When my babies were newborn, I imagined them coming down the hall all grown up. I knew it would go fast, and it did. I wanted to make every day count, and although I wanted them all to stay home until they were married, most of them left by age 18.

Parenting is a lot of day in and out drudgery. We get tired, run out of ideas, and sometimes we just want to take it easy. But we were designed to live as creative beings and we desperately want our kids to keep thinking we’re awesome, like the Dad who gave his son’s Stanley Train a ride into space. But even if you’re not as techie as he is, here are 10 really fun things to do with your kids. Lots of us have extra time off work and school time right now…

  1. Invite friends over for a serious paper plane competition. Do a little research, do some experimenting, and have a contest for the best tricks, distance and time aloft.
  2. Get your family lost in a snow globe
  3. Camp out under the Christmas tree- Have the whole family sleep under the Christmas tree or Hanukkah lights. It’s one of our favorite family memories.
  4. Go guerilla. Commit random, anonymous acts of kindness with your child, or go to a local food ministry and serve meals together for the homeless.
  5. Take apart a toaster that’s no longer working, or a radio or CD player. Cut off the electrical cord and get out a screwdriver.
  6. Make glitter playdoh or use the bright fluorescent food colors now at every drug store.
  7. Send holiday cards to our troops
  8. Take a map, a GPS, and go geocaching
  9. Winter stargazing is nice for children who go to bed early. Learn a few of the stories about the stars, take sleeping bags, binoculars, and snacks and go stargazing.
  10. Make your own bucket list of all the things you want to do with your kids before they leave home. Ask them to help.
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The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in CT was (ANOTHER) horrible and extremely heart breaking event for our country. When horrific and tragic events such as these occur they evoke a variety of overwhelming emotions including disbelief, anger, heartbreak, and intense grief.

These events also create an outpouring of incredible love, compassion, a sense of community and a very strong connectedness. It is my dream that instead of only coming together when horrible horrific events happen this would be felt every day!

What if…… we hold the memory of the innocent and beautiful children and these heroic adults in our hearts every day…. and have their lives serve as a reminder to use the feelings of togetherness we feel today to continue an ongoing connection with one another?

What if….. we value and cherish every moment of the lives of every child?

What if….. we recognize the dedicated, caring educators and the other numerous committed professionals who are doing heroic acts to make a positive difference for children every day?

What if…. we use all of the research we have that demonstrates the consistent love, safety, nurturing, play, nutrition, predictability and attention children need to help develop healthy brains right from birth?

What if…. we better recognize and support those who are suffering as an open-minded and caring community?

What if…. we felt this wonderful sense of connection with each other
…..EVERY DAY?

What if…. we just continuously and warmly hold in our hearts the feelings of coming together… rather then only when a tragedy occurs?

With heartfelt thanks to everyone that is making a positive differencein meaningful ways every day!
Sincerely,
Deborah McNelis
guest bloggger

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You always remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when disaster strikes. Last Friday morning, I was volunteering in my son’s kindergarten classroom. The news shocked me to the core.The contrast of that evil intruder devastating the lives of children, families and a community clear across the nation, while I stood in this classroom full of happy smiles, laughter and innocence left me in disbelief and denial.We send our children to school every day trusting they are safe. Since Friday I have been dealing with my own fears, since my greatest fear is losing a child. How do I react? What do I say to my kids? I don’t want them to pick up on my fears. What do I say if they ask me about it?
I don’t want them to be afraid to go to school, but I do want them to know that life can be painful and hard to deal with. War, hurricanes, flooding, death, divorce are a part of life.

This is an opportunity, because a big part of our job as parents is teaching our children right thinking and right reactions. Learning how to deal with thoughts, feelings, concerns and the confusion that comes is a part of maturity.
So how can we help our kids?

