a day in the life 3
After school mother’s helper for a six year old (S) and four year old triplets (R, C, M) and have been working with this family for five months.

2:45: I pull up to the house and wait in my car for MB and DB to return from picking the kids up at school. All kids go inside and wash their hands.
3:00: I put a helmet on S and R and take them out for a bike ride around their neighborhood and to the “rock place” which is a small dog park area with grass and a sitting area with a slight downhill. I started taking the kids there to practice braking on their bikes and now they do that then we play on the grass (red light green light, mother may I, simon says).
3:30: I’m back at the house and put a helmet on C and M. S and R go inside, wash their hands, and play. I repeat the bike ride/rock place with C and M until C kicks M in the face on purpose and that’s our cue to go home.
4:00: We’re back at the house, I tell MB that C needs to go on time out for kicking M in the face. She asks C is she’s going to behave. C says yes. MB says C doesn’t need to go on time out (WHAT). MB retires to her bedroom with sleeping DB. Two minutes later, C hits M in face and I send her up to her room for time out.
4:05: I gather pajamas and pull ups to begin bathing children. M didn’t need bathing because he wasn’t in school today. I set S, R, and M up with puzzles in the landing upstairs near the bathroom so I can keep an ear on them. I ask S if she wants to wash first or second (R isn’t washing, C is on time out so she’s last). S says third. I ask first or second. S freaks out and runs into her mother’s room. I follow, quietly explain what happened, MB says go first and she can have a lollipop. S says she doesn’t want a lollipop as her special treat (dessert) (two days ago MB and DB decided no more special treats). MB says lollipop AND special treat. S leaves the room, I take her into her own room and explain to her that even though Mommy and Daddy are at home, I’m in charge of her and she needs to listen to what I say. She starts screaming and crying, S goes on time out in her room. S and C’s rooms are connected by the bathroom in which I watch the kids so I have screaming S on one side and screaming C on the other. Excellent.
4:15: M is undressed and in the bath. I give him about five minutes to play while I check on R who has been quietly playing with puzzles this whole time.
4:30: M is finished bathing and is dressed, C is calmed down (S is still screaming in spite of the fact that she knows time outs are three minutes, but time doesn’t begin until she has quieted down) so I take C into the bathroom to wash her.
4:45: S has FINALLY stopped crying and her three minutes have gone by without another tear so she washes herself while I pop in and out while keeping an eye on R, C, and M playing with puzzles. I have them clean up their mess, gather their water bottles from last night from their rooms and head downstairs while I dress S.
5:00: With MB and DB surprisingly still in their room (normally they are all over me during the afternoon before dinner), I take the kids downstairs and have them playing together while I do the dishes that have piled up in the sink while the kids were at school.
5:15: After a few arguments I had to break up, I have the triplets move into the living room so I can sit down at the piano with S for her daily fifteen minutes of practice.
5:30: MB comes out of her room and S runs to her. MB approaches me and asks what happened before bath because S is “visibly upset.” S says she’s mad at me because I put her on time out. I ask S why she was on time out. I explain to S and MB that she was on time out for not obeying me and throwing a tantrum. MB is obviously not very happy with the fact that I put her on time out.
5:35: MB goes back into her room, S runs after her crying again for no reason, DB is sleeping so I grab S underneath her arms to stop her from running in there loudly. I throw my back out. Excellent! I bring S downstairs with R, C, and M who are playing with Legos. I sit down and play with them for a little but and then have them begin cleaning up and washing before dinner. Clean up doesn’t happen because when I pay attention to M, R and C run away and when I fetch one of them, M runs away etc.
6:00: MB is downstairs and serving dinner. I eat with them in between fetching more milk and refilling bowls of spaghetti.
6:30: When they’re finished, I ensure the kids wash their hands and faces and DB puts on Beauty and the Beast about twenty minutes in. I wash all dishes from dinner (kids’, parents’, pots, pans, DB’s Tupperware/water bottles from work) while the kids are content in front of the tv. I collect their lunchboxes from the garage while DB awkwardly walks in from outside with the smell of cigarettes on him (found out recently he secretly smokes on the side of the house).
7:00: I get the kids vitamins and give them to them while they’re watching the movie. I clean up the play room (because it’s obvious MB and DB aren’t going to enforce me having them do it tonight [they’re watching tv, I can of course pick up after your already spoiled children].
7:20: Movie’s over, I begin brushing the kids’ teeth and refill their water bottles for bed.
7:40: I’m ushering the children upstairs, tuck them in, hugs and kisses + “I’ll see you on Monday, please behave this weekend” times four, and lights out.
7:45: Check in hand, I’m out the door.

