We love spending precious time with our children, but you want and need to get away for a date-night, a wedding, or just a ‘mental health break’. But you can only enjoy your time away if you’ve done your homework and have a trustworthy sitter giving your children an equally enjoyable time too! I’m the preferred sitter for my grandchildren, but I can’t always be there, so they’ve had to find outside help.
Choosing a sitter can be a very intimidating task and there are several aspects to evaluate. Get a list of possible candidates, and start phone screening.
1. Even if the referral is from a friend, follow your gut level feelings during the first phone call. Does she come across as cheerful, friendly, and confident? A babysitter’s most important job is to be a good role model, and if you’re not feeling totally comfortable, move on to the next person.
Call her references, asking behavioral based questions. How do the children feel about her? Does she hug and kiss them? Is she timely, safety-conscious?
Does she live close-by, so if you like her, she’ll be more likely to return? Has she had recent experience with the ages of my children? You don’t even want to bring someone into your home unless they have passed this much screening.
2. When she walks through the door, does she come prepared, with a book or simple activities for older children? Does she get down on the floor to connect with them? Does she ask pertinent questions?
3. Before leaving home, go through the house rules and define any out of bound areas. Jenny, our Family Coordinator, never leaves home without reviewing the Heimlich Maneuver, since she’s personally had so many close calls. Show her how to turn off the water main in case of a busted pipe. Show her where the First Aid Kit is and flashlights in case of a power outage. Leave your cell phone phone numbers plus one or more alternates who live nearby – a neighbor is perfect – as well as your Pediatrician and where you’ll be.
4. After the sitting, do more sleuthing.
What did she do during your absence? Did she bring some creative ideas or crafts that ware age appropriate? A favorite book? Or did they watch TV?
Do the children like her and want her back again? Even an infant can tell you a lot. Was he tense or relaxed? Older children can tell you if she was on her phone or texting.
Was she able to get the children to bed on time without too much trouble with teeth brushed and baths or faces washed?
How did the house look when you walked in?
Did she give you a report of how the evening went including any snags?
5. Find a sitter before you need one. Perhaps you don’t need a sitter right now, but when you do need one, you want to be prepared so you’re not neglecting any steps in the process.
A good sitter is a valuable addition to your family. Getting out and alone for adult conversations strengthens your marriage and gives you a balanced perspective on who you are. We Moms quickly find our significance in our Mothering, but that’s only a part of who we are. Surprisingly, it also gives children immense security when they see you walking out the door hand in hand, even if they fuss a bit the first time.
If you’re in need of a good babysitter, feel free to contact our office. The babysitters we send out on Temp jobs are candidates who we’ve already placed in permanent positions, so we know them well. They have current CPR and First Aid as well as an up to date full background check. They’ve filled out a five-page application, had extensive interview in our office and detailed references checked, which are open for you to peruse. We also have 24/7 phone access for after hours and weekend last minute needs.
Nanny of the Month, Tina Steinke, is a down to earth Phoenix nanny with three years of professional experience with ages newborn through five years. She loves everything domestic, teaching and encouraging children and making a home run smoothly and effortlessly. She loves the physical part of this career, including playing, being creative, teaching, organizing, cleaning and cooking. She tells us, “I could be out in the corporate world, but I feel that family life is so important and if children can have that stable person in the home that brings them security, I can bring that to them.”
She’s worked in homes with at-home Moms, and says, “Juggling a home and young children is a lot”. She’ll clean the kitchen, stock the diaper caddy, get meals together, clean and do laundry, allowing an at-home Mom more quality time with the children. Her biggest strength is her ability to multitask and her organizational skills. Tina has a calm, effective manner and an upbeat, happy, energetic and cheerful personality. Some of the fun activities she sets up for children are little tubs of water outside with plastic cups for water play, paper crafts, art, music, making obstacle courses, ribbon flags for twirling or dancing.
She loves taking children to the park, stroller walks, or making pictures for Mom and Dad. She home-schooled her children for eight years and incorporates reading books with every activity. “There’s so much activity that makes children’s brains mush.” Tina is good at talking to children and teaching them about the world and then helping them connect the dots, think about things and be creative. She asks questions, asks about feelings, sings songs while in the car or on walks. When we asked Tina about her favorite memories she mentioned, “The precious and humorous things that come out of a two or four year old’s mouth. The way they process things is so funny. The big smile that comes on their face when they know I’m cooking their favorite meal.”
