Monday, September 28, 2015

Why Enlist the Help of Experts?

We are disappointed to hear, yet again, about a negative event involving a nanny.  This new occurrence, in Georgia, involves a nanny being accused of identity theft and stealing money via credit card charges.

Hiring a nanny can be tricky and complicated.  If we look at the odds of an impending hire gone awry, most times, things work out absent of catastrophe, whether a parent goes the professional, more expensive, nanny agency route with expert help or the cheaper “DIY” route.  This event highlights, however, why the DIY route may result with real disillusionment, no differently than going to Las Vegas and playing the roulette wheel.  It is 100% predictable that the outcome is unpredictable.

How can a parent avoid a negative outcome resulting from hiring, a basic stranger, to care for their children, pets and home?  This is a question on the minds of every parent hiring a nanny.  Though, the critical question all parents should ask themselves is…”how do I minimize the risk in hiring a stranger?”  Therein lays the core issue.

The majority of people working with children are safe and honest.  So most times, everyone is a winner, unlike playing roulette.  The real issue, though, is when a surprise rears its ugly head.  We all know there is a minority population of people who are not at all safe to leave alone with children, pets and give full access to the family fortune.  They don’t wear a label “DISHONEST” like a name tag.  That’s the world in which we live.

What’s the solution?  Because young children are involved, the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, advocates using expert help to put together as many of the puzzles pieces about a person as possible so that a parent has a fully focused picture of who is getting hired.  This expert help can come in several versions to help provide transparency.  One option is to use the crème de la crème full service APNA member agency to do all the vetting work.  This option leaves a parent feeling most secure, least exposed, though admittedly, it is the most expensive route.  Another option is to enlist the help of the experts.  Many APNA agencies offer the next best solution which can help defray the cost, yet not take the full gamble.  These agencies will help with the screening process of a candidate a parent found through other resources.  As a result, this is a real blended alternative of DIY and expert help at a deeply discounted cost.

The pure DIY route was the option the Georgia family took.  Undoubtedly, they knew others who took that route successfully, and they decided to spin the wheel.  Unfortunately, it was too late when they discovered they lost the bet. While APNA doesn’t recommend spinning the wheel as such, there is the recognition that many parents find success.  Why not use the expertise of an APNA agency to vet a candidate a parent finds on their own if the cost to have the agency do the whole process is out of reach?  It is cost effective for those parents who have financial limitations but want to minimize the risk of discovering the unknown.  Admittedly, using experts will not take away every molecule of risk (humans aren’t perfect…yet!), but it does heavily minimize risk by adding a real degree of predictability.  After all, all parents strive for their kids to feel safe and secure. And the truth is, there is real help available to sidestep these events, no matter the budget.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Reminders!

As summer begins to wind down, remember that August is considered the warmest month of the year so it is important to remain cautious of summer risks.
  • A Hot Car Is No Place for Kids. It only takes 10 minutes for a car to heat up 20 degrees. While some assume that cracking a window helps, partial ventilation only helps a little. A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s and once a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, heat-related death may result. Heatstroke can happen when the temperature outside is as low as 57 degrees. 
  •  Be Cautious On the Playground. The sun can cause playground equipment to become very hot, which could lead to burns on kids’ sensitive skin. A quick touch test before playtime begins helps. 
  •    Humid Weather Is Dreadful for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers. Watery eyes, congestion, runny noses, sinus headaches, and sneezing increases as the air quality decreases with humidity. Use air purifiers in the home to enhance breathing and use the air conditioners to keep windows closed. Note: shower before bed to remove access pollen off of the body and use neti-pots to clear nasal passageways if congested.
  •   Mosquitos Fly During Warm Weather. Pick the right bug repellant. DEET, a common ingredient in most bug sprays, can be about 10% to work. For longer days outdoors, 20% DEET proves more effective. Always consult a physician before applying bug repellent to children under the age of three.
  •     The Warmest Month Can Bring the Hottest Sun. Sunscreen, containing at least 15 SPF, should be applied before outdoor activity and reapplied according to the label instructions. Along with skin protection, UV-filtered lenses should be used to protect eyes from sun exposure, some say brown lens are best.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ABC’S of Pool Safety

Swimming is a great way to cool off during the summer months. Unfortunately, drowning is the number one killer of children under the age of five. According to Natalie Lane, Director of the ER Department at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, this statistic is even more alarming because young children are more likely to drown in a residential swimming pool than any other body of water. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should avoid installing a swimming pool until children are over the age of five. However, if parents and caregivers will engage young children in water activities, be sure to follow the ABC’S of pool safety:
  • Abide by the rules. Never leave children alone in or near a pool. There should always be an adult who can swim present at all times. In addition to a present adult, all children should be wearing a secure life vest. When finished, don’t forget to remove all pool toys and floats from the pool area that could attract children.
  • Be prepared. Teach children how to swim as early as possible, or at least the basic water safety tips. Since an adult will be supervising the children during pool play, CPR and rescue breathing certification is recommended. If at any point during the day a child is missing, always check the pool area first.
  • Childproof the pool. For residential pools, it’s very important to install a self-latching and self-closing fence around the pool area. Safety covers should also be placed over the water when the pool is not in use. Also, remember to keep a phone available near the pool in case of emergency.
Happy summer!
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Surprising Seasonal Allergy Triggers

     The rapid plunge into warm and dry weather has seasonal allergies on everybody’s radar. Allergy symptoms consist of sneezing, runny nose, watery or itching eyes, skin rashes, and common cold-like symptoms. To control these symptoms, many doctors prescribe seasonal medications or even yearly medical regiments to control allergy attacks. While we wait for a good rain to wash away access pollen, it’s good to understand allergy triggers.
     Surprisingly, summer fruits are allergy agitators. Grass or ragweed allergy sufferers are advised to take precaution when eating peaches, pears, and melons when these fruits are in season. Baseball parks also irritate allergy sufferers. The dust and dirt from the field may contain high levels of spores, causing allergy symptoms to surface. The more people in the park, the more dust and dirt travels. Be aware and take precautions such as carrying allergy medications in case of an attack.
     As the evening approaches, be sure to remain downwind during those late night camping adventures or bonfires. Smoke inhalation weakens the body’s immune system causing allergy symptoms to worsen. Lastly, on those beautiful summer days, think about the way heat traps pollen and diesel bringing allergens closer to the ground. It’s a good practice to always check the weather report for air quality. If quality is low, take precautions. Don’t forget to also check the pollen count!

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.

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