Normally the kids don’t watch a movie, it was a big surprise that they got to because I will never put the television on for them (there are four of them, they can always play together) and it only happens when their parents are feeling lazy and don’t want them to bother them. DB is a surgeon and MB… doesn’t do anything? but spends an awful lot of time in the study “working.” Also, I don’t put tv on for them because they always want to watch Superhero Squad but the kids are generally violent to one another and MB blames it on the tv show so she told them no more of that show, which I enforce, but she stopped enforcing after two days. They each just got their own Leappad for… no particular reason so I’ve been giving those to them once or twice a week for the past two weeks. Fridays (this day) are my longest day with the kids and normally I'll take them down to the neighborhood playground instead of bike riding because it gives them more time and space to run around and it gives me more alone time with the kids to have a "picnic" snack and ask about their days, talk to them about what's going on in school, etc...

I adore the children when they’re behaving but when one misbehaves is generally means another one or two are misbehaving which is not fun. I give multiple time outs a day and it’s super stressful. I thought this was a nanny job when I began, not a mother’s helper job, and don’t really like the fact that their mom is home 95% of the time because the kids always run to her when they don’t like something I say.


alex said...

ah, I got exhausted just reading this! Okay, I know it cannot be easy with triplets and a 6 yr old (I should know, I am a triplet :) but it can be done. My mother did it with my dad traveling for work 95% of the time. This mom, even though she is home, doesn't seem like she does anything!! And I could not stand to be working in a house where the parents are not in agreement with my judgement, that would just irk me to no end! How can they expect the kids to respect you when they go against what you say?

RBTC said...

you are a really good nanny - you could be a very successful psychiatrist

if my brother and cousin had had a nanny like you they would be gainfully employed today

this post reminded me of an episode of supernanny

on supernanny you never see the parents disrespecting Jo - probably they have to sign something saying they will respect her judgement

it's imperative that you get the parents on your side - show them studies/videos/information - the dad is a doctor which shows that it is best for the children when the caretaker has the backing of the parents

then decide - if the mom will not back you up, is it worth it to stay?

you may have to make that choice but you are very good at what you do, i cannot imagine you having trouble getting a job

also - the violence - obviously the parents are overwhelmed and are staying out of the kids lives and the kids are crying out for help - and you are the scapegoat -very unfair

Beth said...

I tip my hat to you. Four children is not easy, and you sound like you do a pretty good job.

Did you discuss discipline before hand with mom & dad?

I would go nuts if I never had any backing from the parents.

Anonymous said...

I just quit. Oh, it's not my job.

Unless you are making the most money of any nanny in America, I'd quit. Hell, I'd quit if they were paying me in gold. The older they get, the worse it's going to be. I'd go now. JMHO

StrawberryShortKakes said...

That is the worst when the parents don't back you up on discipline. It seems like MB just wants to bribe the children to behave, and SURPRISE!, it doesn't work. I give you credit for trying to discipline the children but honestly, it won't work unless everyone is on board (aka the parents). DB also sounds lazy!

MissMannah said...

Your post is a classic example of why I do not believe in time-out. It. Does. Not. Work!! Please tell me you use other methods of discipline with these children, with 4 of them you must use some kind of preventative measures.

OP said...

I appreciate the remarks that I am a good nanny based on this sliver of my experience because I don't receive a lot of positive feedback from my kids' parents.

Beth: I did not and have not discussed discipline with their parents. Maybe it's because what I say is normally overruled and such. I don't know.

Any hands-on mother/nanny of multiples (or with three or more children very close in age) will tell you that alternative methods of discipline are difficult because it seems that when you are attempting to discipline one child the others go off and cause more arguments and fights that require more discipline. So to answer your question MissMannah, no, I generally don't use anything besides time out. Except I have been watching America's Supernanny & implementing her "calm down corner" technique which was proved rather effective in beginning to teach the kids self control when it comes to whining, but most of the time MB will swoop the kid out of calm down corner when I'm with another child which COMPLETELY defeats the purpose.

