Monday, May 11, 2009

Diapering, Bathing, and Dressing Multiples

Just like feeding babies, diapering, bathing, and dressing babies is a time consuming task. But, diapering, bathing, and dressing multiples can feel overwhelming without help. That is just another reason why nannies and au pairs are so helpful to parents raising multiples.

DIAPERING: The advice about diapering by hundreds of nannies and au pairs that answered a poll about working with multiples is to diaper babies BEFORE feeding them. Typical advice from pediatricians and mothers is to diaper babies after feeding. But the nannies and au pairs that responded to our survey about caring for multiples answered that babies tend to fall asleep after feeding and the last thing a caregiver ever wants to do is wake a happily napping multiple.

BATHING: Bathing multiple babies can be quite a challenge. Some caregivers bathe the children separately in the interests of both safety and one-on-one time. For higher-order multiples it is best if the mother and nanny to work together, especially at first. When the infants are older, it will become easier to bathe more than one at a time.

DRESSING: Dressing babies in the first few months does not have to be a big production. Some nannies and au pairs that took our survey on caring for multiples recommend color coding wardrobes to see at a glance whose clothes belong to whom. It may make sense to have multiples share some basic items of clothing, such as onesies and pajamas. As the babies get older, it becomes more important to give the children their own clothes and establish their unique identities.

Do you have any tips to share with nannies and au pairs about caring for multiples?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Helping Parents With Multiples

Feeding Multiple Babies
We started a discussion about caring for multiples last week click here to see article.

Now we will discuss specific ways nannies and au pairs can assist parents of multiple babies each day. Some of the helpful tasks nannies and au pairs caring for multiple births provide include helping feed the babies, bathing the babies, shopping for food, and some light household clean-up. In-home caregivers also provide mothers the chance to get a nap or just to get out of the house.
Feeding of multiple babies consumes a large chunk of each day. Collyn, a nanny of five children that cares for two sets of twins in Alphraetta, Georgia declares, "My biggest challenge has been feeding. With sets of twins it is hard to remember which one I propped last so that I could prop the other during the next feeding."

That is why tracking the feeding schedule on a chart or in a daily log is so important to ensure every baby is being fed enough.

In an article entitled, "Parenting Multiples," on the Kids Health web site at it explains, "Multiples have been both breast- and bottle-fed successfully and each approach has passionate advocates."

The article explains, "If the parents choose to breast-feed, it's a good idea to seek help from a lactation consultant. It's possible to nurse two babies simultaneously, but it may take some time to master. A lactation consultant can show [the mother] basic positions to help the mother nurse her babies either two at a time or singly. A nursing pillow designed for twins may also be helpful."

The article also explains, "It may also be helpful to pump and store breast milk, so that other caregivers can help with the feedings. These pumps help [the mother] to collect milk from both breasts, allowing [caregivers] to dump old milk or collect milk for future feedings."

"Bottle-feeding may take some of the pressure off exhausted mothers, especially if there are more than two infants to feed," states the Parenting Multiples article. "Some mothers use a combination of breast- and bottle-feeding, to keep some of the benefits of nursing while still getting help with the feeding.

Most nannies like to develop a feeding schedule. Nanny Emilie, from Canton, Michigan suggests, "[Keeping] the same schedule as far as feeding twins helps out and works well."

Mary, a nanny from Washington, District of Columbia agrees. Mary points out, "It is better to
have all children on the same schedule. Otherwise you can forget who was fed."

An anonymous nanny and home manager form Madison, Wisconsin says, "The same schedule just keeps everything flowing and everyone on track."

Stop by again tomorrow when we will discuss bathing multiples.
Do you have any tips to share with nannies and au pairs about feeding multiples?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Children's Books for Mother's Day

Weekly Trip to the Library

By Alison McGhee
Ages: All
This picture book for all ages traces a mother's hopes and dreams for her young daughter. A powerful story about the potential of love and the potential in life. Someday is the perfect gift for Mother's Day.

Mother's Day
By Anne Rockwell
Ages: 3 to 6
Each child in Mrs. Madoff's class knows just how to celebrate Mother's Day. Jessica and her mom go hiking together. Sam helps pick out a new kitchen table. Sarah and her dad take Grandma to her favorite restaurant. Here's a loving tribute to all the mothers, grandmothers, and mothers-to-be everywhere, perfect for sharing any day of the year.

Before I Was Your Mother
By Kathryn Lasky
Ages: 3 to 7
To Katie, it seems as if her mother has always been her mother, with her grocery lists, her purse full of bills to pay, and her boring, sensible shoes. But when her mother reveals that she once was a girl who bossed her little brother, wore firefighter boots to bed, and dreamed grand ballerina dreams, Katie realizes that she and her mother might be alike after all.

I Love You the Purplest
By Barbara M. Joosse
Ages: 4 to 8
Early in the evening two young brothers and their mother finish supper in the sturdy red cabin and set out to fish. While digging for worms, rowing the boat, and pulling in fish, each brother asks his mother which one is the best at each task and, as they are being tucked into bed, which one she loves the best. They discover that their mother loves them equally but in different ways.

For more children's books for Mother's Day see the May 2009 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter. Stop by again next Saturday for more library books suggestions. If you have a book review to share email

Friday, May 8, 2009

Making Mother's Day Cards with Children

Make a Coupon Card

Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday. Nannies and au pairs should help the children make cards for their mother.

Making a card with valuable coupons for the mother to redeem from the children is a fun card to help children to make for their mother.

Some coupon ideas include:
  • It's Your Evening -- This coupon entitles you to a relaxing evening doing whatever you want.
  • An Uninterrupted Afternoon Nap -- Present this coupon and we will be quiet and let you rest.
  • Help Wash the Dishes -- Present this coupon and I will help you wash the dishes
  • You Pick the Video -- We will watch the move you want to rent.
  • You Pick the Task -- Present this coupon and I will do any household task without complaint.
  • First Time is the Charm -- Next time you have something important to say, present this coupon and you won't have to say it twice.
  • Hugs and Kisses -- Present this coupon and I will give you as many hugs and kisses as you desire.

What are you doing for your employer for Mother's Day?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Caring for Multiples

Twins are Individuals
The most important priority for nannies and au pairs caring for twins and multiples is to prioritize! It requires a tremendous amount of energy to care for even one baby then add another one, or two... As Sarah, a nanny working in the Atlanta area says, "Basically, if you can survive the first year, you can do anything."

When caring for multiples in their first year of life make caring for the children your first priority. Don’t waste all of your energy on the household chores. But, let’s face it, if the parents didn’t need an extra pair of hands with the domestic chores they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. Just don’t feel guilty if you need a break due to exhaustion now and then. When the children are napping make it your chance to rest too. Parents of multiples understand the need to rest.

