Thursday, January 31, 2013

Entertaining Kids on a Rainy Day

What Nannies and Au Pairs Can Do When it's Raining Outside
By Meredith K

You probably don’t realize just how much time you spend outside with kids each day until it starts raining. Once you don’t have the option to ride bikes, go to the park or spend the day at the zoo, options for entertaining kids can seem much more limited, especially if you feel cooped up in the house. To avoid cabin fever and to prevent kids from sitting in front of the computer all day long, try these fun rainy day activities that will keep kids entertained all day long.

Create a Scavenger Hunt
Keep kids moving even if they’re indoors by making a treasure or scavenger hunt for them. Hide clues around the house and have kids collect different toys or surprises in different rooms. Or, if the house is a mess, use the scavenger hunt technique to make tidying up more fun.

Take a Field Trip
Just because you can’t go to the park doesn’t mean you have to stay in the house all day. Drive to an indoor pool for a day of swimming, visit a museum for some culture and learning, or find an indoor kids’ gym for some exercise. Getting out of the house can break up the day and help ensure that nobody gets bored.

Have a Movie Marathon
Movies might seem like an obvious choice for a rainy day, but turning the TV room into a full movie theater experience can be a fun twist on a lazy movie day. Serve boxes of popcorn (the kids can help decorate them!), position chairs into rows and make “tickets” to give kids access to the room.

Cook with Them
Cooking with kids is a great activity for a rainy day for a few reasons. Not only does having kids help out with recipes teach them valuable basic skills like measuring but it will also give them a sense of pride when they can actually create something delicious. Whether you’re making a batch of cookies or getting a head start on dinner, cooking is sure to keep kids occupied for a while.

This recipe for a Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake from Chef Boyardee is a great one to cook with kids of various ages. They’ll love mixing up the biscuit base, layering the noodle and cheese layers and topping the casserole with pepperoni or other pizza toppings.

Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake
Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 35 min
Serves: 6

You Will Need:
• PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
• 1¼ cups original baking mix
• 1/2 cup reduced fat (2%) milk
• 2 14.5 oz cans Chef Boyardee® Spaghetti & Meatballs
• 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
• 1/3 cup sliced turkey pepperoni

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375®F. Spray a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Combine baking mix and milk in a medium bowl; stir until soft dough forms.

2. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto the bottom onto the bottom of a baking dish (they will not completely cover the bottom). Spoon 1 can of spaghetti and meatballs over dough and sprinkle with ½ cup cheese. Top with remaining can spaghetti and meatballs, remaining ¼ cup cheese and turkey pepperoni.

3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is done in the centers and browned.

Tip: Adding sliced vegetables to the top of the spaghetti bake is a great way to provide kids with extra nutrition.

Author Bio: This is a guest post written by Meredith K. on behalf of Chef Boyardee®. For more recipes perfect for cooking with kids, visit www.chefboyardee.com.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Secret Valentines

Wednesdays with Whitney 

Valentines Day is only two weeks away and that means the little ones are going to be busy bees making special cards for every single person they know. You never realize just how many people that is until Valentines Day comes around! But making the perfect valentine every year is a difficult, and sometimes repetitive, task. Mix it up this year with Secret Valentines, providing the receiver with a more exciting way to interact with their card.

Supplies

Paper
White crayon (or a crayon that's the same color as the paper)

Directions

  1. Start by letting the little ones cut out a card or note of desired shape and size. Hearts are favorites this time of year :)
  2. Now simply let them draw their Valentine message in white crayon (or purple crayon if purple paper, pink crayon if pink paper, etc etc.). If they get frustrated because they can't see what they're writing, give them more light. If they're still frustrated, suggest they draw their design in a darker color on another sheet of paper and then trace it onto the actual valentine in white crayon.
  3. Add a note to the card, either on a separate sheet inside or in small black lettering at the bottom of the card, directing the receiver to use water colored paints to reveal their special secret Valentines Day message!
Reference: Whitney shares this project courtesy of her mother who she used to do this project with as a child. Don't forget to stop by next Wednesday for another fun project by Whitney and to check out her personal blog at http://thenaptimenook.com/

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nanny Confessions: We Need To Make Our Own Mistakes

Coping with Separation Anxiety
By Elizabeth Hawksworth

When starting a new nanny job for a parent who works from home, I have often found myself in the following predicament. The baby will cry, the mother or father comes running in to “save her,”  the baby calms down in the parent’s arms, but she immediately begins to cry when she’s handed back to me. Repeat this scenario several times throughout the day and by the end of the day and the parents and I are completely  frazzled.

I know how hard it is for parents to leave their child with a new nanny for the first time. I know they are only trying to help me to calm their crying infant. But, my nanny confession this week is that separation anxiety is one of my toughest challenges in my line of work and I need to be able to make my own mistakes in order to be a great nanny to the child.

I know it’s tempting for parents to run in to help when they hear their baby cry. But when parents do this, they are showing their little one that they don’t trust me to take care of their child. In fact, parents are inadvertently rewarding their child for crying by giving her attention every time she cries. Instead, the child needs to learn that I can meet her needs. This means that I need to be able to tend to the infant myself so that I can earn her trust.

When I first start working for a new family I ask the parents to set a timer. If after five-minutes or so, the child isn't calming down, I welcome them to come in and help me. But, I urge them to not come in until at least five-minutes have passed. If the parents hear the child calming down, then I ask that they not get involved at all. This teaches the child that I’m someone that can tend to her needs and soothe her, and gradually, she’ll stop calling for the parents altogether.

This is a transition that can be tough on everyone, but it does eventually work and get better. I have not met a baby I couldn’t eventually calm down!

What are your tried-and-true methods for calming children down as a parent or as a nanny? How do you deal with your own separation anxiety issues?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Is it Really Safe to Use Nanny Web Sites?

How to Find a Nanny Job Safely Online
By Michelle LaRowe, Executive Director of Morningside Nannies and Editor in Chief of eNannySource.com

It’s no secret that the way nannies and families are finding each other is changing. In fact, both Be the Best Nanny Newsletter and the International Nanny Association and have published reports indicating the number of nannies who are using online nanny recruiting sites to find their nanny positions is rising. And given the fact that some sites are constantly expanding, one can only speculate that they have the revenue, client base and consumer demand to do so.

But is using an online nanny site really safe?

The simple answer? Yes.

The more accurate answer? Yes, when they are used as designed.

There are many ways parents and nannies can find each other. Word-of-mouth, placing an ad in the local paper, hanging up flyers, calling local colleges, leveraging social media statuses, using Craigslist, using a nanny placement agency, and using a nanny recruiting web site are all viable options. At their very core, these are all recruiting tools. And for job seekers and parents seeking childcare, the more tools they use, the more people they can advertise their needs to. The more people they can reach, the greater the chances are that they will find their best match. In today’s economy, finding the right relationship in the right salary ballpark requires both parents and nannies to expand their reach.

Today’s online sites are the new do-it-yourself recruiting model.
In their simplest form, online nanny sites provide a way for parents and nannies to connect. With proprietary search engines, online sites allow parents and nannies to make their searches as broad or narrow as they wish. The narrower the search field, the more closely of a match the results will be.

Just like brick and mortar agencies, many sites offer services beyond the matching.
In fact, for nannies, web sites may offer added security since both nannies and families can run background checks on each other – and no, not just the kinds that give instant results. You can get real background checks that involve the same county court records checks that reputable agencies advertise they provide. But, you have to pay for them.

So why do online sites get the reputation of being unsafe? Because with online sites, parents, and nannies must make their own choices with regards to the level of screening they wish to do and the responsibility of conducting those screenings is theirs alone.

With traditional, reputable agencies, like those who hold membership in the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, parents pay a set fee and the agency automatically does the screening for them. With nanny web sites parents pay a base fee and then must choose and pay for screenings they’d like to have conducted on their behalf. For caregivers, both options are typically free.

Reputable agencies prescreen nannies before they ever meet families, but most still complete the final background check upon the offer of a position. With nanny web sites, parents have the same options and more – in fact they can do the full screening before they ever meet a candidate. The difference between agencies and online job postings is that parents have to choose to conduct the screenings and, many times, they simply don’t.

5 Tips for Using an Online Site Safely

1. Follow the recommendations and read the fine print. Most sites provide tons of documentation on what you’re paying for and what the terms of use are. Read them before agreeing to them.

2. Choose a site that provides quality customer service. The customer service phone number should be easy to find and when you call, even if you have to leave a message, you should receive a prompt reply. Look for a site with a US based dedicated customer support team.

3. Familiarize yourself with best practices. Look for a site with a library of current information and best practices that instructs parents on how to interview, screen and hire a nanny and instructs nannies on how to do much of the same. Follow the instructions that walk you through the process.

4. Don’t take shortcuts. All do-it-yourself models require work. Prescreen candidates through email and over the phone to weed out ones who aren’t a match. Order background checks and wait for them to come back, call the references and pay attention to employment history.

5. Use common sense. Set up your first meeting in a public place and don’t provide too many personal details until you’re sure that there is mutual interest in the job. If someone who contacts you sounds too good to be true, they probably are.

Regardless of how parents find nannies and nannies find families, the ultimate screening and decision making responsibility lies with them. Take your responsibility seriously.

Michelle LaRowe is the Executive Director of Morningside Nannies, Houston’s best nanny agency and the Editor in Chief of eNannySource.com and Ken Myers, owner of Longhorn Leads, parent company of Morningside Nannies and eNannySource.com.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pocket Nanny - ITZBEEN™ Baby Care Timer

Product Review Sunday

ITZBEEN™ Baby Care Timer was invented by a new mother and father who found themselves sleep-deprived and needing help to remember baby care details like when their baby last ate or napped. They tried charts and journals, but thought there had to be a better way. So they invented one. And alas, ITZBEEN™ was born. ITZBEEN™ has four timers that count up with the touch of a button, and a host of other helpful features, all designed with the needs of a parent or nanny in mind.

The face of the unit has four timers that count up with the touch of a button when its time to change diaper, feed, or put the baby to sleep. Its soft-glow night light allows for use even at night. The clear and concise instructions guide you through set-up and use.

The ITZBEEN™ Baby Care Timer IS a simple and easy way to keep the timing of these needs organized and available at a glance. It's very inexpensive so it makes a great gift for new parents as well.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs
Review by Kellye Couillard

Dolls are for girls, and trucks are for boys. Surprisingly, this is a belief held by many parents and caregivers. But what do we do when a four-year-old boy loves to wear dresses, sparkles, and the color pink?

In this heartfelt book written by a mother about her son, we learn that everyone deserves respect and love, despite their uniqueness.

This book, appropriate for all ages, is an inspiring call to end bullying and judgments on others. My Princess boy is the ultimate book of acceptance and unconditional love, for both children and adults.

Kellye is a Professional Nanny from Beverly, MA. To learn more, visit her web site: Nannykellye.com


Friday, January 25, 2013

How Being Paid Under the Table Hurts Nannies

Nannies Don't Save Money by Not Paying Taxes
4nannies.com asked us to share the following article with our readers.

It’s estimated that only 5 to 10% of employers pay taxes on their nanny’s wages. This means that an overwhelming majority of nannies are being paid cash or under the table. While this arrangement can save the nanny money in the short term, in the long term it can cause a lot of problems. Here are some ways that being paid cash can hurt, rather than help, a nanny.

The nanny won’t be able to collect unemployment if she’s fired.
When a nanny employer pays his nanny legally, he pays a variety of employer taxes, including state and federal unemployment insurance. This means if the nanny is fired, she’ll be able to file for and receive unemployment benefits. That weekly check is often the only money the nanny has coming in while she searches for a new job. Although it doesn’t replace her whole income, it does replace a large percentage of it and can be a financial life line. Nannies who are paid under the table are not entitled to unemployment. They can be fired without notice or cause and outside of any severance outlined in their nanny contract, receive no additional financial help. Of course, a fired nanny can blow the whistle on her employer for not paying her legally and hope to receive benefits after all the legal maneuvering, but that means she’ll also be blowing the whistle on herself for not reporting her income.

The nanny won’t be able to prove income.
This is important for any caregiver who wants to get a credit card, rent an apartment, buy a car or get approved for a home loan. If a nanny employer doesn’t pay taxes on his nanny, the nanny has no way to prove she’s employed or how much money she earns. Even if she moves onto a job that does pay taxes, she has no credible work or income history.

The nanny won’t be able to collect Workers Compensation if she’s hurt on the job.
Although not every state requires domestic employers to carry Workers Compensation, many of them do. This means that if a nanny is hurt on the job, she can receive benefits quickly and without having to sue her employer. It’s a valuable workplace right. However, nannies who aren’t paid on the books can’t collect Workers Compensation without having to first prove they were actually employed at the time of their injury. This means they have to endure the time and expense of a legal proceeding and open themselves up to the IRS penalties of failing to report their income.

The nanny isn’t building up her Social Security retirement account.
When an employer pays taxes on his nanny, both he and the nanny are contributing to her Social Security account. In fact, the employer is matching every dollar the caregiver pays into the system. The amount the nanny will receive from the government when she reaches retirement age depends on how much was paid into the system. So if she spent years being paid under the table, the amount paid into her retirement account won’t accurately reflect her lifetime income. Instead, it will be much lower, so the amount she’s able to collect will be much lower. Why is this so important? A majority of Americans rely on their Social Security retirement benefits to meet their basic living expenses. Unless the nanny is regularly contributing to an independent retirement account, she too will be relying on Social Security in her later years.

