Back after being Missing in Action


Toto Toilet
Cleaning the Toto Toilets

You may have noticed that I had gone missing in action for a couple weeks.  With only a couple posts popping up here and there, I feel like I’ve lost my mojo after all this time without blogging, and it’s not like there is nothing to write / bitch about either, but in actual fact I’ve just been tired.  Very tired actually, and it all began with our nannies vacation back home, which began November 16th and ends with her return to us on January 14th.

7 long weeks in which I thought that, since I was off, would be the perfect time to help out and instead of hiring someone to temporarily file her role, I could do it myself and spend quality time with my daughter, my wife, and with my boys.   How hard could it be, right?  I’m their dad.  I know how to clean up a house…

Mistake #1.

Not only has it been impossible for me to take care of the house and the children while also taking care of the things I would normally do in a day, but it became perfectly clear to me that going to bed at 3am every night was not going to help me get everything done.

Mistake #2.

I clearly underestimated the amount of cleaning that a house with three children under 7-years-old requires.  Thankfully my wife got them on a reward chart (a later post) so they help with making beds and cleaning up around meal time, but the laundry, dishes, taxi, drop-off and pick-up and the endless need to sweep and vacuum is too much.  I don’t know how my wife does it, and I certainly don’t know how our nanny does it – except that when there are three adults cleaning it’s much more effective than 1 1/2.

Granted I have now come to realize that my wife and our nanny are WAY more organized than I have been – Monday has always been the day to change the sheets, and Tuesday the house gets swept and vacuumed and floor washed, but drop-off and pick-up has been something we’ve helped with, and meal’s taken care of primarily by my wife, so doing them all… Yeah.  Not so good.

So obviously once I settle down at night with hopes of blogging, there is nothing left in the tank.

In addition, my daughter, Boo has finally realized now that she is 3-years-old that she can get out of her bed at night and walking into our room.  We were encouraging her to get up and pee since she has been “commando” at night for several months with only a few accidents.  The hope was that she would get up, pee, then go back to bed instead of sitting in her bed and screaming for us or crying and waking everyone else up.  What has happened in actual fact is that she now comes into our room several times at night, along with 6-year-old Stewie and that keeps up awake.  Now 7-year-old Linus is getting into the act and that means either a rough night’s sleep or I’m sleeping in one of their beds with them.

Either way, it means I am getting less than 3 hours of sleep a night and that is a recipe for getting sick.

Now before you cry me a river or blast me for doing what every other parent in the world does, hear me out… My wife is still taking care of dinner (thankfully) and it did take me a week and a bit to get used to the house-time routine from a worker perspective.  I have been working full-time for 17 years and while I am used to helping out as much as possible it has usually been in the evenings or on the weekends when there are little to no distractions.

During the day when people are actually around and a 20-minute task of changing the sheets on all our beds, becomes an hours’ endeavour full of distractions and competing priorities.  I also cannot just clean for the sake of cleaning, like when I swept the bedrooms, I ended up moving all the furniture, sweeping, putting away the toys, followed it up with a vacuum and then washed the floors and baseboard.  When I do something, I do it right, not half-assed so I’ll have to do it again.

So while it took me 3 weeks to get this post out there is always a bright side, right?  I completed this post on the 20th, but I’m backdating it to the 15th and that means as of today we only have 22 days until our nanny returns and life returns to normal, which means a clean house, happy children and my daughter can get to school in the morning on time for once!

I can see the re-posted headline for this article;  “Working Daddy Bombs as Caregiver”.

So true.

10 Ways to Tell if your Nanny Loves your Children


I recently received this article in my inbox from the kind folks at http://www.nanny.net and it covers a very important topic, how to tell if your nanny loves your child.

I think every first time employer, or an employer currently interviewing for a replacement caregiver should go through this list as it should help you understand when a connection has been made.  Having the emotional buy-in from your nanny in addition to the financial buy-in is critical to long-term success of this partnership and a way to keep your stress down.

Sometimes, you need a nanny and the nanny needs a job, and you both compromise and these relationships often end abruptly not because something has gone wrong but over time you both start to come to grips with the fact that it is just a job.  It’s easier to let go of those relationships than if there is an emotional buy-in, we all know that.  So if you have the time, see if there is a connection and if so and you can make it work do so.  Any child would be overjoyed to have that much love and both the employer and the caregiver will have an easier time on a day-to-day basis.

The link to the original article is below.

http://www.nanny.net/blog/10-ways-to-tell-your-nanny-loves-your-kids/

What can you expect from your nanny: Non-child care responsibilities.


housekeeping
Light housekeeping?!?

Parents hire nannies to take care of their children.  There is also an expectation that there will be some non-child care responsibilities related to the role, such as; taking care of any dishes used, some cooking here and there, some light cleaning associated to the children or family and possibly some laundry. 

From all the emails and comments I have received over the years, it is accurate to say that some parents forget that the primary responsibility for a nanny is child care and there is an expectation that their nannies are able to take care of the children in addition to what they refer to as “light housekeeping” responsibilities, which in reality means nanny and cleaning-lady. 

So what constitutes “light housekeeping?”   

In order to get a clearer idea of what nannies think light housekeeping is and what employers think light housekeeping is, I read an article created for NannyClassifieds.com called; “Is Light Housekeeping a Nanny Responsibility?”  The link to the original article is here;  http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

According to this article, in the nanny world, light housekeeping typically means leaving the home in the same condition it was in when the nanny arrived / started her day there.  If there were no dishes in the sink in the morning, then there should be no dishes in the sink at the end of the day, and if the house was spotless in the morning, it should be the same by nightfall.  It is reasonable to expect your nanny to clean up the mess and restore the house to its original morning condition prior to the end of her workday.

The extras are the other things in addition to childcare which nannies are generally responsible for and are usually agreed upon in a written contract – a written approved contract if gone through the Canadian Live-In Caregiver program.  Some of these items include;

• Do the laundry for the children
• Keep the children’s play area as neat, tidy and organized as possible.
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.  
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Pick up after the children
• Ensure the kids rooms, including drawers, bed and closets are clean
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.

Some nannies may also take on additional household related tasks provided they have the time and it has been pre-arranged and agreed upon.  They may do the children’s grocery and clothes shopping, as well as purchase the supplies needed to properly stock the nursery.  In some cases, nannies may also be responsible for ordering age-appropriate supplies, toys, and arts and crafts, depending on the arrangement that was made.

According to the article, nannies typically do not:
• Do the parent’s laundry
• Clean the parent’s bathrooms
• Mop the floors
• Dust the furniture
• Prepare family meals regularly.

In each family and nanny work arrangement, light housekeeping should be clearly defined.  What is in the contract dictates what the family’s housekeeping expectations are, and what the nanny’s housekeeping responsibilities are. 

Many nannies do agree to take on additional non-childcare related housekeeping tasks.  They may do this because the children spend mornings in school or they simply enjoy cleaning and would gladly take on the housekeeping tasks in exchange for increased compensation.  If your nanny agrees to take on additional housekeeping tasks, she should be provided additional compensation for them and allowed adequate time to complete them when childcare is not her responsibility.  For these nannies/housekeepers, it should be stressed that when the children are in her care, childcare should be her main responsibility.  I think that is common sense, no?

Often times a nanny will go above and beyond the call of duty simply out of practicality. If a nanny is doing the dishes from lunch and her employer left a knife and dish in the sink after breakfast, for example, she’s likely going to wash them too, rather than simply leave them sitting there in the sink.  If a nanny is preparing one of her favorite homemade pasta recipes for the children’s dinner, she may make enough for the entire family, since it’s easier than tweaking the recipe for smaller portions.  Much in the same way most families when making their dinner will make enough for their nanny and have them eat with them whenever possible.  It’s give and take, and that mutual respect and understanding helps form and build the bond between the nanny and her employer.

Wen these random acts of kindness become expected by employers through, resentment and relationship problems in the nanny relationship can occur.  Light housekeeping is going to mean different things to different people.  Clearly articulating the duties and responsibilities that meet an employer’s definition of light housekeeping will help to prevent job creep and miscommunication over housekeeping related expectations.

How have you divided up responsibilities and how clear were you with your nanny on her duties outside of child care?

It’s amazing to me how many employers post comments in public message boards about how their nannies cook, clean, take care of the kids, and do all these other tasks not related to child care, and then the employer answers questions about wages and working hours, or working conditions which really casts them in a negative light.  Taking advantage of a nannies good will is never cool, and posting that in a public form is even less cool and quite questionable.  Especially in light of the fact that these message boards are trolled by agencies and organizations who protect nannies from being taken advantage of.

So to sum it all up…

Make sure what you are expecting your nanny to do outside of child care is clear and written in the contract.  Also remember that just because they came from worse working conditions in Hong Kong it doesn’t give you the right to treat them in any way that you yourself would not want to be treated in their shoes.

Karma.

Here is a link to the article; http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

Service Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Contract: Very Important for Employees and Employers.


Contracts
The importance of contracts!

I thought it might be useful to post the link to Service Canada‘s Live-In Caregiver contract.  I have posted many articles over the past couple years about the importance of a contract for those participating in Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program (LICP) – both for employer and for employee but a formal detailed contract is equally as important for live-out caregivers and nannies who are living in, but not through a formal program like the LICP.

The contact forms the basis of a legal agreement between employer and employee as to what is expected and agreed upon by both sides and is used in case of disagreement to support the previously agreed upon terms.

In a nutshell, if you want to hire someone, they have to agree to all the work arrangements in the contract and if you want to be employed by someone then the contact tells you what the employer expects from you and outlines every detail from hours worked, to amounts renumerated to specific tasks.  It’s like going to get a job anywhere else in the world, where you sign the contact before they agree to hire you and it’s about time the contract has become formalized for nannies to avoid employers from taking advantage of them.

Too often I hear and read about employers who think their live-in nannies are on call 24/7 at their disposal to take care of them and their kids, and their house and their pets… It’s ridiculous.  Also hearing about employers placing curfews on their nannies, or making them address you as Mr. or Mrs. like they are a servant.  Most of it is not allowed and some of it is just not right.  If you accepted a job working at a top law firm, or in the warehouse of WalMart would you allow for them to treat you like that?

As a result of some of these abuses of nannies from overseas, the Canadian government has been tightening up the LICP program – prospective nannies can apply from the program by following this link; http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/caregiver/apply-how.asp.  Part of the application process, requires that nannies MUST sign a written contract with their future employer, and the employer must also sign the contact which is them submitted together with the positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

The LMO is issued to the employer by the government after a lengthy review of the submitted documents and the information is verified, an interview is conducted by phone, and once the employer is deemed to be a suitable employer who has followed all the government requirements and regulations for the LICP.

Employers must also provide to the government their payroll BN number with the CRA, and have available suitable space in their home for a nanny to live, and prove that they have children in need of caring for and the financial capabilities to support a nanny.

The contract must be the same employment contract submitted to HRSDC/SC by your employer, unless you provide an explanation of any changes (for example, a new start date).

The written employment contract will ensure there is a fair working arrangement between you and your employer. The employment contract must demonstrate that the Live-in Caregiver Program requirements are met by including a description of:

•mandatory employer-paid benefits, including:

◦transportation to Canada from your country of permanent residence or the country of habitual residence to the location of work in Canada

◦medical insurance coverage provided from the date of your arrival until you are eligible for provincial health insurance

◦workplace safety insurance coverage for the duration of the employment

◦all recruitment fees, including any amount payable to a third-party recruiter or agents hired by the employer that would otherwise have been charged to you

•job duties
•hours of work
•wages
•accommodation arrangements (including room and board)
•holiday and sick leave entitlements
•termination and resignation terms

The contract the government is expecting to see does not have to look exactly like the one provided for in the link – that one is merely a template – but it must contain all the information and clauses indicated as mandatory.

