Valentine’s Day classmate cards on a budget and minimal time!

Hello all! With Valentine’s Day just around the corner that means school Valentine’s Day parties are just around the corner! That means valentine’s cards for all 30 classmates, candy for each, and some way to get those together. Ain’t nobody got time for that! haha but seriously all of that takes a lot of effort and cost money. Money and time a lot of parents and nannies could spend doing other things on their never-ending to do list. You need to go to Target to buy the cards and candy, which anyone who has gone to Target knows ends up being at least a 30 minute trip. Then you have to assemble them all, write everyone classmates name down, and sign each one. All in all this can take awhile.

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However if you are looking for an inexpensive option where you don’t have to leave the house, this may be your solution. All you need is an Amazon Prime account. If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime account I highly suggest you get one. I know this may sound like a promo for them but really it’s just because I find it so helpful and worth the money. For only $99 a year (aka $8.25 a month, or the cost of 2 Starbucks coffee drinks a month) you get free 2 day shipping, access to their video streaming and music, and the best part AMAZON PRIME NOW. Prime Now is the world’s greatest invention. You can order something from Amazon (Say candy for valentine cards) and get it delivered to your front door in 2 hours or less.

Given our crazy schedules (between Ruby’s mom and mine) Valentine cards for Ruby’s classmates got lost in the busy days. So last night, with 4 days till Ruby’s Valentine’s Party, Amazon Prime Now came to the rescue and at an extremely low cost! Lindsay ordered a set of 32 My Little Pony Valentine Cards for $1.36 and 2 bags of candy for the price of one (promo right now). Shipping is FREE. So all in all 32 Valentine’s with candy cost $4!!! The $4 purchase showed up in an hour right to the front door. From there she looked in the craft closet and found glitter sticker hearts Ruby and I had used on projects this summer. She did the added touch of putting them in cellophane sleeves, but she already had them from her office. Use what you have!! If you have mini cellophane bag use those or just do the old school tape the candy on the Valentine 🙂 Assembling took the usual time of writing and sticking, but she saved a lot of time and money by using Amazon Prime Now.

Something that could have been stressful and time consuming, turned into a quick, easy, inexpensive project. PS. 3 year old Ruby spent the time to sign each one herself!! We were both soon proud! (and we made sure to tell her. Positive reinforcement is key in raising a kid!).

SO save some time, money, and stress wrinkles, Amazon is here to save the day! Stay inside tonight and spend some time with your kiddos while Amazon does the heavy lifting. Wait for your things to arrive and have fun assembling them together! Or if you want to get them done quickly while your kids asleep (because we all know helpful kids are a blessing BUT sometimes make things harder) wait till then, have a glass of wine and TA DAH.

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

Who Am I?: Animal Edition. A Educational Game for Kids

Hi parents and nannies! Happy Wednesday! I hope the new year is treating you all well. Today I wanted to share a fun interactive, adaptive game I created for a job interview recently. It is suitable for young toddlers, as well as preschool age kiddos. It’s called Who Am I?: Animal Edition.

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I created this as an activity to bring to a job interview that could be played with children from 1 to 5. You can practice remembering animal sounds and fine motor skills with the young kiddos, and practice spelling and more complicated, recognition questions with older, preschool age kids. This game is easy and inexpensive to make on your own. Here’s how it’s done!

What you need:

  • Foam poster board
  • Animal picture printouts (I just googled clip art of each animal)
  • Markers
  • Index cards
  • Multiple purpose fasteners (aka velcro stickers)
  • Scissors
  • Tape/ Adhesive

How to create:

  1. Google each animal you want. I chose horse, chicken, cow, pig, cat, dog, duck, elephant, lion, and frog. Once you have found the pictures, print them out, and cut them apart.
  2. Begin with the poster board flat on the ground and lay each animal along the sides.
  3. Once you are satisfied with the layout, tape each animal down to the board. IMG_3566
  4. Take your index cards and clearly write out each animal name. I chose capital letters because those are the letters most children recognize and learn first.
  5. Take an index card and adhere two sets of velcro to the back of it. Then stick it on the poster board next to its respective animal. (If you use the Scotch brand of velcro it WILL feel like you have to rip it off the board really hard, but it gets easier the more you use it!)
  6. Write the title of the game at the top of the board with a marker. Mine is on blue paper because I messed up the writing the first time haha so just go with it!
  7. Viola! You have a fun, easy to use game.

