Ask Us! How do I get it all done in one day?

1488520-292x300We don’t  fly around with a magic black umbrella or claim to have the skills of Mary Poppins, but our Nanny Team Counselors do have over 100 years of combined experience placing great Nanny candidates in childcare jobs all over the Bay Area. When it comes to navigating the world of professional in-home childcare, we’ve just about seen it all. So go ahead, Ask Us!

My job has Family Assistant responsibilities in addition to childcare. Some days it’s tough to get it all done. Do you have suggestions as to how to manage the children and the household duties? – Julie

Dear Julie,

We all know multitasking can be difficult, especially when it comes to getting things done with children by your side. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of Family Assistant duties that are included in a Nanny’s job description. Here are a few suggestions for how to get household chores done efficiently.

Grocery Shopping and Running Errands

  • Get shopping and errands done early in the day. Grocery stores tend to be less busy in the morning. They often have the freshest produce in the morning, too. Children are also less likely to be overtired and hungry.
  • Turn shopping into an adventure. Use your imagination with children. Are you just picking up fish or are you going deep-sea fishing? The sky’s the limit when it comes to imagination. Creating your story or theme to fit the children’s interest will speed the errand and curb meltdowns.
  • Use the items in the aisles of the store as a language learning experience. Associating words and objects is great for children. Point out items and say their names. If you speak a second language, and the parents want you to speak in that language to your charge, you should say the word in the secondary language, too.
  • Bring healthy snacks. There’s nothing worse than a hungry child in a grocery store. Make sure the snacks are parent-approved and easy for children to manage by themselves.
  • Plan ahead. If you are responsible for preparing meals, make a menu for the week and make a grocery list from the menus. You could even use a website like Pinterest to save your best recipes.
  • Use an App like “Our Groceries” or “Grocery IQ” to have the family share their lists with you so you can get as much as possible in one visit and limit trips back to the store.

Some duties are best suited for nap time, but if your charges are too old for a nap, the duties can be accomplished while the children are doing an independent activity like coloring or homework. Always make sure your charges are within your sight and within arms’ reach. Creating the most efficient work flow is helpful to make sure all of your tasks are completed. The duties outlined below can be done simultaneously.

Laundry: When the children go down for a nap, start a load of laundry. Laundry has a delay, so after you start the load, you have a period of time to get other things done. While the laundry is going, clean up any dishes from breakfast or lunch. Starting with a clean workspace will allow for easier meal prep.

Meal Prep: After you have cleaned the kitchen, dive into meal prep. Marinate the protein and chop the vegetables. Cook what can be prepared ahead of time, realizing that some things should be cooked right before serving. Wash all the dishes you used in your meal prep and wipe down the counters. Switch over the laundry and start a new load.

Light Housekeeping: Nannies are not expected to do deep cleaning, but they are expected to keep the house tidy. Pick up any stray toys and vacuum or sweep the floor if needed. If you have the bandwidth, take on small organizational projects. After the home is back in order, take a moment to sit down and rest while you fold the laundry.

The beginning of nap time might seem like a sprint, but getting the bulk of household chores done while the children are sleeping will significantly lessen your load when the little ones are awake and ready to play. While folding laundry listen to a podcast or music (without headphones). Having that mental recharge will keep you energized for the rest of the day.

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Is it Time for a Raise?

blogWe frequently get questions about raises from our Nannies and Clients.

  • “When should I ask for a raise?”
  • “When should we give a raise?”
  • “My family is expecting a new baby next month, what is the rate increase for another baby?”
  • “It’s my Nanny’s work anniversary, what is the standard salary increase?”
  • “I now do full housekeeping for my employers, should I get a raise?”

We always recommend sitting down and talking to one-to-one when a job change has been made. Here’s an industry standard overview of some common situations when it is appropriate to ask for or give a raise.

New baby: The standard salary increase for a new baby is $1.00 per hour. You should offer your Nanny the increase even if it is within your first year of working with one another. Any time a new baby is introduced, a Nanny’s responsibilities will change and increase and additional compensation is warranted.

Anniversary: A Nanny should get an increase in their hourly wage to cover cost of living increases as well as to acknowledge their increased level of experience. A typical raise is $1.00 per hour each year. Similarly, as a Nanny, if your employers have not given you a raise each year you have worked for them, it is totally acceptable that you schedule a time to meet with them and ask for an appropriate salary increase.

When the job responsibilities increase: If your Nanny is doing more for you than was originally decided upon, for example doing full housekeeping or cooking family meals, a standard salary increase is 3% to 5% percent of the Nannie’s annual income. For the most part, Nannies are open to doing more for their employers, though it is important that your Nanny knows her extra work is appreciated.

