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10 Challenges for the Nanny of a Non-working Mother

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Working mothers aren’t the only ones who hire nannies to do in home childcare. There are an amazing number of mothers who are not earning an income, in or outside of the home, who still employ nannies for childcare. The reasons can vary. Some mothers lead very active lives involved in volunteer activities or other personal interests. Other mothers utilize the nanny as an assistant with her multiple children, just to have that extra set of hands.

  1. Teamwork – These types of nanny positions require the mother and nanny to work together closely. The nanny will need to have a clear understanding of the mother’s goals regarding the nanny’s position within the household.
  2. Schedule – A non-working mother’s schedule can sometimes be more erratic than most working mothers. The nanny and mother will need to work together to develop a schedule for the nanny that will work for both of them.
  3. Defining roles – With the mother and the nanny both in the house at the same time, often working side-by-side, defining who does what and when can be a true challenge. This area is one that sometimes needs to develop over time, as both parties recognize what works best.
  4. In and out – Unlike the situation where a mother is out of the house all day, this nanny will need to expect the mother to be in and out of the house as needed. Learning how to manage the children during these times will be another one of the nanny’s challenges.
  5. Watchful eye – Because the mother may be present much more than in other nanny positions, the nanny needs to feel confident enough to handle the extra scrutiny that will naturally be there.
  6. Personalities – Personality clashes can be an issue between any nanny and parent, but a personality clash in this situation can quickly end the working relationship. Making sure that both nanny and mom can work well together is vital for success.
  7. Perceptions – Non-working mothers who have hired nannies to assist with childcare are, at times, the target of judgmental views from other members of society. A nanny will need to be vigilante in guarding the privacy and integrity of her client if confronted with outside opinions.
  8. Personal boundaries – Setting personal boundaries in this close working relationship can be difficult. Each nanny and mother will need to work out their own set of boundaries regarding their relationship, in order to keep it at a professional level that both are comfortable with.
  9. Writing the contract – Much more time should be spent in detailing out the employment agreement in this situation. It is important to cover and address the many variables that may arise in this more intimate work setting.
  10. Juggling the children – Often times, this situation involves the nanny caring for one or more of the children while Mom attends to others. It may mean the nanny stays with younger children while Mom attends activities with the older ones, or it may be the opposite in some cases. Flexibility and good communication will be important for the nanny who is fulfilling this role.

The nanny and non-working mother who develop a good working relationship together can be strong allies in the care and support of the children in the household. It just takes a bit more teamwork.

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Who Qualifies for the Nanny of the Year Award?

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Each year, individuals are nominated and a title is awarded for the Nanny of the Year Award. This award is sponsored by the International Nanny Association (INA). In order to receive this prestigious award, there are several qualifications that must be met.

  1. Currently employed. In order to be nominated and qualify as a candidate for the Nanny of the Year Award, a person must be currently employed as a nanny. Those without a current position as a nanny, even if they are doing childcare in another type of setting, would not qualify.
  2. Full time nanny. Nannies who hold a part time position do not qualify for a nomination. All nominees must be currently employed in a full time nanny position. It may be a temporary position or a specialty position, but it must be full time hours, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is defined as a minimum of 40 hours per seven day period or a minimum of 2080 hours per year.
  3. Member of INA. Since this award is provided by the INA, one of the obvious qualifications is that the nanny be a current member of the organization at the time the nomination is filed. Membership is easy to apply for on their website and the cost in 2011 is only $35.00.
  4. 5 years minimum experience. In order to qualify for nomination, the person must have a minimum of five years experience in the  in-home childcare industry.
  5. Meet legal requirements. The person must legally be able to accept employment in the country they are currently employed in, and they must also be paid as an ’employee’, as defined by the IRS.
  6. Advocate for Children. Any person nominated for the Nanny of the Year Award should demonstrate, in tangible ways, that they are a genuine advocate for children in general, beyond just the children in their current care.
  7. Nomination. A nanny cannot nominate herself for this award, but the nanny must be in attendance at the award ceremony during the annual INA Conference in order to receive the award.
  8. Agreement to Duties. Part of the application for the Nanny of the Year Award is a listing of the duties expected of the winner of the award during the year to follow. There is a Certification Form included with the application which the nominee must sign. It acknowledges that she understands those duties and is willing and able to perform them if she is given the award.
  9. Letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation from current and previous employers are to be included as part of the application.
  10. Enriching the lives of children in her care. The nanny being nominated should be able to demonstrate through the materials and references provided with the application that she has had an enriching impact on the lives of the children within her care.

