Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tips For Working With At-Home Parents

Having a parent in the home can be great when input is needed, but it can also disrupt the day because children begin to focus on the present parent. Here are some tips to help manage the day:

Establish a good report with your employer. This is critical. If a parent will be home during the day, the parent and the caregiver must have a comfortable, yet professional, relationship. Both adults must enjoy one another's company. And it is important to know how to complement each other when dealing with the children.

Know expectations of role. Is the nanny there to assist the at-home parent or is she there to take charge as the primary caregiver during the day?

Set boundaries. Prior to starting the position, speak with the parent to find out where the parent will be working. It's great for the nanny to understand what areas of the house are off limits so the parent can concentrate.

Plan outside of the living space. When parents are home, children may want to flock to them and become upset if they know the parent is close but they cannot be with them. It's good practice to plan the day as if the parent is not in the home. Go to work, spend a few minutes going over the daily routine with the parent and child present, and then have the child say their goodbyes to the parents just as if they were going to work. Plan activities outside of the home or in areas of the home where parents cannot be seen. This will help the children from becoming distracted by a parent.

Communicate professionally. When working with an at-home parent, it is easy to become overly comfortable and share more personal information than you would if the parent was less present. It's important to be friendly, but remain profssional. Personal information stays at home!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Apps to the Rescue for Everyday Nannies

Technology is redefining daily interaction for everyone, including nannies. Check out these interesting apps that can help make your life as a nanny easier and more fun!

Job Management Apps

  • Hours Tracker (Available on iPhone and Android) -This app helps easily track time for one or more jobs using timers or manual entry. It can automatically calculate your earnings and overtime. The app also has a great pay period report to help you keep track of pay days. FREE or $8.99 for Hours Tracker Pro
  • DOL Timesheet (Available on iPhone and Android) – This app, created by the US Department of Labor, allows for timesheet recording and calculates your earnings per pay period. FREE
  • Google Calendar (Available on iPhone and Android) – Save time and make the most out of your day. This app helps you create daily events and even offers smart suggestions for event titles, places, and people. It can also sync to your Gmail and remind you via email of upcoming events. Don’t forget the option for various calendar views depending on your own personal style. FREE with in app purchases available
  • Google Maps (Available on iPhone and Android) – This app continues to set the standard for free app-based GPS navigation. Never get lost on your way to a job or various activities. This app is great for drivers, walkers, bikers, and those taking public transportation. FREE

Healthy Meal Prep Apps

  • Foodly Recipes (Available on iPhone) – This is the world’s largest recipe network app where you can discover and share any recipe on the web. Pick up great tips and fun ideas for mealtimes with your charge. FREE
  • Cook It Allergy Free (Available on iPhone) – Are you cooking gluten, egg, dairy, or nut free? Try this app with over 200 recipes to choose from with great ideas for safe alternatives for those with food allergies. $3.99
  • Nutrino (Available on iPhone and Android) – This is a free app perfect for replacing those delicious, yet not so healthy, recipes with equally delicious and nutritious meals. FREE

Daily Nanny “Go To” Apps

  • Baby Timer (Available of iPhone) – This app helps caregivers track diaper changes, feedings, naptimes, and playtime. It allows you add descriptions of each event as well as compile charts and graphs to show consistency and monitor routines. $4.99
  • Old Macdonald Sing & Play (Available on iPhone and Android) – Sing along with your charge to everyone’s favorite childhood song. Interact with the various farm animals and have a blast discovering their unique characteristics. FREE
  • Around Me (Available on iPhone and Android) – Don’t ever worry about running out of things to do when out and about with your charge. This app uses the GPS in your phone to find local attractions such as neighborhood events, parks, theatres, kids’ classes, fun places to eat, and so much more! FREE

Monday, March 2, 2015

Concussions and Youth Sports

Active children can’t wait for the day when they put on their first little league, football, soccer, or various other team uniforms. While youth sports are fun for the entire family, there is an increased warning that parents and caregivers should be aware of regarding childhood concussions. Concussions are mild brain injuries. They occur after an impact to the head or after extreme cases of whiplash. Emergency room reports show that the most dangerous contact sports for boys are ice hockey, football, lacrosse, wrestling, and soccer. For girls, the most dangerous sports are soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. Signs of a concussion include:

          ·         Dizziness
          ·         Vomiting
          ·         Sensitivity to light and noise
          ·         Double or blurry vision
          ·         Headaches or pressure in the head
          ·         Sluggish reactions or feeling “hazy”
          ·         Confusion of surroundings
          ·         Memory problems
          ·         Losing consciousness (even if only for a few moments at a time)

While concussions are not 100% preventable when kids play contact sports, there are a few ways to help prevent them. Make sure that the child is following all safety regulations set by the coach and team. Also, be sure that all protective gear is worn, and worn correctly the duration of the game. Lastly, encourage good sportsmanship so that games don’t become too physical.
 If you suspect that a child may have a concussion, seek medical attention right away and until they are cleared by a doctor, keep the child out of play and on the bench. Give ample time to ensure that the child does not have any lingering issues. One concussion can have a lifetime effect.

