A Resource for Nannies and Families

What to Bring to a Nanny Job

You’re in the car on your way home from a day of fun at the zoo when suddenly the oldest child screams: she’s been stung by a bee!
“What did you bring to the nanny job?”? Quickly you pull off the main road and onto a side street. You speak in a soothing tone, but your mind races: what do I have here that will help? Ice or alcohol would be ideal, but the cold drinks are long since gone and the nearest fast food restaurant is miles away. What about a baby wipe? You’ve used them for on-the-go wash-up and they might help. You place it on the site of the sting and the child’s face relaxes. Blowing cool air over the surface of the sting evaporates the moisture left from the wipe.

With the swelling stopped and everyone calm, you drive on. Pulling into McDonald’s for ice and some well earned treats, you file this incident away for future reference: “Always bring baby wipes to the nanny job. Great for bee stings.”

This scenario actually occurred several years ago, and I’ve shared its message with others who confirmed my results. By the way, wipes will soothe other bug bites temporarily, too. No doubt you’ve had parallel experiences that contributed to your unique survival kit (what you bring to a nanny job). Our family has kits for traveling by car, by plane, by foot or bicycle or on hikes, and specialty items at home as well. There are also items labeled “Boredom Busters” for rainy days, vacations and summer doldrums.

What to Bring to a Nanny Job – On the Road

Because I drive a pickup truck with a bench seat for the children, storage space is a priority. I have an organizer hanging from the back of both driver and passenger seats with different items in each.

Practical Pouch
sealable plastic bags for trash
a folding umbrella
baby wipes
half a roll of paper towels*
bottled water
Purell (waterless) soap (no towel needed, either)
brush and comb
ponytail holders
small plastic bags for trash or treasure
an emergency snack pouch

* Use about half a roll and then put it into the truck, as a full roll is too bulky.

Play Pouch
handheld games
extra batteries
a disposable camera
a couple of travel pillows*

* Camping stores sell a self-stuff sac that opens to about 6″ x 9″ – just right for a sleepy head.
In the glove compartment I keep copies of the children’s health insurance information and an emergency medical treatment release from my employers.

Above the visor is another pouch for maps and important telephone numbers.

Under each seat I keep a first aid kit augmented with the kids’ favorite Band-Aids, bug repellent, Benadryl, children’s Tylenol, and any emergency medications that the children may need. For our eight-year-old that means his asthma inhaler.

I also keep a light, warm blanket rolled up with a beach towel in the back seat. Tired children can use it as another pillow or as a picnic blanket, and it works wonders as a “room divider” when personal space issues arise. The towel is great for spills and accidents of various kinds, and it’s a handy bib when the youngest has a messy snack.

You must keep all of these items in good order, clean, and restocked as used. The children can help “trash out” the vehicle after each trip and rotate books and games as needed. On a personal note, I keep emergency funds in a special compartment on the visor pouch. You never know when you may need it. Don’t forget to replenish this as well for your next adventure.

Hiking & Biking

We modify the essentials of our vehicle kit to fit into a backpack or a bike pouch. Depending on our destination, we may add binoculars. Water and a snack boost are essentials. I carry my cell phone and emergency numbers wherever we go. A bike repair kit can be tucked away and may come in handy.

Many of the same things we pack in our car kit accompany us when we fly – especially the moist wipes, handheld games, healthy snacks, and bottled water. Here are a few extras.
A cassette player and headset can help pass the time. We include books on tape (record your own favorites, and you can even add background music), as well as their favorite music.

Each child carries a backpack for personal items. The size of the backpack should be appropriate and comfortable for the child who wears it. Don’t overstuff them because there will undoubtedly be souvenirs to carry home from the trip. A stuffed animal or favorite doll can provide comfort on a trip, but it can also provoke anxiety about its possible loss. We have offset this concern by having special “travel buddies,” whose main job is to be available to the child during a trip. Great friends, they do not have quite the status of the “home buddy.”

Any trip that counts as a vacation deserves a travel journal. We choose a small, unlined, hardbound book in which everyone can contribute. The unlined pages allow for illustrations and for all ages – I still recall the drawings of the youngest, then three, of Yellowstone Park and its bison. Each day has its own page(s) for each person, and we encourage the children to enter their experiences. While we urge them to focus on the positive, we realize that negative things happen, too, and exercise careful guidance regarding entries so that others’ feelings are not hurt when remembering the day’s events. We adults contribute to the journal as well. We rarely read each others’ entries right away but save them, perhaps for when the photos return from developing.

What to Bring to a Nanny Job – Professional Props

This is my professional survival kit. It includes boredom busters, a collection of children’s literature, and professional books and materials. I share my children’s library with any child who needs special one-on-one time, whether it’s a challenging day or just something the child will learn better from the book than directly from me.

Building a library takes time and research. Children’s book clubs and the children’s section of your favorite bookstore are your best sources.

Developing a professional library is important to a nanny’s professional growth. Books on discipline, creative activities, health issues, nutrition, child development, and parenting are waiting at book stores large and small. You may wish to borrow a book from the library before investing in it. Some books with interesting segments don’t merit the full purchase price. Don’t forget good magazines with current child rearing theory as well as ideas for everyday and special occasions.

Finally, to the boredom busters: prop boxes, costumes, recipes for success, and a few unusual games. These live apart from everyday playthings, emerging for the moment and disappearing again for next time. Props and costumes go to dramatic play. Recipes for success reside on index cards: for clay, goop, face paints, art projects, songs, finger plays, creative activities, party ideas, and fun with food. The file grows with magazine features and the successes of my friends. I never add a recipe I haven’t tested with measurable success. The games come from museums, book fairs and specialty shops. Items are not to be found at Toys-R-Us or the local discount store: I look for games of strategy, interaction and imagination that build children’s skills in a variety of areas.

Your uniquely personal survival kit can make for smoother travel, enhanced experiences, and treasured memories. Being prepared for emergencies increases your confidence and reduces the potential for problems. Next time your gang heads out on an adventure, remember your survival kit. Never leave home without it!

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