This award is quite coveted among the professional nannies who are a part of the International Nanny Association and quite a bit of work goes into the application process on the part of the nominator and the nominee herself.

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7 Ways to Polish Your Nanny Resume

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Whether you are a first-time nanny looking to spice up a resume that may be lacking something or a seasoned pro who needs to do a lot of updating, if you are in the job market, you need to have an outstanding resume. Times are tough and competition is keen, so your resume needs to stand out in the crowd. What we have here are some tips and advice that can help you build a more impressive resume, one that could land you that elusive job interview.

For a prospective nanny, a simple online resume may not be enough. You will need to have ready access to all manner of certifications, many of which will only be accepted in hard-copy. These materials should be protected from hazards such as fires and floods, since replacement can be an added nightmare in the event of a disaster.

If you feel a need to buff up your resume, make use of these seven tips.

  1. Reassess – Refresh yourself with a review of your resume, and you will help yourself revisit why you got into the nanny profession in the first place. This will help counter any complacency that can build up over time. Also, if you are asked about your resume during an interview, you will have the answers fresh in your mind.
  2. Slash the trash – Don’t be redundant. If you have current certifications in your package, remove out-of-date material. Prospective employers want you to display a sense of organization, so limit yourself to pertinent information.
  3. Point out Pluses – If you have won any awards or received commendations, especially during any recent employment, it is apropos to include that in your made-over resume package.
  4. Hire a Professional  –  There are plenty of professional resume writing services available. Often times, these professionals have experience in the human relations field and know exactly how to layout a resume in a way that will capture the attention of potential employers.
  5. Photo – If photographs are part of the resume package, make sure they are current and professional. Don’t use the pictures from your night out with the Chippendale dancers, and don’t overdo the make-up. Most parents prefer the wholesome look for someone they are hiring to care for their offspring.
  6. Letters of Recommendation –  Ask for letters of recommendation from your past employers to include with your resume. These personal testimonials carry a lot of weight with new employers.
  7. More Eyes – Sometimes it just takes a fresh pair of eyes to help improve a resume. Have a friend or colleague read through your packet to see how it might appear to a prospective employer. Often, we write things in a manner that is clear to ourselves, but doesn’t get the message through to the potential interviewer.

Remember, don’t have a stagnant or dull resume. That package is often the first impression somebody receives if they are thinking about hiring you. They may see dozens of resumes; make sure yours is the best it can be.

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The Risks Associated with Temporary Childcare

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Working parents usually have regularly scheduled childcare for their kids, but there are situations that may require a temporary nanny or caregiver. They may be inbetween permanent day care, the child is sick and can’t attend school or the parents are taking a short vacation on their own. Whatever the reason, there are temporary childcare services available. However, before taking that step, be sure to know the risks involved.

Children are the most comfortable if they can depend on a regular daily routine. Too much disruption to this can lead kids into a sense of insecurity. Some children are able to deal with new situations and other caregivers better than others, so use caution when introducing your child to temporary childcare. It wouldn’t be advisable to leave your child with an unfamiliar adult while you go off on a weekend getaway.

Kids who are constantly being shuffled from one caregiver to another can develop trouble forming attachments. Beginning in infancy with their parents, children need to develop secure attachments to the adults that care for them. Consistent, dependable relationships give kids a sense of security and control, so constantly changing temporary caregivers can be detrimental to a child’s well being. Bonding with adult caregivers can take time and consistency so constant disruptions to this process can result in your child being detached and have trouble establishing future relationships.

