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Baby Proofing Your Home

Protect Your Baby and Your Home at the Same Time

Baby proofing your home is hardly a one-time event. As your child grows, so do potential hazards they’ll face and opportunities for your child to dirty and destroy your home that you just spent what felt like hours making spotless. Because let’s face it – although small, children have the unique ability to get into everything and create disorder. Protecting your child as well as your home means preventing accidents and staying ahead of their little curiosities. 

It doesn’t matter what style of home you live in, perhaps you live in a single-story condo in Miami, FL or a three-story home in Atlanta, GA, baby proofing your space is vital to your child’s safety while keeping your home clean and protected from damage. What will your child be able to get into once they start crawling, walking, or even climbing? It’shard to tell, but taking the necessary steps to keep your home clean, and baby proofing to minimize any potential damage they could cause to themselves or your home can give you peace of mind.

Baby Proofing Your Home at Every Stage

Your baby may not begin crawling for many months, but baby proofing your home and setting up a stylish yet safe nursery beforehand is a smart way to create a safe environment for your child while reducing the chances of damage to your home in the near future. Consider taking the following safety measures while baby proofing your home:

Optimising your home for an infant

  • Keep baby monitors and cords three feet away from the crib.
  • Keep the crib free of pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals.
  • Make sure changing and bath areas are secure to prevent slips, rolls, and tumbles.
  • As your baby proofing, secure all cords, including those on blinds and window coverings. Remember, any cord can be a hazard. Consider installing safety tassels or cord stops to tuck away the cords.
  • Place the crib away from any windows, heaters, lamps, wall decorations, and cords. 

Preparing your home for a crawling baby

  • Cover electrical outlets with electrical plugs and remove nightlights, air fresheners, and other plugins that are easy to pull out.
  • Secure or hide electrical cords. They’ll be sure to pull down anything they’re attached to making a lamp, stereo, or TV come crashing down on them and the floor.
  • Close the toilet lid or place a latch on top.
  • Add padding to tables with sharp corners or edges and Install finger-pinch guards for hinges on doors.
  • When you’re baby proofing, install latches on doors, especially to stairs, cabinets, and appliances.
  • Place cleaning products and other toxic chemicals in a safe, dry place with a latch or lock.
  • Always keep the floor and low tables clear of small debris and other choking hazards.
  • Empty bathtubs and buckets of water immediately after use.
  • Use baby gates to keep your child safe from stairs or rooms that haven’t been childproofed.
  • Anchor your television and unstable furniture, such as bookcases, dressers, and loose tables.

Protecting your home from a toddler while keeping them safe

  • Keep all windows latched and add stoppers so they can’t be raised if they are accidentally unlatched. Kids not only can easily make holes in screens using their fingers and toys, but can also fall out of windows if they lean on the screens.
  • Keep medicines in childproof containers in high cabinets that latch or lock. 
  • Keep hot foods and liquids in the center of tables or at the back of counters.
  • Make sure knobs on your stove and oven are securely covered or removed so your toddler doesn’t turn them on and possibly cause a fire.
  • Make sure doors lock from the outside so your toddler can’t accidentally lock themself in a room.
  • Secure doors that provide access to off-limit areas, like garages or workshops. 

Keeping your home clean and orderly at every stage

As you know, baby’s require a lot of attention and energy. As infants, it can feel like a never-ending cycle of feeding, burping, wiping, bathing, holding and cuddling, and finally, putting them to bed. So it may feel next to impossible to find the time and muster up the courage to face your household chores. Luckily, before your children can walk, you don’t need to worry about a mess scattered throughout the home. 

When your baby begins to crawl, they’re on the move and they will start getting into anything and everything within reach. However, keeping your house clean with a toddler is probably the biggest challenge. No matter what stage your child is at, the minute you’re finished cleaning one mess, another one is waiting for you. Whether it’s toys scattered around the room, food smeared on your furniture, or tiny handprints left on your sliding glass door, there is always something to clean up. Here are some ways to stay ahead of the mess at every stage:

Keeping your home clean with an infant

  • Do laundry regularly. Laundry can become a time-consuming task if the clothes begin piling up.
  • Declutter and organize. Always have a designated spot for everything such as toys, baby clothes, medications, and bibs.
  • Keep diapers, cleaning cloths and wipes, and cleaning supplies stored in various areas throughout the home in case of an accident.
  • Clean your home before going to bed. Let’s face it, you’ll get better sleep knowing it’s been done.
  • Apply a fabric and upholstery protective spray to your furniture to prevent any stains from accidents or spills.
  • Lay down blankets to protect your carpet or area rug during tummy time or when changing their diaper.
  • Consider purchasing a handheld shampooer for your rug or carpet to keep your carpet clean and reach deeper dirt, food, or stains.
  • Place baby wipes and supplies out of reach of the baby, but keep them handy for any accidents.

Managing the mess with a crawling child

  • Keep markers, pens, or crayons out of your child’s reach to avoid any upholstery or walls from getting drawn on.
  • Use safe-spill drinking cups to avoid spills and stains.
  • Pack away any valuables and breakables, and any furniture or decor that could be damaged.
  • Store dry goods, heavy kitchen supplies, oils and spices, and sharp objects in an upper cabinet or a locked cabinet. 
  • Find a safe place for everything so it’s easy to return your house back to normal after your baby goes to sleep.
  • Purchase a basket or bin to hold your child’s toys. Having a set place for their toys can help to keep your house less cluttered.