During down time, Tina is happy to straighten, organize a pantry, clean out a fridge, prepare food, go grocery shopping, or organize. “I love doing that, making things more user friendly, and I do family laundry in between. “I really enjoy when the family gives me responsibilities. That’s why I love children and home management, because it’s active work.” Tina recently accepted an after-school nanny position in her North Central Phoenix neighborhood with an eight year old boy and a six year old girl, and is doing a trial week with the family to assure it’s a good match. In her free time, Tina enjoys sewing, swimming, hiking, biking, playing games, crafts of all kinds and reading.
What Additional tasks can my Nanny take on? Depending on your children’s ages and schedule, your Nanny can partner with you to make your life easier, giving you more time with your loved ones. You don’t need to rush home, start dinner and be up folding laundry late into the night.
Shopping. Nanny-Managers typically will keep a running list of items that are running low, and go shopping to replenish the pantry and fridge. She’ll routinely refresh the fridge, removing older leftovers. She can plan a family’s favorite menus and do the weekly shopping. Dry Cleaning, getting the oil changed for the family car can also be coordinated. Some Nannies do the seasonal shopping for children’s clothing or are responsible for returns and exchanges.
Cooking. Nannies routinely cook breakfast and lunch and sometimes dinner for children, but many Nannies also make dinner every night for the family, or do the prep work if parents enjoy cooking. If a Nanny isn’t confident enough to cook for adults, smart families instruct them to make dinner for the kids and have leftovers for the parents, alleviating the pressure for a hesitant Nanny. Most nannies are willing to follow a recipe and give it a try, saving you time a few nights a week.
Extracurricular Activities: Nannies will arrange for play dates, plan field trips to the library, zoo or museums, or do research on Summer Camps or Preschools and interesting opportunities in the community. Nannies of school-agers routinely communicate with teachers or monitor assignments online.
Each situation and family is different, and amounts of down time each Nanny has differs. Some of these suggestions will require additional hours or pay for your Nanny, but it can give you more of your most precious resource-time. Time to spend truly enjoying your family and a peaceful evening, knowing that the day’s most pressing needs have been met. Call Caring Nannies today at 480-946-3423 to see how an experienced Nanny-Manager or Family Assistant can make your life easier.
Does your nanny drive your children? It can be nerve-wracking for families to hand over the driving to their nanny and it takes time to develop that trust. But 97% of nannies drive as a part of their job. If you do your homework up front, you’ll be able to relax knowing that you’ve done your due diligence and your child(ren) are in safe hands.
Some families have a Nanny Car for the sole use of the nanny. This is the best solution, because it will be a safe, updated, well-maintained vehicle and safety features to keep your little ones safe. If she’s using your car, have you added her to your policy? If there’s an accident, they won’t cover it is she isn’t on the policy. If she’s under 25, your premium may go up, depending on her driving record.
If there’s a fender bender in your car and it’s below your deductible rate, it will come out of your pocket, so decide in advance how this will be paid for and what, if any percent she should pay for, if it’s her fault.
If a Nanny Car is impractical for your situation, here are some key things to consider before letting your nanny drive.
Do you require evidence of regular preventative maintenance? Have a trusted mechanic inspect her car.
Monitor the tires monthly and be sure they’re inflated properly.
Does she have additional insurance required for using her car for business? Typically, there will be a small increase in the premium.
If so, who covers the cost of this additional insurance?
If it’s not a recent model, how difficult are the car seats to install?
Do you have car seats you can give her so that they can just stay in her car?
If they’re coming in and out, make sure she knows how to click them into place and remove them.
Watch her get the children locked in. Did she do it correctly? One common error is failure to pull the clip high enough on the child’s chest.
How does she keep track of her mileage?
Are you paying her the IRS standard mileage reimbursement rate of 56 cents per mile for business miles driven? This covers wear and tear and gas when she drives for business.
Talk about rules for driving and review them frequently. Talk about speed limits and talking or texting on the phone while she’s in the car.
Consider trying Canary, a $9.99 app for iPhone and Android phones that can monitor texting and calling habits, speeding and car location. There’s a seven day free trial.
With a new nanny, have her do a test run to pick up the children while you’re in the car with her.
When nannies come to interview with us, we get a copy of their Driver’s License, a three year MVD Report, and current Auto Insurance. When your hire a permanent nanny through ACN, we send you a copy of her Driver’s License and three year driving record and current insurance. You may want to check her Insurance during your semi-annual Performance Reviews.
When we check references, we ask specifically about how comfortable past families felt with her driving.
It is hard letting your children drive with someone else, but if you do your homework up front, you’ll have a better partnership with your nanny, and your children will reap the rewards of your diligence.
What is the difference between a Nanny and a Babysitter? The easiest way to tell the difference between a nanny and a babysitter is to give some examples. If two children are fighting over a riding toy, a babysitter will simply swoop it up and distract the children with another activity.
