Earth Day with Kids

Today is Earth Day!  Every year we remember the ways we can help make our planet a greener and more beautiful place to live!  One of the greatest things about Earth Day is that it is very easy to get kids involved.  There are so many wonderful ways kids can learn to take care of the planet and make our Earth a little better and brighter.

Start a Garden
After quarantine, most of us probably have a garden we planted to help avoid cabin fever!  While the internet is littered with DIY garden projects, you and your children can actually make a simple garden with some dirt, seeds, and pots!  Head to Lowes or Home Depot and let the kids pick out what seeds they’d like to plant.  Make it their job to water the plants every morning.  You can also paint the pots and make a whole project out of it!

Park Clean Up
We have so many beautiful parks in central Texas and many great park clean up projects.  But even without an officially project, heading to the local park to pick up trash is a great activity!  Get your kids a fun grabber and a trash bag and make it a contest!

Meatless Mondays
How do pancakes for breakfast, Peanut butter and Jelly for lunch and mac and cheese for dinner sound?  It sounds vegetarian and kids friendly to me!  Eating fewer meat products can help reduce greenhouse gases.  While many of us love Whataburger way too much to go full vegetarian, Meatless Mondays can be a fun alternative to limit animal consumption and experiment with healthy meals for the kids!

Bird Feeder
There are so many different ways to make birdfeeders.  You can go simple with a pine cone or an apple and some peanut butter.  You can get some popsicle sticks or even be more advance and try a beginner bird house! 

Visit Farms and Farmers Markets
Central Texas has so many wonderful working farms to visit.  Many of them also allow you to pick fresh fruits and vegetables to bring home.  The farmers’ markets around central Texas are also a great activity to do with kids.  Supporting our local famers is a great way to help the planet and teach kids about where their food is from.

Camping and Hiking
Getting out in nature is a wonderful way to appreciate the beauty the Earth has to offer.  Check out the many great camping spots nearby. While Texas weather is unpredictable, now is one of the best times to get out of the house and spend a night under the stars! Many of the camping spots in central Texas offer great fishing, swimming and hiking. Your kids will have to work really hard to muster up an “I’m bored” in some of these camping spots! 

Earth Day Films and Shows
I could probably write an entire blog post featuring all the amazing movies and TV shows that talk about Earth Day! Disney Plus even has an entire section of their streaming service dedicated to all their movies about the planet! There is so much great content out there for your kids to enjoy and learn from.

A Trip to Monster Mini Golf

We needed an activity to get us out of the house without having to worry about what mood the Texas weather was in that day.  Monster mini golf is an indoor, glow in the dark mini golf course with an arcade and laser tag room.  I grabbed the five-year-old and the eight-year-old, and with zero expectations or planning, we went to minigolf! 

The location itself is fairly easy to find, but it is in a long business strip center, and it can be easy to zoom by and realized you missed it.  But GPS liked us that day and we found it with no issues. 

The inside is really cool.  The whole place is dark, but wonderfully lit up with black lights and murals of some of our favorite Austin celebrities!  We started with laser tag since there was a wait for mini golf.  Laser tag was a blast!  It is a fairly small room, so it wouldn’t work for huge groups.  But there was enough room for the three of us to run around and try and get each other.  They have vests for everyone to put on with the laser guns attached.  The vest was too heavy for the five-year-old, so she just ended up being on my team, and we hunted down the eight-year-old together.

Finally, after laser tag, we were able to start mini golf.  They are really good at spreading people out, but you still feel a bit like you are rushing through the course so you don’t hold up the line.  I kind of wish they had let us make it through a couple holes before allowing the people to follow behind us.  Mini golf is designed to be frustrating.  Combine that with kids (and sometimes adults) who can’t control their emotions, and mini golf can turn sour real fast.

Mini golfing itself was very fun.  You get to pick a glow in the dark golf ball!  There are creepy statues and haunted looking objects all over the course.  It’s another reason why I wish we hadn’t felt so rushed, because it is fun to look at everything around the course.  We finished the whole course in about 45 minutes.  If we weren’t getting close to our meltdown time, I bet it would’ve taken an hour.

There are a few arcade games at the front of the course.  They are your basic arcade games.  And while there is a good amount, it’s not like going to Pinballz or Dave and Busters where they just have rows and rows of games.  They even have some prizes at the front like they do in arcades.  But you should consider the arcade games and prizes to be a side dish and not the main course. 