  1. First, it’s essential to validate their feelings and be sensitive to them. Every child will react and process these events in different ways so respect that. Ask questions. So far, my boys ages five and eight don’t know about the disaster, and I’m glad, but friends at school may start talking about it. Last night Carter, age 8, told me that something really sad and bad happened at a school in Conneticut and his class is mailing a care package with cards.
  2. Keep daily routines as normal as possible. Routine gives security.
  3. Turn off the media.
  4. These are teachable moments and the way we react during tough times and the things that we say build character in our children and teach them resiliency, hope and courage.  Look at the heroes of Sandy Hook. Reflect on the dad who lost a child but said: “My heart goes out to the family of the killer.”
    “Kids (and adults) don’t just need the truth in their heads — they need it in their bones. They need to know what courage looks like and tastes like and smells like before they ever have to show it themselves. They need to do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly — heroes and villains can show them why. They need to loathe the darkness and love the Light.” N.D. Wilson
  5. Model positive thinking. As tough as it may be, deal with your own feelings of revenge, worry, and panic. Our kids pick up on emotions around them and are looking at us for strength and assurance. Train your mind to focus on the good that comes out of evil. Know that good wins out. Disaster brings people together, strengthens relationships and comunities.
  6. Be part of the solution to the tragedy. Get children involved in helping the community by collecting donation, food, supplies, or care packages. Even giving to local needs ‘pays it forward.’ Volunteering is considered the best way to build character.

I ache for the families of those sweet innocent children whose lives were forever changed in an instant.
I picked my boys up from school on Friday and squeezed them tight. My hugs are harder and longer now. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected in Newtown, CT.

Jenny Riojas

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What should be a season of love and harmony has been devastated by the news of a school shooting in a small Connecticut neighborhood. As a mother of five children, and nine grandchildren, my heart goes out to the parents of these precious children whose lives were snuffed out senselessly, and to the families of the teachers who were killed. Our hearts are breaking for these shattered families and we all feel so fearful of sending our children out into the world today. We are praying, not only for this anguished community and those directly touched by this catastrophe but for our nation — where meaningless acts of bloodshed like this have become all too commonplace.
Beth Weise

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Share the true spirit of Christmas and be a part of helping children in 3rd world countries.
A Goat and Two Chickens for $100

We’re giving our nannies and families the opportunity to help children in third world countries get a goat and two chickens. Our goal is to raise $100, but if we go over, we’ll buy more for a second or third family. Click HERE to see more about the huge impact this makes for a family (i.e. the manure goes into the vegetable garden) and to donate directly to World Vision.
Please tell us how you give back to the community, and we’ll add $4.00 more to the goat fund!

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On Saturday November 3, Caring Nannies held it’s four hour Nanny Boot Camp.

This free course is designed for all nannies placed or being placed through Caring Nannies, and empowers them with greater skills and professionalism and gives families a higher level of care and service. Caring Nannies offers three training events per year, and we require our nannies to attend two.

Nanny Boot Camp is an ongoing event and our goal is to see every nanny have a chance to attend. It covers communication, boundaries, constructing a Working Agreement, developing a weekly Play Plan, using the Nanny Log, improving children’s behavior, consistency, age appropriate activities, child health and safety, discipline techniques, establishing routines, defining your role. We teach using role-playing, discussing typical scenarios that come up and the ethical way to handle them, practice writing out a typical curriculum for several ages, conflict resolution, developing a resume and portfolio, and interview success.

Comments from attendees included these: “Thank you for the time, caring and thoughtfulness that went into your Nanny Boot Camp today. You have helped all of us to step up a notch in our chosen profession. I value that you understand our genuine service and love for the children and families we serve while we carry on that service in a pretty hidden manner and are often not openly valued. I believe we all get that, and recognition, and appreciation are not our motives…. was kinda fun to hear that you ‘get it’.”

“Thank you for helping us serve that much better.”

“It’s great to hear from other nannies and real experiences. I appreciate your kind support to us. Your continued education and conferences equals professional nannies!” and “You’re making us feel valued as nannies. We nannies work pretty much alone and without support.”
We applaud the nannies who gave up their Saturday morning to increase their skills, and connect with us and others in their profession! These are people who keep on learning, growing and stretching to be the best of the best! Thank you for coming! We know there were many others who wanted to come but had problems with  scheduling, and we’ll host another class early next year.

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The murder of 2 children in NYC by their babysitter/nanny has  everyone  horrified and distraught—especially  parents who have hired childcare for their family. It has every nanny agency owner –almost all of whom are parents—grappling to understand what could have gone so wrong. How did a seemingly capable caregiver go from loving nanny to murderer? Believe me, I have been reading  every shred of news I can find to try and understand how this tragedy could have ever happened.
Those of us owners who belong to an organization called APNA (the  Association of Premier Nanny Agencies) subscribe to the highest level of screening practices. I know we are all wondering, if this woman had come to us, would we have picked up something about her which would have eliminated her from placement. The truth is without all the facts of the case, we don’t know.
Here’s what we do know. Careful screening of caregivers by professionals does help weed out people who should not be taking care of children. Real background  checks—not the cheap ones provided by online sites—are part of the process. But in this case, the woman probably had no prior record. It does appear, however, that her life was unraveling and she was becoming  psychologically untethered.
This case is a statistical anomaly. There are thousands upon thousands of wonderful nannies providing excellent care for children and allowing parents to go to work knowing that their children are in loving hands. But just one case like this is one too many.  No one wants to be that anomaly.  When the facts emerge about this woman, I hope we have some take away that will make us  better at what we try to do best– protect the  safety and welfare of children.
 

