How to Work Collaboratively with Your Nanny

The Nanny you hire plays an important role in the development of your child or children. Your Nanny will want to be sure he or she remains consistent with your approach and preferences, so continued communication while maintaining a team mindset is very important. Here are a few specific items you should address as an employer:

  • Discipline
  • Screen Time
  • Behavior
  • Patterns and Habits
  • Education
  • Health and Diet

How do you see yourself raising your children with regards to these, and other important, topics? Do you have strong opinions about anything in particular? If you do, mention it! It would be even better if you bring it up in the working interview. This will enable the Nanny to go into your job with his or her eyes wide open. If there were an aspect of your job a Nanny cannot overlook or work with, it would be better to know that before you offer him or her the job. As much as you are interviewing a Nanny, he or she is interviewing you too. Let them make an informed decision!

It is important to note that your preferences are likely to change over time, so regrouping and checking-in regularly is very important. What worked for an infant will not necessarily work for a toddler. Both parties should be flexible and adjust based on your child’s needs.

No one can parent just like you, which is not a bad thing, but if you want your Nanny to follow your rules and guidelines, train him or her in accordance with your preferences. Even the best Nannies will need guidance in their new job.

We hope these reminders will help you and your Nanny form a lasting and successful working relationship!

 

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Nanny Seminar: Tips for Becoming a Successful Family Assistant

On Tuesday, August 22nd Town + Country hosted a professional development seminar for Nannies and Family Assistants to refine their Family Assistant skills. This fantastic event was sold out in only two days!

Our host, Michelle Flemming, has worked in private homes for over 11 years in a variety of roles, including as a Nanny, Family Assistant and Household Manager. She has been placed by T+C three times and has worked internally as a Recruiting Counselor for our Estate Staffing team. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona.

Michelle described how she grew into the role of Family Assistant and how she has been successful for such a long time in that type of role. She suggested using applications like Evernote, Google Docs and Cozi to communicate with clients. She also recommended that Family Assistants, with their clients’ permission, create a family email account, so all communication stay centralized and all parties have access.

Michelle highlighted the importance of setting healthy boundaries, which will prevent Nannies and Family Assistants from burning out. She reminded attendees that they cannot do it all, all the time, so it is important to ask for help and utilize a variety of resources for support.

Attendees were provided with snacks and beverages before and after the event. They were encouraged to mingle with one another and share advice and helpful hints. Overall, the event was a huge success. Town + Country is so proud to represent such amazing individuals!

 

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EES’ Roundtable Discussion

Last Thursday, Town + Country hosted a roundtable event for our Estate Staffing professionals. The event was sold out for over a week!

Kristine, Valerie and Shannon discussed topics of interest to Estate Staffing professionals and turned to our valued candidates for their insight. This was our first roundtable event and it was an excellent way to learn from our candidates, who are the best in the field. Our Estate Staffing team provided our attendees with three articles to read before the event. From the readings, our team and the candidates discussed different ways to approach difficult conversations and topics with employers.  Current candidates also shared some tips and apps they are currently using in their work. 

Our current Town + Country candidates were encouraged to bring along another Estate Staffing professional, as Town + Country is always looking for qualified candidates and we have a fantastic referral program. It was a night full of laughs, learning and professional development for all involved! If you were unable to make it to this event, we hope to see you in the future!

 

 

 

Making Healthy Meals for Kids & Families

When our reference team calls previous employers, one area of improvement families frequently mention is simple cooking. We all know that cooking a meal with children running around or while you are also excepted to deep clean your employers’ home can be difficult, so here are a few tips for you!

Communicate with your employer: Do they even want you to cook or do meal prep? Some families will love this and others would prefer to do it all themselves. If they do want or expect your cooking, let them know your abilities. Ask them to provide some simple recipes to get you started. Once you get a feel for what they like, ask if they want you to take the reins and do the planning, prep and cooking. Some families might love to get this off their plate (see what we did there? 😎 ) and other families would like to plan out the recipes they have every week. You and the family need to develop a system and plan that works for you, and a huge part of that is communicating expectations and preferences.

Items that are Off-Limits: Obviously, ask parents if your charge or a member of the family has any allergies. Parents can often have items that are off limits. Make sure you ask parents about their preferences surrounding food and what they are comfortable with in their home. Beyond just food allergies, Whole Foods has a list of “unacceptable food ingredients,” and that might be a good place to start!

Utilize Apps: Use Pinterest to gather all the recipes that have been a hit for your employer! Delete the ones that were not too good. Recipe Keeper has a ton of reviews and it allows you to keep recipes and grocery lists in your phone. How cool is that?