The use of an alternative contract format may delay the processing of the LMO application as HRSDC and Service Canada officers will need to determine if the contract complies with LCP requirements.

http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eforms/forms/sc-emp5498(2011-09-005)e.pdf

Not just for the nannies: Signs you may be getting fired!


I have really come to appreciate how those in the nanny industry feed me articles that they think may fit with my readership since more and Don't wait until the kids fire you...more, I get the biggest bang for my buck (reads and comments) on these posts, and the agencies benefit from the extra readership of their articles.  It’s a win-win situation.

I especially like when they are well written and cover off more than just the nanny industry as this post does.  This post came to me from www.4nannies.com, entitled “Nanny Alter: Signs you’re getting fired”. Not only will this article help nannies understand some very key signs that their employers are giving them but if noticed early enough, then maybe the behaviour can be changed and prevent the termination, or at the very least they can understand there is a separation looming and they should start looking.

As I read through this article I realized these warning signs do not just apply to nannies, caregivers and au pairs, but they also cross into other areas of employment and would therefore be of assistance to everyone in helping them realize the signs their employers are giving them and when it might just be time to move on.

Here are some of the most obvious clues from this wonderful article:

1) Your employer has started to correct the way you carry out tasks or comment on ways you handle situations.  Important in the nanny-world because it shows that something they may have tolerated for a period of time is something they are no longer tolerating.  If the pattern continues it shows the employer that may you just cannot handle the job and over time your employer will look for someone who can.

2) You have a discussion about your “attitude” and you notice theirs is changing.  If your employer has come right out and mentioned that you have a bad attitude it’s almost certain that your attitude has rubbed them the wrong way for a period of time and they are getting fed up and starting to think that someone else would certainly have a better attitude.  You will also notice that in their frustration that they will no longer tolerate your attitude or shrug it off as being a bad day, but you will see that they will start giving you attitude right back because they figure you hate your job and are leaving or they would be doing you a favour by letting you go.

3) Your employer stops asking or caring about your personal life.  This is all part of the distancing process which many people need in order to convince themselves that they can do without you and helps them cope better during the termination.  It’s hard to  fire a friend so employers tend to distance themselves first.  It’s a key sign.

4) You start to feel like you cannot meet their expectations.  If you are finding that there are expectations on you and the position you occupy and that you are not meeting or exceeding these expectations then I guarantee you that your employer knows it too.  It might be a good time to have a discussion with your employer around those expectations and talk to them about what they are really expecting and what you realistically accomplish.  After that discussion you both might realize that there is not a good fit between the two of you and maybe you make an agreement to work until a replacement is found and in the meantime you will begin to look for a new employer.  That is much better than getting 2 weeks notice and looking for a role in desperation.

5) You begin to notice signs towards a search for your replacement.  If you start to hear rumours of your employer interviewing others for your position or you find out there are interviews going on for your position then you might want to get moving on looking for a new position right away.  You might also want to approach your employer to discuss it, so that you can mutually agree on when to expect to have to collect your belongings and move on.  It’s also a great time to get a reference from your employer for your next role and even to see if they know anyone looking.  It’s much easier doing that when you are still there and on good terms.

The article was posted here; http://www.4nannies.com/blog/nanny-alert-signs-youre-getting-fired/

Getting fired is never easy, but it certainly doesn’t mean you’re a bad employee or a bad human being.  In the nanny world it also shouldn’t mean the end of your relationship with the children you’ve cared for and come to love, and as an employee with your former colleagues and peers.   Even if the situation caught you by complete surprise and causes you much stress and financial difficulty it’s good to know that you did the best you could the whole time and you can feel good telling your next employer that there were other factors in play and if you left on good terms, your employer should be more than willing to let that next prospective employer know your strengths and weaknesses and still help you move on.