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What To Include In A Nanny Contract

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it’s a really good idea to draw up a contract when you hire a nanny. This is good for both you and the person you hire, as it outlines your expectations, sets up terms of payments and gives you both something to refer back to so there is no confusion. As someone who worked as a nanny, I know I appreciated understanding my role, and my most successful relationships occurred when there was ultimate transparency.

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Here’s a quick breakdown of what should go in a nanny contract:

  • The timeframe of the agreement. This can be ongoing, but you should establish a minimum timeframe (like a year) that you expect payment conditions and responsibilities to be relatively stable.
  • How amendments can be made to the agreement. Include something about how you will notify your nanny of changes and how she can suggest changes.
  • Termination conditions. Make sure to include how the contract can be terminated.
  • Nanny’s duties and responsibilities. This is where you should be as specific as possible, but without going overboard. Make sure to include things like if you expect your nanny to travel with you occasionally.
  • This is where you want to list out days of the week and hours. Include how you will handle any overtime or additional days needed.
  • Driving rules and responsibilities, if any. If your nanny will be taking public transportation or cabs, make sure to outline how you will reimburse or pay for these things.
  • Compensation package. Include a schedule of payments, health benefits, overtime and fringe benefits like paid holidays, vacation, sick leave and bonuses.
  • Social media. I wrote about this in my last post, but make sure to include any privacy stipulations you have when it comes to your children appearing on social media.

Because as parents we sometimes want to know what typical benefits look like, I’ll list out what is pretty standard when it comes to vacation times. Keep in mind that all families are different, and what is most important is working out a schedule and vacation time that works for both you and your nanny.

  • 8-10 paid holidays a year
  • Health insurance or a percentage of health premium
  • Paid sick days

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

6 Brain Boosting Snacks To Serve Your Kids

fruitWater

Like many adults, kids often do not get enough water over the course of their day.

If your kids find plain water unappealing, try chilling a pitcher of water with an infusion of fruit, such as oranges or strawberries, to add flavor.

Greek Yogurt

Fat is key to brain health, as it helps keep cell membranes flexible and better able to send and receive information. Full-fat Greek yogurt provides a healthy amount of fat along with protein to boost energy and carry a young scholar through until dinner time.

Serve it up:  Use Greek yogurt in smoothies for a protein boost, combining it with fruits or even greens for greater nutritional benefits. Or serve it up by the bowl and stir in some dried fruit or granola.

Fruit

Almost any fruit can make a healthy afternoon snack. Melons and citrus fruits contain lots of water to help with hydration. Apples and plums are tasty and contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can protect against cognitive decline. Blueberries and strawberries pack plenty of antioxidants into a serving, and are easy to eat by the handful.

Serve it up:  Most kids enjoy fruit on its own. Choose easy-to-peel clementine oranges, tasty Gala apples, or seedless grapes for easy eating. Other possibilities: dried fruit snacks like raisins, unsweetened apple sauce, or smoothies made with frozen fruit when fresh favorites like blueberries are out of season.

Eggs

Eggs are an awesome little package of nutrition. They provide a full serving of protein along with omega-3 fats, choline, and lutein — all nutrients that are essential to healthy brain operation.

Serve it up:  It’s easy to hard-boil a batch of eggs on the weekend and have them on hand all week for quick snacking. Peeled and stored in a sealed plastic bag or container, the eggs will keep for 5-7 days. Older kids can also learn to scramble an egg and combine it with spinach or salsa in a whole-grain tortilla for a tasty snack.

Vegetables with Dip

Plenty of kids enjoy munching on carrots, celery sticks, grape tomatoes, or red pepper strips on their own, but adding dip can boost both flavor appeal and nutrition. Use Greek yogurt rather than sour cream as a base for your dip. Buy or make your own hummus, and look for a recipe with turmeric for another brain power boost.

Seeds and Nuts

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds are high in protein and healthy oils and just a small handful makes a full serving. Studies have found nuts and seeds to have a mood-boosting effect as well. Even kids with nut allergies can enjoy some nuts and seeds that do not trigger the allergic response — just check labels carefully to be sure that they are not processed in the same facility as peanuts or other allergenic nuts.

Serve it up:  Make your own trail mix of nuts and seeds and add raisins or other dried fruit and sprinkle in some chocolate chips. Another possibility: get small, whole-grain crackers and spread with almond or sunflower butter to make fun mini sandwiches.

Snack time after school is a great opportunity to give your kids healthy foods that will actually help them to learn to eat healthfully and for nourishment.

Do you need health tips and nutritional counseling? We’ll connect you to the best nutritionist! Contact us today!

Top 5 Qualities I Look For In A Nanny/Babysitter

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Long before I was a psychologist and even a parent I was a nanny, and then a “Nanny Spy.” Last week, I shared some red flags to look for during an interview, but today I wanted to share the top five qualities I look for when evaluating a nanny or hiring someone to watch my own children.

  1. Someone with Excellent Recommendations

When you are searching for a sitter, one of the best tips is to network among your friends, family and co-workers to gather a list of sitters that they have used. Sitters who come highly recommended are more likely to be experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy. Think of hiring a babysitter in the same way that you would hire an employee for your business. Would you want to hire an employee who did not have good quality references, and who was not recommended by past employers?

  1. Someone with First Aid Experience

One quality  you should never compromise on is that your sitter have a CPR certification, or at least have basic first aid knowledge. Accidents happen, especially where children are concerned. Your sitter should know how to clean and bandage cuts and scrapes, perform CPR and perform the Heimlich maneuver. If you have a baby or small child, it is important for your sitter to know how to perform these life-saving techniques specifically for infants and toddlers, so that their small bodies are not injured.

  1. Someone who Bonds with Your Family

You want to look for a sitter who has a connection to you and your family. This is not to say that you will have some instant bond, in which a halo of light forms around the sitter’s face, but when you interview potential sitters, you should be able to pick up on which individual will work best with your family. It is best to look for a babysitter who will reinforce your values and belief systems while you are gone.

The interview process should also involve your children spending time with their potential new sitter. You want to make sure that your children feel comfortable around their sitter, and that they are willing to communicate with her/him. Allowing your children to spend time with a potential sitter is especially important if you have an infant, since a baby’s needs are more sensitive, and their schedules are more intense.

  1. Someone who will Follow Your Rules

There is nothing worse than hiring a sitter who will allow your children to gorge themselves on candy and soda, and then allow them to stay up as late as they want. Therefore, it is very important to find a babysitter who will follow your household rules to the letter. It is a good idea to ask your babysitter’s references about whether the sitter is good at following rules, and if they are perceived to have issues with authority.

  1. Someone who is Mature

While there is no standard age for babysitting, it is important to hire a sitter who is mature and responsible, no matter her/his years. For example, it may be best for you to hire a 14-year-old who has helped take care of her three younger brothers and sisters, as opposed to a 16-year-old who has never changed a diaper.

The next time that you need a night on the town and are looking for a babysitter, remember to hire someone who has excellent recommendations, who has first aid experience, who bonds with your family, who will follow your rules and who is mature. Using these five criteria for things you should look for in a babysitter will ensure that you select a sitter who is a right fit for your family.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

A Guide To Handling Conflict With Your Nanny: Here’s What NOT To Do

No matter how great your nanny is, there will inevitably be conflict. It’s a fact of all relationships. If handled well, issues provide opportunities for personal and relationship growth. Pretty much all conflicts involve the underlying needs of all humans including physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs (Miller & Miller, 1997; Townsend, 2010). The way in which we tackle the conflicts will determine the outcomes.

When I worked as a Nanny Spy, I saw countless problems that got blown out of proportion or went undetected and led to bigger problems because of mishandled conflicts. The most important piece of advice I can give is to handle conflicts directly, promptly and face-to-face with your nanny. NEVER talk about your nanny behind her back or talk negatively in front of her to your children, as this will breed unrest within your home.

Communication is way more than just your words. It involves your body language and tone, as well. Communication roadblocks occur when two people talk in such a way that neither one feels understood. Research has found four particularly negative styles of communication, often referred to as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse,” (Gottman, 1999) because if left unchecked, these styles of interaction can eventually become lethal to relationships. Gottman identified these styles as criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Criticism is direct attacks on the other person focusing on his or her personality or character. “You are so inconsiderate!” is a criticism. However, a critique focuses on the actual behavior. For example, “I am upset because you did not call to tell me you were late.” Here, you aren’t addressing the person’s intentions, just the behavior that caused you to be upset.

Contempt is openly showing a lack of respect and annoyance for another person using body language, sarcasm or name-calling.

Defensiveness is a natural reaction to conflict, but when you stop listening to the other person and are only focused on backing up your own actions, you will not make any progress. It’s important that your nanny feels heard when she has a problem, as well, and it’s important you don’t immediately jump to defending yourself.

Stonewalling is completely withdrawing from the conversation and refusing to take part. Resolution will not be possible if one person refuses to participate in the discussion.

These are four things that you should avoid when handling conflicts in any of your relationships. It’s also a good idea to start modeling healthy conflict resolution for your children. Conflicts are a normal part of all healthy relationships and it’s important to remember that the nanny-parent relationship will be no different. Effectively communicating and working through issues will help you both to grow and the relationship to last.

Remember to never handle conflicts with your nanny in front of the child. Also, if your child has a specific complaint about the nanny, you’ll want to do your due diligence to verify the complaint before becoming accusatory. If there is something seriously wrong, I always recommend a third party for mediation.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

10 Warning Signs To Look Out For When Interviewing A Nanny

All interviews are going to be a little bit different depending on your style of communication, what you are looking for and the candidates, but there are some consistencies all interviews with a potential childcare provider should follow. First and foremost, it’s important the person you are interviewing can form a connection with your child. It’s also extremely important that you are able to communicate easily with the person you are interviewing and you feel that person is communicating openly and honestly, as well.

