Tell us about yourself!
My name is Lori, but the kiddos call me LoLo. I live in Chicago with my 2 cats and husband. We have a really cool house. It is filled with art & books and many quirky DIY projects. I converted our sunroom into, “the Land of LoLo,”a playspace & art studio. One entire wall is a chalkboard. All of my littles have had playdates there. I’ve even hosted some of their birthday parties!
For most of my professional life, I was a company trainer/project manager for the largest picture framing company in the country. While there, I got to frame Sammy Sosa’s bat, Vince Vaughn’s pants, a flag that traveled to the moon, a blown-up carburetor from a race car, a brick from the Berlin Wall, and countless dinosaur bones. It was an interesting job.
I’ve been a nanny for almost 6 years now & I love it! Professionally, it hits all the right buttons. I feel both entrepreneurial & creative. We measure our efforts, workshop our stumbles & celebrate our successes. Personally, this work just feeds my soul. Last year I got a tiny heart tattoo on my left hand, above my thumb. That’s the spot where a child’s fingers wrap around & rest when they hold my hand. It’s my nanny tattoo.
(Note: You can follow Lolo and see more of her amazing creative art projects on her website).
What led you to becoming a nanny?
I was desperate for more joy in my work life. Back in college, I was a summer camp counselor for pre-schoolers. The days were silly & exhausting, but filled with my favorite moments. So, I did it. I quit my job. Fast forward 6 months, I am caring for an itty-bitty baby. First-time parents, first-time nanny, first-time-for-everything baby. It was a beautiful, messy experience. They are known as, “The First Family.” I’m still a smitten kitten with their now 5 year old little boy. He owns a big chunk of my heart.I’m also lucky enough to have a best friend that’s a nanny. She’s my hero. Coolest woman on the planet. She helped guide me through my first year. Props to Leilani Diaz. Thanks lady!
Describe yourself as a nanny in 5 words.
Awesome nanny. Artist & maker. Joy instigator. (6 words. Those are on my business card).
Describe your nannying approach. What is your childcare philosophy?
I like to think of myself as an integral member of team. For parents I am more partner, less employee. For children I am more playmate and teacher, less babysitter.
- Play is the work of childhood.
- Structure creates a confident child.
- I am your nap-captain. Your brain needs sleep.
- To discipline is to teach.
- Pinkie-hugs, high-fives, and fist-bumps. We celebrate the, “yays of the days.”
- Teach and model self-regulation.
- Love. I will love you and you will know it. I will be a safe place for you to land. I promise.
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
No matter how exhausted or difficult the day has been, I know that I have given and received many laughs and hugs. I’m not sure you can say that about most jobs.
What part of nannying do you find the most challenging?
It’s easy to disappear into this profession. It’s weird right? We are natural nurturers to everyone else but ourselves. Some days I don’t stop long enough to sit down and eat. Does peanut-butter crust count as lunch? Yup. Do I drink enough water? Probably not. Do I have any creative energy at the end of the day to go in the studio & make art? Nope. (I used it all up on googly eyes and glitter glue earlier in the day). Ultimately, I know it is up to me to claim time for myself. It’s silly, because the time is there. Maybe I should put post-it notes up around the house to remind me drink water & eat food.
Also, family transitions are hard. Even though I know there will always be an end to these specific relationships, I do not guard my heart from the pain of the loss. I’m all in. I have to be. It’s just who I am. When I say goodbye, I say, “LoLo loves you always, always, always.”
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her nanny career?
- Figure out what sets you apart from other nannies. Those are your selling points with potential families. It’s what makes you memorable. Are you an artist? A great cook? A nature lover? Were you a camp counselor? A volunteer at the children’s hospital?Those interests and experiences are extremely valuable & help define what you’re all about. For example, I take great photos of the families I work with. I curate and edit the collection while I am at work. I call myself a family photojournalist. I create books, wall displays, & video shows. It’s a big hit with the extended family as well, especially grandparents.
- Join local/national nanny facebook groups. This profession does not have coworkers or the comradery that comes with having them. These groups can hook you into the “network” and give you all sorts of access to advice, playgroup meet-ups, and community information.
- Keep educating yourself. Books, seminars, National Nanny Training Days, & (my personal fave) Nannypalooza.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I’m with a family that has a 16 month old boy. I started with them when he was 3 months old. He is a sweet, mellow fellow that is learning new words & climbing to new heights daily. We’ll be transitioning to 1 nap soon. He’s an expert snuggler.
7:30 – Hellos, bye-byes, & breakfast
Soft play-read books, stickers, I Spy, all focused-in learning activities.
Nap #1 – Time to:
- Prep food for the day & clean up kitchen.
- Get our “go-bag” ready.
- Update the “family wall”- a station I made that includes calendars, development info, photo collages, & other fun stuff.
- Baby related work. Laundry. Toy & learning station organization.
- Prep for upcoming activities.
Yoga Time- 3 songs, stretching, dancing, music, instruments.
- Play our favorite music and have sing-song-a-longs.
- Practice all of our words, & special tricks.
- Washy-Washy & All Done. Focus on communicating & helping.
Get our Ya-Ya’s out! Hard play-outside if possible…play dates, classes, the park, make obstacle courses… anything that get’s him moving, & tired enough for…
Nap #2 – Time to:
- Clean up any messes we’ve made.
- Prep for art project.
- Then, I take a break. : )
Wake-n-Make: paint, color, play-doh, craft.
Last Hour – Wind-down:
- Soft Play/independent Play. I’m usually folding laundry or tidying up.
5:30 – Bye-bye rituals.
Note: 1 x a week we go on a full day field-trip, which pretty much cancels out the above agenda.
What is your go-to nanny outfit?
I keep it easy-peasy – with chucks, boyfriend jeans, a white tee, and a tunic, drapey cardigan, or hoodie. Fun necklace or scarf. Cute backpack and I am out the door.
How do you wind down after a long day on the job?
I gotta say, it’s pretty cool when dinner is ready for me when I get home. Most nights, my guy makes us a blue-apron meal. I ‘m kinda lucky in that department. Also, music. Always music. The best way to wind up or down.
Any childcare books, websites, or resources you recommend?
- 23snaps – Online family journal, private. Photos, videos, notes.
- 1 Second Everyday – Great recap of the year to send out to your families.
- Flipagram – Photo & video slideshows set to music.
- Baby Connect – My nanny log. It’s customizable. I give our activities more “fun” names.
- Pinterest – too many ideas to list!
- The Dad Lab
- Paper Crafts for Kids
- Crafty Morning
- Montague Workshop
- Kid President
- Coffee Cups & Crayons
- Red Ted Art
- Crash Course
- Quirky Momma
- Play at Home Mom
- Positive Parenting Solutions
- Conscious Discipline
- Made by Joel
- A Mighty Girl
- Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
The gals behind Not Quite Mary Poppins are always looking to grow our bookshelves! What are your favorite children’s books?
- I Took the Moon For a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Listen, Listen by Phillis Gershator have beautiful illustrations, culturally diverse selections, and meaningful stories. The back pages include information about the phases of the moon, or the animals of the seasons. I’ve got a 2 year old that knows what a waxing gibbous moon looks like!
- Taro Gomi’s Playful Puzzles for Little Hands by Taro Gomi. We LOVE pop-up books! I found this one at a used bookstore.
- Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman. You should hear my itty bitty mimic Chu’s big sneeze!
- Pancakes!: An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen. We read this one every day.
Also, not books, but music: