Sunday, July 31, 2011

Have You Tried the Sport-Brella?

Products Nannies and Au Pairs Love
By Maria Lopez, Nanny

As a nanny that lives and works in Miami, Florida I have probably used every beach umbrella and beach tent on the market. Considering the children and I go to the beach at least three times per week, I'm excited to share with other nannies and au pairs what has become my essential summer product -- the Sport-Brella Umbrella.

By taking the concept of a traditional beach umbrella and giving it a major makeover, SKLZ has found a way for people to have instant, portable protection from the sun, wind, or rain regardless of where they are. Whether viewing a soccer game, having a picnic, or spending a day at the beach, setup only takes three seconds and there isn't any time wasted before your own personal shade.

This sun shelter sits on the ground, and can be staked down for additional stability and I don't have to keep adjusting it, like other types of sun shelters. I love that it is light weight. I like that it provides SPF 50 sun protection and since it has side flaps it provides more protection than a regular beach umbrella. I also love that the Sport-Brella Umbrellahas wind vents on the top, pockets to store the stakes, and two side windows with screens.

I have read on the Internet that some users complain that on very windy days the plastic mounts are fragile and might break. But, I found it much easier to use and sturdier in windy conditions than any other beach umbrella or tent I've used before. In fact, I have found that there is no need to use stakes unless it is very windy. I always have had trouble getting other types of beach umbrellas to stay put when the wind kicks up. Since the Sport-Brella Umbrellasits on the ground, and can be staked down for additional stability and I don't have to keep adjusting it, like other brands of beach umbrellas and tents.

I highly recommend the Sport-Brella Umbrellafor nannies, au pairs, and kids looking for super easy to use, high quality sun shelter this summer!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Children's Books and Activities About the Stars and Comets

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

The Glow-In-the-dark Planetarium Book by Annie Ingle

Unlike some "glow-in-the-dark" books this one actually has an educational purpose! While looking at it with the lights turned off, constellations such as Ursa Major, Leo, Taurus, and Orion magically appear along with planets and shooting stars. When the lights are on, the stories behind some of the stars and planets are ready to read as well as specific instructions to their locations so that you can look for them in the night sky. This book is a perfect book to use in a space/constellations if you can't take a field trip to a planetarium or in preparation for a trip to a planetarium.

What you need:
Sticky stars
Black or blue construction paper
White chalk or marker

What to do:
1. Turn off the lights and pull down the shades in the windows.
2. Turn on flashlight and read The Glow-In-The-Dark Planetarium Book.
3. Turn off flashlight when finished each page to "reveal" constellations.
4. When completed book, turn on lights let the children to put sticky stars on construction paper (might need glue for stars to stick properly).
5. Ask children to create their own constellations using white marker or chalk to connect the stars into pictures.

Discuss comets and look at pictures in Solar System Voyageand Comets, Meteors, and Asteroidsby Seymour Simon.

Make a Comet on a Stick

What you need:
Two-inch Styrofoam ball or rubber ball
One to two feet length mylar gift strips, raffia, ribbon, or tinsel (preferably white and blue)
Five-inch strips of tape
Wooden skewers for shish kabobs

What to do:
1. Make a tiny hole in the ball so it can be mounted on the skewer or simply stab the skewer into the ball if you're using a Styrofoam balls. The fit should be tight. Mount the ball on the skewer.
2. Place strips of gift wrap, ribbon, or tinsel on top of the ball so the two pieces cross each other in an "X" and the lengths of all sides of the strips hang down evenly.
3. Attach the strips to the ball or paper with the 5" strip of tape or narrow masking tape wrapped over the strips and around the circumference of the nucleus.
4. Use a hairdryer to simulate a portion of the Sun's solar energy as it meets the comet. The heat from the Sun warms the surface of the comet nucleus. This causes gas, ice, particles, and rocky debris of various sizes to burst from the comet in all directions (called coma) and the solar wind causes these substances to flow back behind the nucleus to form a "tail" behind the comet. Have someone be the "Sun" and stand in place with the hairdryer. The hairdryer simulates the solar wind causing the comet "tail" to form and trail behind the comet. Aim the hairdryer at the comet and keep it trained on the comet as it approaches and as it moves away. Have a second person hold the comet by the stick and walk in an elliptical (elongated or oval) orbit around the Sun. As the comet gets closer to the Sun, the Sun's solar influence affects the comet so that the gas and debris forms a tail that is pushed toward the back of the nucleus. This tail flows in opposition to the Sun so that the nucleus is between the Sun and the tail. As it travels away, the lost influence of the Sun causes the tail to diminish or in this case, fall. The solar wind from the Sun, which is made of electrically-charged particles, uses electrostatic attraction and electrical transfer to form the comet's gas and debris into a tail.

Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids by Seymour Simon
This is a visually appealing introductory book about comets, meteors, and asteroids. The intriguing photographs include shots of comets and meteor showers in the sky, a meteorite in Antarctica, and an enormous impact crater in Arizona.

Solar System Voyage by Serge Brunier
Beautiful photographs in a well-organized, oversized coffee-table style book. I looked through a few similar-style books, and this one was our favorite.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Water Safety for Nannies and Au Pairs

Make Water Safety Your Priority
By American Red Cross

Each year, more than 830 children ages 14 and under die as a result of unintentional drowning. On average, an annual 3,600 injuries occur to children due to a near-drowning incident. Home swimming pools are the most common site for a drowning to occur for a child between the ages one- to four-years. Click here to see a "Drowning Prevention Fact Sheet."

Here are water safety tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules for the family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers, and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents, and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water
  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least four-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching, and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
  • If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls, and playground equipment.
  • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.
Maintain Constant Supervision
  • Actively supervise children whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
Know What to Do in an Emergency
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Would You be Insulted if Asked These Interview Questions?

For Parents Safety: Questions for Prospective Nannies by Gavin de Becker

After the killing of an eight-year old boy in Brooklyn this month, we have been sharing advice by notable security and safety expert Gavin de Becker. Today he tries to help parents screen caregivers before hiring nannies to work in their home.

In our culture of short encounters and little accountability, it is important to learn a lot about someone you bring into your life, particularly someone who’ll be alone with your children. The more you know about someone, the more you reduce that person’s anonymity. If you have talked to five of the candidate’s references, that’s five more inhibitors against bad conduct, five people whom you and the babysitter know in common, five people who could hear about a misdeed. When you have many inroads into a person’s life, you raise the consequences for bad behavior.

Pre-employment questions are low-tech, easy tests you can perform when screening someone to take care of your kids. They are designed not just to elicit information, but to put important subjects on the agenda.

Among the questions you might ask (after having someone fill out an application):

1. What is your philosophy about discipline?
Exploring this topic will reveal their opinions, and also serve as an ideal segue for you to set forth your house rules on discipline. If you don’t want the babysitter spanking your child, this is the time to say so.

2. Have you ever suspected that a child in your care was being sexually molested by someone?
This question is designed as a bridge into the topic of sexual abuse, but also as a way to test denial, and you do not want a denier as a babysitter or nanny. People caring for children have a duty to acknowledge and recognize reality, even hard reality, and denial is an evasion of that duty. When evaluating a babysitter, put sexual crimes against children squarely on the agenda. If the person you are talking with is a denier, you’ll know it quickly ("Things like that don’t happen around here;" ‘"I’ve never even considered such a thing;" "I’ve only worked with good families," etc.).

3. Do you have children of your own? Do you have younger siblings?
It may be a plus when they answer yes to either question. In any event, the topic allows easy transition to several other areas: Did you take care of siblings when you were growing up? How old were you when you first stayed with them alone? How young do you think is too young?

4. Why do you do this work?
The answer might be ‘‘For the money,’’ ‘‘It allows me time to study/read,’’ ‘‘I love children,’’ ‘‘It’s easy,’’ or ‘‘I dunno,’’ but whatever it is, the answer will inform your intuition.

5. Have you ever been in an emergency situation while babysitting? Have you ever been in any emergency situation?
These questions can reveal the applicant’s thought processes about emergencies.

6. What is your opinion of drugs and alcohol?
Many parents look intently at applicants, hoping somehow to determine if they are drug or alcohol abusers. There’s a greater likelihood of learning something valuable about the topic by discussing it explicitly.

7. Describe a problem you had in your life where someone else’s help was very important to you.
Is the applicant able to recall such a situation? If so, does he or she give credit or express appreciation about the help? A candidate who is not willing to accept help might not be the best caretaker for your child.

8. Who is your best friend and how would you describe your friendship?
While many people will name several friends, there are, believe it or not, some who cannot think of a single person. Another benefit to the question comes if an applicant gives a name that was not listed as a reference (which happens often). Ask why the person wasn’t listed; ask if you can now have the contact number.

9. Describe the best child you ever babysat for. Describe the worst child you ever babysat for.
This is a powerful inquiry that can reveal important attitudes about children and behavior. If the applicant speaks for just a moment about the best child, but can wax on enthusiastically about the worst, this is telling. Does he or she use unkind expressions to explain the trouble with a given child (’‘brat,’‘ ‘‘little monster’‘)? Does the applicant take any responsibility for his or her part?

A follow-up is: Could you have taken another approach?

Other questions might include:

  • Can you give me some examples of problems you have had with kids and how you handled them?
  • What if my son fails to obey you when you ask him to do something?
  • What if he is doing something dangerous?
  • How do you handle fighting between brothers and sisters?
  • How do you handle tantrums?
  • How would you react if a child bit or hit you?
  • What do you do when you become angry with a child?
  • What if my daughter asked you to keep a secret? What would your response be?
  • What if she revealed something to you that you knew I wouldn’t approve of?
  • Can you swim? Would you be willing to go in the pool with our child?
  • At what point would you call a pediatrician or 911?
  • Do you prefer to work with boys or girls and why?
  • What would you do if you saw a child fondling himself or herself?
  • How would you handle a situation of this nature?
During your interview, few things are as powerful as silence. When someone finishes an answer you consider incomplete, don’t just accept it and go on. Instead, wait silently; he or she will start talking again and give you more information to evaluate.

Some parents ask about medical conditions that could be relevant, and some even ask babysitters to pass medical examinations or drug-screen tests. Some require special skills, such as CPR. (Remember that CPR for infants requires training beyond regular CPR.) Safe Sitter is an excellent national program that teaches an intensive two-day course in the prevention and management of accidents. Founded by Dr. Patricia Keener, Safe Sitter (1-800-255-4089) teaches babysitters (as young as eleven-years-old) about medical emergencies in addition to the basics of childcare. Student must pass a rigorous written and practical exam.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What is your favorite movie image of a nanny?

Movies About Nannies on TCM Tonight!

Turner Classic Movies (TCM), a network featuring "classic" movies, is presenting five older films about nannies and their "families." If you don't have the time be sure to set your DVR for "Sitting Pretty" at 8:00 Eastern time, "Kathleen," "The Nanny," "Every Little Crook and Nanny," and "My Pal, Wolf".

Click here for the reviews.

Does Your Mom Boss Micromanage Your Work? Is Your Mom Boss Over-Emotional?

Is Your Mom Boss Like Nancy or Bambi?

In the aftermath of the Casey Anthony trial, some commentators negatively portrayed HLN's Nancy Grace as cranky, aggressive, and opinionated. Those characterizations sound just like the way some nannies describe their Mom Bosses. Ambitious, hard-driving, and unyielding, these Mom Bosses can be difficult employers.

Then there is the Mom Boss who cries at the mention of Bambi. The maternal instinct of these Mom Bosses is always near the surface. They are doting and obsessed with the children's smallest needs.

Both types of Mom Bosses love their kids. The 'Nancy' mom needs a nanny so she can pursue her career. The 'Bambi' mom needs a nanny to be able to extend her social network.

Obviously, no Mom Boss is exclusively one type or another, and no one should be specifically classified.

Does your Mom Boss fit into these categories? If so, how does your Mom Boss affect your actions as a nanny?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What is Causing a Shortage of Jobs for Nannies?

Factors Affecting the Supply and Demand of Nannies

We have been discussing that the average nanny only makes $19,300 per year compared to a national mean for all workers of $44,410. Plus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that wages for childcare workers have decreased over the last few years.

We have speculated that the young unemployed, professionally unemployed, au pairs, and illegals are just some of the reasons there are less great nanny jobs for nannies in the past few years.

Here are more factors affecting the supply and demand for nannies:

Demand: Decisions beyond the control of nannies can seriously impact the need for nannies. Recently there are announced layoffs at Cisco, Baystate Health, Goldman-Sachs, and Merck. These companies will reduce the number of families needing to hire nannies. Of course, the reduction in family income will also affect the ability to hire domestic workers.

Supply: Layoffs of state and local government employees, especially teachers, increases the number of people able and willing to work as nannies. Underemployed and part-time employees of other occupations are willing to replace professional nannies so they can augment their income.

Other Factors: Austerity budgets may cause the delay or cancellation of projects that ultimately help provide opportunities for nannies. Delaying a tunnel project or road construction that provides access to high-paying jobs hurts the prospects of nannies in the long-term because parents do not need to hire and cannot afford to hire.

What factors affecting supply and demand have the most affect on nanny jobs in your area?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Does the Au Pair Program Provide Unfair Competition for Nannies?

Are More Au Pairs Taking Much Needed Nanny Jobs?

Since the au pair program was created to alleviate a shortage of eligible workers in the United States, is the au pair program necessary today given the condition of the economy?

Last week we asked if the demand and pay for nannies is declining as the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms. Then, we asked, with the unemployment rate for 16-to 24-age group the highest since World War II are younger, cheaper nannies taking all the nanny jobs?

Today we ask, given the condition of the economy is the au pair program in America necessary? Are au pairs taking jobs about from American nannies?

In the United States the au pair program is designed to provide a broad range of families with affordable employees and to alleviate a shortage of eligible workers. The au pair program is a government cultural exchange program allowing 18- year old to 26-year old to foreigners to provide childcare in exchange for a small salary and room and board.

The rules of the program are provided by the State Department on their web site. Some of the regulations include that au pairs are limited to 45-hour work, in return for wages and an educational stipend, and they can stay with a family for no more than two-years.

The minimum salary of $195.75 is negotiable with minimum wages in NY and CA. Au pairs are to provide childcare only, no housework is negotiable. Au pairs are provided one and 1/2 days off weekly, no more than 10-hours per day, one full weekend off per month, two-weeks paid vacation, a private bedroom, and all meals provided.

Is the au pair program necessary today given the condition of the economy?
Does the au pair program provide unfair competition for nannies?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Have You Collected Bugs With the Kids?

Product Nannies Love: Bug Collecting Kits
I admit it, I'm afraid of bugs. But, most kids think bugs are neat. They are a vital part of our ecosystem, so if you have some hours to fill this summer, collecting bugs and learning about them can be a fun experience for you and the kids. In fact, using the products below (the Backyard Safari Adventure Kit by Summit and Outdoor Explorer Kit by Kid O) has me liking more bugs too.

Below the bug collecting products we list some fun web sites with activities and information to share with kids while learning about bugs.

Backyard Safari Adventure Kit and Cargo Vest

While stomping on spiders in the kitchen might be fun for some, chasing them around the backyard is a much better activity to keep kids entertained. Backyard Safari Outfitters proves that true with their exciting gear that allows us to transform that boring backyard into an adventure waiting to be explored. Backyard Safari says their gear is rugged, fully functional, and made for use in the field year round.

The kit has a water tight case is like an extra pocket for keeping valuables safe and dry. The retractable carabiner clip attaches easily to belts, packs, or the cargo vest. Lets small gear and other gizmos extend 14” then zip quickly out of the way. The rugged mini lantern provides instant light and clips easily to a child's field cargo vest. There is a pop-up essential field guide fits in your pocket (or in the watertight case) and pops up to provide handy information when planning your next adventure.

Outdoor Explorer Kit by Kid O
This kit contains: A4 sketchpad, colored pencils, LED headlamp with batteries, drawstring backpack, magnifying glass, bug checklist and tips on keeping a nature journal.

Here are web sites to use with kids this summer when teaching them about bugs:
Insects: Learn why not all bugs are bad. In fact, many help by destroying destructive bugs and plants.

If you have ever been stung by a bee, stabbed by a mosquito, or had the leaves of your favorite tree eaten by a gypsy moth caterpillar, you've probably wondered...what good are insects? Although it is true that insects can cause damage, learn how they can also be beneficial.

Bug Fun: Collecting bugs, insect crafts and projects, games and jokes, even bugs as food, from the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology. Make Your Own Compound Eye, for example.

Fun Stuff Activities for Kids:  Exterminator company has pages of full-size drawings of insects you can print out an color, and other games and activities.

Monster Bugs: The Magic School Bus computer game teaches kids about insect parts. Kids assemble a bug they already know about or they can create an entirely new bug out of these drawers full of insect parts.

Bug Pets:  One of the best ways to learn about animals is to keep and look after them. insects and other invertebrates are no exception. In most cases they are easy to look after (provided you've found out about them first), inexpensive and don't require a vast amount of space.

Rearing Crickets: You can raise crickets simply because you like them or because you want to use them as bait when fishing.

Rearing Insects Indoors: Why rear insects? Because rearing insects is fun. Observing insects indoors can help you gather information on their life cycles and habits. You can even do scientific experiments with them. If you wish, you can grow insects for fish bait or as food for pet birds, toads, and lizards.

Have you ever turned over a rock or old board and discovered a small, hard-shelled creature resembling a miniature armadillo, and then upon picking it up had it roll-up into a near-perfect ball in your hand? Such armoured creatures are called wood-lice or sowbugs and those kinds that roll up are often called pillbugs.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How Hot Did it Get This Week Where You Live?

What Are You Doing to Keep Cool?

I am just one of thousands of New Jersey residents that lost power during the heat wave. We reached record high temperatures already this week, as did much of the country. Here are some quick and easy tips from my local electric company on saving power during the heat wave:
  1. Turn off everything you're not using, including TVs and computers.
  2. If health conditions permit, raise your air conditioner to 78 degrees. You can save 3 to 5 percent on air conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat.
  3. Also use fans to circulate air. Portable and ceiling fans use a tenth of the electricity of an air conditioner and can make 78 degrees feel cooler than it actually is.
  4. Close blinds, shades and draperies facing the sun to block summer light and help fans and air conditioners cool more efficiently.
  5. Close doors leading to uncooled parts of your home. If you have central air conditioning, close off vents to unused rooms.
  6. Check to ensure that no furniture or other obstacles are blocking ducts or fans, which will enable cooled air to circulate more frequently.
  7. Cook and use other heat-generating appliances in the early morning and late evening hours whenever possible.

Benefits of Teaching Babies to Swim

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

An important part of summer fun with children is swimming. But, researchers from Britain and Norway have found that swimming is much more than fun -- they found developmental benefits of having children learn to swim when they are babies.

Research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology shows that baby swimmers have better balance and are also better at grasping at things than non-swimmers. This difference persists even when children are five-years old, when babies who have been taught to swim still outperform their peers. Click here to access that article.

So, for our Weekly Trip to the Library this week we recommend the following books about teaching babies and young children to swim.

Click here for a list of children's books about water safety.

Learn to Swim: Step-by-Step Water Confidence and Safety Skills for Babies and Young Children by Kathy and Rob McKay

Rob and Kathy McKay are the founders of the pioneering Lifestyle Swim School at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, which is renowned for teaching children aged six-months to four-years to swim. As leading authorities on swim instruction for young children, they appear regularly on national television, contribute to magazines, and speak at conferences around the world. Learn to Swim guides parents and caregivers of babies and children from ages six-months to four-years, through progressive, baby-friendly lessons that not only build confidence and help control sleeping problems and tantrums, but are proven to stimulate intelligence and concentration, increase emotional and physical development, and boost immunities.

How To Teach Your Baby To Swim by Douglas Doman

Teaching an infant or toddler to swim is not only a matter of safety, but also a great way to stimulate physical coordination, concentration, and intelligence — all the while making the child happier, healthier, and more self-confident. Based on the revolutionary learning principles developed at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, How to Teach Your Baby to Swim pairs 160 photographs with detailed instructions for teaching a child to dive, float, and swim.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Do Parents Care More About Their Checkbook Than Quality Care?

Do You Think More Parents are Hiring Inexperienced Nannies for Less Money, or Spending More for Experienced, Quality Care?

With the Unemployment Rate for 16-to 24-Age Group the Highest Since World War II are Younger, Cheaper Nannies Taking All the Nanny Jobs?

Yesterday we explained that the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that in 2010, childcare workers averaged $19,300 per year compared to a national mean for all workers of $44,410.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also confirms that wages for childcare workers have indeed DECREASED over the last few years.

Yesterday, some nannies commented that nanny web sites have lead to lower wages because parents that use nanny web sites are looking for a bargain. Are parents looking for a bargain when it comes to hiring a nanny, also cheap when it comes to paying their nanny wages?

An interesting article posted yesterday on the web site explains that with the highest unemployment rate for 16-to-24 year olds since post-World War II, the nanny field is now filled with young workers.

The article, "Job scarcity steering some to baby-sitting" by Katie Thisdell explains, "With unemployment [so high] finding another job probably is difficult for young nannies."

The article states that, "caregivers in their late teens and early 20s seem to be using online networking sites such as and More than half of the 3,500 baby sitters on are between the ages of 18 and 25."

With easy-to-use, 24/7 access to web sites, parents can find thousands of young, relatively inexpensive nanny candidates that are willing to accept bargain rates online.

Do you think parents want to hire an inexperienced nanny for less money, or spend more for experienced, quality care?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is the Demand and Pay for Nannies Growing, Slowing, or Staying the Same?

How Much Do Others Earn and Where Do They Earn It?

In 2010, childcare workers averaged $19,300 per year compared to a national mean for all workers of $44,410.

Analyzing data tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics can reveal interesting statistics regarding childcare workers. The term "childcare workers" refers to those who provide care whether in-home or in a business setting. Statistics regarding nannies are included, but not separately collected.

The term "mean compensation" or "mean wage" refers to a number at the middle of the pay range. The concept is that half the workers make less and that half the workers make more than the mean wage. The resulting number does not account for how much more or less those figures may deviate from the mean.

According to data released in June 2010, the mean salary of a childcare worker was $19,300 compared to a national mean for all workers of $44,410. My guess is that the childcare numbers are weighed heavily with data from day care centers who often employee part-time employees. Less than 3% of private homes needing childcare hire part-timers.

The best paying metro areas include: San Francisco, San Diego, Manhattan, Northern New Jersey, and parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Generally, the coasts pay more and the Midwest and South pay less. Certain regions of the country seem to have no demand for nannies and rely on "babysitters" or a combination of friends, neighbors, and relatives.

Do you think the demand and pay for nannies is growing, slowing, or staying the same?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are You Taking the Kids to Any Museums This Summer?

Keep Learning this Summer

Keep the kids learning all summer long by visitng the library and taking field trips.Together, you and the child can decide on weekly themes and try these ideas.

Borrow a library book about the child's favorite topics such as oceans or outer space. For example, you might read The Ocean Alphabet Bookby Jerry Palotta or The Planetsby Gail Gibbons. For the child interested in the ocean take a field trip to the aquarium, tropical fish store and as an employee questions about the animals that live in the sea. Or, go to a planetarium or space museum for the child that loves outer space. Viewing hands-on exhibits, seeing shows, and reading plaques with help kids learn more while they are having fun.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Should Boys Be Allowed to Play with the Breastfeeding Baby Doll?

Would You Be Comfortable Having Your Charges Use the Breastfeeding Baby Doll?

Bebé Glotón is a infant doll made by Berjuan, a toy maker in Spain, for the express purpose of promoting breastfeeding. The idea is to impress upon kids that breastfeeding is natural.

The child wears a colorful bra-like halter-top featuring flowers over the nipple area. When the doll is lifted to the flowers, it makes a suckling motion and sound. When your child’s flower nipples grow sore and cracked, either the baby cries for more, or beckons to be burped.

Tell Children to Find a Woman to Help them if They Get Lost!

Gavin de Becker's Best Advice for a Lost Child

Last week an eight-year old boy was murdered in Brooklyn when he was allowed to walk home for the first time alone. Notable author Gavin de Becker explains there is no magic age that children are ready to walk home alone, but rather they should take The Test of Twelve to determine if a child is ready to walk to school or home alone.

The same expert, Gavin de Becker, recommends the following advice to teach kids who get lost.

Mr. de Becker says, "I don’t believe in teaching inflexible rules because it’s not possible to know if they’ll work in all situations. There is one rule, however, that enhances safety in most situations: Teach your child to go to a woman if she is lost."

He continues, "Why? First, if your child selects a woman, it’s highly unlikely that the woman will be a sexual predator."

"Next, a woman approached by a lost child asking for help is likely to stop whatever she is doing, get down to the kid’s eye level, commit to that child, and not rest until the child is safe," says de Becker.

He continues, "A man approached by the same child might say, ‘'Head over there to the manager’s desk,’' whereas a woman is most likely to get involved and stay involved."

Mr. de Becker admits, "Is what I’ve said politically incorrect? Maybe so, but the luxury of not running for office is that I don’t care if it’s politically incorrect. The fact is that men in all cultures and at all ages and at all times in history are more violent than women - and facts are not political."

Teaching kids, 'If you are ever lost, go to a woman' works because it’s practical (there will almost always be a woman around) and simple (easy to teach, easy to learn, easy to do)," explains de Becker.

"Finally, teaching children to choose someone rather than wait for someone to choose them will be a useful lesson their whole lives. It’s the same advice I give to adult women."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Have You Told Children Not to Talk to Strangers? Why You Must Change That!

When a Child is Lost They Must Find One of the Millions of Strangers That Will Help Them

For every stranger who would harm a child, there are millions who will not.

After years of telling children not to talk to strangers, Gavin de Becker recommends teaching children how to find a safe stranger for help.

The goal is to change the children's focus off strangers and on to behavior. For every stranger who would harm a child there are millions who will not, so strangers are not the issue.

Mr. de Becker says, "I suggest that you pursue opportunities for your [child] to communicate with strangers in appropriate environments. Children thus learn what feels comfortable and what does not."

"Such learning can be aided by a parent who watches a child communicate in a restaurant or store and then discusses the encounter afterward," explains de Becker.

Ask the child, “What did you think when that guy stood so close? I thought he seemed strange; I wasn’t comfortable with him.” Or, “I felt safe with that man at the next table who talked to us; did you”

Mr. de Becker explains, "One mother I know regularly encourages her seven-year-old son to approach strangers, giving him small challenges such as, 'Can you find out what time it is?' or 'Can you get directions to the nearest frozen yogurt place? Then she stands back a bit and observes as he selects a person to ask. Afterward, they discuss why he chose who he chose, how the exchange went, if he felt comfortable with the person he spoke with, if that person was comfortable with his approach, and so on. Her son has safely rehearsed all kinds of encounters with people."

"Could it be that this boy who actually approaches strangers in public is less likely to be a victim than someone taught never to talk to them? Absolutely yes," concludes the expert.

Have you told your charges not to talk to strangers?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cell Phones That Keep Kids Safe!

Do Your Charges Have Cell Phones?

With the murder of an eight-year old boy last week in Brooklyn we have been discussing how to know if a child is mature enough to walk home alone and books about child safety.

My friends and I have been questioning whether the boy had a cell phone on him. Although parents fear that children will text or receive x-rated photos on their cell phones, there are mobile phones made just for children. We highly recommend the Firefly mobile phone.

One way to ensure safety of children is to invest in cell phones designed to help protect children. For example, some kid-friendly mobile models, such as the Firefly Glow Phone offer controls that block all calls unless the caller’s number is already listed in the phone’s contact list. Other parental control features include the ability to block a child from adding or deleting numbers in the contact list.

The Firefly Mobile Phone is the industry leading designer, developer, and seller of mobile phones and accessories specifically targeting kids and tweens. The Original Firefly Mobile Phoneallows children to stay connected to those most important, as well as a growing brand that allows for continued innovation and product extensions. By designing the handsets from the ground up, Firefly has always been able to focus on the exact needs of kids, tweens, and their parents, making the phones ideal for the market.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Parents, Nannies, and Au Pairs Should Read Books by Gavin de Becker

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

In response to the horrific killing of an eight-year old boy in Brooklyn we posted the Test of Twelve by Gavin de Becker to help determine if a child is ready to walk home alone,

I first remember seeing Gavin de Backer on the Oprah Winfrey Show and it was the first time I heard an expert in security really make sense. He emphasized listening to your instincts to protect yourself.  He also showed that children must do anything and everything possible to draw attention to themselves if they feel unsafe. It was powerful watching a scenario in which actors had a child reach under a man to press the gas pedal in a car to create a crash. The fact is, a child is safer getting in a car crash if kidnapped then being taken to a remote area in a car with a stranger.

I highly recommend reading his books and then sharing them with your employers.

Protecting The Gift by Gavin de Becker

In Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe Gavin de Becker shares with readers his remarkable insight into human behavior, providing them with a fascinating look at how human predators work and how they select their targets and most important, how parents can protect their children.

He offers the comforting knowledge that, like every creature on earth, human beings can predict violent behavior. In fact, he says, parents are hardwired to do just that.

Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe provides a direct look at the strategies of predators, a study of how children are victimized, and a look at why. Understanding human violence empowers parents to protect their children more effectively. De Becker asks readers at the outset, “Of all the strategies you might bring to protecting your children, could ignorance about violence possibly be an effective one?”

Exploring issues surrounding child abduction, family violence, childcare workers, school safety, teenage dating, driving, drinking, and the often-deadly relationship between boys and guns, Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe will enable parents to confidently answer some of life’s highest stakes questions:

-- How can I know a babysitter won’t turn out to be someone who will harm my child?
-- What’s the best way to prepare my child to walk to school alone?
-- What should I do if my child is lost in public?
-- How can I spot sexual predators?
-- How can I know if my child is being sexually abused?
-- How can my kid’s safety be improved?
-- How can I know whether some friend of my child’s might be dangerous?
-- Is my own child displaying warning signs of future violence?
-- What must my teenage son or daughter know in order to be safe?
-- How can I teach my child about risk without causing too much fear?
-- How can I reduce the worrying?