The nanny won’t be able to collect disability benefits if hurt and unable to work.
The same Social Security contributions that fund retirement also fund disability insurance. When a nanny is being paid legally, she is paying into the system that entitles her to collect temporary or permanent disability benefits if she becomes disabled. That means if she’s unable to work, she will be guaranteed a monthly income based on how much she contributed to the Social Security system. Nannies who are paid under the table and don’t contribute to the Social Security system are greatly decreasing the amount they can receive. Nannies who don’t pay taxes throughout their careers won’t be eligible at all. The math is simple: if you don’t pay in, you can’t collect.

The nanny is breaking the law and, if caught, will have to make up it all up.
If the nanny is ever caught for not reporting her income, she will be responsible for back taxes, penalties, fines and interest. Depending on how long she’s been collecting her wages in cash in this and previous jobs, this could easily add up to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. For nannies who think they’ll never get caught, it’s easier than most think. Many nannies are red flagged because their employers, either personally or through their business, are audited.

So while for many nannies it can be attractive to save money by being paid in cash, it can have negative long term affects.

Reference: 4nannies.com

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Words Can Hurt: It is No Name-Calling Week


use paper to teach kids about bullying
Have You Ever Cared for a Child that Was Bullied?

January 21-25, 2013 is No Name-Calling Week. If you care for a school aged child they are likely attending assemblies and having lessons planned around bullying and name-calling this week.

No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled The Misfitsby James Howe. In the book four misfit friends show us that the names we call each other shape our vision of ourselves, and the gang attempts to bring about a no name-calling day.


Here's an easy way to teach the kids you care for about bullying at home:

1. Take a piece of paper and have the kids crumple it up, stamp on it, and really mess it up but do not rip it.

2. Then, have them unfold the paper, smooth it out, and look at how scarred and dirty it is.
Have the kids tell the paper they are sorry.

3. Now even though they said they are sorry and tried to fix the paper, point out to the kids all the scars that are left behind. Explains that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they try to fix it.. Explain this is what happens when a child bully’s another child. Kids may say they are sorry but the scars are there forever.

To learn more about No Name-Calling Week click here.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making a Paint Shaker with Kids

Wednesdays with Whitney

Craft time with the little ones can be exhausting when you're doing nearly all the work yourself. And it can also be exasperating when you're constantly running to the store for new supplies. This week's craft alleviates both of these obstacles. Simply help the kids gather simple items from around the house and let them go to town on this very active, kid friendly activity.





Supplies

• Empty Milk Jug
• Crayon Stubs (You can use beans or marbles too – whatever small object you have lying around the house!)
• Paint

Directions

1. Start by having your little ones wash the milk jug out completely. Just make sure any residue is out before you begin the project.

2. Have the kiddos roll some crayon stubs around in their favorite paints. Sure, they’ll get messy, but that’s half the fun.

3. Next, let them drop the paint covered crayon stubs into the milk jug, then tighten the cap.

4. Let the shaking begin! Watch as the paint spreads throughout the jug, creating a neat colored pattern. Bonus: This fun art project doubles as a colorful music shaker! Just don’t let that top come off or you’ll be in trouble.

5. If you want something more advanced for the older kids, go a few steps further by making your new colorful milk jug into a homemade luminary by cutting off the handle and adding some sand and a tea light!

Reference: Whitney adapted this project she used to do as a child, courtesy of her mother, into a fun project for nannies to do with kids. Don't forget to check out Whitney's personal blog at http://thenaptimenook.com/ and stop by next Wednesday for another project from Whitney.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nanny Confessions: It Hurts Not to Get a Raise or Bonus

Parents Should Be Sensitive to Their Employees Financial Struggles
By Stephanie Felzenberg, Nanny and Editor of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter

It is not a nanny’s business how much money their employers make or how they spend their money. But I confess, when parents buy their two-year-olds iPads, an infant a $300 dress, and spend a fortune impulsively on pricey material possessions, it tends to bother a nanny that is struggling to make ends meet. When a nanny feels she is underpaid, and has tried time and time again to unsuccessfully negotiate for another dollar an hour, while their employers can clearly afford it but simply choose not to, it hurts. It’s not politically correct to say, but an unfortunate result of feeling like you cannot earn a living wage, while your employer is a spendthrift, is frustration, resentment, and jealousy.

Nannies are not the only workers that may sometimes feel jealous over how much their employers have. Administrative assistants sit just a few feet from the executives they work for who may earn tens or even hundreds of thousands more than the assistant.

But nannies must keep their attitude and expectations in check. I urge nannies not to covet what their employers and their children have. The reality is that nannies won’t make the same amount of money as their employers and they should not ever expect to. It’s important for childcare providers to create a budget, live frugally, and live within their means.

My recommendation to parents is to be sensitive to the fact that your caregiver may be struggling financially. Don’t forget to pay your nanny on time, don’t skip holiday bonuses, or neglect giving them a cost of living wage raise annually, if you can afford it. Of course if you cannot afford to give your caregiver raises and bonuses simply have a conversation with your nanny to explain that. Your actions speak louder than words and your nanny will notice if you are spending a fortune on frivolous trinkets but unwilling to pay her fairly.

My recommendation to nannies is to live within your means. Create a budget. Create a plan to change your place of employ or train for a different career if you don't enjoy your current job. And don’t base your happiness just on what you can or cannot afford.

Stop by next Tuesday for more Nanny Confessions!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will Acquisitions of Agencies Improve Nanny Web Sites?

Nanny Web Sites Purchase Nanny Placement Agencies

When Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asked nannies in 2007 how they found their nanny jobs the majority of jobs were found with the help of nanny placement agencies and only 20-percent of the caregivers found their jobs on nanny web sites. Things started to shift with less nanny job seekers using nanny placements in 2010, but dramatically changed with most caregivers using nanny web sites to find nanny jobs by 2012.

With so many job seekers finding nanny jobs on nanny web sites I have wondered if nanny placement agencies could compete.

But, recently nanny web site owners have purchased nanny placement agencies. With the agency acquisitions, perhaps the differences between nanny placement agencies and nanny web sites may start to become more blurred. Could the new acquisitions improve both the web sites and placement agencies? Below, I try to find out.

