How to Find and Hire a Trustworthy Nanny

Hiring a responsible, caring, and trustworthy nanny is one of the most important things you can do for your little one, but it can be painstaking, too. This free guide is designed to save you time and give you an action plan for finding and hiring your super nanny.

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Topics we cover:

  • What to do before you start your search
  • Where to look
  • Interviewing
  • Doing a trial day
  • Finding your sweet spot
  • …and more!

Letters to My Daughter

There are many things I worry my daughter will miss out on as a result of technology — holding a book, flipping through a magazine, rushing to see her favorite show on a particular day at a particular time. But perhaps the one that saddens me the most is writing and reading letters.

My husband will tell you this is because I’m obsessed with stationary, which I cannot deny, but there is much more to writing real, physical letters than quality stock paper with pretty patterns. It is the personal touch of seeing someone’s handwriting, the excitement when it arrives in the mail among its sad counterparts like bills and circulars.

My high school sweetheart used to go away to summer camp and we spent three long months with no way to correspond but through letters. It was perhaps the greatest thing that defined our young romance — these long love letters which still sit in a shoebox tucked away in my closet. They remind me of who I was before life got too busy to sit and describe not only scenery and activities but the depth of feelings captured at a moment in time.

I’ve been determined to give this gift to my daughter and so I write letters to her a few times a year. I write them on her birthday or at particular milestones (like her first day of school). I keep them stored away for her to read someday. She is too young yet for me to know how she’ll feel about them, and I realize she may not become a lover of letters or be inclined to write ones of her own, but I do hope it will connect us in a way that helps her understand how profoundly she has changed my life and how deeply I love her. Tonight’s homework, write a love letter to your child.

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Unpopular Parenting

Unpopular Parenting

There are a few things as a parent I’m sure of: 1) I love my children beyond all measure, 2) I would do anything to keep them safe and 3) many days my children do not like me.

I am what many would call a strict parent. My husband and I are sticklers for certain house rules like a consistent bedtime, trying all foods a few times before deciding you don’t like it, cleaning up after yourself and having good manners. When rules are broken, we employ time outs or take away favorite toys. We’ve walked out of parties or stores when tantrums have ensued and we don’t give in to whining.

I don’t do these things to be mean, and many days I know my life would be easier if I just agreed to more TV time or picked up the Legos myself (both would certainly save me a lot of time!). But my husband and I subscribe to being unpopular parents because we want our kids to have boundaries, to be appreciative and ultimately to be independent from us (though some nights when I am in their good graces, snuggling them tight I wonder if it would be so bad if they wanted to live at home with me forever).

In the midst of a recent disagreement with my daughter she said “You’re mean and I just don’t like you.” Hard to hear and definitely made me take pause to wonder if being the “strict” parents is a mistake. Would she really grow up not liking me, mad about the lost hours of her childhood spent cleaning up her toys? Then I read 5 Reasons Modern Parenting is in Crisis, which describes the potential problems with being afraid of your children. I felt somewhat vindicated in my approach and while I know being called mean won’t be the worst thing my daughter says to me I do hope she grows up to be respectful and responsible and maybe just maybe likes me a little.


What’s Your Family’s Mission Statement?

My dad is an amazing story teller. As a child I was entertained endlessly by the stories he told about growing up as one of seven children. There are some stories he’s told me so many times that I actually picture myself there with him.

They range from amusing (like when all seven of them chained their bikes together to go for a ride, or when my grandma left him at the food store because, really, who can keep track of seven kids!) to serious (how hard it was to make ends meet and how much Spam he consumed as a result).

I cherish these stories and was recently struck by The Stories That Bind Us.

The article highlights a fascinating study by a psychologist named Dr. Marshall Duke from Emory University around family tradition and narrative:

“The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.”

I’ve often thought my father’s tales were primarily about entertainment, but have come to realize they are so much more. They have shaped who I am and what I am a part of. They are why I have such a great respect for my parents’ work ethic and why I have that same determination myself. They are why I don’t take small things like family traditions and education for granted. And they are why I now ensure each night as Emma goes to bed we sit together and I tell her not only the stories of my father’s childhood, but of my own. Her favorite is how Pa used to do the same thing for me each night.