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

An instant #1 National Bestseller, The Gift of Fearreveals practical lessons from Gavin de Becker’s decades of studying violence. The book appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for seventeen weeks and has been published in 13 languages.

In 2008, Oprah Winfrey did a special show commemorating the 10th Anniversary of its publication, and the book was featured several other times on her show, as well as two full hours on Larry King Live, three weeks in a row on Prime Time Live, two center pages in Time Magazine, among many others.

In The Gift of Fearde Becker draws on his extensive expertise to explode the myth that most violent acts are random and unpredictable and shows that they usually have discernible motives and are preceded by clear warning signs. Through dozens of compelling stories from his own career and life, he unravels the complexities of violent behavior and details the pre-incident indicators (PINs) that can determine if someone poses a danger to us.

Readers learn how to:
-- Recognize the survival signals that warn us about risk from strangers
-- Rely on their intuition
-- Separate real from imagined danger
-- Predict Dangerous Behavior
-- Evaluate whether someone will use violence
-- Move beyond denial so that their intuition works for them

Offering in-depth solutions to people who are dealing with domestic abuse or workplace violence or who are the targets of unwanted pursuit, de Becker also provides unique insight into death threats, stalkers, assassins, children who kill, and mass killers.

The Gift of Fearis an important book about human behavior, one which has left millions of readers stronger and safer.

Fear Less by Gavin de Becker

Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fearshowed millions of readers how to better protect themselves from violence and unwarranted fear. Now, in Fear Lessde Becker answers the questions many Americans have been asking since September 11th:

-- Can air travel be safe?
-- What is the risk of biological or chemical attack?
-- Can the government detect and prevent future acts?
-- How can we best talk to our children about what has happened and what might happen?
-- What can individuals do to reduce fear and worry?
-- What specific steps can individuals take to reduce terrorism?
-- What are terrorists likely to do next?
-- Most simply, is everything going to be all right?

De Becker says, “Just as your imagination has placed you in frightening situations, it is now time to place yourself in empowering situations, time to see that you have a role to play, and contrary to so many TV news stories, it isn’t just victim-in-waiting.”

Fear Less: Real Truth About Risk, Safety, and Security in a Time of Terrorismoffers specific recommendations that can enhance our national security and our individual safety – and help put fear into perspective.

“In this war, there will be no captured beachhead upon which we can lay our fears to rest. So we are challenged to find safety and peace of mind in other ways.”

“You and I can be sources of reasoned information, insight, comfort, and courage. The more of us there are, the better – and though we may not be able to stop all terrorism, we can stop lots of terror. Let’s go further into the relevant topics than one can do in a sound bite, go into them without alarming bulletins and scary graphics, go into them without hype or politics, go into them just deeply enough to come out the other side.”

“Then you can see if you reach the same conclusions I have: that you can find your life in these times, that you can influence your own safety, that you can help protect your country, that you can manage fear, and that you are going to be all right.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Does Your Nanny Agency Help You Negotiate Your Salary and Terms of Your Job?

If You Have Trouble Negotiating Use Our Nanny Job Negotiation Comparison Sheet

It is easy for most nannies to speak with children. But, it is much harder for some nannies to speak with parents, especially when it comes to negotiating their wages, job benefits, and job duties.

That's why I enlisted the help of a full-time negotiator to create the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Job Negotiation Comparison Sheet.

Now, during negotiations, and before starting a new job, I simply pull out the chart and hand it to the parents. We simply go through each topic on the checklist one by one. Topics I used to have trouble bringing up in the past, can now be asked and answered simply by going through the checklist together.

Of course, you should edit the checklist to fit your job preferences. If you are like me and often find it difficult to negotiate with parents, I highly recommend bringing this chart along to help you discuss job duties, compensation, and job benefits with future employers.

How Old Should a Child be Before He is Allowed to Walk Home Alone?

Take the Test of Twelve to Help Determine if a Child is Ready to be Alone in Public

Yesterday Levi Aaron was arrested in the kidnapping and murder of 8 year-old Leiby Kletzky. The boy was kidnapped in his Brooklyn, NY neighborhood after losing his way on his seven block walk home. His parents say it was the first time they allowed Leiby to walk home alone.

Click here for the horrific details of the murder.

In his book Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safenotable author, Gavin de Becker has created a Test of Twelve to help determine if a child is old enough to walk home alone.

The Test of Twelve
1. Does the child know how to honor his feelings? If someone makes him uncomfortable, that's an important signal.
2. Are you and the parent strong enough to hear about any experience the child has had, no matter how unpleasant?
3. Does the child know it's okay to rebuff and defy adults?
4. Does the child know it's okay to be assertive?
5. Does the child know how to ask for assistance or help?
6. Does the child know how to choose who to ask? For example, she should look for a woman to help her.
7. Does the child know how to describe his peril?
8. Does the child know it's okay to strike, even to injure, someone if he believes he is in danger, and that you'll support any action he takes as a result of feeling uncomfortable or afraid?
9. Does the child know it's okay to make noise, to scream, to yell, to run?
10. Does the child know that if someone ever tries to force him to go somewhere, what he screams should include, ''This is not my father''? Onlookers seeing a child scream or even struggle are likely to assume the adult is a parent.
11. Does the child know that if someone says, ''Don't yell,'' the thing to do is yell? The corollary is if someone says, ''Don't tell,'' the thing to do is tell.
12. Does the child know to fully resist ever going anywhere out of public view with someone she doesn't know, and particularly to resist going anywhere with someone who tries to persuade her?