How Nannies Found Jobs in 2007
42% Nanny Placement Agency
20% Nanny Web Sites
15% Word-Of-Mouth
15% Classified Ads in Printed Publications

How Nannies Found Jobs in 2010
38% Nanny Web Site
29% Word-Of-Mouth
19% Nanny Placement Agency
14% Craigslist

How Nannies Found Jobs in 2012
79% Nanny Web Site
10% Word-Of-Mouth
9% Nanny Placement Agency
2% Craigslist

In December, 2012 Longhorn Leads, (owner of eNannySource.com, Nannypro.com, and
GoNannies.com), acquired Morningside Nannies, a brick and mortar nanny placement agency in Houston, Texas. And just last week, nanny web site giant Care.com announced they have purchased the Brookline, Massachusetts based nanny placement agency Parents in a Pinch.

I had to ask how the new acquisitions will change the nanny businesses and the experience for nanny candidates and parents.

Ken Myers, Founder and CEO of Longhorn Leads admits he’s looking forward to being more involved hands-on in helping parents find the right childcare solution for their family since purchasing Morningside Nannies. He says, “By acquiring an award-winning agency, we can offer parents the choice of using a full-service agency, an online recruiting site, or something in between.”

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder and CEO of Care.com told me the union provides parents another avenue to find care. She explains, “For nannies, the acquisition means more potential job opportunities as we will now offer back-up care services to Care.com’s existing corporate clients.”

Mr. Myers explains that, “The online sites will fundamentally remain the do-it-yourself model where families take on a much greater share of the work involved with hiring an online caregiver.”

And while Mrs. Marcelo agrees there won’t be a difference to the user experience she told me there will be some great benefits to the online users. She says, “In-home back-up care through Parents in a Pinch will be available to Care.com members later this year, and immediately available through our employer offering. Likewise, Care.com expects to begin offering its full suite of corporate care services to corporate clients of Parents in a Pinch this month.”

The CEO of Care.com explains that Parents in a Pinch currently works with more than 60 corporate clients and directly with several thousand families. Care.com has an extensive corporate clientele as well, on top of our multi-million membership of individual families. As one company, they will now be able to cross-sell Care.com’s services to Parents in a Pinch corporate clients and offer back-up care via Parents in a Pinch to our corporate clients and consumer membership.

When I asked if parents and nanny candidates will see a difference in the way Morningside Nannies will operate Mr. Myers answers, “They will definitely notice a new and improved web site with tons of great content and resources to support Houston area families and businesses.”

“They will also see an increased level of commitment to customer service and the infusion of technologies that will support them better as we help them fulfill their family care needs,” says Mr. Myers.

He continues, “With Morningside Nannies and our portfolio of nanny related businesses we are able to offer parents the most comprehensive offerings.”

When asked if we will notice a difference in the way Parents in a Pinch is managed Mrs. Marcello assures me, “Absolutely not. Parents in a Pinch will continue to be managed by co-founders Barbara Siegel and Davida Manon and will continue to provide the high-quality reliable service they are known for.”

Despite owning nanny web sites and a nanny placement agency already Longhorn Leads still plans to grow all aspects all aspects of the nanny business in 2013, says Mr. Myers. And Mrs. Marcello also confirms, “We are always evaluating and are open to opportunities that we feel could expand the breadth and scope of our services.”

Showing Kids We are All the Same Inside

Great Egg Project to do with Kids on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I love doing this simple and fun presentation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Show the children eggs that have brown shells and other eggs have white shells.

Separating the eggs by the color of their shells boil some eggs and scramble others. Give each child a portion of scrambled eggs made from brown shells and a portion of the scrambled eggs from the eggs with white shells.

After removing the shells from the hard boiled eggs let each child taste one hard egg that had a brown shell and another that had a white shell.

Then ask the children if they can figure out which eggs had white shells and which had brown shells. Obviously, they wont' be able to tell.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day try this simple presentation with the kids in your care showing them that like eggs, it doesn't matter the color of a person's shell, we are all similar on the inside.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

You Must Try ZipList!

Do You Grocery Shop for the Family at Your Nanny or Au Pair Job?

I am not a techy person at all. I don't use many apps on my mobile phone and I don't even own an iPhone. But I just started using an online recipe box that I love and must share with all of our readers.

ZipList allows you to simply push one button to save online recipes and create shopping lists instantly. It makes creating meal plans, finding recipes, preparing a grocery list, and actually shopping so much easier. Even if you don't have a smart phone you will appreciate the ease of using the online recipe box, that makes your grocery list, coupons, and more.

ZipList is a free online recipe box which syncs to your phone through a free mobile app. You can store your favorite recipes and access them whenever you want, wherever you want!

Just add the ZipList Recipe Clipper for free to your browser. Then grab a recipe from your favorite food web site or Pinterest and add the recipe directly to your recipe box or shopping list without even having to leave the web site. Search more than 400,000 recipes and add your favorites to your personal universal recipe box. It is so simple.

Here just a few of the food web sites where you can access your universal recipe box and grocery list:

Martha Stewart
Cheap Cooking
CooksRecipes.com
Epicurios 
Celebrations
GalTime
Gooseberry Patch
Recipe Goldmine
Healthy Chic Eats
Simply Recipes
Skinny Taste
Steamy Kitchen and more.

Click here to check out ZipList. If you like to cook or grocery shop you'll love this online recipe box!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Searching for Mary Poppins

Weekly Trip to the Library
By Whitney Ziebarth, Author of Wednesdays with Whitney and The Naptime Nook

Searching for Mary Poppins by Susan Davis and Gina Hyams is exactly that: a book about various mothers’ searches for Mary Poppins (aka the perfect nanny). But it goes much further than that. This book, which is made up of 25 essays written by 25 different moms, addresses everything related to mothers and their nannies, from the search to the goodbyes and all the ups and downs in between.

The book has a range of essays focusing on different aspects of the relationship between mothers and nannies. There are a few really heartfelt ones where you may need to be prepared, tissue in hand. There is the mother who writes about the nanny who flies out immediately upon learning the girl she used to care for was deceased. That story still makes my heart hurt. Don’t worry though, there are entertaining essays to break up the tears.

The thing that I was disappointed in was the huge discrepancy in stories about good, healthy relationships versus troubled ones. I felt like 3/4 of the essays included in this book portrayed a very unhealthy relationship or an incredibly unprofessional nanny. There was more than one story where the nanny disappeared out of nowhere, saying nothing, leaving the Mom high and dry with no childcare. There were various stories of nannies who drank, slept, and stole on the job and there was even word of a nanny who locked the child in their room all day long.

Sure, the stories sometimes made for entertainment fodder, but the fact that these stories are real made me quite sad. And frustrated. Did the editors simply choose stories that caused drama? Or did they only ask 25 mothers to write and this was the random sampling that came back? Either way, I felt like it was an unfair portrayal. It seems like in the public eye, it is either nannies or mothers that get demonized in the childcare relationship (ex: The Nanny Diaries, Dante’s Inferno, Nanny 911, Supernanny, various television episodes). And while some of the essays in Searching for Mary Poppins are so real and really grasp what the mother-nanny relationship is, these are far outweighed by either exaggerated or simply awful situations.

In saying that though, I do feel like this book is a good read for both nannies and parents alike. It provides an insight for nannies into their employer’s feelings, and why they might be acting jealous or reserved in a certain situation. It also can provide a good “what not to do” guide for nannies. To be honest, reading this book gave me an extra boost of determination to make my days with Abby varied, educational, and fun – much unlike some of the nannies in this book.

For parents, I think this book will be an entertaining, and at times quite relatable, book. The balance of working mother guilt and a need to have a life outside of your child is thoroughly addressed by many mothers’ essays. It can provide mothers with a comfort of not being alone, and perhaps even some advice on how to deal with it. Just don’t read this book if you are starting out your search for Mary Poppins – it will be sure to scare you away before you even have a chance to look to the sky for that iconic umbrella.





Whitney Ziebarth graduated from Loyola University of Chicago with a degree in English. Before discovering her love of the literary arts, she was in their Premed program. As the author of The Naptime Nook, Whitney also shares these activities with readers daily and exercising her creative muscles in the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog every Wednesday in her column Wednesdays With Whitney.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Take the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Survey

Nannies, Children, TV, Social Media, and Video Games
Click here to take the Winter 2013 Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Survey


1. Do you text or email the parents to keep in touch with them during the work day?


2. Do your employers provide you with a mobile phone for work?

3. Are you allowed to use your employer's family computer during the work day? Do you ever use their computer for personal use (like checking your personal emails or shopping online)?

4. Do your charges have their own:
TV in their bedroom
Computer in their bedroom
Cell Phone
i-Pad
Video Games

Please take the entire survey at http://surveyconsole.com/t/AcimZDXAh

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lance, Lies, and Lessons

How You Participate is Important in Sports and in Life

Reactions to Lance Armstrong's expected admission that he used illegal chemicals to enhance his racing performance has ranged from indignant outrage to hesitant acknowledgment of Armstrong's charitable endeavors. Beyond the scandal and the legal implications for Armstrong, there may be lessons for all of us.

Adults, including parents, nannies, and sports writers, have a duty to examine the veracity of role models and sports idols. The obvious, if trite, lesson for kids is that you should not lie. More profound is that you should tell the truth. Just that simple. Be honest.

Honesty does not mean being tactless or cruel. It means not to cheat or to lie for selfish reasons. To a parent or to a lawyer or philosopher, the concept of "truth" might be a complex mix of perceptions and expectations. To one of your charges, "truth" should be uncomplicated, desirable and, at times, rewarded. Critics love to castigate "liars" because it makes the critics feel righteous and superior. Perhaps a tad of compassion and an understanding of human frailties would temper the harsh words.

Our goal is to keep children safe and secure, both in body and in mind. Nannies may find it necessary to tell charges incomplete facts, half-truths, or outright lies in order to prevent unnecessary stress and anxiety. The information we give our charges must always be age-appropriate, so we may tell different "facts" to a five- year-old and a 15-year-old.

Though nannies are probably the best judges of what is best left unsaid to the child, the wishes of the parents must always be followed.

Nannies need to establish trust and security between themselves and their charges. That rapport is established when the nanny practices and preaches honesty.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Making a Valentine's Stenciled Sign with Kids

Wednesdays with Whitney
By Whitney Ziebarth

Valentine’s Day is only a month away and the aisles are already stocked with meaningless boxes of cardboard valentines. Don’t be distracted by the cute candy hearts this year. Instead, make the kids you care for something that they will cherish for a lifetime. Make them a stenciled sign this Valentine’s Day, taking a line or verse from your favorite book to read together. And don’t forget to personalize it with homemade add-ons or personal nicknames!

Supplies

• Paint (Acrylic works best, but washable paint will do)
• Canvas
• Alphabet Stencil (make sure the letters will fit well on the canvas)
• Ruler
• Pencil
• Paintbrush
• Sealant (optional)

Directions

1. Start by picking out your phrase and dividing the canvas up accordingly. For instance, if you know your verse has four lines, divide the canvas into even fourths lengthwise with a ruler and a pencil. You will erase these lines later.

2. Next, start stenciling out your letters with a pencil, insuring that the words have the proper amount of space between them. This can be measured with either a ruler or the width of your finger. Once all the letters are penciled in, you can erase the lines you made earlier.

3. Now you’ll want to pick the colors for your picture – keep in mind things like the child’s favorite colors and the color scheme of their room. Now, using your previous pencil marks as a guide, use the stencil to paint on your words. Be sure to let each letter dry before painting a new one to avoid smudging the paint.

4. Now just let the piece dry and you are done! If you want to give the painting a more professional look though, finish it off by painting over it with a sealant.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Parents Turn Off the TV

Nannies Don't Want the Kids Watching TV When They Arrive in the Morning
By Stephanie Felzenberg, Editor of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter

No one wants to raise a couch potato. Watching too much TV makes kids more likely to be overweight and have behavioral problems. But, the most frustrating part of letting kids have too much screen time, is getting kids to turn the off the "boob tube" and do something (anything) else.

Parents often just plop kids in front of the electronic babysitter while frantically getting ready for work in the morning. It may seem harmless to the parents to let their kids watch TV before their nannies show up so they can get ready for work. But, peeling the little ones away from the small screen once they are watching it is a huge hassle for nannies. So, I beg parents to keep the television turned-off in the morning.

In her article Cut Back on Screen Time for Kids, Claire McCarthy discusses a study released in the journal PediatricsThe author is a primary care physician that warns parents of babies and small children, that they shouldn’t watch TV at all, and that viewing television can get in the way of learning. The author encourages parents to limit screen time, not have TV’s in bedrooms, and turn off the TV at meals. But, despite pediatrician warnings and advice, the study shows parents don't change their children's television watching behaviors.

If pediatricians can't get parents to help change their kids unhealthy media habits, it's doubtful they will listen to me. But, if no other statistic can convince parents to turn of the TV, I beg them to turn it off just to make their nanny's day easier.

By no means do I think households shouldn't have TVs. But, when on my clock, I enjoy watching the kids play, use their imaginations, and be creative. They flourish when they are using their toys, playing musical instruments, reading books, and doing projects.

I urge parents to help their nannies out, and don't rely on the TV to keep the kids occupied before their caregiver arrives at work. Keep the TV off. It's just as easy to plop their offspring in front of their abundance of toys, puzzles, and books instead. If they are playing productively when their nanny arrives at work, they can more easily get started with their fun and highly productive day.

