Friday, May 31, 2013

Quick, Kid-Friendly Quesadillas

Easy Mexican Snack or Meal

Kids love quesadillas. Here is how to make simple cheese quesadillas. It is vital to heat the tortillas in a pan on the stove, rather than in the microwave. Start with just three basic ingredients but be sure to add any other ingredients the kids in your care love including chicken, steak, and vegetables to add nutrition.

You Will Need:

Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese or Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas
Cooking Spray

(Optional Ingredients)
Mild Salsa
Sour Cream
Brown Rice

What to Do:

1. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat for about one-minute then coat the pan with cooking spray.
2. Add a tortilla and let it heat for about 30-seconds, than flip the tortilla to the other side.
3. Sprinkle about a half cup of shredded cheese to just one half of the tortilla. Then add any other ingredients you would like to be hot such as chicken and peppers. (Save cold toppings such as sour cream, guacamole, and salsa for later).
4. Fold the bare half of the tortilla over the cheese and continue cooking until cheese is melted.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do Caregivers That are Parents Make Better Nannies?

The Controversy: Who Makes a Better Nanny?

A parent contacted me this week asking for advice about making a hiring decision between two qualified nanny candidates. It's a controversial problem that has plagued some of my nanny friends in their attempts to find nanny jobs in the past. The parent looking to hire a nanny asked me if she should hire the nanny candidate that is a mother herself or the nanny who isn't a parent with children. Although it's unethical (probably illegal) to make a hiring decision based on the fact that a job candidate is a parent or not, it happens in the nanny industry all the time.

What do you think? Do nannies that are parents make better nannies than caregivers who don't have children? Are parents who have experience raising their own children better qualified nannies than caregivers who have no children of their own? Or is it too difficult for nannies that are also parents to follow instructions from employers that have different parenting styles? Do the needs of the nanny's own children supercede the needs of her charges?

Are nannies without their own kids better suited for the job because they are not so set in their ways? Do nannies without children have less preconceptions of child-rearing and more willing to follow their employer's child-rearing rules? Do nannies without kids have more energy than the nanny with her own children? Are nannies that aren't parents more flexible employees because they are able to work more hours than nannies that are parents?

Or, does any of this matter at all? What is your opinion?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Make Silly Putty

Wednesdays With Whitney
Recipe By James Clinard for, Photos by Stephanie Felzenberg

One of my charges loves doing science experiments at home and asked if we would make Silly Putty last week. Since Whitney is still on her honeymoon I decided to share this project with our readers today.  

Whenever making arts and crafts or science experiments don't use kitchen utensils used for preparing or serving food when making the project. I like using disposable plastic cups, plastic take out containers, crafts sticks, and straws to measure, mix, and store the projects instead. I simply use kitchen measuring cups to measure water than pour the water into clear, disposable plastic cups. I use a permanent marker to make a line on the plastic cup at the edge of the water and then toss the water. (See photo of ingredients).

You Will Need:

1/4 Cup of Glue
3/8 Cup of Water
1 Tablespoon of Borax

What to Do:

1. Make a 50-50 mixture of glue and water using 1/4 cup of glue and 1/4 cup of water. (Remember not to measure glue with kitchen utensils but use disposable plastic cups).

2. If you would like to color the silly putty, add some food coloring to this mixture. The more food coloring you add, the richer the color will be.

3. Next, dissolve the borax in 1/8 cup of water.

4. Combine the borax-water mixture with the glue-water mixture. (We mixed the ingredients with craft sticks in disposable take out food containers).

5. If you find that your silly putty is too sticky, add more borax one teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can Babies Overeat?

Study Shows How Babies Learn to Overeat

I was always taught that infants cannot overeat or be too fat. But, researchers at  Brigham Young University found that a strong predictor of later weight problems are kids who are clinically obese at age two.

The habits these babies shared included being put to bed with a bottle, being encouraged to finish whatever’s in their bottle, and being started on solid foods too soon.

Meanwhile, breast-fed babies are more likely to pay attention to internal cues and stopped nursing when they feel full.

But, the study suggests that bottle-fed babies can learn this skill, too, if caregivers let them and don’t force them to take every last drop.

1.  Put Babies to Bed with a Bottle
2. Encourage Babies to Finish the Bottle
3. Start Solid Foods too Soon

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Marie Veronique Organics Rated One of the Safest and Best Sunscreen Lines

Environmental Working Group's 2013 Sunscreen Guide

This summer marks the first sunscreen season governed by rules put into effect last December by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These regulations demand truth in sunscreen marketing and, for the first time, require that claims of water resistance and broad spectrum sun protection be validated.

Despite the FDA’s actions, an Environmental Working Group (EWG) review of the sunscreen market finds only minimal improvements in products on the shelves for the summer of 2013. Many sunscreens available on the U.S. market do not filter skin-damaging rays safely and effectively.

Parents and nannies should not be fooled by claims of high SPF on sunscreen bottles. Instead, check out the 2013 Environmental Working Group Sunscreen Guide to find the best sunscreens.

One sunscreen line recommended by the EWG is the Marie Veronique Organics’ natural sunscreen line. Founder of the sunscreen line, Marie Veronique Nadeau, is thrilled that her sunscreens have yet again been recognized for their safety and efficacy, but emphasizes the importance of wear-ability. “Applying sunscreen on a daily basis is the most important defense against pre-mature aging, but a sunscreen is only as good as your willingness to wear it. Our non-nano zinc oxide sunscreens are super safe and incredibly wearable,” says Marie.

All Marie Veronique Organics sunscreens are made with a green tea base and non-nano zinc oxide for safe, effective sun protection while providing anti-oxidant support to skin.

Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage, SPF 20:
Delivers broad-spectrum UV protection for aging skin with non-nano zinc oxide and powerful antioxidants—all with a sheer matte finish that makes it ideal for everyday use.

Moisturizing Face Screen, SPF 30:
For everyday coverage, protects against both UVA and UVB rays with higher concentrations of non-nano zinc oxide.

Kid Safe Screen, SPF 25+:
Provides chemical-free, water-resistant, full-spectrum sun protection with non-nano zinc oxide—ideal for you…and your kids.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Have the Kids in Your Care Lost Someone Close to Them?

photo from hospice
4 Children's Books About Death

This is a long weekend in America. Monday is a national holiday, Memorial Day, when we have parades and services honoring the soldiers that have lost their lives protecting our country. But, Americans also remember those they have lost personally who weren't in the military as well.

Click here to see our article about the stages of grief children go through at different stages and ages of their lives. Below are some super children's books about the topic of death and dying to share with children that have lost a loved one.

I'll Always Love Youby Hans Wilhelm

This book is great for children in preschool until about second grade. In I’ll Always Love You, a young boy and his dog, Elfie, grow up together. The first illustration shows them both eating dog food out of the dog’s bowl. The story progresses with more special shared times. As Elfie gets older and slower, the boy takes care of the dog. When the dog can no longer go for walks, the boy puts him in a wagon and takes him for a ride. When the dog can no longer climb the stairs, the boy carries him. Every night, the boy tells Elfie “I’ll always love you.” One night, the dog unexpectedly dies. As the family is burying Elfie, the boy finds comfort in knowing that he had always told the dog he loved him. This book perfectly captures, in both words and illustrations, the love a boy has for his dog. It is humorous as well as sad. Review by Wendy on Epinions.

Remembering Crystal by Sebastian Loth

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that introduces a big subject to little ones (three- to nine-years-old). Crystal had lived in the garden for many years. She was growing old. Zelda was just starting out in life. They were best friends. They read books together. They took trips together. And they talked about everything. But one day Crystal was not in the garden. She had died. In this gentle story, children learn, with Zelda, that true friendship is a gift that doesn’t die. This book is perfect for kids three- to nine-years-old. Review by goodreads.

