Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weekly Trip to the Library

The Practical Guide For Reading Aloud to Children During Their First Five Years

Susan Marx and Barbara Kasok, authors of Help Me Get Ready To Read: The Practical Guide For Reading Aloud To Children During Their First Five Yearsexplain that when you read aloud to children you are fostering their self-esteem by creating a nurturing environment and being a positive role model.

Reading Aloud to Children Creates a Nurturing Environment By:
  • giving a child positive feedback
  • considering the child's age and stage of development, interests, and attention span
  • turning off the TV
  • not answering the phone
  • connecting things that happen in books to your child's real-life experiences
  • asking the child to read books to you
  • connecting books that you have read together by pointing out similarities and differences
Be a Positive Role Model By:
  • telling the child how much you enjoy reading books together
  • giving books as gifts to the child and others on special occasions
  • laughing with a child when reading silly books
  • choosing and reading books of their own
  • handling books with care
  • being patient and focused while reading aloud with the child
  • looking for opportunities to learn new things
Establish Read-Aloud Routines By:
  • setting up reading times such as at nap or bedtime, or story hour
  • finding a quiet reading place such as a bed, chair, or reading corner
  • placing books in a basket or on a shelf to make them accessible to the child
  • encouraging the child to select books to read aloud together
  • avoiding reading scary books at bedtime
  • bringing favorite books along when you go away from home
  • arranging library visits as a regular activity
  • exchanging books with other families
The authors recommend the following children's books to read with children to help them develop early literacy concepts and skills on some favorite topics.

All About Me
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, Harcourt, 2008. Rhyming text and illustrations of babies born in different places around the world tell how children are all alike. It is so much fun reading this lap board book with little ones.

Families and Friends
Owl Babiesby Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson, Candlewick, 1972. Three baby owls worry while their mother is away and are happy when she returns at the end of the story.

Bee-Bim Bop!by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee, Clarion, 2005. In this book that includes a recipe, a young girl helps her mom shop so they can cook a favorite dish for their family.

The Cow Loves Cookiesby Karma Wilson, illustrated by Marcellus Hall, McElderry, 2010. Animals on a farm love eating their own foods, but an unusual cow loves eating cookies in this humorous story.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague, Blue Sky, 2000. Imaginative illustrations fill the pages along with rhyming text that asks and answers questions about dinosaurs’ bedtime behavior.

Things That Go
Tip Tip Dig Dig Boxer, 2007. Simple text combines with illustrations of construction vehicles to describe the work the trucks do building an adventure playground.

Who Likes Rain?by Wong Herbert Yee, Holt, 2007. A young girl learns the answer to the title question after venturing outside during an April rain.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Outdoor Alphabet Games for Nannies and Au Pairs

photo from
What Are Your Favorite Ways to Teach Kids the Alphabet?

Nannies and au pairs play an important role in teaching children. Here aer some ways to help children learn the letters of the alphabet while getting outside to enjoy the nice weather. They will be having so much fun they won't realize they are learning.

Alphabet Bean Bag Toss:
Using sidewalk chalk on the driveway or black top, or by spreading a solid-colored vinyl tablecloth or an old shower curtain liner on the ground and a permanent marker, write all the letters of the alphabet evenly spaced and large enough to be seen from a few feet away. Invite the children to toss a bean bag onto the alphabet game board, saying the letter the bag lands on and then a word that starts with that letter. 

Alphabet Hunt:
Tape or staple cardboard letters onto craft sticks. Put the sticks in the ground so the children can follow the path of following the letters in alphabetic order from letter "A" to letter "B" until they reach the letter "Z." Have a special snack waiting for them at the end of their alphabet hunt.

On a Hike or Nature Walk:
As you hike a trail with your kids and their friends, have them call out the letters of the alphabet one by one. If they see an apple, that person will say, "Apple" out loud, and the group moves on to the letter "B." If someone sees a bug, the game moves on to the letter "C." If someone sees a canary, you all move on to the letter "D." This is a team game full of team spirit, so cheer each other on.

Alphabet Moves:
Take each letter of the alphabet and do some type of outdoor movement that relates to that letter.
For example, for the letter "A" have the kids walk like animals such as jump like a kangaroo, walk like a crab, and so on.

Here are some other Outdoor Alphabet Moves:

B: Bounce balls.
C: Climb or clap your hands while singing the alphabet.
D: Dance to music in the sunshine.
E: Elephant walk.
F: Pretend to fly and flutter like a butterfly.
G: Gallop like a horse.
H: Play hopscotch and use hula hoops.
I: Play "Pass the ice cube."
J: Jump rope.
K: Fly a kite.
L: Play leap frog.
M: March with maracas.
N: Take a nature walk.
O: Set up an obstacle course.
P: Play in the puddles.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Teaching Styles for Nannies

How Do You Teach the Kids in Your Care?
By Become a Nanny

Whether a nanny focuses on the children’s education formally or informally, each day she is teaching the children in her care about themselves and the world around them.

While how involved a nanny is with a child’s formal education will vary based on several factors, such as the child’s age, the parent’s desire, and even the nanny’s background, nannies in many ways, outside of the parents, serve as a child’s first teacher.

As you embrace your role as nanny, consider the ways you can impart wisdom and knowledge to the children in your care.

