Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to Deal with a Child That Lies

How to Get Nothing But the Truth from Children

Does a child you care for stretch the truth, avoides the truth, or out-and-put lies to you? Cynthia Whitham, author of The Answer Is NO: Saying It and Sticking to It. Saying and sticking to it explains that are some things in life that are not negogotiable, like lying.

The author explains that at an early age children don't easily differentiate fantasy fro reality. Their truth and their wishes get all entangled. But, as children age they use lying to keep from getting into trouble. They hope that saying, "I didn't do it," to be saved from punishment.

Lying is not only a bad strategy (they truth is usually found out), but it is a very unacceptable behavior in most life settings.

How to get nothing but the truth from children:

1. Model taking responsiblity
2. Model being honest.
3. Don't lie to the children in your care.
4. If you are worried about a preschooler's fantasy wishes you can help by teaching the difference between pretend and real.
5. Use fables and fairy tales to impress upon children the importance of the truth. Read Pinocchio and The Boy Who Cried Wolf to present clear consequences of lying.
6. Reward the truth. If a child comes forward and tells you about something bad that happened take the opportunity to praise him. That way the child won't be afraid of telling you the truth, because you handled it well.
7. Since it is possible children lie to get attention, don't take the good stuff for granted. Show interest in the little things that the child does and praise her for successes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nannies and Au Pairs: Are You Required to Travel with Your Employers?

Before Traveling with the Family

One perk of being a nanny or au pair can be traveling with your employers' family. Traveling while working can be an opportunity to see new place you might not be able to visit otherwise. But, while the family is on vacation you are being paid to work. While the family may be relaxing you still need to be prompt, professional, and reliable.

Before agreeing to travel with a family on their vacation discuss the schedule, accommodations, and pay rate. Typically it is easiest to keep the hours and pay rate about the same as a normal work week. But, sometimes that is impossible when traveling. You ought to be a little flexible with hours while traveling with your employers' family.

All expenses including food, board, and travel should be paid by your employer. You should expect to pay for some personal expenses though. But, the price of food, lodging, museums, attractions, admissions, and taxis are the parent's responsibility.

Be fore agreeing to travel with the family you work for be sure to ask the parents:
    1. Will you be working more hours than usual?
    2. Will you have your own room or be expected to share a room with the children?
    3. What will your role be? Will you be accompanying the family as an extra set of hands, or will you be solely responsible for the children during the day while the parents are out?
    4. What are the spending guidelines?
    5. What is the pay rate? Will you earn a bonus?
Do you have any advice to share with nannies and au pairs about traveling with their employers' family?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nannies and Au Pairs: Saying "No" to Your Boss

Do You Find it Hard Saying "No" to Your Boss?

Over the years many nannies and au pairs have complained about some of their job duties to me, yet they don't simply say "No" to their employers when asked to do something they don't want to do. Instead of griping to their friends, it would serve most caregivers better to calmly and respectfully stand up for themselves at their jobs.

There are many reasons it may be hard for caregivers to say "No" to their employers. Nannies and au pairs may not say "No" because they want to please their employers, they think not doing what is asked shows they don't appreciate their employer or their job, they are insecure, or they may be afraid of confrontation.

When working in a private home with no human resources department nannies need to stand up for themselves, since no one else will do it for them.

That doesn't mean in-home childcare providers should be disrespectful and not perform some duties they do not enjoy. Everyone has to do some tasks they don't love in order to make a living. But, that doesn't mean parents have the right walk all over their in-home employees. Overworked and unappreciated nannies and au pairs that cannot communicate openly with their employers are not happy employees.

Saying "No" is easier for some people than others. The key to saying "No" is to be prepared, respectful, calm, and kind when standing up for yourself.

Saying"No" to Your Boss:

Be prepared.

Anticipate questions you might be asked and practice how you would like to answer them. Role-play saying "No" to your boss with a trusted friend, spouse, or family member. Rehearsing the conversation with your boss out loud can help build confidence before the real conversation. If you know every weekend the family goes to the shore and will be asking you to walk their dog without compensation, practice saying you cannot walk the dog, long before they ask you to walk the dog.

Be honest.
Tell your boss why you have to say "No" to the request. Assuming that you have a legitimate reason for saying no, (you are too tired, you are busy, the request will interfere with proper childcare, or you haven't the skills necessary), you have no reason to lie. Saying "No" comes easier when you value yourself and know you have to say "No" sometimes to take care of yourself.

Choose the right time and place to speak with your boss.
Figure out the best time to contact your employer. Is she a morning person or is it easier to talk when she comes home from work? Is it easiest to text, email, or chat on the phone while the baby is napping?

Pay your boss a compliment while denying the request.
If your boss is asking you to take on more responsibility of being the housekeeper as well as the nanny, that shows you that she has faith in your ability to do the job. Acknowledge that it means a lot to you that she trusts you to do the cleaning job before telling her that you feel you cannot be both housekeeper and nanny.

Try a compromise.
Perhaps you can't do exactly what your boss asks of you, but it might be possible for you to do some of it. For example, if your vacation time corresponds with the family's vacation time but they ask you to care for their dog while they are away, you can offer to care for the dog for the two-days, but then ask your employers to hire a dog-sitter to care for the pet for the rest of your vacation time.

What is the worst that can happen?
Do you really think you will get fired if you say "No" or stand up for yourself? Put yourself in another nanny's shoes and consider what advice you would give her in the same situation. Consider your employer's viewpoint as well. If you really think you will be risking your job by simply saying "No" perhaps you are in the wrong job and deserve to work with more compassionate parents.

You have to communicate too.
It isn't fair to your boss to complain to your friends and family about your job without trying to communicate your issues with the parents. It may not be obvious to the parents that you have an issue with what they ask you to do. They may assume you can always say "No" if you don't want to do it. You respect yourself and your employers more by being honest and saying "No" sometimes.

Do you find it hard saying "No" to your boss?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Activities to Do With Kids

What Are You Doing for Memorial Day?

Memorial Day can be a somber time when we honor those we have lost. If you are spending the day with children consider their age before discussing the true sentiment of Memorial Day. Younger children might be frightened if they’re told too much too soon about war and death.

Tweens and teens might be quite interested in Memorial Day’s meaning and capable of understanding the sacrifices military people make for the country. For most kids, it might be wise to explain Memorial Day simply as a time to say thank you to the people who keep our country safe.