As the twins develop, nannies and au pairs should appreciate the children as individuals. Allow the children to express themselves separately. Avoid comparisons between children. Also ignore comparisons with other nannies or mothers. Until they have had to care for two or more babies at the same time, they haven’t a clue about how hard it is.

Lynn, a nanny of triplets in South Dakota says, “Having a sense of humor is the only way to successfully care for three babies at the same time. Have you ever tried to feed three hungry babies, bathe three babies, or go on a walk with three babies at the same time? You have to be able to laugh at yourself.”

Pat, an au pair in the Boston area recommends, "Allow the children to each have their own toys. This will actually help them learn to share and see themselves as separate people in the long run."

Anastasia, a nanny in Los Angeles says, "Help each child to develop to their own separate and individual best potential. Never compare them. Let them be themselves."

Do you have any advice to share about caring for multiples?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Preparing Children for an Adopted Baby

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Help Siblings Prepare for a New Adoption

A new baby coming home is always stressful experience. The adjustment will be very similar to any family bringing home a newborn but when parents adopt a child it is often after much effort and expense. Before a new child is adopted into a family with children, nannies and au pairs can help prepare their charges for the new sibling’s arrival. Nannies and au pairs can help children with the transition tremendously by staying calm, maintaining the siblings normal schedule, reading age appropriate books on the topic, by listening to children, and by validating all of their feelings.

In an article, "Preparing Your Child For a Sibling," by Jane M. Dalton on the Adoptive Families web site Ms. Dalton shares the following advice for those caring with children about to have an adoptive sibling become part of the family.

Be honest: According to Joan Regan, a social worker with Holt International Children’s Services, children can sense when something is changing, and they may be anxious about the unknown.

Regan suggests approaching the subject of an adopting a new baby by "gradually talking in very general terms about the possibility of another child joining the family. Parents may then define time frames in terms that children can understand, such as ‘after your next birthday’ or ‘after summer vacation’ to anticipate the arrival of the new sibling."

Susan Watson, Director of Birth Parent Services for Spence-Chapin NewYork City, has worked with older siblings and their families for years. She encourages parents to avoid the desire to ask a child if he or she would like a sibling. "A child shouldn’t have the sense that he has the power to make this enormous family decision. Parental authority in this area should be recognized from the start."

"When an arrival date seems likely," says Watson, "children can be involved with preparation like buying bottles, formula, and diapers, and setting up the nursery. Older children can discuss the differences in building a family through adoption or by birth."

Reassure: Once a child is introduced to the idea of adoption, fears may surface about whether adoption is permanent. A child may fear being placed for adoption if her parent becomes ill. Regan asserts, "Explaining that birth parents are unable to parent at all, due to age, chronic poverty, or cultural stigmas, may help eliminate fears of abandonment if illness or temporary economic reversals hit your family." Nancy Borders, a psychotherapist specializing in adoption, recommends explaining that adoption is a plan that biological parents make for their child, not a haphazard decision.

A child’s fears may surface as questions, disruptive behavior, or negative comments like, "Mommy will love the new baby more than me." Borders says that one of the best ways to reassure the child is to "constantly reaffirm her place in your family."

Children may also fear that their sibling could someday be taken away. Borders suggests reassuring the child that "when you adopt, you become that child’s family forever." Parents, Borders asserts, should impress upon their children that "siblings, like husbands and wives, develop relationships not because of blood but because they are raised together."

Encourage discussion: Watson advises, "Include children—but don’t overwhelm them with complex information. Procedural, legal, and emotional issues in adoption are tough for adults to understand. Most children are not developmentally ready to take these on."

Prepare for questions: Reading books about adoption, role playing responses to intrusive questions, and using positive adoption language helped us prepare our daughter for questions from family and friends. It also helped, after adoption, when we responded with authority to questions others asked in our daughter’s presence.

Watson advises providing children with basic adoption facts and then allowing them to decide how to answer questions. They will model their answers on what their parents say. She adds, "Children should not be given private information that parents want kept within the immediate family. They shouldn’t have to feel that they are keeping secrets. We want siblings to feel proud to tell their family’s adoption story without having to censor themselves."

Network: Borders says, "Children who have a network of adopted friends do better. I think it’s very important for the adopted child and the biological child to see that their family is as normal as any other family."

Networking is especially important for families who are adopting transracially. "International celebrations can be fun," says Watson, "but they are no different than any other family activity. They may be a big hit with some family members and not for others. Your biological child may enjoy Korean Culture Day while your Korean child does not. Parents should set the tone for what they think are important ‘all family’ events."

Discuss the adjustment: A new sibling, no matter how he or she comes into the family, is a big adjustment. Add to that the possibility that parents may have to spend extra time with a child who has developmental delays, and the sense of being displaced can be overwhelming. "Making special time for your older child is especially important," Watson says, "even though it can be difficult with all of the demands and activity surrounding a new child."

Empathy is the key: Sometimes it’s really hard to share Dad with a new baby, isn’t it? Babies can be a lot of hard work, can’t they? You seem really angry today. What’s up? Such questions, explains Watson, demonstrate your recognition that it’s not always easy to be a big brother or sister.

Children may behave negatively during the adjustment period. This is normal, says Watson, "excessive clinging, needing a great deal of attention, regression to an earlier stage of development, misbehaving in unusual ways, or even trying to harm the newcomer." If you are having a difficult time coping, or if your child does not seem to be adjusting well to the arrival of his or her sibling, contact your pediatrician or social worker for help.

Watch and enjoy: Because so many dreams are invested in adoption, we hope that children will be instantly delighted with their new sibling. Borders cautions, though, that "if you try to force it, you’re only going to cause anger, hurt feelings, and tension. You have to let the kids develop their own relationship."

Jane Dalton is a writer and mother of two.

Do you have any advice to share about caring for children in families about to welcome a newly adopted child?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Celebrate Sibling Day

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Teach Siblings to Celebrate One Another

Sibling Day
Mother's Day is coming up, but why not celebrate Sibling Day? Pick a separate day, other than a birthday or holiday, during the calendar year to celebrate a sibling day for each child in the family. A good day might be exactly six months after the child’s birthday which would be their half birthday. Rather than purchasing expensive gifts focus on making the child’s favorite foods, playing board games the entire family can enjoy, and by playing their favorite music during the day.

For Sibling Day only express and celebrate what you like about the child. Have children make a T-shirt showing what they like about their sibling. Give everyone else in the family a sheet of paper to write a description of the sibling’s unique qualities, talents, likes and dislikes. Buy a T-shirt, fabric pen, or paint and help write the best qualities of their sister or brother on the shirt. Children can also write a poem that includes their siblings characteristics or make a fancy card as a gift as well.

