Taken Down and Rising Up - Working With Kids

I am Leigh, the blog owner and I have been in the hospital for almost a month. Myself and 2 of the admins are in out late 40's while many of you contributors are young, pretty, talented, and hard working ( all that may be true but I'm still buttering you up because we were out of pocket - hope it works a little bit! ;)  The problem is heart related, routine, and they had to take lots of tests and it was the WRONG time to get sick as the doctors were in various stages of being out of town, so we hope we can be given a little bit of a pass from our loyal, talented, awesome, experienced,wise, articulate readers.

My illness has affected my job with children for at least 2 years. The illness is Congestive Heart Failure which may not present for years. 2-3 years ago it started getting harder to walk distances to the site of our children's events, I would schedule myself the indoor jobs with close parking ( this  is called  " compensating " ), I would get friends and fellow workers to help me carry child oriented equipment, i would give the most strenuous jobs to others and etc.

Finally a fluid build up started which had to be addressed, it was getting harder and harder to walk and breath , for 2 weeks I could only do jobs with the kids which involved sitting - like telling stories,so over this period of time I have had an amazing amount of fluid taken from me, and I will still have to have another surgery .

So - TELL US ABOUT YOUR ILLNESSES! How they affected your work with kids and how you overcame it - or any other thing that comes to mind

we are very committed to the blog even though we are not perfect ;) - this came out of left field and my 2 assistants have been concentrating on myself, and the children and moms of our business - thank you for your patience ;)

Happy New Year and PROSPERITY AND SAFETY to all our readers - bigtime !!!

Grandma Nanny Takes Advantage

My Nanny is a grandmother in her forties and she has a 9 year old granddaughter, my children are 2 girls, 5 years and 2.5 years. My nanny kind of pressured me into letting bring her gd to work, not an emergency but to give her parents some space. At first I thought this idea could be helpful to my 5 year old, she could learn from an older playmate...but, my nanny's gd is very aggressive with her, telling her what to do, and grabbing her toys etc. Sometimes I feel I need to take my daughter with me to the store etc which defeats the point of having a nanny. It has gotten better a little, it's apparent my nanny has said something as the gd has said   " I need to be nice and do thus and so" to my little girl, but I am still not comfortable - suggestions?


Input please.... How would you feel?

Greetings. I have a situation in the workplace that I would like some input on. I know how I feel, and I am curious to know how readers would feel if they were in the same situation.

Workplace: Preschool. Been there for eight years and worked as both a primary teacher and support staff with toddlers (12 months)-school age. We enroll at 6 weeks and go upto 12 years old.

My background: Nearly twenty years in the field of early childhood education working with infants-school age, including special needs. Degree in education, with twenty five credits in psychology and sociology. Membership in three professional organizations, endless hours of continuing education (my state requires x amount of hours per year for lead teachers; college students are an exception), CPR/AED/FA certified. According to my state, I am also center director qualified and assistant director qualified. One may say I've given my life to this field and I love what I do, which is work with children and families. I have a saying that goes like this: "if I didn't get marker on my hands, paint and dirt under my fingernails, and I'm not the least bit tired at the end of my day, children didn't learn, which means I didn't do my job".

And now I am wondering how much longer I want my current job.

The situation: Our administrative team: one administrator (she does scheduling, payroll, etc) and three directors (my school is governed as one big center broke down into three smaller centers each with their own license and director), plus an administrative assistant and two secretaries. The admin team (not including assistant and secretaries) get together frequently to develop policies and plans, which we, as a staff, are expected to follow within our classroom. This includes the "behavior plan", issued to children who are demonstrating disrespectful, unsafe or aggressive behaviors. This plan clearly states the level of admin involvement, and if a child is acting out in a way that we feel is unsafe, etc. we are told to call admin to deal with the issues.

I have a child on this plan in my two year old class for aggressive and unsafe behaviors. He has been on this plan since January at eighteen months old, and the behavior has gotten worse since he turned two in July. A month or so ago, my director told us that she would try to not come in our classroom so much because her son is in our class and she doesn't want to disrupt his day. Sometimes he has meltdowns when she leaves. I understand her reasoning for that. She did say that the other director would be in to help if we needed it.

We need it, and that director refuses to help. Actually, we are told to work with this child 1-1 when he has an outburst, and for the other teacher to work with the other group of children. Some days there are upto eleven other children in the class, depending on the day. I am burned out by this situation, as this child is clearly a problem that M and D are working on. The behavior is getting worse, and other children are copying this child, and we are calling admin for help. They know he is on behavior plan, and within two years, I have seen my director send other children home for the day who demonstrated similar behaviors. But this child can do the following and nobody can help us:

Tuesday: we asked him to put his trucks away so we could serve breakfast, as he was playing with them at the table. We gave him multiple choices to do so, and he refused to listen, so we took them away. He got mad, threw his yogurt on the table, looked at me as he poured his cup of milk on the table, threw the cup, two chairs, two buckets of toys and tipped over the wooden fridge in dramatic play. We called admin. Their response?

Me: ____ is having a hard day already. I described to my director what happened.
Director: Did you call _____ ?(the director who is supposed to help, but refuses to help)
Me: Is she here? I didn't know that. And there is no point in calling her because she refuses to help anyone.
Director: I understand. One of you will have to work with him 1-1 and the other teacher serve breakfast, because you have to do that.

Later, same thing happened. We were getting ready to go outside and this child pushed another child, and tipped the fridge over. In front of a parent. I called my director again, and let her know what happened. Her response:

" 'Well you will have to shadow him all day to prevent his behavior from reaching this point' ".

