How To Be The Most Suave Restaurant Patron… With Kids

 

It is important to expose children to different foods and experiences from a young age. Dining out is an excellent way to practice table manners, expose your children to new culture and food, and of course to save yourself the hassle of cooking and cleaning. No one wants to be that person who can only make it halfway through their meal before their restless infant or child has either decided to squirm uncontrollably or better succumbed to their own devices of entertainment, be it playing peek-a-boo with surrounding guests or climbing under and over resturant tables and booths. I have always fantasized about making a trip to my favorite restaurant a learning experience for the children I watched. How wonderful I thought, would it be to explore new cultures through food and to enjoy each others company without having to focus my energy food prep and clean up. However, a lot of time, I have been that person – and it’s OK.  Children should be welcomed and accommodated in restaurants. As both a nanny and someone who has worked years in the service industry, here are my go to games, toys, tips, and products to help you not be “that person”, but even if you are sometimes, remember it’s OK. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Bring your own toys (BYOT) No matter if your child is one year old or ten, bring your own toy. Don’t count on every restaurant to have sharpened crayons and a placemat that doubles as a canvas. Don’t go overboard. One maybe two toys is enough. The child I nannied for would bring a matchbox car. A smart and inexpensive investment are travel size magnetic toys. You can make your own using a cookie sheet, magnets, a glue gun, and junkie toys, or you can purchase travel chess sets or other magnet constructive toys.   

Go hungry and encourage your children to try something new. Hungry kids are more receptive to trying food outside of their comfort zone. Not too hungry though, too hungry children have temper tantrums. Fruit is an exelent pre-dinner snack.It is full of natural sugar to keep those levels up, while not being filling enough to hold them through dinner.Encourage children to try something new. They might already have a favorite menu item in mind for their meal but you can introduce new items either by ordering something different yourself (children learn through modeling)  or getting an appetizer that you have never had before. If you have any dietary concerns or are worried a dish might be too spicy, restaurants can usually accommodate these needs.

The Manners Game The Manners Game is a game the children I watch and I made up one night at dinner. Everyone must follow proper manners, not breaking form, usually adopting british accents, until someone slips up. Last one to slip up wins. Warning, anyone that shouts to call out a fellow player’s slip up also loses.

Encourage your children to order for themselves This is a great exercise in self confidence, as well as, socialization. Ordering food at a restaurant provides children with a very necessary experience where they are interacting with non-familial adults, practicing their “please” and “thank yous”, and making decisions. For shy children who might need extra encouragement, try role playing at home. Parents or caretakers can prepare children for social interactions through imaginative play. Both participants can exchange roles practicing a dialog that can later be used in social situations.

Proper Seating. All restaurants have baby seats. Never flip a wooden baby seat over to accommodate a car seat. It might seem like a great idea but the ubiquitous wooden high chair is not designed for this purpose and is prone to tipping over. Simply put, it is not worth it. If you have a sleeping little one, try requesting a table that is against a wall and asking resturant staff to remove a chair so that you can place the car seat on the floor. Some restaurants have car seat cradles designed to safely accommodate an infant car seat at table height- this is ideal.  As always, keep infants strapped in at all times. This way, should anyone mistakenly bump into babe, you don’t risk them toppling out of their seat. One of my favorite baby gear items, if you want to bring your own,  is the Inglesina Fast Table Chair. This clip on high chair easily attaches to most tables and is super compact. It is way more comfortable than the wooden ones and lines little ones up flush against the table for easy dining and minimal floor mess.

Help with the mess Help clean up if your children made a mess. I know I said that going out is a way to avoid cleaning dinner mess, but there really is no way to completely avoid your duty as a thoughtful and aware parent or caretaker (well other than an outrageous tip). This goes ten-fold if you brought outside food such as Cheerios or other baby food items. No one expects you to pull out a dust buster to suck up fallen food, but you should make sure to leave your table in somewhat good shape. Children should know that the floor isn’t where they should leave their napkin and that they need to tuck in their chair after a meal. Bonus points in the manners game for whoever completes these tasks on their own 😉

How to Nanny Share

I often get asked to set up “Nanny Shares” . If you are unfamiliar with this term, a nanny share is when two families make a commitment to the same nanny or manny. Nanny shares are an excellent way to get the experienced, star nanny, without having to shell out on hours. However, like any agreement between adults and especially involving employment, there needs to be agreed upon hours and responsibilities honored by all participating parties. Here are some tips to getting your nanny share on.

1.Find another family.This is the first and hardest step. It takes two to tango. If you conducting your own Nanny search you need to find another family with the opposite needs as yourself. A good way to go about this is by word of mouth. Tell your friends, tell your colleagues, tell other parents at your children’s school. Shout it from the roof top. There are lots of families in the same position who would love to go halfsies on a caretaker. If you aren’t the chatty type, try posting on a listserve. If you live in a big apartment building, many have online bulletins you can post to. See if your community has an online presence. If you live in Park Slope, check out Park Slope Parents.

If you don’t have the energy or interest in this step, contact Brooklyn Manny and Nanny. We have helped many families find nanny shares.

Agree to a schedule you can stick to. Some of the best situations are Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday. Be weary of morning/afternoon arrangements. This configuration is prone to  overlap- and there is no room for overlap when a 5 year old has to make it to cello and a sleeping infant’s parent is late mid-afternoon. If this is your arrangement, it is best to agree to an hour window between jobs. This gives the nanny a break and allows for some tardiness should the parent miss their train or get held up. If you want a flexible schedule nanny shares are not for you. The only way a share can work is if the schedules are set in stone. In order to have a professional and respectful relationship with your caretaker you need to guarantee hours. Juggling schedules and hours should not fall on your sitter.

Extra requests need to be made in advance.This is very important, especially if you are sharing a nanny with someone in the same school system with the same days off. If you know that your child has off for Columbus day, but you still have to work and it’s not your day with the caretaker, make sure to ask in advance. Sometimes families with nanny shares will host at one home or the other. The family who has the nanny on that given day will always receive preference. Let your nanny use his/her discretion to coordinate days off.

Brooklyn Manny and Nanny offers Club Sitting services to all placement families. If you know you need a babysitter for an off day, let us know, we have back up.

Honor your commitment. A Nanny share can go rotten fairly quickly if one family does not honor their side of the commitment. It is important to not only honor your commitment but make the same commitment. For example, it would not work if one family pays their sitter when they don’t need hours but the other doesn’t ( if you have a contracted sitter you should always pay the agreed upon weekly hours regardless of use).

In the case of early termination. This is the major downside of a nanny share. If a nanny share isn’t working for one of the families involved and they choose to terminate, it can seriously jeopardize the arrangement. If termination is due to gross negligence is is completely within reason to terminate on the spot. Otherwise, it is best to give your sitter (and the other family) at least two weeks to figure out an alternate arrangement. It is helpful to have a plan set up in case this happens. In your working agreement, there should be a section that discusses exit plans should something unforeseeable come up. I suggest a one month transition period, but this can be trimmed down to two weeks notice.

 

Thoughts From One of Our Nannies

Play Everyday!

“Play, play, play! Play everyday”. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice echoing through the breeze as my sister and I ran around the playground, frolicked in the fields, or made a mess in the sandbox. I have always thought of her as my silly grandma, however, I am learning now that she had a valid point. According to the Kenneth R. Ginsburg, behavioral science investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, play is absolutely crucial in the development of cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children.

As a caregiver you can foster your child’s development through play by:

1) Observing play

2) Helping your child choose beneficial activities

3) Joining in play/ showing interest in what your child is doing

It is important to be aware that, as you engage in play and help your child develop more complexity, you are also making sure that you are letting your child be the leader of her/his/their own development.

From the time your child is born he/she/they are becoming familiar with the five senses. Your child is exploring and making sense of the world around them. Most children play with toys and explore using taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. The types of toys that most children benefit from in this stage are toys such as soft blocks, picture books, and rattles.

The next phase of play starts to begin at around one-year-old. Your child is starting to engage with the world around her/him/them more and is usually quite active. As a caregiver you can engage in activities that help your child climb, walk, ride, push, and manipulate your child’s surroundings.

From the ages of the three to five your child will start showing more interest in engaging with other children. Your child’s understanding of the world is becoming increasingly more complex. In this phase children often like to play with toys like puppets, board games, puzzles, and engage in imaginary play. You can bring your child to playgroups, parks, and other places where other children will be to interact with your child.

The next phase of development for your child will be from around six to nine-years-old. He/she/they will want to engage in play that is increasingly more social. Your child will most likely become more interested in challenging and engaging peers in activities. He/she/they will probably want to partake in games with rules and teams such as Tag, Simon Says, or Follow the Leader.

Your child will will become increasingly more independent in the next phase of development, which is her/his/their pre-teen years. Your child will probably have developed the concept of rules through games and interaction with peers in the previous phase and will want to engage in play that is more intricate.

As your child continues to grow, play will come in different forms, but it is important to note that these phases vary for each child. Remember that your child should be the leader of his/her/their own development. You are there to observe, interact, and help your child develop. Play on!