Bonuses: Bonuses should never be expected. A majority of families will offer a bonus at the end of the year near the holiday season, but they are merit based. They can range from one week’s to one month’s salary. Sometimes the bonus is just a small gift. Bonuses are influenced by how well the Nanny is doing in her job. Families should not feel obligated to offer bonuses, but if you love your Nanny, it is a great way to show her! For Nannies, remember that a bonus is a plus, and one should never be disappointed by the amount received.

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National Nanny Training Day 2016

TCRStaffOn Saturday, April 16th over 50 Bay Area professional Nannies joined the Town + Country Nanny Teams for continuing education and training at the Foster City Recreation Center. Our T+C seminar was part of National Nanny Training Day and held during the nationally celebrated “Week of the Young Child.” This year’s National Nanny Training included an estimated 1,150 nannies gathered at 32 events across 23 states. All of those in attendance came together not only as Nannies, but also as caring individuals each resolved to be a positive influence in a child’s life.

NNTD1At our Town + Country event, three speakers addressed relevant Nanny themes, including a lively session on “Reading with Your Charges” by Marsi O’Malley-Riley, Youth Services Librarian at the Belmont Library. After lunch in Leo J. Ryan park, two Town + Country Placement Counselors, Amy Horning and Tess Kotch, presented the second seminar, “Using Technology with Your Employer and Charges” which reviewed ways for communicating with your employer throughout the course of the day. Michelle Fleming, who is a Town + Country placed Nanny, gave suggestions on how to get through the “Dinner Time Crunch.” We the wrapped up with a raffle where we gve away items that were generously donated by our sponsors.

We had fabulous day filled with laughter, networking, raffles … and of course, learning! We are grateful so many Nannies spent their day with us and we look forward to our National Nanny Training event in 2017!

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Baby Nurses – The Inside Scoop from our Baby Nurse Specialist


Some of the people I speak with who are considering hiring a Baby Nurse are still not quite sure how it all really works so here are some answers to a few of the most common questions I get about Baby Nurses…

If I’m breastfeeding does it make sense to have a Baby Nurse?
When the baby wakes up, the Baby Nurse can bring the baby to Mom for nursing. After feeding, Mom has the option of handing the baby right back over to the Baby Nurse who can burp, change and settle the baby back to sleep. Sometimes the burping and changing process takes as long as the actual feeding so being able to hand the baby off for this allows Mom to go right back to sleep. Also, having someone supporting you at 3 a.m. (answering your questions and getting you that glass of want you’ll need) can make a big difference.

Additionally, Mom has the option using a breast pump and having the baby bottle fed by the Baby Nurse. After feeding, the Baby Nurse can store the extra milk, clean the pump bottles and set up the pump equipment again.

According to data from a recent study 13% of mothers who wanted to breastfeed were unsuccessful in doing so because “they didn’t get enough support to get breastfeeding going.”* While a T&C Baby Nurse is not typically a formally trained lactation consultant, they are often very experienced with supporting breastfeeding mothers and have many suggestions and tips that can help make the process successful for mother and baby. They’ll support Mom without any judgment if she decides at any point that she no longer wishes to breastfeed, wants to supplement with formula, etc.

Who are T&C Baby Nurses and what are they really like?
T&C represents women of all ages and backgrounds. Because we require a significant amount of hands on experience in the field (e.g. our least experienced Baby Nurse has worked in the field since 2004) a good portion of our pool are a more mature profile. Because a T&C Baby Nurse has such a high level of experience even parents who have already had 3 children say they’ve learned valuable tips from our Baby Nurses.

A skilled Baby Nurse knows that her job is to support the parents and she is clear that her own opinions are irrelevant unless specifically asked. They are also generally quiet by nature and know when to step in and be helpful and when to be “invisible”. She often has suggestions for how to include a partner who wants to help and tips for how to help an older child adjust to the addition of a new baby.

Any Baby Nurse who insists on doing things her way, one who is overbearing or aggressive in any way is simply not a T&C Baby Nurse.

Does the Baby Nurse sleep at night and where do they stay?
A Baby Nurse will most frequently stay right in the nursery with the baby. A bed is usually necessary since it’s difficult for a Baby Nurse to sit in a chair for 10+ hours, however, this accommodation will depend on the Baby Nurse.

Some Baby Nurses will “doze” if they have taken care of everything and the baby is sleeping peacefully. Their sleep is a light one and they are always right next to the baby so that they can immediately respond to whatever the baby may need. Other Baby Nurses will stay awake all night reading with a book light, working on a laptop, etc.