Even if they don’t fully grasp the holiday, children of all ages can commemorate the day. Here are some ideas for involving them:
  • Go to a local Memorial Day parade. If you attend a parade, teach the kids to stand and place their hands over their hearts when the flag goes by and stand and clap when veterans march past.
  • Read books about Memorial Day with the kids.
  • Serve a patriotic dessert after dinner.
  • Make a patriotic craft and talk with the kids about the holiday as you create together.
  • Wear red, white and blue.
  • Visit’s Guide to Homeschooling offers printable Memorial Day activities for kids.
  • Take part in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.
  • What are you doing for Memorial Day?

    Sunday, May 27, 2012

    Swaddling by Pea Wee Baby

    Products Nannies Love

    The book I recommend most to caregivers working with newborns and infants is The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr Harvey Karp. His methods are extremely simple and absolutely work! His theory is that by creating a comfortable environment similar to the womb will allow a baby to happily sleep more. It is easy to follow Dr. Karp's Five S’s — swaddling, side, stomach positioning, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Each "S" triggers natural calming reflexes to soothe the baby. Today we recommend Pea Wee Baby Products to help swaddle infants and newborns.

    Swaddling is an excellent way to prepare newborns for a good night's sleep. Dr. Karp cites a study that found that the younger babies went to sleep more quickly after being swaddled. The study also showed that babies who are swaddled, or wrapped tightly in cloth before being put down to sleep, were more likely to sleep on their backs — a position that is now suggested by most pediatricians for prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). "You get the benefit of tummy sleep with the safety of back sleeping," says Dr. Karp. "It extends an hour to two hours a night the sleep of babies, I like to tell my parents."

    Pea Wee Baby™LLC is the creator and manufacturer of the SwaddleBuddy™ Series of bust-proof swaddles and accessories.

    Swaddling isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Do you live in a hot climate? Do you care for a particularly wiggly baby? Would you like to be able to safely use a swing or bouncy seat? Do you have a favorite blanket you’d love to use, but the baby just refuses to stay wrapped in it? Does the baby need to be swaddled past the itty-bitty size and can’t find one big enough?

    And that’s why Pea Wee designed not just one swaddle, but three! Between the SwaddleBuddy™ accessory, the SwaddleBuddy™ Suit and the SwaddleBuddy™ Sack, you are sure to find the perfect swaddling solution.

    You may even be so lucky as to have one of those babies that is completely content just being wrapped in a blanket, but the store bought ones are too small, a rigid flannel and rectangular. A Pea Wee Baby™ Receiving Blanket is the perfect answer. 100% cotton knit (think of a nice weight, soft t-shirt material) and a square 36″ x 36″.

    WATCH the Video on how to swaddle.

    Pea Wee Baby SwaddleBuddy Sack 

    Made in the USA
    100% cotton interlock
    Size Small will fit most babies up to approximately 16 lbs.
    Size Large will fit most babies from approximately 15 lbs
    Use until they no longer require swaddling or they can roll over

    The SwaddleBuddy™ Sack is guaranteed to keep babies swaddled! The arm restraint keeps the arms comfortably at the sides while the exterior wrap provides the comfort of being swaddled. Unlike other swaddles that wrap the arms, the SwaddleBuddy™ Sack uses hook and loop to prevent the arms from becoming unwrapped by an especially wiggly baby. The Sack option acts like a more traditional swaddle in that it completely covers the legs. However, since the leg pouch and wrap portion are all one piece, babies are unable to kick their legs out.

    Pea Wee Baby SwaddleBuddy Suit

    Made in the USA
    100% cotton interlock
    Size Small will fit most babies up to approximately 16 lbs.
    Size Large will fit most babies from approximately 15 lbs
    Use until they no longer require swaddling or they can roll over
    Allows for swaddling in a swing or bouncy chair!

    The SwaddleBuddy™ Suit is guaranteed to keep the baby swaddled. The arm restraint keeps the arms comfortably at the sides while the exterior wrap provides the comfort of being swaddled. Unlike other swaddles that wrap the arms, the SwaddleBuddy™ Suit uses hook and loop to prevent the arms from becoming unwrapped. The Suit option keeps the upper portion of the swaddle in place and is perfect for use in swings and bouncy seats. The hook and loop opening allows for super easy access for diaper changes without having to unswaddle.

    Pea Wee Baby SwaddleBuddy and Blanket Set 

    Made in the USA
    100% cotton interlock
    Size Small will fit most babies up to approximately 16 lbs.
    Size Large will fit most babies from approximately 15 lbs
    Use until they no longer require swaddling or they can roll over
    1 Buddy and 1 Blanket

    The Original SwaddleBuddy™ is a swaddle accessory that can be used with any receiving blanket or other swaddle. The arm restraint keeps the arms comfortably at the sides. Unlike other swaddles that wrap the arms, the SwaddleBuddy™ uses hook and loop to prevent the arms from becoming unwrapped. The SwaddleBuddy™ and matching Pea Wee Baby™ Receiving Blanket are made of 100% cotton interlock in lime green. The blanket is generously sized at 36" x 36" and has the perfect amount of stretch to provide a nice breathable swaddle.

    Don't forget to stop by next Sunday for another Product Review Sunday.

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Children's Books About Memorial Day

    Weekly Trip to the Library

    Memorial Day is an American national holiday that honors those who have lost their lives in military service on the last Monday of each May.

    There are parades and ceremonies that can be reflective and somber. But,  most families enjoy having the bank and government day off from work by having barbecues and trips to the beach or lake house. Here are some great children's books to share with the children in your care about Memorial Day.

    Memorial Day Surprise
    By Theresa Golding, Alexandra Artigas (Illustrator)

    A mother tells her son that there is a "big surprise" at the Memorial Day Celebration. As the boy watches the parade, he asks if each part of the parade is the "surprise" - from the marching band, to waving flags, to children riding their bikes with red, white and blue streamers, and to firefighters in their truck. Mother always tells him that the real surprise is even more special. At the end of the parade, people stand and applaud. The boy then sees his grandfather, a veteran, being pushed in a wheelchair. His surprise is realizing that his grandfather is a hero.

    The Wall
    By Eve Bunting, Ronald Himler (Illustrator)

    A young boy and his father visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to find Grandpa's name. What makes "The Wall" so moving is that instead of answering questions it will get children to ask them. A great book to open discussion with the class about war and it's consequences.

