The Twin Source - Back to Work Wed, 27 Jan 2021 10:14:01 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Finding Balance as a Twin Mom: Interview with Ellie Gompert Burke

Ellie Yoga Main Pic Twins

Twin Mom Carrie finds out how to de-stress from mother of twins
and YoKid Co-Founder Ellie Gompert Burke.

Ellie! Thank you so very much for taking the time to chat with The Twin Source on finding a balanced life as a mother of twins!

Thank you for reaching out to me! I am honored that you asked me to share my story.

Let's start by talking about you! Tell us about yourself, your twins, and why you co-founded YoKid.

Like all parents, I wear many hats. First and foremost, I am mom to Kofi and Anoushea, my 2-and-a-half-year-old twins and the loves of my life. I am also a yoga teacher. I have been practicing yoga for about 11 years and teaching for about eight.

Early in my practice, I discovered the incredibly powerful impact that yoga had on my overall health and well-being (mental, emotional, and physical). With the desire to extend these benefits to the many underserved and at-risk kids I worked with in schools and group homes, I co-founded YoKid, a nonprofit whose mission is to bring yoga to all children in order to help them foster self-awareness and fulfill their full potential academically, socially, physically, and emotionally.

It's a proven fact that yoga is a stress reliever. Can you speak to how your yoga practice has helped you as a new mother of twins?

That's a great question! I honestly laugh all the time about how I: 1) didn't really know the meaning of stress until I became a mom to twins and 2) didn't know just how powerful and important my yoga and meditation practice would be in navigating the intense and, at times, overwhelming stress of parenting twins.

As many people know, yoga is really good for the body—it increases flexibility and strength, improves circulation, and boosts immunity. But the mental and emotional benefits of a regular yoga practice are the aspects that I found to be really critical as a new mother of twins.

The simple act of taking time for myself to get on my mat, pay attention to the physical sensations of my body, pay attention to my breath, and clear my head helped me to relax, release stress, and reconnect with myself during times of chaos. It was a time to "get myself back." Even if it was just for 5 or 10 minutes, whenever I found the time!

How can yoga help children of all ages?

Kids yoga improves self-esteem and self-awareness, making it more likely that kids will create healthy, secure, and honest relationships and less likely that they will develop eating disorders, depression, or other mental health conditions. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress, improve concentration and relaxation, and promote healthy lifestyles. Yoga also improves skill development, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. And, perhaps above and beyond all of that, yoga teaches kids that they have their own inner strength and inner core of peace that is always present—allowing them to weather the ups and downs of life with more ease and equanimity and less hardship and pain.

Here's what kids and teens in the YoKid program have had to say about yoga:

• 70% said it helped them with school work.

• 82% said it helped them learn how to keep still.

• 61% said it helped them with managing their anger.

• 92% said it helped them with concentration.

• 85% said it helped them with patience.

• 88% said it helped them feel healthy.

• 77% said it helped them to make friends.

• 88% said it helped them to feel calm.

When it comes to managing stress as a twin mom, what helps you to stay centered despite the day-to-day chaos of it all?

For me, a (somewhat) regular yoga practice, as well as a daily meditation practice, helps a ton! Sometimes I only practice for 10 to 15 minutes; other times I practice for an hour and a half. It's just a time to reconnect with myself at my center and to be present in the moment, allowing life (and its chaos) to simply be as it is.

By practicing "being" with life as it is, I'm able to be more centered and focused and present with my kids and in my life. I don't want to paint a picture of some serene mom with no mess or challenge—that's definitely not the truth! I'm a mom who gets frazzled, crazy, upset, and confused. But my practice helps to support my effort to be less reactive, less abrupt, less impulsive, and more present and open, which in turn makes me a better mom.

Yogis would agree with the mantra "You are what you eat, drink, and do." What are some of the benefits moms see when they take care of themselves?

Ellie YogaWhen you take care of yourself, you are more able to take care of your kids, your family, your life. When you feel more balanced, strong, healthy, alive, and present, you bring those things into all aspects of your life.

Taking care of yourself has to be defined by you; no one else can define it. It may be getting a massage, reading a good book (even if it's in two-page increments!), working out, practicing yoga, walking with a friend, or knitting. But I think it's critical to take care of yourself by getting some exercise (get the body working and blood flowing), finding time to just sit and be quiet, and eating healthy and nourishing food (and not taking the pleasure out of eating). We all know what makes us feel good on a deep level, and it's not always what we think feels good (over- or under-eating or over- or under-exercising). If we really listen to ourselves, we know what we need.

