A Child’s Lifelong Self-Esteem Emerges Earlier Than We Thought

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article from Huffpost

photo from Sleeptastic Solutions

Children may form a sense of their “overall goodness” by preschool.

 

Five-year-old children may only read and write at a basic level, but their sense of self is surprisingly sophisticated. A provocative new study suggests that by kindergarten, a child’s self-esteem is as strong as an adult’s.

The research, published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, finds that most children have developed an overall positive sense of themselves by this age — and that sense of self remains relatively stable over their lifespan.

“Some rudimentary sense of children’s self-esteem appears to be already established by age 5,” Dr. Dario Cvencek, a research scientist at the University of Washington and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. “That does not mean it can’t change with life experiences and maturation. We think self-esteem is malleable but we also think that it starts earlier than previously thought.”

The research overturns traditional psychological beliefs about the way self-esteem develops during childhood. Scientists previously thought that preschoolers were too young to have developed an overall positive or negative sense of themselves, according to Cvencek.

“Our new work,” he said, “shows that preschoolers do have a global, overall knowledge of their goodness as a person. It’s a first.”

In previous studies, psychologists relied on verbal self-evaluations to measure a child’s self-esteem, which may have provided unreliable data due to young children’s limited verbal abilities.

So for their study, Cvencek and his colleagues designed a new test, called the Preschool Implicit Association Test (PSIAT), to measure children’s positive feelings toward themselves. The researchers administered the test to 234 five-year-old boys and girls living in Washington state.

Similar to an implicit association test for adults — which asks participants to quickly associate words such as “self” and “pleasant” or “unpleasant” — the preschoolers were asked to associate objects.

The children were presented with several different varieties of flags, which they were taught to divide into two groups: “yours” and “not yours.” Then, the preschoolers completed a task in which they pressed buttons to indicate whether “good” words (fun, happy, good, nice) and “bad” words (bad, mad, mean, yucky) were more associated with “me” or “not-me.” 

The results of this and two other implicit association tests revealed that the children associated themselves more with good qualities than bad ones. 

“Previously we understood that preschoolers knew about some of their specific good features,” Dr. Anthony Greenwald, a psychologist at the University of Washington and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “We now understand that, in addition, they have a global, overall knowledge of their goodness as a person.”

The study also revealed that high self-esteem was correlated with strong gender identity and preference for members of their own gender, suggesting that a child’s self-esteem is connected to other formative parts of their personality.

Now that we know that self-esteem emerges early in life, how can parents and teachers foster the development of a healthy sense of self in a child?

The warm, supportive connections a child develops with others are probably the most important factor, according to Cvencek.

“Children who feel loved by others may internalize this to love themselves,” he said. “Our findings underscore the importance of the first five years as a foundation for life.”


The Surprising Effects of Listening to a Baby Cry

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photo from Getty Images

article by Jen Gann from The Cut for New York Magazine

Parents who’ve done any form of cry-it-out sleep training — or all parents, quite frankly — are only too familiar with what happens when their baby cries: It feels horrendous. It feels immediately alarming, as though every nerve ending is suddenly subject to an electrical fire. Yesterday, the New York Times took a good look at some of the science behind a baby’s cry — and our sometimes surprising reactions.

Seeing some of the crying facts laid bare is a little staggering. Normal infants, for example, cry about two hours every day. What the Times calls a “notorious human crybaby” will sometimes cry for two hours, every two hours. Crying, of course, is essential to survival: Infant mice stripped of the ability to cry are ignored by their mothers, and quickly die.

Indeed, we’re hardwired to respond to crying. Researchers have “found that within 49 thousandths of a second of a recorded cry being played, the periaqueductal gray — an area deep in the midbrain that has long been linked to urgent, do-or-die behaviors — had blazed to attention, twice as fast as it reacted to dozens of other audio clips tested.”

What to do with that reaction, when all your attempts to calm a crying baby are met with more crying? Personally, I always rolled my eyes a little at anyone’s claim that I would “learn to decode” my baby’s cries, that the cries would sound different depending on what he wanted (it seemed like most of the time, he didn’t know?). But according to a study summarized by the Times, Spanish researchers have been able to categorize three cry types: anger, fear, and pain.

With their arms and legs pinned to provoke anger, mad babies usually kept their eyes half-open, looking off to the side as they cried. Babies frightened by a loud noise, “after an initial hesitation and tensing up of the facial muscles, emitted an explosive cry and kept their eyes open and searching the whole time.” For babies given a shot, the cries were immediate, forceful, and conducted with shut eyes.

On a more uplifting note, the Times presents some possible evidence against so-called “mommy brain”:

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In another study, volunteers were asked to play a lab version of the popular game Whac-a-Mole by pressing down on an ever-shifting target button as rapidly as possible. Subjects then listened to recordings of babies crying, adults crying or birds singing, and played the game again.

“We saw better scores and more effortful pressing after the infant cries,” Dr. Young said.

Why not try this out at home? Your angry, fearful, or pained baby is primed to give you lots of opportunities.


Recipe!: Baked Sweet Potato Fries

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Recipe from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook via Parenting

Photo by Lucy Schaeffer

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 small)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, and place it flat side down on a cutting board. Cut the potato halves into 1-inch-wide wedges.
  • In a small bowl, combine the oil, chili powder and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Place the potatoes on a roasting pan and brush with the oil mixture. Lay the potatoes flesh side down on the pan and put the pan in the oven.
  • Cook until potatoes, turning once, until soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and season with remaining1/2 teaspoon salt. Let the wedges cool for a bit, and serve warm.
    • For dunking, ketchup always works (at 15 calories per tablespoon) or try a squeeze of fresh lime juice for a British chips-and-vinegar effect.

Recipe!: Orange Cranberry Muffins

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Recipe from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook via Parenting

Photo by Lucy Schaeffer

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 navel orange, cut into eighths
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a standard-size 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Put the orange wedges, orange juice, egg and oil into a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; whisk to incorporate. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; pour the orange mixture into it and stir to make a thick batter. Stir in the cranberries.
  4. Divide the mixture among the muffin tins, filling the tins about 3/4 full, and bake until the muffins are golden and push back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack and enjoy warm or toasted.

Recipe!: Parmesan Cheese Straws

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Recipe from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook via Parenting

Photo by Lucy Schaeffer

Ingredients:

  • Small scattering of flour
  • 1 8 1/2-ounce sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the puff pastry. Flour the side facing you and use a rolling pin to roll it to a 12-inch square. Brush the puff with egg mixture (you’ll probably use less than half of what you’ve got, but that’s fine).
  3. Sprinkle the cheese and paprika evenly over the puff. Press the toppings gently but firmly into the puff to help them adhere.
  4. Slice the puff into twenty-four 1/2-inch strips. Divide the strips between the prepared baking sheets, seasoned side up. Twist the strips twice, clockwise at the top and counterclockwise at the bottom, so that you’ve got one long spiral. Put the baking sheets in the oven and cook until the twists have puffed and are golden brown, about 18 minutes.
  5. Let cool and serve.

Recipe!: Jam and Graham Cracker Cheesecake

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Recipe by Smitten Kitchen via Parenting

Photo by Deb Perelman

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces of cream cheese, softened for 10 seconds in the microwave
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • A few sheets of graham crackers, broken into squares or rectangles

Directions:

  • Mix the softened cream cheese with the jam. Spread a little of the mixture on top of each graham cracker.
  • Either eat right away, or chill for 30 minutes.
    • The grahams will soften and become more like a cheesecake crust, and the topping will firm up.

**Pro-tip: Use different flavors of jam, top with a slice of fresh strawberry


Recipe!: Cucumber Boats with Spiced Yogurt

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recipe from Smitten Kitchen via Parenting 

photo by Deb Perelman

Ingredients:

  • Small cucumbers, such as Kirbys
  • Small container of plain yogurt
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Cumin

Directions:

  1. Halve cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out seeds. (A melon baller works great for this.)
  2. Mix some plain yogurt, a couple of pinches of sugar, a pinch of salt and a dash of cumin in a bowl.
  3. Spread into hollowed cucumbers.
  4. Decorate as desired

Recipe!: Ham Rollers

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recipe from Parenting

photo by Michael Kraus

Here's a super simple recipe! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Deli-style ham

Directions:

  1. Slice apple into thin wedges
  2. Top apple wedge with a small slice of cheddar cheese
  3. Wrap apple and cheese with deli-style ham

Buy Time Not Stuff!