Tidying up your home with a toddler

  • Create designated play areas in your home.
  • Establish a cleaning routine and have your toddler help out so they’re invested in the cleaning process too.
  • Consider placing rugs down to save your floors from scratches or dents.
  • Vacuum regularly to pick up any dirt or spilled food.
  • Give away or store any clothes, toys, or supplies that your toddler has outgrown.

What it was like to holiday during the global pandemic

My partner and I managed to getaway for a two week holiday to one of the Canary Islands last month, before the Spanish government saw a spike in Covid-19 cases, causing the UK government to take fast action, advising British citizens against all non-essential travel to Spain. But we were lucky enough to get out there before any of this happened.

Considering the current global situation, we both felt very safe in the airports, on the airplane and at our destination. We flew from Birmingham and it was mandatory to wear a face mask as soon as you stepped foot into the airport. Our temperature was taken before we even reached check-in. There were self-check-in and bag drop kiosks, where everyone tagged their own bag. We noticed all machines were wiped down by a member of staff, each time a family used one.

There were one-way systems put in place, security was very swift, there were no queues and it seemed they had all security belts open to ensure a fast process. All staff were wearing PPE.

We flew with Ryanair and they were fantastic, again it was mandatory to wear our masks the entire flight, apart from when we were eating and drinking. Passengers were spaced out on the flight and if anyone needed the toilet, they had to press the call button to get the ok to leave their seat from cabin crew.

When we arrived in Gran Canaria, it was extremely quiet, again there were temperature checks and extra security measures. Border control checked passengers had filled in the online Covid-19 form to be able to enter the country. (These new forms are now mandatory to enter most countries around the world.)

At our hotel, again face masks were mandatory everywhere, you could only take your mask off if you were sitting at a table or laying by the pool/swimming. They encouraged social distancing; in the restaurants you could only sit on every other table. Temperature checks twice daily, morning and night on every guest and hand sanitizer stations had been placed all over the hotel, including our room. When we left the hotel to explore, everyone wore a mask in shops, on public transport and down by the beach unless sunbathing or swimming.

Overall, we felt incredibly safe on holiday in Gran Canaria and had an amazing time. Wearing a face mask in 38c heat was a challenge, but if you’re wanting to get away this summer, that is something you have to deal with.

Do I see a future for Travel Nannies with the ongoing pandemic

As the weeks turn to months and the world continues to try and contain the spread of Coronavirus, many Travel Nannies will be questioning whether there is a future for them. I would believe due to the current global climate with such things as Covid-19 these may affect family’s capabilities to employ a Travel Nanny. However, my honest opinion is ‘Yes’ I do see there is still a future for Travel Nannies.  

In the short to mid-term it is likely only the wealthiest of families will be able to afford and need Travel Nannies due to their economic standing. This is due to their ability to be able to chop and change itineraries without any worry of hindrance.

It is likely that we are going to experience and see massive change amongst the travel industry, including the way we travel and how countries around the world react and guide people on what to do.

But in the long-term and as time passes other families will be able to warrant employing a Travel Nanny as travel will be less likely to be affected as the world moves forward.

My suggestion for any Travel Nanny who is considering taking the risk to work and travel with families is to ensure the family takes out a Travel Insurance policy that covers you for Covid-19 while away with them. 

Stay Safe.

The key to healing your Nanny heart during Covid-19

Hey Nannies, I just want to start off by saying I am here for YOU. I am aware that hundreds of Nannies have either lost their jobs, been furloughed or laid off during the Corona-virus pandemic and you may be struggling to manage feelings about the uncertainty of your future, the well-being of your family and the fact you’ve lost touch with the heart of your role – your Nanny children. I know many will be worried about fiances, healthcare and finding a new job, all while coping with the loss of routine and sense of security. Below are a list of key things you can do to help heal your Nanny heart and maintain your mental health during this difficult time.

Allow yourself time to grieve

While loosing a Nanny job unexpectedly is devastating, there also comes the added loss of loosing a child/children that very much felt like yours. However you must remember that your Nanny family most-likely wouldn’t of told you, you no longer have a job or furloughed you if it wasn’t for the corona-virus. I am sure them, themselves along with their children will be grieving the loss of you at this time.

You may be feeling heartbroken, sad, upset, angry and possibly shocked given how fast this pandemic has affected our lives and changed everything that was ‘normal’ to a ‘new normal’ around us. It is natural to grieve from job loss, for you it does mean a change in lifestyle and daily routine. However, it is important you don’t hide how you are feeling, express your emotions just how your body and mind naturally wants to – in doing so will allow you to heal and move on.

Focus on what you can control

dream job

The Corona-virus pandemic and your unemployment is out of your control, so instead focus on what you can control. Can you use this time to update your Nanny portfolio, check out online courses and see if you can find something new you haven’t learnt before or an area in your line of work you’d like to extend your knowledge on. You can be adding to your Nanny tool belt, helping you become more employable when all this is over. Remain updated with the facts on corona-virus, your rights as an employee and what it means for you going forward. If finance is your biggest worry, take a step back, review your spending and see where you can make cuts to save money. Look into government resources and consider applying for unemployment benefits.

