A member in a local online parenting group I'm a member of posed a question that caused a mild stir. This generous mom employs a nanny whom has no family nearby to spend Thanksgiving with, and she was curious to know other mom's opinions if she were to invite her children's nanny over for the holidays to their big extended family dinner. Another mom chimed in and wondered the same thing about her family's big Hanukkah dinner.
Many moms and nannies were touched by her thoughtfulness, saying how nice it was to think of her. There were some moms who thought it crossed a serious professional line, and many nannies said they would respectfully decline to keep their family life separate. This caused me to consider my own past over the many years I was a nanny, far away from relatives that were not close enough to road trip there.
If you too are considering inviting your nanny or housekeeper over for the holidays, take a moment to consider these points.
Notice of the state and nature of your relationship.
Do you ask about your employee's weekend, or know small details of his or her personal life like their family, or partner's name? Do you laugh about things in life beyond your children and home? Do you view this person with complete trust, just as family? If so, it would not be a shock to invite them to dinner, and they would likely be honored that you thought of them.
Consider the affect of inviting your nanny or housekeeper into a family setting.
If your relationship is a lot more casual and friendly as we discussed above, your invitation and their attendance will likely only bring you closer in the long run. If you view your nanny as a member of the family, this is a great thing! But if you maintain that the nanny reports to your home to do their job and leave her personal beliefs and life out of conversation, and they accept the invitation, would you feel uncomfortable and distracted, and unable to fully enjoy your family time?
Be clear about your invitation.
Be sure to state that this is in invitation to be a guest -- not an employee. Treat him or her as such: offer them a drink, clear their plate, allow them to sit and don't expect them to clean up after the children. If the expectation is that they continue their duties as they usually would, then this isn't an invitation, but a work day (which is totally fine if that is discussed, and they are paid as such).
Only invite him or her if you genuinely want them there, not because you feel sorry.
This goes without stating: a invitation made in pity will be obvious, and won't be given serious thought. Speaking from my own personal experience, if you genuinely give your invitation, your nanny will really appreciate and be touched by the offer, even if he or she declines.
The bottom line is that if your nanny feels like a member of the family, their presence will not feel out of place or inappropriate.
However, if you don't feel quite close with your nanny yet, having your nanny over for the holidays may be a distraction to your family-time.
Neither of these scenarios are bad!
There is no rushing connection and trust.
The summer is winding down, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to break out the board games! Fall is arguably the best season to get outside and enjoy all that NYC has to offer and any New York City nanny knows to take advantage of the cooler weather by enjoying some of the best parks and playgrounds for kids.
However, if you’re looking to branch out from your “regular” neighborhood jaunt, here are some top-notch, fun and kid-friendly parks across the five boroughs! Hop on the subway and take the kids somewhere new where they can explore, climb, play, run, and imagine. These spots are more than just swings, slides and sandboxes, but are great places for kids to make new friends and form memories that will last a lifetime.
Break out the fall scarves and sweaters and treat yourselves to a hot cider on the way!
If you're a New York City Nanny look no further! Here are our personal Top 5 NYC Playgrounds that are well worth the trip:
1. Tom Otterness Playground in Midtown West
Since it’s grand opening in 2009, this playground has been a huge hit with art lovers and children alike! This giant Tom Otterness sculpture that doubles as a climbable jungle gym is a must-go for you and the kids. Aptly titled 'Playground,' the sculpture of a man has slides for legs, seats for hands and arms a child can shimmy up with ease.
Located on W. 42nd St and 11th Ave, this park is a short walk from several Subway stops. If the kids can’t get enough Otterness, take them on a second trip to the 14th Street Subway Station where they can see his “Life Underground” permanent sculpture exhibit.
Visit the website here!
2. Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park
3. Ancient Playground in Central Park
So long as we’re talking Central Park, we can’t leave this playground off the list. Walk over towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art and check out the Egyptian-inspired Ancient Playground. Despite it’s name, this is one of the most recently reconstructed playgrounds in the area. The playground's climbing pyramids, obelisk and sundial were inspired by the museum's collection of Egyptian Art. In the main play area, pyramid-shaped climbers with slides and tunnels are linked by concrete bridges. Additional wooden climbers are ideal for older children who love to climb and explore. For younger children, the playground has an obelisk-shaped structure set in a sandbox. Bucket, tire and strap swings accommodate children of all ages.
Visit the website here!
Brooklyn nannies (like us) have been huge fans of the J.J. Byrne Playground ever since its very-grand re-opening in 2012. However, even if you don’t live close by, this park is well worth the trek. After many years and millions of dollars in renovations, the park is now a marvel of off-beat attractions and activities for kids of all ages. It has distinct play areas for kids of different ages. The playground has a nice design flow featuring bucket swings, animal picture boards, little kid equipment and a gated toddler area on one side and more challenging apparatus for older children on the other side. The equipment on the big kid side includes lots of ways to climb, spin and balance, as well as sectioned off big kid swings. There are lots of benches under shady trees in the playground, where you can relax while keeping a mindful eye on the kids. J.J. Byrne Playground is located in Washington Park on Fifth Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets in Park Slope.
Visit the website here!
5. Playground for All Children in Queens
When it first opened in 1984, this Queen playground was the first of its kind; designed to accommodate kids of all abilities and disabilities. It has since served as a prototype for similar playgrounds worldwide. The site features a wide variety of activities for children ages 3 to 12. A network of wheelchair-accessible ramps connect various jungle gyms, play equipment, nature trails, sports areas, and meadows with Braille signs marking the way. The Apparatus Area has play equipment with safety surfacing, a traffic bridge with traffic lights, slides and swings, and a 12-foot-long suspension bridge. It is sure to be a place of unfettered fun for all. Located within Flushing-Meadows Corona Park, this playground can be a fun addition to a trip to the New York Hall of Science! If you're a New York City nanny, add this to your list for a Columbus Day trip!
Visit the website here!
Have a favorite NYC playground that we forgot to include on our list? Include it in the comments below!
- Kith & Kin
Last week, a large storm was forecasted to hit our city on Thursday early morning, long before any of us (without young children lurking in the night!) were to be awake. The DOE cancelled schools the night before, and many business followed suit. That morning, we woke up to high winds, unplowed streets and sidewalks, and widespread subway schedule changes, which lead to massive delays. Many parents were asking each other if they should tell their employee to stay home. And after the decision was made, several nannies and housekeepers were asking each other if it was normal for their pay to be docked for that day.
What a tricky situation! I myself was in a similar situation as a nanny during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Here are my thoughts for employers and for employees on how to approach this extraordinary instance. Misunderstandings like this can often lead to bitterness and so it's important to address them head on.
For Employers (families)
First, a snow day school cancellation really throws a wrench into your daily plans as a parent, and likely into your employee's day too. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself and comments I have heard, and then my personal suggestions about how to approach them.
1. Did your place of employment cancel work for the day, or will your employee's absence force you to take a vacation or sick day?
If the answer is no, I have to still go into work, consider what your day will look like. Is there a backup babysitter or family member you can call? Are you able to go into work later and come home earlier to allow your employee additional commute time? Is there any possibility that you could work from home? If there are no real solutions, you're really left with the choice to ask the nanny to come in or take a personal day for yourself. If it is a housekeeper, consider letting the work pile up, and perhaps ask your employee to work a couple addition hours to catch up, if the need arises.
2. "Well, my friend's nanny came in just fine, and mine could have too. . ."
Hindsight is 20/20. At 7:00am when you or your employee made the decision to cancel, the weather was much different than it was at 3pm.
Also bear in mind that Manhattan's busy sidewalks and streets are cleared much faster than the outer boroughs. For instance, from where I live in Flatbush, Brooklyn, a moderately busy area, many of my neighbors did not clear their sidewalks for 36 hours after the storm, and we did not see a plow until 11am the next day, well after the snow stopped falling. Simply because a friend's nanny came in from Brooklyn does not mean that your housekeeper would have been able to do the same, unless they lived on the same block.
If your employee has to take a bus to a train, this could have easily doubled or even tripled the commute. As frustrating as it may be for you to have to take over for the full day, your employee could have been facing an even more frustrating situation getting to and from work. If your employee made the decision to stay home, respect it. First of all, it is done. Second, remember that he or she may have their own children to attend to. Perhaps they aren't from New York and were fearful of getting injured from a slippery fall.
If this is really making you question your employee's integrity, it is a sign of a bigger issue of mistrust in your own mind. Look a bit deeper as to why you feel angry at her or him for not coming into work. Do you feel like they are just not making an effort anymore? Do you think they are a lazy person? It's crucial to discuss these feelings with a friend first, and look at the things they do that will prove you wrong. If you can think of loads of reasons to support your feeling, discuss this with them. Cite the specific ways they must improve their job performance.
3. . . . and so I'm going to dock her pay.
I understand the mentality here. Domestic employees are not salaried -- they are hourly employees and are paid an hourly rate plus overtime, so why would this work both ways in their favor? For a couple of reasons...
First, if you instructed your employee to not come in and did not inform him or her that they would not be paid for the day, there is no reason for them to believe you would be changing their weekly rate, and you should pay them. They did not request the day off, but it was instead offered without a known string attached.