It’s unreasonable to expect that your child should never be left with a temporary caregiver, so parents shouldn’t worry too much when the situation arises. When something unexpected comes up and you need to get someone to watch the kids, don’t be concerned that they’ll have irreparable damage from the experience. Only when this scenario is repeated over and over do you run the risk of behavior problems developing in your child. Kids who don’t develop stable relationships with their caregivers can become irritable and act out from frustration.

When circumstances do require you to find a temporary caregiver, be sure to get someone you can trust. A good temporary childcare service will perform thorough background checks on all their staff. By checking references and getting recommendations from other parents, you should be able to locate a reputable service or responsible person that you can feel comfortable leaving your child with. Never run the risk of trusting the care of your child with someone you don’t know well personally or haven’t thoroughly checked out ahead of time.

Another option for temporary childcare is to get someone your child is already familiar with. Perhaps you have a friend or family member that your children know from past social gatherings that they would feel comfortable with. By having an already established relationship, kids will be less traumatized by being left alone with someone different for a short period of time.

Knowing the risks associated with temporary childcare and how to avoid them is an important aspect in childrearing. By letting your children establish ongoing relationships with their caregivers and providing them with consistency in their formative years, your kids are more likely to grow up happy, healthy and well adjusted.

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10 Reasons to Consider a Nanny Who is a Mom

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Finding the right nanny can be a really difficult and frustrating experience and it’s true that some parents go into it with pre-conceived notions of what a nanny should or should not be like (young and fun or older and experienced, etc.).  We aren’t really sure why that is the case but over the years I have had some parents tell me that they would prefer to not have a nanny that has her own children.  I think that’s really too bad because there are many reasons to consider Moms.  Just being a Mother doesn’t mean that they are good or bad, better or worse, but it should NOT be a reason to exclude them from a search.  In fact, you should see their experience as a parent in many ways consistent with “on-the-job” training that should help them in their career as a nanny.  We are going to give you a few reasons to consider hiring a nanny who is a mother, but we want to stress that these types of life skills can and often do exist in people that have chosen a career as a nanny.

  1. Experience – Colic, croup, teething, “terrible two’s” and a cast of thousands of first-hand experiences will be helpful for your nanny.
  2. Empathy – Being a mother takes things from the hypothetical/theoretical to a practical level, and those with the “experience” are more apt to have a “feel” for their charges.
  3. Behavior Recognition – Mothers see the progressions, regressions, aggressions and digressions in your kids  because they have been through it with their own children.
  4. Skills – Mom’s can have learned some skills that are hard to teach effectively from dealing with kid’s that know how to push their buttons to holding a sick child’s hand while they lie in bed with a fever.  Some of those life skills can really come in handy in ways that are just hard to describe.
  5. Discipline – Nannies with parenting experience have learned to balance the use of the carrot and the stick.  Again, all nannies should have this well under control but getting your kids to accept discipline for some reason can be even more challenging than doing the same with other children.
  6. Nutrition – If a nanny has been successful at getting her own children hooked on healthy foods then there is a chance she has a few tricks up her sleeve for getting kids in her charge to eat their veggies and more.
  7. Knows the Routine – Doctors, dentists, pictures with Santa, after-school activities and a slew of other appointments and activities are nothing new to the nanny who is also a mom.
  8. Education – Typically, a nanny who has school-age kids of her own will be better prepared to help in the educational process if that is something that you are looking for from your nanny (tutoring and/or interactions with the school as needed).
  9. Instinct – Humans don’t like to be compared to other earthly fauna, but many say the motherly “instinct” is alive and well.  Once again, this can be strong in nannies without their own children as well and is much more intrinsic to the person on a case-by-case basis.
  10. Intangibles – Almost a compendium of the previous items is the overall presence of a nanny who already has childrearing experience. The total package can be greater than the sum of the parts.

