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?


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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

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.


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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

Welcome Fall!

Finally! I have my computer back. Every single thing is gone though. I’m trying to think positively and think of it as a fall cleaning for my computer. Although, I will admit, it did just hurt a bit when I went to save a picture for this post only to find none of my folders (and all of their contents) were there anymore. Lesson learned though…within the next few days I’ll be getting an external hard drive where anything remotely important will live. 
Speaking of fall, even though it’s not technically fall just yet, I’m totally in fall mode. If it weren’t for 70 degree temperatures you’d already see my boots and scarves making an appearance. I already have a ton of fall art and activities I want to do with the girls. 
Today we made our seasonal craft. At the beginning of each season we do a different one (who cares if we’re a week early for fall). For spring we did chicks/ducks, for summer we made paper ice cream cones, and today we made a handprint tree.
I started by drawing a tree trunk on a piece of cardstock and gave each of the girls a brown crayon. Once they colored the trunk to their liking I helped them put their handprints as the leaves of the tree. This was the end result – a quick, easy, fall craft you can modify just a bit to do even with the youngest of children. 


Aly

Make Your Own Ball Pit

This past week was plain and simple H-O-T. It was our first real heat wave of the summer, with temperatures hitting the upper 90’s and the heat index in the 100’s. Most of the week was also a code red, which is the most dangerous air quality category and “indicates local air pollution has reached an unhealthy level for all residents, with sensitive groups such as children, ill people and the elderly at risk of even more serious health problems.” (source) Basically they suggest you don’t spend much time outside, especially with children or if you have asthma. So other than the one or two days that weren’t a code red (where we did make it out for some play time), we were stuck inside.

Since the girls and I don’t watch TV during our time together (see this post for why we don’t) we have to find other ways to occupy our time. We did the typical coloring, hide and go seek, play dough, etc but I wanted to create something more fun and outside of the norm. Somehow I came up with the idea of making our own ball pit. The girls already have a pool, so all we needed was the balls. We made a quick trip to Babies R Us and picked some up. When we got back, I spread out the mutipurpose cloth so that their carpet didn’t get dirty from the bottom of the pool, brought the pool in, and then dumped in the balls.

The girls were SO excited. M went right in. E was a little more hesitant, which is typical for her {she’s more reserved than M} but she hung out on the edge and moved her hands through the ball pit. Eventually she climbed in as well. They liked moving their arms and legs through the balls, throwing the balls out, running to get them and then putting them back in the pool, and playing catch with me even though they aren’t quite coordinated enough to actually catch yet. M protested big tme when we had to clean up for lunch. The ball pit will be a repeated activity I’m sure!

We’ll be using the balls for future things too – color sorting, art projects, more games of catch, etc.

Since last week was so hot, we also made popsicles. Lemonade for one day and orange for the next. Both girls really liked the lemonade ones but E didn’t particularly care for the orange juice ones.
The girls really enjoy the Llama Llama series of books and in one (Zippity Zoom) Llama and Nelly Gnu eat popsicles. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Llama Llama pop-pic-les!” from the girls both while they were eating theirs and after. I love that they are able to remember things like that and relate things back to what we’ve read.

We have a lot planned for this week so stay tuned!

 