It was a great little outing.  But we only spent an hour and a half there.  We probably would’ve spent more time if we had played arcade games and took our time on the mini golf course.  But in reality, this place isn’t an all day or even a half day activity. 

In terms of food and drink, they have some basic snacks for sale at the front counter.  But the only tables available are in private rooms for birthday parties.  This wouldn’t be the type of place where you would pack a lunch and spend the day.  It would be the perfect place for a birthday party!  Grab a group of 10-year-olds and cross your fingers they don’t decide to sword fight with the golf clubs.  This location also offers date night packages, which would be a really fun idea!  Leave your kiddos with a sitter from Wilco Nannies, and go enjoy celebrity zombies in the dark!

Rock Rose Scavenger Hunt

Get outside this weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather, before Texas remembers it’s winter time. Rock Rose is a great street in the Domain. There are lots of fun shops to explore and some great restaurants to take kids. While you are exploring, take this scavenger hunt along and see if you can find everything on Rock Rose!

Level Easy

  • Someone walking a dog
  • Someone wearing a hat
  • Red flowers
  • Shoes in a window
  • Someone pushing a stroller
  • A cross walk sign
  • Ice cream
  • A playground
  • A cookbook

Level Medium

  • A ping pong table
  • A birthday card
  • A book about superheroes
  • Austin FC logo
  • Three mannequins in one window
  • A “now hiring” sign
  • Candy bigger than your hand
  • An indoor tree

Level Hard

  • A bear
  • Three murals
  • Four barrels
  • Red umbrellas
  • A water bowl for dogs
  • A white tree
  • A red car, blue car, and yellow car

Nanny Job Red Flags

With COVID shutting down schools and daycares, nannies have never been in more demand.  With such a high demand, there is an opportunity for nannies to have options when choosing a job.  The time of the $10 an hour nanny has long passed.  It is important for a good position to fit for your schedule and your budget, but also fit your desired work-life balance.  Here are some red flags to look out for when job searching!

They want you to start without an interview.

Desperate parents are nothing new.  School gets cancelled and parents with full-time jobs have to figure out what to do with their children.  New apps like Bambino have made it easier for families to get someone to come to their home quickly.  While occasionally sitting for a family without meeting them is normal, it should be a big red flag when someone is hiring a full-time nanny.  A parent who is ready to hire a nanny without interviewing them, asking for a resume, or wanting to call references is a bad sign.  If you ask them to do these things and they refuse, this should make you uncomfortable.  While you know you are a good, reliable person, for a family to assume that site unseen, raises serious questions as to what the position actually entails.

They want to pay you a salary.

In the state of Texas, household workers must be paid no less than minimum wage on an hourly rate basis.  Many families will offer paying you $400 a week or $50 a day.  In actuality, that is a huge red flag and against the law.  Many families may have a set schedule during the week, but life happens and nannies need to work late, parents go on date nights, etc.  Guaranteeing that you will be compensated for all the hours you work can only happen if you are paid an hourly fee.  Families not willing to consider paying someone hourly, most likely means they want to try and squeeze as much work out of you as possible, for as little pay as they can.

They only want to pay you under the table.

Many of us grew up babysitting and are used to being handed a wad of cash at the end of a Saturday night.  But working as a nanny, it is important to have a record of your payment.  There are great payroll services out there for parents to use.  Even if your employers decides not to use a payroll service, direct deposit and Venmo allow you to keep track of how much and how often you are being paid.  It is important to have a record of your pay for your taxes as well as filing for unemployment.  If a family only wants to pay you using cash, it may be a sign that they are trying to find ways not to pay you as much. 

They won’t sign a contract.

Wilco Nannies provides a Work Agreement for all families and nannies to fill out.  These agreements simply allow nannies and families to have their hours, pay, and job duties on record for all to see.   You can also easily find contract templates to use online.  A family unwilling to enter into a contract or work agreement with you, is a bad sign.  Contracts do not mean you are “stuck” in a position for a certain amount of time.  They help dictate the parameters of your work.  If families are unwilling to consider a contract, it is very easy for them to not to pay you on time, ask you to do household chores you did not agree to, or make you work longer hours than originally agreed.  Always, always, always have a contract!

They trash their old nanny.