Duke’s research is utterly fascinating to me. I’ve always loved my dad’s stories and felt a strong connection to them, but I don’t think I’ve ever realized just how deeply they’ve impacted me. Apparently I’m not alone. According to Duke, telling stories and keeping traditions alive produce happier, more communicative families that are better at resolving conflict and working through tough times.

Today’s assignment is to consider what stories you want to pass down and think of your family’s mission statement.

Eat Your Veggies!

Mom vs. Kids Menu

In one corner we have me: a self-proclaimed “healthy foodaholic.” I read labels for pronounceable ingredients, I check sugar and fat content, and I try to choose food with limited additives and preservatives.

In the other corner we have the reigning champion: the Kids Menu, with items that rarely, if ever, meet my approval. Sometimes I feel like the annoying parent who complains to the school about the curriculum that not many others have an issue with. So instead of trying to change the norm, I’ve created my own rules for healthy eating. Here are some of things I follow:

  • Emma must try everything 3 times before she decides she doesn’t like it. I think sometimes she initially says she doesn’t like something because the taste is so new. So we make the three try deal, shake on it and I uphold my end of the bargain. So far, we’ve only had to strike beets!

  • She always has what we are having. No separate kids menu in our house. This serves a couple of purposes: 1) We make adult food popular and there is rarely a meal now where she won’t want to at least try what we are having (admittedly it was a bit awkward to explain why my husband’s beer was not ok). 2) We save time and money not having to make two dinners.

  • She never orders off of the kids menu at restaurants. We allow Emma to either share with us (another cost saver and totally feasible due to the huge portions most restaurants serve) or order her own entree from the adult menu. She often won’t finish but we always take it to go—another cost saver.

  • We advocate balance. Despite my obsession with healthy eating, there is always time for treats, and so we don’t discourage the occasional splurge. Emma’s school taught her about “Whoa Foods” and “Go Foods”. I love this concept and we’ve carried it through to our own eating curriculum. Emma knows ice cream is a Whoa (eat in in moderation) and veggies are a Go (have as much as you want).

I know the battle with the almighty Kids Menu can be a tough one, but there’s hope! I’d love to hear how you all navigate around the chicken fingers and pasta.

Happy Tracking (and eating :)!

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Catalogue stack

A Case For Catalogues

I am very fortunate that my father has been part of our caregiving team since Emma was born. Their bond is unbreakable, their love for each other incomparable and their daily activities…unorthodox.

I was an English major in college and I love books. Our house is littered with them. Nothing excites me more than knowing that Emma has inherited that love, so when my dad began reading her catalogues I was appalled. “Here Dad, read Goodnight Moon!” I urged as he flipped through the Frontgate catalogue. “Dad, look how much she loves Dr. Seuss books” I begged as they eagerly poured through the pages of Pottery Barn Kids.

In the never ending war with myself, I let this battle with my dad go unwaged. I was going to lose and I simply couldn’t compete with their enthusiasm for something so silly.

One weekend, as I pleaded with Emma to read “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket” in lieu of Crate and Barrel, I once again relented. And then something happened. As we turned the pages she started to name things, lots of things: blue chair, flowers, lots of grass, that’s a table, a crib, a window. The colors, the objects, how alive each page was in an attempt to sell you things.

Maybe I was sold? In the grand scheme of things, it certainly seems more practical for Emma to know about real objects instead of Wockets.

Maybe my dad was onto something. I will likely never admit that to him, and I will certainly never give up my books, but right next to them we now embrace a pile of “catalogue books” as Emma calls them.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Not Yet

My mornings sound something like this: “Let’s get changed Emma! Let’s go potty Emma! Let’s brush your teeth Emma!” You get the idea. I am a go, go, go person and most days my husband and I are amused by how much Emma is like me in this regard. She hardly ever sits still.

So the other morning as she sat quietly turning the pages of a book, I said “Emma let’s have breakfast” and she looked up at me from her book with the most serious expression and said “Not yet”. I froze for a moment not only because she typically bounds to the kitchen at the mention of food, but also because she was right. We don’t need to run through this list every morning at warp speed (well, I guess I technically do because I have to get to work), but so what if we stray a day here and there.