1. Incorporate lesson plans. Many nannies, especially those with a preschool or early childhood education background enjoy creating and implementing lesson plans with the children in their care. Some nanny employers may purchase curriculum for their nannies to use, and others create lesson plans based around the child’s interest and skill levels using resources that are available for free on the Internet. For governesses and other nannies who are educationally qualified to formally teach children, homeschooling may be part of their duties and responsibilities, and formal lesson plans may be required. Depending on the temperament of the child and the stress placed on the nanny’s role as formal educator, lesson plans may be utilized.

2. Take advantage of natural learning moments. When caring for children, there are always natural teaching opportunities that arise. Labeling things and items with descriptive terms, like "Look at that small blue bird" can promote language development and vocabulary building. While making lunch, try cutting cheese slices into various shapes and counting out blueberries to help with shape identification and counting. Explaining how things work, at an age appropriate level, can help children learn and understand the world around them. Simple commentary like "Look, when I mix blue paint and yellow paint it turns the paint green" can provide valuable insight into our world. Most nannies strive to take advantage of the natural learning moments that are presented each day. Doing so provides a no pressure way for children to learn about and discover new things.

3. Have theme weeks. Theme weeks provide children with an opportunity to explore a segment of their world. For a farm theme week, for example, children could be encouraged to play with farm toys and animals, take a trip to a farm, read books about the farm, cut strips of yellow paper to make hay and make their own ice cream from fresh cow’s milk. With theme weeks, nannies can focus on something that really interests the children and provide age-appropriate opportunities for the child to experience that topic with all of his senses. For families with different aged children, theme works can be a viable style for teaching because different activities can be used for different skill and age levels.

4. Teach as you go. Many nannies follow the lead of the children and whatever the child’s interest is becomes the educational focus. If the child shows an interest in cars, the nanny may look for opportunities to learn about cars to factor into the child’s day. If the child is interested in chocolate chip cookies, the nanny and child may prepare a simple recipe and bake cookies together. Teaching as you go allows for a children-led exploration of the world.

Regardless of the teaching style a nanny uses, for young children, it should be child driven and play focused. Structured education should also be balanced with opportunities for outside play, creative play and arts and crafts, as well as time for rest and time to play with other children. "A child’s play is his work," said famous German educator Friedrich Froebel. Most of today’s nannies would agree.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Reasons Nanny Care May Be Cheaper Than Daycare

Do You Think Parents Choose Daycare Over a Nanny Because Daycare is Cheaper?

While many parents think that nanny care is the most expensive childcare option available, this isn’t always the case. For families with several children in need of care or parents who work odd hours, nanny care may actually be cheaper than daycare. If you’re looking for quality childcare, don’t rule out the possibility of hiring a nanny, because it may be more affordable than you think. Here are five reasons why.
  1. With a nanny you pay per family, not per child. According to the International Nanny Association 2012 Salary and Benefits Survey, nannies earn $700 gross per week on average. While nannies are often given a 5% increase (see note below) if a child is born during their employment with a family, the gross weekly salary doesn’t vary much based on family size. With daycare, you are paying per slot. If daycare costs you $1500 per month, per child, hiring a nanny could end up being cheaper. Please note that Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide asked 72 nanny placement agencies the average increase in nanny salary with the arrival of a newborn. The average salary increase is 7% to 10%, or an average of $50 to $100 more per week.
  2. When you have a nanny, you set the hours. Daycares tend to have standard hours that start and end somewhere between 6am and 6pm. Securing daycare outside of these hours typically involves an added expense. In fact, some daycares charge parents per minute for every minute that they are late for a scheduled pickup. As a nanny employer, you can set the nanny’s hours to coordinate with your work schedule. If you require childcare for long or odd hours, having a nanny may be cheaper than sending the kids to daycare when you factor in the added expenses for early or late care.
  3. When the kids are mildly ill, you still have coverage. Most daycares have strict rules when it comes to sending kids to daycare with any type of illness. When you have a nanny, caring for mildly ill children is part of the job. If you have to secure a backup babysitter for when the kids can’t go to daycare then it’s an added expense over and above what you are already spending. With a nanny, it’s an expense you won’t have to incur.
  4. During school vacations and breaks, your nanny is still there. Many daycares follow public school schedules. If there is a break or holiday, the daycare may close. When this happens, you’ll incur additional expenses to secure childcare. While nannies typically get the major holidays off as well, you can negotiate what holidays she will get off when she is hired.
  5. You’re the boss, you set the pay scale. Unlike with the price of daycare, a nanny’s salary can be negotiable. As a nanny employer, it’s up to you what to offer to pay your nanny. You set the rules, you outline the duties and responsibilities, and you establish the salary you are willing to offer. Nannies salaries differ greatly depending on geographical area, experience, education, and the duties and responsibilities of the job.
When you consider the overall cost of childcare, you may be surprised to find out that hiring a nanny is within your reach. Looking at the big picture and depending on your care needs, you may find that daycare could end up costing you more than having a nanny in the long run.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do Weekly Meetings Really Work?

Do Nannies and Parents Really Have the Time to Have Weekly Meetings?

Since my first interview with a nanny agency back in the 1990s I have been encouraged to have weekly meetings with the parents to ensure effective communication with my employers.

The concept of having weekly meetings is great. If nannies and au pairs have the time to meet with at least one parent without the children present once a week, it is an opportunity to talk to one another about the children or any issues that come up about the job. The concept is that nannies, au pairs, and the parent can bring up any issues during that time each week in a professional and respectful manner.

But, it my personal experience of working as a nanny for seven different families over many years, and despite the best of intentions, a weekly meeting never happens.

