Monday, June 18, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: "The Nanny Manual: How to Choose & Nurture the Perfect Childcare Partner" by Alyce Desrosiers

About the book
What’s the secret to hiring the right nanny? This is the question posed by clinical social worker, nanny consultant and author, Alyce Desrosiers, in her informative new book, The Nanny Manual: How to Choose & Nurture the Perfect Childcare Partner (Chirp Publishing, May 2018, $12.95). The thought of leaving your child in the care of a stranger can seem daunting—but it doesn’t have to be that way. With compassion and clarity, The Nanny Manual takes parents on a journey of self-discovery through their heart, soul and mind to help them with one of the most important hiring decisions they’ll ever make. Whether investigating the viability of choice for working mothers, debunking the myth of perfection that is Mary Poppins, or exploring the minefields of emotions, values and the hiring process, The Nanny Manuel prepares parents for that important day when they leave their child in the care of another.

"If you’re worried about hiring a stranger to care for your child, this book is for you!" —Kate Purmal, CEO, CFO and COO, entrepreneur, author, mother and nanny employer


When Wishful Thinking Meets Reality: The Elusive Search for Mary Poppins
It should come as no surprise that many parents feel conflicted as they decide whether to continue to work or stay home after their child is born. Shouldn’t a mother be home to nurture and raise her child just as her mother did? Isn’t that her role as a parent? If mothers decide to return to work and hire a nanny, are they abdicating their role and sending the wrong message to the next generation? The myth of Mary Poppins perpetuates the idea that the perfect nanny is not only available but exists in the first place. These outsized expectations crash into reality when parents start the process of looking for a nanny, and can crop up repeatedly as the ongoing relationship with a nanny is forged. Having realistic expectations going into the process can save parents a world of time and heartache.

Following is a list of the things parents wish for—and the reality they discover.

An easy, simple and quick search
Post a few ads online, receive a few applications, and voilà! The perfect nanny is found. This scenario, though unlikely, is what many parents imagine and wish for when they think of hiring a nanny. The harsh reality can be quite the opposite. The challenge for parents, whether doing a self-search or using the services of a nanny placement agency, is how to choose a stranger who has all the ideal traits of Mary Poppins while recognizing that the market comprises a vast assortment of women, many of whom have these skills and many more who don’t.

A known entity: Someone we can trust
In the U.S., literally anyone can post a notice online, on a church bulletin board or through word of mouth that they want to care for children. Compare that to someone working in a childcare center who must present proper credentials in order to get the job. A working mother begins her nanny search in this frightening arena, entering a market of unlicensed and unregulated caregivers, many of whom should never be caring for children in the first place. The most worrisome issue a mother confronts as she begins the search process for a nanny is finding someone she can trust.

Wisdom and knowledge: Someone who knows intuitively how to care for kids
Mr. and Mrs. Banks didn’t have to tell Mary Poppins what to do. In fact, they were barely involved at all, and yet this magical nanny took perfect charge of everything from loving and caring for each of the children to cleaning their rooms and overseeing their bedtime routine. Mary Poppins never left a messy kitchen, dirty children, clothes unwashed or a reheated takeout meal on the table. She didn’t require a checklist or daily reminder about the children’s schedule or prioritization of responsibilities. This type of nanny is every mom’s dream. In the 21st century, the expectation that chaos turns into order effortlessly has become a magical notion that colors the world of childcare.

This nanny is an apparition, but a real person as well. She has a mission to keep the children safe and the home fires burning. Mary Poppins makes the children feel secure because she can contain their aggression and balance their frustration and gratification, while remaining unflappable and powerful.

Boundaries: She knows her place
Mary Poppins knew when to take charge of a situation as well as when to step away and let the family have private bonding time. At the end of the Disney film, Mary’s magical umbrella speaks to her, saying, “You know, they think more of their father than they do of you.” Mary replies, “That’s as it should be.” Parents want to ensure their role is primary, both as an employer to their nanny and as parents to their children.

While the modernized concept of “boundaries” wasn’t part of the early-20th-century vernacular, Mary Poppins never overstepped them. She seemed to have the understanding that it is a mother’s role to provide safe, responsible, nurturing and loving care for her child. Giving that responsibility to someone who is a virtual stranger is not easily done, and when a mom does hand it over, she does so with the unspoken expectation that her nanny doesn’t step into her territory and usurp her role as mom. A good nanny understands the mother’s concerns and acts accordingly.

Affordability: She works for love, not money
Mary Poppins worked 24 hours a day, every day, for as long as the Banks family needed her. She didn’t receive a paycheck or benefits. It was assumed she worked for love—not for money.

Paying someone to love your children can seem counterintuitive, but that’s exactly what parents do when they hire a nanny. The feminist economist Nancy Folbre, who focuses on economics and the family, questions this odd exchange in her book The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values. As an employer, how can a parent know what she is paying for? A nanny is paid to be attentive, loving and caring. Is it possible to itemize and quantify the kind and amount of caring acts she provides? Do the cold, harsh rules of commerce apply?

Should we expect nannies to leave and stop loving a child if a better offer comes their way, if the responsibilities are too great or if the demands of the child seem impossible to manage? When you pay a nanny to care for your child, you are faced with challenging your most basic assumptions, made explicit by the Beatles’ song “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.”

A nanny is the modern-day version of Mary Poppins. She is someone who fits in seamlessly with a family to make the difficult work of parenting easier. Are today’s parents prepared for this new paradigm in parenting? In both emotional and practical terms, the data suggests they may not be. Also, unlike parenting in the 1960s, today the vast majority of mothers work and the role of fathers is no longer relegated primarily to “bringing home the bacon,” but requires them to take a greater role in the care of the children. Many choose to be a stay-at-home dad and take on the daily responsibilities for raising their children.

About the author
Alyce Desrosiers is a licensed clinical social worker and the founder and managing director of Chirp Connecting Families and Nannies LLC. For over 20 years, Chirp has helped San Francisco families find, hire and employ nannies that are the right fit for their needs and lifestyle. In addition to her latest book, The Nanny Manual, she is the author of two previous books, Finding a Nanny for Your Child in the San Francisco Bay Area and Nannies for Modern Moms. Alyce is also the founder of the non-profit, The Institute for Families and Nannies, with the mission to educate, inform and support the relationships between parents and nannies to further the development of young children. For more information, visit


One lucky winner will receive a print copy of The Nanny Manual: How to Choose & Nurture the Perfect Childcare Partner. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EDT on Sunday, July 1, 2018.

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