Do you have other ideas on ways to celebrate siblings?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Trials and Tribulations of Raising Siblings

Last week we started discussing siblings. But with so much news about the swine flu we got a little side tracked. So this week we will continue discussing siblings.

In the book, 365 Ways to Raise Great Kids, Sheila Ellison writes, "Siblings have the unique opportunity of going through life together, growing into adulthood side by side, sharing the same parent, and sharing life experiences.

Children do not always see the great value in having a sibling. To a child, a sibling can be a friend one day and an enemy the another. A sibling can share a great secret or give a great secret away. A sibling can be a their side in distress, or can lead the attack party.

As [caregivers] the best we can do is encourage communication, love, and respect, trusting that there is a rive of love that floats beneath them even when they are not in the same boat. So, even if today a child cannot see the value of their sibling, someday they will."

Sheila Ellison shares wonderful ideas on how to encourage the sibling relationship, which we will share with you this week. Feel free to share your trials and tribulations of caring for siblings.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nanny Service Offers "Swine Flu" Discount


By Amy Allen
Staff reporter
May 2, 2009

A western Washington nanny service is reaching out to help families who need childcare because of school closures. Annie's Nannies is waving their $250 membership fee for anyone who needs help to find temporary childcare because of closures related to swine flu concerns. Families left without childcare because of swine flu will also be able to get membership discounts on daily babysitting rates.

In his Saturday radio address, President Obama said the CDC is recommending that schools that have confirmed swine flu cases close for up to 14 days. That could mean extended closures for several Puget Sound area schools, if test results confirm swine flu outbreaks.

Annie Davis, the founder and owner of Annie's Nannies said "with everything going on, it just seemed like the right thing to do now." Davis says their nanny service cannot care for children that are ill.

To take advantage of the discounted membership rate for the nanny service you can call (206) 784-8462. Their service covers people all over the Puget Sound region.

Copyright © 2009, KCPQ-TV

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Closed Schools Leave Parents With Daycare Woes


With more North Texas schools closing because of the H1N1/swine flu outbreak -- many parents are left wondering what to do about childcare.

Even though many daycare centers across the metroplex are still taking kids, they want to stress that children shouldn't come if they're sick.

The Tarrant County Health Department made it clear, after closing the Fort Worth Independent School District, that kids should not be put in other group settings - like daycares.

Since the school closures, North Texas 'Nannies On the Go' locations have been swamped. "They [parents] don't want to take their kids to daycare or they are scared to take them to school but they still have things to do," said Becca Epps with Nannies On the Go.

Epps works as a nanny for the Brown family. "We've always been skeptical of daycares," explained BJ Brown; who said Epps was hired so their family could avoid situations like the one going on now.

Some parents, like Cristi Kanapkey, are looking to give a helping hand. "There has got to be a lot of parents out there that need help with their children," explained Kanapkey.

The North Texas mother is one of dozens of parents who has placed on posting on, offering to babysit children who are suddenly out of school.

Police advise adults going to a craigslist posting, or trying to find any babysitter, to thoroughly check out the individual they plan to leave their child with.CBS 11 News found a helpful website, that's run by a non-profit organization, that can't help in the search for quality childcare in your communities. Click here for a list of child care resource and referral agencies, on the Child Care Aware website.

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Children's Books About Siblings

Weekly Trip to the Library

Mail Harry to the Moon!
By Robie H. Harris
Ages 3 to 6
Harry’s older brother is enraged when he cries, spits up, or puts him on Grandma’s lap. Big Brother demands that Harry be thrown in the trash, flushed down the toilet, or put back inside Mommy. Finally, on a double-page spread he screams, “Mail Harry to the Moon!” Then one morning Harry seems to have disappeared, so Big Brother decides he really has been sent to the Moon and sets off in his laundry hamper rocket ship to rescue him. The book’s turning point suggests that a tantrum results in a change of heart.

Sisters and Brothers
Sibling Relationships in the Animal World

By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Ages 4 to 8
Steve Jenkins and Robin Page investigate sibling relationships throughout the animal kingdom. In this book you will learn that anteaters are always only children and nine-banded armadillos are always born as identical quadruplets. You will also learn that falcons play-hunt in the sky and that hyena cubs fight to the death. This is the perfect book for animal lovers young and old! Jenkins's collage illustrations are great.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
By Patricia Polacco
Ages 4 to 8
There's nothing worse than a rotten redheaded older brother who can do everything you can do better! Patricia's brother Richard could run the fastest, climb the highest, and spit the farthest and still smile his extra-rotten, greeny-toothed, weasel-eyed grin. But when little Patricia wishes on a shooting star that she could do something — anything — to show him up, she finds out just what wishes — and rotten redheaded older brothers — can really do. Patricia Polacco's boldly and exuberantly painted pictures tell a lively and warmhearted tale of comic one-upsmanship and brotherly love.

Cool Zone With the Pain and the Great By Judy Blume
Ages 5 to 9
This is the second in a series, this easy-reading story collection presents Jake (the Pain) in first grade and his sister Abigail (the Great One) in third. The pain and the Great One hardly agree on anything. But deep down, they know they can count on each other, especially at school, where it often takes two to figure things out. Like when that first baby tooth falls out on the school bus. Or when an unwanted visitor on Bring Your Pet to School Day needs to be caught. Or worst of all, when a scary bully says you’re burnt toast. On days like these it can feel good not to go it alone. (And don’t forget Fluzzy the cat, who knows a thing or two himself.)

The Kite Fighters
By Linda Sue Park
Ages 9 to 12
In Korea in 1473, eleven-year-old Young-sup overcomes his rivalry with his older brother Kee-sup, who as the first-born son receives special treatment from their father, and combines his kite-flying skill with Kee-sup's kite-making skill in an attempt to win the New Year kite-fighting competition.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wars Between Step Siblings and Biological Siblings

Caring for Step Siblings

With the divorce rate so high in America it is likely that many nannies and au pairs work with blended families with step parents and step siblings along with biological parents and biological siblings.

When working for a blended family there really is no way in-home childcare providers cannot become involved with the new members of a step family. If you think one family has disputes, putting two families with children together just multiplies the potential problems. The key is to encourage a respectful and loving home environment rather than a war between step kids and biological kids. To do that in-home caregivers must be mature, be patient, listen, and understand the difficult feelings all of the children in the blended family express.

Children in blended families have gone through a lot of stressful change. By the time of a second marriage, it is often a child’s third family unit. The first was the biological parents’ marriage, the second was a separate or single family unit, and the third as the new relationship which involves a step parent. (Schwartz). That much change requires a lot of adjustment for children.

Caregivers must allow children time to mourn their former family unit. “Children need [adult] permission and understanding to grieve these losses, before embracing the new family system. Failure to accept mourning as a natural feeling may result in angry outbursts and potential alienation,” (Schwartz).

Nannies and au pairs must never take sides by speaking negatively about any parent (biological parent or step parent) or any sibling (biological sibling or step sibling) at anytime.

Undoubtedly step siblings will argue how unfair the rules are in their new home. Although there are undoubtedly different "rules" at different homes, nannies and au pairs can only enforce the rules of the home they work in. Caregivers should emphasize that they will be enforcing rules of the home rather than allowing children to focus on the “mean” rules of the step parent.

The reality exists that children may never “love” their step siblings. But, if they have to live under the same roof together, nannies and au pairs can help the children adjust and accept the new relationships in their family.

Each child is unique and a small child will react to a new step parent, step sister, or step brother very differently than a teenager. As the child’s age increases he is less likely to fall in love with his step siblings or step parent. But, as she develops and matures she may feel maternal (or paternal) to the little child.

Nannies and au pairs can help step siblings aim towards friendships and mutual respect. In-home caregivers can take time to listen to all of the children. Au pairs and nannies can help children negotiate but never take sides. Childcare providers should not allow any name-calling, criticizing, or inappropriate behavior at anytime between their charges and their new step siblings.

Shwartz, Abby: “Eight ways to help build a healthy stepfamily,” Home & Family, iVillage Inc.

Have you worked in a blended family?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Birth Order and Personality Types

Nannies and Au Pairs Can End Birth Order Stereotypes

Birth order does seem to affect personality traits in siblings. But you can end these stereotypes when working with your charges.

Parents often have high expectations for firstborns. Firstborns often are eager to please their parents, have high expectations for themselves, are conscientious, and perfectionists. Sometimes they put too much responsibility on themselves and grow up too quickly. Nannies and au pairs can end these stereotypes by trying not to expect too much from the firstborn. Nurture their playful side. Don’t place all of your attention on their external accomplishments. Let them know how much you appreciate them simply for being themselves.

The middle child often doesn’t get as much attention from the parents or caregivers as the oldest child did simply because there are two children to care for instead of one. Rather than fade into the background middle children tend to become very social and independent. To end this stereotype nannies and au pairs should make sure not to let the middle child feel overlooked. Make sure to give them extra attention. Play games or have one-on-one chats to give them some of the attention they crave.

By the time the youngest child is born the parents are more relaxed with their parenting style. While the youngest child may feel they are living in the shadow of their other siblings they actually get much attention for being the adorable and charming one. With the added attention the youngest siblings are often irresponsible. Au pairs and nannies can do the youngest child a favor by not treating them like “the baby.” Give them age-appropriate tasks and help them set age appropriate goals.

End these social stereotypes and help each of your charges develop to their best potential.

Have you had issues with birth order stereotypes with siblings?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daily News Article About Labor Rights

Domestic workers push labor rights bill
Daily News
By Patrice O’Shaughnessy

Members of the Domestic Workers Justice Coalition, a group that works to organize several domestic worker unions, held a rally Saturday, March 4th, 2009.

Tuesday, Ana Ontiveros will not make her usual daily trip from the Bronx to her job as a housekeeper in Manhattan. Instead, she'll take a day off without pay and board a bus to Albany with dozens of other housekeepers, nannies and maids to rally the state Legislature for a domestic workers' Bill of Rights.

"They expect a lot of people to come to Albany," said Ontiveros, 36. "The farm workers are coming with us, and students who support us."

She said she has a good job, cleaning for a family, and sometimes baby-sitting if the nanny isn't there.

But she doesn't get sick days or overtime or medical benefits. She works 10 hours a day, for $12.50 an hour.

She has never been physically abused by employers, but she said, "I hear a lot of stories about people abusing workers, or they don't pay them, or fire them for no reason."

In 2007, she was part of a group of workers who went to the Long Island courthouse, where a wealthy couple was tried and convicted of beating and enslaving their housemaid, one of the most egregious cases to come to light in this nation.

"That happens," Ontiveros said. "Sometimes, you think in this country that can't happen."

The workers will call on the Legislature to pass the bill (A1470/S2311) to establish labor standards for the household workforce and prevent cases of abuse, such as that of a nanny named Patricia Francois.

Earlier this month, Francois announced she had filed a lawsuit against her former employers - an affluent Manhattan couple - for assault and battery and for not paying her overtime.

She claims the man gave her a black eye after she tried to stop him from yelling at his daughter.
She was aided in bringing the suit by Domestic Workers United, an advocacy group.

The organization says there are more than 200,000 nannies, housekeepers and caregivers in the New York City area, working out of the public eye, without legal protections offered to other workers, such as overtime pay, time off and health care.

The rally in the state capital is one of several events during the National Week of Action for domestic workers' rights. There will be rallies all over the state, and workers will gather in churches to push for the bill.

The legislation has moved out of the Assembly and Senate labor committees.
"Our job is not recognized like a real job," Ontiveros said. "We want to push Albany to pass the bill."

Ontiveros joined Domestic Workers United a couple of years ago. The group helped her to place an ad and find a job.

"I'm working because they helped me," Ontiveros said.

Ontiveros came here from Mexico City 17 years ago.

She worked in a factory at first, then worked as a school aide before becoming a housekeeper.
She and her husband have three children. Lately, he can't find work in construction, his trade.

Her two teenage sons go to Catholic high school, and her younger son attends Catholic grammar school.

"I'm working to send my sons to school," she said.

Of course, the recession has put a lot of these workers out on the street. I asked Ontiveros if even more will lose jobs if employers are required to pay overtime, medical benefits and other costs, and can't afford to have a housekeeper or nanny.

"Some are afraid people won't afford it and will fire them," she acknowledged.

"My boss, he really needs people to work for him, watch the kids. He has the money, and we are happy working. It's better to pay us good money, so we're happy with each other.

"My kids love me," she said of her charges. "If I go to another job, I know someone else will take care of them, but...." She paused, a catch in her throat.

"I love them."

But she must think of her own children.

"I want them to go to Catholic school. I want them to have things," she said.

So she will forgo a precious day's pay to risk bettering her job situation, to ensure a brighter future for her kids.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Positive Nanny Article

Here's a link to an upbeat, positive article about a nanny working happily in New Jersey found in the Fremont Tribune.
Fremont grad works in New Jersey as a nanny
By Debra Jacobsen/Tribune correspondent
Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 - 10:49:54 am CDT

It Isn’t Luck When Siblings Get Along

Handling Sibling Bickering
Siblings cannot get along perfectly all the time. Even the sweetest children bicker with their siblings. But, if children see how their caregivers appropriately handle conflicts then common sibling bickering can actually help teach sisters and brothers how to resolve conflicts, share, problem-solve, manage frustration, compromise, and to respect others.

Here are some ways to handle sibling bickering:

1. Ignore Them: If you hear siblings bickering first determine if you should ignore them and let the children work out the problem themselves.

2. Encourage Sharing: Typically siblings argue about sharing. They argue that their sister or brother is using their personal toys without asking first or when the other sibling does not share with them. If necessary use a common kitchen timer and pick a time allotment for each toy. For example, tell the children they each get five minutes with the toy. See how to encourage sharing by clicking here. Learn even more about getting children to share by clicking here.

3. Are They Tired, Bored, or Hungry? If the bickering continues, determine if one of the child’s basic needs are not being met. For example, if a child is tired, hungry, or bored all you may need to do is give the kids a break, some lunch, and a fun game or craft project to do.

4. Are They Jealous? Sibling rivalry is caused by jealousy. To reduce jealousy between siblings make an effort to listen to them and empathize with how they feel.

5. Do They Feel Ignored? Children often misbehave to gain attention or power. A child would rather be bad to get attention than to be ignored. Although the youngest child often requires more attention from the nanny, it is important to make time to play and listen to each child individually.

6. Do Not Take Sides: Taking sides just increases sibling rivalry. Many nannies and au pairs think they know who causes most of the sibling conflicts, (usually the older sibling). But, unless the caregiver is in the room and actually sees what started the bickering, the nanny or au pair should not take sides. If one child needs to go to their room, then send them all to their rooms. If a sister or brother misbehaves and both are sent to their rooms, they will become more willing to resolve their conflicts themselves.

6. Use Positive Reinforcement: To encourage good behavior provide the children with activities they can do together. Always positively reinforce children for appropriate behavior. Tell them how proud you are of them for sharing and playing nicely together. To learn more about positive reinforcement click here. Learn more about positive discipline by clicking here. See more creative ways to encourage children to behave by clicking here. There are even more ideas for rewarding good behavior by clicking here. For older children consider these ideas.

7. Listen: Listen to each child and validate their feelings, no matter how trivial it may seem to an adult. Each child should know you understand their feelings even when you may not agree with their actions

8. Never Yell: Nannies must model appropriate behaviors. The nanny must practice what she preaches. Yelling at children to stop yelling does not work. Nannies need to remain calm and tell children what they want them to do.

9. Punishment: Inappropriate behaviors such as hitting, breaking things, swearing, and name-calling should never be tolerated from children and using punishments may be necessary. Caregivers can allow children to help create a punishment chart so the children know ahead of time what consequences will result from bad behavior. “Time-outs” can also be used for to help calm children down during a conflict.

If nannies and au pairs can help siblings develop a loving relationship not only will it make their jobs easier but they will be most precious to the parents and they will be most appreciative.

Do the siblings you care for bicker? What do you do about it?

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to Prevent Swine Flu

Swine Flu Now in America
In Mexico the number of swine flu deaths rises to 149. To see aritlce click here for link

In the United States we now have 40 cases of confirmed cases. Click here to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site for current stats.

U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
As of April 27, 2009 1:00 PM ET
California 7 cases
Kansas 2 cases
New York City 28 cases
Ohio 1 case
Texas 2 cases
TOTAL COUNT 40 cases in United States

International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection Visit: World Health Organization

Here is information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the swine flu:

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Wash your hands and the hands of your charges with soap and warm water. Wsh for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

Also try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

What else can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin colorNot drinking enough fluids
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness
Severe or persistent vomiting

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chicago Tribune Article About Nannies

The following article can be found at:

Lose the anxiety, find a sitter,0,4480663.story
By Heidi Stevens

Tribune newspapers
April 26, 2009

Whenever people ask why I chose a group day-care setting, rather than a nanny, when my daughter was an infant, I rattle off answers about socialization and lower costs and wanting my child to learn how to share and blah, blah, blah. The truth, of course, is much more embarrassing.

I conducted exactly two nanny interviews, and while both women were perfectly sweet and probably wonderful at their jobs, I couldn't shake the fear that I would return home from work one day to find my "nanny" had kidnapped my daughter and fled for the hills, never to be heard from again. In fact, I sort of worried about a mid-interview kidnapping. I know. Pathetic.

But finding a good baby-sitter (not necessarily a full-time nanny) does not have to be an exercise in anxiety and blind faith. It also doesn't have to mean hiring a blood relative or the neighbor next door, which seemed to be the dominant options a generation ago.

"The baby-sitting landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years," says Genevieve Thiers, founder and CEO of, a national online child-care service. "The Internet has become the place du jour to find a baby-sitter or a nanny."

Thiers says two major cultural shifts have changed the way we find sitters. "We've become much more transient, where we move from major city to major city, so we touch down and have no network. No family, no friends -- sort of a stranger-in-a-strange-land situation," she says. "In addition to that, the rise in extracurricular activities among high school students has led to the students becoming less and less available."

But Thiers contends that searching for a sitter today is actually safer and more reliable than ever provided you follow the correct steps. Whether you use a service like Sittercity, which has a database of more than 100,000 baby-sitters and nannies organized by ZIP code, or conduct your own search on- or offline, employ these tips for a worry-free hunt.

Know the lingo. Are you looking for a mother's helper (usually a younger sitter who comes over to tend to the kids while a parent is home), a baby-sitter (who comes to your house for fewer than 20 hours a week at an hourly rate) or a nanny (who spends 20 or more hours a week in your home and is paid like a full-time employee)? State your needs upfront.

Ask the right questions. Thiers says her big three are: "Do you know CPR, first aid and the Heimlich maneuver?" "What is your experience?" and "What are your theories on discipline?" You'll have a lot more questions about your specific needs, of course, but those three are critical.

Think about age. "The market trend is toward 18-plus sitters," Thiers says. "But the most important thing is for parents to have a clear picture of what they want before they jump in." Older sitters (meaning post-high school) are often more mature, have more experience and usually can drive. They also tend to charge more. Younger sitters may have a little more energy and engage your kids in more play. College-age sitters, once a rarity, according to Thiers, are quite prevalent now. And they tend to be available on weekends.

Know the going rate. You can find a rate calculator at but in general you should expect to pay $10-$14 an hour, depending on the sitter's age and experience, the number of children she/he will be watching and your proximity to a big city.

Talk money. Thiers recommends asking an interviewee about his/her preferred rate before making an offer. If it's much higher or lower than what you were planning to pay, you may want to reconsider your rate, assuming you like the candidate. Younger sitters will often answer, "I don't know," Thiers says, in which case you can throw out a number you're comfortable with and see how they react. The key is for you to go into the interview knowing what you plan to pay.