    Let's Get Ready for Memorial Day
    By Lloyd G. Douglas

    A girl's class prepares for Memorial Day by learning about the holiday from their teacher and making flags, and later she goes to a war memorial with her father to honor those who died.

    Do you have a favorite book you want to share with nannies and au pairs? Simply email with your suggestion. Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

    Thursday, May 24, 2012

    10 Ways to Find the Perfect Nanny Agency

    Nanny Agency Contact Checklist

    Nannies looking for jobs want to work with nanny placement agencies that listen to their job requirements and are honest about whether they have any families that meet the nanny candidate's specific job criteria. Rather than blindly signing up and completing every agency application, in-home child care providers should interview agencies first. When considering working nanny agencies prospective nannies should ask the following questions of each agency.

    Plus, use our nanny agency contact checklist to the left to keep communication with nanny agencies organized. Email stephanie@bestnannynewsletter for a copy of the nanny agency contact checklist.

    1. What is the agency's reputation?

    What have you heard about working with the nanny referral agency in nanny circles? Is their reputation good? Nanny agencies that have been in business a while ought to have repeat business. It is a good sign when nannies come back to work with the agency again.

    2. Did they make a good first impression?

    Was the staff friendly and did they listen to you, or was your conversation interrupted, was someone unfriendly, or were employees stressed-out? Do they understand your goals and concerns?

    3. How long has the agency been in business?

    When an agency has been in business for a few years it may be a good indicator of their success.

    4. Does agency staff believe that your salary and job requirements sound reasonable?

    What is the starting, average, and top salary range for the nanny positions they place? Do they typically place live-in or live-out positions; temporary or permanent placements; are their clients high profile families, working parents, or stay-at-home parents?

    5 . How many nannies and families are repeat clients?

    Having a solid core base of nannies that are long term clients is a good indicator of a quality business.

    6. What specifically makes their placements successful?

    What factors do they feel play a part in successful placements? It is impossible for any agency to place every nanny candidate or successfully place someone with every family. Nanny agency staff realize this and should encourage honesty from parents and nannies for successful placements rather than just placing a high number of caregivers in jobs that aren't a good fit.

    7. What level of nannies do they place?

    Does the agency work with first time nannies or do they require their applicants to have more working experience? Do they require CPR certification and First Aid training? How much education must nanny applicants have?

    8. What is the screening process for nannies?

    Do they meet each and every nanny candidate in-person, by telephone, or email? What documents must the nanny candidate provide? How many telephone references and letters of reference do they require? Did they ask inappropriate questions about weight, height, religion, love life, or the medications you take?

    9. What is their screening process for families?

    Are you (the prospective employee) allowed to see the family's application and are the families allowed to see yours? Do agency staff meet the families in-person, by telephone, or emails?

    10. Ask the agency for reference you can speak to.

    A reputable agency should provide references that you can call personally. Another good way to get the scoop on agencies is to ask fellow nannies for their first hand experience.
    Reference: Above is a copyrighted excerpt from the March 2007 Be the Best Nanny Newsletter written by Andrea Flagg. If you would like a copy of our Agency Checklist Spreadsheet simply email and we can email a copy to you.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    The Power of Play Dough

    Homemade Play Dough

    Young children love to play with play dough, and play dough play is a great way to support their learning. It benefits children socially, creatively, and physically while building language and literacy, science, and math skills — all at the same time! Homemade or out of the can, this preschool staple can provide hours of fun and learning at home. All you need are a clear surface, a few kitchen utensils, and lots of time to play.

    At home or at school, play dough play supports development and learning in many areas. When children use play dough, they explore ideas and try different approaches until they find one that works. They compare and contrast objects ("Mine’s a fat pancake and yours is skinny"), actions ("No, don’t cut it! This is how you scrape it"), and experiences ("We’re not making a snake, we’re making a road"). In experimenting with play dough, children use initiative and show curiosity, and they analyze and solve problems.

    While messing around with play dough, children use the small muscles in their fingers and hands. They use hands, fingers, and tools to pound, push, poke, shape, flatten, roll, cut, and scrape. Through these manipulations, children develop eye-hand coordination, the ability to match hand movement with eye movement, and gain strength and improve dexterity in their hands and fingers — critical areas of physical development for writing, drawing, and other purposes.

    Play dough is a powerful learning tool for many reasons. And when you play at home with children and play dough, you’ll discover the most important reason of all: it’s just plain fun for everybody.

    Click here for entire article about how children learn by using play dough.

    Basic Homemade Play Dough
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup salt
    2 teaspoons cream of tartar
    1 cup water or cooled tea (for flavors -- see below)
    1 1/2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or canola)
    Food coloring, as desired

    1. Put salt, water, and oil in a saucepan and cook over low heat. When the salt is dissolved stir in the flour and cream of tartar.

    2. Keep stiring and heating over low heat until it thickens and and pulls away from the pan and forms a ball (about five minutes).

    3. Turn out onto the counter or a mat, scraping pan clean with a spatula. Knead the warm dough a couple times, and place in a loosely-covered container to cool. Store in a sealed container or ziplock bag when not in use.

    Coffee Play Dough
    1 cup used coffee grounds dried
    1/2 cup cold coffee
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup salt


    Stir cold coffee and salt. Then, add the coffee grounds and flour until well mixed. Knead the dough.

    Recipes from Messy Art Class at Montclair YMCA

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    What is the Most Important Question to Ask Parents on Job Interviews?

    Questions to Ask Parents During Job Interviews

    The objective of nanny job interviews is to uncover what needs to be known about job applicants and potential employers. Nothing is gained when job seekers and parents answer interview questions based on what they think the other wants to hear. To determine if the family is the right fit and if the relationship is to last and flourish, it is best to answer questions by being truthful. Asking the right questions is imperative.

    Caregivers looking for nanny jobs put in much time and care preparing for job interviews. But, just as important as putting your best foot forward during and interview is determining if the family will be a good fit for you to work for them as well. Every family, every child, and every nanny is different and so each nanny job as well. So, there is no reason to be discouraged if an interview reveals that a family is not compatible. Each interview is a learning experience.

    Below is a long list of interview questions nannies should consider asking during a job interview. We do not recommend asking all of the questions listed below. Parents still want to feel like they are in control of the interview. So just pick and choose what you feel are the most important questions to ask the parents from the list below.