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image by Kristen Solecki for NPR

article by Allison Aubrey for NPR

Money can't buy happiness, right? Well, some researchers beg to differ. They say it depends on how you spend it.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencessuggests that when people spend money on time-saving services such as a house cleaner, lawn care or grocery delivery, it can make them feel a little happier. By comparison, money spent on material purchases — aka things — does not boost positive emotions the way we might expect.

Think of it as a way to buy back what has become for many Americans a scarce resource: free time.

Yet, in a culture where many people are quick to buy the latest model phone, a big-screen TV or a fancy pair of shoes, those same people are often resistant to spending money on time-saving services.

"Contemplating paying somebody else to do something you're perfectly capable of doing yourself may provoke feelings of guilt," says Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study.

Dunn and her colleagues had a hunch that if people spent money to hire out some of the unwanted tasks on their to-do list, they might feel more satisfied with their quality of life.

"We hypothesized that people would be happier if they spent money to buy themselves out of the things they don't like doing," she says.

As a test, she and her colleagues designed an experiment: First, they recruited 60 adults under the age of 70 from Vancouver, British Columbia. The researchers gave the volunteers a little cash and asked them to spend it in two different ways, on two consecutive weekends. 

"On one weekend we gave them $40 and asked them to spend it in any way that would give them more free time," Dunn explains. Participants in the study chose a variety of services — everything from meal delivery to a cleaning service to help with errands.

Then, on the other weekend, the participants got another $40 to spend on a material purchase. They could choose anything they wanted within that budget. "One person bought polo shirts," Dunn says. "Another participant bought wine that she described as fancy." 

After each weekend purchase, the researchers called the participants and asked how they were feeling. The participants reported how much "positive emotion" they'd been experiencing and how much "negative emotion," Dunn explains. 

When the study participants spent money on time-saving services, they reported more positive emotion.

"Buying yourself out of [tasks] like mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom — these were pretty small, mundane expenditures, and yet we see them making a difference in people's happiness," Dunn says.

But how much happier? A separate part of the study helped to answer this question.

The same researchers surveyed a group of 6,000 people across a wide range of incomebrackets in the U.S., Canada and Europe. (The median household income for U.S. residents in the survey was $75,000, but the study also included working adults who made about $30,000 per year and some European millionaires.)

Respondents completed survey questions about whether they spent money each month to increase their free time by paying someone else to complete unenjoyable tasks, and if so, how much they spent.

In addition, the respondents were asked to rank their own level of happiness on a 10-point scale of life satisfaction. Think of the scale as a happiness ladder with 10 rungs.

"What we found is that people who spent money to buy time reported being almost one full point higher on our 10-point ladder, compared to people who did not use money to buy time," Dunn explains. People from across the income spectrum benefited from "buying time," she adds.

Moving up one rung on the happiness ladder may not sound like much, but the researchers say they're very excited by their results.

"Moving people up on the ladder of life satisfaction is not an easy thing to do," Dunn says. "So, if altering slightly how people are spending their money could move them up a full rung, it's something we really want to understand and perhaps encourage people to do."

Emanuel Maidenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA who was not involved in the study, tells NPR he was a little surprised by the results.

He says it's an intriguing possibility to think about time-saving services as a "stress-management tool." But there are still some unanswered questions, he says. For instance, is the boost in positive emotions sustainable, "or is it just an immediate response?" Maidenberg wonders.

The authors are "presenting enough data to justify a more careful look into this," Maidenberg says. "It's exciting."


30 Questions to Ask Your Kid Instead of “How Was Your Day?”

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photo and article courtesy of Popsugar

written by Sara Goldstein

Sometimes it can be tough getting your child to talk about their day. Instead of asking the mundane question "How was your day?," try using one of these creative queries from our friends at Parent Co.!

When I picked my son up from his first day of 4th grade, my usual (enthusiastically delivered) question of "how was your day?" was met with his usual (indifferently delivered) "fine."

Come on! It's the first day, for crying out loud! Give me something to work with, would you, kid?

The second day, my same question was answered, "well, no one was a jerk."

That's good . . . I guess.

I suppose the problem is my own. That question actually sucks. Far from a conversation starter, it's uninspired, overwhelmingly open ended, and frankly, completely boring. So as an alternative, I've compiled a list of questions that my kid will answer with more than a single word or grunt. In fact, he debated his response to question 8 for at least half an hour over the weekend. The jury's out until he can organize a foot race.

Questions a kid will answer at the end of a long school day:

  1. What did you eat for lunch?
  2. Did you catch anyone picking their nose?
  3. What games did you play at recess?
  4. What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  5. Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
  6. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  7. Who made you smile today?
  8. Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
  9. What new fact did you learn today?
  10. Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
  11. What challenged you today?
  12. If school were a ride at the fair, which ride would it be? Why?
  13. What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
  14. If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?
  15. If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
  16. Did anyone push your buttons today?
  17. Who do you want to make friends with but haven't yet? Why not?
  18. What is your teacher's most important rule?
  19. What is the most popular thing to do at recess?
  20. Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?
  21. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
  22. If aliens came to school and beamed up 3 kids, who do you wish they would take? Why?
  23. What is one thing you did today that was helpful?
  24. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
  25. What rule was the hardest to follow today?
  26. What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
  27. Which person in your class is your exact opposite?
  28. Which area of your school is the most fun?
  29. Which playground skill do you plan to master this year?
  30. Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules?

10 Tips for Sustainable Toxic-Free Cleaning

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photo from Mother Mag

article written by Anna Jacobs for Mother Mag

While summer about to come to an official close, there’s no time like the present to deep clean and refresh for the start of a new season. To make tidying up cleaner and greener, we’ve gathered together our favorite tips for eco-friendly cleaning that are safe for the environment and your family. With these tricks in your back pocket, you’ll be breathing easy as you tackle your biggest projects yet.

Use Dr. Bronner’s For, Well, Anything
What can’t you do with Dr. Bronner’s? You can wash your clothes, use it as shampoo, and even brush your teeth with this all-natural soap. Bonus: a little goes a long way, so one bottle will last you for months, saving you time and money. Check out the dilution cheat sheet for an extensive list of all the ways you can use this sudsy stuff. Committed to fair trade and organic materials, as well as social and environmental accountability and transparency, Dr. Bronner’s is a company you can trust.

Repair Old and Damaged Clothes
It’s easy to give up on old pieces of clothing and dump them in the trash. This year, consider mending clothes that are a little worse for wear, and test your hand at dying faded clothes to give them new life. Patagonia has pop-up mending shops around the country, or keep an eye out for clothing repair workshops at local stores wherever you live.

Keep and Eye Out for Green-washing
We’ve all been there. In a rush to buy a natural cleaning product, we’ve picked up a bottle of who-knows-what that’s plastered with pictures of the earth and words meant to fool you, like natural, green, and eco-friendly. After taking a closer look at the label, you’ve found the so-called “natural” ingredients, aren’t so natural after all. This year, take your time to do some research on eco-friendly products ahead of time, so you can find products that suit your family best. Head over to the Environment Working Group’s Food Score website to learn about the products and companies you’re supporting, as well as which toxins are most important to avoid.

Ditch the Plastic Wrap
We’ve all heard it before, but we’ll say it again: plastic is bad for you and bad for the environment. Let’s commit to ditching our unsustainable habits and commit to using less plastic. Thankfully, the folks behind Beeswrap have done the hard work for us, crafting a reusable alternative to plastic wrap made of beeswax-coated fabric. It’s easy to clean and comes in a variety of sizes. While you’re at it, swap out plastic Tupperware for the stainless steel variety, and buy linen food covers to slip over uncovered bowls and dishes.

Turn to Your Kitchen Cabinets
We’re willing to bet your kitchen cabinets are full of ingredients that can clean a gnarly mess just as easily as they can add flavor to your cooking. Vinegar is a versatile cleaner that can do just about anything—dilute it for a simple, nontoxic window cleaner, mix with baking soda to remove the most stubborn carpet stains, and try it out as a shampoo alternative to get rid of product build up. Baking soda works wonders on dirty floors and tarnished silver—mix with a bit of water and do a little scrubbing for some seriously shiny results.

