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Raleigh Nanny & Babysitting Blog

YOUR vacation is not your Nanny’s

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Throughout the year, especially during the summer, it is very common for families to take trips together. Those families who have nannies often choose to bring them along as additional help. This can be a wonderful idea if approached correctly, but can be an issue that causes strife if the nanny feels taken advantage of, or if the parents do not feel that the nanny is contributing enough on the trip. This is why it is essential to sit down and discuss expectations before each trip.

Most of the time the concept of travel is discussed before hiring a nanny and rules are stated in the nanny agreement. Even if this is the case, there should still be a conversation before the vacation. It is important that both people see the trip as a business agreement. Just like any other job, a nanny on a family vacation is a work trip so there are several topics that should be agreed upon: money, hours, housing, and expectations.

Money is the first topic of discussion. It is important that both the nanny and the family feel that their needs are being met and that the nanny is properly compensated. All expenses, hotel, food and travel (gas, plane ticket, etc) should be paid for by the family as well as the nanny’s normal salary. Some people choose to add a stipend for sight-seeing or an additional bonus for agreeing to be away from home. This is at your discretion.

Most nannies have set daytime hours. On vacation these hours are likely to change and may include evenings and/or weekends. The family should sit down with the nanny and discuss what their expected hours will be and if this is acceptable to her. If she agrees to work these hours, and the hours are equal to her normal work week and on week days only, then the salary for that week can stay the same. If there are additional days and/or hours then there should be an hourly overtime pay discussed, or another option is a daily rate that would provide extra compensation but might be easier to keep track of than hourly pay.

Housing can be a tricky issue. It is expensive to pay for an extra hotel room, but it is also necessary. The nanny needs to feel that she has some time off and isn’t working 24/7. She also needs her privacy. As stated earlier, this is a business trip so just like any other job, an employee should not be asked to stay in the same room with their employer.

Lastly, expectations should be agreed upon. The nanny needs to understand what is being asked of her on the trip and what duties she is responsible for. This should help with frustrations so that the family does not feel that the nanny is only there for vacation and is not helping, and so the nanny knows what to get accomplished each day before she receives her time off.

Going on a trip with the family can be so much fun for a nanny and can be a huge help for the family! If all of the above is discussed and agreed upon before the trip than it should be a wonderful experience for both people.

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Summer Fun

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Summer is almost here and with that comes a break from school. This break is needed but it is important to keep children’s brains active during this time off.  According to the US Department of Education the average student loses 25% of their reading skills and 2.6 months of math skills over the summer.

There are several fun ways to help children exercise their brains. One way is to play 20 questions. The adult should think of a person, place or thing and the child can ask up to 20 questions that will help them guess what the noun is. This helps with reasoning, logic and memory. Another game is to have a kid think for a few rhyming words and then link them together in a short story or poem. If the child is old enough to write then encouraging them to write down their story can also help with writing skills.

Another great idea is to encourage a love for reading. There are many wonderful stories to share with kids. One of my favorites is the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne. These can be found at most libraries and book stores. Most libraries have a story time that help encourage reading as well. If possible, allow the child pick out a couple of books and then alternate with them reading to you and you reading to them. This helps enhance their reading and listening/auditory skills.

Most kids really enjoy playing on the computer. There are some wonderful, educational websites that help encourage learning. They have games that help increase both reading and math skills as well as comprehension and reasoning. A few examples are: www.starfall.com, www.kidsknowit.com, www.gamequarium.com, and www.howstuffworks.com .

The last suggestion is to either create your own, or purchase age appropriate flash cards. If there is something in particular that the child struggles with throughout the year, then focus on enhancing or at least maintaining that skill. For example, if a child struggles with addition, then create or buy math flashcards and have them sit down for 10 minutes a day and practice. Feel free to make this more fun for them by creating a chart. They can put an X every time they practice and at the end of the week if they did their cards every day, they can get a small prize. Or maybe once they get all the right answers they can have a reward.

However you choose to cultivate learning with children, always make sure to stay positive, uplifting and most importantly have fun!

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Rainy Days, dont let it dampen the fun!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

In an earlier blog we wrote about affordable places to take children in the Triangle. Since its spring and the rain is here I thought a follow up blog about rainy day activities in the area would be handy. The following is a list of top 5 Triangle indoor places for fun with the kids.