Second, please remember that your employee relies on this income and does not have a back up for other work. It's similar to when you choose to take a vacation for a week: the caregiver is still depending on money and did not ask for an unpaid vacation herself. This employee will also feel blindsided. While it was likely just an oversight on your end, address your expectations going forward after you pay them for the day.
4. What if I don't want to pay my nanny for the day off because I had to pay for back up care so I could get myself to work (or because I just don't think it's right)?
In this situation, seek "Win,Win." If the additional $150 or so is monumental to you, suggest for the nanny to make up the hours. That way, your employee can still make the money he or she needs, you can get a night out, and the relationship isn't embittered over something small in the grand scheme of things. Everyone wins! If the day of pay isn't a big sacrifice to you financially, pay your nanny and take it as a lesson to be clearer with your expectations going forward in these rare instances before you make an insistence or offer.
The bottom line is that for the sake of your children, home, and sanity, a relationship that is respectful, healthy, open, and communicative is best. The number one reason I personally see employee-employer relationships fall completely apart, leading to resignation or termination, is that the expectations are either one-sided, mismatched, or not discussed, and bitterness sets in and poisons the partnership. We want to avoid that altogether! Little issues like this really are important to address.
For Employees (nannies and housekeepers)
If you're like any of my friends, it doesn't matter what your career is, the thought of a snow day on Thursday excited you! Here are few scenarios and how to best approach them if you're still conflicted about how the day was handled.
1. My boss was home all day. Why did I even come in?
2. I was told not to come in, but now I see the my paycheck is less than it is every week. My boss didn't tell me I wouldn't be paid and now I'm out a lot of money!
If this happened to you, you either need to let it go without resentment, or speak up immediately. Chances are, your boss wasn't being malicious. Since nannies are legally hourly employees (meaning, for every hour you work, you are paid) instead of salaried (meaning a flat rate paid for unlimited hours), your boss has every right not to pay you. However, you must bring this up with your boss if you rely on a set number every week to meet your bills.
Some nannies call these set hours a, "steady or guaranteed salary," meaning regardless if your boss goes on vacation or tells you not to come in, this is the minimum you are assured to make. Being a household employee, you reserve your time each week for them and do not leave your options open to other work; it's only fair that you can rely on them as well. No need to state anything personal or financial; no need to give your reasons. Simply explain that since you did not request the day off, and you were not told that your pay would be docked, you were not expected to be short on what was normal. Often just by communicating this, a parent will realize the miscommunication and pay you. It may not be. Simply ask, "How can we come up with a solution together?" This is respectful to your relationship with your employer because you're communicating a small issue without allowing it to bubble up, and doing so in a manner that shows you desire to work together.
If your employer does not offer to pay you for the day and you really need the money, offer to work a date night, if your schedule allows, so that you can make up the gap in pay. Also state the importance of clear communication before something is offered. This is a great time to discuss being paid a guaranteed/steady salary 52 weeks out of the year. Chances are if this is the first time your employer has told you not to come in and has not paid you, it won't be the last, so it is crucial to clarify your expectations, as they may be unaware of what yours are.
3. I had to come in but it was a total mess outside. I don't understand why my boss didn't just tell me to stay home like all the other nannies.
If it still wasn't clear to you why they had you come in, you may be feeling undervalued in your position, which is a sure sign that things are wrong in your professional relationship. It is best to gather your thoughts and maturely discuss your concerns with them. If you had your own child's care to arrange because of their school's snow day, express that to them. Remind them that you have your own obligations and home to take care of in the middle of a storm, and that while you are willing to bend over backward for them, you'd also appreciate some grace and understanding shown to you as well.
The bottom line is that for the sake of your job satisfaction, personal life, and sanity, a relationship that is respectful, healthy, open, and communicative is best. The number one reason I see employee-employer relationships fall completely apart, leading to resignation or termination, is that the expectations are either one-sided, mismatched, or not discussed, and bitterness sets in and poisons the partnership. We want to avoid that altogether! Little issues like this really are important to address.
Have a question or topic you'd like covered on our blog? Send it on over to Christa at Hello@KithAndKinNYC.com
Search our archives for previous topics!
Copyright, Kith and Kin NYC LLC, 2018. Licensed and bonded by the NY State Department of Consumer Affairs, License #2038511-DCA. Kith & Kin Household Staffing Agency seeks to pair exceptional caregivers with vibrant families. Candidates who are legally authorized to work in the United States, and meet our requirements are encouraged to send us your résumé if you are seeking a position as a Nanny, Manny, Housekeeper, Governess, Mother's Helper, or a Baby Nurse / Newborn Care Specialist in New York City, New York State, New Jersey, or Connecticut. Kith & Kin Household Staffing Agency does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, physical disabilities, veteran status, and marital status. We are a nanny agency in NYC that services the metro area.
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