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Dec 10 2014

I’m a Grandmother, Not a Babysitter

By at 11:13 am

i'm a grandmother not a babysitter

I’m not a gooey, super-affectionate type. I’m into competence and capability and problem solving. I have had to teach myself to be less Dr. Spock (as my children used to refer to me) and more Mr. Rogers, so to speak. I have a profession, and while I’ve practiced less than full-time since becoming a mother–it still keeps me pretty busy.

So when my kids started having their own kids and the demands on grandma started coming in, it wasn’t easy. Can I pick up from school? Something’s come up. Can I come to the house? The babysitter has to leave, mum is held up. Can I do this? Can I go there? I’m the Go-To Granny.

What to do? I do not want to be the grandma who is limping around with a toddler in tow, picking kids up from school and bringing them home, giving them dinner and bathing them so that they’re in their jim-jams all nice and clean for Mummy to come and pick up. Every day. No thank you. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 7 2014

Can I Ask My Non-Jewish Babysitter to Do Shabbat?

By at 1:00 pm

Can I ask my non-Jewish babysitter to do Shabbat?

Love our children though we may, inevitably my husband and I will eventually have commitments on Friday night. Luckily, we have the world’s most fantastic babysitter. Our children run to her when she comes through the door. Last time she left, our toddler clung to her leg and blurted out, “Miss Megan, I ruv you.” Like any good parent, I’ve instructed her to start failing her college courses so that she won’t graduate quite so fast and leave us, tearful, in her successful dust.

She’s not Jewish, and like most of our community, matters of faith don’t tend to come up regularly. However, now that Shabbat on Fridays is part of our family rhythm, I’m not sure how to approach her about it.

Don’t let me fool you. Our Shabbat practice is not picturesque nor extensive. It is a barefoot, pants-less, baby-on-the-countertop kind of thing. As we discover what traditions work for us, more often than not the mood absorbs the anxiety that comes with “don’t let the toddler grab the lighter!” than any sort of Shabbat peace. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 3 2013

The Case of the Purple Booty Shorts-Wearing Babysitter

By at 5:03 pm

booty shorts

I remember vividly the first day that “Dawn” came to our home. I found her through a babysitting service run by my alma mater, a prestigious women’s college. While many of the Brooklyn mommies I know choose to employ older, more experienced nannies–- Jamaican or Trinidadian no-nonsense ladies who line the park benches at the nearby playgrounds and chat amongst themselves–I had the revolutionary idea to find a college girl–someone who’d be more like a “big sister” to my kids. She would have no problem getting down on the floor to play with them, but could also be someone I wouldn’t mind having extended conversations with as we took day trips to the beach and the zoo.

Dawn showed up at my house wearing a demure, floral print dress. She was so shy and deferential, I wondered if we’d get along. She was considering pre-med, and we commiserated about the perils of trying to find a boyfriend at an all-girls’ school. Everything was going fine until her fourth or fifth day with us, when she showed up at my house in what can only be described as a pair of tiny, butt-cheek baring booty shorts. Dawn explained to me that she had just come from exercising, but that did little to help me reconcile the presence of purple lycra in my living room. More than just running shorts, these purple booty shorts actually had ruching up the sides, with strings that tied at the tender place betwixt her gluteus maximus and her no-no zone. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 22 2013

News Roundup: Kate Middleton’s Pregnancy is So Not Jewish

By at 2:16 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time read this week.

kate middleton

– The hoopla over the imminent birth of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s first child can be described as many things–exciting, over the top, extreme–but definitely not Jewish. JTA explores why many Jewish women avoid overt celebrations before the baby is born (including quotes from Kveller’s editor and several bloggers). (JTA)

– These days, many parents are extremely uncomfortable with male babysitters and opt for female sitters if they can. However, for much of the 20th century, boys were not only accepted as babysitters but preferred over girls. (Atlantic)

– As more and more overnight camps across the country ban or impose limits on parents sending care packages to their campers, parents have found more and more ridiculous ways to sneak forbidden items to their campers. (NYT)

– Apparently, if the CEO of a company is a male and has a baby boy, they will tend to pay about $100 less in annual compensation per employee. However, if they have a baby girl, there will be no reduction in wages. Weird. (NYT)