Maintain a daily routine

While staying in bed all day is optional now you don’t have to go to work, it is not healthy. Keeping to a regular routine is important for your mental health. Try maintaining your usual morning, afternoon and evenings the same as if you would when going to work. Have set wake-up times, shower times, exercise times and bedtimes so you don’t sit on the couch staying up too late binge watching TV and then sleeping in. Get into the habit of getting dressed into normal clothes as if going to work – now I’m not saying that you should be in a suit walking around the house, although I don’t know any Nannies that do wear suits to work. Just don’t stay in your pajamas all day as this will make you feel lethargic, less motivated and you will accomplish less. Practicing self-care and good hygiene will boost your mood and overall sense of optimism.

Move your body

gym

Exercising regularly can boost your immune system and change your mood. If you don’t have access to exercise equipment, find things around the house as substitute, like tins of beans. In-fact, you don’t even need equipment to get your body moving. Find some form of exercise that you enjoy – it could be dance, yoga, functional training, circuits, running, jogging, walking. All of these things can be done by just using your own body weight. There are many free apps available on smart phones that give you access to thousands of different workout routines to get you moving during this time. The Nike training app is one I have been using. Alternatively you can find many personal trainers, yoga studios and influencers on social media running free fitness classes on zoom or Facebook live.

Focus your mind

center

Practicing mindfulness is something not many people make time for during their day, yet it can really help us to focus during times we feel anxious and unsettled. Use these ways to help practice: Breath mindfully, take a few minutes during the day to focus on your breathing, close your eyes if you feel comfortable and focus on your breath. Be aware, of your emotional state and take a moment to pause and examine the sensations of all five senses – sight, touch, taste, hear, smell. Taking this moment to focus on these can help bring you back, when feeling out of balance. Start a gratitude journal and write down 3 things each day that you’re thankful for during this time.

Limit your time job searching

Nannies I can understand your worry about finding your next position quickly, however your health is more important. Set your mind at rest knowing there will be a continuous increase in Nanny jobs when all this is over. It is predicted there will be a baby boom and Nannies will be the most sought after employee around. Spending all your time searching for a new job can be stressing and depressing so limit your time. When deciding on your daily routine set aside a few hours during the day to send in applications to proper Nanny agencies. Agencies are there for a reason, to safe guard Nannies and families. Stay up to date with the government advice to ensure it is safe to go back to work or start a new job.

Pursue a new hobby

planting

We will most likely never experience this time again where the whole world was on pause and everyone is made to stay home. Take this as an opportunity to complete that project you never had time to finish, rearrange your bookshelf, learn a new skill, photography or crafting, get out in your garden and grow some vegetables. With more and more businesses and entrepreneurs going online offering classes, many of them free, you have no reason why you can’t take up a new hobby, to help lift your spirits during this time.

Sleep well

Make sure you are getting enough sleep. This is important to help reduce stress and improve your mood. Your chances of getting sick are lower and it can help you think more clearly when planning your isolation days.

Stay connected

chat

We live in a time where social media and keeping in-touch virtually is at it’s peak. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Make sure you take advantage of all the possibilities given to us online to keep in touch with family members, friends and Nanny families. The possibilities of keeping in touch without the physical touch is endless. Video chat, call, write letters, send photographs and videos, play multiplayer games online, host a quiz or virtual party from your home, use social media to share what you get up to, go outdoors and spread out while you hang out. You do not have to go through this tough period alone, remember to ask for help.

Five ways to find your dream Nanny job

1. Decide what your dream Nanny job is! Grab a piece of paper and write down exactly what your dream job is. It could be that you want to work internationally in another country, or it could be you want to work close to home. Do you prefer hot or cold countries? Perhaps you have a favourite age group you prefer to care for, a maximum amount of hours you’d like to work and have a certain amount of income you’d like to earn. It could be the type of family or experience that would make the job a dream for you. Write it down and then…

2. Get Qualified! Depending on what you’ve decided to be your dream role, will determine the qualifications you need. There are many colleges that offer a variety of childcare courses and distance learning and you will be able to quickly determine which ones would suit you. Families do prefer a Nanny who has a recognised childcare qualification as it shows a passion and willingness to undertake training. 100% you need to have been DBS checked and complete a Pediatric First Aid course. These two things are vital to get established at a Nanny agency.

3. Create a Nanny portfolio! Ensure you have a stand out CV with all the correct details added, if you are unsure on how to set it out you can find my CV template here. Although it isn’t common in the UK to have a photo attached to your CV, many Nanny agencies do request one so make sure to take a clear, head shot of yourself – Remember more than likely this photo will be the first thing the family see’s, so make sure it’s appropriate. Gather your certificates and qualifications together in a folder and take clear photographs or scan them onto a computer. Your Nanny portfolio needs to remain updated throughout your career so that when agencies request your documents and details you have them ready. Remember the more prepared you are for interview, the higher your chances for securing your dream role quickly.

4. Network and Apply! Connect with other nannies online already in the industry, especially with those already in positions you’d like to be in. So many Nannies are willing to help others get connected with a job that truly fulfills them. Not only that, the nannies already in positions may know other families who are looking for someone. Research and contact the agencies that deal with the type of position you want, take a look at the vacancies on their website and star the ones that interest you.