Nannies and families decide to go different ways for many reasons.  While a nanny and employer can end on bad terms, how parents speak about their former nanny can be very enlightening on how they view the nanny position.  If they speak about the nanny with small complaints such as “they were on their phone all the time”, this can be read as they simply did not get along and it wasn’t a good fit.  If the complaints become more personal, “she was lazy” it can be looked at as not having respect for the person they employed.  If you ever hear of a nanny suddenly leaving a family with no call and no explanation, this could be a sign that something bad happened in the home and the nanny needed to leave immediately.

Above all else, as a nanny you have been hired to do a very important job.  Finding a family that you have a good rapport with, is just as important as having a family that respects you as a professional.

Finding Your Unicorn Nanny

Hiring a nanny for your family is a weird task.  You are not only hiring a professional you expect to do a job, you are hiring someone to be a part of your family.  You want an employee with a good personality match.  You can’t hire a nanny who is great at her job but that you don’t like.  Likewise, you can’t hire a nanny with a great personality that doesn’t have the experience you want.  Here are some tips to help you find the right nanny for your family.

Qualifications

Qualifications for nannies can range from a career nanny with 20 years of experience, to a high school student who is the oldest of a lot of siblings.  The reality is that the qualifications you are looking for, directly reflect what you are willing to pay.  If your budget can only afford you to pay a nanny $15 an hour, your nanny will most likely be someone who only has previous babysitting experience.  If you are able to pay $20 an hour or more, you can expect to have someone with several years of experience.  Once you reach $25 and over, you will have nannies with years of experience and several certifications to their name.   

At a minimum, all nannies should have an updated CPR certification.  CPR certification only lasts two years.  Career nannies know this is part of the deal.  A lot of high schools do a CPR and first aid class for their seniors.  If you find a nanny you really like but they are not CPR certified, the Red Cross has many classes they can take.

Resumes and References

Career nannies will be ready with all the information you could ever need.  Resume, certifications, references, whatever you need they have it ready at a moments notice.  However, for a nanny who is less experienced, or new to being a nanny, it may not occur to them to make a resume.  All this to say, don’t be surprised if the nanny you hire does not have a resume.

References on the other hand are a different story.  Even if you are talking to an 18-year-old who has never worked a day in their life, anyone applying for a nanny job should have at least three references.  If they do not have work references, teachers or coaches are always a great option.  For nannies with a bit more experience, ask for references for the past five years.  Nannies may still have a close relationship with families they worked for ten years ago, but people change and grow over time.  The more recent references are the better ones.  Your nanny’s references are your best asset.  It is important to ask the references how they know the nanny, and what responsibilities the nanny had when working for them. 

The Interview

The interview process is a good example of the complicated relationship you have with a nanny.  The interview should have two parts, the professional questions and the personal questions.  The professional questions are the ones you find on forums all over the internet.  “How long have you been taking care of children?”  “How much are you looking to be paid?”  “Are you flexible with work times?”  It is always good to make sure everyone is on the same page with job expectations. 

But these informational questions are only one part of what you need for a nanny.  The other questions should help you get a sense of the nanny’s personality.  My favorite questions to ask nannies are: “What is your favorite movie to watch with kids?”  “What is your funniest kid story?”  “What is your favorite place to take kids to play?”  What is great about these types of questions is it give you an opportunity to see if you relate to your nanny.  Can you guys laugh over your love of Disney movies or cringe over shared potty-training disasters?  It is so important to have a personal connection with the person you want taking care of you children. 

Finding the right nanny is looking at a balance between the professional and personal side.  When you are lucky enough to find that balance, you will have a lasting and wonderful relationship with your unicorn nanny.  And your nanny will have found her unicorn family! 

Hanukkah Movies and TV Episodes

Finding a list of favorite Christmas shows is as easy as finding your identical princess twin in a Hallmark movie.  Looking for Hanukkah movies or TV episodes for kids is like trying to find an A-list actor in a Hallmark movie.  As a 90s child, there was an episode of Rugrats that talked about Hanukkah.  Then in 2002, Adam Sandler’s film Eight Crazy Nights came out and earned Sandler a Golden Raspberry nomination for “Worst Actor in a Film”.  Fortunately, there are a lot more options for families celebrating Hanukkah who would like to see their holiday represented on the TV.

Full Court Miracle

This is my favorite Hanukkah movie to watch with the kids!  A young Jewish boy, Alex, wants nothing more than for his terrible basketball team to win a tournament.  They find a down on his luck former basketball player who is willing to coach them.  The film takes place during Hanukkah, and creates a really simple allegory for kids about Juda Maccabee and the oil meant for one night, lasting for eight.  Mix in a little Mighty Ducks style sports movie, and you’ve got a pretty good time!