Plan ahead: If you are responsible for grocery shopping and meal planning, do not wait until 4:30 in the afternoon to start planning and shopping. Get a jump start in the morning. Get to the store early to get all the necessary ingredients for dinner. That way you can chop, prep and clean up during nap time or a slower portion of your day. There is no need for this to be stressful, with enough planning, you can make meal prep easy!

Ask for Resources: If you think a subscription to a cooking magazine, a cookbook or certain appliance will help you, ask! Does you employer love Ina Garden? Ask if you can borrow her cooking book to review for ideas. Does your client have an Instapot or Crockpot? If so, use it some days for easy low-fuss meals. If they do not, ask if it is something you might all benefit from.

Snack Attack: When children, or adults, are hungry, they are more likely to order out, make unhealthy choices or have meltdowns. Keep some healthy snacks prepped in the fridge. Wash carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes and keep them in individual sized portions. Employers and children can grab one as needed. Portion out Greek yogurt and berries for kids or employers to have for mornings on the go.

When our references team is talking to past employers, the overwhelming sense we get is that while it would be fantastic for Housekeepers and Nannies to take on meal prep and simple cooking, it comes second to their primary role. It is important that employees keep an open mind, but also be realistic about the amount of time you have to complete your duties. If you have only a few hours to clean a house or you have a full-day of activities for your charges, you might not have time to prepare a meal, and that is okay, just be communicative with your employer about what you can get done!

Housekeeper Seminar: Candidates Becoming Experts in Time Management

On Saturday, June 3rd, Town + Country hosted Housekeepers from all over the Bay Area, including the City, Peninsula and Marin, for our Seminar focusing on Time Management. It was a great event with a great deal of personal attention for each Candidate. Candidates were given a sample cleaning schedule for daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal tasks.

Ada Barnes, who was the class instructor, gave examples on how she effectively manages her time while working. Here are a couple examples we thought were especially helpful.

One example Ada gave from her own work experience was how to keep up with laundry. Ada said that laundry takes up a great deal of her time on a job, so right when she walks in the door she collects laundry and gets a load started. Then Ada sorts the remaining laundry so she can keep loads in rotation during her shift. We thought this was a great tip because washing laundry has a fairly long lag time, she is able to complete tasks while she waits to change over the laundry.

Another tactic Ada shared was to run errands for her employer either at the beginning or end of the day. Ada said that, with permission and approval, she runs the family’s errands either on her way into or home from work. Bay Area traffic can be time-consuming, so eliminating time on the road during the scheduled shift is an easy way to be more efficient. Like most things, this should be discussed with your employer first.

This was a great event and gave our Candidate the opportunity to learn some new strategies to be more efficient in their job. While every Housekeeper has their own method and routine while cleaning, it can be beneficial to hear what other professionals are doing. It was also great for the T+C staff to touch base with our amazing Candidates and learn how we can best help them in their job searches and also in their professional development after they have been placed.

Meet Christine, one of T+C’s Temporary Nannies!

Town + Country has booked Christine in close to 90 temporary assignments. She gets great feedback from families, she is easy to work with, she’s punctual and reliable and kids love her! Basically, Christine is the ideal temporary Candidate. Christine recently accepted a permanent position, but we are continuing to place her in temporary assignments as Christine’s schedule allows.

Before Christine was a Nanny through T+C, she worked professionally as a Journalist. She had some On-call Nanny experience but she was not a career Nanny. Christine decided to pursue a position as a Nanny because she was ready for grandchildren, and her daughters, one of whom is a San Francisco resident, were not ready to have children.

We asked Christine a few questions about her experience with Town + Country:

What makes T+C different than other agencies?
A lot. I worked for another agency and never felt any real loyalty from them. The fact that T+C asks Nannies how they are doing makes T+C different. I feel comfortable picking up the phone and reaching out to the staff if there is a question or a problem and I know they will be responsive and caring.

I also like the meetings. Even though I only attended one event it made me feel part of something, not just a 4×6 index card in a file. I feel like that the agency is representing and taking care of me, not just their clients. That is a good feeling!

What makes working temporary assignments special?
It’s the best. Recently I accepted a permanent position, which I am very excited about because I love the family, but the year I spent picking up temporary work was something I will never forget. The Bay Area attracts people from so many different countries. Working in different homes was like taking a world tour every day. I worked with families who were from China, Korea, India, San Salvador, Iran, New York, Texas, Australia, Ireland, England, France, Germany and the Philippines. I am sure there were more that I am forgetting.

I spent an extended amount of time with a Chinese family who taught me how to prepare a delicious Chinese meal. That was a special treat! I worked with several families from India. One family taught me to make much better chai tea than Starbucks.

I had deep conversations about parenting, gender differences and politics with families I worked with. I felt valued by the parents and often the family was as interested in my culture and experiences as I was theirs.

I honed my skills as a professional Nanny while temping. Last year I worked for 40 families, mostly with babies and toddlers. Caring for culturally diverse children of the same age group helped me see child developmental stages in a new way. Most children develop in a similar way; babies have similar babbles and most children enjoy the same kinds of songs and games. It became profoundly clear to me that there are more similarities among us than differences between us.

During my time picking up temporary work, I became increasingly more comfortable meeting new people on a daily basis. I developed the ability to come in, sit down and play right away, which made parents and children feel far more comfortable. No day ever felt like the first day of a new job. It felt like the same job, just with different people. Because of this experience, I have changed the way I interact with people in all situations.

Another thing to note about my work with Town + Country is that I was not always with a new family. I developed personal relationships with families and children. More than half of my assignments were with families who requested me back. I looked forward to seeing these families on a fairly regular basis. These familiar relationships were a blessing for both the family, who often did not have family close by, and me. It was a joy to see familiar faces.

As a mother, I really struggled with the empty nest syndrome, being with children all the time brings me so much joy. I feel like I am a grandmother to children all over South Bay. Some families have stayed in touch with me, which is amazing. I never expected to develop so many relationships with so many people.

What fears did you have when you first started accepting temporary placements?
Initially, I was nervous to walk into the homes of strangers, but that was never a problem. Everyone was always very nice to me and their children were always fun. I worried I might run into situations with difficult children, but Town + Country is a full disclosure agency, so if the family provided information beforehand, T+C always let me know. Because it was a temporary position, it was never a long-term problem.

Would you encourage your friends to register?
If I had friends who were especially good with kids, absolutely! As a job and profession, it can’t be beat, if you love being with children all day. My temporary positions pay better than my job as a journalist did!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I was a professional photographer for many years and photography is still a great passion of mine. I love taking photos because we live in such a beautiful area in California. Currently, I am writing a book and I love to garden. Many of the children in my neighborhood garden with me.

Do you feel supported by our team here at T+C?
Yes, very much so!

It’s a Candidate’s Market!

According to the EDD, the unemployment rate in California has dropped to 5.1%, and has dropped even lower to 2.9% here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Finding the right Nanny, Housekeeper, Estate Manager or Personal Assistant for your household can be a challenging task under the best of circumstances, but when the unemployment rate gets that low, it will be especially challenging!

At Town + Country, we are dedicated to helping you find and secure “The One” as quickly as possible. Here is our advice to help you secure the right person for your job:

When you interview a candidate you “click” with and are considering hiring, we recommend moving forward with them quickly and efficiently. There are more families searching for help than there are qualified, experienced, committed candidates searching for new positions, so you can assume any good candidate you meet has several opportunities and may get an offer at any time. You do not want to lose out on someone great! If you like a candidate, we suggest you schedule one or two full trial days as quickly as possible after your interview; this shows the candidate that you are serious about them.

Many of our clients will interview multiple candidates for their position and find it challenging to figure out who to move forward with. If you are interested in two candidates, you should go ahead and do one or two full trial days with each candidate within a short period (ideally within a week or so). That way you keep both candidates engaged and interested in your position.

And when you find a candidate you “click” with and who can do the job, don’t hesitate to make the offer! With the labor markets so tight here in the San Francisco Bay Area, waiting to make a decision means that you are likely to miss out on a great candidate – when you find a good one, hold on tight!

Meet Christina!

Christina has worked as a Housekeeper since 2008. She has been placed by Town + Country twice and is currently working part-time with one T+C client. Christina is bubbly, warm, sweet, smart and professional. One of her references said,

“Christina has a high energy level and she always seems happy and peaceful while she works.”

We could not be more excited to help Christina find her next long-term, part-time placement!

Get to know Christina:

What is your favorite thing about your career?My favorite thing about my career is the relationships I have forged over the years. I have met amazing people, who I have grown to care about very much. I cherish my relationships with my clients.

What is your favorite book to read?
Right now, I am not reading too many books, but I do love to listen to Audiobooks on my commute to and from work. I am currently listening to “The Accidental Alchemist.” It is a fantasy novel and I really enjoy it!

