Goodbyes are so hard.

I’ve been with “my” girls since they were itty bitty, teensy tiny little 3 month olds. Basically just little eating, sleeping, and pooping blobs of cuteness. I’ve watched them hit each of their milestones – first time sitting up, first crawl, first steps, first words, etc. I’ve been there to kiss their boo-boos, hold their hands as they toddled around unable to walk on their own, and to clap the loudest as they mastered things they’d been working on for weeks.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. After 4 wonderful years, my job with the girls is coming to a close. Their mom’s job is changing so she’ll be able to be home with them and they’ll be starting preschool in the fall. It’s one of those things that as a nanny you know is inevitable. You know the entire time you’re working with them that they aren’t your kids, and while you’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in their daily lives for a few years, it’s going to come to an end at some point. Of course that doesn’t make the goodbye any easier. They say it’s a grieving process. I’d definitely agree with that.

When you’re in a child’s life almost daily for so long, especially from infancy, you form a strong bond with them. You can’t help it. That bond is something extremely important in their development. But it also makes moving on that much harder.

I’ve had just about every worry and thought pass through my mind about not seeing them every day. Ranging from “will they forget me?” to “will I love my next kids as much as I love them?” I know I will, but I still can’t help but think that. My first thought was “I don’t want them to think I abandoned them.” Realistically, I know they won’t. We’ve talked about it every day since the decision was made. We’ve talked about how I’ll always be their nanny, but I’m going to take care of other kids now. M doesn’t want to hear that I have interviews or that I have to go talk to someone about taking care of their babies and I get that. But I also think it’s important to keep them aware of what’s happening so it doesn’t seem like it snuck up on them. I want them to be prepared for it.

It’s definitely going to be a transition period, for them and for me. Its going to be extremely hard not seeing them everyday and I’m going to miss our conversations and their laughter the most. I’ll still be in their life and plan on having special dates with them where we go do something extra fun, but man, it’s going to be tough.

I can honestly say there hasn’t been a day that I’ve woken up and said “I don’t want to go to work” in the past 4 years. I think that’s pretty special. I’ve truly been incredibly lucky and blessed to have had this job and for so long.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”


Aly

Another Summer has come and gone

I know, I know. I’ve been terrible at updating this!

We’ve been doing plenty of things around here though. Summer had me pretty busy including lots of time spent with all 4 kids (and thus switching up houses and normal routines) while J and Z’s daycare/school was closed. We did lots of water play, walks, My Gym classes, a trip to the state fair, art, and a lot of our concentration was on practicing writing letters and even delving into beginning to read. The girls are now writing all their letters with minimal help (at 3 1/2!) and writing some words on their own. Wahoo! More on that later though!

Hopefully I’ll find some time soon to get more of our projects up here!


Aly

What We’ve Been Up To

I realized that I haven’t done a real “what we’ve been doing” kind of post up since mid-October. So, without further ado, here’s what the girls and I have been up to!

Let’s start with the end of October and November. These were some of our fall activities!

Fall wreaths. Dirt pudding. Thanksgiving “thankful turkeys”. Pine cone bird feeders.

Next up is December. These are some of our Christmas activities. We spent a good portion of December at my other nanny family’s house since his school was closed for the holiday, so we didn’t do as many arts and crafts things as we typically do, and somehow I didn’t take as many pictures of what we did do as I usually do.

Gingerbread house. Christmas presents for their parents.

Here’s some of the other activities we’ve done to keep us busy during the brutally cold days we’ve had.

Baking soda and vinegar science project. Bounce house. Kinetic sand. Microwave play dough. Making snow in our sensory bin.

I try to do one outing or one bigger project (art, science, working on math, writing, etc) each day. We still don’t watch TV or have any screen time (with the exception of the very few sick days, and even then it’s limited to one show). Occasionally, I let the girls have more of a free play type day where I don’t necessarily structure something, but we still have a schedule we follow which I’ll elaborate on in another post.


Aly

Why You Need A Plan

Its 2am. You sit up straight in bed because your house alarm is blaring. Do you know what to do? Do your children know what to do?


Source

This is why you need a plan.

As scary as it is (trust me, I’ve lived it), imagine someone has broken into your house. You have no idea where or why this person is in your house. Will your kids stay in their room? Do you want them to?

