Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nannies Love to Keep Bottles and Toys from Dropping

Product Review Sunday

There is nothing worse then having to constantly bend down to pick up a baby’s bottle, sippy cup, or toy especially once they discover how far they can toss it. That is why I was thrilled to discover there are secure straps make for baby bottles, sippy cups, toys, and pacifiers.

Say goodbye to losing bottles, sippy cups, toys, and pacifiers. Secure straps today are so versatile and the strap size can adjust to most anything.

Use straps and tethers to attach to sippy cups, baby bottles, toys, and other necessities to the baby’s high chair, stroller, car seat, baby carrier, or favorite ride along toy.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Weekly Trip to the Library
Review By Polly Psi

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Leadis part-auto biography, part self-help guide, part career advice, and part new feminist manifesto. In this provocative, well-documented and readable book, Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, chronicles her experiences and her advice as a corporate leader. It is a great read for all working women.

This book emanates from a speech given by the author entitled, "Why we have too few women leader." With this background, as you would expect, there is a focus on the inequalities in leadership positions for women in corporate America. Indeed, Sandberg urges women to be active, to be aggressive, to occupy their rightful place at the executive desk, to seek challenges and to take risks.

She also tackles the complexities and complications of juggling a career and a family. Sandberg explains what worked for her which consisted of negotiating mutually satisfactory compromises with her family and her families. She urges women to set their own goals and boundaries. And she calls for societal changes and changes to the business culture to accommodate women.

Is any of this of value to nannies? Definitely. You are the CEO, CFO, and COO of your own life, in attitude and in action. Especially compelling is her cry to pursue your goals with gusto and perseverance.

Of interest also to the nanny is that this book may provide insight into the mind of your Mom Boss and her anxieties. Good stuff to know if your goal is to be the best nanny. Read the book and use what works for you at your point in life.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Don't Feed Babies Solid Food Prior to 6-Months-Old

photo from Gerber
Baby's First Foods

This week another study has reported that children who get solid food too early might be at a greater risk for developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema, and celiac disease.

The study explains that in addition to possibly boosting a child’s risk for contracting certain chronic diseases, introducing solid foods too early often means babies don’t drink an adequate amount of breast milk or formula, and that can translate into poorer nutrition.

During the first six-months breastfeeding is recommended. Some formulas in the United States contain probiotics. While these formulas do not provide the full benefits of mother’s milk, they are designed to increase a formula-fed baby’s digestive bacteria to a level closer to that of breastfed babies. Click here to see the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on how to choose a formula.

The first food to add to the baby's diet is rice cereal. Have them eat a serving of rice cereal once a day for a week. The next week choose one of the following ingredients in addition to rice cereal: avocado, apricots, apples, bananas, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums, and pumpkin.

Once you are ready to introduce fruits and vegetables to a baby's diet, the easiest way to prepare homemade baby food is using a steamer and a food grinder made for the purpose of making baby food. For example, we recommend the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker or the The First Years Babypro All In One Baby Food Maker.

But, you can use hand operated products which are designed for grinding food, or you can use food processor which purees food. You can freeze the food you make too. For freezing use ice cube trays. Ice cube trays provide perfect portions.

Always clean your hands and all utensils you use for food preparation. When boiling baby food, use as little water as possible without risking to burn the food. This way you'll keep more of the vitamins in the food.

Cues Babies are Developmentally Ready for Solid Foods:
  • They are at least six-months-old
  • They are able to sit upright
  • They open their mouth when they see a spoon coming towards them
  • They can move the food from the spoon and swallow without pushing back out of mouth
  • They make chewing motions
  • Drooling decreases as they become efficient at swallowing
  • They have doubled birth weight
  • They have ability to reject food by turning their head and keeping their mouth tightly closed

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Who Pays When Nannies Get in a Car Accident?

Should Nannies Pay When They Get in an Accident with Their Employer’s Car?

If you work as a nanny and you drive your employer’s car regularly the parents must add your name to their car insurance. If you are listed on your employer’s car insurance you and your employer will be protected if you get in an accident with their car.

If the accident is not your fault, and your name is listed as an insured driver, the insurance will cover the expenses of any losses. If the accident is your fault and your name is covered by the car insurance policy you may simply be responsible for the deductible.

Some nannies feel that if they cause a car accident while working that the parents should pay the deductible simply because the accident happened during working hours.

But I argue if you get in a car accident that is your fault while working, and you step up and act responsibly by offering to cover the cost of the deductible, you will maintain a positive relationship with the parents. If you do not offer to pay the deducible, your employers might resent you.

If the parents don’t list you as a driver on their car insurance, as required by law, you will both be in a sticky situation and the you will be blamed for the entire cost of the accident.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blowing and Painting Eggs

Wednesdays with Whitney

I always thought that blowing eggs was only for old women who had
nothing else better to do than craft beautiful and delicate eggs.
Turns out I was wrong! Blowing eggs is a great Easter activity for
ages three and up. Kids will love seeing the egg ooze out. Add in some
paints at the end and this craft is a sure fire hit!






Supplies

Eggs
Needle
Vinegar
Paint

Directions

1. Start by using the needle to poke a small in the top of the egg and a larger hole in the bottom.
2. You'll want to blow through the small hole so that the egg can be pushed out through the large hole.
3. Once your egg is fully blown out, you will want to rinse it with the vinegar.
4. Now just let dry and paint! Once painted the eggs become a lot less fragile, so you can stop holding your breath if you are soon this with youngsters :)

Matzoh Ball Soup

Celebrating Passover with Children

As a child my favorite Jewish holiday was Passover. On the first or second night of Passover families gather for a Seder, a ritual meal where we retell the story of Passover through stories, songs, and prayers. To start off the meal, many families enjoy matzoh ball soup, which is traditionally a chicken and vegetable soup with dumplings made out of matzoh meal (or ground matzoh) and is usually the kids’ favorite part of the dinner. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy matzoh ball soup. Here is a quick and easy recipe I found in my Grandmother's recipe box.