An American Tail

While not exactly a Hanukkah movie, 1986 An American Tail follows a family of Russian, Jewish mice as they travel to America.  They hope to find a land with no cats and roads made of cheese!  The opening scene shows the family celebrating Hanukkah together.  Most of us remember the rest of the movie as Fievel is separated from his family, and must sing sad songs until he finds them again.  A lovely movie that still holds up with its great music and sweet story.

Love, Lights Hanukkah!

If you feel your kids must get their Hallmark fix, there actually is a Hallmark Hanukkah movie!  The 2020 Hallmark movie tells the story of a young woman named Christina who finds out she’s half Jewish.  She decides to reach out to her Jewish relatives and finds a family and, of course, a secret twin.  Just kidding, it’s love, she finds love!

Rugrats Hanukkah Season 4 Episode 1

“Hanukkah is that special time of year, between Christmas and misgivings when all the bestest holiday shows are on TV!”  The Rugrats Hanukkah episode features Tommy’s grandparents reading the story of Hanukkah.  It is told in such a charming and classic Rugrats way!  While Rugrats Passover episode is most remembered and (rightly) praised, their Hanukkah episode deserves just as much credit for it’s silliness and storytelling.

Elena of Avalor:  Festival of Lights Season 3 Episode 18

I’ve had the theme song of this show stuck in my head for about three days.  Feels only right that I give it some recognition for its Hanukkah episode.  In this episode, Elena helps Princess Rebecca throw a Hanukkah party.  The episode doesn’t feature any back story on Hanukkah.  Elena doesn’t get on her flying jaguar (yes, a flying jaguar) to go help the Maccabees defend their temple.  But we get a Jewish princess, classic Hanukkah imagery, and a new song to get stuck in your head for a few days! 

Nina’s World:  Nina Save Hanukkah Season 1 Episode 27

In this episode, Nina and her friends go on the hunt to find oil for their Hanukkah recipes and their menorah.  It once again is a very simple story.  They focus more on the symbols of Hanukkah then the actually history of the holiday.  Which can be perfect for the little kids who mainly associate Hanukkah with presents and chocolate gelt!

I’m happy to say there are so many more Hanukkah themed TV episodes.  I’ve not personally seen all of these but there is a great list below.  Get the family together and enjoy some Hanukkah stories with your kids’ favorite characters!

Bad Words

It’s bound to happen.  As many times as you try to say “shoot” not “s***”, or “fudge” not “f***”, you will inevitably use some bad words in front of your children.  Which your children will inevitably use in the worst place possible (school, church, visiting grandma).  I have taken care of a lot of kids and had some pretty fabulous moments listening to kids drop some word bombs! 

While kids will sometimes throw out a word they hear because they are looking for a reaction, the best times are when kids actually use curse words correctly.  Once while taking care of a four-year-old, she very sweetly asked me if she could carry her ice cream into the living room and eat it in front of the TV.  I told her that was fine, but walk very slowly and use both hands.  As she slowly approached the living room, being very careful to take her time and watch her step, she carefully placed her bowl on the table and it slipped off the edge and crashed to the floor.  The four-year-old let out a heavy sigh and said “well, s***”.  I stifled down a laugh as hard as I could and corrected her, “we say shoot”. 

Cursing is pretty easy to correct.  If you don’t make a big deal about the word they used and substitute it with an age-appropriate word, you can clean up your kid’s potty mouth.  Some of my favorite replacements are “shoot”, “fudge”, “oh my gosh”, “hot as hades”, and my personal favorite “cheese and rice” for Jesus Christ.

What is interesting is when kids use normal words that for some reason just rub me the wrong way.  Like “shut-up”.  Not a bad word, but when you hear a little one say it, it feels just as bad as cursing.  One of my little boys went through a “shut-up” phase around age three.  I was concerned because he had started pre-k and I didn’t want him telling friends or teachers to “shut-up”.  I had asked him to replace “shut-up” with “hush” and then went to talk to the teachers.  I walked into the three’s classroom full of boy wrestling and saying “you shut up”, “chair shut up”, “door shut up”.  I asked the two teachers “so when did this shut-up become a thing.”  The poor sleepy-eyed teacher said “I have no idea how this became a thing.  It has taken on a life of its own.”  One group email later, all parents agreed to try help our poor teachers out by recommending “hush” to all our shut-up-saying boys!