Parents are tired when they arrive home from work and I'm exhausted after 10- to 12-hour work days. Plus, the kids demand their parents' complete attention the moment they walk in the door.

Each family is different, but what has worked best for me is emailing the parents a well thought-out email to their personal email address, texting or calling them personally for emergencies, and using a daily log to just share important milestones of the childrens' day that don't require contacting the parents while they are working. Instead of a weekly meeting, I suggest including a set time to evaluate work performance at a set time the work agreement (such as every three- or six-months).

Each parent and family is different. Whether the parents can accept texts, emails, or phone calls during the work day will vary. So nannies, au pairs, and employers will have to determine works best for them.

If you haven't used a daily log I recommend buying a three-ring binder or folder. Nannies should list what the children eat each day on the daily log sheet. When working with infants caregivers should record the times and amounts the infant eats, when and how long they nap, and how many times their diapers were changed. Any change in feeding or diaper changes should be noted.

When working with older children, nannies should list the indoor and outdoor activities of the children, homework completed, and their mood during the day. Parents love when nannies list developmental milestones or describe funny moments with the children.

In essence, the weekly meeting of caregivers and their employers makes sense. There is no doubt it is essential that in-home childcare providers and the parents that employ them both value their professional relationship. But I have found writing emails, texting, calling, and maintaining daily logs more successful.

How do you communicate with the parents when something important comes up with your job?

Monday, June 25, 2012

5 Pool Safety Tips for Nannies

What to Know Before Going to the Pool
By Monta Fleming of

With the long summer days upon us it’s likely that at some point your charges are going to be begging for a trip to the pool. However, taking the kids to the pool can be a risky adventure if you aren’t properly equipped, and parents can be apprehensive about sending their little ones off to swim with their nanny. To help ensure your skills are up to par and your ward’s parents are at ease, take these 5 water safety tips into consideration:

1.      Make sure you are CPR and first aid certified – Should some sort of accident occur to a child in your care it is imperative that you be able to respond quickly and knowledgeably. Having your first aid and CPR certification current can make all the difference. The Red Cross recommends taking the course every two-years. 

2.      Never leave children unattended – The responsibility falls on your shoulders in the event of a water-related accident, so never take your eyes off a child. If you don’t think you can realistically keep an unwavering eye on him, then going to the pool, or in the backyard pool, should not be an option. Avoid texting on your cell phone or reading a book while a child in your care is in the pool. The risks are just too great.

3.      Take swimming lessons – All the safety training in the world could end up being completely in vain if you don’t know how to swim yourself. While you don’t have to be a world-class swimmer, you should feel confident enough in your abilities that you are able to handle both yourself and your charge in the water.

4.      Insist on flotation devices – If the children in your care are young or are unsure of their swimming abilities then flotation devices should be worn in the water at all times. Wearing floatation devices should be non-negotiable for all young children. However, even with the addition of these safety devices, nannies should still keep a vigilant eye on the children.

5.      Be very clear about the rules to the kids – Every trip to the pool should come with a serious reminder about the rules for going to the pool. For instance, there should be no running, life jackets or flotation devices should be worn at all times, and the children should never stray from the nanny. If they aren’t willing to adhere to the specified rules then a trip to the pool shouldn’t be in order.

While swimming at the pool may be a summertime favorite, it’s something that should be approached very cautiously when you, as the nanny, are responsible for taking the kids. There is too much at stake for even the smallest mistake.
Monta the mother of three children serves as an Expert Advisor on multiple household help issues to many Organizations and groups, and is a mentor for other “Mom-preneurs” seeking guidance.  She is a regular contributor of “senior care jobs.”  You can get in touch with her at montafleming6Atgmail dotcom

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Best Sunscreens

The Good News: EWG's Best Sunscreens

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)  has a database with an in-depth analysis of the safety and effectiveness of more than 700 name-brand sunscreens. The database lists products that offer the best combination of safety and effectiveness: they are formulated with the safest chemicals, are most effective at protecting against sunburn, and help prevent long-term damage caused by the sun’s UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging, wrinkling and, potentially, cancer.

This is the EWG's List of Best Sunscreens:

All Terrain
1. All-Terrain Aqua Sport Performance Sunscreen Very Water/Sweat Resistant SPF 30, 3-Ounces (Pack of 2)
2. Performance Sunblocks TerraSport SPF 30 6 oz
3. KidSport SPF 30 - 3 oz - Liquid


Beyond Coastal

California Baby

Caribbean Solutions

Dessert Essence



Jason Natural Cosmetics

Kabana Skin Care

L’uvalla Certified Organic

La Roche-Posay

Little Forest

Loving Naturals


Purple Prairie Botanicals

Soleo Organics

thinkbaby and thinksport


UV Natural


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Undoubtedly you have heard, "A picture tells a thousand words." Well, in The Lion and the Mouse, Jerry Pinkney retells the well-known Aesop's fable of the lion and the mouse, by letting his stunning illustrations tell the story.

Pinkney retains to the basic storyline of a ferocious lion sparing a mouse that he'd planned to eat. Later, the mouse comes to the lions rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap.

The moral of this Aesop's fable is that no good deed goes unrewarded.

This book was awarded the Caldecott Medal: Most distinguished American picture book for children in 2010.