Aly

Love Canvas – Valentine’s Day Craft

As our Valentine’s Day craft this year, the girls and I painted a canvas pink. [source] First though, I used masking tape and taped off the word “love”. I got our picnic blanket/carpet protector and spread it on the floor.We have used this one from Babies R Us multiple times and for multiple things and we love it!
I tried to find it on the Babies R Us website, but they don’t have it listed, so I’m not sure if it’s still available. If you’re looking for a multipurpose cover, I highly recommend this, so check your local Babies R Us! It’s not padded at all, but it’s huge, machine washable (line dry), and has weighted corners. Plus it was cheap. I think I got ours for under $10! [image source]
After I moved all toys away from the edges of the floor covering (I didn’t want little paint covered hands able to reach anything!) I stripped the girls down, mixed up some pink finger paint, spooned it onto the canvas, and let the girls go for it.
They had a blast and loved spreading the paint on something other than paper. The canvas was such a good idea. It can be hung if the girls’ parents desire, and I wasn’t worried about it getting ripped by the force with which the girls were painting.
By the time the majority of the canvas was pink and the girls decided they were done, they were covered in pink! M at one point used her feet to paint and slid across the canvas, E used her knees. Both had it covering both arms – shoulders to fingertips! I had wipes close by (If we were closer to a tub or sink I probably would have given each of them a quick rinse off) and wiped down each girl to get the paint off. After waiting a few minutes, I peeled the tape off and in the end, this was our final result!
Happy Valentines Day!

Aly

Visiting The Bounce House

One place the girls and I visited recently was a local bounce house. The place we went to had several (at least 6) different inflatable bounce structures within it, designed for kids of various ages. Plus a large wooden ship complete with tunnels and slides. Basically a little slice of heaven for a child.
We called ahead and found the “open bounce” times and asked if they were appropriate for babies who were my girls’ age (they were just shy of 1 year old). The woman I spoke to said that they had age 6 and under time slots as well as age 10 and under time slots, so it would be better (clearly) to bring them to the 6 and under one. She also assured me that if the girls hated it or it was too much to handle they’d refund my money. So it was a win win situation. It was a decent price too, $5 per child under 2 (for 2 solid hours of play) and $7 per child 2 and up. Plus, if you paid for a child 2 and up (which we did, I went with a friend who nannies a 2 year old) you got a child under 2 in for free. Obviously, I’m sure prices will vary depending on locations. 
Initially the girls were a little hesitant and preferred watching L (the 2 year old we went with) from the comfort and safety of my lap. L, was having a blast and wanted to go from one bounce structure to the next after just a few minutes. We followed her lead, and then in the third one, we encouraged her to try out all that structure had to offer. After spending about 10 minutes in that bounce structure, M was the first to venture off my lap and explore while checking in with me occasionally. After another 5 or 10 minutes, E joined M.
From then on out, the girls didn’t care about me anymore and were happily crawling around, climbing through the inflated tunnels, grabbing onto the walls and “jumping” – their feet never leaving the ground but nonetheless they were bouncing up and down and loving it! The especially loved the big open bounce structure where there were a ton of balls to play with. We will definitely be going back!
I would like to point out that we went during school hours (something we will always try to do) so there weren’t that many people to start with, and even though children 6 and under could have been there based on the rules of the company, the oldest was probably around 4. This allowed the girls freedom to explore without their safety being in jeopardy. There were so many structures and so few people, we only had one time where we had to share the structure. I was great.
I’ve found that the easiest way to find a bounce house near you is to simply google it! I typed in “bounce houses in MD” skimmed through the results and then called the one closest to me. BOUNCE U is one of the more popular places, having at least one location in 18 different states. It should be noted however that this is NOT where we went so I can’t say if it’s a good place or not a good place to go based on personal experience.
Overall, our experience at a bounce house was wonderful, and I can’t wait to take the girls back!


Aly

Santa Handprints (plus a salt dough recipe!)

The gift from the girls to their parents were adorable salt dough handprint ornaments, but with a little twist. The twist being the handprints were turned into Santa!

I couldn’t decide if I liked the black outline or not. In the end I gave the girls’ parents one from each girl without the outline.

To begin, make the salt dough recipe. This is a great activity to do with the children if they’re old enough. My girls (barely 12 months at the time) loved helping me stir the ingredients and were engrossed in watching me knead the dough. Here’s the a recipe for salt dough (which can be used for so many projects!:

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup plain flour (a friend made this with whole wheat flour and it didn’t turn out for her)
1/4 cup water give or take

Mix all together, and when done your project, bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 3 hours. Be sure to use a straw to make a hole (before you bake) if you’re using the dough to make an ornament!