5. Go where that job is! If you’re not already packing your suitcase ready to start your new position and you’re still struggling to get interviews, maybe you need to take the leap and move to that different state/city in order to secure a role. Many families would prefer face to face interviews and by you making the effort to go where that job is (before you’ve got the job) it makes you look even more enthusiastic about wanting THAT job.

If you’re still stuck, download The Suitcase Nanny Guide for more in-depth help into finding your dream Nanny job.

Nannying in a long-distance relationship

‘’Find a partner and bring them home, but don’t bring them home to your parents, bring them home to your Nanny family (NF). This is when you really know if they’re here to stay.’’

After getting engaged last summer, a few have contacted me and asked how I manage to have a social life with my gig, because it seems nearly impossible. So here I am explaining how on earth my partner and I do it. We have three years of long-distance history and that is a bloody long time. While I write this, I’m wondering how we haven’t got a medal yet? But the reason for that is because millions of people around the world are doing the exact same thing. The difference is the millions are probably not Nannies. Long distance is not easy and is not for the faint hearted, but with the right person, mindset and NF it can be. I say Nanny family because I feel they play a big role on whether your relationship stays healthy and also, I’ve never been in a long-distance relationship where I wasn’t a Nanny.

So, the big question is Nannies, do your other halves really know what their getting themselves into? I am writing from the perspective of a live –in Nanny, as that is all I have ever been and live out Nannies I’m sure have more freedom for a more personal life. If I’m wrong please enlighten me.

Working and living in the same household is intimate, your around for family feuds, family celebrations, family loss, every victory, every downfall, not to mention seeing your dad boss in their underpants! It’s a fine line when trying to keep that employer/employee relationship while sharing all spaces in the house. I’ve had positions where I’ve just had a bedroom and shared a bathroom with the children, positions where I’ve had a room/en-suite , positions where I’ve had my own apartment, with separate entrance attached to the family home and many Travel Nanny positions where I’ve had children sleeping in my hotel room. I’m sure you Nannies reading this can relate in some way, privacy can feel non-existent. So, with that being said, I completely understand when Nannies ask me how on earth, I have a relationship with someone as a live-in Nanny, let alone a social life.

Which brings me to ask you ‘How open are you with your Nanny family?’ ‘Is you having a partner ever a mention?’ Most of the time I hear ‘No, I wouldn’t dare tell them that, they would fire me!’ or ‘I would rather not mix personal life with work.’ Unfortunately, I disagree, you cannot be a live-in Nanny or Travel Nanny and have a healthy long-lasting relationship by not telling the family you work for. You are creating SECRETS with yourself, your partner and worst your NF. Long-distance relationships are by far from normal and are called unconventional for a reason, so keeping it a secret will only put strain on it, making it harder to keep.

However, I’ve been in your position, I know how you feel Nannies. I never wanted my boyfriends to meet my NF’s, not because I was embarrassed but because it felt way more nerve racking introducing them to my NF than my own parents. I would worry about what they would think of me and if it would change their opinion on me as a Nanny. Not only that, I wanted the guy I was dating to make a good impression, after all I’ve worked for some VVIP clients.

On a more personal level I was only wanting to date guys that had visions of having children, because I hope to have my own in the future and moreover, if they didn’t, I knew full well they wouldn’t support the job I’m so passionate about, let alone have a relationship with the children I care for. I’m sure you Nannies reading this can relate and maybe feel like this sometimes.

As I entered my 20’s I wanted to change how I felt towards being able to have a relationship and talk openly about it with my NF. I knew then it would enable me to 1. Enjoy my career more, 2. Be honest with myself, and my Nanny families, 3. Have a chance of a future with someone, 4. Make a life of my own outside of work.

Being a Nanny isn’t easy, can consume a lot of your life and be extremely lonely, especially if you are hired on a 24-hour basis, which is why it is important to me that my NF knew that I had a personal life too. My tip to any Nanny who’s dating or wanting to date – ‘’Find a partner and bring them home, but don’t bring them home to your parents, bring them home to your Nanny family (NF). This is when you really know if they’re here to stay.’’

When you start to speak openly with your NF on this topic, it opens doors for you like finding out if your NF would be happy for them to come and stay. I find this is a huge strain off your relationship when you know the answer to this question. Don’t let work consume you, don’t miss your opportunity to start your own family if it’s what you want. If your NF doesn’t respect that you want to have/ do have your own life outside of work then you’d be better off finding another family. They should support and understand you having other hobbies, interests and relationships with others. Self-care is so important, whether you’re single or in a relationship!

With all that said, Nannies have to remember that one of the main reason’s families hire a live-in Nanny/Travel Nanny is so they could potentially, always have cover and Nannies should be prepared to change their own plans anytime (within reason).

I want to just rewind… back to when my fiancé and I had our romantic weekend disrupted after my NF changed their plans and we were asked to care for my Nanny baby at the time, for 48 hours… bearing in mind my partner and I were courting and I hadn’t introduced him to my NF or charge yet!

I remember the first boyfriend I ever introduced to a baby I was caring for at the time. We met in the park and I thought meeting the baby first before my bosses would be a little easier and maybe an ice-breaker – I’m so glad I did. However he was immediately jealous, he made no effort to engage/play with the child that felt like my own. He knew what my job meant to me and for him to sit there on the picnic blanket stare at the child and say with pure dislike ‘I can’t do this, I’m jealous, I don’t like him, he’s taking you away from me’. In that moment my heart completely sank, I picked up the baby pulled him close, kissing the top of his head, put him back in his stroller and left. I walked away, looking up at the tree’s, tears streaming down my face. I was hurt, feeling like a protective mother, how dare he say that about my ‘baby’ and the job I was so passionate about.

So, when Dan (my Fiancé now) walked into my life, 3 months later, this is when I realised everything happens for a reason and god had even better plans for me. I was already a traveling Nanny so Dan knew what he was getting himself into – or did he. I was working and caring for the same baby and at the time I was living in hotels, on 24/6 schedule. My NF were happy for me to see friends and family anytime, I just took baby along with me. Then, this one particular week I had 48 hours off, I invited Dan to come stay at the hotel, our plan was to have a romantic weekend before I was leaving the country again. However, like I said before, when you’re a Travel Nanny being flexible is one of the main reasons you get hired and this one time my NF changed their plans, I ended up having to have the baby, meaning Dan and I, wouldn’t be alone. My NF said I could still resume my plans; I’d just have the baby too.

When I spoke to Dan and got ‘That’s fine, I still want to come, he’ll just come out with us and I’ll help you, we can do it together and if he wakes in the night I’ll get up too’, I was completely taken by surprise. Not actually thinking he’d be supportive of my role.

When I introduced him to my Nanny kid, we met outside a café in the morning for breakfast, (I’ll always remember the day) he kissed me on the cheek, then knelt down next to the pram to get baby’s eye contact, held his hand, smiled and introduced himself asking him if he was ‘looking after me’. We both laughed and the baby smiled back at him, kicking his legs. For those next two days we played ‘happy families’ the three of us. My heart had never felt so full. It turned out to be the best romantic weekend disruption EVER! We’ll never forget it.

…Fast forward 3 years, we’re engaged, still doing long distance. I’ve lived in the USA & Dubai for two of those years as well as doing a ton of travel every month and we know we’re stronger for it. Sometimes we’d go 6 weeks without seeing each other and sometimes 3 months. Now it isn’t as bad, as I’m now based in London and we get to see each other most weekends. Dan has a lovely relationship with my current NF, they support and fully understand our situation. My little charge age 3 loves him and only two weeks ago told us she wanted to marry him. Although we don’t plan on living apart after marriage, we know long distance will always be apart of our lives as it’s the nature of both our careers.

‘’Does the distance get easier?’’ The short answer is ‘yes’, you learn to live your separate lives, while having one together and update each other, each day over text, video chat, and letters (we do a whole lot of writing) and then countdown our days until the next reunion. But every goodbye is as heart wrenching as the last and our days together seem to go by in the blink of an eye. But no matter the days I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else. For me, it’s all worth it because I know our someday is coming and our love is stronger for it.

‘’How do you do it?’’ I think they key to staying in love, is staying grateful. When you have something and someone good, don’t go looking for something better. Learn to appreciate what you have. Learn that the best relationships are where you don’t give up on each other. We are living in a generation where it’s easy to move on and give up when things get hard. Don’t do that. Cherish what you have. Be that story that says – we made it all the way, and that’s because we never gave up on each other or walked away from the love we found. We made it all the way because we reminded ourselves, every single day, just how lucky we really are.

When spending so much time apart here’s a list of the things we did and STILL do to keep our relationship healthy without the physical attributes…

  1. Dinner dates on Skype/facetime – You can either have a ‘cook off’ where you both decide what you want to cook, get the ingredients and cook the meal together, make it a competition and rate each other’s based on what you see (this can be quite amusing) or order your favorite take away and enjoy eating it together. 
  2. Laugh together – Play games, have fun, make each other smile. Laughing together in your situation is always helpful and needed almost every single day!
  3. Plan the next date of seeing each other and plan what you’ll get up to on that day/weekend.
  4. Always have a plan B – Having a plan B with your partner especially when you’re a full-time Nanny is beneficial due to the nature of the job. Live-in Nannies and Travel Nannies are hired at the disposal of the parents giving them opportunities to have us at any time, even when they say they don’t need us. So, when I know I’m off work and make arrangements with my partner, we always ensure we have a plan B incase these scenarios occur and I’m needed to work instead. This helps reduce less arguments and helps with the disappointment of not getting to see each other.
  5. Skype movie date – Why watch a movie alone if you can watch it with your partner, apart or together you can make it work. Decide on when your having your movie date, what you both want to watch, get your favorite snacks in, Skype your loved one and put the movie on. I promise, it will feel just as special sharing your movie evenings together, while apart. 
  6. Communicate in other ways – Receiving something in the mail is exciting, knowing your other half has taken the time to write/send you something extra special. Hold onto them, as in years to come they’ll remind you of how far you’ve come as a couple. -Write each other letters – Send postcards – Send gifts – Send photos
  7. Always travel with an item of their clothing – and spray it with their aftershave/perfume 100 times so you have the comfort of their scent with you always. (I keep my partners hoodie in my bed and it helps me sleep)
  8. Share your emotions – Sometimes crying can help relieve you of how your feeling and sharing it with your partner really helps too. Talking about how you felt that day, when you missed them or thought about them, if something you did reminded you of them, its all-important stuff to share with each other.
  9. Communicate everyday – Texting good morning and goodnight is so important to us and helps us feel thought of everyday when we are apart. Even if I’ve had the longest travel day with my NF, I always find the time to write a text or make a phone call. Most of the time just hearing my loved one’s voice for 2 minutes and reading the messages he sent, helps me feel better and reminds me what we’re doing is worth it.
  10. Say I love you even when you’re angry or upset with one another – The only reason you are fighting, bashing heads or feeling frustrated over the phone is because you miss them. So, when this happens, take some deep breaths, say ‘I love you’ and talk about something else.
  11. Facetime/send photos with your Nanny kids/NF – Especially when travelling, this helps your partner feel reassured that they are looking after you, that you are safe and happy where you are. It always makes them feel a part of your ‘second life’ with your NF, knowing you haven’t forgotten them.  
  12. Travel to see each other – Once Dan flew, London to Dubai for 48 hours just so he could spend his birthday with me. So, I planned a 48-hour itinerary to ensure he saw everything I wanted to share with him in a country he’d never been before. That may seem like a lot of effort, but no relationship has ever lasted without commitment and effort.