Review Excerpts:
“The ambiguity that results from the lack of words in this version allows for a slower, subtle, and ultimately more satisfying read. Moments of humor and affection complement the drama. A classic tale from a consummate artist.” (School Library Journal)

“By retelling Aesop’s fable entirely in his signature pencil and watercolor art, Pinkney encourages closer exploration of the pleasing detail with which he amplifies it… It will be a challenge for libraries to make every gorgeous surface available, but it’s a challenge worth taking on.” (Horn Book Review)

“Pinkney’s soft, multihued strokes make everything in the jungle seem alive, right down to the rocks, as he bleeds color to indicate movement” (Booklist)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saying No and Sticking To It About Lying

Advice from The Answer is NO by Cynthia Whitman

Yesterday we started sharing advice from the book, The Answer is NO by Cynthia Whitman about getting nothing but the truth from children that lie. Today we share her final recommendations for handling children that lie.

The Answer is NO by Cynthia Whitman discusses all sorts of difficult issues parents and caregivers come across on a daily basis. If you are like most caregivers and find yourself struggling with issues like children that bite, swear, have bad manners, or dress inappropriately, I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Answer is NO by Cynthia Whitman today. Click link below to purchase a copy of your own.

Whitman's Advice for Coping with Kids That Lie:

1. Don't interrogate. If you are pretty sure the child has done something you don't like, make a statement to the child, rather than badger him with questions. When a child knows he is in trouble, he is already upset and worried. He will be tempted to like to avoid punishment. Rather than say, "Did you break Mr. Hill's window when you were playing ball?" Say instead, "You guys broke Mr. Hill's window when you were playing ball, Come on, let's get Jeff and Frank and go apologize to Mr. Hill."

2. If you find a child has lied, give a consequence. A consequence is the loss of a privilege which has meaning for the child, over which you have control, which you are willing to take away, and which is minimal in duration. If there is a connection between the offense and consequence, that is ideal. For example, if he lies about playing outside the boundaries you have set, the consequence might be playing inside that afternoon.

3. You lie, you are punished. Since kids lie to avoid punishment, set up a rule that if you lie to cover up a misbehavior and are caught, there will be two consequences, one for the misbehavior and one for the cover-up.

4. Avoid a battle, If the child insists he didn't do it, but you're pretty sure he did, avoid the battle if you possibly can. He may insist so fervently that he comes to believe in his innocence. Be willing to apologize if you find you have made a mistake.

5. They lose your trust when the they lie. A child who lies may, like in the Boy Who Cried Wolf, find that the one time he tells the truth no one will believe him. Explain that although you know he is working hard to tell the truth, because he has lied in the past, not everyone is willing to trust him yet. A little more time will be needed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Do You Care for a Child That Lies?

How To Get Nothing But the Truth
From The Answer is NO by Cynthia Whitham

Lying starts simply enough. Children learn at an early age don't easily differentiate fantasy from reality. Their truth and their wishes are all entangled. It is common for a little child to describe something she yearns for as something she already has, or something she wishes to do as something she has already done.

Later on, children use lying to keep from getting into trouble. They hope, by saying "I didn't do it," to be saved from punishment. they hope so much, they sometimes begin to believe in their own innocence.

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

How To Get Nothing But the Truth:

1. Model taking responsibility. Set an example of someone who is not afraid to tell the truth and face the consequences.

2. Model being honest.

3. Don't lie to children. If they ask you something which you cannot tell the truth about, say something like, "That's something I need to keep private."

4. Re-frame a pre-schooler's fantasies to realities: "You don't have a horse, but you sure would like to have a horse, wouldn't you?" you can further help by teaching the difference between 'prentend' and 'real.'

5. Use fables and fairy tales to impress upon our child the importance of the truth. Both Pinnochio and The Boy Who Cried Wolf present clear consequences for lying.

6. Reward the truth. If a child comes forward and tells the truth about something bad that happened (he broke something, lost something, got in trouble at school), take the opportunity to praise him.

7. Since it is possible a child might lie to get attention, don't take the good stuff for granted. Show interest in the little things and praise the day-to-day successes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Suze Orman's Advice for the Unemployed

Cut Your Spending Immediately Once You Lose a Job

All week we have been sharing advice from The Money Class by Suze Orman. Orman says that anyone who is out of work must understand that slow economic recovery means job growth remain sluggish and that in turn means we could be facing years during which the number of people looking for work will far exceed the number of job openings.

Nearly one-third of the unemployed in late 2011 had been out of work for at least one year. That's likely a lot longer than any severance, and even if your state has expanded the amount of time you can receive unemployment benefits during this slow recover the payments will cover just a fraction of your prior salary.

That makes your emergency fund all the more important. In fact, her advice is that every family that is dealing with a layoff should take measures to make their emergency fund as long as possible.

The goal is to cut your expenses as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Review every expenditure. Spending that you cannot afford when you had a job is not necessarily spending you can still afford.

How much to cut? Stand in the truth of the job market in your area, and your field. If you know it make take time to find a job -- any job -- you must be very aggressive in scaling back your expenses right now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What You Must Have Lined Up Before You Voluntarily Leave a Job

The Money Class by Suze Orman

Last week we shared a lot of advice from Suze Orman, author of The Money Class. Last week we shared her advice for those who are currently employed. Even if you are working at a great job, at a time of high unemployment Orman suggests we must hope for the best, but plan for the worst and build an emergency savings account.

She explains that no private-sector employer has to give you a raise. Therefore, we shouldn't just expect a raise because we have put in the hours but because we have earned our raise.