Excerpt from: Healthline.com

Monday, February 23, 2015

Working with Multiple Ages

Working with multiple ages is full of benefits. It gives kids the opportunity to learn together, work together, become individual leaders, and experience teachable moments. With various ages, it is important to know where each child is developmentally and where their progress is headed. Planning for the day is key. Make sure you find a rhythm and establish a routine. Be sure to use the physical space allotted to you and monitor time as the day progresses. Great things to think about throughout the day include:

Open-Ended Materials
  • Stock up on materials that can be used in more than one way. This helps develop problem solving, spacial awareness, and imagination.
Collaborative Projects
  • These are projects where the kids are not competing against one another but working together towards a common goal.
Physical Space Ideas
  • Create corners or other room areas that can be blocked off as a safe place for older kids to play.
  • Plastic baby pools or bright colored towels/blankets are great for showing kids where a safe place for the baby to play is.
Activity Ideas
  • Sensory play
  • Imaginary play
  • Water play
  • Contact paper stained glass windows
  • Outdoor play
  • If stringing beads: give toddlers a pipe cleaner while older kids use thread.
  • If painting: give older kids brushes while younger kids use bath scrunchies, hands, to chunky stamps.

Excerpt from: Nannypalooza presentation by Sue Downey

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Enjoying the Day When Charges Are Sick

            Seasonal colds are at a high during the winter months. Caring for a sick charge does not mean the day can’t be entertaining, it just means that the plans must be altered to fit the mood of the day. Upon arriving to the home, be sure to discuss the details of the child’s illness with the parents. Understand all expectations in terms of medication boundaries, sleep schedules, and routine check-ins. Before the parent leaves the home, be sure to ask about the child’s mood and where have they been in terms of activity level. Do they have an appetite? Are they sleeping more than usual? Once established, plan the day accordingly.
            Being indoors with a stuffy nose, slight fever, and tickled cough does not mean playtime won’t happen, just plan on a “gentle play” kind of day. Some great sick day activities include:

  • Story time
  • Eye Spy
  • Coloring books 
  • Soothing music 
  • Creating a stuffed animal doctor’s office
  • Board games for older children

A day full of calm play and relaxation may be just what your charge needs to get back on their feet. Be sure to monitor their symptoms throughout the day to ensure that they do not overexert themselves. If capable, try some of these fun, but calm, suggestions to take their mind off of being sick because laughter truly is the best medicine!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Tips For Household Employees!

Almost everyone is in high gear for holiday cheer and celebration.  It's a fun time of year and with a little planning, stress levels can be calmly maintained.  We want to offer a few ideas to consider that are particularly important this time of year.  While a nanny feels at home in her work place, each family may approach the holidays a little differently in their home.
  • Families travel, and schedules change.  With everyone so busy, parents may forget to tell an employee about a change or a travel plan.  It is advisable to be proactive.  Ask your employer about their holiday travel plans and ask if there will be any change in schedule that you can help accommodate. This will serve two purposes. It will help your employer focus on these items.  And, you will minimize the chance of being blindsided by the "Oh, I forgot to tell you but tomorrow...." 
  • Over the holidays, many families have an influx of guests from out of town.  This could be relatives, step children, or friends.  Be proactive and ask if there are any plans for guests and ask if there is anything you can do to help prepare for their arrival. It could mean anything from picking up a few additional groceries, to help wrap a few extra gifts. 
  • Each home celebrates the holidays unique to their family "culture".  Check in with the parents about how they want you to emulate their practices.   Ask about their traditions, activities, and if there are any boundaries on decor or craft projects.  Some parents may love that you want to take the kids to have a picture with Santa, while others may not.  It's better to ask and get a clear idea of how you can align your activities with the family's traditions.  
  • Help to minimize stress and keep the household running smoothly.  Ask if there are any special holiday clothes for the kids that you can help prepare by making sure they are cleaned and pressed. If it's a "hand-me-down" from an older sibling, does it need any mending?  Ask about assisting in gift wrapping or home decorating.  A less stressed employer makes for a less stressed employee! 
Be proactive! Thinking ahead will always be a mark of your quintessential professionalism!Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Know the Facts and Fight the Flu

One in 6 people in the United States will catch the flu this season. While the timing of the flu is unpredictable, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds citizens that the seasonal flu can begin as early as October and tends to peak between December and February. Those at higher risk for flu complications include young children, pregnant women, elderly, and those suffering from medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or chronic lung disease.

According to the CDC, the most important step in protecting yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated as soon as flu vaccines become available. While children under 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated, it is strongly encouraged that the people who care for them should be vaccinated instead. Aside from being vaccinated, other ways to help reduce the spread of influenza include:
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that could host germs (especially children's toys and cell phones)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as germs quickly spread this way
Symptoms of the flu start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. Unlike the common cold, symptoms of the flu come on suddenly. They may include fevers, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, fatigue, muscle and body aches. Additionally,  irregular vomiting and diarrhea is more common in kids than adults. If you suspect that you, or the children in your life, have flu-like symptoms, contact a medical physician. By knowing the facts you can fight the flu!