Goodbyes are not the end

Hello and happy Tuesday to all the lovely mommies, nannies, and caregivers out there! The Nanny Guide has been on a bit of a hiatus… Crazy end of spring and summer! Loss, love, and laughter all included in 5 months. BUT now I am back and plan to be much more consistent as the fall air and routine sets back in!

With the new school year beginning my little Ruby is off to PreK, and I’m back full time at school and working as a teacher in a local daycare for a little different experience. As sad as I am to be closing my chapter as Ruby’s nanny, I know she will always have a place in my life and I will always have a place in hers. As my old friend Dr. Seuss once said “don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” #rubyworld This is one thing that is very important to me when it comes to leaving a nanny family.

If possible maintain contact with the family and their little ones. If you have worked with them for a year or more, you have become part of their family or at least an integral part of the children’s lives. If you just disappear and never come back that can be very hard on a little one and can leave them feeling hurt and sad. Now I know this isn’t possible in every circumstance (they/you move, bad experience with family), I think it is important to try to make time for them if you can. That said here are some of my favorite ways to spend some special times with all my past nanny kiddos.

  • Have a nanny date night! Take them out to dinner somewhere fun and catch up with them. Ask them about school or sports or life in general. The best part is this doesn’t have to be some fancy, exciting restaurant. Most kids grin ear to ear if you mention going to McDonalds! Another date night idea is to take them to a fun movie in theaters. This was always a hit with my older nanny babies. We have even found an inexpensive local movie theater where tickets are just $2.50.
  • Give them a framed picture of the two of you. I love doing this for my kiddos, young img_5408and old. If you have a fun, cute picture you love of the two of you (or all of you if you have multiples) frame it and give it to them. You can pick up a nice, inexpensive frame at Target or Michael’s Craft store. If you have a printer and a good deal on ink, I suggest printing at home because you are just printing one picture. However, if you don’t have access to a printer at home check out your local Walgreens to see what there deals on photos are right now. Usually you can find a good coupon on there for 40% off 4 by 6 prints or prints for 10 cents, etc. Then send in your order and you can most likely pick it up that day. Walgreens has a super easy to use app that makes this process even simpler.
  • Plan something special for the 2 of you around their birthday. Instead of just getting them a present or card, I like to plan a special outing for the 2 of us so we can spend some quality time together. I try to think of fun special things that parents wouldn’t easily be able to do with their kids. One time I took an old nanny baby to get a pedicure and she about died! She felt so grown up and I relished in the smiles and giggles. Other things I’ve done include taking one of the boys out to a local baseball game, and taken a girl out to tea at the American Girl Place. I’ve done the American Girl Place multiple times now with different kids and it’s always a MAJOR hit! I highly suggest this if you live near one.
  • Send them mail! Most little kids rarely get mail and if they do it is the greatest thing ever. Clarification: THIS IS NOT AN EMAIL (most young kids don’t have an email anyways haha) Go the traditional route and mail them a handwritten card or letter. This small gesture is minimal in cost (think paper, envelope, stamp) and means a lot to the children and the parents. If the child is old enough you could even write down a few questions for them in your letter so they can write you one back! Pen pals have never been so cool 🙂
  • Ask the parents if they want to go on a date night and you can babysit! I have heard from a lot of parents that they don’t want to ask you to babysit too often because they don’t want to burn you out. While that may be the case for some, for me I would spend every weekend babysitting if I could 🙂 Shoot one of your families a text every so often asking if they want a night out any weekend in x month. All the families I’ve worked for have been more than happy to pick a night and go out and do their thing! Quality time + a little bit of cash never hurt anybody.