What else does a Baby Nurse do other than caring for the baby?
A Baby Nurse’s priority is always the baby’s care and keeping the nursery dark and quiet, but depending on the layout of the house they will usually be as helpful as possible with other baby related tasks such as, washing and folding baby laundry, sterilizing and prepping bottles, cleaning and setting up breast pump equipment and straightening the nursery.

I’ve also found that T&C clients who have had a Baby Nurse get off on solid footing in terms of getting the baby on a good sleeping schedule. I have found that parents working without a Baby Nurse sometimes inadvertently create sleeping habits that ultimately create sleep problems for the baby (and thus the parents) down the road. A T&C Baby Nurse can also usually get the baby sleeping through the night much sooner than parents are able to without this support.

Does having a Baby Nurse impact our ability to bond with our baby?
Postpartum baby support is not a new idea, in other cultures and parts of the country, women have other women around them, supporting them with the daily care of both themselves and their babies. In the Bay Area, frequently extended family lives far away, but even if extended family is nearby they are usually older and asking them for help at 3 a.m. isn’t really a viable or appropriate option.

A new baby is a wonderful gift, but also brings on an exhausting and sometimes very stressful time. A new parent who has someone there to help maximize their sleep, answer their questions and generally provide emotional support is more able to relax and enjoy their new baby, actually allowing them to be more “present” for the bonding process. A parent with other children in the home is juggling their needs as well, including helping them adjust (without resentment) to the newest addition. Being available to nurture the bonds with their other children during the day without having support and rest at night can quickly become a significant challenge.

Additionally, according to the Mayo clinic**, about 10% of new moms experience postpartum depression, a severe form of emotional distress that kicks in the postpartum period. Hormones and lack of sleep added to feelings of being generally overwhelmed cause some women to feel that they’ve lost control. Postpartum depression can make it difficult to bond with a baby. A Baby Nurse can provide much needed sleep for a Mom struggling with postpartum depression, allowing her to function better and be able to enjoy her time with the baby.

Why do dads usually like the idea of a Baby Nurse?
Frequently Dad is big fan of the idea of a Baby Nurse. I believe this is because (frankly) it gives them a bit of their partner back and brings in a neutral party to help educate and support both Mom and Dad. Some Dads (especially of breastfeeding mothers) really want to be supportive and involved, but are unsure of how exactly how they can best do that – a Baby Nurse can gently educate a Dad on the different ways they can be involved in the baby’s care. Especially with a first child, Mom and Dad are thrown into whole new roles and a Baby Nurse can act as gentle and supportive coach to help as they begin to figure things out.

* From “New Mother’s Speak Out” created by Eugene R. Declercq, Carol Sakala, Maureen P. Corry and Sandra Applebaum. August 2008. Report of surveys conducted January – February and July – August 2006
for Childbirth Connection by Harris Interactive® in partnership with Lamaze International

** By Mayo Clinic Staff June 7, 2008. © 1998-2009 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).

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Searching for a Housekeeper: A Cautionary Tale

We recently came across this post by marketing expert Seth Godin from a few years back. Maybe not everyone’s experience searching for a Housekeeper is going to be as bad as the example he describes. But it does speak to the benefits of working with an agency that has a long history with its Candidates and does careful background and reference checks before introducing you to someone who will be working in your home.

In any case, we think you’ll get a kick out of what Seth has to say in this excerpt from his post:

Personal branding in the age of Google

A friend advertised on Craigslist for a housekeeper.

Three interesting resumes came to the top. She googled each person’s name.

The first search turned up a MySpace page. There was a picture of the applicant, drinking beer from a funnel. Under hobbies, the first entry was, “binge drinking.”

The second search turned up a personal blog (a good one, actually). The most recent entry said something like, “I am applying for some menial jobs that are below me, and I’m annoyed by it. I’ll certainly quit the minute I sell a few paintings.”

And the third? There were only six matches, and the sixth was from the local police department, indicating that the applicant had been arrested for shoplifting two years earlier.

Three for three.

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Our Summer Solution

Summer vacation for preschool, grade school, or middle school can present challenges for many families.  It can be difficult to decide which activities to participate in and how to piece it all together so that everyone in the family can have a fun, enjoyable and well balanced summer.

Last summer, we opted to get a “Summer Nanny” for our children. Our Summer Nanny was on break from our local college and had spent previous summers working as a counselor at summer camps. Peter wanted someone who would play basketball with him and Anna wanted someone who would get in the pool and go swimming with her. First and foremost, Jens and I wanted to find someone who would make sure our kids were safe and well cared for, but we also wanted someone who would enthusiastically engage with our kids in all their summer activities and help to create a unique, personalized and stress-free summer experience for all of us.

Our Summer Nanny exceeded everyone’s expectations. It was a wonderful summer for our entire family and the kids still talk about their “Summer Buddy.” Our Summer Nanny was able to connect with our kids, show an admirable amount of care and concern for our children, AND provide them with an amazingly unique summer experience! Here are some of the other things our kids did with our Summer Nanny that stand out in our memory:

  • Taught the children how to make lanyards and friendship bracelets
  • Played games like tag and capture the flag with the children in the back yard
  • Packed up the kids and their bikes and went riding with them at a local park
  • Cheered the children on at their swim meets and was thrilled when they achieved their personal bests
  • Read to the kids when they were tired in the afternoon and needed some down time
  • Taught the children about lacrosse (which our Nanny played in college)
  • Took the kids to the local museums
  • Took them to see a couple of very silly children’s movies
  • Accompanied the children when they visited with their grandparents
  • Helped the kids keep their rooms clean and picked-up
  • Packed lunches before they headed off for the day’s activities
  • Attended the summer swim team trip to the waterslides with both children

Both of our children loved their summer with their Summer Buddy.  They were able to participate in their chosen summer activities and were also able to spend valuable time at home reading, playing, sleeping in, and relaxing. Having a Summer Nanny was like getting our own personalized camp counselor!

I am just about to call our Summer Nanny to see about this summer – the kids would be thrilled!

If a Summer Nanny sounds like something your family needs, our Town & Country Temporary Department can help.  We have a pool of qualified and wonderful Summer Nannies that can help you.

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How to Have a Successful In-Home Interview

1504852-1-300x199You found the posting for the perfect job. You sent your resume in. You passed all the initial screening. Now it’s time for “The Interview.” Interviews can be stressful but they are a necessary part of landing your dream job.

Interviewing for an in-home position can be even more challenging than typical corporate job interview. For jobs like Nanny, Family Assistant, Housekeeper, Estate Manager or Chef, not only do you need to have the qualifications, skills and experience, you also need to show that you will be the perfect fit to work in this person’s home. With good preparation and thoughtful follow-through, you can succeed in your interview, and in this blog post we’d like to give you some guidance for how to do that!

Preparation is key. It might feel like over-kill, but make sure you know ahead of time exactly how you’ll be getting to the interview, and how long it will take for you to get there. Map out your trip at least a day ahead of time. Take heavy commute traffic into account if your interview is in the morning or late afternoon. And give yourself a little bit of extra time just to be completely sure that you get to your destination on time.

Print out and bring an up-to-date copy of your resume along with you. Your interviewer already got a copy, but providing another copy will be greatly appreciated and helps show that you really want the job, you are prepared and you are taking the process seriously.

Do your homework! Make sure you have a really good idea of exactly what this job entails. If you are working through Town + Country, take the time to talk to your Counselor to learn as much as you can. Then, with this job in mind, look over your resume for experiences you’ve had in the past that likely fit this employer’s expectations or highlight why you would be a great fit.

Dress for success! First impressions really do affect the rest of the interview process, so make sure you are making a positive one! Your interviewer will form some strong first impressions based on how you make yourself look and how you dress. There is no “one outfit fits all interviews,” so for Town + Country interviews, talk to your Counselor to find out how to dress for this interview. If you don’t have an opportunity to get information ahead of time, the best bet is to dress simply, conservatively and professionally. Limit makeup, jewelry and especially perfume! A blouse that covers the shoulders paired with a nice pair of pants or khakis is a sure way to “wow” your potential future employer!

Start your interview with a warm, confident handshake and make good eye contact. Show interest in what they are saying, keep a nice smile. Keeping a friendly conversation going about the job, your experiences and their needs will help you make the personal connection with the family that shows you can be the right font in their home.

And whatever you do, make sure to avoid two very common mistakes:

  1. Never, ever bash or criticize a former employer. The family interviewing you will get the impression that you may bash them later after you leave their job, and no one wants that.
  2. Never, ever lie or exaggerate about your prior jobs, experiences or education. Speak about your experience in complete truthfulness. Dishonest claims will usually be discovered, and even if you only told one little “white lie,” it will tend to undercut everything else you’ve said. After all, if you were dishonest about that one thing, what else are you being dishonest about? For in-home positions, families need to be able to have complete trust in you before being comfortable having you work in their home.

Finish your interview the same way you started it. Emphasize your interest in the position, and say good-bye with a confident handshake, a warm smile and good eye contact.

Follow-up! Send your interviewer an email or, even better, a handwritten note thanking them for their time and again expressing interest. Double check that all names are correctly spelled and that you don’t have any typos.

Prepare, dress for success, show respect and follow-up afterwards – give yourself the best chance to succeed!

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