Host a Clothing Exchange
Call up your friends to come over on a weekend afternoon for a clothing exchange. You’ll get rid of clothes you’re tired of wearing, and add a few new additions to your closet. Try it out with children’s clothing, too. The best part? It’s free! Leftover clothes can be donated to Goodwill, or a similar organization. Consider sending your gently used bras to The Bra Recyclers, where they distribute lightly used bras to women and girls who need them.

Change Your Light Bulbs
Are you still using incandescent light bulbs? Stock your garage shelves with energy-efficient bulbs so that next time a light goes out, you’re prepared for a sustainable switch. LEDs, halogen, and compact florescent bulbs are stocked at most home goods stores. These bulbs use significantly less energy than the incandescent variety and last much longer, saving the planet and your wallet.

Invest in Solar Panels
If you’re up for a larger home project, consider investing in solar panels for the ultimate form of spring-cleaning. Save money on your electric bill, while significantly reducing your carbon footprint. Bonus points if you also drive a hybrid or electric car.

Ditch the Toxins
Take a look at your cleaning products in the kitchen and bathroom. If they have scary labels that say “danger”, “caution”, or “warning”, it’s time to get that stuff out of the house pronto. Call your recycling center to find out the date of the next hazardous pickup day to responsibly dispose of any toxic products you have lying around. Replace your cleaning products with the nontoxic, natural variety, so you never have to worry about your kiddos’ safety when it comes to cleaning.

Check Out Your Sponges
Kudos if you’re already using sponges to clean your countertops instead of using paper towels or wet wipes. Sponges are wonderful minimal waste to clean, but they can get pretty nasty after months of hard work and frequent use. Toss your stinky sponges, or if they’ve got a little life left in them, stick them in the microwave for a few minutes (make sure they’re wet before you do this). If you’re starting fresh, pick up some biodegradable sponges, so you can compost them once they’ve outlasted their use.


HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR NANNY

From The Washington Post (Leslie Kendall Dye)

 

As a parent, I do many things. I work, I clean, I cook, I worry, I dote on and discipline a person who is younger and shorter than I am. I am also an actress, a dancer and a human being.

Buried among the other items on my resume is this one, of which I am particularly proud: I was a nanny. A part-time nanny, but nonetheless, I cared for at least 100 children over the better part of a decade. Some were one-night stands — an agency would send me to a hotel to care for the spawn of tourists. Many were regulars —  New York City families who needed evening care. And then I had about 10 families whose children I cared for each week. Of those families, six became family. By this I mean they treated me as such. The mutual rewards of this bond are (almost) immeasurable.

One might think that when I hung up my nanny cap and became a mother, I would no longer identify with nannies. That I would begin to see things from the other perspective. That I would soften in my understanding of certain injustices I had faced in countless households.

I thought I would shift, but I was wrong. If anything, I identify with babysitters and nannies even more now that I have a child of my own.

She is 4 now. We don’t have the means for a nanny and we rarely use a sitter — mostly because I won’t pay less than the going rate for babysitters in a city where one must sell a kidney to purchase a bottle of soda. But when I can, on occasion, welcome a sitter into our home, we love to talk sho

I thought I would shift, but I was wrong. If anything, I identify with babysitters and nannies even more now that I have a child of my own.

She is 4 now. We don’t have the means for a nanny and we rarely use a sitter — mostly because I won’t pay less than the going rate for babysitters in a city where one must sell a kidney to purchase a bottle of soda. But when I can, on occasion, welcome a sitter into our home, we love to talk shop.

Did you know there are books that devote whole sections to training babysitters and nannies? Of course you do; they overflow from every parenting book section in every book store the country over.

Let’s take the particularly odious book “City Baby, New York: The Ultimate Guide for Parents, from Pregnancy to Preschool.” I had morning sickness when I stumbled on this gem, but I don’t think it was the hormones that made me ill.

I opened it and skimmed the contents. I came across the “nanny training” chapter. My heart sank. My blood pressure rose. I’d seen the book at my obstetrician’s office, I’d seen it on display at every baby supply store and it had a million stars on Amazon. I shook as I read it. It was nothing more than a spotlight fixed determinedly on why things go wrong between nannies and their employers. It might as well have been a guide to losing your nanny. Disregard for a nanny’s humanity is clearly a deep-rooted weed in the world of childcare.

“You may want to tell your nanny that you have a camera so that she is always on her best behavior,” the book advises.

“We have changed nannies several times … The most important person in your child’s life is you, the parent. Kids eventually adjust to a new nanny or caregiver,” it says.

“We are big on giving a nanny a trial period. Take this opportunity to observe her with your baby,” it continues.

I read the entire chapter and I couldn’t find one sentence that didn’t seem designed to set up an antagonistic attitude toward “the help.” I’m not arguing for or against nanny-cams, and I’m not saying that parents aren’t entitled to maintain their role as primary love objects for their little ones (and fear not, no one can replace you — really!). I am also not saying that all nannies are fabulous and that they never need to be replaced.

I am arguing that nanny-training books fan the flames of misunderstanding between a nanny and her employer by embedding a patronizing point of view in a parent’s mind. From the start, a tragic dynamic is set in motion. And how unfortunate for that family, because they will often lose their nanny and have no idea why.

It is hard enough to be pregnant and hormonal and terrified of becoming a mother. It is hard enough to say goodbye to a small baby and leave her in the hands of another person. Must guide books intensify this terror by warning parents that nannies may be performing acts of witchcraft in the living room or feeding their children non-organic produce? (True story: an East Side mother once admonished me for buying a banana for her child from a street cart. It was definitely not organic.) If a parent has checked references and spent some time getting to know the nanny as a person while they pass the baby back and forth, his or her diligence is plenty thorough.

A guide book should encourage parents to establish loving and considerate relationships with their nannies. I searched cover to cover for even one paragraph on being respectful toward your nanny. I think you can guess if I found one. Expectant parents are reading toxic bunk that may damage one of the most important relationships they will ever have.

As an alternative, I’ve compiled some suggestions for parents who have nannies and babysitters in their homes.

Remember that you were not always a parent. Being a parent does not need to change you. You can and should remain the warm and caring person you are. It is okay to see a nanny as a friend; it will not diminish your authority. Actually, it will make it easier for you to express your needs and concerns.

Taking care of your nanny is much like taking care of your kids. Fight the urge to ask how the kids are every time you call. First, ask the nanny how she is feeling. Is she tired? Did she get enough to eat? Did the kids give her a hard time today?

Don’t think nannies are as replaceable as batteries.You might need to replace one at some point, but respect their place in your child’s heart and the time they have been in your home.

Don’t think of the relationship as the same type of professional one you might have with office staff.Caring for a child is a deeply intimate experience. Talking to a nanny is not like running a corporate meeting. Laying out rules and asking questions in a business-like manner can make a nanny feel like she is under the command of a drill sergeant. Marching orders don’t make for nannies who obey commands. Mr. Banks, after all, had no luck with that. Remember when Mary Poppins took the children on their first outing? They jumped into a painting and ate (non-organic) candied apples.

Further, keeping the relationship “strictly professional” ensures that a discussion of delicate topics such as domestic chores or safety concerns is awkward. Think of how you treat raising a delicate matter with a friend. Your friend has feelings, and so do nannies. You may feel an issue is resolved because you have formally discussed it. But your nanny may feel admonished rather than respected. That resentment usually festers. Yes, she works for you and you have a right to ask that things to be done in a certain manner, but it isn’t easy to feel good will toward people who treat you like a servant. Sometimes, tone is everything. Your house is not Downton Abbey.

Also, be open to the notion that each caregiver has a unique way of relating to a child, and special ways of nurturing that child. Give your nanny space to do her work; that’s what you are paying her for. She may do things a bit differently than you would, but that’s often a good thing. Children benefit from receiving different kinds of care and listening to other viewpoints.

Remember that nannies spend all day nurturing. They get depleted. When nannies are refueled by being nurtured in return, they go above and beyond. I have scrubbed kitchens, organized bookshelves, taken photos of my charges and framed them for their parents and brought picture books and treats to houses where I am treated like family. And it’s a pleasure. Ask your nanny how her day was. Ask her about her life. Did she do well on that test? How is her boyfriend? How is her father’s health? Where did she get that nice dress? She may not give you long answers, but she will greatly appreciate your genuine interest in her life, which extends beyond the care of your child.

