By Madison Bloomquist
Don’t you, as a parent, feel like you’re on a hamster wheel that won’t stop spinning? Your alarms goes off before the sun comes up, and maybe you have time for a quick jog before your four-year-old starts tearing around the house wanting breakfast. Then it’s time to drag your teenager out of bed by her ponytail and somehow usher everyone out the door, lunches packed, homework finished and on time for school. Oh, and get yourself ready for a 10-14 hour workday in the meantime.
After school, kids need to be driven to soccer, violin, friends’ houses and who knows where else as soon as school is out. They’ll certainly need help with homework once they get home. I guess they’ll probably want to eat dinner at some point too. Did I miss anything…?
It’s a lot to ask of families these days and many decide (typically around Sunday evening, when it seems like their lives are falling apart) it’s time to bring in reinforcements.
Laura Davis gets it. She’s a parent too, after all. She co-founded College Nannies and Tutors, an Edina-based company who personally selects nannies, sitters and tutors to fit each family’s specific personalities and situations. In essence, she’s there to help slow down the hamster wheels. It all started more than a decade ago, when hockey player and then-college manny (male nanny, for those not up on the nanny lingo) Joe Keeley wanted a business partner who could help build a nanny/client “matchmaking” service. But he wasn’t a parent yet, and didn’t fully understand how heart-wrenching it can be for parents to leave their kids with nannies–and how difficult it could be to get parents to admit they need help in the first place.
Laura, a recent Twin Cities transplant and new parent seeking care options for her own child, fit the bill. She had a marketing and business background and always dreamed of owning a small business. Laura and Joe met, both armed with boxes of research, and started what is now a 12-year-old company with branches in 30 states.
“It was a perfect fit,” Laura said. The rest is history.
Parents Know Parents Best
College Nannies and Tutors prides itself on knowing exactly what parents want—sometimes even before they do. The staff knows how gut-wrenching it can be for parents to leave their children–the loves of their lives, their whole hearts–with virtual strangers, day after day. In fact, some parents don’t trust the concept so much that they’d rather try to continue handling everything themselves. Big mistake. The company would never place employees in families where they wouldn’t fit in well. That’s right, Mom and Dad can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their babies will be with people who are there to help the family flourish. Nannies, sitters and tutors are placed in homes after lengthy in-person interviews and background checks, so there won’t be any surprises. Laura ensures the potential nannies or tutors will be good fits on all levels and will give families what they want—some just want a mother’s helper, but some want a full-time nanny who can drive kids to activities and take care of cooking and cleaning. Of course, families get to interview potential hires before they’re placed, so the nanny really won’t be a stranger.
“The family’s opinion makes or breaks chemistry and connection,” Laura said. And boy, does the business respect those opinions.
Something for Everyone
Many families seek out College Nannies and Tutors for nannies and sitters when their kids are too little to stay home alone, but the company also offers tutors for anything from homework help to college prep exams. Like with finding nannies, their approach to helping families find effective tutors is personalized. They know most families don’t want generic tutors who have set curriculums which may not even help their kids’ specific needs. Nobody wants endless flashcards and boring worksheets that their kids won’t get graded on. Good luck convincing a kid that extra homework is worth the time. Instead, College Nannies and Tutors workers focus on exactly what issues kids are facing—and they use the kids’ own homework and schoolbooks to do it. According to Laura, the system helps kids feel more empowered in the classroom while actually getting their homework done.
Kids and teens don’t need to be struggling in school to benefit from a tutor, though. Many high schoolers (and their parents) know college admission and scholarship money allocation is getting increasingly competitive, and tests like the ACT and SAT play a large role in where students will be admitted. Investing in test prep tutor services, like the ones College Nannies and Tutors offers, can pay off in the long run.
Full Circle Role Models
Laura doesn’t think of nannies and tutors as simply babysitters and flashcard-readers. What parent would want that? After all, kids are people too, and they need fun and support. In her mind (and in the company’s mission) they’re role models, coaches and friends. They’re an added support system for parents who may not have anyone else around for help. They’re the start of potentially lifelong relationships—in fact, some kids who were nannied through the business actually become nannies themselves. Talk about coming full circle and getting lifelong satisfaction!
Her own family thinks so, too. At 12 and 14, Laura’s kids have been parts of the business their entire lives. They’re learning what being part of a family business entails (the good and the bad), and what hard work looks like from two parents. But most importantly, they’re learning to give back to the community, which College Nannies and Tutors does whenever possible—from staff nights at Feed My Starving Children to donating babysitting and tutoring hours to charity auctions. As long as the company exists, it will be entwined in the Twin Cities community. After all, it wouldn’t exist without the people it serves, and they wouldn’t want it any other way.