How can practicing prenatal yoga help expectant moms, and how can it help them get their body (and mind!) back post-babies?

Prenatal yoga is wonderful for expectant moms. I believe that the body will prepare itself for birth, and prenatal classes can help with that process. Prenatal yoga helps to keep the body strong and flexible, which helps not just during pregnancy but also with delivery and post-partum. I credit yoga with giving me tremendous back strength, and I never suffered from back pain during the 39 weeks of my pregnancy.

However, I would encourage expectant moms to be careful not to overstretch in their yoga classes. The joints and ligaments are already loosening up with the presence of the hormone relaxin, so it's important not to push too far.

The breath work that is often included in prenatal yoga classes is also really beneficial for relaxation and focusing the mind—two hugely important things in childbirth!

Post-babies, yoga is a wonderful way to ease back into moving and strengthening the body. For me, my body felt so foreign after I gave birth! Yoga was a great way to reconnect and begin to explore this "new" body of mine. And, as I mentioned before, yoga is just such a wonderful tool to encourage focus, mental clarity, and peace of mind—all things that feel so out of reach to a new mom of twins.

What is the best part of raising twins?

There are so many wonderful things! My kiddos are 2 and a half now, so it's getting to be so much fun with language and their ability to do so much. It is so amazing to watch them learn and to see how much they are capable of doing—it's mind-blowing, actually.

But the true joy and distinction of raising twins is watching how they connect with each other. They recently started going to preschool, and we told them that if they got sad or lonely, they could always look for each other. We were told later that not only did they look for each other, but that one would hug the other one if he or she was crying. That's something they did totally on their own! How amazing that they will have this bond throughout their lives. It is so special.

We can't thank you enough for sharing with us. Any last bits of advice you would like to pass along to new twin parents?

My advice to new twin parents is this: Your best is enough. There are so many logistical, physical, emotional, and mental demands and challenges on parents raising twins that a lot of other people don't understand. It took me a while to realize that it ultimately didn't matter if others understood. What mattered was believing that I could be a good parent to two babies—now two toddlers—and that I needed to do whatever I needed to do in order to allow me the space and energy to be a loving, nurturing, caring, and engaged mom.


Ellie Burke, M.Ed., E-RYT 500, is Co-Founder and Director of Teacher Training for YoKid. Having experienced the benefits of yoga firsthand over 10 years ago, Ellie partnered with Michelle Mitchell to start YoKid in order to bring those benefits—including overall health, a profound sense of mental and emotional balance, a general sense of well-being, and greater patience—to all kids.

Ellie currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and their twin son and daughter. She provides regular group and private instruction in yoga and meditation, encouraging students to discover the limitless potential that is within; that which is whole, complete, universal. It is her hope that all people will feel welcomed, supported, challenged, and open to the countless benefits of yoga.

"Let nothing dim the light that shines from within." ~Maya Angelou

More about Ellie:




More about YoKid:




]]> (The Twin Source) Back To Work Tue, 01 Oct 2013 19:41:25 +0000
Carrie On: Dealing with Stress as a Twin Mom

Yoga Toddlers Parenting Stress

Successfully raising two infants, managing a household, going back to work, and nurturing important relationships with friends, family, and one's husband is a pretty spectacular feat. It's also pretty stressful.

I don't want to lie here—never would. As a twin mom, things get stressful. Some nights I fall into bed feeling utterly exhausted and defeated. Other days I may kick butt in one aspect of my life while another aspect slides a bit.

It's important, particularly after having twins, to find balance and follow your desired path. But there will be bumps in the road. Remember that those bumps are just bumps—your journey will continue. And if your pace slows a bit, that's okay.