Keep in mind that many families are eagerly searching for a nanny like yours. If you allow hurt to build up, if you step on her toes too often, if you forget her humanity, it is easier for her to replace you than vice versa.

***

I miss one particular family whose three children I cared for. They used to live on the Upper West Side. The mother gave me all her maternity clothes when I was 20 weeks along. She exemplified the kind of parent I hoped to be. She didn’t mind if her children wanted to sleep in her bed sometimes, or fall asleep next to their nanny, or try a sip of beer, or jump from great heights for fun. She was comfortable with herself; she was comfortable in general.

She trusted me. And because of that, I became even more trustworthy.

Leslie Kendall Dye is an actor and dancer in New York City. 

 

www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting


Should You Hire a Baby Nurse?

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Hiring the right baby nurse will ensure you are trained on sleep methods, how to recognize development and most of all have peace-of-mind that your infant or infants are safe, cared for and in the care of a professional who works with the parents in a cohesive team for correct development during the first year.

An average cost of a baby nurse is $20-35 an hour.   Email us at info@bahs.com for a list of questions to ask the baby nurse during the interview process

British American Newborn Care (bababynurses.com) has the highest quality professional and screened newborn care specialists/baby nurses/night nannies on the East and West Coasts of the USA as well as the UK.  Whether you are looking for a long or short term with a night nanny/baby nurse or a British materntiy nurse, we can help you find your perfect solution.

Should You Hire A Baby Nurse?

If this is your first pregnancy stop worrying about labor and giving birth. The real exhaustion of childbirth comes afterwards; even if you have a perfectly normal delivery, expect at least a two-week recovery period. Not only will you not feel well, you will have a little baby to take care of and probably limited experience with newborns. Many New York couples survive this time and enjoy their child's first few weeks of life with the help of a baby nurse. 

What is a baby nurse and what does one do? She is an experienced nanny with training in newborn skills. She is responsible for the care of your baby 24 hours a day. She will get up for nighttime feedings while the new mother gets her much needed rest. If the baby is breastfeeding, the nurse will get up with the new mother, help position the baby, and carry him back and forth. 

A baby nurse will do the baby's laundry everyday and help with light housekeeping and snacks. She will teach you to change diapers, bathe, and feed the baby, or she will do it all for you. She will answer your questions. She will hold the baby throughout the day providing security and affection when you need a break. She will keep you company, or disappear when you want to be alone with your new family. 

When interviewing a potential baby nurse, tell her your expectations. One friend who stops pregnant women on the street to recommend her baby nurse said she wanted to feel like a Victorian lady. She wanted her little one brought to her clean, fed and ready to sleep on her lap. She wanted the baby taken away to be changed and brought back in a fresh, new little outfit. 

Baby nurses take a tremendous burden off new fathers who may not feel capable of providing the nurturing a new baby and recovering wife need. If a husband can't take time off from work, he knows he is not leaving his wife to fend for herself. 

Can't family help? Your mother or mother-in-law may be selflessly offering to stay with you as long as you need at no cost to you. Is it wise in your postpartum emotional state to have the woman who told you what to do your whole life living with you? If you think a baby nurse will intimidate you or force her childrearing ways on you, it won't compare to what your mother can do, - this is her grandchild. If you don't like the idea of a stranger knowing your family business, remember that she leaves in two weeks and doesn't have any stake in your life. 

If your relationship with your mother or mother-in-law is such that you have no problem with her staying with you, by all means graciously accept her help. If this is her first grandchild, you may find a completely different woman in your house. 

When you have family help, you will be open to receiving visitors or risk hurting someone's feelings. But you may not feel like being seen or you may want to spend at least the first week enjoying your new immediate family. You probably don't want a lot of people holding your baby, but if you have visitors you will oblige them. Avoid the situation altogether. Tell everyone, including grandparents, you'll see them next week. 

The doula option Depending on what you expect of your childbirth experience, you may consider hiring a doula. - a woman who provides the mother with support before, during and after childbirth. She will help you come up with a birth plan and be in the delivery room with you if you want. Most New York area doulas, however, specialize in the postpartum period. They offer the new mother guidance and encouragement. Some are even lactation specialists. The idea is to nurture the new mother, they do not take care of your baby. 

The duties of a baby nurse are more flexible. She can offer you advice and teach you parenting skills. If you are too tired or too overwhelmed to learn anything, take advantage of the nurse's willingness to take care of your baby while you recover. 

So how do you find a baby nurse? Everyone I asked said through word-of-mouth. Ask couples with children in New York City. Someone will have used one. Most nanny agencies can help you find a baby nurse; some specialize in them. 

Every pregnancy is different and you can't predict what kind of recovery you will have. Hiring a baby nurse is like buying an insurance policy. It can ensure that you and your baby come home to a calm environment where you can enjoy every moment as a new family. 

By NYMetroparents 

 


 


Hiring Seasonal Domestic Staff

Hiring the right temporary domestic staff for your summer home is a large project for any principle or family. This article discusses why this can be so challenging and offers potential solutions to common problems I have seen every season. I am someone with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality and staffing industry and I have run British American Household Staffing and British American Yachts, the leading domestic staffing and yacht crew agency in the USA and UK as well as British American Newborn Care, which works with the best childcare professionals in the USA and UK. Most agencies have a roster of recurring staff in all the domestic staff categories. The earlier you start the hiring process the more likely you will secure the most qualified candidates. If you have very specific requirements and early start will help you find the ideal person for a potentially harder match to find.

A family looking for a live-in housekeeper-cook for their Hamptons home should look at contacting agencies in New York as well as the Hamptons, but nowhere too far for the housekeeper-cook to travel back and forth to on their days off (for instance New Jersey is too far from Easthampton, one full day off will be used for traveling). A live-in housekeeper-cook for the Hamptons will have to drive so this is a challenging order as many domestic candidates don’t want to live in and many housekeepers do not like to cook, especially cook the volume needed for the summer season, which is typically filled with parties and extra guests.

The best solution is to do the following: - Start the hiring process early - Contact high end agencies only, both local and non-local (as it is live in) - Set a salary range that is generous to allow you to find the best fit more easily - Make sure you have set an appealing schedule so you open-up the pool of qualified candidates. The schedule should always have 2 consecutive days off and usually a Sunday is given as a day off, in conjunction with Monday or Saturday - Phone screen the candidates first - Check their level of experience - Check they have been a flexible worker in the past.

One of the most common recurring issues for larger estates lies in the team of domestic staff. Staffing a larger home or estates is like running a small business in your home. The pyramid model works well for estate staffing. Start by hiring a house manager or a butler house manager. This person can then help you screen the rest of the staff, which helps them establish their authority with the staff you decide to hire for the summer that this house manager will be overseeing. This is the most important hire you will make over the summer, so screen this person for the following qualities:

- Ask their management style and ask for two or more references from staff they managed previously - Find out why they are looking for the summer only - Hire someone who has experience in the area they will be working - Ensure they have estate staff management experience - Once you hire them, hire the domestic staff with them and keep an open line of communication with the staff in case there are revolving door problems and it is the fault of the house manager - Make sure they have relationships with the top agencies in the area and ask who they liaise with at those agencies - Ensure they understand scheduling for staff - Pay them very well with the promise of a bonus at the end of the season In case you are doing the hiring alone or with a remote house manager, you will need to know how to attract the best staff (housekeepers, chefs and nannies) for your summer home Housekeepers: - Other than nannies, most high quality domestic are looking for a secure full-time job position, preferably with benefits. This is something every principle hiring only for the summer with deal with and lose staff too.

The best solution for this is to hire the best local candidates on a lower full time salary, offer benefits and give them a bonus at the end of the summer. This is the best solution for retaining top talent in a seasonal area such as the Hamptons - Housekeepers, more than any other domestic staff category, like a regular schedule with overtime, which is the law. A constant live in or Wednesday to Sunday schedule is always unpopular, but more-often-than-not needed for summer hires, especially in the Hamptons. Hire one more extra housekeeper than you need so each housekeeper gets one weekend of a month. This will attract the best talent - A standard and suggested formal housekeeper salary is $70,000 plus benefits and overtime.  A seasonal housekeeper is $35 to $40 an hour.

 

Chefs: -

Chefs often like a temporary position that helps them earn a solid income and allows them more freedom to freelance during the year, or travel etc. - Yacht chefs are some of the best chefs you can find and they are accustomed to short-term gigs, long schedules, catering to large formal parties in a small space and working 7 day or more stretches. I would recommend this direction if you can accommodate a live- in chef. - Use an agency that works with both yacht and domestic staff - Top chefs are often happy to do the Hamptons in between jobs. Again, starting this search early and constantly checking in is an excellent way of increasing your chances of securing the best private chef for the summer - Suggested salary for a summer chef is $8-12,000 a month.

Nannies: -

Nannies fall into many different categories: 1. Career nannies 2. Mother’s helpers 3. Nanny/housekeepers 4. Second language nannies 5. Newborn Care Specialist nannies 6. Travel nannies Childcare is the most delicate of all domestic hires to make, as they need to be fully-qualified for your particular childcare situation. I recommend using an agency with a specialized childcare department. Screen the head of the department and make sure they are qualified in childhood education and development and hold the appropriate degrees (and newborn care specialist should be an expert in their field and should have experience training, screening and offering certificates to newborn care specialists). If your children are older (3 and up) a travel nanny or student nanny could be a great option. These nannies are often students, actresses, singers, writers or have another unrelated career during the year. They must be experienced nannies with your children’s age group and this should be screened by the agency childcare branch. This can be a good option if they are able to tutor and educate your children over the summer, or teach them a musical instrument etc. This is the more economical option, with a salary usually starting at $25 an hour plus overtime. Travel pay is not a legal prerequisite but overtime pay is. If you have an infant, or infant twins, a certified and educated newborn care specialist or baby nurse is the best option. A regular nanny (career nanny, nanny/housekeepers, second language nanny, mother’s helper or suchlike) will be looking for a permanent position, so they are harder to pin down for the summer. If you do, the career nannies will likely be expensive at $35-45 an hour. Some will accept a summer position in between jobs but this is rare. For all childcare positions we highly recommend going through the childcare division at a reputed agency. Again, screen the person who heads this branch.

 

Examples are British American Household Staffing (bahs.com) and British American Newborn Care (bababynurses.com). Ashley Mundt and Katie Morin are both childhood and infant development specialists and highly certified, their bios below. For more information on domestic staffing, temporary or permanent, feel free to reach out to me at: info@bahs.com

By Anita Rogers www.bahs.com www.babynurses.com

 

Childhood development specialist and nanny hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing

Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS Nanny Consultant Ashley is our child development expert and nanny specialist. She has a strong academic background and years of hands on experience working with children and families in private and group settings. She received both a B.A. in Sociology and Youth and Human Services from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt. Her training as a Certified Child Life Specialist enables her to support and guide children and families during medical interventions, chronic illness, and family/home crisis situations. Although she has worked in many different settings throughout her career (including homes, schools, camps, and hospitals), her passion, and bulk of experience, is working directly with families in private homes. Over the past 15 years, she has worked as a highly sought after nanny, childcare consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer. Ashley's background of extensive developmental education and hands on experience in luxury homes puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of families, caregivers, and (most importantly) children.

 

Infant development specialist and baby nurse and newborn care specialist hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing and Newborn Care Katie Morin, ACNCS, NCSE Newborn Care Consultant and Placement 

Katie began her career in childcare over 20 years ago. She has been extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing families along the way. One of her first and most memorable experiences with multiples (a set of newborn triplets) was 28 years ago. It was then that she realized her passion for working with children. It was then that she also realized her passion for caring for multiples. Katie has a degree in Child Development and Psychology and has countless certificates including being Advance Certified through the Newborn Care Specialist Association. Through the years, Katie has been a career nanny, a daycare owner, a preschool teacher and a Certified Newborn Care Specialist. She also has had great success in matching NCS candidates with amazing families worldwide. She does not consider these positions just a job, they are a passion and what she loves to do. It allows her to meet incredible people, all with different personalities and aspects of life. This experience gives her the ability to educate and assist new parents during the most amazing part of their life. To date she has worked with over 40 sets of twins, 9 sets of triplets and quadruplets. She has also worked with dozens of preemies (some born as early as 26 weeks) as well as newborns with special needs.   

 

www.bahs.com

www.bababynurses.com

www.bahsyachts.com


Celebrate Your Moment: How to Feel Like a Million Bucks at Your Baby Shower

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Courtesy of Happily Eva After

I’m a huge fan of celebrating pregnant women with all that we’ve got.  There’s nothing quite as powerful, as beautiful, or as magnificent as growing a new precious life inside of your body– but I think we pregnant women can often feel very vulnerable during our pregnancy journeys.  Whether it’s due to fears, hormonal anxiety, everyday aches and pains, or even feelings of insecurity or self-doubt– a woman’s pregnancy can ALSO herald a period during which time we go through a totally out of body experience.  During my first pregnancy, for example, I felt super strong physically, and in-tune emotionally with my pregnancy.  I did yoga and pilates, walked for miles a day, and was meditating and reading tons in preparation for my daughter’s birth.  This time around has been the opposite of that.  I’ve felt so out of touch in so many ways as I try desperately to balance my existing child, my relationships, my business, and my own needs.  Not to mention I’ve felt less than great about my body at times during this pregnancy.  I think most second-time Mamas out there can relate to this!

Our identities as women can sometimes get put on the back-burner as we are encouraged to give up our previous lives in order to pledge our bodies to our unborn babies.  But of course we are all more than just Mamas! I think it’s super important to make sure that you are being gentle with yourself emotionally, and celebrating the woman that you are during your pregnancy, in big ways or small.  A wonderful, personal Baby Shower is such a great way to do this.  Even just knowing that those close to you are taking time out of their busy schedules to celebrate you and the epic journey you are about to embark upon can be so soothing to those pre-birth jitters.  Take advantage of this special celebration! Make sure you are enjoying every minute and setting up your special day so that you can truly bask in the glory of it.  These moments pass us by so quickly.

Today I’m sharing my best tips and tricks to prepare for your baby shower and feel like a million bucks.  You deserve it, Mama!


Why Nannies Should Be Vaccinated

Why Nannies (Newborn Care Specialists and Baby Nurses) Should Be Vaccinated

Professional Child Care Providers Should Be Vaccinated

More and more parents and nanny agencies are requiring nanny candidates be vaccinated for the flu, whooping cough, and measles.

While some people may have allergies to specific vaccines and cannot get vaccinated, the Center of Disease Control (CDC) shows why child care providers should be vaccinated.

Even healthy people can get very sick from influenza (the flu) and spread it to others. The CDC lists that hundreds of thousands of Americans are hospitalized each flu season and that flu viruses circulate at higher levels in the U.S. population.

Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal influenza; thousands of children are hospitalized and some children die from flu.

Children younger than 5 years and especially those younger than 2 years are at high risk of serious influenza complications. Newborns and infants are most at risk.

An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community and protect our newborns, infants and children.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.

There are whooping cough vaccines for babies, children, preteens, teens, and adults.

The CDC urges all caregivers and family members that come in contact with a baby make sure they get a pertussis vaccine at least two weeks before meeting a baby.

Measles is a very contagious virus that is particularly dangerous in children under age 5. The disease can be spread to the fetus of pregnant women, threatening the fetus. It is easily spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles can easily be prevented by receiving the MMR vaccine.

In 2014 there were 667 cases of measles in 27 states and in just one month, 121 new cases of measles were reported in the United States. In February 2015 a total of 125 measles cases had been confirmed linked to two Disney theme parks in Orange County, California. The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.

Vaccinations have been a polarizing subject because of a discredited report in the Lancet about 18-years ago. Some believe the MMR vaccine causes autism. This belief has been discredited by scientific study. Even those who authored the study have discredited their findings.

Therefore, the overwhelming majority of doctors and public health officials agree the vaccine is safe and recommend everyone who can be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine be vaccinated.

Clearly the vaccine works. The chart above shows that measles rates have plummeted after the introduction of the vaccine.

While many workers may be required to be vaccinated, the nanny industry is unregulated. So, it is a personal decision parents to require their nannies be vaccinated, or not.

Nannies, newborn care specialists and baby nurses may lose job opportunities if parents and agencies require their job candidates be vaccinated. So it’s in their best interest to be immunized.

Of course some people cannot get immunized due to allergies. Concerned nannies, newborn care specialists and baby nurses should discuss their worries about vaccines with their doctor. They can ask their doctor for a MMR Titer Test to see if they need the vaccine.

