Category Archives: Posts

January 31st, 2017

Cute as a Picture

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Baby boy taking selfie with a cell phone camera

During our in person office interviews, one of the questions we ask all our nanny candidates is if they are comfortable texting and sending pictures during the day to their employers. We know that parents want to be part of their kids’ lives even if they can’t be with them during the day. Getting snapshots from the park, pool, or library is a great way of feeling connected.   The question may sound odd or even laughable in these times of total connectivity, but many of our nannies are not millennials and don’t live on their phones. Good news for parents worried about focus.  But what happens to those pictures? Where do they end up- other than with their parents- is worth a discussion. There is a lot of creepiness out there and we want to make sure that none of those adorable pictures make it into the wrong hands. Our advice to parents when they hire a new nanny is to have some ground rules about picture taking and posting. Most of us have Facebook and Instagram accounts no matter what age we are.  It’s worth the time to talk about the sharing of the photos and the settings on our phones. Geotagging, for instance, is most likely oversharing for nannies and their charges. Picture posting is a worthwhile topic to discuss whether you have a new nanny or one who has been working for you for a while. Take a moment to read this post for more helpful info. http://tiphero.com/kids-photo-safety/

January 25th, 2017

Dangerous Food

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I’m all about food. And I even indulge myself with a good hot dog every few years. I fed my children hot dogs not infrequently. I am now changing my mind when it comes to this particular food and kids. It presents an unnecessary risk. What I’m going to share is pretty scary. Last week we had a nanny with a child who choked on a piece of hot dog. She was told to make the hot dog and cut it up into small pieces which she did. Unfortunately, this child who was only one-shoved more than one little piece in his mouth and proceeded to choke. Fortunately, this nanny was CPR trained and knew what to do. It was still a terrifying experience for her. The only time in 20 years of childcare where she actually had to use her CPR training.  So what’s the take away? We have been very busy reading articles on what food to avoid for babies and toddlers. I have linked to a few. Here are my two simple pieces of advice:

1. Make sure your babysitters/nannies have current CPR and First Aid training and know what to do if there is a chocking incident.

2. Avoid hot dogs (and grapes) in young children’s diets.

December 23rd, 2016

Can We Solve This Problem?

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The Washington Post sites huge shortage of childcare options for DC families. May I just say that this is not news for any parents who have looked for childcare in the past decade. Additionally, DC is reported to have the most expensive childcare in the nation. And back to the supply issue. Even people who can afford childcare are not finding it easy to find quality people to care for their babies and young children. Should you need after care for your children outside of what schools provide, good luck finding someone who wants to work those critical 3 or 4 hours a day in your home.

Clearly, we have a problem which is not new and is not going away. We need an intervention. Childcare needs to be credentialed profession. We needed to have a trained workforce that can keep up with demand and also get paid for doing this essential and demanding work. Government is going to have to subsidize some kind of program. I keep hoping someone is going to take this issue on.

 

December 8th, 2016

Notice

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How much notice should a nanny give her employers? There is no clear cut right or wrong answer but there are some norms.  I think we can all agree that two weeks to replace a nanny is too short a window for most parents.  At the other end of the spectrum, expecting the nanny to keep her departure date open ended until a replacement nanny is found is not fair or even viable.  Four weeks notice seems to be a reasonable time frame.  Despite how reasonable that may sound, many families do not respond well when they learn that their childcare arrangements are coming to an end.  After all, this is a working city made of working families who rely on the people hired to tend to their kids. Not having childcare can mean a crisis.

I’ve been mulling over some of the reactions that families have when they get the unwanted or unexpected news.  No one likes change especially when it comes to their childcare arrangements.  We have seen former love fests turn ugly fast perhaps because the impending departure feels like a betrayal. Responses may range from threats of never being allowed to see or talk to the children again to refusing to provide a decent reference for the soon- to-be-departed and formerly loved nanny. There is no relationship quite like the one between a nanny and family.