Motherhood is certainly NOT a requirement for a great nanny by any means as there are many fantastic caregivers that have never had children of their own (in fact through their nanny experiences they will likely pick up nearly the same life skills).  With that said, it’s common when you are looking for an experienced nanny to find out whether or not candidates have been a mother and to delve into questions surrounding their own experiences.  It can go either way, but one thing we are sure of is that you should not ignore candidates who have been a Mother, in fact we hope we gave you some good reasons to include them on your interview list.

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10 Challenges Working Moms Have with Their Nannies

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Being a working mom is already a difficult situation but when you add in a nanny, things get even more complex. How do you handle balancing the relationship- making it professional in such a private setting? What can you do to make it easier? Here are ten tips on common challenges with nannies and how to resolve them.

  1. Establish a Business Relationship – Be professional.  Make sure you pay your nanny on time and in a professional manner. Some people think of a nanny as a paid friend, but that’s not true. You are her employer and should always treat her with professionalism and respect. Make sure that the relationship begins professionally as well. Make a contract that clearly lines out what both parties expect.
  2. Communicate – One of the main problems parents and nannies face is a lack of communication. How can the nanny know what you expect if you do not ever tell her? Don’t assume anything. After all, you know what they say about assuming…
  3. Provide clear direction — This is actually a part of communicating, but it’s so important that I gave it a separate section. If your nanny is falling short of your expectations, give her feedback. You may be feeling upset or resentful about something that the nanny did not even realize was an issue.
  4. Pay well and offer bonuses for a job well done — In addition to paying nannies a fair wage, giving thoughtful bonuses, such as a gift card at their favorite coffee shop, can be used as a reward when nannies hit milestones or accomplish specific goals.
  5. Motivate – Pay is not the only motivator. Be positive and uplifting. DON’T talk down to your nannies. If you respect them, they’ll respect you. Think about it- how would you like to be treated? And remember, a motivated nanny stays around longer.
  6. Be home on time — Your nanny has a life outside of her work, and when you are running late, even by 15 minutes, it affects her plans. Try to be home on time and always pay your nanny for any extra time when you are late.
  7. Work as a united front — Try not to contradict the nanny in front of the kids. When you are home with the nanny, let her run the show. Part of this is agreeing on the rules. If you cooperate beforehand, the children will never have an opportunity to exploit weakness.
  8. Seek the nanny’s input — Give your nanny enough autonomy to do her job well. Talk with your nanny. Ask her how things are going and if she has any suggestions for how to make the days more enjoyable and easier for everyone. She’s been with your children all day, she might have some great suggestions that you would never have thought about.
  9. Accept or move on – No nanny is perfect. Heck, even Mary Poppins annoyed her employer. What you have to do is decide. Is the issue large enough to fire her over? Have you discussed it clearly? People are just people. They have their own ways of doing things. If you can’t take it, then just move on. Don’t give yourself extra stress.
  10. Let go – Speaking of moving on, sometimes it’s time to let go. If a nanny has become unsatisfied, burnt out, or otherwise unsatisfactory, just let go. Don’t worry; you will be able to find a replacement. It’s not worth your stress or trying to throw money at her. Burnout just happens. Part as friends and keep going.

So, there you go. Ten tips on how to make the most of your situation. And remember, the most important thing in this equation is your children. Your nanny is not there for you, she’s there for them. Make sure they are in a loving and comfortable environment, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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10 Drinks Kids Want Before Water

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Water is the best drink for kids and adults, but unfortunately, it isn’t always our first choice, especially for kids. It can take some training on our part to help them make this a preferred choice and make sure that they get all the water that they need each day. Below are listed 10 choices that many kids would choose to drink instead of water.