From bethebestnanny.com


12 Classroom Discipline Tricks That Will Work at Home

By Amy Morin for VeryWell.com

Imagine multiplying your child by 20. Then, you have to stay in a small confined space with all 21 kids. And, you have to teach those kids how to add and subtract and read and write.

Elementary school teachers manage to do all that every day, year after year. They keep order, manage behavior problems, and promote learning while somehow finding time to give each child individual attention.

Adopting some of the same discipline tricks elementary school teachers use could help improve your children’s behavior at home. Here are 12 classroom discipline strategies that work at home too.

1) Post a List of Written Rules

Many of the best elementary school teachers create posters that outline their classroom rules. Then, kids know their teacher expects them to, “Use an inside voice,” and, “Raise your hand before talking.”

Create a list of household rules and hang them on a wall in your home to remind your children of the most important rules they need to follow. Similar to a teacher’s list of rules, make your rules simple.

Restrict your list to the top five or six most important rules. If your list is too long, your children may grow overwhelmed.

Word your rules in the positive whenever possible. Instead of saying, “Don’t take anyone else’s stuff,” say, “Ask for permission before touching anyone else’s belongings.”

2) Explain Your Expectations Ahead of Time

Teachers explain their expectations before kids enter into new situations. You might hear a teacher say, “You are going to have a substitute teacher this afternoon. I expect you all to follow the rules.”

Or, before a guest speaker enters the classroom, the teacher might say, “I expect you all to listen carefully to our guest and raise your hand before you ask a question.”

Your children won’t know how to behave in new situations unless you explain what is socially appropriate. Your child won’t inherently know he can cheer at a soccer game but should remain quiet at a ballet recital. So, before you enter into new situations, spend a few minutes explaining the rules.

3) Create Structure and Be Consistent

Ask your child, “What happens after lunch?” and you’ll likely hear, “After lunch we have recess. Then, we have math.” Elementary teachers maintain a fairly consistent schedule each day because they know structure helps kids manage their emotions and their behavior better.

Create structure in your home by giving your child a regular schedule. Set aside time for homework, chores, dinner, and bath. Although you might not be able to keep the routine as consistent as his teacher can, creating structure will help your child manage his behavior better.

4) Whisper When You Need to Get Your Child's Attention

When the classroom is noisy, an experienced teacher doesn’t yell—she whispers. Yelling only adds to the noise and the chaos and the teacher’s voice blends in. But, when a teacher whispers, students stop talking so they can hear what she’s saying.

If your children are squabbling at dinner, or they’re arguing over who gets to go first, lower your voice. You might find it’s a much more effective attention-getter.

5) Use Non-Verbal Cues

Remember when your teacher used to shut off the lights to get everyone’s attention? The sudden change in light was a fast way for the teacher to get everyone to stop talking without saying a word.

Look for opportunities to use non-verbal cues to address behavior problems. If your children are arguing in the backseat of the car, turn down the radio. Or, try shutting off the light in their bedroom when they’re getting too loud.

6) Problem-Solve Together

The best teachers invite children into the problem-solving process. Rather than assume they know what the problem is, they ask kids for input into how to resolve the situation.

A teacher may sit a student down and say, “For the last three days in a row you’ve been having trouble getting along with the other kids at recess. What do you think we can do to make sure you don’t have any problems with the other kids today?”

Kids are usually willing to do their part when they’re able to be part of the solution. When you notice a specific pattern of misbehavior, or times when your child seems to be struggling, point it out in a matter of fact way. Then, see if your child can offer some helpful solutions.

7) Adjust the Environment

When a student is easily distracted, a good teacher doesn’t simply say, “Pay attention,” over and over again. Instead, the teacher modifies the environment to make it easier for the student to concentrate. Placing a student near the front of the classroom or near the teacher’s desk could be instrumental in helping the student stay on task.

Think about the steps you can take to set your children up for success. If they struggle to get along when they get home from school, assign them chores in opposite rooms. Or, if they fight over a specific toy, remove the toy from both of them.

Changing your children's behavior shouldn't always be about expecting them to change. Sometimes, a few simple changes to the environment can prevent behavior problems before they start.

8) Offer Opportunities for Do-Overs

Rather than simply scolding a child by saying, “Don’t run in the hallway!” a seasoned teacher will make the child go back and try it over again. By returning to the classroom and walking down the hallway again, he’ll learn running actually slows him down. He’ll also practice the good behavior.

If your child impulsively grabs something out of your hand, take it back and ask, “If you wanted to see that, what could you do instead of grabbing it out of my hand?” Then, have him practice asking for the object nicely. By practicing the desired behavior your child learns how to do it better next time.

9) Monitor Behavior and Give Feedback Often

The best elementary school teachers don’t stay at their desks while the kids are working and they don’t stand next to the building when the kids are playing at recess. They walk around monitoring kids’ activities. They offer feedback, answer questions, and give guidance.

While you don’t want to hover over your children, monitoring their activities can be one of the best ways to keep them on track. If your children know you’re going to periodically peer over their shoulders when they’re surfing the internet, or you’re likely to go outside to check on them at any minute, they’ll be less likely to get into trouble.

10) Use Rewards to Motivate Your Child

When certain children have difficulty in the classroom, teachers implement reward systems. The teacher may document a child’s behavior throughout the day in a kid-friendly manner—such as a sticker chart. If the student exhibits enough good behavior, he may be able to earn a privilege, such as picking a prize from a treasure chest or having a few extra minutes of free time.

Sometimes, teachers use incentives on a class-wide basis. If all the students behave well for a substitute teacher, the whole class might earn a chance to play a game together. A little healthy competition can encourage students to help one another to do their best.

Identify a specific behavior you want to target with your child. Create a reward chart or establish a token economy system. Then, let him earn tangible rewards, like extra time to play on the computer or a chance to go to the park.

11) Create a Plan for Behavior Problems

When the usual discipline strategies aren’t working, the best elementary school teachers develop a careful plan that will help them approach the behavior in a new way. They may meet with the parents, guidance counselor, and other school staff to gather ideas and identify the best interventions.

If your discipline strategies aren’t changing your children’s behavior, try something new. But don’t just start trying anything. Craft a plan that will help you target the problem.

When you have a plan in place, and you apply your discipline consistently, you’ll be able to see if it’s working. And you’ll be able to make changes to your plan in a way that will increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to help your child.

If you’re feeling stuck, brainstorm discipline ideas with other adults. Talk to your child’s doctor, guidance counselor, or other caregivers. Working together as a team could be the key to reducing behavior problems.

12) Catch a Child Being Good

Managing a classroom of 20 or more students can be difficult. And often, all the students are vying for the teacher’s attention.

A skilled teacher knows giving attention for good behavior is the best way to encourage all the students to behave. Instead of pointing out all the students who are talking, the teacher might say, “I like the way Jasmine is sitting so quietly right now. Zachary, you’re doing a great job being quiet too!”

When your children are acting out, don’t give all of your attention to the misbehavior. Attention—even when it’s negative—can encourage behavior to continue.

So rather than say, “Quit playing with your fork,” turn to your other child and say, “I really like the table manners you are using right now.” Praising one child for being good might inspire the other one to follow suit.


Science Student Shows the Magic Properties of Breast Milk

Written by Jessica Machado for The Daily Dot

If you've ever opened a parenting book or clicked on a mommy blog, you know there is a lot to be said about breast milk. Much of it touts how perfect it is while ignoring that formula is just fine and that many mothers can't breastfeed or keep up with pumping when they go back to work. 

But absolutism and lactation elitism aside, breast milk is pretty cool, not only as a complete food, providing all the nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of life, but also as a disease and germ-fighting agent.

Biosciences student Vicky Greene recently proved this latter part by adding breast milk, from mothers feeding kids ages 15 months to 3 years old, to nine Petri dishes filled with M. Luteus, a bacteria that colonizes in the mouth and upper respiratory tract. And what she found was that where the milk was placed in the dish the bacteria had been killed off.  

Greene, whose post has gone viral with almost 20,000 shares, said that the experiment also worked with E-coli and somewhat with MRSA, an infection caused by a type of staph bacteria. Her study also shows that breast milk's immunization properties don't diminish the older the breastfed kid gets.

