Friday, June 28, 2019

Supporting Each Other Through the Hard Seasons

I talk a lot about grief and about the emotions a nanny feels when she leaves a family.
Today I want to talk about how we, as colleagues can support each other in the hard times.
One of the things that I have learned is that life has many seasons, good, bad, easy and hard. As I have gone through the hard seasons of my life, I have learned some valuable lessons that I want to share with you today.
1. Frequently, when people are going through hard seasons, people don’t show up for a couple of reasons. Sometimes, they don’t know how.
The first thing I learned is that the way you learn to show up for people, is by going through hard times. We don’t walk in this world alone and it is so important to show up for others but if you have never been through it, if you never sat next to a loved one as a Dr. said
the words that no one ever wants to hear, you don’t know how it feels, you don’t know how scary it is, you don’t know the pit in your stomach.
If you never sat by a parent as they took their last breath, if you never lost a spouse, if you never lost a sister or your own child or your beloved charge… can’t imagine the gut punch it is.
Here is what I want you to know.
It doesn’t matter what you say. It doesn’t matter what you do. It only matters that you show up! Are you worried you might say the wrong thing? You don’t have to say a lot. A hug speaks volumes. A whispered prayer, holding a hand, taking food, a card in the mail, a gift card for a place that delivers…….it’s enough.
Sometimes you ask someone what they need and they say “nothing” because honestly, it is hard to know what you need in that moment.
Just reach out, even if it is just a text that says I am thinking about you, showing up in some way shape or form is all you need to do.
One of the most important things you can do is listen, or even just sit in the silence with them. Just knowing they are not alone is more than you realize.
Many of you showed up for me when my mom was sick and I couldn’t keep up with Nanny Transitions, when my husband had cancer right after my mom died, people on this page that didn’t even know me, showed up for me with posts to my page, and private messages of support. I’m telling you….showing up just requires the effort to do it.
2. If they ask for something and you can offer it, do it! If you can’t offer what they want but you can offer an alternative solution….do it!
Don’t assume that someone else is going to help them figure it out.
We as a community need to show up for each other because I promise you that your day is coming. Everyone goes through hard seasons. It is a fact of life.
Showing up is a life skill we all need to learn. It doesn’t matter if you know the person, if you know they are in a hard season, reach out, support and love.

3. Don’t assume that if they are quiet, that means that they are ok.
What silence really means is that they are most likely feeling deserted, or alone or forgotten which can also lead to feelings of depression.

4. If they express frustration or fear or anger or hurt feelings because no one is stepping up. Respect their feelings. They have a right to feel the way they feel. If it makes you uncomfortable, maybe it is because you feel guilty for not stepping up.

5. We, as nannies, as women and men in the same profession, share a unique bond.  Our jobs are unique, our circumstances are unique.
We understand each other like no one else does.
Let’s start treating each other with love and compassion and grace.
It can only make us stronger.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Lessons in Grieving

Lessons in Grieving 

Today, marks the one year anniversary of the day the world lost Casey.
Casey was the youngest and only boy in my first nanny family. I was with him from the day he was born until he was 6 years old. Casey was in my wedding on June 22, 1996. He drug my current charge down the aisle. I am so glad that I did not know then, that 21 years and 3 days later at the age of 29, he would leave this earth.
This last year has been a hard one for me, but I know that as hard as it has been for me, it can’t compare to the loss his parents, his sisters, his soul mate Maria and the rest of his friends and family feel every day.
When you are a nanny, and you work with a wonderful family, one of the things that happens is that you get to be someone who frequently swoops in and makes things better. You juggle schedules, you come to work early, you stay late, you work an extra weekend and your employers come to think of you as their own personal hero. Time after time, you get to “save the day” And when you work for an amazing family, it is always noticed and appreciated.
One of the hardest things about this tragic loss for me was that there was absolutely nothing I could do to fix it. I didn’t get to swoop in with a solution, or extra hours or a brilliant idea. All I could do was send them love.
This loss rocked my world in a way nothing ever has. It continues to rock my world on a daily basis but, I have learned some important lessons and I want to share them with you.
I wrote about this last August, how a nanny’s love has no expiration date. You can read it here;