Infant Massage and Yoga

After completing a workshop on baby massage and baby yoga, I wanted to share here what I’d learnt and how much it could benefit your own baby or the children in your care. If after reading this you’d like to introduce infant massage into your baby/child’s routine you can find my step by step guide on how to massage correctly and safely here… The Magic of Baby Massage

What is Infant Massage and how can it benefit my baby?

Infant Massage is a therapy for babies. Massaging your baby is such a special practice for you and your partner to bond with your little one; or if your a Nanny, it’s a special way to bond with the infant/toddler in your care. Infant massage has many benefits such as, improving weight gain, aiding digestion, improving circulation and can ease teething pain.
It is also an incredible way to soothe your baby and support them to sleep. Infant massage helps relieve issues with your babies sinuses, for example if they have a cold or stuffy nose and can also aid babies who are suffering with colic.

Touch is a powerful way to communicate love to your baby and although Newborns seem so delicate, don’t be afraid to start a baby massage routine shortly after birth, as routine massage leads to their happy, healthy baby development.

If you’re wanting to massage a toddler and you haven’t implemented it into their routine before, then it can be slightly harder to get them to stay still. You can break up the massage sequence throughout the day or over several days for this reason, as more than likely they will not stay still for a full body massage, usually taking 30 minutes – especially if they’ve never had it done before. If they aren’t wanting to lie down for a massage, you are able to massage them sitting or standing up. But always ask permission and ensure they are happy for you to do it.

Products to use…

Remember – All skin is different. Before you start using any of the products, ensure you test a small amount on your babies skin. You can do a patch test by putting a pea size amount on babies elbow and rub in. Leave for 5/10 minutes and if there is no reaction, you should be okay to continue.

The best oil to use on your baby is fractionated coconut oil, because it has MCT ( Medium-chain fatty acids) oil, meaning it comes in liquid form. It acts as the perfect natural moisturizer and can nourish any baby with dry skin, due to vitamins and healthy fats present in it.

Coconut Oil is also a fantastic product to eliminate cradle cap. You can rub it, gently into babies scalp and leave for half an hour or overnight, then comb and wash out. If you do this daily, you will see a difference.

Other products that you could use for baby massage are: Rapeseed oil, Calendula oil and Grapeseed oil. Avoid any aroma therapy/essential oils and anything that has a strong scent, as this is actually bad for your baby, can affect their sensitive nose and if ingested could cause harm.

When are the best times to massage?

What time of the day to do the massage is up to you, to do a full body massage on a Newborn can take 15-20 minutes depending on their size and how slow/fast you do it. Toddlers tend to take longer, as they struggle to sit still for long periods of time. Like I said above, you can break up each massage sequence throughout the day, depending on how much time you have or how baby/toddler is feeling.

Massaging after bath in the evening, is the best time to do it. Your baby’s muscles will be warm, you can create a relaxing and cosy space around the both of you to perform the massage, before feeding/getting them ready for bed. We all know that when we have massages ourselves, it relaxes us and can make us very sleepy – Infant massage has the same affect on your baby/toddler, so doing the massage sequence after bath right before bed is the perfect time.

When shouldn’t you massage a baby/toddler?

Massaging your baby too soon after feeding may cause them to vomit so it is best to wait 30 minutes before starting massage, to allow your baby’s tummy to settle. If your baby is suffering with reflux it is difficult to tell what time is best, so you just have to go with your best judgment.

If you baby/toddler is on any antibiotics, has a disability or you are concerned about implementing/continuing massage in their routine, just ask their doctor for advice and reassurance on what’s best.

Before starting massage you should always ask your baby/toddlers permission. You can do this by verbally asking permission, then ‘reading’ your baby’s response cues. You can find more details on asking permission in my downloadable step by step infant massage guide.