She also reminds us that at a time when there are plenty of unemployed ready and willing to accept your job at a lower rate think long and hard before leaving a job you don't love. She explains how to change your attitude before changing jobs.

Yesterday, we shared her advice to those who are unemployed. She recommends getting back to work as soon as possible even if that means making less money and less benefits while we are still climbing out of an economic recession. Plus, long stretches of being unemployed looks bad to future employers who question why the job seeker hasn't been hired by anyone else in such a long time.

Here is Suze Orman's advice of what you must have lined up before voluntarily leaving a job:

1. Another Job.

2. A 16-Month Emergency Fund.
If you don't have a new job lined up before you quite your old job, then you should have a 16-month emergency fund saved up. Whey 16 months? Because it can take you that long to find your next job. It's as simple as that.

3. Health Insurance.
If you won't be able to switch over to your spouse's plan, shop for new coverage before you give notice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Get to Work as Fast as Possible

Advice for the Unemployed by Suze Orman
Even if a job that is "less than" your last job and pays less, I am telling you to take that job!

Last week we started discussing important advice about jobs and the economy by Suze Orman author of The Money Class: How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve.

Today we share some of her best advice. Orman explains that the longer you are out of work, the harder it becomes to find work.

She says, "I know you have no intention of becoming chronically unemployed, but what you may not realize is how your mindset could be keeping you from getting back to work faster:

Do not hold out for the same job, and the same pay.

An important lesson in dealing with what is real for you today, rather than staying stuck on what you had in the past. That is very relevant in your job search. What you made at your last job, what your responsibilities were at your last job, is irrelevant. To get back to work you must focus on what is real today. A potential employer with so many qualified candidates to choose from does not really need to worry too much about making your pay and benefits from your last job; all that matters is what the current market rate is for you job. The faster you accept this cold fact the faster you will be back to work.

If your issue is that you can't find any job opportunities that match your skills or salary range, the solution is to not sit back and wait for those jobs to surface. Remember, the focus must be on getting back to work as fast as possible. If that means taking a job that is "less than" your last job and pays less, I am telling you to take that job! Please listen to me here: In this job market you simply cannot afford to be patient. You think you'll just give it two more months, then that becomes five months, then a year. And now you have been out of work so long you lose your competitive edge compared to other job seekers who are still working. Having a job today -- any job -- is far better than continuing to look for a job."

Let's not forget that long gaps of being unemployed also looks bad to a potential employers. If you haven't been hired in several months, or a year or more, that's one of the first thing a potential employers notice and they wonder, "Why won't anyone hire her?"

And don't forget that typcially unemployment benefits are only a fraction of your former salary. So get working as quickly as possible!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Teeth Tissues: Product Review Sunday

Products Nannies Love

Baby teeth serve several important functions that aid in a child’s development. They help in the development of speech and they hold space for the future adult teeth. Finally, a smile can help to build a child's self confidence and social skills.

Dental cavities are the most common childhood disease and are preventable. While most of us are enjoying fewer cavities, children ages two to three are actually suffering an increase.

Early childhood decay is usually caused when babies are put to sleep with a bottle filled with milk, formula, juice, or other drinks that contain sugar, even natural sugars. It can also happen when babies are nursed to sleep because breast milk contains natural sugars.

Begin oral care early. Wipe the baby's gums with a wet washcloth or a clean gauze pad after each feeding. Babies and toddlers should finish their naptime and bedtime bottles before going to bed. Never allow a baby or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices or sweetened liquids or a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey.

Use a cooled teeth tissues for a gum massage to relieve sore and inflamed gums when teething.  An independent study done at the University of San Francisco Dental School shows that teeth tissues do reduce cavities in baby teeth.

Four tips to help transition a child into a good brusher.

1. Start Early!
Health habits that start from birth last a lifetime. Even before teeth are erupted, baby’s gums and cheeks should be wiped with a moistened washcloth or convenient dental wipe such as Tooth Tissues TM after every feeding to remove plaque and excess milk or formula. Getting a child used to oral stimulation often helps make introducing a toothbrush easier later on.

2. Two brushes are better than one!
Let ‘little helpers’ help with a second toothbrush.
Many young children enjoy brushing their own teeth first. Most children use this as an opportunity to chew on the toothbrush causing the bristles to splay. Parents should then use the second toothbrush to do a thorough brushing. We encourage parents to help kids brush until they are about six- to eight-years-old because not all kids have the manual dexterity to do a good job by themselves.

3. When all else fails! Distract!
Distract your child with a favorite song or story.

4. 31 Flavors anyone?
Many children are fussy eaters; this extends to toothpaste flavors. Try different flavors and, if all else fails, water is better than nothing.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

10 Best Books for Father's Day

Are You Giving Your Dad Boss a Father's Day Gift?

Yesterday we recommended some gifts nannies and au pairs can give to their Dad Bosses. One of the best gifts a father can give his child is the love of reading. So, children's books make an obvious great, inexpensive gift to give to fathers that employ nannies and au pairs. But, there are also some inspiring books written for fathers directly on raising kids. Both the adults books written for fathers and children's books for fathers to read with their children, make great Father's Day gifts for nannies and au pairs to give to their Dad Bosses. Here are our ten favorite books to give to fathers:

1. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker
In today’s increasingly complicated world, it’s often difficult for parents to connect with their daughters – and especially so for fathers. In this unique and invaluable guide, Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician with more than twenty years experience counseling girls, reveals that a young woman’s relationship with her father is far more important than we’ve ever realized. To become a strong, confident woman, a daughter needs her father’s attention, protection, courage, and wisdom.