  1. Juice – Fruit juices do provide some good, healthy nutrition for kids, and their sweet taste will often make them a favorite for kids. Apple, grape and orange juices are the three safe choices for smiles. However, there are many combination flavors that kids enjoy today as well (cran-grape, orange-pineapple, etc.). Checking the content to make sure there is no added sugar and that the product is 100% juice is an important step in getting the most nutritional value out of the juices kids love.
  2. Soft drinks – You may call these ‘soda’ or ‘pop’, depending on the area of the country you live in. Root beer and fruit flavored soft drinks seem to be the favorites among young kids and are generally free from caffeine, but have lots of sugar. There are few kids who would choose water over a soft drink with their meal, but there are a few.  This one is difficult to combat since there is almost no nutritional value, the best thing you can do is be sure to offer this choice as a last resort (basically use it more as a treat).
  3. Milk – This is another healthy choice for kids who want to drink something other than water.  You also have the choice of providing it in different fat contents.You will find that some kids do have a preference for the milks with higher fat content, skim, 1%, 2% or whole milk, depending on what they are used to drinking at home.
  4. Koolaid – This fruit flavored powder has been used by parents for years to provide an inexpensive sweet drink for kids. Kids will get their water by drinking this drink, but they’ll also get a lot of sugar unless you buy the sugar-free variety (which of course we recommend).
  5. Lemonade – Lemon juice, water and sugar are the three simple components of this time favored drink. The sour lemon juice is tempered by the sugar to make it just right for a hot summer day. Of course, it has also been used as a money maker for many children over the years.  This is another favorite that you can control the amount of sugar, so not a bad choice for kids under your care.
  6. Smoothies – A cold, slushy drink made with fruit, your limitations in this area are created only by the limits of your own imagination. Any single fruit or combination of fruit can be used. You can find many different recipes for smoothies online to satisfy the taste buds of even the pickiest kids.
  7. Ice cream floats – This drink can double as a dessert. Root beer floats are one of the most popular, but floats can be made with any flavor of soft drink, just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  This is a true treat for obvious reasons and an effective prize for good behavior.
  8. Flavored milk – Some kids prefer flavored milk to either white milk or water. Chocolate is the most common flavor and usually comes in a skim milk variety. However, strawberry flavored milk or flavored powder for adding to milk is also available.
  9. Sports drinks – There are times when sports drinks with electrolytes are actually more beneficial to children than just water. Any time when dehydration is a concern, pediatricians recommend these types of drinks. Pedialyte or Gatorade are the two most well-known brand names.
  10. Flavored waters – Many sugar-free flavored bottled waters are available in grocery stores that can be helpful for getting kids to drink the water they, need without adding any sugar to their diet.

As we mentioned at the beginning, water is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for kids, and such be encouraged as their drink of choice. If you are looking for other options, there are plenty of them available that kids will happily take as a first or second choice.

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Happy National Nanny Recognition Week!

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We wanted to be sure to celebrate National Nanny Recognition Week and thank all of the nannies that we have had the pleasure to work with through the years.  Thank you for the invaluable service that you provide to our children and for all of your daily, weekly, monthly efforts!  We appreciate your hard work and hope you have a great week!

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10 Signs Your Child is Ready for Self Care

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As children get older, they need to take on more responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is taking care of themselves. Whether it’s for a few minutes or a few hours, eventually every child needs to be able to stay home alone. Here are ten tips on deciding when your child is ready.

  1. Your child should indicate a desire and willingness to stay alone – Children who are easily frightened or express an unwillingness to stay alone are probably not ready for this responsibility.
  2. Your child should be showing signs of accepting the responsibility – Children who are able to get ready for school on time and complete homework and household chores with a minimum of supervision are illustrating their growing sense of responsibility.
  3. Your child should be aware of the needs of others – Children who remember to tell you where they are going and when they will be back and are mindful of the promises they make are aware of other’s needs.
  4. Your child should be able to consider alternatives and make decisions independently – Children who solve problems on their own and do not depend on their parents for every decision are demonstrating some of the skills they need to care for themselves.
  5. Your child should be able to talk easily with you about interests and concerns – Good parent-child communication is needed to ensure that any fears or problems that arise because of staying alone can be quickly discussed and dealt with.
  6. Your child should know how to react in situations such as – being locked out, being afraid, being bored, being lonely, and arguments with brothers and sisters.
  7. Your child should know house rules about – leaving the house, having friends in, cooking and use of kitchen equipment, appropriate snacks and meals, talking with friends on the phone, and duties to be completed while home alone.
  8. Your child should have good telephone skills – Such as a list of emergency numbers, knowledge of what to say in an emergency situation, how to respond if someone calls, and understanding of appropriate and inappropriate reasons for calling parents or other adults for help.
  9. Your child should have good personal safety skills – Such as how to answer the door when alone, how to lock and unlock windows, what to do if approached by a stranger on the way home, what to do if they think someone is in the house when they get home, and what to do if someone touches them inappropriately.
  10. Your child should have good home safety skills – Like kitchen safety (use of appliances, knives and tools), what to do if they smell smoke or gas- or in the event of a fire, what to do during severe storms, basic first aid techniques and how to know when to get help.