    Nannies Should Ask the Following Questions on an Interview:

    1. What is the job description? Are you looking for a live-in or live-out caregiver? Do you need a full-time or part-time help? How many daily and weekly hours is the nanny expected to work?
    2. What is the salary and what are the benefits being offered?
    3. Are you prepared to make the legal payroll deductions for social security and unemployment benefits, and to sign a work agreement?
    4. Will there be a paid trial period before signing the work agreement?
    5. What are the living accommodations for live-in position?
    6. What are the house rules and restrictions? Will there be a curfew? Will I have a separate phone line? How will I pay for phone calls? Will I have access to a computer for emailing? Do you have a pet and will I be expected to care for the pet on top of my child care duties?
    7. Do the parents work inside or outside of the house?
    8. Does the family use video cameras to monitor the nanny and/or children?
    9. How do you expect your nanny to balance child care duties with household duties? Is housework a high priority?
    10. Have you employed a nanny before?
    11. Who was your best caregiver and why?
    12. What were the previous nanny's duties?
    13. Why did the previous nanny leave the job?
    14. What would you have changed about your relationship with the former nanny?
    15. What type of relationship would you like the nanny to develop with the children?
    16. What is the most important characteristic a nanny should posses to work well with your children?
    17. How would you describe yourselves as parents and as individuals?
    18. How would you describe your children?
    19. Do the children have a dietary restrictions or health concerns that I should be aware of?
    20. Are there any behavioral or developmental problems I should know about?
    21. How do you discipline your children? What forms of punishment do you use?
    22. How and when will we discuss discipline and issues that may come up with your children each week?
    23. Will I be expected to drive? Will I use your car or my own car? Are there any limitations in my use of the family car? What reimbursements will I receive for the use of my own car?
    24. Will there be a petty cash allowance available?
    25. What activities are the children already involved in? Will I be allowed to schedule the children's activities during the day?
    26. Will you travel? Will I be expected to accompany you? What would be my rate when we travel?
    27. Will I be expected to provide any overnight or 24-hour duty? What would be the rate for overnight duty?
    28. Are you expecting any major life changes in the near future such as a newborn, change of job, or move into a new house?
    29. What is the increase in salary in the event of a newborn or another change in job description?
    30. Do you have other household help? May I meet them?
    31. What is your back-up plan if I am sick?
    32. Would you allow me to speak with the previous nanny, a neighbor, or a relative for a reference about your family?

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    What Does Being Flexible at Your Nanny Job Really Mean?

    How Are You Flexible In Your Nanny Job?

    One common reason parents say they choose to hire nannies rather than using other childcare options is because nannies can be more flexible. When you read the help wanted ads and articles of characteristics nannies should have they all recommend someone that is flexible. But, being flexible can mean something different for every job. Before accepting a new nanny position it's important to understand exactly what the parents need when they are looking for a flexible nanny.

    Some parents have non-typical work hours or are on-call requiring a nanny to be available to work untypical work hours as well. Others might have to go to work early some days and come home late others so need to hire a caregiver that can adjust to their every changing work schedule. Many parents who advertise they are looking for a nanny that is flexible are hoping to find a caregiver who is willing to pitch-in and help them with more than just childcare, like taking out the trash, walking the dog, or letting in contractors working in the home. Most parents need someone that can to shift their time and energy from task to task with ease and be prepared to handle any situation that may arise when they are say they looking for a flexible employee.

    How are you flexible at your nanny job?

    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Six Baby Products Nannies Can't Live Without

    What's the One Baby Product You Could Not Live Without?

    Some of the baby products I could not live without are diapers, baby wipes, baby bottles, teethers, bouncer, and muslim burp cloths.

    Here are my favorite:

    1. Diapers
    I like senstive disposible diapers, especially Pampers Sensitive Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive Diapers

    But many parents and nannies prefer cloth diapers. I love bumGenius One-Size Snap Closure Cloth Diaperby Cotton Babies.

    2. Wet Wipes
    Not only are baby wipes great for cleaning baby tushies, but for wiping up messes, even for school-aged children. They are so useful for cleaning hands, wiping up spills, and cleaning messy faces after eating for children of all ages. I love sensitive Pampers Sensitive Wipes

    3. Baby Bottles
    Even when mothers breastfeed they need to have baby bottles so their caregivers can help feed their infants. Click here for our list of BPA Free baby bottles.

    4. Burp Cloths
    Infants spit up. Nannies and au pairs not only need extra baby clothes on hand, they should carry an extra clean shirt for themselves as well. After using dozens of brands of baby burp cloths my favorite by far are Aden by aden + anais 100% Cotton Muslin Burpy Bibburp cloths. They are made of lightweight muslin that is super absorbant and dry quickly. I also love that they are much bigger than other burp cloths I've tried over the years.

    5. Bouncer
    Having baby bouncers are essential for nannies that have to accomplish tasks around the house. Some baby bouncers have a gentle vibration you can choose to turn on that calms babies down.

    6. Teethers
    Babies constantly put things in their mouth. The most popular teether on the market is Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether Set of 2 I recommend buying two since you will need to be washing one all the time.

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Every Nanny Should Have a Copy of "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

    Weekly Trip to the Library
    Review by Elizabeth Kennedy, Guide

    Maurice Sendak, who passed away this week, was beloved by parents and children around the world who loved his children's books. If you don't already own a copy of Where the Wild Things Areby Maurice Sendak, now is the time to get your copy.

    Where the Wild Things Areby Maurice Sendak has become a classic. Winner of the 1964 Caldecott Medal as the "Most Distinguished Picture Book of the Year," it was first published by HarperCollins in 1963. When the book was written, the theme of dealing with dark emotions was rare in children's literature, especially in picture book format for young children.

    However, after more the 50-years, what keeps Where the Wild Things Are popular is not the impact of the book on the field of children's literature, it is the impact of the story and the illustrations on young readers. The plot of the book is based on the fantasy (and real) consequences of a little boy's mischief. One night Max dresses up in his wolf suit and does all kinds of things he shouldn't, like chasing the dog with a fork. His mother scolds him and calls him a "WILD THING!" Max is so mad he shouts back, "I'LL EAT YOU UP!" As a result, his mother sends him to his bedroom without any supper.