I’m not saying terrify yourself and your kids so much that no one ever sleeps again. However, in modern times, it’s important to have this conversation in some context. Have a conversation where you teach your kids that when they hear that alarm go off, they know what to do, whether it be climb under their bed and hide or run to your bedroom. Run through it a few times so that it’s not something they really have to think about it. You don’t have to go into detail about why they need to hide, or why they need to run as fast as they can to your bedroom. Keep it simple – “If you hear this noise (try to get a clip of what your alarm sounds like and play it) it means it’s time to play a game. I know it can be loud and scary, but it means that you need to ________________ (hide under your bed, in your closet, or run to mommy and daddy’s room) and it’s very important that you do it. Let’s practice!” Don’t expect kids to sleep through it even though they might. And have a plan for if that happens as well.

Talk about this scenario with your spouse first to make sure you’re both on the same page and that you know what each of your roles are.

You should also have a fire emergency plan as well as a weather emergency plan, in particular if you live in a part of the country that regularly has severe storms, tornadoes, and/or hurricanes (or any other weather events). The best time to plan for these things is before they happen. You aren’t thinking clearly when you’re woken up or when you’re in a state of panic. But if you, your spouse, and your children have a plan and have practiced it before, you’ll be able to breathe a teensy bit easier.

Yes, fellow nannies, this also applies to you as well. Although you probably won’t have to deal with the middle of the night waking due to the alarm (unless you’re doing an overnight), what if it goes off during the day? Have a plan in place so that you don’t panic (as much).


Aly

One of the most talked about Super Bowl commercials

Sometimes, the important things are hard to talk about. Just because it’s hard to talk about doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. Case in point, the meaning behind the Nationwide Super Bowl commercial [I’ll put the video at the end of this post if you haven’t seen it.] The gist of the commercial is a little boy saying things he didn’t get to do because he died (from a preventable accident). The commercial shows a few of these accidents (open window on an upper floor, chemicals under the sink, a TV that has fallen over, etc). Each of these scenarios can be prevented.

While many people were in an uproar over how harsh or shocking the commercial was, the point of it is that it’s supposed to be that way. It’s meant to get a very serious message across. Think about how many people are talking about it in person and on social media. Would those people be talking about preventing deaths and injuries just in normal conversation? No way. It was definitely a commercial you watch and at the end you’re left with a strong reaction towards it. At least I was. Sure, they could have gone a different direction with the ad, and perhaps left the little boy out at the end. But would it have been as meaningful? Would it have gotten through to as many people? I’m not sure. But this one definitely did. And what better place to show a commercial that would make everyone stop and think than the Super Bowl?

At the end of the commercial, they provide a website to visit (http://makesafehappen.com/). If you go to the website, it gives you lots of safety tips categorized by age, location, and risk factor. Sure, it was made by Nationwide, but the commercial had nothing to do with insurance. It was essentially a PSA on keeping children safe. If this commercial gets through to one person and makes that person go home and add a lock to their cabinet or anchor their furniture or not go answer that phone call while their child is in the bathtub, isn’t it worth it? If one child’s life is saved, it’s worth it to me.

Now, lets get away from the hoopla about whether or not it was an “appropriate” commercial and onto the meaning behind it. A lot of parents don’t realize how many accidents can happen in their home, particularly in the instance of furniture falling over. Let’s face it. Most adults don’t climb on dressers or up shelves or climb on other furniture so we don’t think about a dresser tipping over on us. But children do climb. “In 2010…unstable furniture sent about 23,600 people – the highest number since 2006 – to emergency rooms. Most of the injured were less than 10 years old.” (Source) In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), one child dies every 2 weeks because of furniture tipping over on them. (Source) One child’s death is too many, let alone one every 2 weeks. The solution? Anchor your TV and any and all furniture that has the possibility of tipping. (dressers, bookshelves, armoires, etc) When you go to cover all your plugs to make sure little fingers don’t go into them, make sure you remember to anchor your furniture too.

A new “thing” that has been happening is children being poisoned by the dish washing or laundry detergent pods (which was one of the accidents in the commercial). I mean they’re colorful and typically smell good. Why wouldn’t a child want to taste it? Every day, over 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned. (Source) Be sure to always have a child proof lock on cabinets that contain chemicals and medicines. Also, make sure you know the national poison control hotline number (1-800-222-1222).

Overall, small things (definitely not limited to the things I talked about above) that take 5-10 minutes to do could save your child’s life. Why not do them? Hopefully this commercial made people more aware and inspired them to prevent as much as they can.


Aly

Day in the Life with Three Year Olds

I haven’t done one in awhile, and now that the girls have just turned 3, I figured today was as good of a day as any! So here’s a day in the life (DITL) as a nanny for twin 3 year olds. Fair warning, DITL posts are always pretty long (and this one has no pictures – whoops!)

8:00 – I arrive and set my stuff down. E is cuddling with her mom, and M is still asleep! This is pretty unusual as both are usually up and playing by the time I get here. She must have been worn out from her birthday party the day before!

8:15 – We hear M waking up so E and I decide to hide under a blanket. When M comes down, E pulls it off and we say boo. M thinks it’s pretty funny.

8:20 – We play. M wants to show me how she colored in Sophia’s purple dress in a coloring book. E works on her name puzzle.

8:30 – We read books. The girls want a few Fancy Nancy books and Frosty the Snowman this morning.

8:45 – Time for breakfast! We all head upstairs to make breakfast. Before I can start, M insists on showing me all of her favorite presents from their birthday party. While the eggs are cooking, I wash the dishes that are in the sink.

9:10 – The girls and I sit down while they eat their breakfast. Today, E is having eggs, pancakes with spreadable fruit, oatmeal, raspberries and water, while picky pants little M sticks with just raspberries, pancakes with spreadable fruit, cereal, and milk. We talk about a variety of subjects including the weather, what shapes they’re making their pancakes into as they take bites, what our plans are for the day, etc.

9:50 – The girls finally finish their breakfast. Usually they finish in under 30 minutes, but we weren’t in any rush today, so we talked a lot, and I didn’t encourage them to eat any faster. I have the girls carry their plates and fork and put them in the sink. This a new “chore” we just started. The girls enjoy helping. Then, I help them wash their hands. [A good trick for proper hand washing is to put the soap on their hands, turn off the water, and have them sing their ABC’s while they’re rubbing their hands together. Once the song is done, then the water goes back on and have them rinse] The girls head downstairs to play while I wash their breakfast dishes.

10:00 – I join the girls downstairs and start folding a load of their laundry. The girls go “monster hunting” while I fold.

10:20 – In between multiple trips to help the girls monster hunt, I finally finish folding laundry. Now it’s time to get the girls’ dressed. E is up first. She takes off her own pajamas and then we work on getting herself dressed. She can do her undies and pants, but still needs help with her shirt. She’s getting it though!

10:25 – Now, it’s M’s turn. She undresses herself and then puts on her own socks, undies, and pants. She’s still working on getting her own shirt on too. [I like to encourage kids to do simple tasks like getting undressed and dressed on their own. It helps foster independence and problem solving, as well as cognitive development. Of course I’m always there to help them if they need it.]

10:30 – Time to do the girls’ hair. E is obsessed with having a fishtail braid every single day and refuses all other options I give her. As much as I want to change it up every once in a while, I fully believe in picking your battles with kids. This is one battle I’m not willing to fight. Fishtail braid it is. M is much more willing to allow me to do whatever my heart desires to her hair. Today I decide on a simple side braid.

10:45 – Potty time. Since we’re about to leave, I have each girl go potty. I also brush their teeth at this point too.

10:55 – We go upstairs and get the girls’ shoes and coats on.

11:00 – We are finally out the door (Note: This wasn’t a typical day for us. Usually, if we’re meeting someone for a play date or heading to My Gym, we need to be out the door by 10:15. But since it was just us, our timing was more flexible.)

11:15 – We stop at the bank. While waiting in line for the ATM, we talk about what the people who work at a bank are called and what their job is.