Write a legacy letter. Think of everything you’d want to tell your spouse and children if you knew you had two weeks to live, and put it all in a letter to them. Tell your daughter, or granddaughter what you felt when she was born. The kind of man you want her to marry and why. You express to your spouse how happy they’ve made you and your desire for them to be free to be happy when you’re gone.
Share the meaning of your life, beliefs and the lessons life has taught you. This can be done in a letter, an audio recording, or a video. You can make a scrapbook with photos and written stories. You can say at your son’s graduation, “Scott, my heart overflowed with joy at the realization of how all your hard work is now paying off. I am so proud of you!” This part of the letter is a way of telling your unique story, including your accomplishments, how you’ve tried to live your life and what your family will take from you. You can encourage your children to make wise choices.
Include your family history. “My Grandpa was born in Oklahoma territory and we know very little about his family history,” lamented Marjorie. “We see 69% of people die without any estate planning at all. The most important part of a legacy is the values, words of wisdom and life lessons you carry with you. You don’t want your family to learn the hard way.”
Marjorie has a passion to help other families because of her own legacy. Her Grandpa, a Slovenian immigrant, served in the Army Air Corps during WWII as a medical doctor. In early 1945, his plane crashed and he died. At the age of seven, Marjorie’s Dad was told, “You’re the man of the house now,”and he helped raise his younger brother. Because an uncle received the death benefits, Marjorie’s grandmother had to live frugally. She went back to school and become a teacher. Marjorie’s dad was also a medical doctor who was drafted to serve in Vietnam. Thankfully, he returned safely, but life is often uncertain. Don’t miss an opportunity to share your values with your family. This is why Marjorie is passionate about helping other families plan their legacy. From the age of eight, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer. She has a passion for making sure we pass on what we want to, to whom we want, when we want, and these things we pass on start with our values.
“No one is getting out alive,” Marjorie reminded me. “Don’t you want to leave your child a love letter?”
If parents take the time to write these legacy letters, they’ll be much more likely to express gratitude and joy on a daily basis to their loved ones.
How can parents guarantee that the values they are diligently pouring into their children will stick?
How can you ensure that they won’t be inclined to exchange the blessings of your home life for the cheap thrills they will surely be offered, that can take them decades to recover from?
Talk to your children.
This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many parents don’t do this. While we need to be careful not to speak with them like they’re our buddy so they don’t respect us, and we need to speak to them on their level, yet we need to be friends with our children so that they feel free to come and talk to us about anything. If they’re having a problem understanding why your family does things in a certain way, talk to them about it. If they’re acting oddly, talk to them. Talk to them and listen to what they’re telling you. Give them undivided attention. We want our children to share their hearts without feeling that we’ll condemn them. If they can’t talk to you, you can be sure they’ll find someone else to talk to.
Sometimes, children have an aptitude for a calling that is not deemed acceptable by the parents. It’s our job as parents to spot the gifts and talents that our children have and nurture them and channel them in the right direction. Failure to do this can leave children bitter. Guard against having unrealistic expectations for your children.
Encourage means to give courage. Do this by loving them exactly the way they are. Praise them, not for the things they accomplish, but for the character qualities displayed while they achieved something. “You worked really hard on your room today!” or “your diligent practice paid off when you scored today.”
Give yourself to your children.
It is possible to go days and even weeks without realizing you’ve been so wrapped up in your “adult stuff” that you’ve hardly even noticed these little ones around you. You suddenly notice that they’re longing for your attention but you’ve been too busy or selfish to give them what they want most. Ask them to forgive you and resolve to give yourself to your children. Go play with them. Get down on their level. Cuddle with them. Tell them how much you love them. Treat them as real people with thoughts, feelings and hopes. Be interested in them. If you lose your temper, ask them to forgive you. Play together as a family. Wrap them in a blanket and tell them they are your little burrito and that you’re going to eat them!
Roughhouse with your kids.
Our children should so come to love the atmosphere and fragrance of joy and hope that resonates through our homes and their lives, that the thought of exchanging those blessings for cheap thrills leaves them frigid.