Screen them. Always ask for references and always check them out. Thiers recommends going a step further and conducting a statewide or national background check as well. You can use LexisNexis, or just Google "background check" and find another outlet. Most checks cost between $10 and $80, depending on how far-reaching they are. All sitters listed on Sittercity have already been put through a national background check.
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dear President Obama Letters of Hope From Children Across America

Weekly Trip to the Library

Dear President Obama
Letters of Hope From Children Across America
By Bruce Kluger and David Tabatsky

On November 5th, 2008, writers Bruce Kluger and David Tabatsky had a simple idea: to recapture the exhilarating spirit of the 2008 presidential election from the perspective of our nation’s youngest citizens.

They emailed a handful of friends, asking them if their children had something they wanted to say to President-elect Barack Obama. Those friends forwarded the email to their friends—and within six weeks, Kluger and Tabatsky had received nearly one thousand submissions.

In the end, the same infectious enthusiasm that had fueled the Obama campaign itself produced this landmark book, Dear President Obama: Letters of Hope from Children Across America (Beckham Publications Group), a remarkable collection written and illustrated by 179 children from all regions of the country.

The 179 children ultimately selected for Dear President Obama represent a wide spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds—from the seventh-grader in a Manhattan private school, to a classroom of children in one of the poorest communities in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yet despite their differences, their letters are uniformly inspirational, as the young correspondents enunciate their hopes, fears and dreams about the world they live in, and their boundless excitement about the historic election that took place during their young lives.

“Kids really get it,” writes veteran TV journalist and longtime host of Nickelodeon's Nick News, Linda Ellerbee, in her foreword to the book. “They believe they can change their world. And that is the kind of honesty you will find in these pages.”

Do you have a book review to share with nannies and au pairs? Email to share your book ideas. Stop by next Saturday for another "Weekly Trip to the Library."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun Earth Day Acitivities

Growing Plants
Seeds, Shallow dish of water, Planters, Potting soil
Soak seeds from an orange, apple, grapefruit, lemon, or lime in water for a day or two. Fill several planters with potting soil and place three or four seeds in each one about half an inch deep. Water the seeds, place the pots in a sunny spot, and watch for the green shoots to grow. You can try plantings seeds in a pattern or shape: a letter, number, square, or circle.

Nature Hunt
One paper bag per child and one list of natural objects to collect per player
Give each child a paper bag and a list of natural objects (a bird's feather, a leaf, a smooth rock, a pine cone, a wildflower, and so on) to collect. Give the same list to all the players or have each player look for a different group of objects. Challenge the children to find all the objects on their lists. Set a time limit: perhaps ten or twenty minutes to find ten objects. The first player to find all the items on his list is the winner. A child may play this game alone or with others. For a group of children, pair up non-readers with readers.

Make A Terrarium

· A clear glass container with a wide neck to allow your hand in
· Small stones or gravel
· Activated charcoal (get from pet store)
· Potting soil
· Small sponge
· Piece of screen, mesh, or cheesecloth
· Plants or moss
A terrarium is a completely self-supporting ecosystem. The plant life replenishes the air with oxygen, light shining through provides the light and power source, and water comes from the moisture in the soil. As the dead leaves fall off, they decompose providing food for the soil. How to make one:
1. Select your plants. They should be small, like shade, and not grow too fast or too tall.
2. Put gravel on terrarium floor.
3.Sprinkle a small amount of activated charcoal on top.
4.Cover with a piece of screen with a slit cut in the middle.
5.Slice the sponge to one third inch wide and stick it in like a candle between the slit in the screen and anchor it in the gravel. The sponge will bring moisture up to the plant roots.
6.Cover with potting soil.
7.Gently make small holes and place plants in them, packing the soil loosely around them.
8. Spritz the plants with water and cover. Add small figures.
The terrarium may look a little limp for a few days but will get used to its new environment in no time.
Do you have a favorite Earth Day project or activity to do with children?

Monday, April 20, 2009

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Make Earth Day Everyday

Teaching Children to be Green

We constantly hear about global warming and the need to preserve the Earth’s environment. Everyone cares about the environment, but some feel overwhelmed that the issue is too huge for them to make a personal impact. Yet, very simply lifestyle changes can make a great impact. Both adults and children can do little things that help us reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Great power lies in the hands of nannies and au pairs that consistently teach children to reduce, reuse, and recycle. To teach children to respect the environment, we must live green and value our natural world, especially when our charges look up to us. If we truly care about children we must take better care of Earth and teach kids how to do the same.

Easy things nannies, au pairs, and children can do daily include using reusable mugs and water bottles, recycle aluminum, and plastic food containers, and turn off the lights and televisions when leaving rooms.

When shopping for groceries caregivers should show children how to look for recycling symbols on the products they buy. Purchase items in recyclable packaging whenever possible. Carry reusable shopping bags, and buy in bulk when possible to minimize packaging waste.

Sprinkle a few seeds in a portion of the family’s garden or in pots or planters and encourage the children to water them and see the plants grow. It is most enjoyable to plant vegetables or fruits such as lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, or carrots that can be used in the children’s meals.

Bicycle or walk to school, activities, and playdates when possible.

Teach children to turn off running water while brushing their teeth or washing their faces and hands. Use a kitchen timer to encourage older children to take shorter showers.

Read Earth friendly children’s books to the children in your care and watch Earth friendly movies.

Subscribe to fun children’s magazines published by the National Wildlife Federation which include: Ranger Rick, Just for Fun, Animal Baby, and Your Big Backyard During the year subscriptions make great birthday gifts for the children’s friends.

Some other ways to encourage the family you work for to reduce is by asking the parents if you can reduce the use of paper by canceling unneeded catalogs at:

Rather than throwing away small used clothing the parents can receive a tax deduction by donating the children’s small clothing to Goodwill, or the Salvation Army. You can also donate gently used toys and clothing to a local thrift store, or a neighbor or friends with smaller children in need.

What do you have the children do daily to reduce, reuse, and recycle?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Earth Day Movies to Watch With Kids

Typically Best Nanny Newsletter discourages nannies and au pairs using the television as an electronic babysitter. But there are several great family movies that caregivers can allow children to view that fit the theme of Earth Day.

Fly Away Home
Thirteen-year-old Amy is forced to start life over with her estranged father after her mother dies, finds herself playing mom after hatching a group of abandoned goose eggs. When it’s time for the geese to fly south for the winter, it is up to her, her father, and their homemade airplanes to lead them to safety. If developers hadn’t torn up the geese’s natural home they never would have gotten into this mess; but then again, then we’d never have this inspirational tear-jerker. What’s even more inspirational, this story is true! Details: Directed by Carroll Ballard and written by Robert Rodat, this movie stars Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin. Rated PG for an opening accident scene and some mild language.