    Max's imagination transforms his bedroom into an extraordinary setting, with a forest and an ocean and a little boat that Max sails in until he comes to a land full of "wild things." Although they look and sound very fierce, Max is able to tame them with a single glance. They all realize Max is "..the most wild thing of all" and make him their king. Max and the wild things have a fine time creating a rumpus until Max begins to want to be "…where someone loved him best of all." Max's fantasy ends when he smells his dinner. Despite the wild things' protests, Max sails back to his own room where he finds his supper waiting for him.

    This is a particularly appealing story because Max is in conflict with both his mother and his own anger. Despite the fact that he is still angry when he is sent to his room, Max does not continue his mischief. Instead, he gives free rein to his angry emotions through his fantasy, and then, comes to a decision that he will no longer let his anger separate him from those whom he loves and who love him.

    Max is an engaging character. His actions, from chasing the dog to talking back to his mother are realistic. His emotions are also realistic. It's quite common for children to get angry and fantasize about what they could do if they ruled the world and then calm down and consider the consequences. Max is a child with whom most three- to six-year olds-readily identify.

    To sum up, Where the Wild Things Are is an excellent book. What makes it such an extraordinary book is the creative imagination of both Maurice Sendak the writer and Maurice Sendak the artist. The text and the artwork complement one another, moving the story along seamlessly. The transformation of Max's bedroom into a forest is a visual delight. Sendak's colored pen and ink illustrations in muted colors are both humorous and sometimes a little scary, reflecting both Max's imagination and his anger. The theme, conflict, and characters are ones with which readers of all ages can identify. I also know from personal experience that it is a book that children enjoy hearing again and again.

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    Do You Get Enough Sleep?

    Why Nannies Need to Get Enough Sleep

    Yesterday we asked nannies and au pairs how long they work each day. On our Facebook page 33 in-home childcare providers all answered they work more than eight-hours per day or a 40-hour work week.

    It's often hard to feel rested when caregivers have to wake up early and end work late while trying to balance their days with exercise, socializing, and such long work hours.

    It is vital that nannies and au pairs get enough rest to function well during their work day. The concern is that caregivers that are sleep deprived may not be alert enough to make sure the kids are safe and lack of sleep effects mood. Children deserve to be cared for by energetic caregivers that aren't cranky from not having enough sleep.

    The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends the following tips to help improve sleep:
    • Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule, including weekends.
    • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book or listening to soothing music.
    • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool.
    • Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress and comfortable pillows. Make sure they are allergen-free.
    • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
    • Finish eating at least two to three hours before your regular bedtime.
    • Exercise regularly. It is best to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime.
    • Avoid caffeine—coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate—close to bedtime.
    • Avoid nicotine—cigarettes and other tobacco products—close to bedtime.
    • Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. Although many people think of alcohol as a sedative, it actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings.
    Do you get enough sleep each night?

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Coping with Long Work Hours

    How Many Hours Do You Work Each Day?

    Most nannies work long hours -- certainly longer than the typical 40-hour work week. Although labor laws require workers be paid overtime and lunch and rest breaks during the work day it is impossible for nannies, au pairs, and sitters to leave children alone so they can leave and have a lunch or rest break.

    The problem with working long hours is research shows long work hours are associated with more stress and depression. Here are some suggestions for coping with long work hours.

    Go to Bed Earlier:
    "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise," says the old proverb. Turn off the computer, turn off the ringer on the cell phone, turn off the television, and save late night partying for the weekend. If you start work early in the morning start going to bed 15-minutes earlier for a week and keep doing so until a decent bedtime is reached.

    Sit Down to Eat:
    I never allow the kids to stand up and eat their meals but I've noticed I typically scarf down a little food while standing up during the work day. I typically have so much to do during the work day I usually feed the kids their food at the table but I never sit down to eat with them. While they eat I typically am putting away clean dishes, washing pans, returning calls, or organizing while they eat.

    Plan Healthy Meals and Snacks:
    Instead of just scarfing down the left overs I make for the kids I have to bring my meals and snacks to work.

    Rest While Kids Nap:
    Nannies often forget to sit down because they have a long list of duties to accomplish while the children are napping. But, all workers at any job can burn-out. Allowing 10-minutes to return personal phone calls and emails, use the rest room, clean up, or read the newspaper while the kids nap is perfectly appropriate time well spent. Reading also has been proven to help reduce stress, improve analytical thinking, sharpen memory, increase vocabulary, enhance writing skills, and as a great distraction.

    Exercise and Get Some Fresh Air:
     We all know exercise reduces stress and more energy. Don't just send the kids outside to play, get outside and play with them. We all can use some sun and fresh air. Take walks by pushing the baby stroller. Walk older kids to school and activities as much as possible. Take bike rides with older kids. Be sure to take walks, jog, or join a gym before and after work.

    Balance is the key to life. Socializing reduces stress. During work hours plan to meet other nannies, au pairs, and parents for playdates, activities, and lunch. After work, join activities that you love like a book club, volunteering at a pet shelter, work out at the YMCA, a college course or adult school, or a house of worship.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    What's Your Favorite Lullaby?

    Effect of Lullabies
    By Gary Ronberg from

    Years of research show that soft, slow, methodical music and words -- such as those of a lullaby -- can lull the mind to sleep by inducing delta waves in the brain. "Music exists in every culture, and infants have excellent musical abilities that cannot be explained by learning," says Dr. Norman Weinberger, professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California at Irvine. "Mothers everywhere sing to their infants because babies understand it. Music seems to be part of our biological heritage."

    From the Womb
    "There are whole studies--there are actual recordings to what the baby actually hears in utero," says Dr. Patricia St. John, an adjunct assistant professor of music education at Columbia University. She refers to the recordings of Dr. Sheila C. Woodward, chairwoman of music education at the University of Southern California, whose research may explain, in part, why newborns are more tuned to their mothers' voices than to their fathers' voices. Most children inherently love music and rhythm, and are inclined to move to the beat of music as soon as they are able. "They sing before they talk," says St. John. "They dance before they walk."

    Lullaby Learning
    In her book, Super Baby: Boost Your Baby's Potential from Conception to Year Dr. Sarah Brewer of Cambridge University notes that a baby's ears "are fully formed around the 20th week of development, and your baby's brain will begin to show electrical responses to sounds heard outside the womb before 24-weeks." Additionally, researchers at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom discovered that babies will even breathe in time to music selections they enjoy---and "can remember and prefer music heard before birth over a year later."