How to play:

  • Easy: Take all of the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Show your kid the first card and say what animal says woof woof? If they can’t talk yet, have them point to the animal. If they can talk, have them say the animal name and point. If they get it correct celebrate it and show them where to place it on the board. Keep going until all the cards are on the board correctly. This version of the game will help with memory, recognition, fine motor, and recall skills.
  • Medium: Take all the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Look at the animal name on the card and give your child clues about it. For example, if it is COW I would say, I have black and white spots. I provide you with milk. I can be found hanging out on a farm. If they don’t get it by that point then you could say I go moo. Once they guess the animal correctly hand them the card and tell them to place it next to the animal on the board. Keep going until all the cards are on the board. This version of the game really helps test children’s long term memory of facts about animals. It will make them recall information they have stored in their brain.
  • Hard: Take all the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Hand the first card to your child and tell them to sound out the word. You can help them if needed. Once they have sounded it out ask them to place it on the board next to the animal. Celebrate each mini victory until they have gone through all the cards. Obviously elephant or chicken are not going to be super easy ones to get, but each time they see them and repeat them they will get more comfortable with the word and more practice. After they place the card on the board you can tell them to point to each letter and spell the word back to you as well. It is important to have them point to the letter (or you yourself point) because this will help them associate the proper letter sound with letter.

As I said above this is a fun, adaptable, and engaging for kids of a wide age range! I hope you all have an easy time making this game and a fun time playing it.

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

Creative Play: The Making of Princess Street

Hello Nannies and Parents! I will warn you that this post is a long one but it features 2 how to art projects, play tips, and storage tips! Also with the upcoming holiday aka CHRISTMAS this could make for a great gift for your little Lego/ block lover this year 🙂

The idea for Princess Street began one day during nap time as I was staring at the hap hazardous mess of Disney Princess Legos and Duplos strewn all across the living room floor. Ruby had fallen in love with Legos after a trip to Barnes and Noble. She got hooked on the Disney Princess sets. So she earned each one as rewards for helping around the house or doing something special. As we acquired more and more of these adorable sets I realized we had no real, good place to play with them. When we played on the carpet it was too hard to put them together. When we played on the hardwood floors they slipped all around. So I was left with a challenge to figure out the perfect place to play with these great Lego sets. I looked at Target for the green Lego squares that can hold Legos down, but those were $20 for one! So then I started thinking about how to solve this problem. Lego Friends has a play mat for the Heartlake city where all the girls are from. You can put the Juice Shop along one street and Emma’s House on the next. I then figured out something like that would solve this problem. However I searched all over the internet and nothing like this exists for Disney Princesses. There is no play mat or anything that can make a princess neighborhood. This baffled me because as Ruby always say “but Kelly I don’t want to play with just one. All my princesses are best friends and want to live by each other.” It was then I knew I needed to make my own Disney Princess neighborhood. So I took to brainstorming how this might be possible. After work that day I went to Michael’s craft store and walked around and around and finally figured out exactly what I was going to do. It took time and love but the finished product was totally worth it. Take a look inside Princess Street 🙂

As you can see Princess Street has evolved as Ruby has grown. It began with the Disney Princess Lego Duplo sets, and now holds the Disney Princess Lego sets and a house we created on our own from Target. That is the beauty of Princess Street, it can become anything you want it to. We reorganize it and design it each time we take it out. We have also come up with a neat and organized way to store it all. Below are the instructions on how to make and store your own Princess Street (or Lego City, Superhero Lane, or any other neighborhood your kiddo wants!):

What you will need: 

  • 2 Foam Poster Boards (found at Target, Michael’s, Walgreens, etc)
  • 3D Puff Paint (various colors that pertain to your theme, found at any craft store)
  • Curved Road Stencil (I made mine out of thick cardstock)
  • Duct Tape (color doesn’t matter because you can’t see it)
  • Stickers (pertaining to your theme, ours is princess of course!)