Another word that surprisingly rubbed me the wrong way was “whatever”.  For some reason the five-year-old came home and responded “whatever” to everything I asked him to do.  He still did everything he was asked but it was like he had a “whatever” tick now.  Finally at the end of the day I decided to squash the “whatever” use.  I asked him to please not use that word anymore.  He nodded knowingly at me and said “is that a grown-up only word?”  Yes.  Yes it is.

Once you have control over the inappropriate words and the annoying words, then you have to be ready for the potty words.  Good lord help me once kids start potty training.  Then everyone is a “poop-head” or a “pee-pee head”.  Then they start learning the proper terms for their body parts.  Once I picked up the four-year-old from pre-k.  He was in my car, buckled and ready to go.  As we were driving away, he spotted one of his little friends from class.  He asked if he could roll down the window and yell bye.  I said of course, and the four-year old proceeded to roll down the window and shout “HEY CHARLIE!  YOU’RE A PENIS!”  Charlie, unfazed and to the horror of his nanny screamed back, “YOU’RE A VAGINA!”  I quickly rolled up the window and sped away in shame.

We do the best we can!  We unfortunately can’t ask all adults to watch their mouths as we are out and about.   We also can’t expect all the videos they watch will be age appropriate.  You just have to do the best to keep it clean.  If there is any advice I could give about keeping kids from using bad language it would be DO NOT LAUGH! 

I Love Fall

This past Saturday, October 30th, I made a trip to the store to buy some last-minute Halloween napkins for a party.  I walked to the seasonal aisle and see a tiny section of Thanksgiving decorations, and an employee unloading piles of Christmas decorations!  It wasn’t even Halloween, and Christmas had officially walked into the store, and kicked all the fall décor to the curb.  The day after Halloween, my Facebook flooded with people asking if it was too early to decorate for Christmas. Christmas is a very fun time of year.  And I understand people wanting to start celebrating as soon as they can.  But this November, get all your fall experiences before the Christmas takeover begins.  Fall is a great time of year!  I know we all can’t wait for Christmas, but let’s show some appreciation for Fall!

Hiking and Camping

Central Texas has some amazing hiking trails and camping spots.  With the summer heat gone, fall is the best time to go camping and get outdoors.  It’s more fun to roast marshmallows by the fire when you can’t fry an egg on the sidewalk.  If you don’t feel like planning one giant camping trip, get out on the trails!  There are so many amazing hiking trails around Austin.  Without the heat suffocating you, you can actually enjoy being outside!.  Grab some water, snacks, maybe a fun scavenger hunt, and enjoy the fall weather!

Fall Festivals

October is not your only opportunity to enjoy a fall festival!  Pumpkins are still in season even though we won’t use them for Jack-o-lanterns!  All the wonderful farms surrounding this area have fall festivals going on through Thanksgiving.  It’s the perfect time to head out to the farms and enjoy some rides, pick some fruits and vegetables, and get into the season.

Drive-In Movies

The drive-in movies are a lot of fun here in central Texas.  A cool night, with a classic film, is a great way to enjoy the season.  Plenty of the drive-in’s offer smores packages.  Have some hot chocolate while watching a throw-back movie with your kids.  The Blue Starlite Drive-in is showing Friday Night Lights, The Goonies, and Adams Family Values this month.  The Globe Drive-in in Pflugerville is showing more mature movies but is screening of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Paw Patrol Movie, and Enchanted!

Fall Flavors

While pumpkin-spiced flavored things get all the credit this time of year, fall has some of the best flavors to enjoy.  I am a firm lover of all things apple-cinnamon.  And I have always found it incredibly offensive that pumpkin spice has become the flavor champion of fall!  Try out some of these amazing apple recipes!  Besides pumpkin, other squashes like butternut and spaghetti squash make some amazing recipes to enjoy.  Try some of these delicious uses of butternut squash while we actually have some cold weather!  But of course, do not forget the pumpkin.  Heck, they’ve got pumpkin flavored cheerios these days!

Feeling Thankful

With Thanksgiving upon us, teaching kids to be thankful and grateful is always good practice.  There are lots of ways to make kids grateful for the things they have. A big one is teaching kids how to donate.  Especially before they are about to get a lot of new toys for the Holidays.  Teach your kids the healthy practice of going through their toys and clothes and giving away things they no longer use or want.  Look at local churches, daycares or children’s hospitals for ideas of places to donate.  For clothes or toys that are in rough shape, there are great toy recycling programs through Hasboro.  Also look for “Buy Nothing” groups on Facebook.  It is amazing what people will take off your hands!