    Introduction to Language
    By singing a lullaby to her baby, a mother initiates the child's introduction to language with the "simple-pitch contours" of speech and "repeating rhythms" of music. "Both contain many elongated vowel sounds," explains Weinberger. "There is little distinction between infant-directed speech and song." As children begin to grow, they soon join in the fun by singing along. "Setting words to music actually helps the brain learn them more quickly and retain them longer," says Diane Bales of the University of Georgia's Department of Child and Family Development. "That's why we remember the lyrics of songs we sang as children -- even if we haven't heard them in years."

    Intellectual Development
    According to Brewer, research shows that babies who are musically stimulated talk up to six-months earlier and reflect heightened intellectual development. This development refers to the increase of spatial understanding and intelligence necessary for jigsaw puzzles and such higher brain functions as mathematics, music and chess. According to a study by the University of Georgia 's Department of Child and Family Development, children who grow up listening to music also develop music-related connections in their brains that may influence the way they think.

    Emotional Recognition
    A study at Case Western Reserve University showed how children six- to 12-years old judged the varied emotions of 30 selections in J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. According to the study, the children "show a surprising degree of emotional sensitivity and accuracy"--particularly six-year-old children without any musical training. In the study, "happy" was associated with high rhythmic activity and staccato articulation, "sad" with low rhythmic activity and legato, "excited" with high rhythmic activity in triple meter, and "calm" with low rhythmic activity in duple meter.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    Do You Care for a Child with Severe Food Allergy?

    How to Treat a Child with Anaphylaxis

    Food allergies in children jumped 18-percent from 1997 to 2007. One out of every 25 children, or 5.9 million, has a food allergy according to a study published last year in "Pediatrics" the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Of those children, nearly 40-percent have a history of severe reactions.

    The eight foods that make up 90% of all food allergies include: peanut, tree nut, milk or dairy, egg, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.

    The most severe reaction to food allergies is anaphylaxis, a reaction causing swelling throughout the body including the airways making it hard to breathe and a sudden and dramatic loss of blood pressure. Anaphylaxis is always a medical emergency and can be fatal if untreated.

    Symptoms of anaphylaxis are:
    • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
    • Changes in consciousness (including confusion, light-headedness, or stupor)
    • Rapid swelling throughout the body
    • Hives
    • Blue skin
    • Severe abdominal pain, nausea, or diarrhea

    Be especially alert to the possibility of anaphylaxis in a child with nut or shellfish allergies, or in any patient who has ever experienced a systemic (whole-body) allergic reaction.

    Get help. Call 911 (or your local emergency services number) or have someone drive the child to the hospital immediately and call ahead to let the hospital know you're coming. Even with proper administration of medication, many patients with anaphylaxis need additional specialized support.

    Administer adrenalin (epinephrine) as soon as possible. Patients whose doctors have identified them as likely to experience anaphylactic shock will have been prescribed some form of rescue medication and told when to use it. Epi-Pen is one of the most common brands. Patients should keep this on their person at all times, and family members and school medical personnel should learn how to administer this medication in the event that the patient has lost consciousness.

    Be prepared to administer CPR. Because cardiac arrest is a possibility with anaphylactic shock, one of the best investments you can make in your family's safety is for every member of your family who is old enough to take CPR training, which is available through the American Red Cross (among other organizations). If your loved one has lost consciousness, check their pulse and breathing periodically and administer CPR as appropriate until emergency services arrive.

    We highly recommend having a child with a severe food allergy wear a bracelet or dog tag identifying what food allergy the child is allergic too. We highly recommend AllerMates products.

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Do You Care for a Child with Asthma?

    Asthma and Allergy Awareness

    Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be "National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month." It's a peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers, and a perfect time to educate family, friends, and others about these diseases.

    Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. Indoor allergens and irritants play a significant role in triggering asthma attacks. Triggers are things that can cause asthma symptoms, an episode, or attack or make asthma worse. If a child you care for has asthma, they may react to just one trigger or you may find that several things act as triggers. Be sure to work with a doctor to identify triggers and develop a treatment plan that includes ways to reduce exposures to their asthma triggers.

    Common asthma triggers include: secondhand smoke, dust mites, molds, cockroaches and pests, pets, stress, and chemical irritants.

    Common asthma symptoms include: cough, tight feeling in the chest, wheezing, activity limitation, and feeling tired. Keeping track of the child's symptoms will help you stay in control of their asthma.

    medications. Also keep a detailed log recording what type of medicine, the amount of the medication, and time you administered the medication to the child. Keep the records so you can show the list to the parents and healthcare providers.

    Make sure you know the child's asthma action plan created by the child's doctors and parents so you know what to do in an emergency. The asthma action plan tells you the steps you need to take in an emergency situation. It should list what medicines to administer and how to administer medication. The action plan should include: emergency telephone numbers for the doctor, emergency department, rapid transportation, and family/friends for support.

    Sunday, May 13, 2012

    Do You Care for a Child with Allergies? Try AllerMates for Safer Playdates

    Allergy-Conscious Mom Takes Action with AllerMates
    Allergy Awareness Week May 13-19

    A mother of a child with multiple food allergies was frustrated by the lack of allergy-related kid-friendly products so she took action and created AllerMates, a new line of bright, fun, whimsical wristbands, dog tags, and lunch boxes that her son would happily embrace.

    Nannies and au pairs of children with allergies can now enjoy the safety and security of knowing the kids in their care are protected against unwanted allergens when they wear or use AllerMates products away from home.

    AllerMates products are based on 14 fun original cartoon-like characters that represent the most common allergies: peanut, nut, gluten and wheat, milk, egg, shellfish, penicillin, insect sting, latex, pollen, fish, soy, sesame, and cat.

    "No matter how many forms I signed or how many times I spoke to the teacher the inevitable happened," says Iris Shamus, Founder of AllerMates.

    "My son and another allergic classmate were offered food they weren't supposed to have. So, I set out to create something more personalized so that a teacher or caregiver would always be aware of his allergies," explains Shamus.

    She continues, "AllerMates wristbands gave me a sense of comfort and security I couldn't have without them."

    For more information about AllerMates call 866-245-1370 or email

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    10 Best Children's Books for Mother's Day

    Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

    Yesterday we listed some games and gift ideas for nannies and au pairs to do with the kids. But, children's books are always a great gift for children, nannies, and au pairs to give to mothers as well. Below are our 10 favorite children's books about mothers.