Here are 10 ways to deal with and manage stress that work for me:

  1. Give yourself a moment. If a bout with stress is coming on, realize it and take a few moments to calm yourself.
  2. Take care of you. Exercise and eat right. Exercise is the best stress reliever.
  3. Wake up before your kids. This way, you can start your day on your terms and have a few minutes of adult time each morning.
  4. Get a maid. If you are having trouble managing the household, it's okay to get a bit of help. Hiring someone to come even just once a month can make a difference.
  5. Plan meals for the week. Try your best to make one big list and head to the grocery store once on the weekend, ideally early in the morning before it gets crowded.
  6. Communicate with your partner. Talk about what is causing stress, and try to determine if there are ways you can support each other. Remember that the two of you are a team!
  7. Make time for friends. Other moms know exactly what you are going through. Make time to nurture your female friendships, as that support is simply extraordinary. (Twin Mom Maritza has some great tips for finding time for friends.)
  8. Make your bed every morning. It may seem silly, but it's a proven fact that accomplishing the simple task starts the mind moving in a positive direction each morning.
  9. Use lists. You can't keep everything in your head. Use lists at work and home, and take advantage of technology such as the voice recorder on your cell phone for dictating things you need to do and recalling reminders.
  10. Stay organized. When you know exactly where things are, it will help you manage your time and create efficiency.

Last but not least, whenever possible—but particularly when you are feeling stressed—try to remember to live in the present. By that I mean, don't get overwhelmed by future anxiety or past perceived failures. Appreciate what is around you, and take action to manage the moment. Little wins add up and make a huge difference. Remember all the gifts and amazing things life has given you.

It's humbling to think about.


Want more Carrie? Follow her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow! You can also follow her on Twitter.


]]> (Carrie) Back To Work Fri, 02 Nov 2012 19:46:00 +0000
Ashley On: Juggling It All


Having a career, maintaining your social life, and being a great mom is like a juggling act. To make it work, you need these four things:

1. AN UNDERSTANDING EMPLOYER – To be flexible with your schedule

2. MONEY – To pay people to help you (even people that love you will have to be paid for this kind of insanity)

3. FAMILY/FRIENDS – It takes a village

4. WINE – To ease the pain

I can honestly say that being a mother of twins is just about the best thing in the world. My father told me the other day that the greatest joy in his life has been watching my twins interact and grow together. Twin parenthood is so amazing that I feel bad for people who won’t get to experience it.

That being said, it is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Having a career and raising twins is hard. Having a social life and raising twins is hard. Being a great mom and raising twins is hard!

Go the Extra Mile at Work

I am very fortunate to have an understanding boss who allows me the flexibility I need to raise my twins and keep my career. Frequent requests to telework, breast-feed in private, and take time off for doctors’ appointments can tick off even the most reasonable of bosses. That’s why I am so grateful to my boss and my employer for being understanding.

When I’m in the office, I go the extra mile so that my contributions and performance overshadow any concerns my employer may have about my situation.

Budget for Help

Twins are not cheap. Besides the expenses for food, clothing, diapers, and wipes, you absolutely need paid help. Whether you’re planning to hire a full-time nanny or use an occasional babysitter, you simply must budget for help of some kind.

I always knew I wanted to be a working mom and that I would need to hire a nanny. When my twins were born, I had tons of people who were more than willing to come over and give me a hand. But after a few months, that faded. I found myself calling my husband at 3:00 p.m., exhausted, and asking when the hell he was going to get home. Maternity leave felt endless. I couldn’t get back to the office fast enough. Some moms are willing to work just to cover the salary of a nanny.

If you are planning to be a stay-at-home mom, I recommend finding a trustworthy babysitter or local neighborhood kid to help out at least a couple days a week, even if it is just for a few hours.

Don’t let your mother’s old-school guilt get to you—you deserve a break now and then, whether it is to work out, get a manicure, or just take a nap! You will be happier, and you will be a better mother for it.

Just Say Yes to a Social Life

I can’t stand it when one of my girls “goes down.” You know what I mean: She has a baby (or two), and you never see her again. Or, on the rare chance you do, she is talking baby talk and it’s like she is a totally different person! Like she never had a drink before or would even consider busting out that tight black dress, hitting the clubs, and dancing like Michael Jackson in the middle of the bar (shout out to Twin Mom Carrie).

Give me a break! You had kids, you’re not dead. Go ahead and say yes to work happy hours or take advantage of your husband’s annoying black-tie functions. Do whatever you need to do to get out there again and have fun!


Want more Ashley? Follow her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow!