The love we have for the children we have cared for, doesn’t ever go away. Sometimes we are lucky and we get to have them in our lives, but sometimes we only get to have them in our heart. We have them for a season, we love them for a lifetime.
I wrote about how I didn’t know how to grieve this loss and I also said that I was hurt and disappointed that only 2 of my friends had continued to reach out to me as I grieved this loss. After I wrote that post, I heard from a number of nannies who checked in on me and said they were sorry they had not supported me but the message I got over and over was this one.
“We thought you were ok. You didn’t say anything, and we just thought you were ok”
So…I learned an important lesson that I want to share with you.
Grieving people hurt. They hurt every day. They wake up hurting and they go to bed hurting and they hurt when they wake up at 2 AM and can’t go back to sleep.
They might talk about it and then get quiet, and you might think they are ok, but when people don’t talk about the pain, that is the time you should worry. Grief has no timetable. Long after everyone else goes back to their normal life…grief lingers.
When people get quiet, it usually means they aren’t dealing with the pain well.
Even the strongest people need love and support. Don’t assume. Strong people are used to dealing with their own stuff, but some things are just too hard to bear alone. When you know someone is going through a hard time, a simple phone call, a card, a thinking of you text is always a good thing to do. You never know the difference it will make.
I didn’t talk about it, I kept it all inside and pretended to fine…until I wasn’t and I couldn’t. I am better now but today is going to be a hard day, for me and a lot of people I love. I hope you will keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. I hope you will text me or message me and just let me know you are thinking of me but more importantly….
In honor and memory of Casey and the amazing human he grew up to be, I would like for you to eat an OREO (his favorite cookie) and do a random act of kindness today.
Putting love out into the world is the best way I know to honor Casey’s memory.

His family also has started a foundation in his name. If you feel inclined to a make donation to that would be wonderful too, but most importantly…just be kind and compassionate and extend a little grace to everyone you meet today.
I know Casey would love that.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Planning for a personal crisis

When we are faced with a personal crisis, our first instinct is to fall apart. So how do you keep from doing that?
First of all, we have more control than we realize.
Let the Bad News sink in: Acknowledge that you are going through a rough time. Pretending that you aren’t won’t make it any better. It’s ok to be upset and it’s ok to be in pain.
These are all normal reactions. Many of us are strong and feel that we are weak if we ask for help. Actually being able to realize that we need help is one of the steps toward taking control of our lives again.
When we go through a crisis, we immediately start to think of all the things that we have to do in order to survive.
It’s important to do that, but it feels less overwhelming to try and break it down into tiny baby steps.
If you are a live-in nanny who just found out that she is losing her job you need to ask yourself: What is the first thing I need to do to get through the next hour?
Remember that this is a temporary crisis. You need to find a temporary solution. When you speak, listen to your words. Avoid using negative words like
 “This always happens to me”
“I am never going to be able to find another job in this economy”
“I must have done something wrong”
“This is my fault”
None of those thoughts is productive. Each of those thoughts just makes you feel worse about yourself and those negative thoughts are most likely not even true.
What you need most right now is to believe that you are going to get through this.
This is why it is so important that you have a plan.
Every nanny should have a plan but especially live in nannies who live where they work. Losing their job means losing their home.
This is one of the wisest things you can do to prepare yourself for a transition.
You always need to have a place you can go on short notice for at least 24-48 hours where you can catch your breath.
Then you need a place you can go for a longer time until you can get back on your feet. This could be the same place but you might have to have 2 places. You also need to have some money put away to live on until you can secure employment.
If you have this plan in place ahead of time, when the crisis hits, you can take a deep breath and know that you will have a place to sleep that night. Just knowing that should take a load off your mind. Remember, you don’t have to figure out what you are going to do the next 5 years of your life, you just have to figure out what the next step will be.

It might be helpful to set aside time each day to brainstorm about what you are going to do, how you are going to get through this bump in the road. Treat it like job research. Make lists, network, and then be sure to take some time to take care of yourself.
Break it down into baby steps and just do the next thing you know to do. Instead of thinking ”I will never survive this” think about other things that you didn’t think you would survive, but did.
The reassurance you have that you have survived other hard things in your life will give you some peace of mind and confidence.

Try to think about the future in a positive way. Recognize this as a transition in your life. Transitions move us forward to a place of hope and new beginnings.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

You Love Them for a Lifetime

Today is August 5, 2017.