 

Brittany L. Currently attending The University of Vermont and set to graduate this summer! She will be available for placement starting September! 

Do You Want Something or Nothing from a Toddler?

 

Jessica Faith, RIE Intern


As a nanny, I understand that caring for young children is a daunting task.  We’re haunted by the belief that we can do better or we’re not doing  enough – or maybe aren’t taking adequate care of the household of our  employers.

But, what if your role as a nanny could be boiled down to two roles? Not  only would this simplify your job, but it might also make the day much  more enjoyable.  

Magda Gerber, an early childhood expert and Founder of RIE, an  organization dedicated to improving the quality of infant care and  education, believed that caregivers and parents oscillate between two  roles: we either “want something” or “want nothing” from children. But  what does that even mean?

When We “Want Something”

We want something from infants and toddlers in our care when we bathe,  diaper, dress, or feed them. There’s a task at‐hand: our role is to elicit the  child’s cooperation to complete it. The secret, however, is to believe these  moments are not tasks at all; they are prime moments for bonding and  connecting with the infant.

It goes back to a theory developed by Dr. Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber:  How we treat children during body care is how we learn about our  relationship with them. This is similar to Dr. Montessori’s concept that “the  work of the hand that is in direct connection with man’s soul.” In other  words, do the hands relay a message of respect? Or are they rushed and  filled with apprehension?

A caregiver’s primary role, then, is to create a body care routine that is both  respectful and mutually enjoyable. They should see engaging mindfully in  these tasks as an end in itself rather than merely a means of delivering  custodial care.

One key way to make body care routines more enjoyable is to slow down.  Remove the cell phone and other distractions. Observe and connect. Make  eye contact. Watch where the children’s attention goes and follow their  gaze. Comment on what they’re doing: “You’re pointing to the napkin” or  “It looks like you’re enjoying that banana!” Be 100% present during  bathing, feeding, and diapering.

Your job is not to cajole or persuade. Too often I hear other nannies and  parents use food as a tool of punishment or reward: “You can have this  snack if you behave” or “I want you to eat your vegetables.” Your job,  instead, is only to offer healthy food choices and be okay with whatever the  toddler chooses to eat. Then, when she is done, you take away the plate.

When We “Want Nothing:”  

Whereas “Wanting something” presents an opportunity to be together,  “wanting nothing” is the time to be apart. Therefore, our second job as  caregivers is to create an optimal environment for play. Then we back off.  The child’s job is to discover, explore, and learn about the objects in her  play environment on her own it’s not our job to show the infant or  toddler what to do.  

When caregivers become a part of play, we usually become the  scriptwriter and unintentionally steal discoveries away from the child.

Instead, we want to envision ourselves as a stage manager: we set up the  stage, provide the props, and then let the actors do their thing. As the stage  manager of a child’s environment, we set up a space with objects that are  both physically safe and cognitively challenging, we ensure there are  diverse sizes, shapes, and textures, and then we let children explore on  their own guilt free—knowing that we’re not supposed to “teach” them  how to play.

How to curate an environment optimal for play is just one of the many  topics discussed by myself and Johanna Herwitz, Ph.D., in our training  course called Mindful Care, designed for nannies caring for newborns,  infants, and toddlers.  

My belief is that working with infants and toddlers is one of the most  important jobs in the world. As caregivers, we’re responsible for helping  young children to foster the foundational skills necessary for healthy  relationships. By dividing the time we spend caring for infants into those  moments when we “want something” and those when we are free to “want  nothing” and let the child explore freely, we can ensure that our day is  defined by the quality of our interactions with children rather than the  quantity of tasks completed?

 

How to Make Shaving Cream Paint

Shaving Cream Paint

Have your children create their own whimsical pallet by filling each cupcake tin with shaving cream and mixing in paint/dye. Then they can use their fingers or a paint brush to create fun and magnificent works of art ! This project not only produces beautiful paintings, but is great sensory play for children of all ages!

What you will need:

-1 bottle of UNSCENTED shaving cream ( trust me- unless you want your entire home and child to smell like an over perfumed man)
-food coloring or non toxic paint
-cupcake tin
-paint brushes
-thick paper

Have your kids mix together paint and color in each cupcake tin to make a beautiful pallet. They can use their fingers or a brush to make beautiful textured works of art.

10 Things Your Daughter Should Actually Know by Age 10

1.That she is uniquely special, important, and a valuable person. Your daughter should know that whatever her strengths and weakness are, she is important, valuable, and special. In order to be a parent who is able to instill such self-love in a child, you must model this behavior yourself. Daughters create a lot of their self image based off how their parents view themselves and how they project their self worth on to their children.