If you’d like to introduce Infant massage into your baby’s/child routine, you can download my step by step guide on how to do it correctly and safely here…. The Magic of Baby Massage

Nanny Separation and saying goodbye

Let’s talk about Nanny-separation and saying goodbye, something that makes my Nanny heart ache, but a time that eventually comes to all families with Nannies.  Saying goodbye to a Nanny family can be stressful and one of the most difficult things to do – Because, the nanny-family relationship is both professional and personal, it makes it emotionally hard to give notice.

In many cases, there comes a time where Nannies decide they do need to move on; whether that’s because they need to in order to continue to grow or because they are forced too, due to their visa expiring. I know this from experience. Other reasons could be if the Nanny is being mistreated and/or being taken advantage of, it’s sad to say but this happens a lot, or if the children are old enough to care for themselves and the family no longer need the Nanny. Each scenario is equally difficult and does not make the ‘letting go’ any easier.

I feel the decider on how much easier the goodbye is going to be, is how the parents react when you sit them down, give notice and tell them your reasons for leaving. It is sad to say but many families do resent the Nanny after their notice has been given, which makes you think ‘Was there a personal relationship at all?’ But when the Nanny has decided to finish, it can be a shock and send parents into a whirlwind of questions and frustration especially if it’s unwanted on their part. Realistically I think it is equally as hard for the parents to let go of their Super Nanny as much as the children, but one they must accept.

I understand that losing a super nanny is very difficult (I say super because if your Nanny wasn’t super, you wouldn’t have them in the first place) and can cause a lot of hurt and anger. That’s okay and normal. But it’s important to recognise that just like you, your nanny may need to move on, even if it’s just for a different nanny job with significantly higher pay which you cannot match. While upsetting, you should be happy for your nanny! You should be happy that your nanny is moving up in the world and achieving their goals. Just like you would be happy if one day your kids got a promotion or were offered a better opportunity with another company. As nannies we are here for you and your family, but we also have to think about ourselves. That’s not selfish — it’s smart and it’s healthy. And I’m sure it’s exactly how you want your kids to be when they grow up and enter the workforce. You may be tempted to terminate her abruptly because you are angry or hurt, but this is the wrong decision for your child. Your kids will be looking to you on how to react and how to deal with this situation, so it is important that you remove anger and remain positive.

Nanny it’s important that you stay positive in the situation whatever the outcome and remain true to your decision’s and reasons. Once that stressful bit is out the way, you can then get on with focusing on the children.

So, when it comes to finishing a position, how do you say goodbye to the tiny humans you have invested so much time in.

I don’t think I could say at which age; a child finds Nanny separation the easiest. All of my experiences have been very hard and that has been with children from 4 months – 10 years old. 

Explaining to your child the changing situation…

Age 4+ is when I think it’s a good age to sit around as a family, maybe over a dinner or game and explain what will be happening. I find that explaining it to children as early on as possible, gives them time to get use to the idea. Also celebrating the Nanny moving on, gives the children a chance to be happy for the Nanny, instead of feeling hurt. For example, if they are moving on to study, explain to the child what they will be studying and why their Nanny cannot care for them anymore, involve them in the transition as much as possible – after all, it is them it affects the most. Let your child know they can stay in contact with the Nanny with letters, video chat and visits (if possible).

If you plan on getting another Nanny, explain that they can help you find them another super Nanny, someone fun, who will do all the things they did with their current Nanny. If your wanting your current Nanny, to train a new Nanny, then you need to consider the possible change it could have on your child’s behavior. There is no easy way of this being done if the children are young, because naturally they will cling to their current Nanny. Children do tend to push boundaries when someone new is around, so it is important that your new Nanny is happy to discipline and earn the respect from day one. Maybe organizing some fun activities for you to do altogether and after a few days leave the new Nanny alone with the kids, giving them time to bond and form a relationship. It is a huge step for children to learn to trust someone new in their life, so letting the child/children know they are safe is important.

Younger children, the ones who don’t have the verbal capacity to communicate how they feel are a little trickier. Although they cannot talk, they still feel every emotion any other older child would. At this age, all you can do is give them lots of affection and keep talking to them. Use fun toys, books and take them out and about to distract them from the way they are feeling.

My most difficult goodbye… (due to visa expiring)

From my experience, I have found the most difficult goodbye be, to an only child. This was the most upsetting, the child didn’t have any other sibling to lean on, they were alone and no one else not even the parents, could understand what they were going through. The child was 15 months old, I had cared for her since she was 10 weeks and although she was young, and couldn’t form sentences to explain her feelings, she knew. I could feel it through her actions and emotions. She knew what was happening and became more attached as the days got closer and closer to the time of me leaving. After trying all methods to make it easier, in some cases you just can’t. We tried the face time method in the first few weeks, but we found this only made it harder so we stopped and knew that time would be the healer. Now the child is happily cared for by another Nanny and video calls me on a regular basis. I now visit her year after year and every time the reunion is incredibly special and our bond remains.

When you have a child that is struggling, you should explain to them that it is okay to miss their Nanny and what they are feeling is normal. Tell them it’s good to talk about how they are feeling and you are always there for them to share their feelings with. Extra cuddles, distraction and attention is needed during this time.

Children are resilient and it can be more emotional for the parent and Nanny than the child. Children are flexible, resilient and accept change more easily than adults. But being the model for your child, and not pushing your feelings onto them, letting them know everything is okay, will help them adjust a lot quicker. Remember children will create many special bonds with caregivers and teachers throughout their life, so are more than capable of loving another Nanny.