For many children these abilities begin to appear between the ages of 10-12. Some children may take longer than others, but it should be a mutual decision. Both the child and the parent need to be certain they are ready. A trial period of one or two days a week could be tried first, allowing both the parent and the child time to assure themselves that they are ready for this next step in responsibility.

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10 Concerns About Nannies Being “Shadow Mothers”

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Sociologist Cameron MacDonald has created quite a stir with her book, Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs, and the Micropolitics of Mothering. As a sociologist, MacDonald looks at the issues of today’s childcare from all perspectives, the parent, the provider, the child, the workplace and society in general. The title of her book has, in affect, coined a new term, “Shadow Mothers”. The term relates to the desire of professional mothers to have their child’s daycare provider become an extension of themselves that appear and then disappears, as needed. Below we’ve listed ten concerns that are raised about the concept of nannies being shadow mothers.

  1. Disconnect with Mom – As much as mothers desire their kids to feel happy and safe with their nannies, there is often a concern that their children will lose their intimate connection with their mother, when the child is spending so much time in the care of another woman.
  2. Cultural values – One of the traditional roles of the mother has been to pass on cultural values and societal standing to their children. There are concerns that this motherhood role may be lost  when leaving children in the care of nannies from another class of society.
  3. Blurred lines – When mothers expect a nanny to take on her full role of motherly nurture in her absence, the roles of nanny and mother can lose their distinction, especially for the child.
  4. Nanny preference – Concerns that the children will become more attached to their nanny than to their own mother are common. Mothers seem to want their children to be happy to see their nanny, but not ‘too’ happy.
  5. Mommy guilt – The educated mom has an even greater understanding of the important psychological role that she plays in the early development of her child. Unfortunately, that understanding can lead to guilt feelings related to sharing the daily care of her children with other adults.
  6. Nanny rotation – There are some mothers who try to solve the problem of nanny attachment through nanny rotation. Rather than keeping their child with one nanny that they can continue to bond with, the mother will replace the nanny yearly or even more often to prevent that attachment from forming.
  7. Emotional disconnect – In situations where the nanny recognizes the mother’s desire to keep their child from bonding too closely with their caregiver, a nanny may attempt to maintain emotionally distant from the children, which may not necessarily be in the best interest of the children she cares for.
  8. Cultural attitudes – Mothers can be concerned with the opinions of her peers towards her sharing of her mothering role with an employee. In spite of the fact that the majority of women now work outside of the home, there still is some stigma attached to the hiring of a one-on-one caregiver for your child.
  9. Child’s perception – Confusion of the roles of the two caregivers in the mind of the child is one of the main concerns. Maintaining certain areas of care, such as bathing, homework assistance and bedtime, as distinctly the mom’s responsibility can help keep the two roles separate.
  10.  Balanced acknowledgement – The conclusion drawn by MacDonald in her book indicated that the most healthy nanny-parent relationships were those where the parents openly acknowledged the value of the nanny in the role as ‘one’ of the adult caregivers  in the family. This balance can be achieved much the same as the balance created by mothers and fathers in their roles of caring for their children. The roles are distinct and yet cooperative. They are mutually acknowledged.

When handled correctly, the nanny as a ‘shadow mother’ can be a very positive experience for the children, the parents and the nanny, as well.

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