How to make:

  1. Lay the 2 boards on the floor side by side.
  2. Draw your stencil however you want your road to be. I wanted ours to curve so I drew it that way. Cut your stencil out of your thick paper.
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  3. Place your stencil where you want the road to be. Hold in place and trace around. Do the same on the other board.
  4. Use marker or puff paint to outline the road and make marks along the lanes.
  5. Use puff paint to write the name of the neighborhood. We chose Princess Street.
  6. Let dry COMPLETELY. Usually 2 hours will do. Keep child away! As you can see on the back of mine I messed up and didn’t wait long enough 🙂
  7. Add details to the neighborhood, like a pond or garden with makers. We chose to have 2 ponds because in the beginning we had 2 Ariel Lego sets and of course both needed to be in the water!
  8. Decorate with stickers where you want.
  9. Once the front is done and dry, flip them over and place duct tape along the edges connecting the two boards. Put a good amount on. This will help reinforce the middle of the boards. Only put the tape on one side though, otherwise it own’t be able to fold up for easy storage.
  10. Set up your Lego sets how you would like and enjoy!

The Disney Princess Lego sets we have featured on our Princess Street are Sleeping Beauty’s Royal Bedroom, Jasmine’s Exotic Palace, Ariel’s Magical Kiss, Cinderella’s Romantic Castle, Cinderella’s Dream Carriage, and Rapunzel’s Creativity Tower. We also have the Lego Duplo Disney Princess Collection featuring Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel.

All and more can be found HERE!

How to Make Your Own House:

As you can see we added a non Lego house to our street. I’m sure you all know Lego sets are expensive! Ruby loves Princess Street so much and wanted more and more to fill up the neighborhood, so instead of buying another expensive Lego set we ventured to Target to buy a make you own kit! Kid Made Modern Art-Chitecture Kit

This kit is only $25 and is very sturdy. Now this set is not too kid friendly for them to make. It’s kinda difficult even for adults. Totally worth it in the end though, but it took some time. To include Ruby in the making of this house I had her pick the paper I used on the walls and floors.

What you will need:

  • Kid Made Modern Art-Chitecture Kit (from Target)
  • Extra scrapbooking paper (any craft store)
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Glue Stick

How to make it:

  1. Follow the directions inside the kit.
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  2. It comes with a lot of furniture pieces but those are really hard to put together. We only put together the ones we knew we would use (bed, table, chair, etc).
  3. Decide what papers you want to be on what walls and floors. It comes with about 10 pages that stick right on to the wood. That is not enough to cover every wall and floor. We used scrapbooking paper to finish off the other walls.
  4. Trace the size of the wall and cut the paper to fit. Then use a glue stick to get it on the wall and floor.
  5. Once you have all the walls and floors covered in your desired paper you can glue it all together!
  6. Let it sit and dry for a day before use, but then it is good to go.

We put ours up on TV trays that Ruby has at her house. It allows her to be able to walk around the whole street. She can play with the fronts of the sets and the backs. She loves driving her princesses from house to house in her Cinderella carriage, or has special guest (Lego Friends characters) fly in on the private jet. You could also set this up on a coffee table or even just the floor!

It’s easy to set up and easy to store. The boards fold together so it can fit in a small space along a wall. We bought storage bins from target to put Ruby’s blocks in. We have one for her Lego Duplo blocks. We have a few for her Disney Princess Lego’s so we don’t have to take apart all the Princess’s house each time we play. Then we have a small 3 storage drawer labeled with easy to read titles of things to keep in them (dolls, extra parts, sticks, etc).

Princess Street has been a HUGE hit at our house! Every kid who comes over always wants to play with it, and Ruby loves to let them. While yes it does take some time to get it all put together, like I said before totally worth it. I would make a million more of these because they provide so much fun for your kid! It allow them to be creative and inventive every time we pull it out to play. I hope you found this how to helpful and enjoy your version of Princess Street as much as we love ours 🙂

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2015

More Pictures from Princess Street

The Importance of Reading with Kids

Lazy days (like Sundays 😊) are the perfect days to cuddle up with your cutie pie and read books on books on books! There are so many benefits to reading with and to your little one. Books inspire kids to imagine and dream about things and places you’re reading about. The simple act of reading a book aloud to your child helps them develop in multiple way. It develops their memory skills, especially if at the end you ask them what their favorite part was. In relation to memory, it helps kids work on their attention and patience by having to sit still, for a prolonged period of time, and attend to the words and pictures. Lastly it helps in language development. When reading books kids are exposed to so many words and pronunciations. There are a million more benefits to reading, these are just a few. Given all these benefits make reading a part of your daily life with your kid! It’s easy and it’s fun. This goes for kids of all ages! It doesn’t matter if they are 1 or 12 or 50, reading is always beneficial.