]]> (Ashley) Back To Work Tue, 10 Jan 2012 10:37:13 +0000
Carrie On: Saying Goodbye to Your Nanny


Our nanny started with us when the twins were just 15 weeks old. I want to say it was through divine intervention that we found her, but I know that it was because my husband, Andy, and I had a plan, set forth high and well-defined expectations in our nanny contract, and approached the hiring decision as a team.

In addition to being a great twin father, Andy was also a great read of who would be the best addition to our family—particularly when I was sleep-deprived and a complete emotional wreck about the thought of "leaving" my 15-week-old babies to return to the office. Our nanny was a perfect fit with our family.

Then, two years later, we had to say goodbye to her.

Anyone who has had a fantastic nanny experience knows how hard this is.

No Longer Babies

We knew it was coming. The twins were growing and ready for more structure, and we wanted to provide them with a deeper learning environment.

Nevertheless, it was not easy for us to think about changing our routine and, more importantly, losing the amazing bond that we had with our nanny. She had become a role model for my daughter and a touchstone for my son at the playground, at the library, and at home when sometimes, quite frankly, they just wanted to be rotten.

She at times took care of them when they were sick, often made sure their nails were trimmed, and always "parented" them as we had hoped. But we knew deep down that the twins were becoming children—no longer babies—and with that comes the need to begin educating and teaching structure.

Ready for Preschool

One day, our nanny asked me if I thought the twins were ready for preschool. My heart skipped a beat, knowing that if they were ready we would soon be saying goodbye. But I knew in my heart of hearts that it was time.

I told our nanny the honest truth—that they were on a list for a preschool and that we were waiting for them to get in, which could be utterly unpredictable. She nodded and said, "This is a good thing, Carrie. They are ready."

Her response confirmed for me that our sweet nanny always, always had the twins' best interests in mind and indicated to me that she was ready to move on in her own career.

A few weeks later, the twins were accepted into a Spanish immersion preschool. As soon as we received the start date for the twins' enrollment into their school, we provided our nanny with her last day so that she could begin planning for her own next steps.

A New Normal

Since we said goodbye to our nanny, we have entered into our new normal. And though it is different now, it is amazing nonetheless watching the twins make friends, respect their teachers, and learn as only wide-eyed 2-year-olds can. They love school already.

It was time for us and the twins to take this step. Our hope is that it will pay off and that we will look back as working parents and realize that this decision was a good one, even though it was very, very hard to say goodbye to our nanny.

We hope to schedule some play dates with our nanny once the twins adjust to their new routine—maybe a playground meet-up and then lunch. If these sorts of play dates happen every six weeks or so, it will be a really nice way to keep in touch.


Want more Carrie? Follow her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow! You can also follow her on Twitter.

]]> (Carrie) Nannies & Day Care Tue, 18 Sep 2012 20:11:37 +0000
Ashley On: Finding a Nanny for Your Twins

Ashley Nanny

Behind so many great twin moms is a great twin nanny! Choosing a nanny will be one of the biggest decisions you make as a new mother of twins, so it rightly requires some work. We moms spend so much time researching all the latest products and worrying about organic vs. non-organic, immunizations, product safety, etc. What about researching the right nanny for us and our families? Shouldn't that be where we dedicate a substantial amount of time and resources?

If you are anything like me, you have probably watched too many TV shows with horror stories about nannies and babysitters that can make even the most career-driven woman want to quit her job immediately. It doesn't have to be the nightmare these shows make it seem! Here are some tips for finding a nanny, caregiver, babysitter, or whatever you want to call the person you will pay to watch your children.

  • Ensure that the person you are hiring has experience with twins. It may sound silly, but—as I wrote in my profile—twins are a different animal. You want someone who has experience dealing with not one but two screaming babies at once, or two toddlers running in different directions at the park, or boy/girl twins who have totally different interests. You want to make sure you have someone with the right, shall we say, temperament to handle these unique situations.

  • Do your homework. Is there a local network of twin moms or a group you can join for mothers of multiples? These groups can be great places to find nannies with twin experience or even a nanny-share situation with another family. Through one of these groups, I learned of a situation where a twin mom was going to quit her job; as a result, she couldn't afford to keep her part-time nanny. Enter lucky me! I had two amazing references for my nanny right off the bat—one from the twin mom who decided to stay at home, and the other from another twin mom who had the nanny the other 50% of the time.