CHILDRN ARE BORN MUSIC-MAKERS: Hard Wired for MusicResearch shows that musical training affects brain development in young children. Children are hard wired from birth for many things: language, physical development, social-emotional skills and . . . music.Children are born music makers! Children are born to sing and move; infants even as young as a few months of age can show rhythmic and tonal responses to music. Babies will often coo or sound on the resting tone of a song (usually the last note). Toddlers can bounce to the beat and preschool age children can learn entire songs. If this is so, why do we have such a large amount of adults who do not feel comfortable singing “Happy Birthday” or dancing in public? The answer lies in a child’s early childhood years.Little musicians need to be musically nurtured to develop their potential. Musical training to benefit the brain later in life
It is true that a child who is exposed to many languages will gain the phonemes of the many languages and conversely, a child who is not given adequate verbal stimulation will grow up with a limited vocabulary. Similarly, to develop musically, a child needs to be in an environment with a wide variety of musical experiences. The easiest and most natural time for a child to gain their basic music competence is between birth and age five. During these years, the window for developing accurate rhythm and singing in-tune is wide open. If a child’s musical atmosphere in their early years is filled with rich music experiences, a child will be fortunate to grow up with all the music potential they are born with!Children get their disposition for being a music-maker from their parents.How do I nurture this inborn music in my child? Many parents are worried that they themselves are not musical and might destroy their little one’s possibilities of being a confident music maker. Actually the very opposite is true. A child gets his disposition to be a music maker by seeing the grown ups in his life joyously make music. If your child sees you having a blast singing and cutting up the rug, they will see it is safe and they may even imitate you. Parents are the best music models for their children!Ways to nurture your child musically.There are many easy ways to incorporate music into your child’s life:
- Sing, sing, sing! Sing in the car with the radio, make up songs (or change the words to familiar songs) about whatever you are doing with your little one, changing diaper, going to the store, eating some broccoli. Lullaby time can be the most precious time, singing your child off to sleep with love.
- Dance, dance, dance! Put on your favorite dance music and move your bodies. It’s fun to invite friends over and dance together. While playing a CD in the car is a good, your child is buckled in tight and can’t get the large movement experience that is important for rhythm development.
- Play, play, play! Get out the pots and pans and have a jam session to some fun and inspiring music that you enjoy. Wooden spoons on plastic bowls and shakers of dried beans in a sealed up water bottle can make some interesting sounds for children experiment with. Children benefit by having different sensory experiences of tapping, shaking and scraping.If you find yourself wishing for more ways to play with your child with music, join one of the great early-childhood music programs in town. Children learn best when they are in a relaxed atmosphere that is non-performance oriented, developmentally appropriate and lots of fun for both the children and the adults.Active music making is a whole brain experience. It helps children regulate their emotions; it can soothe the soul and sometimes bring peace to an over-cranky toddler. Lastly, music is a meaningful way to bond with your child.
Setting up a thorough estate plan is an essential element of safeguarding your family:
“I was never scared of dying, until my son was born and then I was terrified,” admitted Lori Woodward, a Gilbert Estate attorney. To help parents with similar concerns, Lori has put together a Kid’s Safeguard Plan, including:
Planning and Nominating Long Term Guardians
Nominating Short-term Guardians
Written Instructions for a nanny or caregiver.
A Family Emergency ID Card
Confidential Exclusion of Guardians
Instructions to Guardians
On July 31, 2006 nothing would ever be the same for a San Diego family who were traveling through Arizona. The Barber family was in a tragic car accident on Highway 98 near Page, Arizona. Melanie and Casey, the loving parents of three little boys, ages 3, 6 and 9, died. Their family was thrown into a nightmare.
This is a true story. Mel and Casey had talked about naming guardians to provide for the care of their three sons and the money they’d leave behind. They never got around to it. They likely thought their family would be able to work out who would care for the boys and their money, with love and grace, if anything happened.
That’s not what happened. After the accident, the boys were in the foster care system for a short time until family members could be located. Since then, over 1,000 pages of court documents have been filed, 9 lawyers, and tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars later, the boys will live with their aunt Janine and their money will be managed by a professional charging $100/hour until the turn 18. At which point, the boys will share $22.8 million dollars from the jury verdict in the wrongful death lawsuit of their parents and settlements with other defendants.
Is that what Melanie and Casey would have wanted? We will never know what they would have wanted, but we can be sure they would have done everything they could to avoid what happened. If only they knew how easy it would have been to take care of it.
It does not have to be this way. Putting together a Kid’s Safeguard Plan is simple and can protect your kids from this unthinkable situation.
Learn from their experience! It’s Easy to Protect Your Family and Your Assets with the guidance of a lawyer who focuses on parents like Lori.
By consulting with Lori, you can relax and rest assured your kids will never be taken out of your home or raised by anyone you wouldn’t want.Don’t be one of those people who think they know what to do and leave their loved ones with a complicated mess. Most LAWYERS don’t even know what’s necessary to keep your kids in the hands of people you know and trust.
Readers of my blog, who own their own home and have minor children, can meet with Lori for an absolutely free personal Family Wealth Planning Session (normally $750) to ensure this never happens to your kids. If you already have a plan in place, but want to make sure it adequately protects your kids (most don’t!), ask for your free plan review (normally $950).
To schedule your no-charge Family Wealth Planning Session, call (480) 788-8010 now and mention my blog now.