March of the Penguins
This documentary follows the annual journey of the arctic penguins making their way to their breeding grounds and the rituals they instinctually follow to mate and breed. Though they can’t speak, these wonderful penguins seem almost human in their devotion to tradition, their children, and love.
Details: Directed by Luc Jacquet and written by Jordan Roberts, this movie is narrated by Morgan Freedman. Rated G.

Free Willy
Doing time at a marina for vandalism, a young boy befriends an orca whale through the tank’s glass. After uncovering the plot of the marina owner to “dispose” of the orca for poor performance in front of an audience, it is up to this youngster to “Free Willy.” Details: Directed Simon Wincer and written Keith Walker, this movie stars Jason James Richter and Keiko the Orca Whale. Rated PG for some mild language.

After mankind has used up all of the Earth’s resources and abandoned it for a new, lazier frontier in space, it is up to Wall-E, a garbage collecting robot, to convince the human race to return and re-cultivate. The chubby space dwellers will make you get active and keep the earth clean. Details: Directed by Andrew Stanton and written by Andrew Stanton, Pete Doctor and Jim Reardon, this movie features the voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin and, the most interesting voice actor, MacInTalk. Rated G.

FurnGully: The Last Rainforest
The fairies of FurnGully, a beautiful and enchanted rainforest, are in mortal danger when human loggers come, cut lumber, and release the oil monster Hexxus from his tree imprisonment. When the fairy Christa accidentally shrinks Zak, a human logger, they, along with their friends Batty, Pips, and Beatle Boy, are the only ones who can save the forest. The idea of a hidden fairy world and a bat that raps will make you think twice before not reusing that next brown paper bag. Details: Directed by Bill Kroyer and written by Jim Cox and Diana Young, this features the voices of Robin Williams, Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis. Rated G.

Ant Bully
When 10-year-old Lucas Nickle attacks an ant colony, he is shrunk down to their size and sees just how hard it is to be an ant. The story helps us to appreciate ants while learning about friendship, courage and “ant”i-bullying.
Details: Directed and written by John A. Davis, this movie features the voices of Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep. Rated PG for some mild rude humor and action.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Earth Day Children's Books

Weekly Trip to the Library

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 is Earth Day. This week borrow children's books about respecting the environment when you visit the library. Here are some suggestions.
Recycle A Handbook for Kids
By Gail Gibbons
Ages 4 to 8
Gail Gibbons simply, succinctly, and clearly explains how recycling conserves energy and reduces pollution as it decreases waste. She shows basic steps involved in making new-from-used paper, glass, cans, and plastic: old bottles crushed, and melted, for example, and aluminum cans ground into chips, melted into bars and pressed into thin sheets. The captioned panels and running text stress the need for reducing waste and saving natural resources. The book ends with a mention of the ozone layer and the limited potential for recycling polystyrene, followed by 14 facts about garbage.

Every Day Is Earth Day
By Kathy Ross
Ages 5 to 8
A craft book for children that stresses the need to recycle and reuse things. The crafts range from a bag saver to save plastic bags, to a nest-building supply box for birds, to a talking Earth puppet that kids can use to spread the message about caring for the environment. Clear step-by-step instructions with pictures are given for each craft. Projects are simple enough for young children to be made from recycled and other easy-to find materials. Great book for school and for parent involvement at home.

50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth
By Earth Works Group
Ages 6 to 9
It's easy-to-do and kid-friendly projects show that kids can make a difference, and each chapter is packed with tons of links to groups and resources. What makes this book stand out, though, is that it doesn't just inform kids, it encourages them to make a difference by providing them, their friends and their families the tools to take action.

Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Environment
By Linda Schwartz
Ages 8 to 11
Creative ideas with easy-to-follow instructions show kids how to make their own paper, compare phosphate levels in detergents, test the effects of oil pollution, conduct a recycling survey, create a trash sculpture, redesign a package, chart a flush, measure acidity, and make a difference in many other exciting ways.
The Garbage Monster
By Joni Sensel
Ages 8 to 11
When Jo is slow to take out the trash one evening, the garbage comes to life and hauls her outside instead. The beast threatens mayhem throughout the neighborhood, but Jo is undaunted. She plucks him limb from limb, finding another use for his cardboard head, fibrous fanny, and other various parts. By the time she is done, Jo sees how recycling can be a resourceful way to put the beast back in his place-and make an unpleasant chore more fun. This book brings to life the benefits of recycling and the hazards of a wasteful attitude.
Stop by next Saturday for more book reviews. If you have a book to share email

Friday, April 17, 2009


How Au Pairs and Nannies Can Help Teach Children to Share
By Cathy Malley
Cooperative Extension Educator, Child Development
University of Connecticut
Cooperative Extension


  • that it is not easy for young children to share.
  • that you should be a good example and show the children how to share.
  • that you should encourage and help children while they are learning to share.


This fact sheet will help you help children learn to share. Also, it will help you to understand young children and know what to expect from them.


Some toddlers share without being asked and without being taught to. However, learning to share is hard for most children. Young children think about themselves and what they want or need. Thinking about the needs of others is the beginning of learning to share. Two- and three-year-old children should not be expected to share. They are still working on meeting their own needs. By age four, many children will share some of their things. By age six or seven, children begin to understand how to cooperate with other children. Playing in groups gives children a chance to learn about sharing and taking turns.

You may decide that all toys and games belong to the group, not to any one child. As the care provider, you need to explain that to the children. Then show them what you mean. For example, when a child has finished using a group toy and another child picks it up, say out loud that it belongs to that child now. When he is done it will belong to the next child, etc. Explain to the children that this is called "sharing." If they want a toy back, they will have to wait for another turn. Explain this process to all the children. Then follow through with your promise.

Tell the children rules in a way that they understand. You could say, "First you go down the slide, then John, and then Sandy. This is clearer to children than saying, "You must all take turns."


  • Read books about sharing to the children. Your local children's librarian may be able to suggest some books and videos about sharing.
  • When playing "turn taking" games, be sure that each child has a chance to go first.
  • Support and praise children when they share. For example, say, "I liked the way you let John play with that toy. You must be proud of yourself."
  • Do not force young children (less than three years old) to share. This may cause the children to resent sharing.
  • Set a good example. Talk about sharing. Share with the children.
  • Sharing can be fun. Children need to try it to learn it.


Think about what you would do in the following situations. Discuss your solutions with another childcare provider. Did you come up with similar solutions?

1. Emily keeps taking the teddy bear from John. What can you do to help?

2. Terry always wants to be first. He screams when he can't be. What can you do to help Terry?

3. Matt will not let go of a toy. What can you do?


  • Every day, do something in which you share or take turns with the children.
  • Talk about sharing. Talk about how good it feels when others share with us.