It is crazy to believe we are almost through fall and about to enter the Holiday season.  The last two years have felt like a big time-suck for a lot of us.  You have to work really hard to enjoy time before it flies by.  Let’s enjoy the fall while we have it!

Ghost Stories

Halloween weekend is upon us!  Some good, old fashioned, scary story telling never ages.  I asked around friends and family for their favorite ghost stories from their childhood.  The nice thing about most of these stories, we have all heard them enough that we can put our own spin on it!  You can creep it up or creep it down.  Just remember, you reap what you sew with scary stories and kids.  You creep the story up, you will have a bunk mate for the evening.  Happy Halloween! 

La Llorona

  Once there was a beautiful woman named Xochitl.  She fell in love with a wealthy rancher.  They were married and had two children together.  One day Xochitl saw her husband kissing another woman.  In a fit of rage, she drowned her two children in the river by their house.  Realizing what she had done, Xochitl flung herself into the river drowning.  When Xochitl went up to heaven, they would not let her in until she finds her children.  So now she spends her days by the river, forever weeping and forever looking for her lost children.

Bloody Mary

There once was a little girl named Mary who lived in a cemetery with her family.  Her father was a gravedigger.  When he buried a body, he would always leave a string leading into the grave with a bell on the other end.  That way if anyone was buried alive, they could ring the bell and the gravedigger would be able to dig them up.

One day a terrible disease swept through the village.  It would cause people to fall into a deep sleep before dying.  They would check to see if the person was alive by placing a mirror under their nose.  If the mirror fogged up, then they were still alive.  Mary came home sick one day and fell into a deep sleep.  Her parents were devastated when they place the mirror under her nose and no breath fogged up the mirror.

They buried Mary behind their house in a grave with a string attached to a bell.  Shockingly, Mary wasn’t dead.  She awoke inside her coffin.  She pulled the string on the bell, but she pulled too hard and the string yanked the bell off its hook.  Days later her mother went to visit her grave, and saw the bell on the ground.  Realizing what happened they dug up Mary’s grave and found she died with a petrified look on her face and scratch marks on the ceiling of her coffin. 

To this day if you light a candle in your bathroom with the lights off and call Bloody Mary three times, Mary appears and scratches your eyes out!

Hook for a Hand

Once there was a teenage couple who went out on a date.  At the end of the night, they decided to go drive into the woods and gaze up at the stars.  As they are parked, they heard a radio story about an escaped inmate from the nearby insane asylum.  This inmate had previously killed several teenagers with his hook he had instead of a hand.  The girl got scared and decides she wants to go home.  The guy starts his car and pulls out of the woods when he hears a long scratching noise down the side of his car.  They continue home and when he gets out of his car to check the damage, he sees a hook stuck in the car door handle.

Babysitter ghost story

A young woman decided to take a babysitting job on Halloween night.  When she gets to the house the parents let her know the kids are already asleep.  She is welcome to watch TV until they get home.  The parents leave and the babysitter goes to check on the kids who are sound asleep in their beds. 

She comes downstairs and turns on the TV.  The house has a lot of odd collectibles all over the shelves.  The oddest being a statue next to the TV.  It appears to be a large gnome dressed in overalls and a small red hat.  Even though the gnome is just a statue, it makes her feel really uncomfortable.  She feels like it’s watching her.  She decides to take a blanket and place it over the gnome.  Then she plops on the couch and turns on a scary movie. 

After the movie is over, she gets a call from the parents checking in on their kids.  The babysitter goes upstairs, and the kids are still sounds asleep.  She tells the mom the kids are asleep and that everything is okay.  She asks if she can move the gnome statue because it is kind of creeping her out.  The mom pauses on the phone and says “we don’t have a gnome statue.”  The babysitter rushes down stairs to where the gnome statue was sitting next to the TV all night.  But all that is there is the white sheet on the floor.

Nanny Tales: Potty Training

In my time as a nanny, I have had the pleasure (cough) of potty training four children.  I would never describe myself as an “expert in potty training.”  Mainly because it is a weird thing to brag about.  But I do have some hysterical stories from my attempts to help toddlers through this major milestone. 