Miss Mannah, what other methods have you successfully implemented and like using?

Phoenix said...

I really hope that you are getting paid well. Otherwise I wouldn't handle that kind of stress. Too much. It is one thing to watch after kids who are well behaved and mom has your back. It is quite another to watch spoiled children and the parents for some reason seem to be against you. I have my own views about violence and the impact TV has (none). But wow... that is quite a day.

OP said...

Phoenix: Yea... I'm not even paid all that well. When I started I asked $15/hr because I didn't know they were well off & (I submitted another entry about this but it's yet to be posted) I've only been there five months so I feel it's too early to ask for a $3/hr raise (which is steep but I feel I should be getting $18).

Also, there have been psychological studies that link aggressive tv to an increase in immediate aggressive behavior but I don't know that there are any for long term. I don't necessarily think there is ZERO correlation but I posted that fact more to demonstrate that I am in her court in the well being of the children (if she thinks there's a link and they can watch Dora the Explorer or Ni-Hao Ki Lan aka something educational instead) but she is so not in mine.

Also, I had Monday off because of MLK Jr day & because I threw out my back Friday (the day I wrote about), I took yesterday (Tuesday) and today off of work because I can't stand up straight & I feel way bad for leaving her do last minute, but the kids' grandparents are in from Long Island (I'm in San Diego) so it was pretty okay timing. Still, I feel bad.

OP said...

And of course the worst part of all of this is I completely adore the children! I would quit if I didn't like them but I adore them so much & would hate to leave them (even though I decided I'm going to at the end of the school year in lieu of a full time job with babies (I miss babies haha).

RBTC said...

you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders

that mother will have trouble finding as circumspect and tenacious nanny as yourself - you will be vindicated in time

MissMannah said...

Someone else said something about getting the parents on board with discipline. This is essential and, sadly in your situation I'm questioning if it is even going to work. They do seem to bribe the children and dad seems to be totally out of it. This family, based on what you've written here, appears to be very dysfunctional.

The way I see time-out, is the care-giver is trying to get the misbehaving child out of her hair for a few minutes. The child has gotten on her last nerve and (rather than beat the kid), she puts the kid in a chair or corner so she doesn't have to deal with him or her anymore. This is the epitome of dysfunction to me. Now think of time-out from the child's point of view. From what I've seen, children almost always have one of two reactions to it:

#1: "Doodley-doo...why am I sitting here? Oh right, I'm supposed to be thinking about what I did wrong. What did I do wrong? I can't remember. Oh look, there's a butterfly out the window..." (Child gets up, nanny gets mad again, child gets confused some more.)

#2: "Oh my gawwwwwwd! Nanny has abandoned me forever! I hate being alone! Why is she torturing me like this? I just want some attention!!" (Child is crying hysterically and nanny is trying to explain that he has to sit quietly for 3 minutes even though he obviously is not going to calm down for at least another 20. Can anyone say vicious cycle?)

In one of the schools I worked at, we had "Teacher Time-Outs" where we could call for a substitute to come in for a 10-minute break to gather our thoughts for those times we thought our heads were going to explode because the kids were just pushing us a little too hard. You know what I mean...they were behaving like normal toddlers and preschoolers do. They push limits because that is their tendency, but adults can only handle so much before they need a quick break so they don't do something they regret. I would much rather take a quick Teacher Time-Out than send a child to time-out (assuming the children are safe and well occupied, of course.)

So anyway, I mentioned that I like to do preventative discipline, so these head-exploding moments are fewer. Obviously TV is something they like, so use it as an incentive: "If you wash up quickly, you'll have time to watch 10 minutes of your show but if you throw a fit at bathtime, you won't have time to watch it." Taking away privileges is very tenable to this age also because it is something they can control: "Kicking your sister is not ok. I am going to put your Leap-pad away for the rest of the evening and you can have it back tomorrow." It is the same basic idea as time-out but without abandoning the child and it is more concrete than just "thinking about what you've done." And of course, rewards for good behavior: "You cooperated so well this evening, I am going to let you pick out three stories tonight at bedtime!"