Dr. Meeker shares the ten secrets every father needs to know in order to strengthen or rebuild bonds with his daughter and shape her life – and his own – for the better. Inside you’ll discover:

• the essential virtues of strong fathers – and how to develop them
• the cues daughters take from their dads on everything from self-respect to drugs, alcohol, and sex
• the truth about ground rules (girls do want them, despite their protests)
• the importance of becoming a hero to your daughter
• the biggest mistake a dad can make–and the ramifications
• the fact that girls actually depend on their dads’ guidance into adulthood
• steps fathers can follow to help daughters avoid disastrous decisions and mistakes
• ways in which a father’s faith–or lack thereof–will influence his daughter
• essential communication strategies for different stages of a girl’s life
• true stories of “prodigal daughters”–and how their fathers helped to bring them back

Dads, you are far more powerful than you think – and if you follow Dr. Meeker’s advice, the rewards will be unmatched.

2. Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons by Tim Russert
What does it really mean to be a good father? What did your father tell you, that has stayed with you throughout your life? Was there a lesson from him, a story, or a moment that helped to make you who you are? Is there a special memory that makes you smile when you least expect it?

After the publication of Tim Russert’s number one New York Times bestseller about his father, Big Russ & Me, he received an avalanche of letters from daughters and sons who wanted to tell him about their own fathers, most of whom were not superdads or heroes but ordinary men who were remembered and cherished for some of their best moments–of advice, tenderness, strength, honor, discipline, and occasional eccentricity.

Most of these daughters and sons were eager to express the gratitude they had carried with them through the years. Others wanted to share lessons and memories and, most important, pass them down to their own children.

This book is for all fathers, young or old, who can learn from the men in these pages how to get it right, and to understand that sometimes it is the little gestures that can make the big difference for your child. For some in this book, the appreciation came later than they would have liked. But as Wisdom of Our Fathers reminds us, it is never too late to embrace it.

From the father who coached his daughter in sports (and life), attending every meet, game, performance, and tournament, to the daughter who, after a 15-year estrangement, learned to make peace with her difficult father just before he died, to the son who came, at last, to appreciate the silent way his father could show affection, Wisdom of Our Fathers shares rewarding lessons, immeasurable gifts, and lasting values.

Heartfelt, humorous, engaging, irresistibly readable, and bound to bring back memories of unforgettable moments with our own fathers, Tim Russert’s book is not only a fitting companion to his own marvelous memoir, but also a celebration of the positive qualities passed down from generation to generation.

3. 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad: What Fathers Can Do to Make a Lifelong Difference by Jay K. Payleitner
Quite a few dads spend time with their kids. However, many have no clue what their kids really need.
Enter author Jay Payleitner, veteran dad of five, who's also struggled with how to build up his children's lives. His 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad combines straightforward features with step-up-to-the-mark challenges men will appreciate: a full year's worth of focused, doable ideas, one per week, if desired uncomplicated ways to be an example, like kiss your wife in the kitchen, tough, frank advice, like throw away your porn. Dads will feel respected and empowered, and gain confidence to initiate activities that build lifelong positives into their kids.

4. Stories for a Dad's Heart by Alice Gray
Compiled by the creator of the bestselling Stories for the Heart series, Stories for a Dad's Heart is a poignant collection of stories destined to invigorate the hearts of dads. Filled with encouragement, inspiration, and humor in best-loved selections from the Stories for the Heart series, these stories will motivate dads to be all they can for those that mean the most to them. Fathers, sons, and grandfathers will all enjoy and benefit from the values and virtues found in this captivating collection.

5. A Father's Day Thank You by Janet Nolan and Kathi Ember
Harvey doesn't know what to get his dad for Father's Day. He asks his older siblings, who come up with the usual items (ties, a box of nails, golf balls). During the day, Harvey suffers small traumas (a fall and a flat tire on his bike), and his Dad is there to help him. Then comes bedtime, and Dad reads Harvey a story. Harvey wakes up in the middle of the night with an idea for the perfect gift: a drawing recapping all of the great things his Dad did for him the day before. [The illustrator] elevates the cuddly factor by depicting the family members as clothed bears in settings and situations kids will recognize. Nolan and Ember aren't breaking new ground here, but librarians seeking simple Father's Day stories for their collections might find what they're looking for here. Review by Todd Morning of American Library Association.

6. Me and My Dad by Alison Ritchie and Alison Edgson
A playful and loving father and son spend a delightful day bonding together, from a wake-up nose tickle to a final nighttime cuddle. Narrated by the son, the gentle rhyming text highlights the best parts of the day for him and the best traits of his dad. “We race to the river / and Dad jumps straight in. / I climb on his back / and we go for a swim.” The two dodge raindrops, search for hidden wonders, find honey, hide from a thunderstorm, and tell stories. Throughout the story, it’s obvious that Dad is a hero to his son for his strength, dependability, knowledge of forest secrets, and for the security and fun that he brings to his child’s life. Edgson’s full-bleed illustrations render the father and son duo as cuddly Teddy bear–like figures with wonderfully expressive faces. She perfectly captures the energy, exuberance and joy of the bears as they spend their day together. More and more titles are emerging that celebrate the special bond between fathers and their children; this one adds beautifully to that genre. Review by Krikus Reviews.