How can we help parents make the best TV decisions for their kids?

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Millions Moms for Gun Control Vs NRA

Do You Sway More in Support of A Million Moms for Gun Control or the NRA?

The Indianapolis-based advocacy group A Million Moms for Gun Control is attempting to leverage the collective power of mothers across the country through social media to demand action on gun control legislation.

Founder Shannon Watts established the group in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings.

As part of the campaign, which supports new and strengthened gun control laws, as well as the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, mothers across the country write the slogan "Moms Demand Action" and sign it with a heart and 1MM4GC, the acronym for One Million Moms for Gun Control, on sidewalks in front of their homes, train stations, schools, and any place they can hang a sign.

Nationally, group members or supporters are changing their Facebook profile pictures to the One Million Moms for Gun Control logo; inviting 26 friends to join One Million Moms for Gun Control’s Facebook page in honor of the 26 Sandy Hook victims; and to Tweet using the hashtags #momsdemadaction, #momsforguncontrol and #1MM4GC.

But, at the same time the Huffington Post reports that the National Rifle Association (NRA) membership has surged by 100,000 since the Shady Hook Elementary School Shooting clearly showing plenty of people support the NRA.

Other media outlets report that the NRA is gearing up to face one of the strongest challenges to its cause in many years: recommendations from an Obama administration working group on gun violence that are expected to address assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips. Although the NRA may not support much stronger gun control methods, supports of the NRA certainly don't want children shot either.

The topic is very controversial and I personally don't know all the answers. What do you think? Do you sway towards supporting One Million Moms for Gun Control or the NRA? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Have You Ever Had a Fire in a Home You Worked In?

Familiar Voice Wake-Up Smoke Detectors

While working one day a fire started in the oven in the home I worked in. The kitchen was open into a great room in which the toddler was taking a nap on the sofa.

When I walked into the kitchen and saw it filling with smoke I must have gasped loudly since the mother jumped out of her office yelling, "What's wrong?" Simultaneously the smoke detector went off. I started reaching for the fire extinguisher while the mother picked up the flaming food with pot holders and ran it outside.

The dog was barking and the smoke detector was beeping (right above the toddler sleeping) and the toddler was sleeping just a few yards away from the oven, but the child never woke up.

It's really no surprise she slept through the whole smokey event since a little child can sleep through just about anything. I have also worked at New Year's Eve parties with more than 80 people in attendance as toddlers sleep through the party and I have also worked in homes with contractors making plenty of noise with electric saws without waking sleeping youngsters.

After that fire, when the child never woke up despite a smoke detector beeping loudly right above her, I remembered hearing about "familiar voice" wake-up smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The battery-operated smoke detectors include a speaker system for parents to record a wake-up message and brief instructions for their child. Familiar voice smoke alarms also have directional speakers in which the parents can direct the speakers directly at their child's sleeping area. Below are two vocal smoke detectors to choose from.

Click here for smoke alarm safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

Click here for fun activities for kids about fire safety.

KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm Detector

The KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm Detector goes beyond traditional smoke alarms that cannot readily awake a sleeping child, due to their very deep sleep patterns. The KidSmart alarm allows parents to record a "Familiar Voice" alarm such as "Steve! Wake up!" in their own voice. Personalized escape instructions helps children recall their escape plan to exit their home. the loud "familiar voice" output is 85 decibels with a directional speaker to the speaker can be aimed at the child's bed.



SignalOne Vocal Smoke Alarm

The SignalOne Vocal Smoke Alarm allows parents to record a personalized message in their own voice, instructing children to wake up and escape safely during an emergency. The SignalOne Vocal Smoke Alarm was developed by in response to documented research showing a familiar voice consistently awakens children from deep sleep, a circumstance in which traditional smoke alarms have proven shockingly unreliable. Parents can record personalized escape instructions customized for any individual household floor plan or language with loud 85decibels output. Parents can direct the speaker directly at a child's sleeping area to help ensure the voice alarm is heard during an emergency.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review for Middle School Kids of Divorce

Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen

Every teen struggles to find his or her place in the world, so it is no surprise that middle school readers love books that feature protagonists who often feel like outsiders. Whether a tween or teen in your care is a product of divorce, any middle school student will enjoy reading Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom.

Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Momis about a 12-year-old girl named Violet who is the product of a messy divorce. Her TV producer father lives in LA with a new stepmom while she is stuck in Vancouver with her mother and loser boyfriend.

Her view on life is a little cynical after witnessing her father cheating on her mother with a Hollywood actress. Their divorce has been finalized for a little bit and Violet’s mom is hell-bent on finding a significant other, even if it’s at the expense of Violet and 5-year-old Rosie’s happiness.

Violet is determined that each man that her mother meets is a dud; and by the sounds of it, Violet’s right, there have been cheaters, married men, and alcoholics. This is why Violet (and her best friend Phoebe) have to interject to find her mom the perfect man and so they decide that the handsome, charming and animal loving George Clooney is the perfect choice.

Violet and Phoebe construct a letter to Mr. Clooney explaining why he’s the perfect man for her Mom and why he should retract his widely stated belief that he will not get married again.

This story is filled with a little troublemaker who is clearly acting out because she’s going through a difficult transition as she grows older, however, as a reader, you grow to love the mischievous Violet who only gets into these sticky situations because she loves her mom.

Plus, Violet works on her own dating issues while trying to get the famous actor of the title to come to the rescue.

References:
ReederReads
Voice of Youth Advocates


Friday, January 11, 2013

The Double Standard: American Nannies Can Be Married and Have Children While Au Pairs Cannot

Is it Harder for Mothers of Young Children to Find Nanny and Au Pair Jobs?

Au pairs are caregivers between the ages of 18- and 26-years-old that come to America in a government regulated cultural exchange program. The au pair lives with a host family. The au pair helps with childcare for up to 45-hours per week and receives a small monetary allowance for personal use.

On the AuPairMom blog this week, CV Harquail discussed that American parents are not interested in hiring au pairs that are married or have children. Her arguments are convincing. The author explains that it wouldn't make sense for someone to leave their children and partner behind in another country while working in America for a year or two.

Not only don't parents want to hire au pairs that have their own children, they also don't want to hire married au pairs. CV Harquail says that au pair positions in the United States are for one person at a time.

The author explains, "Even host families that need two au pairs at the same time don’t look for married or partnered ‘couples’, since the family has two au pairs usually to cover a work week that is more than 45 hours long. A couple working for a family who needs two au pairs would not be able to spend much if any of their off duty time together."

But does marital status or having young children affect United States citizens that work as nannies?

