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The Importance of Spending Quality Time With Your Children

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Living here in the middle of Raleigh and Durham North Carolina and very close to The Research Triangle Park, families are constantly on the go.  After waking the kids in the morning and getting them ready, then dropping them off at school, working a nine hour day, and then swinging back by to pick them up on the way home again, all you want at the end of the day is collapse into your bed!  Finding the time to relax and spend quality time with your little ones may seem an impossible task at the end of a long day, but spending this time with your children is more important than you may think!

Spending time participating in an activity that is meaningful to both parent and child can be a very educational experience on both sides.  Children learn most of what they know about the world by engaging with their families and when parents take the time to commit to their children, kids feel loved and develop positive a self-esteem about themselves.

For parents, spending quality time with their children means earning their trust.  More often than not, a child’s number one priority is to be noticed and to feel important.  When parents put down their iPads and turn off the television to engage in a fun activity with their little ones, those kids know that they are more important to their mommy and daddy than an inanimate electronic device.  It seems a silly idea to impose, but can you honestly say that you have never been browsing an article on your phone and heard “mommy, look at me!” ?  Children are much smarter than people sometimes give them credit for, and they will surely call you out on it!

So what is there to do after a long day or week of work in the fast-paced Raleigh Durham Triangle? Why not take your kids to Fred G. Bond park in Cary right outside of Morrisville where you can fly a kite, play ball, go kayaking, or have a picnic?  You could take your children to walk around the wall at Duke University’s East Campus in Durham, or perhaps feed the ducks at Lake Lynn in Raleigh.  A walk down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill or down South Salem Street in Apex where you can get some ice-cream and have a chat could also be a fun afternoon!  Most importantly, remember that children are a lot more tired after a planned out activity than they are watching television!  So go outside and spend some more quality time with your kids- your pillow will thank you for it!

 

The Nanny Boutique is a nanny and babysitting agency that specializes in placing caregivers or babysitters and nannies in the Apex, Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill areas.

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The Great TV Debate, No Problem – Try a Museum Instead

Friday, April 5th, 2013

The great debate- should your nanny be permitted to turn on the television for your children?

 

If you are a parent in the Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, Morrisville or Apex area, you know there is a large variety of activities for children. Whether it is going to a park, playground, library or museum in Wake, Durham, Chatham and Orange County you will never run out of options. Many of these options are very cost efficient as well.

 

There are many people that will argue on both sides, whether a “little” bit of TV is no problem, or possibly even educational, and those who believe children should not watch any TV at all.

 

No matter what your opinion is on the topic, it is important that you let your nanny know how you feel, and what you expect. If you are against allowing your nanny to turn the television on for your children that is certainly not a problem, but you may want to provide a few alternatives.

 

For Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Durham, Chapel Hill and Apex nannies, there is no shortage of what to do instead of watching TV. The Wake County Public Libraries offer daily activities for your toddlers and young children. Even if an event is not going on, kids love to peruse the library and check-out new books!

 

There are also a multitude of awesome museums in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. If you are looking for a cost friendly location, we recommend the Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. In the same area there is also Marbles Museum in Raleigh, which can be a great way to wear out your little ones!

 

In Durham there is the Museum of Life and Science, which has a great number of exhibits to engage all children, no matter what age.  In Chapel Hill, Kidzoo is also packed with plenty of items the children will enjoy!

 

There are plenty of parks to enjoy, both for free and for small fees. In Cary, you have Bond Park, which has a playground for kids as well as a recreational center and various soccer and baseball fields. You can take young ones to Kids Together Park in Apex, or find fun for all ages at Pullen Park in Raleigh.

 

There are also places you can take children to for indoor jumping, which is especially great on those rainy days! There is Jump!Zone in Cary, The Hopper House in Apex, and Monkey Joe’s in Raleigh. All offer different “attractions”, so make sure you check them out!

 

So the next time you sit down with your nanny to discuss television options, be sure to point out the vast number of children activities Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Chapel Hill, Durham and Wake Forest has to offer.

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Do YOU Have a Nanny Contract? How the signature will help you in the long run.

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Many people think that being a nanny is a great profession. Nannies get weekends off, they get to play with children all day, and the pay isn’t half bad either. Are you thinking of being a Nanny in Raleigh Durham, Chapel Hill or Cary NC? If you are, make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you accept a position.

 

In many childcare situations a family will choose a nanny based on who they know. It may be a close personal friend, a friend of the family, or even a child’s previous teacher at school. No matter what the case, it is important that both the hiring family and the nanny for hire understand what is expected.

 

The Nanny Boutique is a nanny and babysitting agency that specializes in placing caregivers or babysitters and nannies in the Apex, Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill areas.

 

Whether you are being hired as a nanny for a family you know or not, we suggest that all parties agree on a signed contract. Many people may think it is rude to suggest a contract, that it will either offend the nanny or the hiring family. We have found otherwise. A contract lays out exactly what is expected from everyone, it is a way to agree on stipulations that may otherwise not be thought of in advance.  It will protect both sides and clarify what the expectations are.