  • Check your references, check them again, and then check them again. Spend a lot of time following up with several references. I wouldn't settle for one or two or even three references. Try to learn as much as possible about your potential nanny during this process. Does she (or he!) have a loving, caring nature? How did she handle stressful situations with other families? How did she handle discipline? Does she drive? Does she have children of her own? Was she on time getting to work? Was she flexible? The list goes on and on and on, and you have to decide what is most important to you. Oh, and also do a Google search. We Google every guy we ever dated and every girl we ever hated, so why in the world wouldn't we Google the person who will be watching our babies?

  • Interview the nanny. Duh! The nanny will literally become part of the family, so everyone—including the children—must be on board with the final decision. Interview the nanny a couple of times. The first time, ask her to meet and talk with just you and your husband. If that goes well, invite her back for a second interview, but make it a "lunch date" at the house or some other situation where the nanny will spend a couple of hours with the whole family. This allows her to see how your family interacts and allows you to see her in action. As you may already know or will soon learn, children can't hide their feelings—no matter how badly you want them to sometimes! Even way before babies can talk, it can be obvious how they feel about certain people. I remember the first time my nanny held one of my twins. He literally curled right up in her arms, and it was like love at first sight—for both of them!

  • Create a contract that both you and the nanny will sign. In the contract, specify all the details of the agreement, including work days and hours, holidays, sick leave, salary, payment schedule, cell phone and gas reimbursement (if applicable), etc. Also specify what tasks you expect the nanny to be responsible for, such as light housecleaning, laundry, cooking, driving, etc. This way there is no confusion on expectations, and you can always point back to the agreement when in doubt. (For help crafting an agreement, see The Twin Source's Sample Nanny Contract.)

This process isn't over after you and the nanny sign on the dotted line. The key to any successful relationship is open and honest communication. Once you find your nanny, keep the lines of communication open. Start out by having a weekly or monthly 30-minute meeting to talk about the twins and their behavior, your and the nanny's observations and suggestions, and things that are working or not working in general.

Good luck, mamas!


Want more Ashley? Follow her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow!

]]> (Ashley) Nannies & Day Care Wed, 09 May 2012 17:17:03 +0000
Nanny Interview Sheet

It is our recommendation that when interviewing nannies, you should provide them with a take-home sheet or simple flier that describes your family and your expectations for the person who fills the position. This is also a great starting point for a profile if you choose to conduct your nanny search via an online service.

Remember, your nanny is interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing him or her! You should do your best to make a good impression and to be organized, honest, and engaging.


(Your Last Name) Family: Nanny Opportunity

Looking for a full-time nanny for our young twins, [Insert Twins’ Names Here], who were born on [Insert Month, Day, Year].


Street Address

City, State, Zip


Your Full Names

How to reach us:


Home Number:


About the position:

General Description: 40-hour-a-week position, beginning each day around 8:45 a.m. and ending at 4:45 p.m., ensuring the health and well-being of the twins.

Childcare Duties: Required to care for the children, including keeping with their feeding and nap schedule, entertaining them during playtime with a variety of enrichment (examples: reading books, tummy time, walks outside when the weather permits), changing diapers, and giving baths.

Household Duties: Minimal household duties required. We ask that any areas where the babies play or sleep stay clean. The nursery should stay clean, including putting toys away after play periods and vacuuming a few times a week. We ask that the children’s laundry is taken care of and any of their dishes or dishes that are used personally are cleaned.

Vacation Time: 2 weeks’ paid vacation with one of the weeks overlapping with our family’s annual summer vacation. We will notify you of the week overlap date at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Paid Holidays: 8 of the 10 national holidays are paid days off. The remaining 2 will be regular working days. These will be determined in the contract.

This is just a summary for your reference. We will provide a more detailed contract upon hire. We want to ensure that you, as the nanny, are satisfied with all the terms, so we hope to discuss all of this further in the coming weeks. Thank you so much for your interest!

]]> (The Twin Source) Nannies & Day Care Tue, 17 Jan 2012 03:03:08 +0000
Sample Nanny Contract

Sample Nanny Contract

Below is The Twin Source’s Sample Nanny Contract. This employment contract is intended only as a sample to give you guidance as you develop your own contract. Be sure to check out the pink notes for suggested tips and innovative ideas for working with your own caregiver.