– Finally, a new parenting trend we can all relate to: CTFD–which stands for “Calm the F*ck Down.” (Jezebel)

Jan 30 2013

Uncle Gets a Name

By at 9:39 am








Banana it is! Previously, I wrote about babysitting my niece, Lila, at six months, and at 15 months. Now 20 months old, babysitting has become a far less frightening proposition– Lila has become an actual person, with opinions, and, even better, the beginnings of an ability to express them. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 12 2012

The Euphemisms We Use Instead of “Nanny”

By at 10:49 am

Parenting is full of euphemisms. It all starts with the “baby bump,” then we get “nursing,” followed by “fussy” and “number two.”

I’ve now started using my own parenting euphemism: Sometimes I say my son has a “babysitter” instead of a “nanny.”

At a recent event for families with young children at our synagogue I was chatting with another mom who has a young son. I’m still in the dating-new-mommy-friends phase (you know, trying out new friendships, wondering if the other mom really likes you, hoping she will call or email you)–when you have to find someone who has the same work schedule, whose child naps and eats on a similar time table as your little one, etc. I didn’t want to further complicate matters by having this woman think I was a rich and spoiled diva. So instead of saying my son has a nanny during the week, I said he has a babysitter. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 9 2012

We Don’t Live Anywhere Near Our Family

By at 9:49 am

The night I realized that we had nobody to parent our children for a stretch of October, I cried.

My husband had a major conference in Reno, and I had a 10-day festival to run. That left us with no one.

For lots of folks, this kind of problem has an easy fix: Granny Nanny. But eight years ago my husband and I, childless and independent, moved to DC, leaving the closest grandparent five hours away. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 2 2012

Teach Me How to Splurge

By at 11:28 am

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Women, Work & Money, Melissa Langsam Braunstein tells us about her struggles to splurge.

Not too long ago, I had lunch with a college friend. When we hung out in our 20s, we’d talk about politics, office politics, and the romantic entanglements of our friends. Now that we’re new parents, we kvelled about parenthood.

He loves being a father, and I love being a mother. We love it all–-except the cost. At some point, we found ourselves agreeing how surprisingly expensive baby gear is. “I just don’t buy things for myself anymore,” he said. I nodded, because while I hadn’t really thought about it, the same is true for me. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 11 2012

Kveller’s New Partnership with

By at 1:51 pm adWe know parents need a lot of support, both moral and physical. Besides the support of great friends (and Jewish parenting websites), many parents need the support of nannies and babysitters, and that’s why we’re excited to announce our new partnership with, the premier internet caregiver service. Because hey, we need support, too.

On, you can find the perfect nanny, au pair, tutor, day care center, or whatever it is you need in your area. You can even find pet sitters, tutors, and housekeepers. All of their caregivers are vetted carefully to ensure that your family will be in good hands. .

If you sign up for a membership with, not only will Kveller receive a portion of the profit, but you’ll get a 20% discount to boot. Since we’re part of a non-profit organization and rely on donations, this is a huge help to us.

To browse and sign up for their services, click here.

Aug 15 2012

Childless Uncle Changes a Diaper

By at 2:24 pm
stuffed hippo

Everything's easier on a hippo.

Earlier this year, I babysat my 9-month-old niece for an hour and a half, alone. Six months later, due in part to my stunning success in keeping her alive for 90 minutes in Manhattan, I got another chance. Eight full hours–with a toddler who’s just about to hit the 15-month mark.

Before, Lila was almost entirely helpless. She could smile, she could cry, she could sleep–and that was about it. Now, she has wants, she has feelings, she has opinions–and she can even express at least a small percentage of them. The night before the big day, my most pressing concern was changing her diaper. I’d watched people change diapers, but I’d never done it myself. My wife and I practiced with a folded piece of paper towel, a small square of tape, and a stuffed hippopotamus. Somehow, my success wrapping a sheet of Bounty loosely around a lifeless object gave me the confidence that I would be able to handle the task on an actual person, with an actual diaper–including something called a “ruffle” that I was repeatedly warned I must be aware of. Read the rest of this entry →


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