But he's on a behavior plan, and you are supposed to be involved. Or should I say _____ is supposed to get him, as you told us that a month ago.

____ is also pregnant, and from what my co-teacher said the other day, she won't come into our room to help because it's out of control. And I will say it is, partly because of one child's behavior and fact the nobody is doing anything to help us.

Administration's observation: As a result, my director called me into a meeting last week Thursday at 5p to tell me that as of tomorrow (11/21) I'll be support staff. They believe that I do not understand typical two year old development and this class doesn't fit me. Then it changed to they know I'm a great teacher who can work with any age group. Finally, it turned to they feel I'm burned out and my light of passion is dimming, and to further avoid burnout, they feel a move to support is the best option for me. My co teacher wasn't even asked her opinion, there was no transition with the new teacher. Nothing. Just make a teacher switch and problem solved.

How I feel: I'm not happy. I blame admin for not being there, and feel like if they were more supportive, things would be different. Our room is so out of control that we need three teachers, yet they will not provide us an extra teacher, and they are blowing off this child's behavior plan they implemented for him. I feel like they are misinterpreting the situation, are being judgmental and treating me like crap. I've been in that classroom for two years, and during those two years, I have seen admin jump faster for behavior issues (I had them two years ago with that group) to now ignoring myself and other teachers with issues in their classrooms. This child's behavior concerns me. What if he tips the shelf over while there are children next to it during center time or has a tantrum during center time and does it? What if he throws a chair and hits a child in the face? Or hurts a child on the playground? What if a child gets hurt and the room is at a one teacher ratio and this child hurts someone else by throwing toys, chairs? He is impulsive and unpredictable and the fact that we need to shadow him to prevent this behavior from getting to a certain point is ridiculous. We don't know what he is going to do or his reaction, and administration knows the situation needs their attention, but can't help us for whatever reason.

Thanks for listening.

Urban Sitter Overview and Bad Urban Sitter Sighting!!

UrbanSitter Overview

I haven't seen anyone on this blog write about the new-ish childcare platform UrbanSitter. I have just really began using it, so I thought i might write about my experiences.

I currently work 25 hours a week after school for a family I really like and enjoy that I found off SitterCity, They treat me great, the pay is good, but I live in NYC and the holidays are coming up, so who doesn't need extra money.

There isn't much demand for only morning sitters, unless the child is sick which I avoid like the plague. But they have an option for one-time sitters. A little about this--- This blog used to write about Craigslist add horror stories, but this site does some things that really make doing a one time sitting job for someone you don't know less scary. As a caregiver I can see how much they've used the site, how many nannies they've hired, how many have been repeat caregivers and the caregivers can even review the parents in terms of the child care experience, how safe they felt etc which is something I wish SitterCity and would offer.

Also people I have sat for can review me, leaving 1-5 star reviews or even written reviews. You can also invite previous employers to write notes of recommendation on the site, which is great because if you're just looking at one time jobs, I would hate to constantly be bothering previous families constantly for one-time jobs. So like, I feel like it helps parents and sitters both feel safe providing one time work for people you have never met before.

I've done about 7 jobs on the site now, and its been mostly very positive. I only 5 star reviews and glowing feedback
There was only one job that really bothered me. It was very last minute and he was only offering $13 an hour whereas my normal rate is between 20-25. Quite frankly I needed extra money for the holidays so I negotiated it up to 15. But when I got to the home I found out two things that I feel I was purposely not informed about.

Bad UrbanSittter Experience

1. The family was going to a party and the kid (10) I was watching was in trouble and his punishment was to stay here with me, and I was encouraged to talk to him about his bad behavior while making sure he didn't sure any of his tv/tablet privileges that had been taken away.

2. It has become very clear that the kid had a very severe case of ADHD (don't get mad at me for assuming the obvious-- at one point he blurted out he had to go to a special school because of it)

Between him being upset about being punished and his ADHD he was a very difficult child. I had to give him CONSTANT SUPERVISION--- which I know everyone is going to say is my job, and yes I agree it is. But when I am watching a 10 year old I expect to be able to spend 2 minutes going to the bathroom without coming back to him turning on all the gas burners on the stove for one example of the reckless and impulsive things this kid did that night.
This whole experience really rubbed me the wrong way. I feel that the parents should be obligated to inform caregivers about these kinds of things for the welfare of their own children. Not all caretakers are up to the task, some are just not equipped-- the parents we're lucky that I was. Also, quite frankly I would have charged more- not a ton more, but certainly my normal rate.

I understand there is a conflict here. I am not a parent, and I understand that they might not want to disclose this kind of information for privacy or simply being afraid people wouldn't want to babysit their child, or GASP having to pay more. I am sure having a kid with ADHD is hard enough without having to pay more than you can probably afford to have someone watch him, but I feel I was taken advantage of lured over there by not provided the info that I should have been

Another issue I have is with leaving the punishment of your child up to a one-time babysitter. I can certainly understand a part-time or full time sitter being in charge of discipline, but for a one time sitter I think he the only discipline I should be responsible for is reflective of the behavior when I am there. Hiring someone to punish your child so you can go to a party is passing the buck and shitty parenting in my opinion.

I have had a lot of good experiences on UrbanSittter and met great families, great kids, made a little extra money, but I really considered this experience bad more because of the parents communication that their child's dangerous behavior in their home. When UrbanSitter contacted me about leaving a review I said as much.

I just feel bad because despite the child being very difficult I do think he was a nice and caring kid who really did like me. When I left he hugged me and said he hoped I would watch him again soon, and that definitely not going to happen. I just hope this parents realize its worth telling caretakers about their children's behavioral issues, pay them what they deserve, in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their children.