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Ruby (the little girl I nanny) is 3 so she can’t read any words yet, but still loves when I read aloud to her. This is how me and Ruby have made it apart of our daily life. Every day when Ruby wakes up her nap, we lay in her bed and read 3 or 4 books. She can be a little grumpy and still sleepy when she wakes up, so this is my way of getting her past the “I’m still waking up phase” to the playful Ruby phase. She usually passively takes in the first couple books, but by the 4th book she is super engaged, asking questions, and talking about the pictures. She loves it.

Below are some books we recommend, places we recommend getting them at, and a fun art project! 

Some of our favorite books that we recommend you checking out are:

For the older audience (3 and older): 

Ellie by Mike Wu, a heartwarming story about how everyone is talented in their own unique way. Told with beautiful illustrations and adorable animals!

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Pinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann, a sweet story about a girl who loves pink and being herself no matter what. Perfect for any pink loving little kiddo. (we also suggest Aqualicious and Purplelicious)

The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain, a personal favorite of mine from when I was a kid! With a wide range of stories about everything from becoming a big sister/brother to telling the truth to eating too much junk food, your kids will always come away from these books learning a good lesson.

For the younger audience (3 and under): 

Duck and Goose by Tad Hills, this is a series with multiple books covering many learning domains such as counting, empathy, holidays, colors, emotions, opposites, and many more. Each one is short and simple, but filled with tons of things for kids to learn. Plus they are the cutest little guys!

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield 51q3+u5cenL._SX473_BO1,204,203,200_
Martin, a eloquently written, beautiful book telling the story of something all parents will find meaningful. Every parent (and nanny 😊) wonders about their tiny humans will become one day.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, a quirky, cute story about a giraffe who wants to dance even though he isn’t exactly made to. It shows kids you can do whatever you put your mind to.

IMG_7628You can find all these books and more amazing ones at the LIBRARY! Ruby and I love the library. Our local libraries have fun places to cozy up and read, blocks to play with, and toys to imagine with. It is always a fun morning when we head to one of them. After Ruby got her first library card this summer we decided to make a special library book bag to store and carry all her library books in! Such a fun, easy, practical art project. Directions are below!

What you need: 

1 canvas bag (we found ours at Michael’s craft store for $3)

3D Fabric Paint in favorite colors (found at Michael’s)

Pencil

How to do: 

  1. Place some cardboard inside the bag to prevent the paint from going through to the other side.
  2. Use a pencil to sketch out your design. Draw lightly incase you want to erase and start again 🙂
  3. Gently squeeze the 3D fabric paint over the pencil lines.
  4. Let dry for at least 3 hours!! This is the hardest step for kids to obey. We did ours before nap time so there was no temptation.
  5. Use and enjoy your new personalized book bag! We take ours with overtime we go.

Since Ruby was a little to young to use the paint I had her color on the other side of the bag with fabric markers. This made her feel like she did some too. She also helped pick out the colors and decided which words were what color. If your child is old enough to use the fabric paint let them create their own unique design!

If you like to buy your books to keep them around enroll in IMG_7615Barnes and Noble’s Kids Club! It keeps track of how many books you buy and allows you to enjoy special perks! For every $100 you spend on kids book you get a rewards certificate to redeem in store. They have other fun promotions you can take part in. The store itself is always a fun place for kids to visit too. They have a Lego Duplo area to build for free and a fun storytelling area.

I hope this post encourages you to make reading an important part of you and your kiddos life! I leave you with this quote by a familiar friend

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How to have the best nanny/boss relationship possible!

Hi all happy Wednesday! This post is going to go a little differently than my other ones. It is designed to help BOTH nannies and parents/bosses figure out a way to have a good, healthy relationship. So please share this with any nannies you know or parents you know that have nannies!

I’ve seen a lot of posts on nanny forums recently about nannies having bad relationships with their bosses, nannies feeling used, or nannies feeling that their time is not valued. Given that I thought it might be a good time to send out some advice on how to prevent or make those things better. The key is COMMUNICATION. That is the basis for every good, healthy relationship and especially a relationship between a nanny and parent.