For the Santa handprint project, after making the dough (we doubled the recipe just in case and had enough for 4 handprints, with some dough leftover), I rolled it out to about the thickness of the crust of a pizza, maybe a tad bit thinner. Basically, you need enough to make a deep impression so that it stands out even better when painted. Stamp the child’s hand into the dough, making sure to press all fingers down along with their palm.

Next we cut out the handprint leaving about a quarter of an inch around the edge. We then used a straw to make a hole at the top of the palm. Then into the oven they go.

I took them home to paint them with regular acrylic paint. Red for the palm and thumb, white for a pom pom at the end of the thumb, pom poms at the bottom of the hat, and also for the fingers for the beard. Be sure to leave an unpainted area between the beard (fingers) and palm for Santa’s face. Add eyes and Santa’s red cherry nose. I did two coats of paint for each color. Once everything is completely dry, I sprayed it with a sealer to keep the paint from peeling for years to come. I’m not sure if it would actually peel, but like I’ve said before, I’m overly cautious like that. I added a red ribbon through the hole, and it was ready to be wrapped and given to mom and dad!


Aly

Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer

As one of our Christmas crafts, we made Rudolph onesies. They’re pretty simple to make, as long as you have a cooperative child. My girls typically don’t absolutely love making things involving their handprints, but they don’t seem to mind using their feet. This craft involves both.
We went on our first little adventure using our new Ergo carrier (a more detailed post on that to come). We first went on a hunt at Babies R Us for plain white long sleeve onesies. The only ones they had were technically boys, but really, who’s going to know? So, we picked out two of them, (and maybe got the girls a toy to play with in the next store…M is still obsessed with this toy when she’s in my car!) paid for them (yay for 50% off sales!) and headed to our next stop, Michaels Craft Store.
This store, I must admit, wasn’t as easy of a trip as Babies R Us was. You try navigating a cart with one 1 year old in it through tiny cramped aisles (really – whoever designed the layout of this store must have never actually pushed a cart through their aisles) while wearing another 1 year old! Not to mention, the aisles were cluttered with boxes of craft supplies strewn about on the floor that I had to maneuver around. The girls were great, it was just a mess of a store. Next time we’ll try another craft store instead. Anyway, enough griping. We picked out three colors of puffy fabric paint – brown, red, and black. We chose Tulip and loved it! Then we headed home and washed and dried the onesies.
When you start this project, be sure to put something flat inside the onesies – not only as something sturdy to stamp on but also to prevent the paint from bleeding onto the other side of the onesie. We used a cardboard diaper box flap. It was the perfect size. I first did the girls footprints (toes at the top) in brown, in the middle portion of the onesies (one per onesie). I let it dry for a full 24 hours to make sure it wouldn’t smudge when we did their handprints.
The next day, Thursday, I painted the girls hands and stamped them on the sides of their footprints (thumbs touching the footprint). I also added Rudolph’s eyes (in black) and red nose to their footprints, as well as each girls’ first initial onto the seam of the onesie where it snaps so we could tell which belonged to which child.
I’m sure all fabric paints will vary, but ours said to let it dry flat for 72 hours before washing. I chose to let it dry Friday through Tuesday just because I’m overly cautious like that and wanted to make sure it was fine. One cycle through the washer and dryer and they were perfect! They wore them that Wednesday and also for Christmas Eve!
I’m sure this craft could be completed not only on paper but it would also be pretty cute on a plate for Santa’s cookies!

Aly

Handprints and Footprints

Aside from finger painting, the other art/craft activity I do with babies and toddlers are handprint and footprint crafts. I pretty much do these only for gifts or special occasions because like I said in the other post, I believe all art projects with kids should be just that – art, not a craft like these since they don’t really get much out of it. Anyway, there’s a lot of stuff you can do with their handprints and footprints. Here’s a few I’ve done recently and in the past with the girls (in no particular order).

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Aly