Finally, this could just be my perception but S kind of seems like a high-strung child so you may have to specifically tailor your discipline methods to her personality. Many parents and nannies try to use a "one size fits all" type of discipline and I feel that is impossible because every child is different. She does not respond well to time-out and she appears to want to have a lot of control. I say let her, within reason of course. The more control you let a child have over things that aren't as important, the more likely they will concede control over the vital things. Pick your battles with her so hopefully there will be a lot fewer.

Phoenix said...

not really. My husband wasn't allowed to wathc violent movies because he lived with his grandparents for a while. And he still played war and still was a violent little boy with no influence. It is instinct for men to be violent. Like when you see lions cubs playing pouncing and fighting. They are "training" for adult hood in hunting or defending the family if they are male. Humans do the same thing, we just don't notice it very much because humans think they are above animals when in fact humans are animals. Even if the kids didn't watch TV they would still show violence to a degree.

OP said...

My intents of time out are not "think about what [the child has] done" but rather a simple negative reinforcement, that is, taking away something desired (play time). As a child, I hated time outs because it was boring and I didn't like sitting there while my sister/cousins played without me, never did I think about what I did & decide to not do it next time. Getting a child out of my hair is definitely not my intention and because I debrief with the child afterwards (ask them if they know why they were on time out, explain that that behavior was not nice and if they behave nicely they can continue playing without time out) I hope they understand (which they do, they just may not have developed the quick cognitive recall yet to remember that last time they hit they got a time out etc, but they know behaving poorly will land them on time out. And I'm not just pulling this out of thin air, I'm a psychology major and recently took a class titled the psychology of learning.

Also, I definitely do use preventative discipline.

M is very emotional, like S, only M's emotions manifest themselves as tantrums a lot of the time. You're very correct about S in that she's high strung and within two months of working with her I had just about abolished her temper tantrums and taught her that being frustrated and angry is perfectly normal but instead of manifesting those emotions as tantrums, tears, and violence, I taught her to take deep breaths and come find me & tell me what's going on. I don't think her parents have even noticed. My point of this is that I think M is still a little too young to have the implemented in his life (he's not quite that logical yet).

MissMannah said...

I'm glad that you are using time-out for the right reason because so many people don't. I still believe it is highly ineffective because children are concrete learners and time-out just seems so arbitrary to me. This is only my personal opinion, of course, if any nanny found it works with her charge, by all means continue.

I completely agree with Phoenix when she said that humans (especially males) are naturally violent regardless of what they've watched on TV or what they've been taught. I came to this conclusion after years of working in daycare and of course most daycares have the "no guns" rule that almost every boy breaks on a daily basis. A lot of parents will say "We don't watch gun shows and he doesn't have toy guns at home--I don't know where he gets it!" It is just a natural fascination I think, and there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe you can provide some safe rough play for the kids so they can get that energy out without hurting each other? Such as wrestling or padded boxing, I have always allowed this in the past with very strict rules about not really hurting each other.

OP said...

I remember when my mom was dealing with my brother's development (it's me and then my sister & four years later, a boy) & my mom was always so flabbergasted by how my brother would fashion a gun out of a stick, Legos, and his fingers. I think it's definitely a natural fascination but I think that violent tv shows could definitely facilitate those fascinations.

I really like your idea of structured rough play and I think I will implement that next time we're at the park or have some down time at home. I hadn't thought of that, thanks!

Phoenix said...

yes. the male we love and live with were playing guns and fighting to protect their home. This is an instinct. Just like it is instinct for women to try to find the ideal mate with good genes to have offspring. Little boys are learning how to grow up to be the protectors. It's just nature. I don't considerate a fascination, I just consider it biological programming.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I am always on the fence about time-outs. When I read what MissMannah had written, I completely agreed and saw many good points but I also agreed with what OP said LOL. I am a behavior therapist now so I deal a lot with behavior but there is always so much to learn about it because every situation is different.

I read a lot of blogs and online things about tantrums and behavior for work but I do find it all so fascinating. At work, if we see a behavior occurring frequently, we are required to document what lead to the behavior (because it always has a cause). The only way to extinguish that behavior is to find the cause and then change the result. If the child is hitting his sister when she takes his toy, give him another way of expressing how he feels. Teach him to say "it's my turn." Putting him in time out may give him an opportunity to calm down and perhaps think about how hitting was wrong (probably not gonna happen) but it really isn't dealing with the problem. You need to get to the root of the problem (hitting instead of using his words), or else it will happen again.