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In another blog, I’ll share some of my favorite questions to ask on an interview and what to look out for, but today I wanted to share what you SHOULDN’T see. Here are 10 Major Warning Signs:

  1. Being Late

When people are late to interviews it shows a total disregard for time management and a lack of respect for your time. If an interviewee is late before she even has a job, what will she do five months from now?

  1. No interaction with your child

It’s very important the person you are interviewing makes a conscious effort to talk to/interact with your child. If your child is a toddler, you want someone to get down at eye level and really attempt to make a connection. You need to know that the person you are interviewing understands that this is the essence of the job – and more important than anything that could possibly be answered with a verbal response.

  1. No clear examples from previous employers

You should ask the person you are interviewing for previous experiences handling difficult situations or times when previous jobs were challenging, rewarding, etc. If you feel the person you are interviewing is giving vague, cookie-cutter answers, or trying to avoid talking previous employment altogether, this could be an indication of a lack of experience or something at the previous job ending badly.

  1. Unable to articulate a clear schedule

You’ll want to ask potential candidates about their flexibility and schedules. For example, do they take classes? Do they have families of their own? Do they have some other type of employment? Do they travel a lot? It’s important to get a sense of how much time someone can actually dedicate to the job and if your family’s schedule can be a priority. If you are interviewing someone and she doesn’t seem to know where she’ll be in school in three months or if she will need to take time off for family issues, you want to make sure you understand the risks involved.

  1. Too much concern with salary and benefits

While this is something that should definitely be discussed and agreed upon (nanny contract) before someone begins working for you, it’s a major red flag if this gets brought up too soon in the interview process. It’s fine to discuss benefits and basic salary, but if it seems the person you’re interviewing is shopping around for the best deal and is totally consumed with the money above all else, it’s a major warning sign.

  1. Extreme nervousness

It’s understandable someone might be nervous on an interview, but you want to get the sense the person you are interviewing can be confident in stressful situations. Particularly if someone seems nervous around your child, you should take pause. Try to notice if any part of the interview, or any question in particular, seems to make the person uncomfortable. This could be a sign of trying to hide something or a lack of experience.

  1. A philosophy that contradicts your own

You’ll want the people you interview to articulate a clear childcare philosophy. This doesn’t have to be advanced, but it’s important to gauge whether someone can enforce and aid you in caring for your child in a way that makes you comfortable. You’ll want to ask about punishment and reward systems, for example, to make sure you are on the same page.

  1. Lack of experience

In general, a lack of experience should be fairly obvious just from a resume, but you’ll also want to make sure someone’s answers back up what the resume says. Ask for lots of concrete examples and make sure the person you are interviewing has experience with children who are specifically your child’s/children’s age.

  1. Off-putting personality

At the end of the day, there is a component of the interview that involves a “gut instinct.” Sometimes, you just won’t think your personality matches with the person you are interviewing. Maybe the person has a sense of humor that makes you uneasy. Be especially tuned in to how you feel talking and being in a room with this person. Is it easy to hold a conversation? Could you see yourself coming in after a long day at work and interacting with this person on a daily basis?

  1. Bad or no questions

Finally, if a potential nanny doesn’t ask you any questions, that’s reason for concern. It’s important for candidates to show an interest in your child, in your schedule, in your rules and philosophy and in your previous experience with nannies. One of the easiest ways to tell how much experience and interest in the position someone has is by how advanced and thought-out the questions are that you get asked. If someone asks a question you clearly already answered, that’s also a warning sign for lack of listening skills.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

3 Ways to Promote a Better Employer/Nanny Relationship

 

  1. Be united on all decisions.

Make sure you and your nanny have discussed rules and disciplinary procedures for your children and are on the same page. Never reprimand or contradict your nanny in front of your children! Not only does this diminish their authority from your child’s point of view, but it also shows your nanny you don’t respect her as a professional nor value her judgment. Parents and nannies need to play on the same team and support one another; consistency is key.

 

  1. Respect your nanny’s time off.

Remember that your nanny is also a person, with hobbies and interests, a social life and responsibilities other than the ones pertaining to your family. Be punctual when you say you will be home by a certain time and don’t inundate her phone with emails, voicemails or texts during her days off. Respect her personal space and property; don’t go look through her bag, car or (in the case of live-in caregivers) her bedroom.

 

  1. Show gratitude.

In 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People, David Niven states,“We work harder and better when we feel appreciated.” If your nanny feels her hard work is being acknowledged, she will be more likely to go the extra mile for you and your family. Something as simple as just saying “thank you” can go a long way when showing someone you appreciate all the work she does for your children to keep your household running smoothly. Random acts of kindness such as letting her leave (with full pay) on nights you get home early, or offering her the day off on her birthday are small ways you can show your nanny that you value the effort she puts into her job.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.