Ingredients
1 pkg. (4.5 oz) matzoh ball mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
64 oz. reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 large carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
¼ tsp. black pepper, or to taste

Directions
  1. Prepare the matzo ball mix according to the package directions.
  2. Set a large pot of water to boil. Once it boils, add the salt to the boiling water. Using wet hands, gently form the matzoh ball mixture into one-inch balls and carefully drop them into the water. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a low boil, and cook them for 30 minutes.
  3. After adding the matzoh balls to the boiling water, bring the broth to a boil in a separate large pot. Add the carrots and celery and simmer them for 15 minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the cooked matzoh balls from the water and add them to the pot with the vegetables. Add the dill and black pepper and serve it hot.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Social Media and Children

Are You Allowed to Post Pictures of Your Charges Online?
By Elizabeth Hawksworth

Do your employers allow you to post pictures and updates about their children on your social media accounts? It’s an important question these days, especially with the advent of Internet information and its permanency in the world. Simply by Googling someone's name a wealth of information can be found about any individual, which means that a  picture that you think is cute can be potentially damaging or revealing to the wrong people for your charge.

This week, I confess that I want share stories, photos, and videos of the children I care for on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube but I can't without first having permission from the parents.

It’s important for parents to be upfront about expectations regarding social media. Many parents don’t mind their nanny sharing photos of their kids as long as their nanny runs every post or picture by them first. Some parents like to keep an eye on what the nanny is doing with their children by quickly checking their Facebook or Twitter from a mobile device.

However, some parents prefer that you keep all mention of their child from social media. The nanny must respect the parent's decision. A nanny should never post a picture of a child’s face or the child’s name on social media without written permission from the child’s parents.

It’s tempting to want to share our jobs with our friends and family, especially when we love the children we care for so much. However, it’s important to abide by all our employer’s rules, and that includes sharing of information about their children. Ensure that a social media clause is written into your contract so that you are fully aware at all times of what expectations are around social media and children.

Do your employers allow you to share pictures and stories of the children you care for on social media? Why or why not?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Should Nannies Discuss Their Dating Lives at Work?

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents

Undoubtedly, working as a nanny in a family’s home caring for their kids is a very intimate job. Nannies learn a lot about the family they work for and the family learns a lot about their caregiver. To ensure a long lasting work relationship, nannies and parents must always remember there are professional boundaries they should never cross.

Mixing dating and jobs is unprofessional. But when nannies live in the home they work in, their boyfriends or girlfriends will have to meet the family eventually. At some point their significant others will nannies up to go on dates.

Therefore, before accepting a nanny job, caregivers and parents ought to discuss the rules of the home to determine if the job is a good fit. Some parents will enforce curfews on week nights, rules about guests, and possibly have restrictions about visiting girlfriends and boyfriends.

Of course employers will typically invite the nannies' significant others to important family events such as such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, or graduations. But, it’s completely inappropriate for nannies to invite their boyfriends or girlfriends to the house they work in during working hours without prior permission.

Although nannies and their employers build close relationships do you think is it unprofessional to discuss your dating life with your employers?

Has your employer ever set you up on a blind date? Have you ever double dated with your employers and your boyfriend or girlfriend? Do you think having your employer set you up on blind dates is appropriate?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Do You Give Your Charges Gifts for Easter?

Best Easter Gifts to Give to Kids

Nannies are not required to give the children in their care gifts but it's certainly hard not to for important holidays and birthdays. I prefer giving the kids left in my charge educational toys or games as gifts when possible. I avoid giving sugary treats or candy as gifts. Here are my favorite choices for Easter gifts for nannies and au pairs to give to the children in their care this Easter week.

Easter Eggs - Hide 'Em and Hatch 'Em Eggs - Watch Them Hatch Like Magic Three Different Pets!

Different eggs hatch like magic. Three different pets grow right out of their shell when the egg is placed in water Includes three different egg containing a baby duck, chick, or rabbit pet. They are perfectly sized for seamless integration with your existing egg hunts. These are fun on Easter or year round.



Kinder Bunnies Card Game

KinderBunnies is a fun-filled card game in which players try to collect as many bunnies and carrots as possible. Based on the phenomenally popular Killer Bunnies, this game takes us back to their first adventure. Loaded with colorful animal characters, activities, and interactive game play, KinderBunnies guarantees Hare-raising good time every game. Five special dice keep the game rolling as players budget cabbage and water to feed their bunnies and avoid dangerous safety hazards. Game includes 110 large cards, 10 small cards, 10-sided dice, and instructions. For two to four players, 30-minute playing time, best played by children four-years-old to adult.



Educational Insights Eggspert

Spice up daily activities and transform review sessions into exciting, energizing games with Eggspert, the interactive game system. With Eggspert's two fun game modes - Quiz Show and Wheel of Fortune - you can quiz math facts, test vocabulary, conduct spelling bees, or reinforce any subject. Using egg-shaped response buttons, students buzz in to answer questions in Quiz Show mode. In Wheel of Fortune mode, the teacher or nanny starts Eggspert's six eggs "spinning" until only one egg remains lit. The child (or group) assigned to that egg must answer the question. Perfect for centers, classroom management, rainy day activities, and carnival games. Includes Eggspert, six student buttons, teacher control button, and guide.



Ravensburger Funny Bunny

Funny Bunny is a quick play 3D action game for two to four children ages four-years-old and up. Players hop the bunny hill in a race to the top to see who can get to the big, juicy carrot first. They have to be careful not to fall into a rabbit hole on their way up the hill and miss their chance at the prize. Players must move their bunnies up the hill according to the number of spaces illustrated by action cards that show a rabbit hopping over one, two or three spaces. As players try to hop up the hill on the 3D game board, they utilize basic counting skills, color identification and recognition, and fine motor skills. The game also introduces young children to goal-setting, competition, cause-and-effect and turn-taking. In addition, it provides a social opportunity for children, friends, and family to engage with one another.



Bunny Hop

The farmers are in a frenzy. Bunnies hop and hide in this fast action memory game Carrot Patch, eating all the veggies. Players help the farmers catch these funny jumping bunnies in a memory game of bunny "hide and seek." Be the first player to collect at least one bunny of each color (red, blue, yellow, and green) and you win. Includes Carrot Patch game board, 20 bunnies in four different colors, four farmers, one die, and game instructions. No batteries required. For tow to four players age four- to 14-years-old.



Little Mommy Dress Up Cuties Bunny Doll

These adorable Little Mommy Dress Up Cuties Bunny Doll are toddlers dressed up in their favorite costume as a an Easter bunny for the Spring holiday and ready for a day of fun in the sun with their little mommies.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Book Reviews By Kids, For Kids
Review by Aaron, 7-Years-Old

The word flotsam means something that floats on water and be found on the beach. This book is about a boy who found an old camera at the beach. He took pictures with the camera and they turned into very interesting things.

This book is special because it doesn't have any words. You have to look very carefully and tell the story to yourself. I like this book because of the detail in the pictures. There is a lot of color. There are tiny fish, people, and aliens.

The book made me more aware of hidden things on the beach too. I could read it over and over again and tell a different story. I recommend this book to children of all ages. It is very interesting when you look at the pages very closely.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

National Nanny Training Day

Have You Heard About National Nanny Training Day?

On Saturday, April 20th, 2013 more than 2,000 nannies will gather at 40 events in local communities across the country to celebrate National Nanny Training Day.

The goal of National Nanny Training Day is to raise awareness of the need for a well-trained nanny work force and the positive correlation between nanny training and quality care.

Nannies will participate in training sessions designed to help them address the unique challenges of working in a private home, to improve and expand their childcare skills, to stay current on new trends and resources within the field, and to connect and share with colleagues.

Click here to find a nanny training day event in your area.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Glitter Easter Eggs

Wednesdays with Whitney
By Whitney Ziebarth

Easter’s coming up soon, and the days of endlessly decorating eggs has already begun! Why not mix it up with this sparkly, messy, and colorful alternative? This craft was inspired by the last year’s Easter issue of Parenting – it had a handful of creative Easter basket ideas as well that are definitely worth checking out!





Supplies

• Eggs
• Glue
• Glitter
• Hairspray

Directions

1. Start out by making hard boiled eggs (boil for 17 minutes).
2. Once the eggs have cooled, you can start the decorating! Start by painting the eggs with glue. Make sure to have a wet paper towel nearby, as sticky fingers will quickly turn into sticky hair!
3. Once the egg is all painted (or as painted as it’s going to get), you can roll it in a bowl full of glitter. Keep an eye on the little ones though, because glitter rarely stays in one place.
4. When the eggs are all decorated, set them in an empty egg container in the fridge. You want to let the glue dry and glitter set in for a while before you do anything with these guys.
5. Don’t forget to spray the eggs with hairspray before handing them off to the kids in order to prevent a glittery mess all over the house!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nanny Confessions: It's Easy to Misinterpret Notes

Communicate Face-to-Face, Not in Notes
By Stephanie Felzenberg, Nanny and Editor of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter

Nannies are encouraged to record what happens during their work day in a daily log. But, if nannies don’t choose their words wisely their written comments can be misinterpreted as judgmental, condescending, or patronizing (not the tone an employer wants to hear from their caregiver).

Similarly, when parents leave instructions on Post-it-Notes, nannies may feel like they are being criticized and scolded.

People misinterpret so much written on social media, in emails, in texts, and Post-it-Notes all the time. Caregivers and parents cannot hear the other person’s tone of voice or see their facial expression in written text. A lot of miscommunication and hurt feelings could be avoided if parents and nannies would just make a concerted effort to communicate in-person.

This week, I confess, when parents leave lists of things to do on Post-it-Notes around the home I often feel like they I am being criticized and scolded.

Nannies find it demoralizing when parents only notice what they have done wrong. Parents deserve to be respected and not feel patronized by their caregivers. To reduce miscommunication, nannies and parents should speak respectfully with one another face-to-face whenever possible, rather than in notes left for each other throughout the house.

Stop by next Tuesday for more Nanny Confessions.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Allow Parents to Take Control of Child Devlopment

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents

Nannies love the children in their care but they must always remember that they are not the parents. Despite the best of intentions and years of experience nannies may have with sleep training infants and potty training toddlers, most parents want to determine how to raise their little ones.

Sometimes parents are happy to allow their nannies to take control of developmental matters, like sleep and potty training. But the majority of parents want their caregivers to follow their directives. Unless asked for, it's best for nannies to bite-their-tongue and not force unwanted advice on the parents that employ them.

For example, what could be worse for parents who co-sleep with their children to find out their nanny doesn't approve of attachment parenting and refuses to rock the infant to sleep, but lets the baby cry-it-out in her crib alone instead?

Although it's great when toddlers use the potty while their nannies are on duty, it's unfair for caregivers to criticize the parents when children wet their pants or beds on the weekend when the parents are in charge.

Nannies should always share any developmental milestones they experience during the work day with the parents. Caregivers just have to watch their tone so not to rub-it-in when they have seen developmental milestones the parents missed.

Parents are insecure about their abilities too. Nannies are not hired to render the parents useless. Nannies must always remember that they are hired to support the parents, not defy them.

Stop by next Monday for more advice about Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Exercise Equipment that Can be Used at Work

Sunday Product Review

The hectic life of a nanny of caring for kids, driving them around, and cleaning up after them can pose a challenge to staying or becoming healthy and fit. We have previously discussed strategies to improve your health and fitting exercise into your work day.

The type of exercise you use is your preference. There many types of equipment that are both portable and effective to help you exercise. Your charges can use their own equipment to join you in some healthful exercise as well.


Redmon Treadmill



Double Duty Jump Ropes



Redmon Twister



Adult Sunny Health and Fitness Mini Stepper



Mabis Exercise Stepper



Gaiam Yogacise Body Lift



Aquabell Dumbells



Velcro Wrist Weights



Reebok Ankle Weights



TRXRIP Trainer Basic Kit



Exerpeutic Portable Mini-Bike


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Children's Books for Saint Patrick's Day

Weekly Trip to the Library

St. Patrick's Day, although not a legal holiday in the United States, is a widely recognised and celebrated holiday. It is primarily observed as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture.

Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, feasting, copious consumption of alcohol, religious observances, and numerous parades. Here are some great books to share with kids this Saint Patrick's Day.


Crafts For St. Patrick'S Day (Holiday Crafts for Kids by Kathy Ross, Illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm
Twenty easy craft projects including a shamrock bird, leprechaun face mask, a shillelagh, a rainbow bracelet, and a pot of gold table decoration.



Irish Night Before Christmas and A Leprechaun's St. Patrick's Day by Sarah Kirwan Blazek
An Irish Night Before Christmas tells a satirical version of Father Christmas' yearly visit. A Leprechaun's St. Patrick Day is the day in the life of one family's celebration of the holiday on the Emerald Isle.



A Leprechaun's St Patrick Day by Sarah Kirwan Blazek, Illustrated by James Rice
Five little leprechauns set out to make mischief for a rather large family during the St. Patrick's Day parade.



O'Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott
The king's men take a beloved horse from an outcast witch but the Crookhaven community doesn't know what to do. Kate O'Sullivan, her two brothers and father take matters into their own hands, determined to return the horse to it's rightful owner. Unfortunately, they get caught trying to take the horse back and are sentenced to hang for their deeds. Kate cooks up a delicious story to save their lives.



Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick's Day Symbols by Edna Barth, Illustrated by Ursula Arndt
Who was St. Patrick? And what do leprechauns, shamrocks, shillelaghs, and reed pipes have to do with it? These questions and more are answered about this early spring holiday.



Mary McLean and the St. Patrick's Day Parade by Steven Kroll, Illustrated by Michael Dooling
"In 1849, the potato famine forces Mary's family to leave their farm in Ireland and cross the ocean to settle in a basement room in New York City. Living in the drab surroundings, Mary dreams of the grand St. Patrick's Day parade, in which their local storekeeper, Mr. Finnegan, drives a gaily decorated horse-drawn cart. Mary can ride in the cart only if she finds a shamrock--an unlikely event, given the snow-covered ground. The appearance of a leprechaun finally helps her fulfill her dream."



The St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Mystery by Marion M. Markham, Illustrated by Karen A. Jerome
First a mysterious shamrock appears on Miss Wink's front door. Then Kate and Mickey find a sign on their new clubhouse: "The Green Shamrock Gang Was Here." Will the Dixon twins be able to solve this mystery?



Hooray for St. Patrick's Day by Joan Holub
It's Saint Patrick's Day, and time to join in the celebration. Children can lift the flaps for interactive fun as they see the children in this book make holiday crafts, taste traditional Irish food, perform a play about Saint Patrick, and even march in a Saint Patrick's Day parade. As an added bonus, they can search for the hidden leprechaun on each spread. A great way for young readers to learn about and enjoy the holiday.


Friday, March 15, 2013

How to Ask Your Employers to Pay You Legally

Do Nannies Fear They Will Lose Their Jobs if they Ask Their Employers to Pay Nanny Taxes?

Our Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Facebook page has been swarming with questions about nanny taxes. We have published newsletter issues and dozens of articles about the benefits of being paid legally, yet an estimated 90% of nannies don't pay taxes.

After speaking to nannies about nanny taxes, the issue isn't that nannies don't want to be paid legally, it's that the parents that employ nannies don't want to bother with the time and expense of paying their domestic employees legally. Nannies tell me that they fear their employers will get mad at them or may even let-them-go if they insist to be paid on-the-books.

The most common questions nannies ask me are how to ask the parents to pay them legally and how to pay taxes if their employers don't want to do the paperwork. I have shared the links to articles by nanny tax expert Kathy Webb of 4nannytaxes.com about how nannies can pay taxes without a W-2 provided by their employer. Ms. Webb explains that nannies are employees that are responsible for reporting their wages and filing an income tax return and they can do this by completing Form 4852 Substitute Form W-2.

But, nannies who use the Form 4852 will need to provide both of the parents' names and address to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Doing this will get the parents in a heap of trouble with the IRS. Submitting the Form 4852 means the IRS will pursue the family for the unpaid Social Security and Medicare taxes. I don't see how any family would allow a nanny to keep working for them after getting the parents in a heap of trouble with the IRS.

Instead of blowing-the-whistle on their employers, great nannies should simply insist on being paid legally. During the interview is the best time to discuss being paid legally. Before the fist day of work is the time to fill out tax paperwork.

But, even if working nannies are not currently paid on-the-books they should ask the parents to change that arrangement. The best nannies make it difficult for parents to envision their households running without them. I recommend nannies go ahead and ask the parents to pay them legally because parents are more likely to pay their nanny's taxes than risk losing their great nanny to another job.

Click here to share a simple guide with the parents on how to pay their nanny legally.

Here are points to make when asking to be paid legally:

1. It's the law. Your employer is breaking the law by not being tax compliant. Doctors, attorneys, and accountants can lose their practices and licences if they do not pay their nanny on-the-books.

2. Tell your employer that you want to apply for a credit card, buy or lease a car, rent an apartment, or get a mortgage on a house. To do so you must prove you are working. You must pay taxes to prove you work.

3. You must be paid on-the-books to receive social security, unemployment insurance coverage, and an Earned Income Credit.

4. Paying taxes protects the parents in case you ever get hurt on the job. You must be paid legally to be eligible for Medicare benefits, disability benefits, or workers' compensation.

5. If your employer pays you legally they will be able to take advantage of their flexible-spending plan and deduct your salary as a qualifying expense.

6. Your employer has to report your wages and the taxes they withhold for you on their personal income tax return or be liable for hefty penalties.

7. The only difference between working as a legal American citizen rather than an illegal immigrant is that American tax payers are protected by the system with Social Security, unemployment benefits, Medicare, disability, and workers compensation.

8. Feel free to ask your nanny agency staff or any nanny tax company employee to talk with your employer about both the risks of not paying their employee legally and the benefits of tax compliance.

Tip: Using a nanny payroll service makes the process of paying nanny taxes simple for parents. We recommend contacting Kathy Webb or any of her staff at 4nannytaxes.com with your nanny tax questions.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Easy Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Traditional Saint Patrick's Day Recipe

You don't have to be Irish to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. I typically make corned beef and cabbage, Mulligan Stew, or Shepherd's Pie to celebrate the holiday with the kids in my care. Although the children would be satisfied with just eating a green bagel on the holiday, I want to do something a little more traditionally Irish.

Soda bread is a soft textured cake like bread that rises due to the reaction of the acid of  buttermilk and baking soda. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, simply add vinegar to milk to create the necessary ingredient for the recipe. Although the Irish didn't invent soda bread they are often identified with the yummy treat. I found this recipe in my employer's recipe box. The three kids and I quickly devoured the Irish Soda Bread it in one sitting.

Here is What You Will Need:

3 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins or currants
3/4 cup buttermilk or milk combined with 1 tablespoon of vinegar
A dusting of confectioners sugar

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
2. Grease cookie sheet.
3. Cut butter into flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing two knives, until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
4. Stir in raisins and just enough buttermilk so dough leaves side of bowl.
5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead one to two minutes or until smooth. Shape into round loaf.
6. Place on cookie sheet. Cut an X shape about 1/2 inch deep through loaf with floured knife.
7. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Once cooled, sprinkle confectioners sugar through a sifter over the bread.

Reference: Stephanie Felzenberg who works as a nanny and is the Editor of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter made the recipe and took photos of the yummy bread. The recipe is from her employer's recipe box.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Follow the Leprechaun Foot Prints

Wednesdays with Whitney

Here's a fun activity the kids will love to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. All you need to do is cut out foot prints from green construction paper or spray your footprints in the snow with green water. Then hide small treasures of gold coin candy around the house or yard. Sprinkle the footprints as a trail for the kids to follow to find the treats the leprechaun left them for St. Patrick's Day.

For those who have had an unusual amount of March snowfall across the country this year use this fun trick to brighten up your little corner of the world with the kids. They’ll love that they get to paint the snow, and you’ll love a new twist on the monotonous scenery. For a timely holiday twist, be sure to use lots of green! The leprechauns are on their way – snow or shine…

Green Snow Foot Print Supplies

• A good spray container (empty Windex containers work well)
• Food dye
• Water

Green Snow Foot Print Directions

1. Start by washing out the spray container extremely well. You don’t want to be spraying cleaning chemicals all over the lawn.
2. Add water and several drops of green food coloring.
3. Shake up the bottle and put the top on tightly.
4. Stomp a foot print in the snow and spray it green.

Directions for Painting Snow Anytime

1. After following the directions above to get a spray bottle clean, let the little ones fill the container with water and put in quite a few drops of food dye. The more dye they put in, the more vibrant the end color.
2. Shake up the bottle and put the top on tightly. The kids have an entire canvas to decorate outside – no one wants to spill all the “paint” early.
3. Bungle up, go outside where it has snowed, and let the spraying begin!

Reference: The project and snow photos provided by Whitney Ziebartth. 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, March 12, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Bringing Up Problems to Parents

Should Nannies Offer Advice to Parents Before Being Asked for Advice?
By Elizabeth Hawksworth

I was speaking to a friend about how hard it is to bring up potential concerns to parents about their kids. My friend thought a child appeared to have torticollis and she was asking me if I would say anything to the parents or not.

I usually don’t offer advice to friends or acquaintances unless I am asked. However, as a nanny, I am much more likely to bring up potential issues I see in a child because it’s my job.

I am not a physician or an expert in child development, but I do have enough childcare experience to recognize common development issues in a child. If I choose my words carefully I may be able to convince the parents to consult with their pediatrician or a specialist to look into a potential issue further. But, I must choose my words carefully. Going about the conversation in the wrong way can ruin my relationship with the parents.

It’s not easy to discuss developmental or behavioral issues with parents. Before bringing up issues to parents I ask to speak to them privately, without the child present. When I bring up a concern, I first ask the parents if they have noticed any issues with their child. Then, I tell them tactfully about what I’ve observed.  I never blame the parents for the concerns I have for the child.

Once I have expressed my concerns, I let the parents take the next steps. It’s up to the parents and doctors to determine new plans for care. Depending on my relationship with the parents, I may be able to suggest some methods that have worked for previous children in my care. I always remember to respect the dignity and privacy of the family I work for. Empathy, respect, and sensitivity are essential in sensitive conversations.

Parents and nannies can work together to provide the best of care to children. Being careful, observant, and tactful can go a long way into ensure that the children in your care always come first.

Have you ever had a situation like this? What did you do to help the children and family navigate through it?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Balancing Texting and Surfing on the Job

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents

It is often hard for busy parents and nannies to find time to chat in-person. Some parents can only make time to text or email their nannies on the train on the way to work or discreetly during meetings during the work day. The life of modern nannies and parents require them to keep in touch electronically via electronic tablets or smartphones.

While most nannies carry a mobile phone in case of emergency, it's very easy for employees to take advantage of easy access to texts, Facebook, and Twitter instead of being attentive to the kids.

There are parents who feel strongly that their nannies shouldn't be making personal calls, texts, or surfing the Internet at all when working. Many nanny placement agencies agree. In fact, we asked 27 nanny placement agency owners and staff if nannies should be allowed to text and use their cell phones on the job. Most ask their nannies not to make personal calls or texts at all during the work day. Click here to see their responses.

Therefore, professional nannies need to make a concerted effort to keep their cell phones out of their hands (while keeping apps closed, unopened, and turned off) whenever possible while working.

Most professional nannies can still be great caregivers balancing the needs of the kids and being allowed to make a few personal texts. But nannies shouldn't assume they can make personal texts and surf the Internet on their electronic devices without first discussing the issue with the parents.

Ultimately nannies are working at a job. If their employers don't want them making personal texts or phone calls than they shouldn't.

Stop by next Monday for more advice on Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Teaching Kids to Tell Time

Products to Help Teach Kids to Tell Time

Daylight Savings time begins today in the United States. So, there's no better time to discuss how to teach kids about time.

Telling time is an essential skill but there's no point in trying to teach kids to read an analog clock before children can count to 60. In addition, they should know the direction the rotating hands of the clock clockwise before teaching an analog clock.

Here is the best description on how to teach kids tell time I found online on wikiHow.

1. Make sure the child can count to 60. Trying to teach the minutes in an hour before the child can count that high will be discouraging for the child and unproductive for both of you.

2. Teach the 5 times tables. Understanding 5...10...15...20...etc. will make it much easier to conceptualize the minute hand on a clock.

3. Get a large clock with big hands. A clock with no glass or plastic cover and easily maneuverable hands will be the most approachable to work with.

4. Explain that the short hand is the hour hand. Keeping the minute hand at 12, move the hour hand to various positions on the clock. Explain that any time the minute hand is exactly over the 12, it is __ o'clock. Allow the child to move the hour hand around until (s)he is comfortable reading it.

5. Explain that the long hand is the minute hand. Keeping the hour hand stationary, move the minute hand around and explain what each position means to the child. Start by covering the 5-minute marks; once they understand those, progress to the “off” numbers like 12 and 37. Allow the child to move the minute hand around and practice reading it until (s)he is comfortable. Don’t worry about hours for the time being.

6. Demonstrate how to read the hour and minute hand together. Start with simple times (ex. 1:30, 4:45, 8:05) before moving on to more complicated ones (ex. 2:37, 12:59) – especially ones with overlapping hands (ex. 1:05).

7. Allow the child to quiz you. This will give him/her confidence and a sense of control while simultaneously getting in another form of practice.

8. Quiz the child. Always be sure to do this after he or she has mastered the concepts as an encouragement technique.

Products to Teach Time:

Telling Time: How to Tell Time on Digital and Analog Clocks! by Jules Older

Time isn't an easy concept for kids to grasp, but young readers will delight in learning all about it with the fun and lively lessons in Telling Time. Exploring what time is and discovering why we need to tell time, young readers certainly learn more than 'the big hand is on the one and the little hand is on the two'. With the help of a whole lot of clocks, a dash of humor, and a few familiar circumstances, learning to tell time is a lot of fun. It's about time. With Megan Halsey's fresh, fun, and playful illustrations, telling time is a breeze. Imaginative digital and analog clocks adorn page after page with cuckoos, in the shape of boats, with alarm bells, and more.



Big Hand, Little Hand: Learn to Tell Time Children's Book

Who knew learning to tell time was such fun? Kids enjoy moving the hands on this sturdy clock as they follow life on the farm, hour by hour. Wake at 6:15 with Farmer Fred--have lunch with the raccoon at noon--enjoy cake and tea with the pigs at three! Before you know it, Farmer Fred is back in bed--and your child is well on his way to telling time. The book is made of durable cardboard, with terrific illustrations and giggle-inspiring rhymes. For ages 4 and up.



Rock 'N Learn:Telling Time DVD

Timothy Time - the clock that rocks - and musical friends Kuku and Digi will have kids reading watches and clocks in no time. This high-energy 46-minute long DVD or VHS teaches children how to tell time using traditional analog clocks with hands as well as digital ones. Cool music, catchy rhymes, and colorful animated action keep kids focused on learning how to tell time.



Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock & Nightlight

It's an alarm clock, teaching clock, and nightlight in one—and it also keeps early birds in bed! You can program it to change color from yellow to green when it's okay to get up. Parents report it really works. Plus, its five-level quiz game teaches kids analog and digital time. And it glows gently, so it doubles as a kids' nightlight. For ages 3 and up.



KID'Sleep Classic Toddler Sleep Wake Training Alarm Clock

Keep kids in bed until it's time to rise, with this "stay-in-bed" picture clock! No time-telling skills needed: if the sleeping bunny's picture is lit, that means stay in bed and snooze awhile longer. Once the "awake" bunny illuminates, it's okay to rise. With dual nighttime/naptime settings and an alarm for later. Doubles as a nightlight, with dimmer switch. AC adaptor included.



Bilingual Learning Clock

Fewer kids are learning analog time, and educators say they're missing out! Reading an analog clock expose kids to math concepts that digital clocks don't, like fractions, 'clockwise,' and counting-by-fives. Besides, this talking, teaching clock is fun! Move the clock hands, and hear the time. Then play the quiz game and test your time-telling skills. With bilingual English/Spanish modes, two songs, and a fun, light-up clock face. Batteries included. For ages 2 and up.



Fisher Price Fun 2 Learn Teaching Clocks

The Fisher Price Fun 2 Learn clock helps children tell time on both analog and digital clocks. This clock is best suited for young toddlers and it's construction will handle their rough usage and play. The Fisher Price Fun 2 Learn Clock makes learning fun and easy with fun childlike voices that hold a child's attention. The Fisher Price Fun 2 Learn clock teaches a child how to tell time on both the hour and half hour. 



Resources:
Dositey – http://www.dositey.com
Pitara – http://www.pitara.com
Milkshake – http://www.five.tv
Time for Time – http://www.time-for-time.com
Lil EFingers – http://www.lil-fingers.com
Telling time without a clock
Harvard – http://hea-www.harvard.edu/ECT/Daymarks/
Journey North – http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/BioClock.html

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Do Your Thoughts Help or Hinder You?

Dealing with People You Can't Stand By Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner

This guide identifies ten types of difficult people on the job. It shows how to get results with each type and explains: how difficult people think, what they fear and why they act as they do; why difficulty is in the eye of the beholder; and how to cultivate nine "take-charge" skills that turn conflict into cooperation.

Although nannies work in the home, not in an office, the guide can be helpful for in-home childcare providers. The book explains that to be effective with people you can't stand, it is essential that you gain control over your attitude toward the problem people in your life, and accept them as they are.

To find the courage to stand your ground when you want to cry, or restrain yourself when you want to attack, you simply need an attitude adjustment so that your reactions to difficult people are effective. The answer is found in yourself, it is found in your attitude toward the problem person.

The first step is to decide what you want. What attitude will help you get along with your difficult person? Do you want to be calm, confident, assertive, relaxed, caring, patient, or a combination of these? Give the attitude a description name. If you name it, you can do it.

Now, try to find a time or place in your life where positive attitude comes naturally to you and consciously practice acting that way in every day life.

Also remember all those things that your parents said or did that you vowed you would never say or do. Don't you do some of those things anyway? What happened? You modeled those behaviors.

Make it a habit to positively replay the past and pre-play the future in the safety of your mind's eye. The more realistically you imagine responding in a different way, and the more times you repeat the internal fantasy, the stronger the association gets.

Finally, change the way you talk to yourself. The way you look at a situation will dramatically affect your attitude. Have you ever stopped to listen to the way you talk to yourself? Have you ever said to yourself, "I don't get paid for this kind of abuse!" How does this thought affect your attitude and your behavior? Do your thoughts help or hinder you?

Just as what you think has an effect on what you say, so does what you say to yourself influence what you think. When you change the way you talk to yourself about a problem, you change the way you think about it at the same time. Take charge over the things you say to yourself. Become conscious of the things you tell yourself and substitute positive, supportive thoughts for negative ones. As you listen to your internal dialogue, make sure that your language helps you to get where you want to go.

You must learn to speak purposefully to yourself to change your attitude for the better. You can develop a few quick-draw mental comments that help you to keep your sense of humor and perspective around difficulties. For example, here are some great things to say to yourself, with brief explanations of how they are true:

1. "I go for what I want, and I want what I get."
2. "Somewhere in this experience is an opportunity."
3. Any experiences I can learn from is a good one."
4. "I can become flexible."
5. I know that anything is possible."
6. "Oh well."
7. "All things must pass."
8. "This used to bother me."
9. "In God we trust."

Remember, an occasional attitude adjustment frees you from the stress and leads to success as you bring out the best in people at their worst.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Today is International Women's Day

Annually on March 8, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements for International Women's Day. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities, and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Many global corporations have also started to more actively support International Women's Day by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally. Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

How to Celebrate International Women's Day:

1. Attend an event promoting women’s health, equality or safety
2. Make a donation to an organization that provides education for girls
3. Visit your local library and check out a book on women’s history
4. Register to vote
5. Go to see an exhibit or performance of a woman artist
6. Support a program that provides business training for women in developing nations
7. Ask a woman from another country about women’s challenges, prospects and achievements in her home nation
8. Mentor a young woman
9. Recognize women you know who are making a difference in the lives of their children, their peers, their students, or their community
10. Thank a woman who has had a positive influence in your life

Click here to see what events are going on in your area.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nannies as Role Models of Good Health

The Best Role Models Bring Out the Best in Children

Undoubtedly nannies have a huge influence in children's lives. Nannies are role models for the kids in their care and the best role models are a great source of guidance and bring out the best in children.

Good health doesn't only include eating right, exercising, and having good hygiene. How role models communicate with others and cope with changes and stressors in life all affect overall health of adults and children.

The easiest way to encourage good habits in children is to lead by example. It is difficult to teach kids to adopt good table manners if their caregivers don't use good table manners. It's easier to get the kids to turn off the TV and go outside to play if their caregivers go outside to play with them. The best way to teach kids how to make friends, share toys, eat healthy, and speak to others with respect is for their role models to do the same. To ensure kids use proper hygiene, like washing hands before eating and after using the potty, their caregivers use those habits as well.

The Nemours Foundation warns that children who display aggressive behavior often learn to do so from a role model at home. That is why it is essential that nannies model being assertive and deal with stress calmly. Aggressive people blame others for their problems, speak in anger, may yell at people, and not treat others with respect. But, assertive people say what they mean and mean what they say. They speak to others (including kids) with kindness and respect while protecting themselves and their own boundaries. Assertive people don't make threats or minimize the importance of an issue to the other person.

Following through on commitments is an important lesson nannies teach the children in their care. Being committed means being on time, finishing what you begin, not quitting, staying true to your spoken promises, and persevering in the face of obstacles. Following through on achieving your own goals demonstrates to children that it is possible for them to achieve goals, providing them the inspiration to persist in order to do so themselves.

Being a great role model doesn't require adults be perfect. In fact, a great lesson for kids is seeing that their role models are human and make mistakes. Nannies who can admit their mistakes, learn from them, and strive to better themselves can serve as powerful influences for children's emotional growth. By addressing problems and conflicts in their own lives (such as trying to lose weight or handle demands with their job in a kind and respectful way) and sharing the process in an age-appropriate manner, nannies can encourage the children in their care to address their own concerns.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rainbow Toast for St. Patrick's Day

Wednesdays with Whitney

Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, which means that those sneaky leprechauns are on their way! Perhaps you can keep them from tearing through the house with a colorful snack which will catch their eye. This rainbow toast is a great distractor for those tiny green disasters, but it’s also a great after school snack for hungry little children.


Supplies

• Bread
• Milk
• Paint Brushes
• Food Dye

Directions

1. Mix a small amount of milk and a few drops of food dye in various little bowls. Be sure to make all the colors in the rainbow, or at least a few key ones. Don’t forget – ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)

2. Let the kids paint their pieces of bread in all the colors of the rainbow. Be sure to use new paintbrushes or ones you only use for food.

3. Once a piece of bread is fully painted, place it in the toaster. The heat will bring out the colors and make your once soggy bread nice and crispy.

4. If your little ones decide not to leave the toast for the leprechauns, give them a brief history on Saint Patrick’s Day while they are munching away.

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, March 5, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Be Honest When Your Child Is Sick

How Many Paid Sick Days Do You Get Each Year?
By Elizabeth Hawksworth

I have had a bad tooth infection this week and it reminds me of all the times I have looked after children when I felt under the weather. I always let my employers know if I am really sick because I might expose their children to illness and being sick can affect the way I care for their children. But, parents seldom offer me the same courtesy. While parents are often stressed-out and worried about making sure their sick kids get the care they require, they usually don’t care if their nannies are sick.

My nanny confession this week is that parents should be upfront about their children’s illnesses before making their nannies come to work. Sick children expose nannies to illnesses that could cause them to miss work.

It's inevitable that nannies will get sick during the year. That's why an allotted number of paid sick days should be included in nanny work agreements.

Parents and nannies should keep all emergency contact numbers, health insurance cards, prescription cards, and emergency release forms in a central place in the home (such as in the kitchen and near the phone) in case of emergency. Parents should sign Authorization to Treat a Minor Consent Forms which provides caregivers written permission allowing them to seek treatment, to authorize treatment, and to discuss treatment with health care providers. Click here to download an Authorization to Treat a Minor Consent Form. Parents will need a signature from a notary public to make the document legal.

Nannies need to know all pertinent details about the child’s illness – when it started, the symptoms, and any symptoms to look for so they can describe the illness to the pediatrician. Before administrating any prescription medication to children, caregivers must assess the child's needs: know what medications to give, why the child needs it, how to contact the professional that is prescribing it, when to give it, how to store it, and where to refill it. Nannies and parents should record when they give medication to children to ensure sick kids are not over-medicated.

Parents need to inform their nannies and children about the household rules when their children are sick such as no playing outside and how much TV privileges they will be allowed.

I urge parents not to gloss over their child’s illness or underestimate about how seriously ill they may be. Being honest and truthful about how sick a child is ensures they will receive the best of care.

What are your go-to remedies for colds, flus, and tummy bugs? Are the parents you work for upfront and honest about their children’s illnesses when you nanny?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Parents Are Allowed to Be Hypocrites

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents

It is common for parents to direct nannies to limit television watching and not allow their kids to eat junk food. Then, when the parents are in charge, those well intentioned rules are broken and the kids are allowed to watch television while eating McDonald's.

Parents often arrive home tired from work and want to decompress and enjoy a peaceful evening with their family. At times that means they will pacify their whiny and crying children with the very privileges nannies have been asked to deny their charges.

It is frustrating for hard-working caregivers when their employers instruct them to no longer allow their children to use pacifiers, bottles, and diapers, yet the parents break their own rules. The parents' inability to follow through with no pacifier or diapers is simply validation of how difficult it is for nannies to accomplish the same instructions.

Just because the parents aren't always consistent with their own rules, doesn't mean they are not thrilled to hear of the success their nannies and children have had at napping, feeding, or potty training. Such successful reports prove to parents they made the right hiring decision.

Nannies aren't hired to scrutinize their employers when they cannot follow through with the instructions they ask their employees will follow. Although consistency between parents and caregivers is helpful in successfully training children, nannies have to look away and bite-their-lip sometimes because they are the hired help. Parents have the right to break rules because they are in charge of how to raise their children. Nannies must follow the parents' instructions because they are employees.

Nannies are hired to help support the parents, not the other way around. Professional nannies understand that it's difficult raising kids and aren't overly critical of parents.

Stop by next Monday for more advice on Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Products Nannies Love: White Noise Machines

Product Review Sunday

While sleep routines including rocking, singing, cuddling, and warm baths help babies fall asleep, white noise machines and sound machines have been proven to be highly effective tools for babies that have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

Newborns love white noise because the womb is very loud. The womb is just slightly less loud than a lawnmower. Loud is normal to a baby. Life outside the womb is uncomfortably quiet. White noise sounds like “home” to a baby. White noise mimics the sound of the womb or "shushing" sounds babies love.

Research has found that white noise is absolutely safe for anyone, including babies and infants, since it is simply designed to block unfriendly noises and harsh sounds that prevent the baby from sleeping well.

Start using white noise machines by making the noise familiar to babies. Start by setting the volume in the lowest position. Adjust the volume level as needed with the passing of the days and nights.

When using a sound machine that provides a range of sounds, try different sounds and jot down the results to find what sounds help calm babies and decrease their colic or crying.

Most pediatricians advise playing white noise at least 35-minutes to allow babies to begin to experience a peaceful atmosphere leading to natural sleep.

Below are a great selection of white noise and sound machines to use to help babies sleep.