyes get to my head and see my hair).

maxi skirt

Really though, the maxi skirt may be the one thing to change my life this 2013… is that shallow? Come on, other caregivers out there have to feel the same way, too, right?

Even Nannies Have Troubles.

So caregivers, what do you do when that moment of much needed silence hits your day? When you can stop and breathe. When you can sigh and let your shoulders go. Sometimes, there are days when this childless silence is needed more than most. When your humor is going down the drain with the food children threw on the floor and the snacks they refused to eat. Sometimes it is just plain hard to do what we do. Sometimes I feel exhausted. Sometimes I doubt myself for sticking to my guns. Sometimes I wish I could be the caregiver who practiced empty threats, because then I wouldn’t have toddlers mad at me. But that’s not who I am. And that’s not who this family hired to help raise their children.

We nannies helping to raise a generation. These children will grow up someday and they will need to be equipped with the right values and lessons to survive. These babies will become their own people without our supervision. People who need to follow rules. People who need to practice kindness. People who need to earn rewards for themselves. People who need to value their words.

Sometimes that seems like an awfully big responsibility for a nanny. But it doesn’t mean I can give up or give in. What it means is that… I have to have to stick to what the rules are, I have to practice kindness (even in the face of tantrums), I have to go through with punishments and I need to value my own words by allowing my actions to match my spoken consequences; even if it isn’t fun, even if they don’t like it, even if it’s tiring and hard. Because I am raising people, strong people who need me to be strong, too.

So in this rare moment of silence, I am choosing to reflect back on my day and remind myself that even though it was hard doesn’t mean I acted wrong. My exhaustion is rooted in doing what is right for these kids. And this afternoon, when the sleeping bears wake, it will be a fresh chance for hugs and kisses, for stories and playing. Because, in my silence, I remember there is value in what I do and there is eternal love for these little chickadees; who despite the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, always find a way to make me smile.