Employment Contract

Name of Employer/Parents:


Home Phone:

Name of Caregiver:



Effective Date:

This contract is contingent on verifying references, legal status, and a successful background check.

1. Compensation and Benefits

      Pay: $XX.XX per hour to be paid every other Friday.

      Parents (or payroll service) will deduct all applicable taxes from [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here]’s paycheck and make tax payments to the IRS.

      Paid vacation: 2 weeks per year. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will give employer 4 weeks’ notice of any upcoming vacations. One week of vacation must overlap with Parents’ family summer vacation every July.

NOTE: If you and your family take an annual vacation at the same time each year, it is helpful to require that the nanny’s vacation be scheduled during that time. That way, you are not paying for services that are not being used.

      Paid sick days: 3 days a year. Sick days will not accumulate year to year or be paid out at the end of the calendar year. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will call by 7:00 a.m. the first day of illness.

      Paid holidays (8): New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

NOTE: Save a holiday or two where the nanny comes to work but you have the day off. In the above example, the Columbus Day and Presidents Day national holidays are not listed. This allows you two holidays off to do things like spring cleaning or go to the doctor. Remember, you can always give your caregiver additional days off. The contract should outline the basic requirements.


2. Schedule

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will work 40 hours a week.

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here]’s work hours are 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (Monday – Friday).

NOTE: Remember, you set the hours. Think about how the schedule works for you and your family. Who will be there to greet the nanny in the morning, and who will be there to release the nanny each evening? You should do your absolute best to respect and abide by the hours you set with your caregiver. It will create mutual respect and prevent tension between you.

      Unexpected schedule changes:

§       Parents will contact [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] by 4:00 p.m. if they are going to be late coming home.

§       [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will contact Parents at home (XXX) XXX-XXXX by 8:00 a.m. if he/she is going to be late arriving to work.

      Inclement Weather – [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will not be required to come to work if the Government is closed due to snow (or other extreme weather). If additional time is required to get to work safely, [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] is asked to call Parents to say he/she will be late and to provide an estimated time of arrival.


3. Duties: Overarching – Ensure the well-being and health of the children

      Enrichment: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will encourage the development of the children throughout the day by playing with them, singing, encouraging physical development (crawling and walking), talking to them, taking them for walks, reading them books, etc.

      Feeding: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will ensure the children eat well-balanced and nutritious meals.

      Schedule: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will feed and care for the children according to the schedule determined by Parents. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will record basic information about the children’s care, including feeding times and amounts, nap times, bath times, etc.

      Bathing: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will bathe the children every day. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will trim the babies’ toenails and fingernails with baby scissors after each bath (or more frequently if needed). [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will apply lotion daily.

      Clothing: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will dress the children in weather-appropriate clothing. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will change their clothing throughout the day if it gets soiled or the weather changes.

      Diapering: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will change wet diapers as needed throughout the day. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will change poopie diapers as soon as he/she becomes aware of the mess. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will remind Parents if the house is running low on supplies.

      Laundry: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will wash and fold the babies’ clothes as needed using only the baby laundry detergent provided by Parents.

      Dishes: At a minimum, [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will wash the babies’ dishes each day.

      Other: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will keep the area where caring for the babies clean and free of potential hazards (sharp objects, chemicals, etc.), including dusting and vacuuming the nursery twice a week.


4. Transportation

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will drive his/her own car to and from work, keep the car in good working order, and comply with all requirements for registration, car tax, and inspections.

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will seek prior approval from Parents before taking the babies in his/her car. [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] can take the children in his/her car only in a car seat provided by and bases installed by Parents.

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will drive with extreme care and strictly follow all traffic rules and regulations and speed limits when the children are in the car with him/her.

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] will notify Parents immediately via cell phone of any kind of car accident (single- or multiple-car accident) or traffic violation (speeding ticket or other traffic violations) if the children are in the car at the time of the incident.


5. Childcare Philosophy and Guidelines

      Discipline – Parents will instruct [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] on age-appropriate methods of discipline. However, hazards should be removed from the babies’ reach, and [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] should calmly tell them “no” if they are doing something that puts themselves, the other baby, or [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] in harm’s way.

      Television: The television may be on in the presence of the babies for a total of no more than 1 hour throughout the day. The television program must not distract [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] from paying attention to and caring for the babies. The program must be appropriate for small children (no violence, loud noises, cursing, PG or worse rated).