11:35 – Today, our main adventure is going to Petco. I need to buy dog food and the girls love going here with me. They have mini shopping carts for the girls to push around and, of course, lots of animals to look at. We take our time and visit almost every animal in the store (the exception being the cats up for adoption, since we stop there right before checking out). We talk about why they’re in the the tanks they are in and what they eat. We talk about what they would feel like to touch and the girls pick out their favorites. We also talk about what the worker is doing (cleaning out the cages) and why they need to do that as well as counting how many of each animal we see. After that, we grab the dog food. Just before heading to check out, we stop by the cats for adoption. They ask for me to tell them what their names are, so I do (they have little info sheets on each cat’s cage). We discuss their different colors and what they’re currently doing. Then we talk about how they’re in the cages because they’re hoping to find homes. Then it’s time to checkout.

12:15 – We leave Petco.

12:25 – We’re home and I make the girls’ lunch. They play with different toys while I get everything ready.

12:45 – E finishes her lunch. So we wash her hands and then she heads downstairs to play.

12:50 – M finishes her lunch. We wash her hands and then I send her downstairs to play as well. I wash their lunch dishes and empty the dishwasher.

1:00 – I go downstairs and we start our nap time routine by going potty (I can’t say I miss diapers one bit!)

1:10 – I pick out a book for what we call “milk and book time” (clever, I know 😉 ) I read the book to them and then take E to her room and sing her two songs (she chooses – usually it’s Itsy Bitsy Spider and The Alphabet Song). I leave her room and then take M upstairs. She has chosen a short book and we sit in her rocking chair and read it before I tuck her into bed.

1:30 – Girls are in bed (although not asleep). I take this time to eat my lunch, update my planner, and do some recipe searching and planning activities for us to do.

1:50 – E is sound asleep, but M is still awake (not surprising since she slept in this morning).

2:35 – After lots of singing and playing and talking in her bed, M finally gives in and goes to sleep.

4:15 – The girls are still snoozing away, but it’s time to wake them up. I get M first, and we stop in the kitchen for the girls’ recent favorite snack – yogurt tubes, and their drinks. We go downstairs and put their drinks and snacks down and then it’s time for M to go potty. While she’s doing that, I get E and by then it’s her turn on the potty.

4:20 – The girls sit down and eat.

4:30 – Snack is over, now it’s playtime! We play none other than Frozen. I’m Anna, M is Elsa, and E is Olaf.

4:45 – The girls ask to open up our sensory bin which currently has brown kinetic sand, cookie cutters, stacking cups, and spoons. I open it up and of course they want to bring their Frozen toys in it. I narrow it down to just the plastic Elsa and plastic Olaf since they clean up easier.

5:00 – The girls’ dad comes down and it’s time for me to leave to head to my other nanny job!


Aly

Growing Lima Beans

One of my favorite but easiest science project is growing lima beans. I use it to teach about the life cycle of plants and also give kids a “job” (watering and caring for a plant). All you need are dried lima beans (you can find these at every grocery store), a paper towel, sandwich bag, tape, a window, a cup, and soil.

First, talk about what the lima bean looks like now. Is it soft? Smooth? Bumpy? Etc. Then help your child wet a paper towel enough so that it’s pretty damp but not dripping. Have your child fold the paper towel in half with the lima bean in the middle and then place it in the sandwich bag. Tape it to a window that gets a good amount of sun.

Observe the lima bean over the next few days. It won’t destroy it to take it out of the bag and paper towel. Just be gentle with it if the roots start growing through the paper towel. Be sure to keep the paper towel damp. Talk about what the bean looks like and feels like after it’s been in the paper towel for a few days. Here’s what ours looked like after 4 days.

Once your bean has sufficient root growth (see above picture), it’s time to transfer it to a cup. We found our cups in the dollar spot of Target, but any cup will do. Have your child put enough soil in the cup so that it’s about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Encourage them to dig a small hole in the middle of the soil and help them gently put their lima bean in root side down and then cover with soil. Then have them water it enough so that the soil is wet but not soaked.

During the next few days allow them to water it and watch for it to pop up to the surface.

As the days pass, your lima bean plants will grow taller and may need more room to grow. Transfer them to a bigger pot if needed.

Eventually, it will produce flowers and then bean pods.

Extend the activity: Read a book about how seeds and beans grow. This book is my favorite, especially for younger children (even 2-3 year olds can grasp the concepts in this book, but it’s also appropriate for older kids). Print out ***sequence cards and help your child put them in the correct order. Talk about what plants need to grow and how your plant is getting them. You can even discuss photosynthesis.