Previous studies have shown that breast milk also has the ability to cure 40 types of cancer because it contains a special substance called HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells). It's also a pretty neat self-regulator, adjusting its immunological composition based on your baby's backwash (yes, for real).

The human body is a magical thing—and yet not every body is the same.
 


10 FEEDING TIPS FOR BABY’S FIRST YEAR

(Written By The Honest Company Staff)

Feeding your baby is one of the most fundamental tasks of parenting, but even though we’ve literally been doing it since the beginning of time, it can still be tricky territory. Between breasts and bottles and allergies and obesity and everything else, feeding our children has become a complicated and emotional journey. Today we’re sharing 10 basic tips to hopefully make it a little easier. Bon appetit, baby!

#1: Get ready before baby arrives. You’ve probably read all sorts of books, articles, and blogs and talked to friends, family, and maybe even strangers to learn as much about the tricky business of parenting as you can. But, no matter how well-read and informed you are, life has a way of throwing curve balls. It applies to all aspects of parenting, but for right now let’s talk about feeding. Have a plan or maybe two in mind (will you strictly breastfeed, will you need to pump, will you supplement, etc.), create a support system, and know that it’s okay to figure things out as you go — your child’s needs and your own will evolve over time and unexpected circumstances may arise. Although easier said than done, don’t stress. We promise, everything works out!

#2: Try to breastfeed for at least the first 8 days. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year and we support that recommendation. But it can be an overwhelming commitment for many moms, so we encourage you to take it one step at a time. “The first 8 days appear to be a critical window,” says renowned pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene. “Babies are setting their internal sense of how much is ‘normal’ for them to eat. Too much, or too little can lead to lifelong impacts. Thankfully, breastfeeding typically leads to the right amount and pacing during that first week. You are designed to provide just what your baby needs! With formula-fed babies, you’ll need to be more attentive to not over- or underfeed.” Which leads us to the next tip…

#3: Watch for cues. How can you tell if a baby is getting the right amount? Dr. Greene says your baby will let you know. “Babies are born with a sophisticated internal mechanism for determining just how much they need to thrive,” says Greene. “Healthy babies given the right selection of healthy foods will tend to eat just the right amount.” Your baby should appear satisfied and may even push the nipple out of his mouth. Regular wet and soiled diapers are also a key indicator. Dr. Greene also makes the point that all babies are different and while feeding charts can be helpful, you shouldn’t worry if your child is eating more or less. A happy, healthy baby is the goal, not following rigid guidelines.

#4: Opt for organic. Food grown organically doesn’t contain genetically modified organisms, synthetic hormones and antibiotics, or toxic pesticides. Better for you, your baby, and the planet we live on. Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, go organic during this unique window of development and vulnerability.

#5: Be vigilant about vitamins. Most women are advised to continue taking a prenatal multi-vitamin while they breastfeed and specific supplements are sometimes recommended for babies and toddlers, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends Vitamin D for all infants and Dr. Greene believes supplementation with a children’s multi-vitamin provides “health insurance” during the first months and years of rapid development. Talk to your doctor about your family’s unique dietary needs.

#6: Choose safe baby feeding gear. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA from baby bottles and formula containers, but it could still be used in breast pumps or breastmilk storage containers. Regardless, whatever gear you’re using, contact manufacturers to find out what the tools are made of. Give preference to medical grade silicone, stainless steel, glass, and safer plastics like polypropylene (#5).

#7: Start solids when your baby wants to. Your baby isn’t going to place an order, but — again — you should watch for cues. “Babies have unique digestive systems and mature at different rates, so there’s no single best answer for when every baby should start solids,” says Dr. Greene. “Your baby may know it is time before you do! The most obvious sign is a baby that still seems hungry after getting enough milk (8-10 breast feedings or 32 ounces of formula in a day). Your darling may lean forward eagerly or act fussy when you are eating.”

#8: Make baby’s first grain a whole grain. Once your baby is showing interests in solids, offer her a wholesome option. Dr. Greene says, “It’s no wonder that America’s kids are hooked on junk food. For the past 50 years the majority of babies in the United States have been given white rice cereal for their very first bite of solid food. Metabolically, it’s similar to eating sugar.” To combat this bad feeding behavior, Dr. Green launched the WhiteOut movement — and we support him whole (grain) heartedly!

#9: Skip the baby food aisle. Your baby’s first foods don’t always need to come in tiny pouches and jars. They can come right from your refrigerator — and they’ll likely be healthier. Try mashed avocado, banana, or steamed sweet potato. Thin with breastmilk or formula if necessary.

#10: Enjoy! Whether breastfeeding, formula feeding, finger feeding, or spoon feeding, try to enjoy these first magical moments of eating together. Bring positivity and love to the experience to help build a healthy relationship with food.


Breastfeeding Helps Baby Develop Healthy Bacteria

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by Sarah Yang, The Bump

Here’s another benefit to breastfeeding: It helps baby develop healthy bacteria in her gut! A new study in Genome Biology found that breastfed infants had more diverse microbes in their guts than infants who were formula-fed. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Diverse microbes? Bacteria? Isn’t that bad” It’s not. If baby has a wide range of bacteria in her gut, her immune system will be stronger. Experts say that although the microbes in breastfed babies’ guts were associated with a resistance to antibiotics, their immune systems were trained to cope by fighting off stomach bugs.

In the study, researchers analyzed stool samples from 12 infants (6 were breastfed and the other 6 were formula-fed). They looked at the genetic material in the samples to find the types of bacteria in babies’ guts. Experts believe that more research is needed to confirm the link between breastfeeding and healthier guts in babies, but that this was a good start.

Do you think breastfeeding helps baby’s immune system? Do you or did you breastfeed your baby?

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Recipe!: Cucumber Boats with Spiced Yogurt

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recipe from Smitten Kitchen via Parenting 

photo by Deb Perelman

Ingredients:

  • Small cucumbers, such as Kirbys
  • Small container of plain yogurt
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Cumin

Directions:

  1. Halve cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out seeds. (A melon baller works great for this.)
  2. Mix some plain yogurt, a couple of pinches of sugar, a pinch of salt and a dash of cumin in a bowl.
  3. Spread into hollowed cucumbers.
  4. Decorate as desired

Recipe!: Ham Rollers

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recipe from Parenting

photo by Michael Kraus

Here's a super simple recipe! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Deli-style ham

Directions:

  1. Slice apple into thin wedges
  2. Top apple wedge with a small slice of cheddar cheese
  3. Wrap apple and cheese with deli-style ham

Buy Time Not Stuff!

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image by Kristen Solecki for NPR

article by Allison Aubrey for NPR

Money can't buy happiness, right? Well, some researchers beg to differ. They say it depends on how you spend it.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencessuggests that when people spend money on time-saving services such as a house cleaner, lawn care or grocery delivery, it can make them feel a little happier. By comparison, money spent on material purchases — aka things — does not boost positive emotions the way we might expect.

Think of it as a way to buy back what has become for many Americans a scarce resource: free time.

Yet, in a culture where many people are quick to buy the latest model phone, a big-screen TV or a fancy pair of shoes, those same people are often resistant to spending money on time-saving services.

"Contemplating paying somebody else to do something you're perfectly capable of doing yourself may provoke feelings of guilt," says Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study.

Dunn and her colleagues had a hunch that if people spent money to hire out some of the unwanted tasks on their to-do list, they might feel more satisfied with their quality of life.

"We hypothesized that people would be happier if they spent money to buy themselves out of the things they don't like doing," she says.

As a test, she and her colleagues designed an experiment: First, they recruited 60 adults under the age of 70 from Vancouver, British Columbia. The researchers gave the volunteers a little cash and asked them to spend it in two different ways, on two consecutive weekends. 

"On one weekend we gave them $40 and asked them to spend it in any way that would give them more free time," Dunn explains. Participants in the study chose a variety of services — everything from meal delivery to a cleaning service to help with errands.

Then, on the other weekend, the participants got another $40 to spend on a material purchase. They could choose anything they wanted within that budget. "One person bought polo shirts," Dunn says. "Another participant bought wine that she described as fancy." 

After each weekend purchase, the researchers called the participants and asked how they were feeling. The participants reported how much "positive emotion" they'd been experiencing and how much "negative emotion," Dunn explains. 

When the study participants spent money on time-saving services, they reported more positive emotion.

"Buying yourself out of [tasks] like mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom — these were pretty small, mundane expenditures, and yet we see them making a difference in people's happiness," Dunn says.