What makes you laugh?
My children are the biggest source of laughter in my life! They are so adorable and seeing their personalities evolve always puts a smile on my face.

What’s your favorite family or friend tradition?
My favorite tradition with my family is celebrating my children’s birthdays. It is important to me to give each of my children an experience they can carry throughout their life. In pursuit of making their birthdays memorable and special, we go on trips and adventures as a family. I love to strengthen our bond as a family and enrich their experiences.

We are so excited to have Christina as our Housekeeper Candidate of the Month!

 

Mother’s Day

Breakfast in Bed: Here are a few recipe ideas from Williams and Sonoma and Epicurious. Extra points if you remind 

everyone that Moms should not do dishes after breakfast in bed. It is a rule.

We love this blog from Food Network It is a good reminder of what is safe for children to help with in the kitchen.

Some menu items are best made on the day of or the night before, so if your last day of work for the week is on Friday, you might just want to make sure the ingredients are stocked and ready to go.

Mother’s Day Brunch for friends and family: Ask the host how you can help them get ready for their brunch. Maybe it is stocking the refrigerator, ordering pastries from their favorite bakery or getting the kids out of the house so they can organize and prep for their brunch without little ones at their feet.

If your employer is hosting a Mother’s Day brunch for her mother, mother-in-law, friends or other family members, it is easy for her day to get lost in the shuffle. Make sure you encourage your charges to make cards or do something special just for mom. It is her day too!

Dinner out on the town: For some moms, there is almost nothing more stressful than a dinner in a nice restaurant with multiple children. If your family is planning a nice dinner out as a family, you could make and pack some activity bags for your charges. Make an activity bag with books, a small toy or two and snacks. The only thing worse than a bored child at a restaurant is a hungry child at a restaurant. We really like this idea from The Busy Toddler blog. Remember to avoid items that can create too much noise or mess.

Obviously, no Mother’s Day is complete without crafts. As unique as the final product might be, it is generally the handmade items that mean the most to Mom down the road. Here are a few ideas from Country Living that we love, but the sky is the limit in terms of creativity. You could write a story with your charge about how Mom is an undercover Super Hero because she likely is!

Mother’s Day is a great time to remind your employer how much you enjoy working alongside her. If you have time, make her a card or tell her how much her relationship means to you. If you have had a challenging relationship with your employer, you can remain positive by reminding her how much your relationship with her children means to you.

Additionally,  we know many of the Nannies out there are Moms themselves. We want to thank you, thank you for being amazing women and caregivers to the children who depend on your love and care.

Here is to all the Moms!

Our National Nanny Training Day 2017 was a sold-out!

On Saturday, April 28th close to 70 Bay Area professional Nannies joined Town + Country for our annual National Nanny Training Day event!

This was our biggest event yet! Our T+C event was part of National Nanny Training Day and held during the nationally celebrated “Week of the Young Child.” Many other organizations also participated in this year’s National Nanny Training, and worldwide, the event included an estimated 2,000 Nannies gathered at 40 events in 36 cities across five countries. Nannies gathered across the world to continue their professional development and learn new ways to make a difference in children’s lives.

At our Town + Country event, Tonya Sakowicz reminded us that “It’s Not All About the Baby: Supporting New Parents.” She presented great ways for Nannies and Newborn Care Specialists to help their employers in their transition into parenthood.

We also had a craft session where Town + Country Placement Counselor MaryPat Power demonstrated a few crafts and suggested ways to incorporate crafts and art into lessons and story time.

After lunch, Town + Country Placement Counselor Melissa Seevers made a presentation on Back-up Care and the employment opportunities that Town + Country’s Temporary Team has to offer. She encouraged Nannies who are looking for permanent positions to take advantage of doing temporary work while they look for the right long-term fit. This opportunity to earn great wages while looking for a perm position is a benefit that few other agencies can offer!

Tonya also presented again on the “ABC’s of Baby Care.” In her second presentation, Tonya demonstrated how to properly secure a baby in a car seat and also showed an improved way to swaddle a baby. What a pair of important lessons in safety!

We also had a raffle and prizes included gift cards, a yearlong membership to INA and t-shirts, and later wrapped up the event with a Q&A hosted by Town + Country’s Placement Counselors.

It was a great day filled with fun, laughter, information, networking and learning! We are so grateful to the many Nannies who spent National Nanny Training Day with us! We hope to be a continued resource for all Nanniesand we cannot wait for National Nanny Training Day in 2018!

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