7. I Love My Daddy by Sebastien Braun
Parent-child bonding has never looked cozier, as a huge brown Papa bear and a very small cub spend quality time together from dawn till dusk in a leafy forest. The cub takes the narrative lead: “My daddy wakes me. My daddy feeds me,” and so on, until after “My daddy cuddles me” the pair drowse to the simple declaration, “I love my daddy.” Braun depicts hazy-edged figures and settings in long brushstrokes of golden toned browns and yellows, on a bottom layer of cool, green, flower-strewn grass. Review by Kirkus Review.

8. A Perfect Father's Day by Eve Bunting
As a Father's Day treat, Susie takes her dad to what she fondly imagines are all his favorite places: a fast-food restaurant (for which she graciously allows him to pay), the duck pond, the merry-go-round, and more. Meanwhile, Mom has fixed a celebratory meal --a "surprise" that Susie has ingenuously revealed. A warm, realistic story to be shared by those young enough to be as cozily complacent as Susie and those old enough to get the joke. Lively illustrations extend to fun. Review by Kirkus Review.

9. Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz
This is a great book to share with and infant and toddler. As a nanny, I gave this to my Dad Boss last year for Father's Day and the toddler and I love reading it together. There are 10 different ways Daddy hugs his baby and it's fun to act out the hugs while reading the book together. It also includes numbers and counting. This book is a great way to spend some quality time with a son or daughter.

10.The Night Before Father's Day by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer
It's the night before Father's Day, and Mom and the kids have a plan to surprise Dad with a special gift. When Dad goes for a bike ride, everyone gets to work. Dad wakes up the next day to find his garage newly organized and his car sparkly clean. So, of course, he celebrates by taking everyone for a spin!

Friday, June 15, 2012

What To Do for Dad Boss for Father's Day

Do You Give Your Dad Boss a Card or Gift for Father's Day?

Father's Day is this Sunday. Nannies and au pairs should not be expected to spend a fortune on gifts for their Dad Bosses. But, if you are an in-home childcare provider it is common to help the children make a card or a small gift for their father for Father's Day. Some popular ideas include:

"I Love You This Much" card:
Trace the child's hand onto a piece of construction paper or poster board. Cut out the shape of two hands. Cut out a long rectangle of paper and fold it accordian style. On the outside of the right hand write 'I Love You', and centered on the long strip of rectangle which will be the inside of the card write 'This Much!' Tape one side of each strip of paper to both hands. When the card opens it appears as though two arms are waiting to give the reader a hug, or are showing a measure of distance.

A personalized mug: Buy a kit at the craft store and have the children paint or color the mug for their father.

Picture frame: Either buy an inexpensive frame for the children to decorate or they can make their own gluing together Popsicle sticks or craft sticks. Place a photo of the child(ren) in the frame as a keepsake.

A personalized t-shirt, cap, or tie: Using fabric paints children can personalize clothing for their father.

Hand print stepping stone:
Kits for hand print stepping stones are available at craft stores.

A book written for fathers: The book can be a children's book about a father's love for his children that your Dad Boss can read to his children or a book written for father's in family section of a book store.

Tennis balls or golf balls: What sport does the father play? Purchase equipment for the sport.

Sports team t-shirts or caps: Find the father's favorite sports team clothing at a local sports store.

What are you doing for your Dad Boss for Father's Day?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Change Your Attitude Before You Change Your Job

Do the Work First, Then the Money Will Follow
There are Five Job Seekers for Every Job Opening
From The Money Classby Suze Orman

Great nannies wear many hats at their jobs including, but not limited to: childcare worker, tutor, nutritionist, and personal assistant. The best nannies are willing to pitch-in beyond just basic childcare duties to help the parents as well as caring for the kids, to keep their jobs in a difficult job market.

I'm not suggesting nannies should be disrespected or walked over like a doormat. But, I agree with Suze Orman, the author of The Money Class. that in an economy when there are plenty of job seekers ready and willing to scoop you your job at a lower pay rate, the employed should make their employer depend on them.

This week we have been sharing great advice from Suze Orman, the author of The Money Class: How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve. Orman believes that there is rarely a bad situation that can't be improved by a change of perspective.

She says, "Change your perspective -- and budget -- and you can reach your goal. I think that idea is especially timely in how you manage your career."

Orman continues, "As we all know, finding a new job is not exactly a snap these days. As I write, there are five job seekers for every job opening. I you are unhappy in your current job, my advice is to take a step back and see how you might be able to make it work for you, so to speak."

"The truth you must stand in is that in this lousy job market, the job you have is a great job, for it is a job. And I want to be very clear: You cannot afford to walk away from any job without having another one lined up," says Orman.

Orman says, "Don't just complain you are unhappy; offer up ideas on new challenges [at work] you could take on that would make you happy, And don't tie it to a pay raise. Do the work first, and the pay will follow. That's just the way it has to be in these economic times."

"I also want you to think of how you can change your life away from work, to make the work less frustrating. Hobbies. Working out more... You can fix a lousy job by reducing its impact on your waking hours. Change your attitude, or your perspective, or your priorities, and watch how things fall into place," suggests Orman.

But, if being mistreated and underpaid, and you feel you need to find a new job, please have a new job lined-up before giving notice because the unemployment statistics are still sobering.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You Must Earn Your Raise

Don't Ask a Yes-or-No Question When Asking for a Raise

Yesterday we mentioned that Suze Orman, author of The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dream says you should not automatically expect to get an annual raise simply because of the amount of time you have worked at a job,  but to earn your raise by making yourself essential to your employers.