Why don’t nannies give more notice? Many are afraid to tell families that they are looking for other employment because they live paycheck to paycheck. What happens if the family says: “You’re leaving? You can go now.” That response has happened with enough frequency to be a deterrent to full disclosure. Most nannies can’t afford the nicety of giving a heads up to an employer. It is a scary option for them to be left with no income.

The flip side to this discussion is how much notice a family should give a nanny when they decide to let her go. That’s a whole other blog.

November 30th, 2016

Germs!

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When my parents moved into their forever house (at least for 32 years), one of the first things my mother did was put down a linoleum floor in what was my nursery. Why? Certainly, not for the esthetics. This kind of flooring made it easy to mop everyday. No germs! No germs! It was a solution to make sure that no microbes got into the bubble that was my room. So much for that prevailing wisdom. The good news was I was playing outside a lot and we had a dog. Enter germs.

Recently I have seen a number of articles giving germs high-fives. I have to say that this germ approval is making me smile. Yeah! Germs are good for kids. Most first time parents are super vigilant about exposing their first born to anything germ like. I assume doctors are not advocating throwing caution to the wind – hand washing is still a good idea – but it does allow parents to relax a little. Those of us who went on to have more than one child got a whole lot more lax with the need to sterilize every little thing that dropped on the floor. It was the only way to keep our sanity. Who knew we were actually building stronger immune systems in our kids?

November 22nd, 2016

Thankful

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Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

It’s a WHN tradition to share with you what we at WHN are thankful for this time of year. We wish all our families and nannies the Happiest Thanksgiving!

Barbara is thankful for:

Best White House Nannies staff ever

New members (son-in-law/daughter-in-law) of our family

Old members of our family

Nutritional labels

Elastic

35 years of married bliss

Great doctors

 

Richard is thankful for:

35 years of delightful marriage to my boss

Wonderful, loyal and hardworking staff of White House Nannies

Our skilled and caring providers who do such an amazing job

Our many loyal clients who help us grow and prosper

Our children finding and marrying such wonderful spouses

The good health of my family and the staff here at WHN

 

 Annie is thankful for:

My two adorable children who keep me on my toes and teach me how to be a better person

My loving husband who works hard every day

My mom and mother-in- law who adore our kids and would do anything for them

My job and wonderful co workers

The ability to meet exceptional nannies every day who share their love for children

 

Stephanie is thankful for:

My loving husband, Matthew

Fresh produce at the local farmers markets

All of Netflix’s original content

Warm blankets and crackling fireplaces

The fact that coloring books for adults are now a thing

My mom still baking me a special batch of my favorite holiday cookies every year

 

Denise is thankful for:

Family & Friends

Bob

Health

Some Redskin victories

Costco runs for the office

 

Michelle is thankful for:

My two sweet busy, busy, busy boys

Strong coffee

My wonderful husband

Trips to the beach

The holidays and family gatherings

 

Kaylyn is thankful for:

My family

My friends

The wonderful people I get to work with at WHN

All of the free museums in DC

Coffee

Hungry Harvest

 

Brittany is  thankful for:

My fiancé

My family & friends

WHN & my colleagues

Halo Top

Vineyards

Trips to Colorado

 

 

 

 

November 2nd, 2016

Positive Discipline

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positive-discipline

Here are some of the words our WHN nannies used to describe themselves at our Positive Discipline training this past weekend:

Happy, loving, caring, patient, calm, consistent, positive, responsible, self-motivated, organized, respectful, nurturing, confidant, reliable. They also said they were good listeners, good communicators, good multi-taskers, and good planners. They believed in teaching good manners and instilling a love of reading. They agreed that having a sense of humor was a must.  It was an impressive gathering to be sure.

I learned a lot about everything my husband and I did wrong in the discipline department. I texted both my children apologies right after the session. The quote from Rudolf Dreikurs: “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child” really got me. Can I please suggest strongly that parenting classes are a really good idea since kids don’t come with manuals? This child-rearing is not easy no matter how old your children are or how smart you are.  New and better theories are always evolving.

Way back when, discipline was mainly punitive and physical. Then we had years of the naughty chair or the time out step. Often the punishment was harder on the parents than the kids.  To discipline is to teach and we all could all learn more and better ways to do just that!