Sam

When I started working for Sam’s family, he was about to turn three years old.  He had fully mastered peeing in the potty, but pooping was not going to happen.  Sam’s older brother Adam had been potty trained for several years.  The boys’ parents had used pennies as a way to encourage Adam to use the toilet, and were doing the same with Sam.  A common theme throughout all my potty training experiences is bribery.  More importantly, the right kind of bribery.  Now while Adam had been cool with getting a penny every time he used the potty, Sam didn’t really see the value in money.

I made the strategic decision to switch from pennies to M&Ms.  Sam would get one M&M if he peed in the potty, and two if he pooped.  After one day, Sam stomped into the kitchen and demanded “I WANT MY M&MS!’.  I calmly explained, he would have to go poop on the potty.  Sam turned on his heels, stomped into the bathroom, and let out a deafening trumpet of success.  He came stomping back out of the bathroom and declared “THERE”, and pointed to his masterpiece.  He received 2 M&Ms.

Lizzy

Sam’s little sister Lizzy had a different kind of adventure toward potty training.  Suddenly Lizzy would be missing for long stretches of time, and inevitably I’d find her in her mom’s closet pooping in her diaper.  It felt like it was time to start potty training.  We got out all the books, all the potty chairs, and the giant bag of M&Ms.  But as much as we talk about it, and sat on the potty, Lizzy would somehow disappear to go poop in Mom’s closet.  One day I even tried not putting a diaper on her, and watching her like a hawk so she couldn’t escape.  But somehow, she escaped from my site, and YES I had to clean poop off of the closet floor. 

As luck would have it, we were seeing her pediatrician that week.  I asked the doctor what the deal was.  Lizzy showed all the signs of being ready, but wouldn’t do the deed!  The pediatrician simply told me, Lizzy wasn’t ready.  Even though she was exhibiting the signs, Lizzy was still too scared.  I decided to leave all the potty-training things out, but I completely backed off.  We didn’t talk about it.  We didn’t practice it.  We just left everything alone.  Then one day, I was getting Lizzy ready for a bath.  I was focused on getting the water going when Lizzy gasped!  I turned and there she was sitting on her potty.  Her eyes were as big as saucers as we both listened to the pee go in the potty.  I screamed with excitement and showered Lizzy with kisses.  Adam and Sam ran in and we all had a big celebration around a little toilet filled with pee. 

Peter

I started taking care of Peter when he was eight weeks old.  I had learned by then to take my time with potty training.  When he is ready, he is ready.  Peter started showing the signs of being ready to potty train.  I’d come to get him at nap time, and would be greeted by a bare butt and a wet diaper dramatically flung across the room.  I lost Peter in the park for a few minutes and found him hidden behind a bush to pee.  It was obviously getting close to time.  I advised Peter’s mom to just buy a little potty to have for when Peter was ready.  That night when Peter’s mom showed him the potty, she simply explained that when he needs to poop and pee this is where he sits.  Peter shrugged and said “okay”, and proceeded to sit on the potty and pee and poop.  What.  The.  Heck?  It is never that easy.  NEVER!!  His mom and I hypothesized that at Peter’s Mother’s Day Out, there was a little girl in his class potty training.  We think he must have seen her and gotten used to the idea of using a potty before we even brought it up!  Maybe the universe decided to give me a break on the third toddler.  They knew I’d be potty training a lot of kids and thought “Make this one super easy to potty train.  Give her a break.  But then make him wet the bed for like four more years.  Don’t let her get cocky.”

Josie

Peter’s little sister Josie was my most recent potty trainee.  When you get to the fourth one, there just aren’t that many surprises.  Oh, you’re hiding behind the couch to go poop.  Oh, when I put you on the potty you hold it in because you’re afraid for it to come out.  Oh, there is a soaked diaper wedged in the back of your drawer.  The routine becomes the routine, and you just wait until they are ready to take the plunge.  She did ask if she could sit on my lap while she went to the bathroom.  That was a new one.  The one thing we had working for us was Josie’s love of accessories.  The idea of having her own princess underwear was a big selling point for potty training.  Then the understanding that if she peed, she would be peeing on one of her favorite characters!  Heck no, give me that potty chair!

Potty training is a literal dirty job, but I’m happy to do it.  If I could give any advice to parents, I’d say that potty training is like the weight loss secret of the kid world.  No you can’t do it in a weekend.  No there is no quick fix or easy way to do it.  It takes time, it takes patience, and if you keep at it you will reach your goal!