Everyone has mornings where it takes more time to dust the cobwebs off…even two year olds. So if Emma doesn’t want breakfast yet, I’ll sit and read with her, stroke her hair and savor the quiet moment of stillness. Because there will be a point when she is rushing out the door and I’ll be longing for the two year old whose whole life was just these surroundings.

The only lesson today is to take a study break and don’t do everything on your to do list…at least not yet.

Confessions of a Kid-aholic

I do some pretty crazy things in the face of the obsession I feel for my child. Anyone who knows me may be shocked by my confessions, mainly because pre-child I was one of the most cynical people — not believing how much having a baby utterly changes the way you love.

But it does transform you immeasurably, and so I felt it was important to share some of the ridiculous things I’ve done just because I adore Emma so much (and if she ever ends up in therapy she can bring this list to help explain herself).

My confessions:

1) I didn’t drop her crib to the lowest level for an inappropriate amount of time because I was sad I couldn’t lean over and kiss her head once she’d fallen asleep. I still do it, but I have to kiss my hand and place it on her head. It’s just not the same, but at least she’s safe.

2) Nights when I get home late I may do the above in a loud manner and plant the hand kiss extra firm. I know the rule about never waking a sleeping baby, but sometimes I just really miss her!

2) I pretend to be sick with a “case of the kisses”. I cough and carry on and tell her the only cure is to kiss her a million times. She thinks this is hilarious and it allows me to plant tons and tons of kisses without her running away.

3) I cried when she grew out of the Snap and Go stroller because when I went for walks we could no longer stare at each other.

4) I think her head is the best smelling thing in the world. The other day she said, “’Why does mommy sniff me?” I swear I didn’t even realize my nose was embedded in her hair.

5) We record a “happy birthday video” of her on the same day every month (at precisely the time she was born). I have no idea why, and quite frankly remembering to do it causes more angst than it’s probably worth.

Enough said. So please moms and dads, tell me some crazy things you do in tribute to your munchkins in the comments below.

The Break Up

I’m 37 years old, standing in my kitchen being dumped and I’m just as emotional now as I was at 16. I feel a wave of heat come over me almost like I might pass out. I can’t believe this is happening even though I feared it was coming for months.

I immediately become the victim. “I’ll be fine” I say, knowing it’s not true. “It’s for the best” I lie, deep down wanting to scream “But I love you, you can’t go!”

Our nanny just broke up with us.

I can’t get back out there. The thought of searching the web, awkward first meetings, and the careful dance of letting them go if it doesn’t work out — it’s all so dreadful to me.

Who ever thought our nanny’s resignation would hurt more than a high school breakup? Finding a new nanny is far worse than any dating scene I’ve ever been a part of. Yet here I am, after a year of the most wonderful courtship that caused me, my husband and our two year-old daughter to fall head over heels in love, is over.

Our amazing nanny was unattainable from the start. She let us know from the beginning that she always wanted to be a teacher. And, like any unattainable love, we were lucky to have what we did for one amazing year.

My daughter will be heartbroken, which is without a doubt the saddest part to me. Cupcakes for birthdays, crafts each week, she even made a mother’s day gift for my mother-in-law. No one can top that — not even the most elite preschool!

There will be tears and heartache and a mad frenzy to replace her (three weeks and three days to be exact). Can I start a new relationship that fast? I guess am going to find out.

We’ve consistently used or, but I’m wondering if there are any other hidden gems out there I’m missing. Thanks for your advice and support!

Desperately Seeking Super Nanny.

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Minimalist Parenting

Help Minimalist Parenting #HelpWomenAtRisk

We absolutely love what Asha and Christine are doing at ParentHacks–they are donating October royalties of their book Minimalist Parenting sold through a special link to benefit women in Ethiopia. As a mother to a two year old daughter, this touches me on so many levels. We are blessed to have the opportunities we have here, and this is a harsh reminder of the realities that exist elsewhere.

It is wonderful to see ParentHacks using their blog to get the message out there. Thanks ladies! Oh and if you haven’t read their book, we are big fans 🙂

Get a great book (we’re big fans) and help women in Ethiopia at the same time by using this special fundraising link: