Friday, November 30, 2012

Gas Mileage Increases One Cent Per Mile in 2013

Do You Drive Your Car for Work?

If you use your own car to transport children or run errands for the parents your employers should provide you with the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gas mileage allowance.

Beginning January 1, 2013 the IRS  has issued new standard gas mileage rate of 56.5 cents per mile for business miles driven.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do You Agree that Nannies are Underpaid and Overworked?

HomeEconomics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work

Nearly a 25% of domestic workers make less than their state minimum wage, and 25% of the live-in nannies get less than five hours of sleep a night, according to the national study released Tuesday by the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

See study by clicking here. See the article about the study from the New York Times and another article from Daily News.

Reuse Your Crafts

Wednesdays with Whitney

Some crafts are great in that you can keep them up year round, however many tend to be seasonal. Yet that doesn’t mean you have to throw them in the trash! Teach the little ones to reuse their crafts from season to season by using versatile supplies and a creative imagination. Watch the transformation of this basic foam cone as we moved through the holidays.
 
Classic Christmas Tree
The winter holidays are a knocking. Green paint and stickers make this reused cone into a festive centerpiece. Add a spritz of Christmas scent to really polish off this project.


Beach Umbrella Monster
This monster came alive with a handful of cocktail umbrellas and a lot of creativity.

Bewitching Halloween Hat
Once Halloween rolled around the umbrellas fell off and a witch hat emerged with some purple paint, a bit of paper, and plenty of spooky spider stickers.
 
The options are endless with the right tools and a child’s bright imagination, so rescue all of those Thanksgiving crafts and give them a makeover for the upcoming winter holidays! Be sure to come back and visit us next Wednesday for more creative projects from Whitney for nannies and au pairs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

10 Gifts Nannies Can Help Kids Make for their Parents

Inexpensive Gift Giving
 By part-time Nanny

Kids typically love to give their parents gifts, but they often lack the money needed to buy them, and it can seem silly to spend mom and dad’s money to buy them a gift. Instead of buying a gift, there are many things that kids can make for their parents to give them. As the kids’ nanny, you can help the kids decide what kind of things their parents would like, and then help them turn that idea into a reality.

Here are 10 gifts that nannies can help their charges make for their parents:
1. Make a stepping stone. Purchase a stepping stone kit to make this process easier. You will mix your concrete according to package directions, and then fill the mold and allow the concrete to set for 30 to 60 minutes. Add embellishments and the child’s initials to the stone and allow the stepping stone to dry for several days before taking it out of the mold. The kit may come with additional steps to follow.

2. Create a wind chime. Gather up three large bells, three cupcake papers in different colors, string, hole reinforcement stickers and a sharp needle tool. Punch holes in the middle of the cupcake papers and reinforce the holes with the adhesive stickers. Cut the string into 8 inch, 10 inch and 12 inch lengths. Tie one end of the string to the bell and thread the other end through the hole in the middle of the cupcake paper. Repeat with the other strings. Draw the bell up under the cupcake paper so the bell is hidden, then tie the strings together at the end. The wind chime is complete.

3. Draw a self-portrait. Take a picture of each child and print it out on the computer as an 8×10. Set the kids up with colored pencils, paper and the photo and have them draw themselves. After the drawing is done mount it in a frame.
 
4. Create a book. Bring together a bunch of pictures of the kids, as well as pictures of the kids’ artwork. Ask the kids to give a brief description for each photo. Load the pictures and the stories online and order a bound book. Before the kids give the book to their parents, make sure that they write a nice sentiment in the front of the book for their parents.

5. Make a hand plaque. Buy a kit for making handprint plaques. Most kits will be for toddlers and below. For bigger children you may have to create your own mold by using plaster of Paris and a plastic plant drainage dish. Follow the directions in the kit to mix the plaster and to make the hand print. Make sure to write the child’s name and the year.

6. Paint a platter using footprints. Look around for a ceramics store that will help the kids put their painted footprint or handprint on a platter or other plate. You can then create an animal out of the footprints or ask for help at the store. The kids can also paint their own cups or animals and have them fired at the same time as the platter. All of the painted creations can be labeled and given as one big gift or as separate smaller gifts.

7. Put together a photo mug and cookies. Buy the kind of mug where the rim comes off and you can insert your own pictures or artwork inside the lining of the cup. Cut a piece of paper to the right size and have the kids decorate the paper and then insert it into the mug liner. Then involve the kids in baking some small cookies to fill the cup with. Wrap the whole gift in cellophane and tie it with a bow.

8. Fill an artwork decorated tin. Use a product called waterslide clear decals. Scan in the artwork you would like to place on the tin. Print out the artwork using a laser printer onto the clear decal. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mount the decal onto the tin. Once the tin is decorated you can fill it with homemade goodies the kids have helped you make.

9. Draw a checkbook cover. Buy an inexpensive checkbook cover and remove the paper inside of the clear cover. Use the removed paper as a guide when you cut some card stock. Let the kids decorate the front and back panels of the checkbook cover. Replace the card stock in the clear cover and your custom checkbook cover is complete.

10. Make a photo calendar. Many sites on the Internet will allow you to upload photos to make a customized calendar. You can either let the kids pick out photos that they want to use or you can take pictures of their artwork and upload those pictures. Many times you can choose three to four photos for each calendar month. If you don’t have time to wait for mail order, you can go to one of the many copy centers and have them help you do it in house.

Mom and Dad will surely love anything that their kids give them, but as the nanny you can help make those gifts useful and personalized for the recipient. Most parents love their children’s artwork, and there are many ways to incorporate artwork into useful items. Tap into the imaginations of the kids and help them create something wonderful this year.

Reference:
Printed with permission from Allen Miller of part-time Nanny


Monday, November 26, 2012

How Nannies Can Screen Families

Nannies Should Know as Much Info as Possible About a Family Before Accepting a Position
By Debbie Denard

There’s been much talk about how parents can screen the nannies they are considering hiring to care for their children, but when it comes to the nannies screening the parents whom they are considering working for, we mostly hear dead air.

For caregivers who are going to spend their workday in a family’s private home, it’s essential that they know as much as possible about the parents they are considering working for ahead of time so that they are able to make an educated and informed employment decision. This is especially true if a nanny is considering relocating to be a live-in nanny.

While it’s common practice, or at least it should be, for parents to conduct a thorough background screening on the nanny candidate they are considering hiring, when nannies mention that they’d like to screen the family, it often comes as a huge surprise.

Many reputable nanny placement agencies prescreen families before they agree to help them secure a nanny. But even then agencies typically don’t complete background investigations on the parents, instead relying on references and their impression of the family. For nannies who use a reputable agency, however, any amount of prescreening can be a reassuring benefit.

For nannies who find their positions through an online recruiting site, there are ways they can gather information about the parents whom they are considering accepting an employment offer from, in addition to using their own judgment.

Nannies can:

1. Google!
A quick Google search may result in interesting information about potential employers, including media coverage, links to articles they’ve written, or even a link to their social media pages or blogs. When searching a first and last name together, you may even find an employer owned domain. Use additional information like city and state or the company the employer works for to narrow down search results. When sorting through results, however, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got the right person, since many people can have the same name.

2. Check out social media pages.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and Pinterest may give you insight into both your employers’ personal and professional lives, depending on their security settings, of course. From photos to friends, connections to status updates, there is potential for a lot of information to be gleaned from a visit to a possible employer’s social media page.

3. Search public records.
Depending on where you live, certain public records may be available online. Public records include things like court proceedings, bankruptcies, real estate transactions, tax lien records, domain registry records, professional licenses, professional disciplinary actions, and sex offender registries. Information that is public record is available to the public. Running a credit check and checking other sensitive information, however, would require your employer’s consent.

4. Ask for references.
Speaking to past or current nannies and household employees can give insight into what life is like working with a family. When interviewing a reference, it’s important to listen to their tone of voice and to hear what they don’t say, as much as what they do. Asking situational questions like “Tell me about your favorite outing with the children” or “Tell me about a time when you had to share some difficult news” can help you gain insight into the temperaments, personality and management style of potential employers.

5. Ask appropriate questions.
The most direct way to learn more about a potential employer is to ask them what you want to know. Nannies must take advantage of telephone and in-person interviews. While you’ll clearly want to keep the line of questioning professional, you’ll definitely want to ask open ended questions that have the potential to give you insight into how they operate as family, how they parent, and how they will manage, treat and view their nanny.

6. Run a background check.
At Internet referral site eNannySource.com, parents and nannies are encouraged to run background checks on each other as part of the screening and hiring process so that both parties can make an educated and informed employment decision. These checks require consent and can be done directly though the site.

It’s always good practice to let a potential employer know that you’d like to learn more about them and give them the opportunity to provide the information you are seeking. A potential employer who finds out you’ve been looking around for information may question why you didn’t ask for the information directly. If the parents do provide information, it will be up to the nanny whether or not she wishes to verify it.

Just like parents, nannies have a right to know who they will be entering into an employment relationship with. Nannies must consider their personal and financial safety and security when considering offers of employment. To make an educated and informed job decision, nannies should gather and evaluate as much information as possible about a family before accepting a position.

Reference:
Printed with permission from Debbie Denard of nanny.net

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Puzzles Make Great Holiday Gifts

Inexpensive, Quality Gifts for Kids

It's time to buy gifts for the holidays. When choosing gifts for the kids you care for quality is more important than quantity and certainly quality doesn't have to mean toys are expensive.

One of the best learning toys we can share with kids are puzzles. Not only are there many options and they can be inexpensive, they reinforce logic, critical thinking, visualization, creativity, and fine motor skills.

For all these reasons, kids who are good at puzzles will find their ability to gather information, assess a situation, and find a quick solution to a problem greatly sharpened. This will pay wonderful dividends in their academic, and later, professional career. Logically piecing the joints together and picturing the overall image can aid in creativity and memory. As a bonus, children seem to love puzzles and can enjoy doing the same one over and over again without growing bored.

And there are puzzles for every skill and age, not just classic wooden puzzles for toddlers.

Here are our suggestions fo nannies and au pairs to give to the kids in their care as gifts for the holidays:

1. Classic Peg Puzzles

The Fresh Start Peg Puzzles from Melissa & Doug are a colorful and intuitive way to help teach your toddler about colors, number, the alphabet, and more. The three educational puzzles included in this set are solid wood construction and feature vibrant colors and illustrations that your child will adore. Intended for children two to three years and older, these vibrant and durable puzzles help develop hand-eye, fine motor, and visual perception skills.

Learn Colors with the Fish Puzzle
Designed to help your child learn and match colors, the Fish puzzle features 10 adorable fish with a spectrum of different colors. In this puzzle, each peg can fit in each hole, allowing your child to first hone their hand-eye coordination before combining it with the ability to perceive and match similar colors.

Number Puzzle Helps Your Child Learn to Count
This 10-piece puzzle features large, removable pegs of numbers zero through nine to help promote number recognition and counting skills. Below each numbered peg is a bright illustration showing the same number of items as the numeral on the piece, making this puzzle great for telling stories or playing guessing games with your child.

Alphabet Puzzle Helps Develop Prereading Skills
Featuring 26 wooden pegs, one for each letter in the alphabet, this vibrant puzzle is ideal for helping to develop letter recognition and prereading skills. Beneath each colorful peg is a charming illustration of a word that begins with the same letter, like a basket under the letter "B." Slightly more advanced than the other two included puzzles, the Alphabet puzzle is designed help get your toddler on their way to comprehending letters as well as promoting hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.



2. Nerdy Wordy

Nerdy Wordy is the ultimate crossword challenge game for kids seven-years-old and up. Two players take turns calling out letters and earn points by creating as many two to five letter words in the grid. Earn more points by thinking of words within a word. Great for vacation or travel as the two compartments snap tight for easy storage.



3. Wooden Labyrinth Puzzle

This is the classic game loved by all kids and adults about eight-years-old and up. Have kids test their skills and their patience as they turn the knobs to maneuver the steel ball through the maze. Includes wooden game board and two steel balls.



4. Rubik's Cube

With "43 quintillion" possible moves and only one solution, the Rubik's Cube has been challenging puzzle fans for children, teens, and adults (eight-years-old and up) for over 30-years. Erno Rubik, an admirer of geometry and 3-D forms creates the world's most perfect and addictive puzzle. Whether it was full size or the smaller keychain version almost every child had this puzzle by in 1980 when it found worldwide success. Elementary school kids were seen solving it with their feet on television shows, conspiracy theorists believed it was an Eastern bloc tactic to distract American youth from getting an education, and Cubaholics Anonymous was formally established to help cure the compulsive need to solve it.

For all of the hullabaloo, the Rubik’s Cube actually has a pretty straightforward premise. The faces of the cube are covered by nine stickers in six solid colors and when the puzzle is solved, each face is one solid color. This Rubik’s Cube has reflective red, white, blue, yellow, green, and orange colored stickers with an official twenty-fifth anniversary sticker in the center white square. The cube is packaged in a clear hexagon box and includes a black display stand. There is also a solutions hint and game suggestion book to help solve it.



5. Soduko

The phenomenon of Sudoku is sweeping the nation. This well conceived version consists of two-sided tiles that make it easy to retrace your steps and complete the game,without pencils or erasers. A compartment in the back of the board allows for easy tile storage. Select one of 50 puzzles from the booklet and then get busy solving the puzzle. One hundred problems and Solutions are provided by Pappocom. The attractive package makes it a perfect gift. Sudoku is a one player game, for ages seven and up. Game set includes official 3-D game board grid, 81 double-sided number tiles, built-in tile storage compartment, and 50-puzzle booklet by Pappocom.



6. Oblo Puzzle Spheres

Oblo is the award-winning 3D spherical puzzle that challenges and inspires kids seven-years-old and up. Oblo is also an engaging, didactic puzzle ideal for growing midnds. It's a colorful layer of spheres that creates a compelling 3D puzzle. The initial discover of its parts happens when the puzzle is taken apart. The challenge is putting the spherical elements back together. The user must find the correct position for each piece to progressively build spheres within spheres. A fun way to introduce young minds to simple geometry. Develops motor skills and hand-eye coordination as well as engaging children's curiosity. Using both hands to manipulate the Oblo, it is used as a great preparation for learning to write and draw. Winner of the Industrial Design Excellence Award 2008. Winner of the Red Dot Design Award 2011.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holiday Turkey Trouble and Turkey Claus

Weekly Trip to the Library
Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano

As Thanksgiving approaches, Turkey fears that he will be the centerpiece of the holiday meal. Thus begins his quest for the perfect disguise so he won't be found when the time arrives. He ties a brush on the back of his head and wears a tiny saddle because surely no one would eat a horse for dinner. But the animals still recognize him. He tries to become a cow, a pig, a sheep, and a rooster. He does not look like any of them. When he hears Farmer Jake tell his wife that if they can't find the turkey, maybe they should eat the rooster for dinner, the protagonist comes up with the perfect ruse.  Harper's comical watercolor illustrations pair naturally with Silvano's clever, filled-with-wordplay text. A first choice for holiday collections. Review by Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren and Waldoboro, ME.



Turkey Claus by Wendi Silvano

In this sequel to Turkey Trouble, a comical turkey again avoids being the main dish at a holiday dinner. Having avoided being served up for Thanksgiving dinner in Turkey Trouble, the protagonist travels to the North Pole to petition Santa to save him from being the main attraction of Christmas dinner. Santa is too busy to see anyone, and Turkey’s attempts to disguise himself as a Christmas tree, a reindeer, a candy cane, and Mrs. Claus fail hilariously. When he manages to smuggle himself into Santa’s presence (wrapped up as a Christmas present), Santa comes up with the perfect plan–and the whole farm munches contentedly on Christmas pizza. Goofy watercolor and pencil illustrations play up the humor of the giggle-inducing text, with Turkey working his wattles to great effect. “Pizza on Earth” could indeed start a new tradition. Review by Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library.


Friday, November 23, 2012

This Black Friday Remember Quality vs. Quantity

Give Quality Gifts to Children for the Holidays

It's Black Friday (the busiest shopping day of the year for Americans). If you are going out to shop for Black Friday deals today I urge you to remember that when gift giving quality is much more important than quantity.

Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE) suggests that when choosing gifts for children remember that the increasing number of electronic toys, games, and DVDs often turns infants and toddlers into passive players whose main activity becomes pushing a button. Toys are often linked to popular media characters. Branding toys for the very young means that when they are older they often want an item simply because it is linked to a familiar character, not because of the quality of the toy.

Quality play promotes close relationships. The most important part of a child's healthy development is safe, trusting relationships with you and the other caregivers in their life. Interacting with the child through positive, supportive play experiences will help them gain the confidence she needs to build loving and healthy relationships.

Quality play promotes thinking skills. Play gives a child the opportunity to learn concepts and problem solving strategies which are critical for future academic learning in science, math, and literacy.

Quality play promotes creativity. Create play experiences that come from the interests and abilities of the child in your care. It’s the process that’s important in creative play – what they do, not the product they make in the end. Current brain research shows that children learn best when they experiment and discover for themselves rather than being shown by adults.

Quality play promotes social skills. Through play children learn how to get along with others. Interactive play helps set the foundation for future friendships.

Reference:
Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Au Pair Thanksgiving

Why a Japanese Au Pair Loved an American Thanksgiving
By Nanami

A few years ago I came to America from Japan to work as an au pair for a family with two girls in Morristown, NJ. It was a difficult adjustment. Not only was there a language barrier, but I owned just a few non-Western clothes and I was not used to the American diet. In fact, the first dinner I ate in America was a half of one slice of pizza and my stomach was full. Today I can easily fit three slices (why I have gained nearly 15-pounds since coming to America).

The American family that hired me lives in a large home with more toys than I have ever seen in one place, even in a toy store in Japan. The girls’ closets were filled with clothes, some they had never worn before they had outgrown the outfits. The family with only four members had two refrigerators packed with food.

In Japan, my three sisters and I shared one bed in a small room. The home in America had extra rooms for guests, a room just for playing piano, two for the kids to play, one room for each parent to use as an office, another for movie watching, one for doing laundry, and so on.

The selection of food at the grocery store was overwhelming. I still do not understand why Americans won’t eat a bruised piece of fruit or need so many brands of the same product (for example, just think of how brands of toilet paper there are to choose from). It is also shocking how much perfectly good food the family I work for throws away.

I had to learn how to make pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon, and waffles for the girls’ breakfast. All I have ever had for breakfast in Japan is Miso soup. On a great morning we might add rice to the soup. Yet, even with so many breakfast choices the girls in America would complain. And it is the complaining and whining by the children who have so much that has been the hardest adjustment of becoming an au pair working in America.

If I make pancakes and the girls don't feel like eating pancakes on that particular morning their mother simply throws out the pancakes and will make another meal. It is still upsetting to me that children can be offered such lavish meals, only to complain and then turn-them-down. I think of my clear Miso soup that I typically drink each morning in Japan, and I never even thought to complain.

Coming from such a modest life, to the American culture was difficult mostly because the children are so ungrateful. They seem to lack thankfulness. Having to listen to the two privileged girls whine and complain, despite having so much is very difficult. They have so much: nutrition, material possessions, love and nurturing -- but they always want more. They always compare themselves to each other and then to their friends.

That is why I was so pleasantly surprised about celebrating my first Thanksgiving in the United States of America! What a great way to be thankful. Family and friends come together without sharing any material gifts –- just a lot of food. Unlike the American birthdays or Christmas that I have witnessed in America, during Thanksgiving week the girls' negative attitude changed due to the hard work of their mother. Their mother made an effort to have her children focus on their blessings and on others instead of just themselves.

Here are some of the activities the mother did with the girls to prepare, celebrate, and conclude Thanksgiving week:


1. For a week before Thanksgiving she took the girls to donate ten frozen turkeys and all the side dishes to a local food bank for ten complete Thanksgiving dinners for those that might not be able to afford the meal that year.

2. Each night before bed for that week leading up to Thanksgiving she helped the girls list reasons why they are thankful for each guest they had invited to Thanksgiving dinner. They made lovely cards and listed on the cards the reasons they are thankful for the person. Then, during the meal, they asked everyone at the table to voice at least three things they are thankful for as well.

3. The week of Thanksgiving she also helped her children clear out their playroom and closets to donate old toys and clothes to the Salvation Army.

4. Then, on Thanksgiving day the family invited a few elderly guests to join their extended family for dinner. The seniors were members of their church who have children or other family living far away.

I just loved that each guest brought a dish to share at the Thanksgiving dinner. I loved that the mother asked everyone to say what they are thankful for. I loved that we packed up food for each guest to bring home with them after dinner.

I was also pleasantly surprised that on the day after Thanksgiving (which is known as America’s busiest shopping day of the year) the mother took me with the girls shopping to make holiday care packages for American soldiers. The packages included soap, razors, toothbrushes, and travel-sized toiletries. But the most fun was packing cards and games (like crossword puzzles) and books and magazines for the soldiers.

I am thankful the family opened their hearts, home, and minds and invited me into their home. The mother bought me American style clothes to help me fit in, I gained nearly 15-pounds (I just love French fries and pizza), and have made friends with a great family. I hope I will be able to come to America to visit them again and someday they can me in Japan.

Most of all, I loved Thanksgiving. I hope all nannies and au pairs reading this will incorporate some of the activities my Host Mom did with her girls for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Games for Nannies and Au Pairs

Wednesdays with Whitney

Only one more day until Thanksgiving! Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of keeping the entire kiddie table occupied for the day? Keep these games on hand to keep the kids busy and the parents child free.

Thanksgiving Tic Tac Toe
Put a holiday twist on this classic game by using mini pumpkins as your markers. Be sure to distinguish the “x’s and o’s” by painting patterns or whole pumpkins.

Journey to Plymouth Rock
For this game, two children stand at opposite sides of the room. One is the Mayflower and one is Plymouth Rock. All the rest of the kids sit as rocks in between. Now Plymouth Rock shouts directions for a blindfolded Mayflower to journey across the room. The kids will love this game, but beware of crushed little fingers.

Hide A Turkey
Use turkey stickers and sticks to hide turkeys throughout the house and send the kids out to find them. It’s like an Easter egg hunt for Thanksgiving!

Reference: Whitney shares these games she used to do as a child, courtesy of her mother. Don't forget to check out Whitney's personal blog at http://thenaptimenook.com/

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What to Include In Your Nanny Work Agreement

Anonymous Nanny Asks for Advice

I just started a new job and I want to have a nanny contract. What should be included in the work agreement? It will be part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer. I want to make sure it is thorough and I don't want to forget anything. Does anyone have any suggestions for me please?

We suggest including the following in a nanny work agreement:

Names of Nanny and Parents:
Work Week:
Total Weekly Hours:
Salary/Hourly Rate:
Overtime Rate:
Salary Review and Increase Every ______ Months:
Increase in Salary if Famiy Has Newborn:

Traveling With Family:
Travel rate:
Travel work hours:
Travel private room:
Other:

Car:
Use of Family Car:
Compensation for Use of Personal Car:
Rules for Using Parents' Car on Personal Time:

Paid Legally:
Taxes and Social Security:
Workers Compensation:

Benefits and Insurance:
Car:
Health:
Other:

Paid Holidays:
New Year’s Day:
President’s Day:
Good Friday/Easter:
Memorial Day:
July 4th:
Labor Day:
Thanksgiving:
Christmas Eve:
Christmas Day:
Other:

Paid Vacation Days:
Paid Sick Days:
Is Cell Phone Provided:

Household Duties:
Cleaning service for heavy housekeeping:
Children’s laundry:
Make children’s beds:
Pick-up children’s bedrooms:
Pick-up play areas:
Help maintain kitchen:
Dishwasher load and unload:
Pick-up kid’s bathrooms:
Clean nanny bedroom:
Other:

Accommodations Provided for Live-In:
Private room:
Television cable/digital:
Private phone line:
Private email:
All meals:
Car for personal use:
Gym membership:
Curfew:
Rules about visitors:
Other:

Emergency Plans:
Confidentiality Clause:
How to Amend the Agreement:
Authorization to Treat a Minor Paperwork:


Here's a great article by Nathan Hommns, Esq. about the Key Ingredients to include in a work agreement:
  • Employment length: start date, end date (if known)
  • Schedule: work hours, live-in or live-out
  • Pay: hourly wage vs. salary, overtime wages, pay frequency
  • Taxes: federal, state, and local (if applicable)
  • Time off: holidays, vacation, sick leave
  • Job duties: changing diapers, feeding, laundry, etc.
  • Benefits: meals, health insurance, etc.
  • Other: house rules, transportation of children, confidentiality, performance reviewsTermination of the contract: who may end the contract and how

Monday, November 19, 2012

Have You Ever Felt Like You Were Burning-Out at Your Job?

Anonymous Nanny Asks for Advice

Anonymous Nanny Asks:
This is my first live-in nanny job. Although I work for a nice family and pay me well I typically work a 70-hour week and recently the parents have started asking me to babysit on the weekends which I am supposed to have off. Since I live with them they see I am home doing nothing else anyway. My friends and family say I need to tell the parents that I am "burning-out." Can you describe what burn-out is for me? How should I bring up the topic with the parents?

The condition called "burnout" was first recognized among caregivers in "helping" professions. Dedicated workers who pushed too hard for too long suffered physical ills, depression, anger, exhaustion, and hostility. They felt like giving up and withdrawing.

Most times helping others makes us feel good. But burn-out can happen to anyone. Taking on too much is not healthy, either for you or the person you are helping. In spite of your good intentions, you feel lousy instead of good and can suffer a prolonged state of stress and exhaustion and become resentful of those you are helping.

Here are some suggestions for preventing burn-out:
Excerpt from The Healthy Mind Healthy Body Handbook by David S. Sobel and Robert Ornstein, PhD

Monitor Yourself: Watch out for feelings of being overwhelmed by the needs of another person. They can make you feel helpless, out of control, resentful, guilty, and stressed. These are signs of burnout.

Pay Attention to Your Own Needs: Take a break when you need it, eat nutritious foods, get adequate rest and exercise, and have fun yourself.

Recognize Your Limits: Learn to set boundaries on your availability.

Pace Yourself: Don't try to do everything. Have realistic expectations.

Learn to Say "No:" You don't have to go into detail if you cannot work overtime or help someone out if you haven't the time, energy, or resources. (see how to say "No" below)

Nannies are helpful by nature and want to be helpful to the parents that employ them, making it hard from some nannies to say, "No" to their employers. 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. But, that doesn't mean in-home childcare providers should be disrespectful.

Parents never have the right walk all over their in-home employees. Overworked and unappreciated nannies 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.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

5 Best Thanksgiving Games and Toys

Are You Joining Your Employers for Thanksgiving Dinner?
By Farrah, Nanny, Los Angeles, CA

As a live-in nanny in Los Angeles, originally from Louisiana, I celebrate Thanksgiving with my employer's family each year. The entire extended family comes for the big dinner in which my employers absolutely refuse to let me work. They don't allow me to help in the kitchen or dining room with cooking, setting-up, or clean-up. So, to share my gratitude for sharing their family holiday with me I have a traditions of buying a gift to share with the kids. The games are the best gifts since both the parents and children can play these games around the Thanksgiving table year after year.

Here are the five best Thanksgiving gifts I have given to my charges and their family over the years:

The Thanksgiving Game
For players ages seven to adult. Three or more players sit around the table, between dinner and dessert. The game gives everyone an opportunity to express their gratitude to God and to each other. When friends and family gather to show their love and appreciation, everyone is a winner! However, we suggest that a prize be offered to the official winner, such as candy, a plant, or a new Christmas decoration. If you don't have a prize, you can offer something else, like the largest piece of pumpkin pie! Or add your own family tradition. The Thanksgiving Game is great for any time of the year, that will bring you years of enjoyment and meaningful memories with family and friends.



Thanksgiving Box of Questions
Thanksgiving will be even more festive with clever, engaging and entertaining Conversation Starter question cards. A Box of Questions also makes a special holiday hostess gift that doubles as a centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. Bond with family and friends and involve everyone in your new tradition. The decorative gift boxes filled with 82 glossy cards printed with Thanksgiving themed Box Girl question cards. The Box Girls started in 2002 when BFF moms Cece Feiler and Heidi Hadda were at a restaurant with their hungry husbands and six kids and the service was slow. To avoid a mealtime meltdown, the two moms started asking questions to engage their kids and what was potentially a disastrous night turned into a magical night of bonding and sharing. That night the first game in the successful Box of Questions original series was launched. Hundreds of thousands of boxes in this successful series have been enjoyed by families and friends across the globe. These clever, age-appropriate, party, and holiday themed question-games instantly unite any group while re-establishing the art of storytelling. Since the first game was sold, The Box Girls has donated a percentage of their profits to charitable organizations.



Little People Thanksgiving Celebration
A pair of playful pilgrims and two trusty Indian friends gather 'round the table to give thanks together for a fantastic fall feast! Thirteen-piece set includes four Little People figures, table and two benches, turkey platter, horse and detachable cart, pumpkin, and two connectible harvest fence pieces. Great for children one-year-old and up.



LEGO Seasonal Exclusive Mini Figure Turkey
This turkey Leto has 53 pieces and flapping movable wings. The LEGO Thanksgiving Turkey is the perfect addition to your collection of holiday figures! Makes a great holiday gift and a fun party favor. This is a choking hazard for children under three-years-old.



Thanksgiving Paper Dolls Set
This 18 piece thanksgiving set includes eight Adorable Kinders Paper Dolls (four boys and four girls), two pilgrim boy outfits, two pilgrim girl outfits, two Indian boy outfits, two Indian girl outfits, one re-stickable glue stick and one blunt tip scissors. The paper dolls are made of a durable UV coated card stock and come with a foot stand. They are perforated for easy removal and assembly. The accessories outfits require scissors cutting and may be attached to the dolls using the re-stickable glue for reuse as in dress-up play, or using permanent glue for single use such as scrap booking, greeting cards, and other arts and crafts projects. The paper dolls and their outfits are made in USA.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Children's Books for Thanksgiving

Weekly Trip to the Library

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (coming up on Thursday) I borrowed some books from the library about thankfulness and the many blessings we have, rather than specifically about the holiday of Thanksgiving. I think these are great choices for children to share the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Of course if you prefer a fun craft book to use with kids for Thanksgiving click here or you can click here for more children's books about Thanksgiving.

In Every Tiny Grain of Sand
By Reeve Lindbergh
Review by By Elizabeth Kennedy, About.com Guide

In Every Tiny Grain of Sand is a picture book in that it is divided into four sections, each with a different illustrator, and uses the writings of many writers not often associated with children's books. The selections in the book are from a variety of authors, cultures, and religions. These encompass Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Native American, Muslim, Baha'i, Algerian, Buddhist, Celtic, African-American, and East African, among others.

The authors and sources range from the anonymous to the well known. They include the Bible, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Walt Whitman, Pope Pius XII, Anne Frank, Margaret Walker, Black Elk, and Albert Schweitzer. One of the greatest assets of this book is the quality of the writing. Children are not often introduced to writing of this caliber, in a way that has meaning for them, at an early age, and this book provides such an opportunity.

In Every Tiny Grain of Sand is a 10-inch by 11-inch hardbound book with a colorful dust jacket and different colorful illustrations on its cover.

The book's four sections are "For the Day," "For the Home," "For the Earth," and "For the Night." "For the Day," was illustrated by Bob Graham. His watercolor and ink illustrations provide scenes of children in all seasons and many different places enjoying their activities, creating an effective accompaniment to the prayers and poems of thanks in this section.

The delightfully detailed watercolor and collage artwork of Elisa Kleven reinforces the joys of home, family, and nature that are celebrated in "For the Home." "For the Earth," broadens the celebration of nature with lively watercolors by Christine Davenier. Here the emphasis is on both being thankful for the earth, animals, and seasons, and on taking care of the earth.

Anita Jeram is a master at painting night scenes that are both dark and vibrant with color and life. Her dense acrylic illustrations in "For the Night" cover every page and incorporate the poems and writings into the artwork. Jeram's artwork embodies both the mysteries and the beauty of the night, a fitting finale for In Every Tiny Grain of Sand.

This is not a book meant to be read at one sitting. Instead, it is a collection to be dipped into, enjoyed, and discussed again and again. In her introduction to the book, Reeve Lindbergh describes the collection, stating, "Some of them were written in appreciation of nature, or to praise God, or to celebrate good things in our lives like our families, our homes, and our love for one another. Others were written when the writer needed strength, comfort, or courage." I hope you will enjoy the book as much as I have.



The Book of Giving Poems of Thanks, Praise, and Celebration
By Kay Chorao

This is a collection of 61 poems of praise, thanks, celebration, and sharing, ranging from an excerpt from the Bible's "Book of Solomon" to a Native American prayer. Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Blake, William Butler Yeats, and many contemporary poets are included, along with lesser-known writers. There are several selections celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and birthdays, as well as the seasons and the Earth. Different cultures are represented by an Irish folk blessing, an Algerian prayer, and several Chinese poems, adding to the book's universal appeal. Soft, finely detailed illustrations in pastel colors enhance the warm, joyous spirit of the collection.



I'm Thankful Each Day
By P.K. Halinan

This book is intended for ages one- to six-years old. The colorful illustrations and simple text make this story perfect for toddlers. Every facet of God's world provides a reason for a child to be thankful: from the glorious sunset to the beauty of the seashore, trees, and flowers.



My Basket of Blessings
By Mary Manz Simon

I picked out this book at the library simply because it looks so cute. It's in the shape of a basket, colorful and sparkly, and fun to touch for a young child. With the topic of thankfulness it's perfect for Thanksgiving. The author, Dr. Mary Manz Simon has embodied thought leadership in the Christian market for more than 20-years and this book shares the reasons to thank God for our many blessings. The publisher recommend the book for children three-years old to but I chose it for a toddler and she loves it.



Reference: http://childrensbooks.about.com/cs/productreviews/fr/grainofsand.htm
Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jumpin' Activities to Promote Fitness

Nanny and Musician Shows Us How to Use Her CDs With Kids
By Cindy Wilkinson, Musician and Nanny

Any child who has ever had me as a teacher or heard one of my children's CDs knows that I am a firm believer in the power of jumping! Here are some great movement activities using my two kid's CDs: Jumpin' Up to the Moon and Jumpin' On Down the Road.

Jumping and other forms of movement such as twirling, stomping, and even wiggling, can help little ones develop their large motor skills. And, as Lawrence Curry discussed in my hip hop blog, waking up different body parts is an important part of fitness. So, read on to find some fun activities to entertain your child while also providing a kid's sized cardio workout!!

Children love jumping! One of the really fun things you can do with a jumping activity is to divide it into two parts: a sleeping part and an awake part (jumping part). I use this progression for two of my songs: the Jumping on the Bed song and the Jumping Sheep. This activity is a hit with children who are as young as toddlers and is still fun for kindergarten aged kids. To do this activity, have the children start by getting in sleeping position. Then, let them know their cue for the jumping part. In the Jumping on the Bed song, the cue is "Oh, No."  In the Jumping Sheep it is "The sheep are jumping."  Both of these songs just progress back and forth from sleeping to jumping throughout the song. Children find this to be very humorous! It not only provides a physical outlet for kids, but also promotes listening skills. This activity has been a long-time favorite of my music students and your child will likely love it too!

Another fun activity is Everybody Dance. In this song, children follow the directions to different verses such as "everybody's gonna jump" or "everybody's gonna twirl."  The children will get to practice different kinds of movements other than just jumping and use all the parts of his or her body. The final verse is "everybody dance" which provides the participants a chance to use their imaginations and creativity to move about in whatever way they like.

If you are looking for a great hello song, Say Hello is tons of fun. The first part of the song sings to a particular person or group such as, "hello to my friends" or "hello to my family."  Then, when you hear the words, "jump up high and touch the sky," the members of that group can do just that. Jump up high and touch the sky! When using this as a hello activity for circle time, or just as a fun activity with a few kids, you may choose to sing each of the children's names. For example, sing "Hello to Timmy."  Then when Timmy hears the "jump up high" part, it is his turn to do that action. In my experience, kids seldom tire of this song and you could keep it as your welcome song on a regular basis.

Finally, here are a couple of less structured songs to do with your little ones. The Wiggle Worms is a fun song where your child can shake his booty as well as other parts of his body (ears, nose, tummy, toes). And, my Jumping Beans song, which was featured on the Best of Westword award winning CD WHEEEEE!! features, you guessed it... even more jumping! Once kids hear it, they will quickly figure out the actions to this hilarious song.

Here are the links to these awesome songs: For Jumping on the Bed, Jumping Beans, and Wiggle Worms go to my Jumpin' Up to the Moon CD at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/wilkinsonc1

For Jumping Sheep, and Everybody Dance go to my Jumpin' On Down the Road CD which is available either as a CD or downloadable singles at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/wilkinsonc2 or http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/jumpin-on-down-the-road/id387749422

I hope you and your little one have fun with these songs! And, most importantly, keep on jumpin'!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Importance of Random Acts of Kindness in the Nanny/Parent Relationship

How Have You Helped the Parents Out When Not Expected?

Anne Merchant Geissler, author of The Child Care Textbookexplains that random acts of kindness in a nanny and parent relationship are essential in maintaining a great working relationship.

Yesterday on Facebook we asked nannies what random acts of kindness their employers have shown to them. From letting an employee have paid time off when not expected, to saying or texting "thank you," or giving the nanny a monetary gift by replacing tires on their car, or giving them plane tickets and hotel accommodations for a vacation, nannies don't forget the nice things the parents that hired them provide.

We all know how hard it can be to run a home filled with children. That's why parents often appreciate random acts of kindness from their domestic employees as well. Nannies can show their appreciation by pitching-in once in awhile to help the parents in ways that might not be included in their work agreement. Running an extra errand, staying late during an emergency, or filling-in to help a parent out when they can't make an appointment makes nannies indispensable in their employers eyes.

What random acts of kindness do you show your employers? How have you helped the parents out when not expected?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pinecone Projects for Nannies and Au Pairs

Bird Feeder
Wednesdays with Whitney

The first wave of snow has started to fall all across America in the last week or two. That means hot cocoa, snow angels, and best of all: pinecone crafts! Grab some pinecones from under the nearest pine tree for an evening of crafting with our favorite conifer seed.





Supplies

• Pinecones
• Peanut Butter
• Bird Seed
• Rope
• Ribbon
• Glitter
• Glue
• Multicolored paper

Directions

Bird Feeder:

Start by typing a rope to the tip of the pine cone. Then let the kids spread peanut butter all over the pinecone and roll it in birdseed. Now just hang it from a tree and watch the birds go at it.

Pinecone Garland:

Tie pinecones to a rope with decorated ribbon. Next let the kids decorate with glue and glitter. After it dries, hang the garland up on the mantle for a winter shimmer.

Pinecone Turkey:

Cut your paper to represent a turkey chest/head (the shape of a bowling pin), feathers, eyes, a beak, and a wattle. Let the kiddos glue the turkey parts on and use the little guy as a centerpiece for the kids table at Thanksgiving.

Reference: Whitney adapted these projects she used to do as a child, courtesy of her mother, into fun projects for nannies and au pairs to do with kids. Don't forget to check out Whitney's personal blog at http://thenaptimenook.com/

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Spirit of Thanksgiving

How a Natural Disaster Can Make Us Grateful, Not Envious

I still feel cold after 12-days without heat and power at my employer's house due to the high winds of Hurricane Sandy. I have neighbors who have major damage to their homes, neighbors that have family members that have lost their homes and all their material belongings, and I even know one nanny that lost a family member during the storm. That's why empty shelves at my local grocery store, several hour gas lines, and no heat or electricity for nearly two-weeks seems trivial compared to the concerns of many others. I know how truly lucky I am, and I am so very grateful for all I do have.

Almost daily, nannies and au pairs email me with questions to post anonymously on our newsletter Facebook page. Today I received a message from a nanny that is angry about the fact that her employers make more money than her. She is literally jealous of the children because of what they own.

When you see interviews on television with those who lost their homes from fire or flooding from the hurricane, they all feel grateful they are alive. It's amazing that people who lost most of their material possessions can feel grateful.

Yet, a nanny who was not scathed by the storm feels envious and angry because those she works for have more possessions than she does. Today, I hope that what I write will help her adopt an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness.

And then, I'd like you to ask yourself if you ever resent the kids you care for because they have more material possessions than you do?

The reality is that nannies usually do not own a home the size of their boss' or posses the goods their employers have in abundance. Often the charges of nannies have bigger bedrooms and newer, more sophisticated electronics than the nanny. And given the wages and benefits of the nanny the quantity and quality of these acquisitions are more than the nanny is likely ever to achieve.

It is sometimes easy for nannies to feel envious. It is so easy to become fixated on jewelry, clothes, computers, and technological belongings. It is not uncommon for peoples working at all jobs to covet what they would like, even if they do not need it.

But envy is all-encompassing and debilitating. Envy must be avoided because it causes physical depletion and mental fatigue. Envy saps the body and mind of resources and energy besides being time consuming.

The intellectually and spiritually mature nanny understands that more stuff does not guarantee happiness, serenity, or satisfaction. In fact, the complications and stress from trying to "keep up with the Joneses" tends to impede the search for inner peace. The wise nanny finds joy in helping shape her charges and does not feel a sense of entitlement.

There is no better time to be thankful than when celebrating Thanksgiving. The holiday is an opportune time for reflection about the nature of thanks and appreciation, wants, and needs, desires versus necessities. This November I want to be thankful for the blessings I find in life, to appreciate the small things I may take for granted, and to celebrate the big things I tend to overlook, and to spread that joy of life to others.

If the victims of Hurricane Sandy can be grateful after losing their homes and belongings, certainly the jealous nanny that wrote me can learn to be thankful for what she does have, rather than focusing on how much her employers have and what she cannot afford.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kids and Nannies Love Popcorn!

Products Nannies Love: Catamount Microwave Corn Popper

I have joined an online weight loss group with several other nannies. For late night cravings one participant suggested eating popcorn as a no-fat, low-calorie snack. But, when I went to the grocery store and looked at the labels on the microwave popcorn all the products in the popcorn aisle have both fat and sodium added to the products. I searched online and found a great alternative to pre-packaged microwave popcorn with the Catamount Glass Microwave Corn Popper.

I originally purchased the 2.5-quart Catamount Corn Popper, which is too large for my tiny apartment microwave. So, I went back to amazon.com and purchased the one-quart Catamount Glass Microwave Corn Popper to use with my small microwave and I am using the 2.5-quart corn popper at my nanny job, since the kids love popcorn too.

Both sizes of the Catamount Microwave Corn Popper are simple to use. There is no need to add oil or butter! Simply put a small amount of popcorn on the bottom of the glass popper and put on the silicone lid. Stick it in the microwave for two-minutes to three-minutes (depending on the wattage of your microwave) and you quickly have healthy, great tasting popcorn.

If you would like to add a little butter or margarine to the popcorn simply put some on top of the silicone lid and it will melt onto the popcorn while popping.

The Catamount Corn Popper is both microwave and dishwasher safe. It's easier than using an air popper. If you have a small microwave I recommend using the one-quart size Catamount Corn Popper and for homes with large microwaves the 2.5-quart glass popper is a great product.






Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nanny Accused of Killing Children Has Facebook Page Supporting Her Innocence

Please "like" the Leo and Lucia Krim Memorial Page on Facebook

Despite alledgedly confessing to police that she killed two children in her care there is a facebook page supporting the innocence of Yoselyn Ortega the nanny accused of killing the Krim children in Manhattan.

Instead of wasting our time looking for another killer (that doesn't exist) I want to encourage nannies to support the Leo and Lucia Krim memorial page on Facebook. Click here to "like" the memorial page.

According to journalists Marina Krim returned to her New York home on October 25 with her youngest daughter to find her children Lucia, six, and Leo, two, dead and their nanny Yoselyn Ortega stabbing herself in the throat.

When Ortega came out of a medically-induced coma, detectives immediately questioned her about the brutal slayings, before charging her with first-degree murder.

Ortega revealed from her hospital bed that she resented her employers because they kept telling her what to do and asked her to do the housework. She also said she was involved in a vicious argument with the children's mother one day before the killings.

Ortega waived her right to have a lawyer present during questioning when she ominously told the detective, 'Marina knows what happened', a source told the New York Times.

RadarOnline reported that Ortega 'told NYPD detectives that she was involved in an epic argument with Marina Krim the day before the children were tragically murdered.'