I have friends that are single mothers that say it is very hard to find nanny jobs. I even know a few that have actually lied during nanny job interviews saying that they don't have young children because they have been told by parents that they prefer to hire a single nanny that doesn't have young children. Parents have admitted to a few friends that they worry that the single parent might not be reliable if their own young child were to get sick or their child care plans didn't pan out.

Although many nannies are married, most au pairs are not. I don't see how being married would make a difference in care provided by a live-out nanny. But being married could be an issue for a live-in nanny (or au pair) because families don't typically have the space, or aren't willing, to house a couple.

CV Harquail made a convincing argument as to why American parents don't want to hire married parents as their au pairs. But I don't think being married or having kids is as big an issue for nannies.

Do you think it's harder for American married parents to find nanny jobs than single, unmarried caregivers?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

CDC Recommends Chidcare Workers Get Flu Shot

Are Your Employers Insisting You Get a Flu Shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that this year's flu season is expected to be one of the worst the country has seen in 10 years. Not even at its peak yet, the season “is stacking up to be moderate to severe,” Tom Skinner, a spokesperson for the CDC, said.

The CDC explains that each year, an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu-related complications. Influenza causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older. Making healthy choices at school and at home can help prevent the flu and spreading flu to others.

As of Tuesday this week, 41 states have reported "widespread outbreaks." States such as Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and New York have been particularly hard-hit.

Earlier this week, The Huffington Post reported that overcrowded emergency rooms in Chicago, unable to cope with the influx of flu patients, have recently been forced to turn people away. Julie Morita, medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health's immunization program, told DNAinfo.com Chicago that the number of flu cases in the city is growing.

On Wednesday, Boston mayor Thomas Menino declared a "public health emergency because of a sharp rise" in flu cases across the city," NBC News reports. Seven hundred confirmed cases have already been reported in Boston since the season began in October.

Michigan residents, too, have been feeling the sting of the flu outbreak. According to the Detroit Free Press, at least three children have died, and 285 confirmed cases have been reported in the state as of Jan. 3.

In New York, where at least one child has died, flu cases are reportedly "skyrocketing." According to New York Daily News, there have already been more than 15,000 flu cases reported this season.

Dr. Marc Siegel, author and associate professor of medicine at NYU, told Fox News that the flu season will not peak until the end of the month or in February. Though people who get flu shots may not be 100 percent safe from catching the infection, Siegel advises those who have yet to be vaccinated to do so right away.

  • Get a flu shot. It's easy and inexpensive to get the flu shot.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

What Babies Learn in Utero

Keep Talking and Playing Music for a Baby in Utero

Working with children full-time I am amazed by how children learn language. Studies suggest that infants start picking up elements of what will be their first language before they are even born. Studies show that newborns recognize their mother's voice to a stranger's voice, recognize music they heard played while they were still in utero, learn part of their native language, and are born crying in their native accent. They are hearing and learning before they are born.

Since babies develop the ability to hear by about 30 weeks' gestation, we should all make an effort to talk to a mother's pregnant belly and play music for the unborn for the last months of pregnancy.

Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times discussed a study scheduled for future publication in the journal Acta Paediatrica that suggest babies learn part of their native language before born. 

Another study published in 2010 suggests that, from birth, babies cry in the accent of their mothers’ native language. French babies’ cries end on a rising note, while German babies’ end on a falling note – imitating the “melodic contours” of those languages.

Studies also show that newborns prefer their mother's voice to a stranger's voice. Dr. Barbara Kisilevsky, a Queen's University professor of nursing along with a team of psychologists at Queen's and obstetricians in Hangzhou, China, found that fetuses are capable of learning in the womb and can remember and recognize their mother's voice before they are even born. Their research findings are published in the international journal Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.

In 2011, scientists at Paris Descartes University found that one-month-old babies remember music that was played to them in the third trimester of their mothers’ pregnancies.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Indoor Snowballs Even When You Don't Have Real Snow

Wednesdays with Whitney

Kids love snow. They love to sled in it, make snow angels, and build forts and snowmen with snow. But there are plenty of readers of this blog that don't get any natural snow this time of year. You can still have fun with snow even if they don't get a white soft blanket of the seasonal stuff. Whether it's winter in your neck-of-the-woods or not, kids will have fun playing with fake snow and making a coconut snowball recipe this week.

Fake Indoor Snow
By Be Amazing Insta-Snow Jar

You can help the kids make realistic-looking snow inside the house that feels cold to the touch. The 3 1/2" oz. plastic jar of non-toxic "snow" powder comes with an activity guide and a measuring scoop. You just add water and make up to two gallons of fake snow.  Just mix one teaspoon of Insta-Snow powder with two ounces of room temperature water to produce the best quality snow. We recommended making your snow in smaller quantities to get the best batches. Insta-Snow® powder expands 100 times its original volume. Just a small amount of powder is needed to make an impressive quantity of snow.

Just cover a table or floor with a plastic table cloth (for easy clean up) and pour the fake snow into a large tray. The kids can use measuring cups or sand toys like small shovels and buckets to play with the snow. They can build tiny snowmen or simply let them play with animal figurines in the fake snow.


Coconut Snowballs
 
You Will Need:
1 package (7 ounces) shredded sweetened coconut
1 angel food cake, about 10 ounces
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 3/4 cups milk or heavy cream, divided
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Fill a shallow bowl with one cup of coconut. Let the kids break and pull the cake apart into chunks the size of large marshmallows.

2. Place the confectioner's sugar in a bowl. Add the vanilla and 1/2 cup of milk and stir to combine. Stir in more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the icing is smooth and moderately runny.

3. Using a fork, pierce a chunck of cake and dip it into the frosting. Hold the chunk above the bowl, and use a spoon to coat any unfrosted surfaces. Don't let it get too soggy. Pat or roll the chunk in the cocount, then place it on waxed paper and sprinkle with cinnamon. Repeat with the other chunks, refilling the blow with coconut as needed. Let the snowballs set for 20 minutes before serving. They are best eaten the day they are made.




Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Sleep Training Helps Us a Lot!

What is Your Favorite Sleep Training Method?

I’ve talked to a lot of parents over the years who love every part of parenting except sleep training. These days sleep training has become controversial with dozens of methods ranging from gentle to strict styles. Some cry-it-out methods, that may have been popular in the past, aren’t considered good for child development now. Sleep training can be done without hours of crying and tears.

As a nanny, I’m a big fan of Ferber’s sleep method, which encourages parents to let children cry for very short periods of time – five to 10 minutes at most – before going back in and reassuring the child that their caregiver is still there. But, I warn parents who want to use this method that they should never use any kind of sleep training with young babies under the age of eight-months-old. Babies at that age can’t understand that their caregiver or parent is going to come back and may feel abandoned, which can create psychological problems.

