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Talking About Race: SLATE

Talking about Race: SLATE

Here is a pretty good, short essay about why white parents should talk about race with their kids, by Melinda Wenner Moyer.

So if children as young as 3 develop racial prejudices when left to their own (cognitively biased) devices, it may help for parents to intervene and, you know, actually talk to their kids about race. “Don’t you want to be the one to suggest to them—early on, before they do form those preconceptions—something positive [about other races] rather than let them pick up something negative?” asks Kristina Olson, a University of Washington psychologist who studies social cognitive development and racial bias. “White parents seem very, very resistant to talking about race—even really liberal ones—and they have this attitude of ‘I wouldn’t want to talk about it because it would make it real to my kids.’ But inevitably, it’s their kids that show these really strong race biases.” In fact, Olson says, when parents don’t talk about race, kids may infer from this silence that race is especially important, yet highly taboo—basically, the last thing you want them to think.

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Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Safety

I was attempting to write a post about car seat safety, but I soon realized that while I can speak about certain common mistakes, there are some car seat safety rules I needed refreshing on myself.

Savanna’s Safety/Happy Ride Tips:

  • Make sure your car seat is secure! It should be snuggly fitted to the seat, and depending on your baby’s weight, rear or forward facing.
  • Tighten those straps! Straps should be very snug around babies shoulders, you should not be able to put a finger between strap and baby.
  • Remove thick sweaters, coats and snowsuits! I see people making this common mistake, not only do thick sweaters and jackets prevent you from tightening the straps correctly, they also cause your baby to overheat. Overheating for infants can be especially dangerous, and for older babies and toddlers it’s uncomfortable. Your baby will, understandably becoming very irritable within seconds of being in the car.  A screaming, hot uncomfortable baby is no fun when you’re stuck in traffic.
  • Don’t leave too small objects in arms-reach of baby! (chocking hazard: everything you leave in back with your child, unsupervised, should be bigger than the cardboard tube used for toilet paper.
  • For longer rides, make sure your baby is comfy! Make sure to dress baby in light, comfy clothing.  Give your baby a clean, dry diaper, and make sure babe has been recently fed. Have a water or milk bottle close by and a toy (bigger than toilet paper role).

Resource Tips: So, to supplement this advice, is some real car seat safety from Parents.com. Obviously there are better, maybe more credible sources, but I think this one is a little more accessible. I specifically like tip #5, I didn’t know the positioning for this, but luckily have be doing it right!

Mistake #5: Using the retainer clip incorrectly
Test your seat: The retainer clip should be at armpit level, resting across your child’s breastbone. The clip assures that the harness straps are in the right place.

The danger: When the retainer clip is in the wrong place, the straps can easily slip off a child’s shoulders, and the child is at risk of being ejected from her seat in a crash.

Fast fix: Parents often move the clip as they maneuver their child out of the seat, so check the clip’s position every time you buckle up.

For other tips check out these sites:

Safercare.gov

AAP

SafeNY

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Baby Food by Jill Lepore

Baby Food by Jill Lepore

My boss shared this great piece with me by Jill Lepore.  It’s a historical look at breastfeeding, pumping, formula and bottle feeding.  Some of you may have read this back in 2009, when it was published in The New Yorker, but for those of you who didn’t, I highly recommend checking it out.  

“Then, bizarrely, American women ran out of milk. “Every physician is becoming convinced that the number of mothers able to nurse their own children is decreasing,” one doctor wrote in 1887. Another reported that there was “something wrong with the mammary glands of the mothers in this country.” It is no mere coincidence that this happened just when the first artificial infant foods were becoming commercially available.” 

 

Stay Connected

images-1There can be a lot of miscommunication between parents and nannies, especially when communication isn’t happening. I think it’s important to stay connected with parents, and parents with nannies to maintain consistency in the household. Some ways I make sure this happens is to:

Nannies and Parents: Nannies, send email and or text updates daily.

Send texts or emails with pictures of what the child/ren did during the day with little notes, this way parents are apart of these activities. This is especially helpful when verbal skills are still developing and each day children learn many different words, but are barely distinguishable–it makes it easier to communicate and understand toddlers when you know the context of their days activities:  art projects, play-dates, cooking, outdoor time.  I often don’t do this at the time it’s happening because I’m focusing my attention on the child I watch.  Nap time is a great time to send an email update with pictures and a quick note.

Parents and Nannies: Parents, send an email update at the end of every weekend.

I find that a lot of nannies do something similar to the above, either because they choose to or because the parents requested specific updates.  Parents on the other hand tend to be a little worse at maintaining communication over weekends, which is understandable, their weekend is their family time, the last thing they want to do is send a detailed email.  That being said, it’s really helpful to the household when everyone know what’s up.    I specifically ask my employers to send email updates on Sundays; this includes, what they did, what new developments the baby has had, illness, teething, naps, etc., this has been incredibly helpful in keeping consistency.

Old Fashioned Note Taking:

We also keep a notepad: a lot of people have an initial, negative reaction to this form of “note taking” but it is actually helpful, especially when you work for very busy parents.  The notepad includes, sleep times, poop and pee times (this is helpful when starting potty training.)  Meals (helpful in making sure they get well rounded meals throughout the day, and no repeats!) And if the children are sick with a fever, notes on temperature and medicine.

