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Here you'll find quick & easy ideas for making everyday life as a parent a little less hectic.

The Most Inappropriate Question People Ask Newlyweds

Posted by on Nov 15, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This subject is one that I’ve dealt with a lot personally. This is written from the heart, and while you may not agree with my approach, I hope that you’ll hear me out.

As my husband Chris, & I approached our one year wedding anniversary the “when are you going to have kids?” question popped up more and more often. I can understand that for a lot of people this can be a nice way to show interest in what you’re up to as a couple.  But isn’t it just a little odd that we (as a society) think it’s okay to pry into the private business of two people just because they got married?

I have to admit that in the past I’ve asked newlyweds this same question. It seems like it’s second nature to ask people who are dating, “any idea when you’re going to get married?”. So, it kind of makes sense that we’d ask a newly married couple when they plan on starting a family. It’s not that we’re voyeurs prying into the intimate details of their marriage bed (although it does seem that way from some inquiring minds), but more that we’re interested in what makes them happy, what they’re up to, and what their plans for the future are. Many people remember the joy of being newly married, and the hopes of starting a family. Your single friends may not know what else to talk about, and feel like asking about kids is a simple way to show they’re interested in you as a new, married couple. Keep in mind that they might also be afraid that now that you’re married you’re going to immediately become “married with kids”, and where will that leave them? Some folks may honestly not realize that there are financial, fertility, or emotional issues attached to getting pregnant, and having a baby.

The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Inappropriate

While most everyone feels comfortable enough to ask this intimate question (I’m looking at you random bank teller), each person also has their own advice as to when you should start a family.

  • The mom of four who spends more time carpooling than anything else? She’s quick to tell you to enjoy your sleep while you can, and how EVERYTHING is going to change once you have kids. This may also be accompanied by a longing “take me with you to happy hour” look.
  • The 30-something professional who waited too long to get married and start a family? She’ll be trying to convince you that your eggs are drying up, and you shouldn’t be wasting any time. “RUN! Go home, and have sex RIGHT NOW!!” she’ll yell.
  • The empty nester/well meaning in-law for which messy diapers and sleepless nights are but a distant memory? She can’t imagine ANYONE not wanting to have a gaggle of little ones, and will be certain to tell you how much you’ll be missing out if you don’t have children.

Getting all these different views thrown at you can be a little overwhelming. It can seem as if you no longer have control over what is a major life decision, and that everyone will judge you no matter what decision you make.

To Each Their Own

We have some very close friends who got married a couple of years ago and they have been very vocal about NOT having kids.  They love to travel, drink wine, and eat at nice restaurants (if you’ve yet to have kids, just a heads up, those things are a lot harder to do with kids in tow).  My mother-in-law seems certain they’ll change their minds and can’t imagine any married couple not wanting to have children.  I fully respect & support their decision, because I appreciate their honesty to themselves.  There are so many people who have children just because it’s the next step in the formula: college, marriage, kids.  They’re usually the disconnected, unenthusiastic parents you’ll see tapping their foot in impatience…

“You’re Going to Feel a Little Pressure”

With the celebration of our marriage, I got to step into the world of the medically insured (woo hoo!).  So, about a month ago I had some time off from work, and managed to cram a year’s worth of doctor & dentist visits in to a week an a half.  Stay tuned for my post on how we fail to take the time to do the things that are really important to our own health because we’re so busy taking care of everyone else.  During my initial visit with my new general practitioner I was given a lecture on my age (35) and the risks of waiting too long to get pregnant for the first time.  Based on a few of her comments during this semi unprofessional dressing down, I picked up on the feelings of this young, well-educated woman who missed out on her chance to have children.  There was disappointment, fear of failure, & heartache.  I realized that while I didn’t necessarily appreciate her comments, she was trying to prevent me from falling prey to the same scenario.

If you can’t say anything nice…

Instead of walking into a potential landmine and/or committing social suicide, try asking these types of questions to your freshly married friends & acquaintances:

  • What was your favorite thing about your wedding day?
  • What are you guys looking forward to in the next year?
  • What was the most memorable piece of marriage advice you got from people before the wedding?
  • Are you planning any trips to meet new family members?

There are any number of questions you can ask that don’t involve a couple’s reproductive plans.

Talking Back

If you find yourself on the receiving end of the “having kids” question, I’ve come up with a few ways to respond to those people who feel it’s necessary to pry into your private life:

Why yes, I’m in my fertile window right now, & we’re planning on having sex this evening around 9:45.  Would you like me to call you after, and let you know how it goes? This works best with complete strangers, and even better if you can walk away immediately afterwards like you’ve dropped the mic and you’re walking offstage.

Oh, we don’t really like kids.  Grubby little buggers.  We prefer to spend our time drinking and watching Game of Thrones.  Parenthood is so overrated. This also provides a decent amount of shock and awe like the previous response. It says, “I refuse to cave to the pressure to have kids, and I’m perfectly content with my life.” It will remind those who have children what it was like before they had kids, and they could watch something besides the Cartoon Network before 9 pm.

Or, you could take the high road, and just respond with this:

We’re going to make that decision as a couple, and if we choose to have children it will be when it’s best for our family.  Yes, this is less likely to make their eyes go wide with shock, but it still gets the point across that it’s none of their damn business and shame on them for asking.

However you choose to respond, know that the decision you and your partner make when it comes to having children is up to you, no one else.

Who has asked you inappropriately about having kids, and how have you responded? Comment below or shoot me an email at missnannyshanny@gmail.com  Share this with your friends and family so they’ll know what to ask BESIDES “when are you having kids?”  You can sign up for my email newsletter now to get a free PDF with 2 weeks of menus, recipes, & grocery lists for school (or work) lunches.

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Change the Way You Introduce Yourself & Gain Self Confidence

Posted by on Jun 9, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

As women, it can be easy to use certain words to downplay and minimize what we do, or even who we are.  Maybe we do this to make others feel more comfortable.  Perhaps we might be self-conscious about the role we’ve chosen to play.  Additionally, we may not even be completely aware that we’re doing so in the first place.

One word that demonstrates this sneaky minimizing effect is “just”.  We may say, “I’m just a housewife”, “just a stay at home mom”, or in my case, “just a nanny”.  It seems harmless enough, but in reality, it can shape how you and others see you.  It’s as if you are saying that you are only (another restrictive word) one thing, and that thing is something you’re a little bit ashamed of.

One of the first things someone may ask when you meet them here in L.A. is “what do you do?”  Asking about your profession can be a quick way for someone to get a glimpse of who you are.  Answering that question has always made me feel a little uncomfortable.  Among the production assistants, tech gurus, and aspiring actors, saying that I’m a nanny makes me feel a little beneath the people I’m talking to.  Here I am in the land of glitz and glamor, and I spend my days wiping noses and changing diapers. I have tried to find a more creative way to describe my career, but I often end up saying, “I’m just a nanny”.  It’s said almost as an apology, and I’m left feeling a little bit like “the help”. I get the sense that people are judging my intelligence and the decisions that led me to be what some may consider a glorified babysitter.

I’m not JUST a nanny.  Deep down I know that I’m much more than that.  I have an incredibly unique background, a vibrant life, and make a huge difference in the lives of those I work with.

  • I spend my days teaching little minds to think BIG, and that anything is possible.
  • I show them that life is full of surprises and joy.
  • I’m in charge of their safety, health, and happiness.
  • I’m trusted with people’s flesh and blood so that they can go out and pursue their dreams.

I don’t say any of this to puff myself up and boost my ego, but to acknowledge the reality and value of what I do.  In doing so, my hope is to encourage you to gain confidence in yourself and what you do.

Think about how you really feel when it comes to what you do for a living.  Are there any underlying fears or disappointments that you are hiding from yourself?  Does the way that you describe your work give others permission to think or feel or treat you a certain way?  What would it be like if you decided to make the conscious decision to do one of more of these things?

  • Realize that you are not defined by a single description.  There is value and depth to your being.
  • Be confident in the choice(s) you’ve made to do what you do – whether that’s stay home with your child, go back to work, or switch careers.
  • Find the value in what you do, and even if you don’t tell others, tell yourself.

Are there any words that you find yourself using to describe yourself that you wish you could remove from your vocabulary?  How can you change the way you talk about yourself to encourage others to respect and appreciate what you do?  If you describe yourself as “just” something you’ve subliminally influenced the person with whom you’re speaking to before they can come to their own conclusion.

Making the simple change to remove subtle key diminishing words like “just” can create a stronger first impression when meeting new people, and hopefully help you walk a little taller, too.

From now on when someone asks me what I do, I’m going to proudly say, “I nanny for a living”.

As always, I’d love to hear from my lovely readers with any feedback or suggestions.  missnannyshanny@gmail.com

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Save Your Back – Spend Less Time Picking up Toys

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Home Organization | 1 comment

The kids are asleep, dinner dishes are “soaking” in sink, and you’re finally getting a chance to catch up on the DVR. Before you become a permanent fixture on the sofa for the rest of the night, you decide it’s time to head to bed. A quick glance around the room shows a pile of books your 3 year old pulled off the shelf, your husbands shoes where he kicked them off, jackets that didn’t quite make it to the coat rack…this goes on and on. 
You’re exhausted and it seems like a never ending (and thankless) job keeping the house picked up.

I’m a huge follower of FlyLady over at flylady.net She’s been teaching home and life organization to women for years. One of her tips for keeping everyday clutter at bay is a 5 minute Room Rescue. It’s as simple as it sounds; for 5 minutes pick up and put away those things left lying around in each room. This is an effective way to leave your house looking pulled together, and it’s great for when you’re expecting company.

Now I don’t know about you, but there are some times when I can’t imagine spending 15-20 minutes walking around putting away things at the end of the night. I can barely manage to brush my teeth and wash my face.

So let’s take baby steps to going gung-ho on that clutter by picking up THREE things. That’s it! Just doing this basic act can start the ball rolling.

It’s easy for me to be in the bathroom and go “ok, let me just put away the hairbrush, my makeup bag, and this dirty towel”.   I’ve noticed that once I’ve made the effort to clean off a few things, I’m more likely to decide to take a quick swipe with a paper towel and bathroom cleaner to clean out the sink.  Now, don’t guilt yourself into thinking you have to spend the next hour cleaning every surface in your bathroom.  The three things you’ve put away are enough for now.  If you want to take an extra 30 seconds to give things a once over, great.  And if this inspires you to do a little more than that, it’s okay.  But, if there’s a herd of wild children peeking under the door asking when you’re going to be out, put away three things and get back on with life.

Something I discovered as I experimented with this little life hack is that by paying attention to putting away just three things, I was more likely to put stuff away in the first place.  Picking up after ourselves makes such a HUGE difference in battling the war on clutter.  It can be hard to do with a million things going on around us, but by putting something away as soon as we’re done with it, where it belongs, it can really make cleaning up a helluva lot easier.

If you have a hard time getting stuff to fit in a drawer, or feel like there’s just not enough room, it may be time to do a purge of all that stuff.  Check out Fly Lady for great ways to start.

So take a second to look around.  Are there three things you could put away right now?

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The Keys to a More Effective To-Do List

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Time Management | 0 comments

There will ALWAYS be more to do at the end of the day.  By setting priorities for what truly matters to you and your family, you can go to bed knowing that you got done what was necessary and important to you.

Here’s what my usual to-do list would look like:

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 10.52.44 AM

These are all things that I WANT to or feel like i SHOULD get done (in 4.5 hours I have before I start work).

 

A great way to prioritize more effectively is to write out your list and then divide it into two categories.

Category 1 is What absolutely HAS to be done BY ME today.

- Those things that, if not done today will cause financial consequences and/or have a dire effect on your family’s well being and happiness.  The task can not be reassigned to someone else and can ONLY be done by you (pay rent, appointments that directly affect your health…)

We often feel that everything has to be done by us right away, but often if we really examine our list we can see that very few things have a do or die deadline and not everything has to be done by us (I really struggle with this concept; I mean, it’s just easier to do it myself).

Category 2 is the rest

- Yes, that pile of laundry is driving you crazy and has practically started it’s own twitter account (@neverfolded), but if it doesn’t get tackled today it won’t be the end of the world.  This is where we can stretch our delegation muscles.  Assign older children age-appropriate tasks; you’ll be surprised what they can do.  Get the whole household in on the spirit of being a team.  Together you are all responsible for the care and upkeep of the home you share.  You may not feel that you’re kids need chores, but think about the last time you were still awake at midnight loading the dishwasher.  Wouldn’t it be nice to head to bed without feeling utterly exhausted?

            Examples: laundry (unless there’s an event that REQUIRES an item be cleaned immediately), taking out the trash, organizing your freezer, making a detailed meal plan with shopping list full of organic, Paleo-approved items…

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 10.54.17 AM

Check out that left column!  Such a more manageable list.  I was able to get all of this done, and even managed to squeeze in some time to work on this here blog.  The stuff on the right does need to be addressed, but none of it is going to be the end of the world if I don’t get to it immediately and I’m able to go bed knowing that I did what was absolutely necessary for our family.

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The 3 year old helping fold some laundry (he loved doing it too!).

As you get things done quickly and efficiently (since you’re not bogged down by a super long list) you may find that you have the time and energy to complete some stuff off Category 2’s side.

You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll actually get done with this method. As an added bonus, the guilt of procrastinating on certain tasks will disappear because you’ll be tackling them first.

I wish you a week of feeling accomplished and unburdened.  Let me know how it turns out!  missnannyshanny@gmail.com

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Communicating with Your Spouse About the Schedule

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Time Management | 1 comment

Do you have days when you feel like nothing you set out to do is getting done?  Does it often feel like you’re behind before you even get started?

Between chores, errands, cooking, & cleaning it’s hard not to feel like something gets left undone.

I want to show you how you can conquer the clock and become confident that you’re giving your children all the love and attention they need.  Let’s not waste any time and get down to how to control your calendar.

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As a full time nanny for the past 6 years, I’ve gotten a “behind the scenes” look at parenting couples, and the issues that they face – not only as parents, but also in their own relationships.  One thing that many couples struggle with is a lack of communication.  This can seriously throw a wrench in how smoothly your day runs.

Be sure to talk to your spouse.  Let them know what’s coming down the pike for the next week.

There are lots of ways to communicate with each other these days, but it often feels like we are more disconnected than ever.

     – Shoot each other a text if an event comes up that needs to be added to the calendar.

     – Have a shared calendar on your smart phone and add the event to the calendar so you are both aware of the commitment.

     – And please for the love of God, check with your spouse BEFORE saying yes to something to see if there are any time conflicts.

By communicating with your partner you’ll be able to adjust the schedule if necessary and hopefully delegate drop offs, errands, or homework duty accordingly.  By managing your time more effectively you can feel less harried, less stressed, and be free to be a more patient, engaged, and confident mother.

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**Note:  Timing is everything when it comes to going over the calendar and coordinating schedules.  Right when you’ve walked in the door from work and the kids are clamoring for dinner and/or asking for help with homework is not the ideal time to sync schedules.  Find a calmer moment, and it’s more likely that everyone will remember just what it is that they’re supposed to do tomorrow at 3:45.

What’s the most frustrating thing you deal with when it comes to managing your calendar with your partner?  Let me know at missnannyshanny@gmail.com

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