      Music: Music may be listened to at a volume appropriate to the activities of the babies throughout the day (example: soft soothing music for pre-nap time, fun rhythmic music for play time).

      Hygiene: [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] must wash his/her hands upon arrival each day and wash his/her hands after using the restroom or changing the babies’ diapers, using soap and hand sanitizer.

      Safety: The babies must not be left alone or out of sight without being secured by a safety strap or placed in a baby-safe environment (crib, playpen, or other). The babies must never be left in the tub beyond arm’s reach. The babies should never be allowed on the stairs (once they start to crawl) or on the deck unaccompanied.


6. Authorization to release children

The only people that may visit the children at home without prior consent of Parents are the grandparents, [Insert Names Here], or [Others, Inserting Each Name]. No one may take the children from the home without prior approval of a Parent.


7. Emergencies

      If a life-threatening or serious physically damaging event occurs, [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] should immediately call 911 and then call Parents (see numbers below). If one or both babies become ill or have a less serious and non-life-threatening medical emergency (e.g., develops a fever or rash), [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] should contact Parents by phone.

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] should call Parents at these phone numbers in this order until he/she speaks with a live person (not voicemail):

1.    Your Cell:

2.    Your Office:

3.    Your Partner’s Office:

4.    Your Partner’s Cell:

5.    Emergency contact, other than Parents:

§       XXX’s Cell:

§       XXX’s Cell:

§       XXX’s Office:

§       Pediatrician’s phone number:


8. Performance Reviews

Parents agree to review [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here]’s performance annually.


9. Changes and Amendments

Contract may be changed or amended in writing with approval of both parties. All amendments should be attached.


10. Notice of Termination

      [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] must give 3 weeks’ notice of termination in writing.

      The employer must give [Insert Caregiver’s Name Here] 3 weeks’ notice and or equal to 3 weeks’ pay if his/her services will no longer be required.


11. Signatures                    

[Insert Caregiver’s Name Here]:









]]> (The Twin Source) Nannies & Day Care Tue, 17 Jan 2012 03:01:18 +0000
Mari On: Hosting an Au Pair


When it was time to decide who would take care of our girls, we considered three options: in-home daycare, a nanny, or an au pair. We ultimately felt that paying a nanny’s salary was out of reach for our budget, and I wanted my girls to grow up in their own house, not someone else’s. That left the third option—an au pair. With this arrangement, our children would be at home and we would pay the au pair primarily in room and board. A few friends and acquaintances had had good experiences with au pairs, so we did some research and then started the process.

Working with an Agency

There are several au pair agencies. We looked into the two biggest ones because we felt that they would have better candidates, would be more professional, and would provide better service. We gave both agencies a list of what we were looking for—an au pair who spoke Spanish (I am from Peru, and I want my girls to grow up bilingual), who was at least 23 years old (au pairs can be as young as 18), and who had some amount of experience.

One of the agencies gave us a couple of options based on our criteria, but in our opinion there were not enough people to choose from. The other agency gave us a longer list of candidates and allowed us to choose from there. We decided to use the second agency.

Once we selected the agency, an agency coordinator came to our house to interview us and see the room where the au pair would be staying. The same coordinator planned activities for the au pairs that lived in the area so they could get to know each other and become friends. The coordinator was also to be contacted if we or the au pair had issues with each other that couldn’t be resolved.

From the long list of candidates the agency provided, we chose one person to interview. She was from a small town in Argentina, and she had helped raise her niece and nephew as well as other kids in her neighborhood. We spoke with her over Skype several times and had a good feeling about her.


The agency was in touch with our au pair after we made the selection, and it took care of all the travel and visa arrangements. We paid a fee of about $8,000, which covered, among other things, plane tickets from and to the country of origin, CPR and other training, and all the paperwork needed to get a U.S. visa.

In the meantime, we got our au pair’s room ready and cleared some storage space for her. We also wrote a document that included the babies’ schedules as well as the chores we expected her to be responsible for, such as doing laundry, preparing meals, and keeping the kids’ area clean. We also included rules about her driving my car and going out at night during the workweek or on weekends.

Day-to-Day Life

About a month after we interviewed her, our au pair arrived as our new family member. For the first several weeks, we took her with us everywhere we went, including on weekend road trips to show her the area. (That is one of the responsibilities of host families, but not many do it.)