It’s a beautiful morning. The sun is shining, there are no clouds in the sky and there’s a gentle breeze blowing through the air. I’m sitting on the porch with my coffee thinking of all I have to be grateful for ….and then I feel it.  I feel his presence with me.
My mind goes back to another beautiful morning in June.
Terry was at the lake. I came back from my walk, looked at my phone and saw I had a text from my former boss, still my friend, Lisa. I texted her back and said I would call her in a few, she texted me back and said she couldn’t talk but she would call me soon. I texted her back ( don’t you love this age of technology?) and said I had a coaching call at 9 so I only had a small window of time.
I was so happy that morning. I had big plans for my day and I was ready  to conquer the world after getting in 4 laps around the subdivision .......and then the phone rang.
It was Terry. He said “Honey, I have some really bad news” Nothing could have prepared me for what he said next. His voice cracked and he could barely say the words “Casey was killed in a bike race this weekend”…………..and the world started to spin, and my heart started to race and everything started to close in. I couldn’t find words. I had to know more….and I had to be alone and quiet.
He went on ….”Lisa is on her way down to be with you because she doesn’t want you to be alone”
We hung up, I looked online at the paper and there was the story. I looked on Facebook and there were the postings on his page. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine a world without Casey in it.
Casey (29) was my youngest charge in the first family that I nannied for. I was with him the first 6 years of his life and even after the job ended he was a ring bearer in my wedding and still a very important part of my life.Terry and I still saw him on a regular basis until he became a teenager.
 I hadn’t seen him in awhile  but we were Facebook friends and I kept in touch, we chatted a couple of times a year and I kept up with all his stories of cycling and his life with his soulmate Maria.
Molly was his sister and I usually never said just Molly, it was always Molly and Casey. They were as close as a brother and sister could be. Always rooting for each other, always supporting each other where ever they went, what ever they did.

I called Lisa and asked her not to come. I wanted to be alone. (I’m funny like that) I needed to process this loss. I spent my day looking at Facebook postings from all the people who loved and adored Casey.
He was so kind, he was such a gentlemen, he was always doing something for someone else, he was kind, he was patient, he was modest….he was so loved and he is so missed.
I went through pictures and thought about all the funny stories I had about him in my head and I cried a river of tears.
It’s been 6 weeks now and I still cry every day. It’s still the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about every night. When you are a nanny, you love and care for someone else’s child.
You only have them for a season but you love them for a lifetime.
One of the things that I am most proud of in my career as a nanny is that I developed a course called Nanny Transitions where I help support and guide nannies through the pain of leaving a family.
Leaving Molly and Casey was why I developed this course. It was so painful to leave them after 8 years that I didn’t know how to deal with my grief. As I worked through it all I developed a workshop to help other is my labor of love to my industry……but nothing ever prepared me for this.
Sometimes I struggle with my grief and I feel guilty about grieving or I feel like I don’t have the right to grieve….but my nanny’s heart tells me I do.
As a nanny, I have always tried to reach out and support and encourage nannies who are going through hard times but of all the thousands of nannies that I know, only one has reached out to me to see how I am, to see how I am doing and that makes this hurt even more.
I put a post on Facebook and lots of people posted and supported me. It gave me hope that I would have support through this, but a few days after this happened I posted on facebook about my hurting heart and even nannies who knew of my loss, asked me why I was sad. It was so painful that I deleted the post. It made the pain hurt, even more, to think that the only people I thought could understand my grief……………….didn’t.

So…I’m trying so hard here, to deal with the grief of losing this man who was not my son. I didn’t know him well as a man, but as a child, as a curly red-haired boy I knew him so well and loved him so much and you don’t just stop loving them when the job is over. There is no expiration date on love.

I’m grateful for my husband’s love and support through this time. He knows me so well and he sees how much I am hurting. He spends extra time with me and understands that his very independent wife can’t be alone right now.
I’m moving slowly through this grief and I know it will be here for a long time… I know it will change and shift and the day will come when I don’t wake up crying.
I also know that grief has its own timetable.
I don’t understand why Casey had to go but I will learn the lessons of his life. Casey was an Eagle Scout and he lived by the Scout Law. I will try to do the same. It is the best way to honor him.
I carry him with me now and sometimes in the quiet moments of a gentle breeze  I feel him with me and I know that he is at peace. I hope I always do.
Ride on Casey… are forever in my heart.
Caseys family has now formed a non-profit organization in his memory.
I hope you will visit and consider supporting

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Today I wanted to share with you a wise nanny/momma's advice for how to leave a nanny family.There is never an easy way but having a plan is a big help and having lots of resources available ensures that your transition will be as smooth as you can make it.Here is some great advice:

Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Kimberley Roberts Benakovich