 

Many people discuss logistics upfront. The pay, hours, transportation, etc. are agreed upon before the nanny begins work. However, there are many things that people may forget to discuss.

 

If you are a nanny or looking for a nanny in the Research Triangle area, including Raleigh, Durham, Apex, Cary, Chapel Hill and Morrisville, make sure you know what you are getting involved with before agreeing to begin. Families should discuss whether it is expected of the nanny to do the laundry or the dishes, clean the bedrooms, or provide arts and crafts projects for the children.

 

Additionally, any nanny should understand what sort of “day” the family expects their child to have. There are a large number of parks and playgrounds in the area, especially some great parks that nannies can utilize in Cary and Apex NC. Is the nanny expected to take the children to Bond Park in Cary or Kids Together Park in Apex? What about places where you are required to pay? If a nanny wants to take your children to Pullen Park in Raleigh or Jump! Zone, which has many locations in the Cary, Raleigh and Apex areas, will you provide the adequate funds for outings and outside activities such as these?

 

There are so many factors that go into hiring a nanny, many that you would not even think about. So before you hire a nanny in NC make sure you know what is best for your family and put it on paper. Likewise, if you are a nanny looking for work, make sure you have something in writing explaining exactly what is expected of you.

 

This will help to eliminate any confusion or upset down the line. The best way to ensure everyone remains happy is to sign on the dotted line.

 

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The Nanny Boutique’s Tips for Healthy Family Nutrition

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Here at the Nanny Boutique, we don’t believe that the word “healthy” is synonymous with gross or yucky.  It is easier said than done when trying to help your children keep a healthy nutritious lifestyle, and here in the Triangle we understand the difficulties many families face concerning a well-balanced diet. Yet, becoming more nutritious doesn’t have to be a chore!  Our North Carolina nannies and sitters are very glad to give some helpful advice in regards to the foods you keep on hand for your children and family.

Our Nanny Boutique sitters have seen it many times before- potato chips in the oven, candy bars in the medicine cabinet… parents will result to anything when it comes to hiding junk food from their kids. Yet, chances are if you don’t allow it to come into the house in the first place, then your kids won’t go searching for it.  By eliminating the bad stuff while you grocery shop, you set a good example for your children.  By making a special trip out to get an ice-cream cone, instead of keeping tubs of ice-cream in the freezer, you make it a special family event in which everyone gets a nice treat.

When you are making healthy choices, don’t always listen to what the front of a box can shout at you.  Just because a product claims to be reduced fat or whole wheat, does not necessarily make that product is a healthy one.  Our North Carolina Nannies know that the only thing on the box that counts is the Nutrition Facts label and, even then, appearances may be deceiving.  Be sure to always check the serving size and compare the portions to what you realistically eat as a family and remember, the healthiest foods are the ones that don’t come from a box in the first place.

If you seem to be having a hard time getting your children to believe that nutritious foods can also be very yummy, don’t be discouraged.  Our Nanny Boutique sitters see this situation all of the time!  Many families are often afraid that healthy foods won’t taste as good, but there are many options out there for families to try.  Fresh squeezed juice can be frozen to make popsicles that contain natural sugars, and smoothies made with plain yogurt can also be a yummy treat as well.  The only way to know whether or not something will taste good is to try it out!

Some other concerns many families come across regarding health are cost and time.  Many parents believe that it is cheaper to pick up fast food than it is to buy fresh produce.  While it is definitely more convenient, fast food almost always ends up being pricier than cooking at home.  When you cook at home, it can be a way for families (and nannies!) to work together while bonding.  Home cooking isn’t nearly as tedious when everyone in the family pitches in a hand and along with all that healthy food you’ve been eating comes more energy. Your body will thank you for it!

When it comes to staying healthy, remember that we live in a city that makes an active lifestyle very attainable.  North Carolina is such a beautiful, green state and Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Cary are full of amazing resources such as numerous parks and farmer’s markets.  At Nanny Boutique, our babysitters and nannies understand that staying healthy and active is not always an easy thing to accomplish in the beginning, but by doing it together as a family you can find that you have a fantastic support system that cannot be beat!

 

The Nanny Boutique is a nanny and babysitting agency that specializes in placing caregivers or babysitters and nannies in the Apex, Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill areas.

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3 Simple Steps to Managing Difficult Children

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Managing Difficult Children.

Tips from The Nanny Boutique to help you keep your cool and sanity at the same time.

 

Here in the Triangle, our nannies and babysitters have seen it all.  At The Nanny Boutique, our expertise ranges from potty training issues to working with special needs children to tutoring sessions to any number of other common obstacles that many children face in their everyday lives.  Though, more often than not, our nannies and babysitters get to spend time with children who genuinely warm our hearts and are a pleasure to care for.  Yet, every now and then we come across that one child who is as sweet as can possibly be… until the moment the door clicks right behind mommy and daddy!
So what precautions should babysitters and nannies take when they have a child refusing to do homework, throwing a tantrum on the floor, or screaming and calling you any name they believe will get under your skin the most?  From our team here at The Nanny Boutique, here are some very simple measures that you can follow to help you prevent a major disaster from happening.