She got to know our girls very well—their likes, their needs, everything. She was great with them and had a positive impact on their lives. They adored her. She worked 9 hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and had evenings and weekends off. During the day, she could take the girls to the park or the library, both of which were within walking distance of the house.

Most of the time, she would go to her room or out with friends after I arrived home from work and relieved her. Sometimes we would go shopping with the babies or have a snack together, but that didn’t count as work because she was shopping for herself as well or we were just chatting. She seldom had dinner with us. She spent Christmas with us, but all other holidays she would go on trips with her friends.

We were responsible for paying our au pair a stipend, which was about $125 a week, plus giving her two weeks of paid vacation a year and major holidays off (Christmas, New Year’s Day, etc.). Besides that, we were to provide room and board. Whenever we needed her to work in the evenings or on weekends, we had to pay her by the hour, just like we would pay a babysitter.

Making It Work

We got along with our au pair really well. It’s not easy to have somebody living in your house, but we are happy we did it for the time we did. I think it helped that we were all easygoing and that she had her own space, with a full bathroom (even though that is not a requirement to host an au pair), a TV, and a computer. We also paid for her to have a cell phone and gave her a set amount of minutes to use every month. And we let her drive my car for non-work activities. We felt that she was doing so much for our girls that we gave her what she needed to be happy.

Our au pair stayed with us for one year and nine months. Partway through the second year, she got homesick for Argentina and decided to return home. The agency could have found us a replacement au pair, but we decided it was a good time for our girls—who by then were 2½ years old—to go to preschool and have a more social life.

 Want more Mari? Follow her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow!

]]> (Mari) Nannies & Day Care Fri, 13 Jan 2012 10:06:12 +0000
5 Tips for Hiring Your Perfect Nanny


  1. Confer with your partner. Prior to conducting interviews, running background checks, and signing a contract, you and your partner should sit down and discuss and agree on the following:
  • The type of nanny you want. One who is strict and diligent or easygoing and carefree?
  • How you want the nanny to care for your children and participate in their lives. For example, do you want her (or him!) to log the twins’ activities and meals?
  • The hourly rate that you can afford comfortably in your household budget.
  • The nanny’s schedule. What time will the nanny arrive and depart, and which one of you will greet her in the morning and meet her at the end of the day?

  1. Search thoroughly. Websites like can help you find a nanny. But no matter how you choose to search, sort through the applications carefully. We highly recommend background checks and a thorough list and check of references.

  1. Interview together. We believe it is important for both you and your partner to make the time to interview each potential nanny together. That way, you can both get a sense of each candidate and afterward you can discuss the applicants’ strengths and weaknesses together. It also prevents a situation where one parent feels all the pressure of making such an important decision about the care and well-being of your children.

  1. Have a great contract. Once you have decided on the nanny you want and are ready to make an offer, provide a detailed contract. Make sure the person understands the ins and outs of the entire contract. Check out The Twin Source’s Sample Nanny Contract for more ideas and information.

  1. Spend a full week on dedicated training. We recommend having a full week of training prior to your nanny’s actual hire date so that both you and your nanny feel completely comfortable when the official first day arrives. For one week, have the nanny come to your home while you are there. Not only will you be able to observe your nanny and how she (or he!) will work with you and care for the twins, but the nanny will also be able to observe and properly learn from you. We recommend a five-day sliding approach:
  • Day 1: Nanny observes you. Your new nanny arrives at the time you set and follows you through the course of your day.
  • Day 2: You follow the nanny. Let the nanny show you everything she learned from watching you the day before. You play the coach and encourager.
  • Day 3: Leave the house for an hour while the twins are awake. This will allow you to tackle your own separation anxiety in a manageable way. You could run an errand, have lunch with a friend, or go get a pedicure!
  • Day 4: Leave the house for the first half of the day. That’s right: Head out for three hours or so. When you return, perhaps make lunch with your nanny and ask her to fill you in on how it went and if she has any questions.
  • Day 5: Leave the house for the afternoon. Greet your nanny in the morning and go over any items in question. Leave for a few hours when you are comfortable, returning about half an hour before the nanny’s departure time to discuss any final items prior to her first official full day.

]]> (The Twin Source) Nannies & Day Care Thu, 12 Jan 2012 11:04:14 +0000