Growing With Children circular HE 198 *Learning to Share*, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849.

*Positive Parenting Practices, Teaching Children to Share*, letter #9. West Virginia University Cooperative Extension, Morgantown, WV 26506.

*Being Alone, Being Together* by Terry Berger, Raintree Edition, Milwaukee. Distributed by Children's Press, Chicago, IL.

*Frederick* by Leo Lionni, Pantheon, New York, NY 10022 (1967).

*Uncle Elephant* by Arnold Lobel, Harper and Row, New York, NY (1981).

*What Mary Jo Shared* by Janice May Udry, A. Whitman, Niles, IL 60648 (1966).

*Hiding House* by Judith Vigna, A. Whitman, Niles, IL 60648 (1979).

National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the National Extension Service Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission is granted to reproduce these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only (not for profit beyond the cost of reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment and this notice is included:

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Malley, C.. (1991). *Learning to share*. (Family Day Care Facts series). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts. Any additions or changes to these materials must be pre-approved by the author .

Gretchen May
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
206 Skinner Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
VOICE: 413-577-0332
FAX: 413-545-1002

Thursday, April 16, 2009


How Au Pairs and Nannies Teach Kids To Share

Children cannot understand the concept of sharing until they are between three and four years old. Until that time they will need adult supervision to encourage sharing.

When visitors come over it is a good idea to put each child’s favorite toys and belongings away so that the children are not pressured into sharing their most precious treasures.

Place labels on toys before bringing toys to playgroup. Clearly marking toys encourages children to share their things with their friends since it ensures that the toys will be returned to them.

Before friends come over to play, take a moment with the children you care for to explain what is expected of them. You might say to a child, “If you put a toy down, then you have finished playing with it allowing others to play with it for awhile. If you still have the toy in your hand, you may continue and keep playing with the toy."

To help solve the problem stay at a close range when one and two year olds play. Children younger than three years old should not be expected to share without supervision.

Timing turns: Calmly show the children how sharing works. Let them know you will be setting a time limit for how long each child can play with a toy, (using a kitchen timer works well). When the children hear the timer ring, then it is the other child’s turn to play with the toy.

Give the toy a time-out: When all else fails and a specific toy is causing a problem and a child won’t share, remove the toy and place the toy in a time-out.

Don’t penalize for the occasional slip up of not sharing: If it’s only on the odd occasion a child is not willing to share, remove the object rather than lecturing the child.

Do you have any tips or advice about teaching children to share for nannies or au pairs?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nanny Share Family

Innocent Mistake Disqualifies Tax Breaks
By Breedlove & Associates

Nanny Share arrangements become increasingly popular during tough economic times because they allow families to split the cost of the caregiver's wages as well as most of the associated costs. In addition, both families are entitled to the same childcare tax breaks as single-family employers. Since the employer tax expense is much less for a Nanny Share family, paying legally can create a significant financial benefit.

This combination of wage and tax savings can make it significantly cheaper to share a nanny than to employ one alone. However, in order to realize these savings, both families must establish themselves as separate employers and meet all state, federal - and sometimes local - employment regulations.

This case dramatizes the negative financial consequences of mismanaging the tax and payroll process in a Nanny Share arrangement.

The Mistake

Family A and Family B each have two young children and agree to employ a nanny to care for all four children at the same time. While the families agreed to split all costs right down the middle (including wages, taxes, CPA fees, etc.), the payroll and tax filings were managed entirely through Family A - with Family B reimbursing Family A at the end of each pay period.

At the end of the tax year, Family B tallied up their reimbursement checks and submitted them to the husband's HR department in order to take advantage of their dependent care account.

The Law

In a Nanny Share arrangement, the law views both families as separate employers.

In order to be legal, each family must:
  1. Set up state and federal household employment tax IDs
  2. File a New Hire Report
  3. Withhold the proper taxes from the nanny's pay
  4. Prepare and file state & federal employment tax returns and remitting their portion of the employee and employer taxes (based on their portion of the wages)
  5. Provide a Form W-2 to their employee at the end of each calendar year
  6. File Forms W-3 and W-2A with the Social Security Administration each year
  7. Prepare and attach a Schedule H to their Form 1040 federal personal income tax return

In other words, both families are required to meet the exact same obligations as all other household employers. While it seems more convenient to let one family handle everything, this practice is illegal. It also disqualifies the "other Family" (in this case, Family B), from taking advantage of the childcare tax breaks.

The Mess

  • In January of 2006, Family A and Family B agreed to a total salary of $32,000 for their nanny. Family A agreed to pay the full $32,000 in wages and get a reimbursement check from Family B each bi-weekly pay period for their half of the salary.
  • Family A presented their payroll and tax filing receipts to the husband's HR department and their CPA. They were very pleased to get a tax break totaling $2,500.
  • Family B also pursued their tax break, but they were denied the $2,500 savings since they had not met all the requirements of the state and federal tax process. Family B's HR department was forced to reject Family B's receipts. The IRS viewed Family B as having no proof that they paid legally - no tax accounts, no tax payments, no tax returns on file, etc.
  • Since neither Family A nor Family B knew the law before they set up their payroll process, Family B argued that it was not fair for them to be penalized while Family A benefited. They asked Family A to split the savings for 2006 and beyond.
  • Family A and Family B ultimately called Breedlove & Associates to solicit a professional opinion on the best way to proceed.

The Outcome

Both families joined Breedlove & Associates in January of 2007. They decided to swallow the loss from 2006, but since then Family A and Family B have been fully compliant and able to receive their full tax breaks.

How the Whole Thing Could Have Been Avoided

If the families had called a household employment payroll and tax expert like Breedlove & Associates at the outset, they would have learned that each family is considered a separate employer and could have easily - and affordably - complied with all federal and state laws. In addition to being risk-free, this would have allowed both of them to take full advantage of the tax breaks available for childcare expenses. A little knowledge on the front end would have saved them a significant amount of money, time and stress.

In these tough economic times, if you start seeing more Nanny Share arrangements, please remember that this innocent mistake is extremely common. You'll be a hero if you can steer your clients to these significant savings while dodging all the legal landmines. We're more than happy to be an extension of your team and provide each family with a quick, individualized consultation. In less than 10 minutes, we can explain the law, run budget scenarios and make sure their savings are optimized.

If you'd like to include information about the legal and tax consequences of Nanny Share arrangements, just let us know.

For more information about household employment tax and labor law,please visit us at or call us at 888-BREEDLOVE (273-3356).We're here to help our agency partners provide their candidates and clients with information, tools and resources that improve the employment relationship, eliminate legal risks for all parties, and generally increase the professionalism of the industry.