When it is time to ask for a raise, know all your accomplishments, exactly how you have contributed, and you have delivered specifically. Be the Best Nanny Newsletter and other nanny industry experts recommend parents and nannies base raises on job performance.

At a bare minimum nannies must ensure they arrive to work on time, are reliable, self-motivated, communicate clearly, demonstrate good judgment, and maintain confidentiality of family private matters.

Parents also must consider if the nanny has shown appropriate attention to child safety, child hygeine, appropriate play and activities, preparation of nutritous meals, and if the nanny disciplines consistent with parents' wishes.

Other duties parents look for in a nanny with a good attitude is a caregiver that is willing to wipe-up messes, wash and fold the children's laundry, and light pick-up of the children's area.

If you cannot say you have accomplished the above basic nanny job expectations it might not be the right time to ask for a raise. Once you consistently accomplish the minimum of tasks and skills listed above and more, you could consider asking for a raise.

Orman suggests you be tactical and frame the converstion by making your expectations clear. You need to decide what you want. Let's say you want a five percent raise, when you are sitting with your boss, start the conversation by saying, "Given my time I've devoted to your family, my flexibility to pitch-in when needed, I would like you to consider a raise of five or 10 percent."

Orman suggests making the amount you want the lower of the two choices. Then, do not make the two offers no more than five percentage points apart. Ormans explains the rule is to never ask a yes-or-no question, because if your boss says no there's there is nothing else you can say.

Orman explains, "When you walk in and say you want a raise of five or 10 percent, you have just shifted the conversation about whether you deserve a raise to how big a raise you deserve."

Tomorrow: Change your attitude before you change your job.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Before Asking for a Raise: Make Those You Depend on For a Paycheck Dependent on You

Your Attitude is Key in Keeping Your Job and Getting a Raise
From The Money Class by Suze Orman

Yesterday we shared Suze Orman's advice for those who are working to hope for the best but prepare for the worst by saving and living below your means from her book The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dream

Today, we share her advice for keeping your job and asking for a raise. She recommends taking a clear-eyed look at your attitude toward work and pay. She recommends that you ask yourself if you are expecting to be paid more because of a sense of entitlement, because you've hung in there year after year, or because you are doing spectacular work?

Orman explains, "No private-sector employer has to give you a raise. No one is obligated to dole out a bonus. As valued as you are by your employer, the realisty is that there are a lot of very talented people who could replace you amoung the unemployed and underemployed."

She continues, "Please do not think the reason they are out of work is that they aren't as good at their job as you. There are literally millions of extrememly talented people who are out of work."

Orman says, "Make those you depend on for a paycheck dependent on you... When you overdeliver on every part of your job and exceed expectations, you are making your case loud and clear to be compensated for your work... Build a reputation, make your mark, put in the effort, and you will be on solid ground."

Orman explains that this attitude and work ethic apply to all ages (not just the young workers just starting out) today. You must double down on making yourself and abolutely essential to your employer. She says that advice should be your goal at any time, but in these times of economic stress it is imperative.

Of course, at some point you will merit a raise. Stop by tomorrow to learn how Suze Orman wants you to ask for a raise.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Act As if a Layoff Will Happen to You

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
From The Money Class by Suze Orman

I just finished reading Suze Orman's The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dreamand her advice may be the most important information I can share with working, unemployed, and underemployed nannies this year!

Every week, (sometimes daily), I hear stories of unemployed and underemployed nannies. Nannies constantly complain the great nanny jobs of former decades no longer exist. During this difficult time when nearly one of five Americans is out of work (including nannies) Suze Orman shares the most important advice for the employed, underemployed, and unemployed as America slowly climbs out of economic recession.

For those who are lucky to be employed her advice is to behave as if a layoff will happen to you. Hope that it never happens, but if you plan as if it will, you and your family will be well prepared to weather any setback and get back to work as soon as possible.

Build Your Emergency (Plan-For-The-Worst) Fund

Planning and adding to an emergency savings fund that can cover your living expenses is the first step to preparing for the worst.

As of the fall of 2011 more than 40% of unemployed Americans have been out of work for more than six-months, and nearly one-third have been out of work for more than a year. That is why you should build an emergency fund that could pay your bills for at least eight-months.

Orman explains, "Yes, I realize you may collect unemployment benefits, but typically those payouts cover just a fraction of your former salary. Do not skimp on your savings because you think unemployment insurance will be all you need."

Building such a large savings may sound like a daunting task, especially if you are working paycheck to paycheck. But, Suze suggests not getting overwhelmed and giving up before you start. The immediate goal is to focus on how you can trim your spending so there is more left over each month to dedicate to your emergency savings or "plan for the worst" fund.

Live Below Your Means Today

There is no guarantee your salary five-years from now will be higher than it is today. The only way to save is to make money and not spend it all. Be honest with yourself. Don't borrow money today than you can honestly afford.

Orman explains, "I want you to make financial choices today that are affordable based on what your household income is today, not what you hope it will be in the future."

She continues, "I'd much rather you rent or buy a smaller, less expensive home, or purchase a less expensive car today, than stretch to buy something that you know deep down is an act of living beyond your means."

Do you live paycheck to paycheck, or do you have an emergency fund savings account?