Apps: 

Baby Connect: Cost: $4.99

Eat Sleep: Cost: FREE

Older children:

Cozi: Cost: FREE

Taxes.


imagesI call myself a professional nanny, but what makes me a professional? Beyond just being “good” with infants and toddlers, I’m a professional because my job doesn’t simply stop when I leave work. I think about how to deal with new transitions and developmental stages long after work hours.  I do research into early childhood development, parenting styles, and baby/toddler gear. I am always professional in regards to my employers privacy (hence the lack of any identifying information, pictures and names on my blog.)

I think about everything I do with the children I care for, and how to be better the next time around.  I now write about childcare on my blog and occasionally for Nanny Magazine. And I love what I do.  But what really makes me a professional in the eyes of my peers?  I pay taxes and I have health care provided by my employers.

Peers almost applaud when they find out the last two aspects of my job, the other stuff, my time, focus and work ethic doesn’t really seem to matter.  What matters most are taxes and health care….And this is good!

I am happy, even grateful at moments that I am able to work for, not just a family who I like, but a family who treats my job choice as legitimate and respectable. Unfortunately they are an anomaly among personal, in home childcare employers.

The reality is that I am grateful, because my situation is rare.  But I don’t want to be grateful, I want the treatment I’ve received from my current employers to be the norm, not the exception.

Why Childcare Professionals (baby sitters and nannies) should be “on the books.”

As long as social security still exists when I retire, I will have funds to retire on. I can rent an apartment, lease a car, buy a house one day, because I have a paper trail of credibility and financial stability.

Why Parents should insist on this.

Unless parents are working with an illegal immigrant they should insist on on the books pay, for the reasons listed above, and for similar reasons discussed in Jacoba Urist’s article, Should You be Paying Taxes on your Baby Sitter  in Motherlode.

“In the final analysis, it’s most important to remember that withholding rules are designed to protect your nanny, by financing her Social Security and Medicare down the road — just as she tries to anticipate your child’s needs each and every day.”

Homemade Playdough

My friend shared this play dough recipe with me, it’s particularly awesome because she added scented oils as well.  The playdough pictured below is vanilla/lemongrass fragrance with green food coloring and, peppermint/cinnamon with yellow food coloring.  Activities like this are great in these winter months!

-2 cups flourunnamed

-2 cups water

-1 cup salt

-2 tbsp canola oil

-1 tbsp cream of tartar (optional)

-Add food color and scented oils for fragrance.

Mix all together in a medium saucepan, heat on low, stirring until the dough easily pulls away from pot and is not sticky, about 5-10 minutes. As my friend said Sarah F. said, “Let cool and have fun!”

Bunny Days: D-

imagesBunny Days, written by Tao Nyeu lives on the top shelf in my charges room, if I can help it that is.  The top shelf is not an ode to top-shelf liquors, the top shelf is just simply out of her reach and eye-shot so I don’t have to read this disturbing sadistic book.

The story line is simple, there are six bunnies, two goats and one bear.  The author has Mr. Goat “accidentally” mangle the bunnies in each of the mini vignette’s. After the torture has ensued the goat offers no apology, he continues with his daily chores, unaware and unconcerned that he has chopped off the bunnies tails, sucked them into a vacuum, etc. Instead of Mr. Goat taking responsibility for what he’s done, Bear comes to the “rescue,” fixing the bunnies in ways that would never work in real life, like putting them in a washer.  Wouldn’t this only and make their pain and suffering worse?

The few times I’ve read this book I cringe, because the reality of tails chopped and suffocation in the washer, even if it’s on delicate, is all too much for me.  And really what message does it send?  Sure, I guess the message is, “help out your friends when they’ve been beaten and abused” and while this is a good, moral message, it seems  to me the amount of physical brutality is a little unnecessary for toddlers, couldn’t the author have made the point a different way?  Mr. Goat is painted as the bad guy and doesn’t even know it, maybe instead of fixing the Mr. Goats mishaps Bear should put an end to the torture.

Maybe the better message would be, “Hey Goat, pay attention dude, you keep hurting my friends.  What’s going on in your life that you don’t even notice the pain you’re inflicting? Are you depressed?  Let’s get you help!”

Tip: Don’t buy this book, and if you already have it, put it out of sight on the top shelf!

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What Drives Success?

What Drives Success?

-New York Times

-New York Times

Here is an interesting article from The New York Times by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld about race, immigration and success.  They identify three embedded-not innate traits which can lead to your child’s success.

“The fact that groups rise and fall this way punctures the whole idea of ‘model minorities’ or that groups succeed because of innate, biological differences.  Rather there are cultural forces at work.

It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success.  The first is a superiority complex– a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality.  The second appears to be the opposite– insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not enough.  The third is impulse control.”

Success happens, not by instilling only one of the three traits, all three must be present– and in America, specifically well-off white families, falsely think they can drive their child to success by constant confirmation, such as, “You’re amazing.  Mommy and Daddy never want you to worry about a thing” (NYT.)  Rather, success is based not solely, but partially, on some possible threat of failure, or of failing to live up to some standard prerequisite.