Find more titles about keeping children safe by Gavin de Becker below.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Should Families That Have a Home Pool Only Hire Nannies That Can Swim?

Have You Ever Been Asked During a Job Interview if You Can Swim?

Being Able to Swim Can Help You Land a Great Nanny Job in a Tough Economy

It's no joke, according to the National Safety Council an estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to unintentional drowning-related incidents each year; 15 percent die in the hospital and as many as 20 percent suffer severe, permanent neurological disability.

Infants and toddlers drown more frequently than people at any other age. In this age group drowning is the leading cause of death, followed by accidents in and around the home, and road traffic accidents.

If you hope to work for a family that owns a pool or that will expect you to take the children to the pool in the summer you ought to learn to swim, and even earn lifeguard certification.

If you already know how to swim, earning your lifeguard certification is a great resume booster for any nanny candidate. Imagine how having your lifeguard certification will help your resume stand out among a pile of non-swimmers' resumes. What would look better than a prepared nanny who is certified in both adult and infant CPR/First Aid and has lifeguard certification?

As the saying goes, "Safety First!" And when it comes to working with children, knowing how to swim keeps them safe. It is also a great skill to help market yourself to potential employers.

Do you swim with your charges?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is it Harder to Get a Nanny Job if You Ask to be Paid On-The-Books?

Are law-abiding nannies at a disadvantage when seeking jobs?

The most common and most persistent problem we hear from nannies is that they have difficulty finding employment if they insist on being paid on-the-books while others get jobs because they agree to be paid

The frustrated nannies report that the main reasons nannies agree to be paid illegally is because:

---parents  insist on it

---the nanny wants to hide income to keep government benefits

---the nanny wants no deductions from her pay

---the nanny is undocumented

---the nanny is unskilled

---the nanny is desperate for a job

---the nanny feels powerless to refuse any job offer

Nannies deduce that hiring parents insist on these arrangements because:

---they are cheap

---they feel paperwork is burdensome

---they want control of the nanny

---they are consumed with anti-establishment rage

---they want to feel the nanny is a family friend, not an employee

---they sense no threat or reprisal as a result of their behavior

Have you found it harder to find a nanny job that is willing to pay taxes?

Do You Know Anyone Who Had a Child Drown in their Family Pool?

The Tragic Death of 7-Year Old Girl Becomes the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) takes its name from Virginia Graeme Baker, a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by the powerful suction from a hot tub drain.

A twin and the youngest of five, 7-year old Graeme, as her family called her, was the daughter of Nancy and James Baker IV, the son of former Secretary of State James Baker III. A member of her community swim and diving team, Graeme was able to swim without assistance since she was 3-years old.

In June 2002, Graeme became stuck to a hot tub drain and was unable to pull herself free. Efforts by her mother to pull Graeme from the drain proved unsuccessful. Two men who eventually freed Graeme from the spa pulled so hard that the drain cover broke from the force. Graeme died from drowning, but the real cause of her death was suction entrapment due to a faulty drain cover.

After her tragic death, her mother worked tirelessly to advocate for pool and spa safety. Mrs. Baker, her family, and Safe Kids Worldwide actively lobbied Congress to win support for a law to require anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety devices, as needed. The statute, which was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, was signed into law by the President in December 2007.

To carry out the requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives, a national public education campaign to raise public awareness about drowning and entrapment prevention, support industry compliance with the Act’s requirements, and improve safety at the nation’s pools and spas.

Stop by Thursday for more Water Safety Tips.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Has a Child in Your Care Ever Fallen into a Pool?

Nannies and Au Pairs: Residential Pool and Spa Safety

For pool or spa owners, (and caregivers working in a home with a pool or spa), it is essential to adopt water safety steps to assure the safety of children in and around the water. By installing safety devices and observing proper water safety behaviors, parents and nannies can secure their pools and spas for use by their families, friends, and neighbors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) favors multiple safety steps for swimming pools and spas, ranging from installing pool and spa fences, to ensuring children know how to swim. When combined, these safety strategies help ensure that both adults and children are amply protected in and around the water.

By asking and answering these critical questions, you can gauge the effectiveness of your water safety measures, and determine what steps need to be taken to protect children from drowning and submersion injuries:

  1. Is there a fence around the perimeter of the home pool or spa?
  2. Are there self-closing and self-latching gates?
  3. Are there door, gate, or pool alarms in use?
  4. Does the pool have anti-entrapment drain covers that are compliant with the P&SS Act?
  5. Are all pool and spa covers in working order?
  6. Has the public pool or spa you use been inspected to ensure it is compliant with federal, state and local laws?
  7. Has someone in the family or the nanny received training in CPR, first aid, and emergency response?
  8. Has everyone learned to swim?
Click here to learn about the Safety Turtle Child Immersion Wristband Alarm and Wireless Gate Alarm.

Tomorrow: Learn more about the young girl who inspired the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.