  1. Northgate Mall in Durham (1058 West Club Boulevard) has a carousel, bouncy house and a train for children. It is located near Entrance 2 and rides are $2 each or you can purchase 6 rides for $10.
  2. Morehead Planetarium is another wonderful place to take the kids. They offer shows inside of their dome including Magic Treehouse in space (based off the book series). Entrance is $7.25 for adults, $6 for children and free for members. More information about times and location can be found at http://www.moreheadplanetarium.org/
  3. Starting in June, most of the theaters around the area will be offering children’s movies at a discounted price. For example, Southpoint Cinemas will show an older child’s film every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10:30am for $1 each. Snacks will also be available for $1. You might want to buy tickets in advance because they tend to sell out. Visit their website to find out what will be playing each week. http://www.southpointcinemas.com/
  4. There are many kids museums around the area that are budget friendly. There is Kidzu in Chapel Hill, Marbles in Raleigh and Museum of Life and Science in Durham. All three of these offer memberships if you plan on going often. Kidzu is $5 for children 2 and up and for adults. Children 1-2 are $2 and children 11 months and under are free. http://www.kidzuchildrensmuseum.org/  At Marbles, admission is $5 for children and adults (children under 1 are free). http://www.marbleskidsmuseum.org/  Children under 3 get in free at the Museum of Life and Science. Children over 3 are $10 and adults are $14. http://www.ncmls.org/visit
  5. Storytime is another great rainy day activity. Pottery Barn Kids located at Southpoint Mall in Durham has a storytime every Tuesday from 11-11:30am. It is free. http://www.potterybarnkids.com/customer-service/store-events.html  There is also storytime at the Barnes and Noble in Raleigh located at 5959 Triangle Town Blvd Unit 2107. It is on Fridays at 10:30am. More information can be found at http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/3233615

 

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Safety First

Monday, April 16th, 2012

It is a beautiful time of year to play outdoors but with these activities comes a responsibility to keep the children as safe as possible. There are several areas to discuss: playground safety, stranger danger, pool safety and simple outdoor rules.

First, playgrounds/parks are a wonderful place to take children of all ages and the Triangle has many available, but they can also be dangerous. It is important that children play on the appropriate part of the playground. Most parks have a toddler/baby section where smaller children can play without fear of falling off the bigger equipment or being accidentally knocked down by an older child. There are also baby swings which children up to the age of 2-3 (depending on the size of the child) should stay in.

Even the older children need constant supervision. They could easily fall off of the monkey bars or hurt themselves going down the slide the wrong way. The most important part about being a caretaker is to ensure safety of the child. It isn’t always convenient or fun to follow them all over the park, but it is important.

Second, stranger danger is a concern no matter where you are, but public places with many children are a greater risk. Make sure that you have spoken with the child about not speaking with or getting in a car with anyone but your list of trusted adults. There is a wonderful video titled STRANGER DANGER: The Safe Side Stranger Safety that explains on a child’s level the possible threat of strangers. This video can be purchased at amazon.com. Also, when at a public venue such as a park, make sure the children stay where you can see them at all times. This will lessen the likelihood of anything happening to them.

Third, pool safety is incredibly important. According to Poseidon-tech.com, 26% of deaths of children ages 1-4 are caused by accidental drowning. If you have a pool, make sure there is a gate around it that is locked at all times. Also, when taking a child swimming, make sure they are never out of your sight and are always wearing a floating device (if they cannot swim.) Another good rule is to not allow running around the pool so that there is a smaller chance of them falling in and hitting their head. If possible, it is a great idea to be CPR and First Aid trained. This can be done through the local Red Cross. Dates of certification and other information can be found at www.redcross.org.

Lastly, there are a few basic rules to providing a safe environment. One, in the spring and summer especially, make sure that they are always wearing sunscreen when outdoors for extended periods of time. Two, the mosquitoes are awful this time of year, so spray them with bug spray when leaving the house to play outside. Three, it is always a good idea to keep a basic first aid kit in your car. You can buy a very simple one at Wal-Mart for $5 that contains band aids, gauze, and a disinfectant.

 

 

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Allergies – ahh-choo!

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Spring is here! As the beautiful weather arrives, so do the pollen and other allergens. Adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from allergies. According to WebMD, as many as 4 out of 10 children suffer from indoor and/or outdoor allergies. Fortunately there are a few tips to help lessen allergy symptoms.

The first helpful idea is to keep the child’s room as free from allergens as possible since this is where most children spend the majority of their time. You can add an allergy cover (mattress topper) on the child’s bed and pillows which will prevent dust mites which can aggravate allergies, and will help lessen pet dander. These can be found at Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, and other department stores.  If possible, keep pets out of their bedroom entirely; if not possible, then try and make sure pets are washed regularly (at least once a month).  It is also a good idea to limit the number of stuffed animals in the child’s room as these often collect allergens and worsen symptoms. When washing their sheets, try a very high heat setting and also try a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Because of the warmth this time of year, most children love playing outdoors. This is wonderful for exercise and the release of energy, but rolling around in the grass can bring the pollen inside on their clothes. The next tip would be to change their clothes as soon as they come in from playing for the day so that they are carrying the pollen for as small amount of time as possible. Also, wash their clothes in hot water before allowing them to wear them again and make sure they take a warm bath daily.

Lastly, invest in a dehumidifier. There are many different types.  Vicks sells one specifically for children that has a light on top that projects stars on the ceiling. This will help them breathe better and will lessen nasal congestion. It can be purchased at any major pharmacy such as Walgreens or CVS, as well as, Walmart, Target, etc.

Allergies can be a real annoyance for anyone, but especially children who can’t seem to overcome the symptoms. Hopefully these tips will help provide some relief! If not, please contact a doctor; medication may be required depending on the age of the child and the severity of symptoms.

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It’s Spring Cleaning Time!

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

It can be very challenging to get children to participate in cleaning whether it’s their room on a normal basis or the house during a big spring cleaning. One great way to entice children to clean is to make a game out of it. Obviously there isn’t always time for this method but when given the opportunity, children can actually enjoy cleaning their rooms.

One game idea that is mentioned on babycenter.com is to turn cleaning into flashlight tag/I spy. The grownup grabs a flashlight for each person and turns off all the lights. Then the first person says “I spy”…and you name a specific toy and say run and grab it! The person without the flashlight runs to get the toy. Take turns doing this until the room is picked up and the toys are back in their place.

Another game idea is to play a child version of “Name That Tune”. But, instead of naming a tune you ask them to name how many toys they can pick up in a certain amount of time. Each round they can try and beat their previous score. You can even make a finish line and a prize for crossing the finish line. This works especially well if there are multiple children competing although the parent/nanny can always participate as well.

There are other less involved ways to intrigue a child such as to put all their chores into a hat and make it a mystery as to what chore they might get. Lastly, there is always the classic “Barney clean up” song or a star chart with a reward once a certain number of chores are reached. No matter which game you think will cater more toward the child, it is always more fun to play than to work!

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Triangle Top Ten

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

It is nice for adults and children to get out of the house so that neither feel cooped up and bored. It also provides a different and unique environment for bonding.  Unfortunately, often the kid-centered places for fun are hard on the pocketbook. Luckily, the Triangle offers many free or inexpensive places for childhood entertainment. Below is a list of the top ten places along with descriptions and prices per visit. Many of the museums also offer a membership which can be cost effective. Pick up a copy of Carolina Parent magazine for further ideas. They print budget friendly monthly activities for adults and children.

Kidzu: The Chapel Hill Children’s Museum is designed mostly for 0-8yr olds and is located at 123 West Franklin Street in University Square. It is open Tue-Sat 10am-5pm and Sunday 1pm-5pm. Admission is free on Sundays, and is $5 for adults and children 2 and older, and $2 for 12-23 month olds the rest of the week. Infants are always free. More information can be found at http://www.kidzuchildrensmuseum.org/.

Marbles Kids Museum: This children’s museum has many wonderful exhibits including an Art Loft, Storybook Forest and a Splash exhibit. It is located at 201 East Hargett St. Raleigh, NC 27601. The hours are Tue-Sat 9am-5pm and Sun 12am-5pm. Admission is $5 for adults and children 1 and up. Children under 1 are free. http://www.marbleskidsmuseum.org/

Observation Park: Observation Park is a wonderful free park for children who are interested in airplanes. It is located at RDU near the Air Traffic Control Tower. You can see the airplanes and even hear the communication at the control tower. There is a playground, picnic area and a café open from 8am-2pm daily. http://www.rdu.com/whileatairport/obpark.htm

Durham Museum of Life and Science: This is one of the greatest museums in the area designed for children. It has an indoor section with exhibits on space, weather, live animals and a small playground with a separate section for toddlers. There is also an outside section with exhibits including a dinosaur walk, butterfly house, barnyard animals, trains and musical instruments. It is located at 433 Murray Avenue, Durham, NC 27704 and is open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm and Sun 12am – 5pm. Admission is $14 for adults, $10 for children 3-10 and free for children under 3.

Museum of Natural Science: This is a free museum located at 11 W. Jones St. Raleigh, NC 27601. It is open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm and Sun 12am-5pm. It has 4 floors, each with their own theme such as dinosaurs and the rainforest. There are also aquariums and a butterfly exhibit. http://naturalsciences.org/visitor-info

Library Story time: Every city in the Triangle has its own library. They offer story time for infants-school age children. This is completely free. In order to check out books, you must have a library card.