Yesterday was my last day with my “nanny family” of 9 months.  It was so emotionally exhausting that I came home and slept for 12 straight hours. I’m sure I cried at least 20 times throughout the day, and probably would have cried even more if my 3 year old son (Simon) hadn’t been with me. It’s always hard to leave a nanny position, but it’s 1,000 times harder to leave a position that you LOVE.
As nannies, we sometimes talk about finding our “Unicorn Family”- a family that is so perfect, it’s hard to believe that they actually exist. The “L” Family was my Unicorn Family. Not only did they respect my career choice, but they respected my time and my “work space” as well. They NEVER came home late, and not once did I walk into a sink full of dishes from the night before, toys all over the floor, or piles of laundry stacked up for me to tackle. In fact, I didn’t even do Baby D’s laundry- my “mom boss” (MB) preferred to do it herself.  From day one, I was treated as a professional AND as part of the family, and there is no better feeling than that for a nanny!
to read the rest of this article, click  here

Monday, August 1, 2016

Glenda Propst reviews the book "All the Time in the World" by Caroline Angell

A few weeks ago I was asked if I would do a book review on a book called
“All the Time in the World” by Caroline Angell
I have never done a book review before but the book looked interesting so I said yes.
It took me a little less than a week to read the book but partially because I have been spending a lot of time with my mom who just moved into a skilled care facility so I don’t have a lot of time to read.

Sometimes when I am reading a book, if it doesn’t grab me from the beginning, I have a hard time making a commitment. I didn’t have a problem with that. It didn’t take me long to really connect with the main character Charlotte who was caring for two little boys named Matthew and George. It was obvious from the start that this writer truly understood the dynamics of a nanny’s role in the family. Only someone with this kind of insight could narrate the scene where the children are picked up and dropped off at pre-school and describe the scenario of the interaction between the stay at home mommies, the cardboard cut-out moms, the moms who treat the caregivers with little respect and the mix of nannies and au pairs. It’s a scene that plays out on a daily basis in pre-schools everywhere.
I know that Charlotte was a nanny who I could have been friends with. We could have been on a Facebook group for nannies together and we would have made a connection because she really understood the ins and outs of working with a family. She projected a professional image and understood her role within the family. She understood that working with a family requires a lot of give and take and that sometimes you have to do things that were not in your job description just because circumstances warrant it.
The reason this is so important is that this book is all about the relationship a nanny has with her employers, the interaction with the mom and the bond that can develop between a mom and a nanny and how a nanny’s role can change within the family with time and circumstances.
When I started reading this book, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that I knew how it was going to end but I was wrong and this book did not disappoint.
This is a book that will definitely appeal to nannies but I think it can appeal to a wider audience because it is a great storyline and Charlotte is a character that you will identify with and root for all the way to the end.
As I tried to write this review, I struggled a little with remembering that this is a not a nanny training manual that teaches the dos and don’ts of being a good nanny, it is a story that will touch the heart of any nanny or parent with a nanny.
I can always tell that I have read a great book when days after the last page has been read, my mind wanders back to the story and I find myself thinking…

” I wonder what Charlotte is doing now?”

There is really only one negative thing I have to say about this book, and I say it mostly because anyone who knows me, would know that I wouldn’t let it go without saying something.
Charlotte is truly a nanny in every sense of the word. She is educated, experienced, smart, and understands the dynamics of doing her job and doing it well. All through the book she refers to herself as a babysitter. I don’t think that calling herself a nanny would have made any kind of difference in the storyline but I think the things she did were over and above the call of duty for “just a babysitter”

This is a really good book. I am certain you will like it, and identify with so many things in it and I hope you will read it! I can’t really get into the nitty gritty of why I connected so much with this book without giving away the storyline but once you read it I think you will understand that this book covers a wide range of issues and emotions unique to those of us who love and care for other people’s children. I hope other people who read it will have new insight into the important work we all do….no matter what we consider our job title to be.

I will be giving away a copy of the book on my Facebook page but if you are not on Facebook, you can email me at nannytransitions(at)gmail(dot)com and I will gladly put your name into the drawing for the book.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Touched by a Nanny: Nancy Kanouff

Touched by a Nanny named Nancy Kanouff

Submitted by Cheri Brown

I believe things happen for a reason. I bought something off a yard sale site that Nancy had posted , we were meant to meet. 

I had just left my nanny job of 4 years . It was a very stressful time. I had really only known a small handful of nannies and most of them were much younger than me. I can't even remember how the conversation came about but there we were both nannies and around the same age. 
She told me about her " Network" of close to 100 nannies(and growing) and asked me to join her Facebook group. 
What I didn't know was how many times I would lean on Nancy for support over the past couple years.  
Being a veteran nanny of 24 years I never knew what it could do to your day, your week, your job to have such an amazing support system. Thank you Nancy for your hard work, untold hours and dedication that you give the nanny community on a daily basis. You have truly made a difference in my life and the lives of many others.