Sleep training doesn’t have to be as regimented as the Ferber method though. Starting with a bedtime routine is key. A child who goes from playing and being excited straight to a dark, quiet room at bedtime is obviously going to have trouble falling asleep. Transitions are the name of the game with small children, and having a sleep routine that includes a warm bath, perhaps a massage, a bedtime story, and a cuddle helps encourage children to sleep. A routine alone helps a lot with a fussy child who doesn’t want to sleep.

Sleep training helps me at my job as a nanny. It’s difficult to have a child sleep properly without a nighttime routine. I don’t like to listen to children cry and get upset. A normal routine often eliminates sleep time fights because the child knows what to expect. Ideally, I love to work as a nanny for children who go to bed easily and can sleep alone.

As a nanny, I know that I need to be flexible and willing to learn from the parents to help the children in my care grow and thrive. When parents work with me and give clear expectations for sleep, I find that nighttime goes a lot more smoothly.

Click here to learn about all the most popular sleep techniques.

What are your favorite techniques for helping little children sleep well?

Elizabeth Hawksworth, also known as Torontonanny, is a nanny, writer, and blogger. She’s been in the childcare business for approximately 17-years, and currently works part-time with a number of children in the city. She enjoys working the most with newborns and babies up to the age of two, and details her nannying experiences on her blog, http://www.torontonannyblog.com. She is also a published writer, and you can find her first poetry book, Break for Beauty below. Elizabeth enjoys walking, shopping, reading and crafting, and lives with her two cats, Athena and Fili, in the heart of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.




Monday, January 7, 2013

Helpful Skills Nannies Should Have

What are the Most Important Skills for a Nanny to Have?
By Ken Meyers, Morningside Nannies and Longhorn Leads, LLC

There could be a great deal more to the role of a nanny than just watching over the child. You should concentrate on improving your marketability by investing in classes that could increase your value to a prospective client. As many households require different responsibilities, it is always better to be over-prepared than to come up short, especially when it is dealing with someone's child or children. What skills could come in handy when clients come across your resume?

1. Child Care Classes - Social Services in your area usually have classes that you can take for child care. You are rewarded a certificate of completion and can demonstrate that you have trained knowledge of child care. These classes will be dependent on your area and don't usually cost much to enroll. In fact, sometimes they are even free. These classes cover everything from methods of controlling an aggressive child to forms of punishment that are effective without the physical element.

2. CPR & First Aid - Having some kind of medical training could put a parent's mind at ease knowing that you are trained in CPR and First Aid. While you don't need to be a field medic or EMT, being able to handle physical emergencies can be a feather in your cap. There are thousands of incidences yearly that could have either saved a child's life or prevented permanent damage if the nanny or baby-sitter had a form of training in CPR or First Aid.

3. Cooking - Not every client will require you to cook, but it could be an additional bonus to those looking to hire long-term nannies. Learning how to cook shouldn't be an expensive venture if you are practicing at home. However, adding college classes or certificates for cooking to your resume may raise a few eyebrows. Having a firm grasp of nutrition and healthy dining could greatly increase your worth to the prospective client.

4. Defensive Driving - For positions that require transportation of the child to locations such as school, having defensive driving lessons could greatly increase your worth. This provides a form of comfort to the parents of the child that you know how to handle yourself behind the wheel of an automobile as their child sits behind you. Most areas will offer these courses through the DMV and many schools offer it as well.

5. Martial Arts - Learning martial arts is more than just self-defense and combat training. Martial arts teach about discipline and how to handle yourself outside of defensive combat. However, many parents feel comfortable in knowing that their nanny can put down a would-be assailant or kidnapper.

6. Creativity - Being a role-model for a child while the parents are away or at work entails more than simply sitting him or her in front of the television all day. Having creative methods to entertain the child that causes them to use his or her mind could make the parents very appreciative and glad that they hired you.

Caring for a child requires complete attention to detail. You are responsible for the well-being of this person as the client is depending on your to protect and care for that which matters most. Furthering your knowledge of every aspect regarding a child will not only look favorable on your resume, but could increase success in your own life.

Author Bio:
Ken Myers is the founder and contributor for http://www.longhornleads.com/. He frequently researches and writes about a variety of topics like education, Technology, Health and many more.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

10,005 Ways to Improve Your Health for Your Life

New Year's Resolution for the Rest of Your Years

1. Buy a Pedometer: Buy a pedometer that measures steps, miles, calories, and aerobic steps. Some brands offer software for tracking results.

2. Short-Term Goal: Walk 10,000 steps a day.

3. Medium-Term Goal: Walk 10,000 aerobic steps a day.

4. Long-Term Goal: Walk 33,000 steps every day, one million steps a month. Sounds like too much? Don't worry, the actual goal is to increase your health and fitness with a sustainable lifestyle that is safe and applicable at any age. (Walking 33,000 steps takes about five hours and 12.5 miles, depending on your stride and terrain).

5. Walk Correctly: Stride from the butt, keep your chin parallel to ground, and move arms and legs forward, not sideways.

FitBit One Pedometer

It's small, it's silent and it downloads automatically when you walk by your computer -- or via Bluetooth to a cell phone app. You can see your steps, calories, distance, and stairs climbed on the Fitbit itself, plus you can view your results on their web site or app without subscription. It also tracks your sleep quality. It works with both Mac and PC.



Omron HJ-321 Tri-Axis Pedometer

The latest generation of pedometers uses a silent tri-axis mechanism that tolerates being tilted. No clicking or rattling. You can wear it in the traditional spot -- clipped to your waistband -- or carry it in a pocket, on a lanyard, or however else suits your lifestyle. The Omron HJ-321 counts steps, calculates distance and calories burned. It also tracks aerobic steps separately when walking or jogging more than 60 steps per minute or more than 10 minutes continuously. It resets itself automatically each day, with a 7-day memory to review past days. It comes with a security leash to ensure you don't lose it. This model doesn't upload to a computer or app, but it's big brother the Omron Hj-323U does upload via a built-in USB stick to the OmronFitness.com personal dashboard. You can use manually enter your data there if you prefer the less-expensive HJ-321.





Omron HJ-112 Pedometer

The Omron HJ-112 Pedometer was one of the first accurate pocket pedometers with a design that allows you to either wear it on your belt or waistband, or to carry it in a pocket or purse or pack. It is rated high for accuracy by a consumer testing organization. Its design allows it to be worn or to be carried in a pocket or purse. In addition to steps, miles, and calories, it tracks aerobic steps and aerobic minutes per day. This allows walkers to track lifestyle steps and dedicated walking or running steps. It has a 7-day memory for easier tracking. The mechanism is accurate and silent.