*** Note: You can take out some of the sequence cards from the link provided to make it more simple for younger children.


Aly

Shaving Cream Fun!

One activity that I’ve seen just about every kid I’ve done it with love is playing with shaving cream. There’s something about watching it change from a gel to a foam (if you use that kind) and then spreading it all over a table and making a huge mess that kids just love.

As a bonus, spreading shaving cream also helps get rid of build up gunk and grime on tabletops. It will leave a bit of a film on most tables, but you can easily get that off with a baby wipe or a damp paper towel.

This activity gets pretty messy, most kids have it up to their shoulders by the time it’s over. So, I suggest putting them in old clothes or an art smock.

If you have a young child who would put the shaving cream in their mouth, I suggest using whipped cream or cool whip!

Extend the Activity: After your child gets bored with just playing in the shaving cream, encourage them to draw shapes or write letters and words. You can also add some food coloring or finger paint to color the shaving cream. Add two colors and encourage mixing to create new colors.


Aly

Screen Time or No Screen Time?

I am a firm believer in no screen time under the age of two. After that, I believe in as little as possible. Why, you may ask? Why would you is my answer. For technical purposes, when I say screen time I mean television, computers, tablets, and cell phones.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2. Children need the interaction, in person, with others. Particularly in the first two years, the brain is setting up a foundation for the rest of the child’s life. It is based on interactions and experiences with the world around them. How their brain is wired depends on concrete materials, not watching things happen on a screen in front of them. Children, especially young children, absolutely thrive on hands on materials and experiences. It’s how they learn best. Watching a television or playing an app on an iPad doesn’t do much for them.


Source

Studies have shown that “each hour of television watched per day at ages 1-3 increases the risk of attention problems, such as ADHD, by almost 10 percent at age 7.” (source) There are also studies that show children who have screen time also don’t sleep as well (source). Not to mention the desensitization to violence (clearly, we’re not talking about watchers of Dora with this point), the increase of obesity, school problems, etc.

Okay, now that we have all the scientific and fact based stuff out of the way, here’s where I’m going to put my professional nanny voice on. Ahem. Do you hear the difference?

I was browsing a nanny group the other day and the question of TV came up. I was kind of astounded when more than one person said they let their nanny kids watch TV, some in unlimited amounts, as well as multiple “app times” a day (Yes, some said they didn’t allow any screen time as well). Personally, I like to do everything I can to better the lives of the children I care for. Exposing them to that much TV and screen time is not bettering their lives. There has yet to be a study that educational TV or apps actually help kids.

Also, here’s my thing. Someone is paying you a good portion of their hard earned money to care for their child and do the best you can. They are probably trusting that you are well versed and educated in all the latest studies and information regarding children and that you’ll put that information to good use. Is putting them in front of the TV or an iPad the best you can do? Sure, I’m sure an app or a TV show might be able to teach them something, but isn’t there a better way to teach them? One with actual materials and actual experiences? And yes, it is absolutely possible to not watch TV as a nanny for at least two years. I didn’t turn the TV on for the girls until they were 2 1/2 (the only reason I did was because I had what ended up being two kidney stones and was in the worst pain of my life, the TV was on for less than 30 minutes the entire day, and I ended up in the ER. So yes, it’s possible). You know how much screen time they’ve gotten with me since then? None. And no, I’m not saying that to sound like I’m trying to be better than anyone else. I’m saying that to show you that it is in fact possible and pretty easy.

There’s so much more fun you and the kiddos can have rather than plopping them in front of the TV for a good chunk of the day. I strive to do the best I can day in and day out with the kids I care for, as anyone should do in any job. Knowing all I know, and now you do as well, I find other alternatives for the kids. They enjoy it more, and so do I.


Aly

Busy, Busy, Bees

I know, I know, I’ve been away for a long time. But I’ve been working 60+ hours a week, so I’m excused I think. Right?!

Anyway, here’s a small piece of what the girls and I have been up to! (This is all since the start of this month.)


Learning about firefighters and fire equipment. Enjoying rainy days at indoor playgrounds. Playing with felt boards and stories.


Making bead necklaces (hello fine motor skills!). Making more muffins. Halloween crafts.

I hope to get back to making longer posts again soon, but for now, enjoy my short and sweet posts!


Aly