1. Take a Deep Breath.  This seems a hard thing to do in the heat of the moment, but by keeping your cool, you prove to not only the child, but to yourself that you are in control of the situation.  If the child knows that they can get a reaction out of you by acting in a certain manner, then they are more likely to repeat the behavior in the future.

2. Remember why you are there.  Your number one priority as a nanny and caregiver is to ensure the safety of the children you care for.  As long as the child is not causing harm to themselves, to you, or to others then there is no need to have cause for alarm.  It is not the nannies job to discipline or to scold children, but rather to be there to provide care and safety in the absence of parents.

3. Talk to the Parents.  If this is becoming an everyday problem and if you have already tried talking with the child directly, then it is time to consult mom and dad with your concerns.  Together the parents and the nanny can come up with ideas as to why the behavior is happening and what they can do to prevent it in the future.

If all measures have been taken and the problems are still occurring, then it may possibly be time to move on to another family.  If the parents are not willing to work with the child on the behavior issues, or worse, if they feel that there are no issues to begin with, then the nanny shouldn’t stay in any situation that affects her personal work performance.  If a nanny or babysitter is unhappy in an environment that is unlikely to change, then it is very likely that she will not be able to fulfill her role completely as a provider and caregiver.

The Nanny Boutique is a nanny and babysitting agency that specializes in placing caregivers or babysitters and nannies in the Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill areas.

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Nanny vs. Daycare, who do you trust your children with?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

For many parents the issue of childcare is a big one. It is becoming increasingly more common to see families with two working parents, which creates the debate of childcare. When looking for someone to care for your child there are many factors to consider, factors which are different for every family. It is important that you are comfortable with the person that will be spending such a huge chunk of time with your child.

 

In the Raleigh area this brings us to the classic question: daycare or a nanny? Do you bring your child to someone at their house, or have the sitter come to you? There are so many things to consider and it is not to be taken lightly. The younger years are so formative and important that you owe it to your child to take the time to really make sure you have reached an informed decision.

 

Regardless of what you chose to do with your child, there is one important thing to remember. Research, research, research. There is nothing wrong with checking and double checking on a facility or nanny. Ask questions, verify references, even schedule a few “test days” before you decide on something definitely.

 

Let’s look at a nanny for hire first. Many cities, like Raleigh and Cary, have nanny agencies available, where they will do the work for you! It is important to make sure you check all references, resumes, and background checks for the Nanny you are looking to hire. If you are not hiring someone you already know, it is a good idea to go through a nanny agency that will be able to thoroughly research each and every person that could have potential to walk through your door.

 

Having a nanny can have a lot of great benefits. A nanny provides one-on-one interactions that may be lacking in a daycare or preschool, simply because of the number of children. Also, if your child is sick, many nannies are still willing to come to your house to care for them, which could reduce the amount of time needed to take off of work. Additionally, you are able to specifically determine what your child is playing with, watching, or eating throughout the day. You can play activities, meals, and designate exactly how much time you want your child sleeping, watching tv, etc.

 

It is important to always know what you are looking for and what you are willing to pay for. Some sitters are willing to work outrageous hours for cheap, but is this what you want? In one article a mom explains that she found a sitter on Craigslist for $60 a week. This sitter ended up abusing the child. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, many times they are!

 

http://www.wave3.com/story/20538293/experts-parent-had-better-options-for-suitable-child-care

 

When looking at daycares, make sure you ask plenty of questions. Make sure you know what the ratios are, how many teachers are in a room at a time, what the star rating of the school is, what food, if any, is provided to the children. No one will get offended of someone finding out everything they can about a facility. If you were buying a car would you purchase it before test driving? We wouldn’t either.

 

Daycares and preschools have a lot of great benefits as well. Your child will get the opportunity to spend time with other children, which can teach them how to share and play well with others. Being in a school with structure and having the same “schedule” every day can also help to prepare your child for school as they grow older.

 

When talking about the price you pay for a daycare vs nanny, it all depends on how many children you have. For many with only one child it may be most beneficial to pay for daycare, as the total cost may be less than what you would pay for a nanny (especially if you need to provide gas, insurance, and other costs for a nanny). However, the more children you have, the pricier daycare becomes. In many cases, the cost of a nanny does not go up exponentially if you have two or three children, where as many daycares in the Raleigh, Cary, and Durham areas can go up by at least $1,000/month.

 

Above all, trust your instincts. If something feels wrong to you, it probably isn’t a good fit. If you hire a nanny or enroll your child in daycare, there is nothing that says that needs to be your final decision. If you have an issue, then start back at the drawing board and keep looking until you are comfortable with your decision. Whatever works best for your family is what is most important.

 

 

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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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