Also, the mom bribing the children is only teaching them that in order to get a reward, they need to act out. That is not OK. It is fine to say "if you go get dressed all by yourself, you can have time on your leap-pad," that is a reinforcement. But if you have already told the child to get dressed and she isn't listening/tantruming, you can't bribe her by saying "if you stop yelling you can have time on your leap-pad." That is a bribe and it doesn't work.

If you are planning on sticking around with this family and truly want to improve their behavior, I would approach the MB with some of these ideas. Try and get her on board with the reinforcement rather than bribe thing. I guarantee once she starts seeing results she will be much happier. Then again it sounds like she barely spends any time with the kids anyway so she might not even notice :(

another nanny said...

OP, this could be my old job, so I know how frustrated and underappreciated you probably feel. My advice would be- Don't get more invested than the parents.
If you were a full time nanny with 2 wohp, you'd have much more leeway. As it is, you're an after school mother's helper. Your role is really to support whatever the parents want, and sad to say, they have no interest in discipline. If the parents are not invested enough in their children's well being to try actual discipline rather than bribes, you can't be either. You'll only burn out. Not to mention, IMO it's worse to have mom override your discipline right in the middle than to just let something slide in the first place.
I would ditch the time outs altogether, unless you can be sure of no parental "interference." Instead, offer positive reinforcement, verbal reprimands, and loss of privelege (to the extent that you're able). Also, you can offer positive reinforcement to the children who are behaving well (let peer pressure work for you!).

Activity Nanny said...

When a child or children are getting more than one time out a day it's really just a quick fix until the next time out. The most simple version of time out that can be constructive is to have an activity to go with the down time. As a teacher I often gave a puzzle, art, drawing, or legos done independently as a time out (for three year olds an up). If I could sit next to the child and give support, I would, but if I was too busy I would check in every few minutes and encourage their work. This allowed a different feeling at the end of the time out. If you can send one to their room and tell them to pick one of two activities (of your choice) to sit on their bed or at a table by you until it's complete or you decide the energy has changed. Instead of calling it a time out just say it's time for some down time, you guys are getting into trouble (not listening to my words). Another thing you can do is have down time together reading, chapter books are great to read as a group. Have them each draw a picture and then you write their story at the bottom, this is a calm group activity. You may want to have a little more structure and activities planned for inside time, make play dough, play eye spy, freeze dance, make recycle sculptures, ask the parents if they will reimburse 20 bucks worth of arts and crafts stuff. With a group like this you need to plan some. It's fine to ask for $2.00 raise after six months if you are worth it. Check out some activity books at the library and get those kiddies doing something constructive instead of destructive!

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

I'd focus on positive reinforcement of behaviors you like, and try to ignore behaviors you dislike that are not family rule breakers (whining is a good "ignorable" behavior", hitting is NOT!)

If MB and DB are just going to undermine you constantly, using time out punatively won't help you at all when it comes to helping the kids learn better behavior.

In your place, I might choose one unacceptable behavior to focus on eliminating right now, like hitting, You gather them together, and tell them you are not going to let them hurt each other any more, and that if someone hurts one of their siblings, XYZ will happen. XYZ could be the kid has to sit quietly next to you for a few minutes, has to go play alone for 15 minutes in their room, etc. If you want to call it "time out", re-frame that concept to something that you give them to allow them to regain control of themselves.

If G. hits S., here's a scenario:

Separate the kids, then say, "G., you are screaming and hitting. You need to take a time out and calm down. Come sit with me while your siblings play." Then, while G. sits and calms down, say "S., you did a great job controlling yourself and staying calm when G. hit you. You even kept using your inside voice. I am very proud of you!"

IMO, these kids want attention and if all they get is negative attention, they're OK with that. They also know how to play Mom and Dad against you. So, again, punishing behavior needs to be replaced by redirecting and teaching self discipline with positive praise.

After all, if MB sees G. sitting quietly with you, how stupid will she sound if she tells you to stop sitting quietly and helping her child calm down?