Finding time for old families is something that is so important to me. Each and everyone of the kids I’ve watched has left a special mark on me and I hope I have left one on them. Maintaining our connections and bonds are natural and necessary for me. I have been so lucky to have great relationships with all the families I’ve worked with, I hope you all are just as lucky!

xoxo

Kelly

PS: Here are some of my favorite memories with all my babies who I don’t see every day now 🙂

The Giving Season: My Holiday Gift Guide on a Budget

Hi all! Happy Tuesday! With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would put together a list of my go-to gifts for kids, family, friends, nanny bosses, etc that are all budget friendly:)

Christmas is my most favorite time of year! I think it is magical and perfect in every way. Giving someone a gift that they will love and use is very important to me. Now that I am spending my own hard earned money (that could go to groceries & gas) on gifts for everyone on my list I’ve tried to get a little more thrifty. When buying gifts for my family I am willing to spend more so they are less of a concern. My main problem comes to buying gifts for all my tiny humans I like to make feel special this time of year! With 8 kiddos I like to buy for I have had to find ways to keep my spending under control. While it may be tempting to buy your kid the new latest and greatest LEGO set, with my college nanny budget $50 for one gift is not going to fly. This time of year it can be hard to buy for others as well. Those including cousins, friends, aunts /uncles, and nanny bosses. Those people who are important to you add up. I have found instead of ignoring those groups of people all together set a small budget like you do for the kiddos are stick to that. These are some of my go-to gifts and helpful tricks I use to make holiday shopping easier on the budget and mind 🙂

 

My Tips to Stay on Budget 

Check the Target Cartwheel App. I am not a loyal user of this app because I don’t think you save that much. BUT recently I’ve realized if you look, you can find great deals on things you may be interested in buying for gifts. Last week Disney Princess costumes were 50% off. I’ve also seen LEGO sets on sale. They have books, movies, toys, crafts, and other things that may be on your list. It is definitely worth checking it out before you go make you gift purchases.

Keep eyes open for toys/gifts on sale year round. This is something I do mainly for gifts I am going to buy my nanny kiddos. Throughout the year when Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, and other kid stores have things on sale I buy them then and then save them for Christmas. I found a Cinderella Barbie carriage for Ruby in September for $20 (originally $40). This can work for friends and family too. If you see something in July you think your friend Rachel will love, get it! Bring it home and just put it somewhere you will remember!! You don’t want December 22nd to come and have to tear your house apart to find it 🙂

Shop at the Target $1 spot or $3 spot. This is for kids especially (nieces, nephews, nanny kids, stocking stuffers, cousins, friends kids)! Kids can’t tell whether something they get was only $1. These days the $1 spot at Target has some great things! Everything from Minions to Disney Princess to Elmo. Take advantage of this area and use that as small little gifts to go with a bigger one, or buy a few of the little things and that can be their gift! It is the fact that you thought about the kid and something to get them that matters.

Set a budget for how much you want to spend. And stick to it! If you only have $10 to spend on each person, that is okay! Don’t feel pressure to go overboard because others are. You can get some great stuff for a small amount of money these days. Take advantage of sales, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal, check out your local Dollar Store, or make something! These days handmade gifts (like candles or cocoa mix in a bag) are just as special. Just make sure you take your time and make it nice by adding little details, like ribbons.

Here are some of my go-to gifts for kids, friends, nanny bosses, and family!

Gifts for kids t300_8a654cc96f475ac3c6c93a8a17a69fc115716281

  • Melissa and Doug Sticker Books $5
  • Mini Lego Sets $5 – $10
  • Fleece Tie Blankets: This is particular one of my favorites. I gave one to a girl I have watched for a long time a couple years ago, and she still sleeps with it every night 🙂 Something as simple as a blanket can mean so much to a child because it reminds them you love them. If you look out for sales on fleece at your local fabric store this can be an inexpensive gift! It just takes some time to make.
  • Framed picture of the two of you: You can embellish the frame to with stickers and jewels.
  • Hot Cocoa Mix in a Bag: All you need is cellophane bags, cocoa powder, sugar, powdered sugar, and a pinch salt. Here a link to an easy recipe! Pour desired amount of mix in cellophane bag. Add mini marshmallows to the top and seal with ribbon!
  • Fun outing with just you two: Kids love to feel special and celebrated. Give them the gift of your time. Tell them to pick a fun thing to do and restaurant to go to together. Then do it around Christmas time. Maybe buy something special while your out to remember your happy day together.
  • Scrapbook: This is very time consuming and costs more than the others, BUT it is one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts you can give. I handmade one for Ruby at the end of our summer together. She and her parents love it! It makes me so happy to look back at them when I am there on Fridays now. It’s a physical reminder of your time together. While I took the long route of making each page by hand, there are now much more efficient options online. Check out Snapfish or Whalgreens!