Mommy’s Having A Baby

Help them become friends before the birth…

Starting to introduce that Mommy is having another baby is so important to any other children living in the same household. Taking the time at least a few months before the birth to prepare yourself and the older child, will be a much easier transition than doing no preparation at all. The older the child the more they will understand, but for toddlers it can be more difficult. If there are already multiple siblings in the family, then the transition is usually smoother, however with an only child introducing that they will be ‘graduating’ to big sister/brother early on is important as pretty soon, they will have to learn to share you and your time – something they’ve never had to do before.

In the early months of pregnancy, start talking about babies and how little they are. If the child doesn’t yet know about pregnancy number 2, start asking them if they’d like a baby sister or brother, introduce the idea that it would be a positive change and they would have a friend to play with as the baby got older. If your child is young and can’t really communicate their feelings verbally, then still talking about having another baby in a natural way will slowly get them ready.

Explain to the child what is growing in Mummy’s tummy and that they are going to be the best big sister or brother, you can ask them to kiss, sing and read to mummy’s tummy to help encourage them to accept a second child and start a bond between them both.

Reading child friendly books are fantastic ways to help prepare for their ‘big sister/brother’ role.

Book titles:

  • We’re Having A Baby – Marion Cocklico
  • Mommy’s Having A Baby – Braylen Jefferson
  • I’m Going To Be A Big Sister – Brenda Bercun
  • I’m Going To Be A Big Brother – Brenda Bercun
  • Babies Don’t Eat Pizza – Dianne Danzig
  • Brand New Baby Blues – Kathi Appelt
  • My New Baby – Rachel Fuller
  • There’s A House Inside My Mummy – Giles Andreae
  • Waiting For Baby – Rachel Fuller

Getting a baby doll is a great visual aid, this helps your child understand what the baby will look like once it arrives. You could buy a dolls cot, bottle and pram and allow them to explore through pretend and imaginative play. Show them how to rock the baby, feed it and stop them crying. Taking the doll on outings with you in the day, is another great way to slowly introduce baby number 2 into their life.

Get the older siblings photos/baby book out. Little children love looking at themselves as a baby and if you have photos from when you were pregnant with them, show them and explain how your tummy changed and got bigger as they grew. Taking your child to a baby scan is also another special bonding activity, but if this isn’t an option you could always just show them the baby scan pictures when you get back.

Take your child out on baby related shopping trips and allow them to pick out a few clothes, maybe even the outfit the baby will return home from the hospital in. Don’t forget to get your older child something too, maybe a special outfit to wear when visiting the baby for the first time. They could also help you find nursery furniture, this all helps with the bonding process. If you have an active toddler who’s not into shopping, then have them ‘help’ assemble the baby’s cot or draw a picture to hang in the nursery.

If your child isn’t interested in anything to do with another baby, leave it a few weeks and then try introducing it again. Sure enough they will come around. Like I said, the earlier you introduce the idea that your having a baby, the more time you have to prepare.

Most importantly, remember not to stress! Thousands of babies are born everyday with siblings already waiting to meet them and not every transition or first meeting goes well and that’s okay, it is just a matter of time, sure enough it will become their ‘normal’ very quickly.

Successful Tips when Working in a Staffed Household

1. Communication

Working very closely with staff and employers in Private households can be hard to manage, as the close network makes it difficult to not blur together personal and professional boundaries. Try to keep communication about personal activity and other outside of work situations private to you, to save bringing possible drama and conflict to work. Communication is still important with your team members and employers to ensure you are doing your job role to the best of your ability. (See my other blog Maintaining a healthy Nanny/Employer Relationship for more on this)

2. Respect each other

Having mutual respect for each other and the other staff, will have a huge impact on the role you play in the overall operation. Respect each other’s needs, time and space especially when a staff member is on a break or off work, staff need this time to relax, rest and energise for the next coming week. Cultural differences including language, religion and cuisine may be different to what you’d normally know, but taking time to learn and respect these differences can be imperative to a happy and strong multicultural workforce.

3. Always be positive

Domestic bliss comes from balance in all areas of the household. All household employees want, is to be happy and feel appreciated. Regardless of any complaints you or anyone else maybe experiencing in their role, stay positive with your colleagues. Listen carefully to what they say, be constructive and helpful, support each other and appreciate the collaborative effort that you bring to the service.

4. There is no I, in ‘Team’

To keep a household running smoothly you will need to work together, to present a united front. Be a team player, don’t add more work to another’s job. Remember that someone else’s job is just as important as your own. There will be times when you need the assistance of another and someone will need yours. Always work as a team to complete the collective goal, a smooth running and successful household.

5. Remain Neutral

Working alongside other household staff there will be days of conflict or disagreement, everyone’s job description, duties and contracts will be different to yours so ensuring you don’t take sides is important, remain neutral so you don’t then affect your own role within the household.

6. Stay Humble

A really important reminder is that when you do become part of a private household, not to become spoilt yourself. Household staff receive many benefits and intensives which is all part of their role, but can easily be taken for granted, especially after working in that environment for many years. Stay humble, keep remembering who you are and where you came from.