October 26th, 2016

You Are Not Exempt

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For years I told people if Zoe Baird had come to White House Nannies, she would have been Attorney General. I wasn’t kidding.  Clearly we would have steered her away from undocumented workers and we would have advised her to pay her nanny taxes. I was pretty annoyed she did it her way. Now we hear her name (along with other illuminati like Caroline Kennedy) being invoked again as vetting season is upon us in the new administration. How many people have been disqualified for office because they failed to withhold taxes for their household employees? Apparently, there are a lot of disappointed office seekers out there according to the Washington Post article.

Not to be snarky, but I have to ask: You really didn’t know you have to withhold taxes from your nanny or housekeeper? You are smart and educated and want to be a Supreme Court Justice. No, your nanny can never be considered an independent contractor.  The other concept that seems to elude people is overtime. It’s the law and you don’t get to pick an arbitrary number to pay. Here’s an example of creativity that we’ve seen in a contract: We pay $20 an hour and will pay $25 for any hours worked over 50. While at least the concept of overtime was addressed, it was not computed as required. Time and one half for any hours worked over 40 hours in a seven day period. Period. No variations on a theme.

The idea that you have track money you pay for occasional babysitting is also often-and somewhat understandably- ignored or forgotten. If you pay any childcare provider over $2,000 in a calendar year, employment taxes need to be paid. That means if you went out 25 Saturday nights and have paid your regular babysitter $80 each time, you’ll need to pay taxes.  If your babysitter or nanny decides she needs a W2 and you don’t give her one, she may contact the IRS and then you will have penalties to pay in addition to the taxes.

Here’s a final thought. If you need security clearance for your next job and you haven’t paid taxes on your household employees, you could be in serious trouble. So not worth the risk. Especially in this city where aspirations for higher office are the norm.

September 14th, 2016

The Break-Up

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No, absolutely not! You cannot break up with your nanny by email or text. It’s never boring at White House Nannies. I’m sharing this story not to shame anyone but to dissuade anyone else from considering this kind of break-up. I know there may be some similarities in dating and finding a nanny. But NO ONE- neither your significant other nor your nanny- wants to be ditched/axed/let go/fired so impersonally. It verges on cowardly, it’s certainly not kind, and it’s not very smart. Even allowing for the fact that you feel your nanny is not doing her job as she once did. She has a relationship with your child. She knows all the neighborhood nannies. She knows your family inside out.

How should you handle this icky break-up?  You take the high road. Seriously. Get on that high road right now. Be resolved. Be kind. But don’t retreat even if there are tears. You’ll just be at this same juncture in the near future.  She was great when she was great and now she’s not. Thank her for what she did do for your family. Tell her your current needs and hers are not aligned. Give her some severance. Wish her well. Allow her to say goodbye if your child is old enough to notice that she will be MIA. Closure is good. Little white lies are ok here.

I repeat. No good will come of breaking up with your nanny by tech. Take heed!

August 3rd, 2016

Nanny Makes the Match

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There is nothing more fun, other than seeing your own children get married, than seeing their lifelong friends find true love and tie the knot. This past weekend our family headed up to New Hampshire for a beautiful outdoor wedding at the home of former DC residents.  While their 1700’s home had plenty of history, it is our shared history that struck me. This family has been part of the fabric of our lives for the past three decades.

Guess how we all met? We had a very active 18-month-old boy that needed to work off that pre-verbal, toddler energy. No better place to run around for us than Lafayette Park in NW DC. Our Bolivian nanny Maria met Argentinian nanny Analia who was taking care of a little boy just the same age as ours.  That foursome bonded. We then met the parents and the rest is history, our history.

Despite all living in separate places for the past 15 years as the boys dispersed for high school and college and then the work world, this past wedding  weekend brought the two families together once again –the groom, his nanny, and his old friend.  What are the odds that both young couples are now going to be living near each other in LA? Both sets of parents are already planning a joint visit in the fall to see them on the other coast. The boys were talking about how great it would be if their (future) kids became friends.  And all because two nannies in a park met and introduced their charges over 30 years ago!

Blog photo 8.2016