    1. My Mom by Anthony Browne
    This book is a tribute to all of the roles mothers play, from cook and gardener to the good fairy who makes a sad child happy and the juggler who juggles multiple responsibilities. Best of all, according to the child who describes her, “SHE LOVES ME! (And she always will.).”

    2. Mommy Hugs by Karen Katz
    Mommy and baby count and cuddle as they hug and read about the baby's day of fun in Mommy Hugs! This bestselling Karen Katz title is now available as an over-sized lap edition perfect for reading aloud!

    3. Someday by Alison McGhee
    This is a wonderful story of a mom watching her daughter grow up and become a mom. The pen, ink, and watercolor sketches have the same soft sentimentality as the text. Great gift for new mothers and gift-givers.

    4. I Love You More by Laura Duksta
    This is two books in one. Read one way, it is the parent who responds to the child's question, "Just how much do you love me?" With the book turned over and read from the back, the mother asks the question of her son. Both answers are given in rhyming couplets as the pair try to prove the depth and strength of their love.

    5. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse
    A little girl asks questions until she is sure her mother's love is unconditional. This story focuses on the question all children hope for: their parents will always love them no matter what the child does. This story confirms for children young and old, that no matter what they do, their mothers (and fathers) will still love them.

    6. Tell Me a Story, Mama by Angela Johnson
    A young girl and her mother remember together all the girl's favorite stories about her mother's childhood.

    7. Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
    A mother expresses her love for her child as he grows. When she is old and frail it's the child's turn to express his love. A must have for every family's library.

    8. A Gift for Mama by Esther Hautzig
    For children seven- to 10-years old the story shows how it's better for children to make presents rather than buy them. When you make something the end result isn't the sum total of the project - there is time and love and thought involved. Mama wasn't immediately impressed by her wonderful store bought present as Anna hoped, as soon as she learned the amount of work and time that was spent in earning that money is when she truly understood the impact of the gift.

    9. My Mommy and Me by Karen Hill
    This board book becomes a picture frame, with a slot for a photo on the cover and a sturdy stand in back. Inside, a daughter and mom dress up fancy for cookies and tea, gaze into a bright blue sky, "counting birds that fly so high," and build castles with pots and pans.

    10. Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro-Ng
    A little girl wishes she could be with her Grandma and one night, she gets her wish when a golden ladder appears at her window, and Grandma Annie invites the girl to come along with her on a magical journey.

    Stop by tomorrow for Product Review Sunday for products nannies love.

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Boy Breast Feeds on Time Magazine Cover

    At What Age Were the Chidren Been When the Mothers You Have Worked for Stopped Breast Feeding?

    I wasn't going to post about the Time magazine cover showing a boy breast feeding from his mother. Discussions over this photo on the cover of the magazine have spread like wildfire all over the Internet.
    But, nannies are a more compassionate audience when it comes to the topic of breast feeding and Attachment Parenting.

    And I wonder if a nanny easily work for parents that follow the attachment parenting philosophy if s/he does not agree with the same philosophy?

    Click here to ear a video clip and read more about the eight principles of attachment parenting.
    The Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting:1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
    2. Feed with Love and Respect
    3. Respond with Sensitivity
    4. Use Nurturing Touch
    5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
    6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
    7. Practice Positive Discipline
    8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

    Do You Give Your Mom Boss a Mother's Day Gift?

    What to Give Mother Employers for Mother's Day

    Flowers are a traditional gift for any occasion and are always great for Mother's Day! Nannies  can't go wrong simply giving their Mom Boss an inexpensive Mother's Day cardor baking them a favorite dessert. But, commonly nannies simply help their charges make something for their mother for a Mother's Day gift.

    I love helping the kids make homemade Mother's Day cards. I like tracing the kids' hands on the card and writing, "Best Mom Hands Down!" alongside the hand prints. Another fun idea for a Mother's Day card from the kids is when they make coupons for their mother to redeem. The coupons can include chores and loving sentiments. For example, some coupons to include could be "One huge hug from me," "A huge kiss from your loving daughter," or "Set the dinner table."

    The perfect Mother's Day gift to give to your Mom Boss is a children's books about Mothers. She will love being able to read the book with her children. We will list our favorite children's books to give as Mother's Day gifts tomorrow for our Weekly Trip to the Library.

    Another great gift is having the kids paint inexpensive terra cotta pots. Once the pots are dry, the kids can help add you add dirt to the pot and water the plant.

    Another lovely gift is to let the kids decorate a picture frame. You add a photo of the children in the frame.

    Here are some fun games to get the children prepared for Mother's Day!

    How Much Do You Know About Your Mother?

    You might have to play this on Mother's Day when you have enough mothers and children available. But, see if the kids can answer the questions below about their mother before Mother's Day.

    Divide into four mother/child teams.
    Ask the mothers to leave the room while the children sit in chairs.
    Ask the same four or five questions to each child about their mothers.
    Bring in the mothers and ask them the same questions.
    Will the mother and child have the same answers?
    Switch places and see how well the mother's know the children.
    Award a red carnation to the winning mother/child team.

    Question Ideas:

    What is your mother's favorite: color, movie, dress, animal, memorable moment with you, best friend, hobby, talent, food, animal, cartoon, pizza topping, ice cream topping, or restaurant? What was your mother's most embarrassing moment? What is your mother's favorite holiday?

    Mother May I?
    This game is similar to Simon Says, where the person giving the command also has to give permission to carry it out.

    Children listen carefully and ask, "Mother, may I?"
    The response must be, "Yes you may."
    If the response is only, "Yes," then the person may not carry out the task.
    A variation of this game is Giant Steps.
    The mother stands at a distance from the other players who are lined up.
    The mother calls out the name of each student before giving a specific command ("Jimmy, you may take three giant steps," or "Bertina, you may take one baby step").
    Students have to say "Mother, may I?" before they show any movement of their body.
    The group will get closer and closer to the mother.
    The one who finally gets close enough to touch the mother becomes the next mother.
    The game begins all over again.

    Games excerpted from Multicultural Discovery Activities for the Elementary Grades

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Finding a Part-Time Babysitting Job for Extra Money

    What Advice Can You Share with Nannies Looking for Part-Time, Weekend Babysitting Jobs for Extra Income?