I have always been very communicative with my bosses. I think it helps make the job easier for me, and it helps reassure the parents that I know what I am doing and am confident. After reflecting on what I think has been the most helpful aspects of communication in my relationships with my bosses I came up with this list to share with you all! Nannies, I hope some of these ideas help you, or encourage you to have this conversation about good communication with your boss. Also, parents/bosses remember that healthy communication between a boss and their nanny is a two way street. Make sure you are open to communication and feedback from your nanny. Now let’s get at the little details!

Honesty is key from the get go. No relationship between a nanny and parent will work without honesty from both parties.

  • Nannies: Start being honest from your first meeting. Be honest about what you are willing and not willing to do as a nanny. If you feel strongly against doing maid type work, tell you boss that from day one. I know it may be a deal breaker for a job, but if you lie and say you are okay with doing the laundry and dishes, when you aren’t, down the line this could cause problems. Be honest about your schedule and flexibility. If you need to be done everyday at exactly what time the parents say they will be home, tell them that. Explain to them that you have to get your kids from school at 5:30 so you need to leave at 5, or that you have night class at 7, so you need to leave in time for that everyday. They should respect those commitments. Also be honest with them when it has been a crappy day at work. It may not feel good to tell them how rude or disrespectful their child was to you that day, but they should, and probably, want to hear that so they can talk to their child about that. I had a difficult child one summer and I had to tell the mom I couldn’t work for them any longer if he continued to treat me the way he did. It was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but that honesty with her prompted her to have a discussion with her child about respect. It ended up not working out in the end, but what I learned from that is even when it’s hard to be honest with the parents that is when you really need to be.
  • Parents: Start by being honest from your first discussion with the potential nanny. I know you may need someone right away so the tendency is to make you sound as likable as ever, but make sure everything is honest. If you know you need a nanny who is flexible because your job is demanding then say that. Do not mislead your potential nanny, because that will cause issues down the line. When it comes to your interview ask them everything you want that you think will help you make your decision. Also answer all of your potential nanny’s questions honestly. If she asks you if she will be expected to clean up the house, answer with exactly what you want her to do and see what she says. Make sure you tell your potential nanny everything you are going to expect of them from the start, and if you see yourself adding expectations in after you see how everything goes.

Contracts may help facilitate a way of communication. 

  • This is an especially important thing for full time nanny positions. I am not an expert on nanny contracts and am not going to act like I am one 🙂 This is a good article to take a look at when preparing your contract. It gives 20 helpful ideas of what the contract should cover. The one thing I do know though is to physically print the contract out and keep it with you. The nanny and the parent should both have a physical copy to able to refer to. And DO refer to it. If part of your contract is being broken by either party, bring that up to them along with showing them the contract again. This may seem super formal, but it is an effective way for both parties to feel protected and in control.

Have an open dialogue. 

  • Make sure you both feel comfortable talking to the other if things come up. Life is messy. Things happen out of our control, and that is okay. Nannies, if you need to take some time off because of personal reasons be upfront with your boss. Explain as much as you feel you need to them, and also be open to there response. Compromise is key here. If you are requesting something outside of the realm of the contract you have to be willing to compromise. The same goes for parent/bosses, compromising sometimes is necessary. If you need to cut their hours for a few weeks for whatever reason, tell them right away. Hear what they think about that and go from there.

Some small things that may help make communication easier for all… 

  • Monthly Meetings 
    • These can be to asses how things are going for both parties. Nannies you can say what is working well and what isn’t, and parents you can do the same.
    • As you get more comfortable with each other and gain more of routine maybe make them bimonthly or every 6 months.
  • Don’t Let Little Annoyances Pile Up
    • This is true for both nannies and parents. If something is bothering you about some aspect tell the other person before it becomes something bigger than it needs to.
  • Nanny Notes!
    • I know there are a lot of templates for these out there but I created a new one for all of you. I tried to make it user friendly and printer ink friendly (ink can add up in cost big time!)
    • Nannies try filling these out each day to keep the parent informed. I have found that parents love them.
    • Parents offer to print them out for the nanny (help them save money) and then you can stay in the loop.
    • Nanny note link!

My last piece of advice: If all else fails and there is no way to achieve good communication with your nanny or your boss, quit. It sounds harsh, but don’t stay in an environment that isn’t good for you. It will only get worse for you and they family you are with.

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide, 2015