2.Basic life skills. Your daughter will benefit greatly from a little coaching life skills. It is important that she be exposed to a variety of trades by age 10. A girl should be able to use a nail and hammer, operate and identify tools, as well as, prepare her own snacks and be able to use the stove. 

3.Puberty and a healthy self image. By age 10 your daughter should have a very clear understanding of what puberty is and what changes to expect. Since women begin their bodily changes at very different times, it is important that you talk to your child openly about her body from a very young age. She might not start developing until she is a teenager but chances are she has a friend or classmate who is already experiencing changes to their body. If you have a transgender child, it is especially important to support them as they enter puberty as changes to their body that make them outwardly appear feminine can sometimes be traumatic. This is also a good time to talk about disordered eating as young girls face the challenge of navigating themselves through a society that infantilizes women and promotes unhealthy expectations for women’s bodies.

4.How to identify inappropriate touch/conduct and speak up about it. By age 10 your daughter should already have a firm grasp on what is and isn’t appropriate touch. An excellent strategy to promote an open dialog is using words like “vagina” and “penis” instead of made up words designed to hide meaning, like “chacha”. When you use made up words to talk about your child’s sex organs you are sending the message that part of their body is taboo. When children internalize the feelings of shame or taboo in association with their bodies, a silence is cultivated surrounding the topic. By age 10 (and hopefully a lot sooner) your daughter should have the vocabulary, confidence, ability to identify inappropriate touch/conduct. 

5.Drugs. 10 is a good age to talk about drugs. Don’t limit this conversation to illicit drugs. Talk to her about the dangers of prescription drugs as well. Express to her that you do not want her to risk the real highs of life for the fake, or as my mom told me, trade fool’s gold for the real thing. 

6.To not be wasteful or ungrateful. Your daugher should understand that the earth has limited resources and that it is a privilege to have access these. Teaching children not to be wasteful includes teaching how to recycle, not waste water, and to appreciate that they have access to healthy meals each day. Giving back is especially important. Giving back to the community should be something you practice as a family everyday. Bringing your daughter to the soup kitchen one time won’t do the trick. By age 10 your daughter should be actively involved in different charitable organizations and so should you.

7.Responsibility, the importance of contributing, and how to run a business. By age 10 your daughter should have responsibilities outside of school. Household chores are a great way to not only give children responsibility but also teach them how to be a contributing member of the family. If it is an available means, allowance for chores can help your daughter begin to learn money management. However, she should understand that even if she isn’t paid for chores, they are her responsibility and that the family relies and appreciates the contribution she is making. Every girl should have some concept of business by age ten. Whether it be raising funds for her school or a lemonade stand, your daughter needs to know that it is within her reach to create her own opportunities. ‘

8.Hygiene, healthy habits, and not appearance. By age ten your daughter should understand the importance of making healthy food choices, and should be brushing her teeth twice a day, combing her hair, and regularly bathing unprompted. Other than that don’t berate your daughter about her appearance. Let her be a kid. She has the entire rest of her life to be told how to look and what to wear. Childhood is short – let her enjoy it.

9.Women are allies and not enemies. Young girls should know that they are not in competition with one another. As a parent you should have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Teach her to stand up to bullying in her school and friend group. Show her that qualities such as fairness, leadership, and tolerance are admirable. Stay involved in her social life and always encourage empathy and compassion. 

10.Her happiness is important. It is often taught that as women, we must put other’s happiness before our own. By age ten, your daughter should know that her life is as valuable and precious as those around her. She should have a strong sense of worth and learn how to be selfish at times, say no, and take care of her emotional needs before taking care of others.

Raising strong women is a privilege never to be taken lightly. These ten tips should be able to guide the conscious parent in raising a compassionate, aware, and powerful daughter.

Veggie/Fruit Smoothie Combos Your Kids Will Love

Smoothies are one of my favorite after-school snacks. They are hydrating, nutritious, and are the healthy alternative to ice cream or other frozen treats. I love experimenting with new flavor combinations, especially by mixing veggies and fruit! By adding veggies to my smoothies, I can check off one of the 3 servings children need in their diet each day (not to mention a serving of fruit and dairy).

Here are my favorites:

Orange Carrot Julius

  • 1 cup of orange juice ( frozen if possible)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt ( or plain yogurt with 2 dashes of vanilla extract)
  • 1 carrot cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • Ice 

Banana, Beet, Strawberry  

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup 2% lowfat greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 2 beets(a small, roasted, 3 ounces)
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ice

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla or maple yogurt
  • ½ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 dashes of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • Ice

Spinach and Green Grape

  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 cup of green grapes
  • 2 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • Ice