One Response to Traged

Judi Merlin says:

  1.  

    Thank you for speaking to eloquently for all of us in the nanny agency business. We are all grieving for this family.
    These heartfelt comments were posted by Barbara Kline, owner of White House Nannies and one of our affiliate APNA Nanny Agencies in Washington DC, who we were just with at the 2102 APNA convention two weeks ago. Her thoughts resonate with our hearts, as we grieve with this family that has suffered such an unimaginable loss.
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Jessica was downstairs with the children, ages 11 months and 2.5, when she heard an alarm go off upstairs once, then twice. She called 9-11 and police came and apprehended an intruder. Avery accidentally locked herself outside while the boys 2 and 4 were inside. She contacted the Grandma who lived nearby, who had a spare key. Kelly, one of our star nannies, noticed a man in the playground who didn’t seem to belong to the group and she called 911. The man was picked up, a registered child molester.

We don’t normally get tornadoes, hurricanes or flash floods in Phoenix but we have had dust storms, power outages and Arizona does have some slight earthquakes. You buy fire insurance and auto insurance, but have you discussed emergency situations with your nanny before they occur? What are your directives in the following situations: a stranger knocking at the door, power outage, car accident, flat tire, running out of gas, the alarm going off,  a runaway pet or  a child needing stitches?

Here are a some tips to insure your priorities are followed.

1. At your next monthly meeting, outline some possible scenarios and steps of action with your nanny
2. Consider getting CPR training yourself. When your nanny’s expires may be a great time to go together or simply review a youtube video.
3. Post a fire evacuation map with 2 ways to exit and a safe meeting spot outside the house. Nanny can practice Stop! Drop! Roll! with the children and crawling through the house in case of smoke.
4. Pool Safety. Fence the pool. No running around the pool. No children allowed outside without an adult.

Community Emergency. Carla, one of our veteran nannies, takes community preparedness classes and tells us the most important consideration is water. Electricity is what pumps the water when the generators go out, so on a long extended power outage there will be no water to flush the toilets, wash, cook or drink. We do have loss of power in Arizona occasionally. Think through all the scenarios if you have an extended outage. Don Sherman, a local Gilbert resident has free readiness workshops regularly. Check out his website, www.iwillprepare.com. Carla takes his workshops and is prepared to eat out of the refrigerator and then start canning what’s in her freezer.

Here’s what’s most important:

1. Water. Have a gallon of water per day per person for a period of two weeks. Have 5 gallon jugs stored.
2. Light. What will you do if the electricity goes out for an extended period of time? Do you have candles, and a way to light them? Candles can be set in a sink and burn safely. If you store batteries, recycle them periodically. Candles also bring a sense of warmth and comfort.
3. Food. Have canned food in the house that everyone will eat, like tuna, canned fruit, and cold cereal that the children will eat without milk.
4. Comfort food. Protein bars, hard candy (chocolate melts).
5. Fuel. A way to cook your food and a barbecue grill. Restaurants won’t have electricity and stores may be out of supplies and electricity. Their registers won’t run.  Have an extra propane tank or charcoal-plus extra  to boil water. Carla has almost 300# in her garage. You can get it on sale during holidays like 4th of July.
6. Fires. What will you do if the firefighter comes to your door and says “Get out! Your neighbor’s house is on fire.” Have a 72 hour kit, for food, medications, water, change of clothes, small first aid kit, a copy of important and irreplaceable documents and a current photo of you and everyone in the family in a ziplock bag.

This weekend, we’re conducting our Nanny Boot Camp covering the following topics. If your nanny hasn’t attended this 4 hour training session encourage her to get signed up. We have a few spaces left. Here’s the link 

Curriculum Planning & Scheduling
Child Development-Ages & Stages
Discipline & Building Self-esteem in Children
Physical Care & Safety
Nanny/Family Relationships
Professionalism: Ethics, Respect, and Responsibility
Situational Role Playing
Domestic Duties

Beth Weise 

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