Movie: There are many movie theaters located throughout the Triangle. Most of the time there is a children’s movie playing. Also, in the summer some of the theaters (including Southpoint Cinemas in Durham) play older movies at a discounted price.

Southpoint Mall: Southpoint Mall at 6910 Fayetteville Rd Durham, NC 27713 has an inside playground. This is a great free activity for rainy days. The mall is open Mon-Sat 10am-9pm and Sun 12pm-7pm.

Jump Zone: Jump Zone is located at 2723 NC Hwy 55 Cary, NC 27519. Open play is mon-thur and sat, sun 10am-6pm and fri 10am-8:30pm. Admission is free for adults and children under 2 when accompanied by another child who paid to enter. Entrance for children over 2 costs $9. The price is for the entire day. Jump zone has inflatable games and slides. It also has a separate area for toddlers. http://www.jumpzoneparty.com/JumpZone_Open_Play.php?jzpcity=Cary&jzpid=013

Frankie’s Fun Park: Frankie’s is located at 11190 Fun Park Drive  Raleigh, NC 27617. It is free to get inside but then each activity costs money prices start at $5.There are bumper boats, miniature golf, laser tag, arcade games, etc. Frankie’s is open Mon-Thur 10am-10pm, Fri and Sat 10am-12am and Sun 11am-10pm. http://www.frankiesfunpark.com/home

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Getting through flu season

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

It’s cold and flu season and unfortunately children often are the ones getting sick. When this occurs, the nanny should be one of the first people to know. It’s essential that there is communication between parent and child caregiver so that she knows the situation before arriving in the morning. The parent should make a phone call to the nanny (while being considerate of off work hours) to discuss the situation. The nanny should be willing to listen and discuss what extra care is to be given so she will be prepared at the start of her work day. As a nanny it is usually part of the job to care for sick children. This should be discussed at the time the work agreement is put together, but depending on the severity of the sickness and if a parent can take a personal day, the childcare provider should have the right to choose whether they wish to take a personal day, or risk exposure.

If the child is sick enough to need doctor’s care, then there needs to be instructions on this as well. The parent should make the doctor’s appointment and inform them that the nanny will be bringing in the child, and the nanny needs to be given official permission with the doctor’s office to be allowed to bring the child in. She also will need to be provided with the child’s health insurance. It’s a good idea to have this on file in the home where it can be easily accessed as well as at the doctor’s office.

When your child is sick, it is also very important that the parents and nanny are in agreement on proper care. There should be a sick protocol discussed which should include instructions on medication to be given and advice on ways to comfort the child (such as amount of television allowed, bath time, nap time, certain foods to be given, etc.) This list should be written down and provided for each sick day. Open communication and clear instructions will allow parents to feel comforted with the knowledge that their child is being cared for in the way that they wish. It also provides a healthy environment in which the child can get well and relieves frustrations that the nanny might feel if left with a sick child and no instructions on care.

Tips for caring for sick kids:

1. Try rubbing vapor rub on their feet and then cover their feet with socks before bed/nap time. This sounds a little strange but it really helps with a cough and congestion.

2. Have a “sick bed”. This can be wherever is convenient. An example would be the living room couch. You put sheets down on the couch and a special pillow and/or blanket that your child likes. This is fun for kids but also helps keep the germs a little more isolated. It’s easy to clean up and wash the sick sheets once they are well.

3. Provide Lysol, vitamin C, hand sanitizer, etc. for the nanny to use as needed.

 

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Holiday Tipping Tips…

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

DON’T BE A SCROOGE when it comes to tipping your family’s caregiver!

Remember this holiday season to be generous to others who may be extensions of your family – your nanny, babysitter or mother’s helper may come to mind?

You can easily brighten your babysitters holiday by tipping one night’s wages and a handmade card from your child. After all, she is there looking after your little one so you can go out and play.

If you employ a nanny is it industry standard to tip one week’s salary and a small gift from the child or children they care for.

Holiday tipping should not be a burden in any way and everyone knows times are tight, so give what you can. Here are some ideas that are sure to not break the pocket book…

• homemade cookies or holiday treats

• a handmade craft or keepsake for the nanny from the children

• a sweet thank you note from your family with a gift card to their favorite store

• a nice lunch with the family

• a holiday play

• ipod music card

• Movie passes to a holiday movie

Just a little bit of thoughtfulness will go along way and the loyalty you have received throughout the year will continue on.

 

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