'Yoselyn also said that when she left at the end of the day before the murders, Marina ignored her when she said good-bye and this made her very, very angry,' Radar's source continued.

Law enforcement officials told the New York Post that Mr. and Mrs. Krim asked their financially-strapped nanny to do simple housework as a way to earn money, thinking they were doing her a good turn. All this did was enrage her. 'She said something like, "I'm paid to watch the children, not clean up and do housework",' a law-enforcement source said of Yoselyn Ortega’s statements to police after she woke up from a medically-induced coma.
 
Please support the Leo and Lucia Krim memorial page on Facebook.

References:

New York Post

CBS News

NY Daily News

Huffington Post

NY Times

Daily Mail UK

RadarOnline

Fox News

Christian Post North America

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Should Nannies Be Given Personality Tests?

Nanny Agency Screens Nannies for Emotional Stability and Other Personality Risks

After the Krim murder case in Manhattan where a nanny recently killed two of her charges there has been much discussion on what parents and nanny placement agencies can do to ensure they are hiring a stable nanny. On social media nannies, parents, and nanny placement agency staff have been debating whether a criminal background check is enough to ensure a nanny candidate is the best choice to care for children. Some nannies have admitted they would be willing to take personality tests before being hired if a nanny placement agency or the parents asked them to do so.

One nanny placement agency, the Cambridge Nanny Group, headquartered in Chicago, IL has announced they will be testing their domestic applicants to take such tests. The Cambridge Nanny Group has partnered with Criteria Corporation to test nanny and domestic applicants who apply for employment through their agency. Criteria Corporation is a leader in web-based pre-employment testing.

“We are pleased to announce today Criteria Corporation as our business partner for pre-employment testing, says Ingrid Kellaghan, CEO of Cambridge Nanny Group. "We identified a need for integrity tests and personality measures that can help families increase their chances of hiring reliable, dedicated, trustworthy, and emotionally stable employees," said Ingrid Kellaghan. "We believe that Criteria Corp’s scientific and data driven methodologies align well with Cambridge Nanny Group commitment to recruiting the highest caliber nannies and domestic employees.”

The Criteria Assessments were developed and guided by it’s Scientific Advisory Board, which includes several of the world’s foremost experts in cognitive psychology, psychometrics, and statistics. “In addition to the company's own internal product development efforts, they have collaborated with renowned academic institutions and research organizations to further their test development and test validation efforts. We value their commitment to data reliability,” explains Kellaghan.

The Cambridge Nanny Group pre-employment testing platform launched two months ago. “We've had the opportunity to carefully evaluate and validate findings,” say’s Kellaghan. “It’s best in class usability and real time scoring provides valuable insights to help us make crucial hiring decisions. Whether it's predicting a person's propensity for theft or fraud or flagging candidates who are emotional unstable or are unable to handle stress we are very pleased with it's accuracy."

“We understand that choosing a nanny is the most important hiring decision a parent will ever make. Coupling our robust background check and vetting processes with scientific driven pre-employment testing allows client families to be completely confident and feel safe about their hiring decisions. We feel very good about that.” say’s Kellaghan.

Click here to learn more about the Cambridge Nanny Group. Click here to learn more about Criteria Corporation testing.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Soapy Playtime

Wednesdays with Whitney

Bath time is one of those things that kids either hate or love. And unfortunately more kids hate it than love it. So how do you get your messy monsters into the bathtub without an all on war breaking out? Send them in with this crazy soap experiment and watch dirty knees disappear without so much as a single tear! The original soap cloud activity was found at Our Best Bites.

Supplies

• Ivory Soap (This is important – it needs to be Ivory)
• Food dye and cookie cutters (optional)

Directions

1. Start by microwaving your bar of Ivory soap. Yes, microwave it. Just for a couple of minutes. Watch as it puffs up into a giant white cloud that the kiddos can remove from the microwave in one piece and play with.
2. At this point you have two options. You can send the kids up to the bathtub right away and let them play with their new science experiment. Or you can make your own kid friendly soap bars from your giant puff cloud.
3. To make new soap bars, let the kids crush their soap cloud to pieces in a large bowl. It will turn into a dry powder.
4. Now add enough water to make the concoction hold together, mixing as you pour.
5. Next let the kiddos add their favorite color to the mix and blend.
6. Finally, have the kids mold their own soap bars. They can use cookie cutters or simply their own imagination to create art that matches their personality.
7. Let the soap sit in a cool, dry place for 24-48 hours and then let the little monsters at it. Watch how often they’ll ask to wash their hands when they get to do it with that homemade Mickey soap!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Teach Kids About Election Day

The Difference Between the Popular Vote and Electoral College

Today is voting day in America. But do the kids you care for know (in fact do you know) that the candidates won't be elected by the popular vote, but by the Electoral College?

Jennifer Lee of The Washington Post shared a great resource with me to share with nannies on our blog. Below is information about election day and an electorial map for kids to color. Click here to find child friendly activities and links to help teach kids about election day.

Popular vote: This is the total number of votes cast across the country. You might think that whoever wins the most votes becomes the president. That’s how it works most, but not all, of the time. Four times in our history — in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 — the person who won the popular vote didn't become president. So now you’re wondering how that can happen, right? Keep reading . . .

Electoral votes: When the American people vote, they are actually choosing people for something called the Electoral College. It is the Electoral College that actually chooses the president. Each state gets a number of electoral votes based on the state’s population. (Maryland has 10; Virginia gets 13 and Washington — which isn’t a state but still gets electors — has three.) That’s why states with a lot of electoral votes are important in the election. Also, in most states electoral votes are “winner take all” — so, for example, if Mitt Romney wins Florida by just one vote, he still gets all 29 of its electoral votes. There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs in Tuesday's election. Whichever candidate gets 270 of them becomes the president. Download a tally sheet to help you add up the electoral votes — that’s the math worksheet part.

Click here for an electoral map for kids to color in.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Do You Know Who You are Voting for on Tuesday?

Young voters tend to follow the political party their parents support and vote for the candidates their parents tell them to. But, I found these great quizzes to help you determine if you are voting for the Presidential candidate

Candidate Matching Game by USA TODAY
Click here to take the USA TODAY poll see what the candidates believe.

The Political Party Quiz
Click here to see which party you really should support from the PewResearchCenter's The Political Party Quiz. The Pros and Cons of Controversial Issues is the most comprehensive tool for researching the candidate’s stance on issues is the nonpartisan nonprofit ProCon.org. The site provides quotations from Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney and the major third party candidates on more than 60 issues.