    A reader of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter who works as a full-time nanny asked me how she should find part-time weekend babysitting job for extra income. If you are considering finding some part-time, weekend babysitting jobs for extra income here are my suggestions.

    First, I recommend you consider how much time you really can devote to the weekend babysitting job. I recommend considering if you want a temporary weekend job (for a few weeks or months) or a permanent weekend babysitting job. Parents hiring part-time nannies are often looking for consistent, reliable care just like parents hiring full-time caregivers so be sure you have the time and energy to actually commit to the part-time weekend job before looking for the job.

    The easiest way to find extra babysitting jobs is simply by asking the parents you already know in town through your full-time nanny job. I have found plenty of weekend babysitting jobs word-of-mouth.

    Some nannies I know have successfully made their own flyers to hang up around town. For example, I've seen flyers including brief information about an experienced nanny looking for part-time babysitting job for $15 per hour. You can hang these flyers at the library or local YMCA. But, you must be cautious to make sure you screen all parents carefully before meeting with strangers.

    Next, register on online nanny and babysitter web sites. Nanny job listing web sites are usually free for job candidates and the families pay to search the database so it's an easy way to search part-time jobs. Some sites allow parents to post their part-time jobs. Again, you must be very careful before interviewing with parents you have never met that contact you online.

    Also, apply to nanny agencies that place temporary nannies. Again, there isn't a cost for the job applicant to sign up with a nanny agency, the parents pay the fees.

    Be sure to bring your stellar nanny resume with you to all interviews. Even if you are just looking for part-time weekend babysitting you will stand out from the crowd if you bring your resume. Click here to see how to make a resume.

    Follow the same interview process you would when applying to full-time nanny jobs. Bring a list of questions with you to the interview. Ask about each child's routine and special needs, the schedule, and responsibilities. Click here for a list of questions to ask parents during a job interview.

    Be sure to arrive dressed conservatively for the interview. Most nannies and agency owners recommend that nanny candidates dress business casual for job interviews. Interviewees should choose clean, well-pressed clothes. In-home job candidates should avoid wearing large jewelry, heavy make-up, clothing that exposes tattoos, and tight or low-cut shirts. Prospective employees should not smell like cigarette smoke, coffee, or wear cologne or perfume.

    What advice can you share with nannies about finding part-time, weekend babysitting jobs for extra income?

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    Is it OK to Leave a Preschooler in a Car Unattended?

    Why I Left My Preschooler in the Car Unattended
    By Patricia-Anne Tom for Circle of Moms, in Washington Post

    While you might think the answer should be a resounding, "no," many Circle of Moms members say the answer is not so cut and dry. Most moms "know" it’s wrong — and in some states even illegal — to leave children in a car unattended, Yet many moms are sympathetic to Treffly Coyne’s story. This mom found herself on trial for charges of child endangerment because she left her toddler alone in the car for a few minutes, less than 10 yards away, as her other child donated money to a Salvation Army collection bucket.

    "There are few words for what a bad decision I think the police and the justice system made on this one, to traumatize a mother, her children and the whole family over something like that," says Circle of Moms member Johnny. "I do not think it is a good idea to leave one's child in the car for more than a few minutes or to have the car out of your sight. But this case is nothing like when people leave kids in a car to go shopping or play in the casino or something."

    Other moms, however, point out the unexpected risks of leaving a preschooler in an unattended car for even a minute, such as choking, becoming unbuckled and hurting himself in the car, being car jacked or kidnapped, or being hit by another car from behind. Many say they would rather play it safe than face consequences for breaking the law or be forced to live with guilt for the rest of their lives should something unforeseen happen to their child.

    "I don't leave my kids in the car for any reason, ever, period," says Shana R. "Yes, heat stroke is a legitimate concern, but I'm more concerned about car jackings and abductions. I have three kids, ages 3, 5 and 8. I'm a mom to always err on the side of caution, no matter how inconvenient it may be."

    Others, including a mom named Anna B., believe that Shana’s rule doesn’t take into account individual circumstances that might make breaking the law acceptable. Moms members with multiples, in particular, admit that sometimes it’s easier to leave a child (or two) unattended in a car, as long as he is in view, to accomplish small tasks like paying for gas, or picking up another sibling from a school’s front steps.

    "It is a rare occasion that I do not leave at least one of my children in the van ... if not all three," says mom Jodi, who has a nearly three-year-old and twin one-year-olds. She, too, will leave her children unattended when she needs to retrieve and return a grocery cart. And, it is impossible to carry all children into her house at the same time if they fall asleep in the car. So she takes one child into the house at a time while she is parked in her garage with the door closed and her keys in her pocket. "I am not waking up my kids when all three are sound asleep," she says. "Unless I hire someone to be here with me anytime I might have to leave just to help me with kids in and out of vehicles, someone gets left behind for a minute or less."

    Kerry E. says leaving a preschooler in the car alone might be okay, depending on the child’s age. And Nikki S. feels that when you’re from a small town or safe neighborhood, the risks of leaving your child unattended can be lower. Mom Sharame L. agrees, pointing out that leaving a child in the car unattended for a minute might even be the safest option, such as when it’s sleeting or freezing.

    Anna B. notes taking her three children, ages 3 months, 22 months and 3 ½ years, with her through a parking lot is more dangerous than leaving them alone in the car. "The parking lot is hands-down the most dangerous place I take them," she explains, noting she sometimes leaves them in the car unattended while she returns a shopping cart. "It's easy to say that it's always best to take your kids with you. It looks good on paper. It is not always safer," she says. "Sometimes I think people lay hard, fast rules about things like this because they don't understand the concept of judgment."

    Even MeMe, who is "very firm" on "always taking her young children with her because you never know what could happen in just a minute or two, acknowledges that moms have to evaluate and mitigate each situation’s individual risks. "Just because one person would not do it the same as another does not mean they are saying the other's way is wrong … We all love our kids and do our best," she says.

    I personally believe you should not leave your preschooler unattended in the car because you never know what could happen. But, I once left my son unattended in the car after he unexpectedly fell asleep on the way to a play date. The weather was cool, I kept the windows down, he was in sight in the driveway as I sat on the front porch, and I put a baby monitor in the vehicle for added safety. My overstepping the law allowed him to have fun with his friend once he woke up half an hour later. So as a practical matter, it's all about common sense and situational safety.