 

Gifts for nanny friends/cousins 

  • Anthropologie coffee mug with letter $8: I give these out a lot and sometimes add homemade hot cocoa in a bag to put in the middle of the cup. It makes for a nice yet inexpensive gift!
  • Bath and body works deals: There are usually tons of sales at Bath and Body works. They have the buy 3 lotions get 2 free a lot so take advantage of that! You can get 5 gifts for friends/family for the price of 3!
  • Lush Bath Bomb $5 – $9
  • Framed picture of you two (embellish the frame)
  • Homemade spa stuff: There are lots of recipes of these online. I received some form one of my cousins last year and it was amazing!

Gifts for nanny boss

  • Handmade art by their kid (mistle toes, handprint)
  • Candle: Easy to find at Target, Bath and Body works, etc
  • Personalized ornament: Head to your local mall and get an ornament personalized with all the family members names on it. This is an easy, meaningful gift that parents enjoy.
  • Ornament in general: If there is a special ornament out there that you think would be meaningful to the parents get that! This year Ruby, I, and her mom were 3 Disney princesses for Ruby’s birthday. So I decided to get Ruby and her mom an ornament of each princess we were to forever have that memory.
  • A calendar full of pictures of the kid: I highly suggest this gift! I made one for only $13 with shipping and Ruby’s mom LOVES it. Right now on Snapfish you can make one for $8!! It is a very thoughtful and meaningful gift. I got all of the pictures of their family from Facebook and pictures I had of Ruby so it was a fun surprise for her mom. It is pretty easy to do these with helpful websites like Snapfish or Shutterfly or Whalgreens! More often than not they have sales going on so make your calendar and then order while there is a sale! Check all 3 to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

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In the end what really matters when giving a gift is the thought you put into it. You don’t need to spend $100 to show someone you love them. I hope you find this list helpful! Merry Christmas to all of you 🙂

xoxo Kelly

 

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

A Little Nanny Appreciation

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I saw this post last week on The Nanny Box’s Instagram and I knew I had to share with all of you!

“When nannies feel appreciated, they work with tons of joy and confidence!”

A simple yet often overlooked statement to start the week off right. I have been extremely lucky to work with amazing families who have made me feel appreciated everyday when I show up to work. It makes me want to come to work everyday. I had one family and the appreciation wasn’t as evident. It didn’t make me do my job any worse, but it did mentally break me down a little. I had a tough nanny child at that time, and I was doing my best to try and teach him right from wrong. Sometimes all you need is a thank you. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a raise or a present (both are nice every so often though 🙂 ). It can be a simple “we are so lucky to have you,” or “I love the way you care for our child,” or just a “you’re awesome and we love having you as our nanny.” I have been told all of those things and I can tell you it does make a difference in how you do your job. This can come from the child as well. It effects you in a conscious and subconscious way. When you are positively reinforced by you boss or nanny kiddo you do feel more confident at what you are doing, and it does make you more joyful!

So, parents, remember to tell your nanny how much you appreciate all they are doing. It will go a long way and lead to a happy work environment. Also remind your children every so often how lucky they are to have a nanny as great as the one they do. Then your child may be more likely to thank the nanny. Like I said above it can be easy and simple. Simple is still meaningful. However if you really want to show some nanny love it can also be something like having a nanny appreciation day! Have you and your child write them a card about how much they mean to you, get them flowers or a candle, a framed picture of them and your child, and a special treat. Then have that on the table one morning when your nanny shows up for work. Once again, I can tell you from personal experience how wonderful it is to know you value them.

And nannies remember to be be confident and joyful in all that you do with your nanny children. Even if you are not told every day, deep down I think you do know how appreciated you are, and will always be, by the child you are with. Also know I appreciate you and everything you do! So go off to work this week and kill it with some extra confidence and joy 🙂

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2015