Safe At Homeby Sharon Robinson

Ten-year-old Elijiah Breeze, a.k.a. Jumper, is having the hardest summer of his life. His father has just died; his mother has moved them from the suburbs to New York City's Harlem area; and he has to spend the summer at baseball camp. Basketball is Jumper's game. He doesn't know anything about baseball, or city life, or how to keep going without his dad. Jumper struggles in his new life, but he's encouraged by the support of his coach and his grandma's wisdom. He finds out it is possible to start over in a new place with new people . . . and still hold on to what's important from his past. Books is most appropriate for children's ages 9 and up. Review by goodreads.

If Onlyby Carole Geithner

This is a great book for kids 10-years-old and up to read about one girl's journey through loss and grief. The main character Corinna, is crushed after her mother dies of cancer. How does she get through the funeral, trays of ziti, a father who can't communicate, the first day of school, Mother's Day, people who don't know what to say, and the entire eighth-grade year? Despite her alienation from many of her peers, including her best friend, she succeeds in finding support. She dares to bare her innermost fears, hurts, and wishes, and even allows herself to have a flowering crush on a boy in the school band. She also finds her mother's diary, which changes everything. Beautiful, searing, and honest. This book is recommended for kids 10-years-old and up. Review from goodreads.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Have the Parents You Work for Signed an Authorization to Treat a Minor Consent Form in Case of an Emergency?

Being Prepared for an Emergency

Make sure the parents you work for have signed an Authorization to Treat a Minor Consent Form which provides you written permission allowing the you to seek treatment, to authorize treatment, and to discuss treatment with health care providers. You will need a signature from a notary public to make the document legal.

You should also always carry insurance information and other payment options to allow the child to get proper care without delay. The nanny should also insist on an emergency phone number or signal so the parent can be quickly notified in event of an emergency.

In case of an emergency, your identification and contact numbers are stolen or unavailable, or your charges are hurt or missing, develop a system to retrieve vital information.

A quick option is to send yourself an email with the data police or medical personnel might need. Include images, even video, of your charges. Be certain you know how to access your email remotely.

When working with children, carry a cell phone with you at all times. When going out in public to the playground, the pool, an amusement park, or zoo take a photo of each child with your mobile phone in case you get separated. That way if the child gets lost, you can remember what the child was wearing and show security the photo of the child.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Can Nannies that Break the Law Expect to Be Protected by Labor Laws?

Nannies That Don't Pay Taxes Won't Likely Benefit From Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

In 2010 New York passed the first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and since then more states have Domestic Workers Bills pending. There have been very passionate debates on social media about the proposed legislation and I have written dozens of articles on the topic already.

Kathy Webb of has been keeping us updated on the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights throughout the United States and has prepared a quick comparison of the various Domestic Workers Bills that nannies, parents that employ nannies, nanny agencies, and nanny industry businesses should be aware of.

There is much to support in Domestic Workers Bills of Rights. We all know of the stories of mistreated nannies and we all want domestic workers to be treated fairly. The intention of the legislation is to help employees that work in private homes. But, there are also still some very real concerns about sections of the proposed legislation, especially how to compensate domestic workers for lunch breaks.

But, until nannies refuse to participate in the underground economy of tax evasion (often called Nannygate) they cannot expect to be protected by any legislation. When nannies are paid in cash and don't pay taxes, both the parents and the employees are engaging in illegal activity. It's not likely that nannies breaking the law by not paying taxes would sue their employers and expose their crime.

I applaud the authors and supporters of the Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights and understand the concerns of those who oppose the legislation. But, there may be little impact for domestic workers until the estimated 80- to 90-percent of nannies that don't pay taxes demand to be paid legally.

Would you support similar bills in the state you live in?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nannies Don't Want to Work for Cheap Parents

Nanny Confessions
By Stephanie Felzenberg Nanny, Editor How to Be the Best Nanny

Everyone is on a budget, or at least should be. Although there is often a stereotype that parents that hire nannies are wealthy, some parents that hire nannies to care for their children are struggling to make ends meet. But, nanny employers should keep in mind that even when nannies work for the nicest, most grateful, parents, no one wants to work for cheap parents.
Respectful employees don’t criticize parents that are on a strict a budget. But, it is terribly frustrating and restrictive for nannies when they aren’t allowed to have some additional cash to spend on outings with the kids in their care. Almost all nannies have a petty cash allowance. But when the petty cash allowance is very strict it is difficult for employees to relax and enjoy outings with the kids when they have a tight limit on how much they can spend. In fact, most nannies have had open their own wallets to pay for the kids food or admission on outings with friends from time to time.

It is vital for parents who hire nannies to remember that their caregivers are working at a job to make money. Nannies have bills to pay too. Caregivers want to  spend their work day focusing on caring for the kids, not worrying about how they are going to pay to go to the zoo, to park the car, or out for a slice of pizza with friends.

The harsh reality is that nannies don't want to work for cheap parents. Parents aren’t considered cheap when they pay consistently on time, for all hours worked, at the rate agreed upon, and there is some extra petty cash for the nanny and kids to use for outings and unexpected costs.

And to keep quality nannies long-term, parents need to pay their caregivers above the standard or the average rate for where they live and work.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Professional Nannies Pay Attention to Bookkeeping

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies: Keep All Receipts

Most parents are generous employers that treat their nannies well. Most parents are willing to pay for their caregiver’s meals and pay for cost of outings to zoos, malls, museums, and lunches with their children’s friends.

Most nannies use the family’s petty cash responsibly. But, there are a few nannies that abuse the unsupervised nature of their job. I have heard of a few nannies who have stolen from their employers by buying their own personal groceries with their employer’s credit card. I have also heard of caregivers that have stolen from their bosses by asking for $20 for pizza then they kept the change for themselves.

Obviously, the strong majority of nannies would never, ever steal from their employers. But, to protect themselves, and to ease employer minds, professional nannies should keep all receipts and maintain a record of bookkeeping on how they spend petty cash.

It’s smart to use a pencil to write information on receipts as well. For example, I have written on a Sports Authority receipt “Gabe’s Birthday Present” or “socks for soccer.”

It isn’t difficult to create a spreadsheet. Use a green spreadsheet that can be found at any office supply store. Keep a balance. Date each entry, why you spent the money, how much was spent, and add the deposit or subtract the balance of petty cash.

Using a bookkeeping spreadsheet for petty cash helps teach the kids how to balance a budget as well. Have school aged kids fill out the spreadsheet. For example, when they take five dollars from petty cash for lunch they can deduct the five dollars from the balance.

To ensure you will never be accused of misusing petty cash money keep receipts and keep a log of what you spend with the children.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Goo Gone Removes Crayon, Stickers and Gum

Products Nannies Love

Last week the teen I care for left some gum in his pants pocket before putting the pants in his hamper. Unintentionally I washed the pants with the gum in the pocket and then dried his clothes with the gum in the dryer. The gum melted and stuck to a shirt in the dryer. The mother pulled out of the pantry a plastic bottle of Goo Gone liquid adhesive that removes grease, gum, stickers, crayon, and tape. It worked easily and am happy to recommend this product with others today.

It was so easy to remove the gum. I simply squirted a little bit of Goo Gone to the gum. I allowed it to sit for just a few minutes and then used a paper towel to rub off the gum. It came right off. Then I washed it with soap and water and the shirt is ready to wear again.

Goo Gone makes other products that I haven't tried yet such as the Goo Gone Painter's Pal that removes dried paint, caulk, tape residue, ink, oil, sealants, and varnish and the Goo Gone Goo Gone Multi-Purpose Cleanerto remove the greasiest, grimiest problems without resorting to toxic chemicals such as garage floors, range hoods, and lawn mowers.

I highly recommend Goo Goneto parents and caregivers to remove grease, gum, stickers, crayons, ink, and tape from walls, furniture, and clothing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

1,400 Things for Kids to Be Happy About

Weekly Trip to the Library

What makes for a happy childhood? The little things, just like at any other time of life. Kids are happy when they read books with their mother and father. They like little things like smelling a Christmas tree or building a fort with a friend.

1,400 Things for Kids to Be Happy Aboutby Barbara Ann Kipferis not only a celebration of all the little things that make kids happy, it’s also a workbook of happiness.

Each picture is labeled with ten blank lines for kids to fill in with their own favorite things. There are no right or wrong answers since the kids just fill in what they like.

 In a friendly, spread-by-spread format, it covers all the important things that make up a child's world – their parents, neighbors, the zoo, friends, the playground, pets, the classroom, movies, and summer vacation.

Friday, May 17, 2013

10 Benefits of Reading-Aloud to Babies

Without the Motivation to Read, Children Don't Read

It is vital that nannies and au pairs read to children of every age to help kids develop the love of reading. In the book,Baby Read-Aloud Basics,Caroline J. Blackmore and Barbara Weston Ramirez they explain that without the motivation to read, children don’t read.

In Baby Read-Aloud Basicsthe authors describe ways babies benefit from a daily read-aloud routine. They explain that the emotional, mental, physical, and sensory benefits of daily reading to a baby are to great to

Since the baby’s brain is equipped to absorb enormous amounts of information evidence shares that seemingly passive babies are, in terms of brain activity, more active than adults. They share that not only the time from birth to two-years-old critical for language development, but the foundation of learning development and future academic success.

Here are 10 benefits of reading-aloud to babies:

1. Reading-Aloud Promotes Listening Skills
When a child has the ability to listen attentively, he can easily absorb the thousands of words of the vocabulary, sounds, and structure of language. By listening, he will eventually understand the meaning of what is being said. Soon he will begin speaking all those words he has heard from birth.

2. Reading-Aloud Increases the Number of Vocabulary Words Babies Hear
Research shows that the number of words babies hear each day is the single most
important predictor of future intelligence, school success, and social skills. Providing quality and quantity of language is necessary for a child’s academic success.

3. Reading-Aloud Develops Attention Span and Memory
Children who are read to on a daily basis are known to have long attention spans.

4. Reading-Aloud Helps Babies Learn Uncommon Words
When you read to a baby, he hears your words from the book. Words from children’s books are different and more unusual than everyday conversational words.

5. Reading-Aloud Help Babies Learn to Understand the Meanings of Words
Children learn vocabulary in the home from birth to five from hearing their parents, caregivers, and other adults talk and read to them.

6. Reading-Aloud Help Babies Learn Concepts About Print
In Kindergarten and even first grade, some children can’t distinguish between a word, letter, or number. These concepts along with other knowledge about books such as recognizing the front cover with the title, are tested in kindergarten with the CAP (Concepts About Print) test. Children who have been read to since birth will easily know these concepts.

7. Reading-Aloud Helps Babies Learn to Get Information from Illustrations
Illustrations are almost as important as the text in baby books when it comes to generating and inspiring imagination.

8. Reading-Aloud Promotes Bonding and Calmness for Both Baby and Caregiver
Reading aloud is one of the easiest and least complicated of all the daily tasks that you do to bond with the baby.

9. Reading-Aloud Stimulates the Imagination and All the Senses
Teachers notice that children who watched several hours of television a day when they were
babies and preschoolers show less creativity and imagination. Listening to a storyteller or a story from a book helps children learn to form images in their heads using sensual memories like how things feel, taste, smell, sound, or look.

10. Reading-Aloud Instills the Love of Books and Learning
When a nine– or 10-month-old independently goes to pull out his books from her bookshelf, she does so because she has experienced that books gives pleasure even when she just sits for a short time by herself and looks at them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Often Do You Clean Baby Toys?

How to Wash and Sanitize Toys

Babies put everything in their mouths, including their toys. That's why nannies and au pairs ought to quickly clean toys that the kids put in their mouths each day with a baby wipe or dish soap and water and caregivers need to sanitize all the children's toys weekly. Don't forget to remove batteries from toys before putting them in water.

To Disinfect Plastic Toys:
Disinfect washable colorfast plastic toys with a solution of ½ cup bleach per gallon of water. Soak for five- to 20-minutes, rinse, and air dry.

To Clean Teething Toys:
According to caregivers should clean teething toys and other toys which babies put in their mouths using hot water and dish detergent daily. Hand wash the toys in the sink and allow to air dry. Disinfect the teething toys weekly making sure to rinse off the bleach well before allowing the teething toys to air dry.

To Clean Tub Toys:
Let tub toys dry in a net or basket after the bath. Toys that trap water need to be cleaned regularly with a diluted bleach solution, then rinsed well, and left to dry. Disinfect them weekly following the directions on how to disinfect plastic toys above.

To Clean Stuffed Animals:
Most stuffed animals can be laundered in the washing machine with a mild detergent and placed in the dryer. It's important to clean children's favorite stuffed animals once a week, especially after the child has been sick or other kids have played with their plush toys. To freshen stuffed animals between washings just sprinkle baking soda on the toys and let sit for 15-minutes. Dust off baking soda over the sink.

To Clean Play Areas:
I like to clean tables, large toys, or play areas with Clorox wipes or Lysol wipes. But caregivers can simply use a mild bleach solution by mixing one tablespoon bleach with one gallon of water. Spray the solution on the tables and large toys and rinse with a sponge and clean water and let air dry.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Does it Feel Like to You?

Wednesdays With Whitney: Creating Texture With Kids

Texture is smoothness, roughness, softness, or slickness of an object. By the time kids are six-months-old they are naturally attracted to texture. Texture of a favorite blanket or stuffed animal can provide comfort to children. Teach the kids you care for about texture with the simple projects below.

Tissue Paper Rubbings:

Use tissue paper or thin tracing paper to make rubbings on items with texture such as the bark on a tree, a brick, stone, leaves, coins, combs, or stencils. Have the kids place the paper on top of the selected item and then firmly rub a crayon back and forth across the paper until an image appears. We used coins above.

Sand Paintings:

1. You will need sand you can purchase at a craft store or make colored sand by mixing powdered tempera paint with sand. You will also need some white glue, poster board, paint brushes, and shaker bottles with big holes.

2. Pour the colored sand into shaker bottles with large holes.

3. Mix school glue with a little water. Have the children brush the glue onto poster board.

4. Shake the sand onto the sticky surface.

5. Gently shake off the excess sand into the garbage and allow to dry before hanging.

Reference: Projects from Art for the Very Youngby Elizabeth McConville and photos by Stephanie Felzenberg

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Give Nannies the Credit They are Due

A Little Praise Can Go a Long Way

My nanny confession today is that a little praise can go a long way. I confess when employers forget, or choose not to, credit their nannies for their hard work to others, it can create resentment.

It can hurt employees' feelings when they aren't given the credit they are due. For example, when nannies make a dessert, (or helps make a dish or even the entire meal) for their employer's dinner party and the guests compliment the dessert the host shouldn't take all the credit for making the dish.
Rather than misleading guests into thinking they made the dessert the hosts could easily say, "Thanks! Our nanny made it."

Similarly, employers should also boast to their house guests about the great work their carpenter did in their home. It's completely appropriate to share the name of the contractor that helped finish their gourmet kitchen so their friends and family can hire the same contractor. It's wonderful when employers can share with their guests that the meal was prepared by the chef and brag about the great bakery that made the pastries. Giving credit where credit is due doesn't take any appreciation away from the hosts of the party.

There is no harm to parents when they compliment their nannies' hard work to others. I confess when employers brag about their domestic staff to friends it makes the employees feel great about their jobs.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Girls Will Be Girls by JoAnn Deak

Weekly Trip to the Library

The three-year-old I care for has already had girls at preschool tell her the clothes she was wearing weren't  cute and other girls have told her they don't want to be her friend. At my previous nanny job the five-year-old girl in Kindergarten often came home crying because a girl in her class would make fun of her. And years ago I cared for anorexic girls who thought the normal curves of puberty made them fat.

That is why I recommend everyone caring for girls read Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident And Courageous Daughtersby Dr. JoAnne Deak.

This is the best book I have yet to read on understanding, raising, supporting, and working with girls. Growing up can be very difficult for a girl in our culture and Dr. JoAnn Deak, a well known school psychologist, educator, speaker, and author offers solutions to the most common problems facing girls today in her book, Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident And Courageous Daughters.

Some of the problems discussed in this book include: cliques, the mother and daughter relationship, the societal pressure to be ultra slim when the teen years creates curves, how to deal with sexuality among teens, and how to cope with the mood swings and hormonal adjustments of menstruation. Plus, there is an entire chapter discussing the role of fathers in their daughters' lives.

The book uses both research and real life situations to explain the solutions to raising confident girls today. I highly recommend reading Girls Will Be Girlsfor anyone raising or working with young girls.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Make a Flower Pot for Mother's Day

Have the Kids Paint a Flower Pot

Even though Mother's Day is on Sunday, there's still time to make an inexpensive gift with the kids for your Mom Boss for Mother's Day. Simply let the kids decorate a terra-cotta flower pot for their mother. Unlike most painting projects with little kids you will need to use acrylic paints, rather than washable paints, because you don't want the painted decoration to be removed when watering the plant.

You Will Need:

1. Terra-cotta pot
2. Pencil and stencils (for older kids)
3. Acrylic paints
4. Paintbrushes or sponge brushes
5. Smock
6. Newspaper or a plastic table cloth to protect the work surface


1. Cover the work surface and have the kids roll up their sleeves and wear a smock.

2. Allow older children to use a pencil to draw a picture or use stencils to create words on the flower pot.  There is no need to draw a picture on the pot for toddlers to follow.

3. Simply allow the paint to dry before handling. Find a flower or herb to plant in the pot or just wrap the empty pot in some tissue paper with some ribbon before the kids give it to their mother.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Children's Books Make Great Mother's Day Gifts

Best Children's Books for Mother's Day

This Sunday we celebrate Mother's Day in America. Although it's not necessary for nannies and au pairs to buy Mother's Day gifts for the mothers they work for, giving children's books as gifts to parents on special occasions is always an inexpensive gift. Parents love receiving children's books to read with their little ones. Below are our 10 favorite children's books about mothers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mother's Day T-Shirt

Wednesdays with Whitney

Mother’s Day is only a few days away! Are you still hunting for a cute, original craft to do with your charge for their Mom? Try making this T-Shirt at home – the kids will have fun making it as they are encouraged to get all full of paint, and Mom will have a new t-shirt that will make her kids smile every time they see her in it! I made a similar shirt when I was in preschool and I remember jumping inside every time I saw my Mom wear it!


• 1 White T-Shirt
• Fabric Paint
• Sharpie


1. Start by letting your little ones step into the fabric paint and lather their feet with the stuff. If you want to control the mess, try painting their feet with a paintbrush instead.

2. Next, let them walk across the t-shirt. They can walk in any direction, every direction, or even no direction!

3. Now you can write “My daughter/son walks all over me!” Use a sharpie or, if you don’t trust your handwriting, stencil it with black fabric paint. Keep it a secret!

Reference:  Don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday for a fun project by Whitney Ziebarth and to check out her new venture Nanny Magazine at Take the Nanny Magazine survey for nannies at

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Think Before You Post, Email or Text

Your Actions on Social Media, Texts, and Emails Do Have Consequences
By Debbie Thomas, Career Nanny

What you text, email, or Tweet can come back to bite you and I embarrassed to confess I know this first hand. I will confess my mistakes in the hopes that I can impress upon others that their actions and words do have consequences. Choosing to "flame" on social media can ruin reputations, lose friends, and even hurt chances of landing a nanny job (or any job).

Children and teens are constantly warned about the dangers of texting, posting, or uploading anything inappropriate, anywhere. But, it’s not just children making those mistakes. I see nannies aggressively “flaming” on social media and on blogs all the time. The reality is that anything emailed, texted, or posted may remain online forever and can never be re-written or taken back.

When I worked as a live-in au pair I was allowed to use my employer’s computer to email friends and family. I loved my job. Yet, a couple of times I complained to friends about the parents’ relationship by email. And as karma, the mother opened one of the disparaging emails while deleting files on her computer and that email almost cost me my job. That mother has told potential employers about the incident during reference calls.

I know I’m not the only person who has texted gossip to others. I’m also not the only person to have gossiped about a nanny in a text to a friend and accidentally sent the text to the mobile phone of the person I was gossiping about. That text ruined a friendship.

And, I am embarrassed to admit that I have posted comments on nanny blogs and nanny web sites that were too aggressive, not considering the feelings of the other commenters, owners, authors, or moderators of those blogs or web sites. I sometimes think people mistakenly assume that they are anonymous online. But, that’s a misconception.

I don’t know why I thought it was okay to express my deepest, most passionate opinions aggressively on social media on blogs. “Flaming” comments or very aggressive comments nearly lost me the friendship of the editor of this newsletter blog. I volunteer working on the publication and therefore the angry comments not only reflected poorly on me personally, but for the publication as well since I am associated with the newsletter. And, when working for a family (or at any job) our actions and words represent the family (or employer) as well.

Don’t misunderstand me -- it’s perfectly fine to be passionate. But, it is not okay to express opinions at the expense of others. Always remember that potential employers will Google your name and possibly see any comments you have made online.

I hope my embarrassing and candid confessions today encourage other nannies to consider the potential consequences of what they say online. I highly recommend no one ever post anything negative about their employers online including, but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, emails, or texts. I encourage nannies to comment passionately but not attack other individuals, groups, or businesses publicly.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Make it About Them, Not About You

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies: Don’t Drag Your Personal Problems to Work with You

Sometimes it’s hard, but nannies should try not to drag their personal problems to work. Children pick up on everything nannies say and do. Parents don’t want to hear their children repeat nasty gossip they overheard from their nannies. Plus, nothing worries parents more than leaving their kids with depressed, unhappy, self-absorbed, or stressed-out caregivers. Parents want their nannies to radiate a cheery countenance and nurture their kids, not radiate negativity, gossip, or create drama in their homes.

But, like everyone, nannies have emergencies and tragedies in their lives. For example, it’s not reasonable for parents to expect their nannies to come to work the days after a spouse or parent passes-away. Nannies deserve, and need, to have paid time-off for grieving the loss of a family member. Employees simply cannot be expected to perform at their jobs the best during a personal crisis.

But, during normal day-to-day stress nannies should leave the drama at home and devote themselves to caring for the kids. Surprisingly, going to work can help nannies deal with stress by focusing on caring for the kids instead of only focusing on their troubles.

In-home childcare providers should remember to put their employer’s wishes first. Being a nanny is about providing the care the parents’ want. Caregivers must listen to what the parents want, and try their best to make the parents’ wishes a reality.

Nannies respect professional boundaries by devoting working hours to nurturing the kids in their care and leaving their gossip and their troubles at home.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seamless Socks for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder, Hypersensitivity and Autism

SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Socks

SmartKnit KIDS Seamless Socksare a 100% truly seamless sock designed for children with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, Hypersensitivity, or for those who just hate annoying sock seams. Spun the same way a caterpillar spins a cocoon, SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Socks are started at the toe and knitted down to the ankle. This one of a kind process creates a cozy and comfy sock for little feet and toes. A no heal design allows the sock to be slipped on any which way.

Tired of hearing her son scream “these sock seams keep bugging me,” a mom decided something needed to be done. Every “seamless” sock her son tried had seams in it; there was not a truly seamless sock available. After explaining the frustrating morning routine to countless friends of her son’s struggles with socks, she was finally given the name of Knit-Rite, a textile manufacturer, and contacted them with her request for a seamless kids sock.

After several requests for seamless socks from "desperate" parents, SmartKnitKIDS socks were created. Knit the same way a caterpillar spins its cocoon, SmartKnitKIDS socks are started at the toe and worked up toward the ankle. This process insures a 100% seamless sock, so there are no seams to bug ya! A form-fitting design also keeps those annoying lumps and bumps out of the socks.