Tossing aside a punishment time out makes MB and DB the good guys. If there's no punishment, then they can't override you without sounding hopelessly inept. "Mom, nanny is making me sit quietly with her and look at a book!" "Well, goodness G., we can't allow that! Quick, go hit and scream a little bit!"

Good luck!

MissMannah said...

Activity Nanny, I LOVE the idea of having a quiet redirected activity in the place of time-out. It is a wonderful way to help the child regain control of his or her emotions without the feeling of being abandoned and constantly in trouble.

Tales, I also love having the child sit next to you reading a book, while you're tending to one of the other children. In fact, I would probably combine the two theories you both presented. I am very big on giving children choices, so I would probably say something like: "It looks like you need to calm down for a little while. Would you like to sit here next to me and read a book or would you rather sit in your room and choose a quiet activity?" I would also be sure that all the big, stimulating toys are out of the bedroom so that the only things to choose from would be smaller things like puzzles/books/etc.

I also completely agree with you that these children are wanting attention so badly that they are acting out. My little sister (middle child) was like this when we were growing up and she was the worst whiner and tantrum-thrower you could ever meet. We quite enjoy showing old home movies to her husband just to prove to him how bratty she used to be.

NVMom-movedtoTX said...

Tales and Miss Mannah, you should write a book! Love your ideas - the positive trumps the negative every time in my experience.

OP said...

Okay, I know that positive reinforcement is generally. Ore effective that negative but the only issue I have with these is that children will come to associate hitting & other undesirable behavior with specialized time and individual attention and activities. I think those are definitely good things but not when associated with undesirable behaviors.

StrawberryShortKakes: I definitely try to explain that expressing how you feel via words is better than physically (I've started this successfully with S, as she's six and understands it more).

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

OP, I probably didn't spell the plan I would use for hitting behavior or other unacceptable behavior out well enough. I'll clarify here!

If G hits S., you remove G, and speak to her sternly and directly, "G. hitting is not acceptable, and you cannot do it. Now you need to calm down. You can either sit here next to me/stay with me while I work for 5 minutes, or you can go to your room for 5 minutes." (BTW, if the choice being offered makes things crazier, I would just stick with having the offender sit with you.) And then you basically ignore G and go about your business. If she tries to engage you, you repeat, ad nauseum, You are calming down. I will talk with you when you have finished calming down. So, since she is basically being monitored and ignored it's not exactly a treat. She can read, color, follow you around, or just sit and whine. Her choice. But the consequence for her action of hitting is to have to miss playtime and be right next to you until she is calm. It is, at heart, a natural consequence - misbehave badly, and lose the privlege of playing.

Of course, when the calm down time is done, go right back to engaging as normal.

And when it comes to behaviors to ignore, whining is my number one "ignore it". Walk off, sing a song, talk to yourself, talk to the non-whiny children, etc. All you say to the whiner is, "I can't understand you when you whine. Use your big kid voice." Then praise and thank the whiner when they stop whining!

I already use a modified "ignore" with my 15 month old charge. If he whines, I gently remind him to use whatever word he needs to use (usually please!) until he does use his word, then I thank him, praise him, and give him what he was wanting, which is usually some sort of food, lol! It works, and he's getting it.

Whatever methods you decide to use OP, I hope things get better - if you can update us, please do!

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Sorry MPP! I don't know why that posted under anonymous first!

OP said...

Okay I definitely understand that more and will implement that when I go back to work (I took this week off because alI threw my back out in my parent post, a week ago). Thanks for the clarification!

Marypoppin'pills said...

Shame on you, Tales! ;-)

MissMannah said...

LOL thanks NVMom! That's actually one reason why I can't stand Supernanny, she seems to use negative far more often than positive. She doles out punishments more than I feel is necessary. Of course, I kind of this those shows are totally faked anyway.

OP, I would love to hear some updates from you! Tales, you explained that a lot better than I could have. You probably have a lot more experience with preschoolers than I do. My last couple of jobs have been with babies and toddlers--I'm starting full time on Monday with a 5-week-old girl!

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

MissMannah, I tend to start with families when they welcome their first baby, and stay with them until the kid(s) are in school enough that they don't need FT nanny help anymore. I say I specialize in the under-6 crowd. ;-)