But how much happier? A separate part of the study helped to answer this question.

The same researchers surveyed a group of 6,000 people across a wide range of incomebrackets in the U.S., Canada and Europe. (The median household income for U.S. residents in the survey was $75,000, but the study also included working adults who made about $30,000 per year and some European millionaires.)

Respondents completed survey questions about whether they spent money each month to increase their free time by paying someone else to complete unenjoyable tasks, and if so, how much they spent.

In addition, the respondents were asked to rank their own level of happiness on a 10-point scale of life satisfaction. Think of the scale as a happiness ladder with 10 rungs.

"What we found is that people who spent money to buy time reported being almost one full point higher on our 10-point ladder, compared to people who did not use money to buy time," Dunn explains. People from across the income spectrum benefited from "buying time," she adds.

Moving up one rung on the happiness ladder may not sound like much, but the researchers say they're very excited by their results.

"Moving people up on the ladder of life satisfaction is not an easy thing to do," Dunn says. "So, if altering slightly how people are spending their money could move them up a full rung, it's something we really want to understand and perhaps encourage people to do."

Emanuel Maidenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA who was not involved in the study, tells NPR he was a little surprised by the results.

He says it's an intriguing possibility to think about time-saving services as a "stress-management tool." But there are still some unanswered questions, he says. For instance, is the boost in positive emotions sustainable, "or is it just an immediate response?" Maidenberg wonders.

The authors are "presenting enough data to justify a more careful look into this," Maidenberg says. "It's exciting."


30 Questions to Ask Your Kid Instead of “How Was Your Day?”

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photo and article courtesy of Popsugar

written by Sara Goldstein

Sometimes it can be tough getting your child to talk about their day. Instead of asking the mundane question "How was your day?," try using one of these creative queries from our friends at Parent Co.!

When I picked my son up from his first day of 4th grade, my usual (enthusiastically delivered) question of "how was your day?" was met with his usual (indifferently delivered) "fine."

Come on! It's the first day, for crying out loud! Give me something to work with, would you, kid?

The second day, my same question was answered, "well, no one was a jerk."

That's good . . . I guess.

I suppose the problem is my own. That question actually sucks. Far from a conversation starter, it's uninspired, overwhelmingly open ended, and frankly, completely boring. So as an alternative, I've compiled a list of questions that my kid will answer with more than a single word or grunt. In fact, he debated his response to question 8 for at least half an hour over the weekend. The jury's out until he can organize a foot race.

Questions a kid will answer at the end of a long school day:

  1. What did you eat for lunch?
  2. Did you catch anyone picking their nose?
  3. What games did you play at recess?
  4. What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  5. Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
  6. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  7. Who made you smile today?
  8. Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
  9. What new fact did you learn today?
  10. Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
  11. What challenged you today?
  12. If school were a ride at the fair, which ride would it be? Why?
  13. What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
  14. If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?
  15. If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
  16. Did anyone push your buttons today?
  17. Who do you want to make friends with but haven't yet? Why not?
  18. What is your teacher's most important rule?
  19. What is the most popular thing to do at recess?
  20. Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?
  21. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
  22. If aliens came to school and beamed up 3 kids, who do you wish they would take? Why?
  23. What is one thing you did today that was helpful?
  24. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
  25. What rule was the hardest to follow today?
  26. What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
  27. Which person in your class is your exact opposite?
  28. Which area of your school is the most fun?
  29. Which playground skill do you plan to master this year?
  30. Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules?

10 Tips for Sustainable Toxic-Free Cleaning

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photo from Mother Mag

article written by Anna Jacobs for Mother Mag

While summer about to come to an official close, there’s no time like the present to deep clean and refresh for the start of a new season. To make tidying up cleaner and greener, we’ve gathered together our favorite tips for eco-friendly cleaning that are safe for the environment and your family. With these tricks in your back pocket, you’ll be breathing easy as you tackle your biggest projects yet.

Use Dr. Bronner’s For, Well, Anything
What can’t you do with Dr. Bronner’s? You can wash your clothes, use it as shampoo, and even brush your teeth with this all-natural soap. Bonus: a little goes a long way, so one bottle will last you for months, saving you time and money. Check out the dilution cheat sheet for an extensive list of all the ways you can use this sudsy stuff. Committed to fair trade and organic materials, as well as social and environmental accountability and transparency, Dr. Bronner’s is a company you can trust.

Repair Old and Damaged Clothes
It’s easy to give up on old pieces of clothing and dump them in the trash. This year, consider mending clothes that are a little worse for wear, and test your hand at dying faded clothes to give them new life. Patagonia has pop-up mending shops around the country, or keep an eye out for clothing repair workshops at local stores wherever you live.

Keep and Eye Out for Green-washing
We’ve all been there. In a rush to buy a natural cleaning product, we’ve picked up a bottle of who-knows-what that’s plastered with pictures of the earth and words meant to fool you, like natural, green, and eco-friendly. After taking a closer look at the label, you’ve found the so-called “natural” ingredients, aren’t so natural after all. This year, take your time to do some research on eco-friendly products ahead of time, so you can find products that suit your family best. Head over to the Environment Working Group’s Food Score website to learn about the products and companies you’re supporting, as well as which toxins are most important to avoid.

Ditch the Plastic Wrap
We’ve all heard it before, but we’ll say it again: plastic is bad for you and bad for the environment. Let’s commit to ditching our unsustainable habits and commit to using less plastic. Thankfully, the folks behind Beeswrap have done the hard work for us, crafting a reusable alternative to plastic wrap made of beeswax-coated fabric. It’s easy to clean and comes in a variety of sizes. While you’re at it, swap out plastic Tupperware for the stainless steel variety, and buy linen food covers to slip over uncovered bowls and dishes.

Turn to Your Kitchen Cabinets
We’re willing to bet your kitchen cabinets are full of ingredients that can clean a gnarly mess just as easily as they can add flavor to your cooking. Vinegar is a versatile cleaner that can do just about anything—dilute it for a simple, nontoxic window cleaner, mix with baking soda to remove the most stubborn carpet stains, and try it out as a shampoo alternative to get rid of product build up. Baking soda works wonders on dirty floors and tarnished silver—mix with a bit of water and do a little scrubbing for some seriously shiny results.

Host a Clothing Exchange
Call up your friends to come over on a weekend afternoon for a clothing exchange. You’ll get rid of clothes you’re tired of wearing, and add a few new additions to your closet. Try it out with children’s clothing, too. The best part? It’s free! Leftover clothes can be donated to Goodwill, or a similar organization. Consider sending your gently used bras to The Bra Recyclers, where they distribute lightly used bras to women and girls who need them.

Change Your Light Bulbs
Are you still using incandescent light bulbs? Stock your garage shelves with energy-efficient bulbs so that next time a light goes out, you’re prepared for a sustainable switch. LEDs, halogen, and compact florescent bulbs are stocked at most home goods stores. These bulbs use significantly less energy than the incandescent variety and last much longer, saving the planet and your wallet.

Invest in Solar Panels
If you’re up for a larger home project, consider investing in solar panels for the ultimate form of spring-cleaning. Save money on your electric bill, while significantly reducing your carbon footprint. Bonus points if you also drive a hybrid or electric car.

Ditch the Toxins
Take a look at your cleaning products in the kitchen and bathroom. If they have scary labels that say “danger”, “caution”, or “warning”, it’s time to get that stuff out of the house pronto. Call your recycling center to find out the date of the next hazardous pickup day to responsibly dispose of any toxic products you have lying around. Replace your cleaning products with the nontoxic, natural variety, so you never have to worry about your kiddos’ safety when it comes to cleaning.

Check Out Your Sponges
Kudos if you’re already using sponges to clean your countertops instead of using paper towels or wet wipes. Sponges are wonderful minimal waste to clean, but they can get pretty nasty after months of hard work and frequent use. Toss your stinky sponges, or if they’ve got a little life left in them, stick them in the microwave for a few minutes (make sure they’re wet before you do this). If you’re starting fresh, pick up some biodegradable sponges, so you can compost them once they’ve outlasted their use.


Hiring Seasonal Domestic Staff

Hiring the right temporary domestic staff for your summer home is a large project for any principle or family. This article discusses why this can be so challenging and offers potential solutions to common problems I have seen every season. I am someone with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality and staffing industry and I have run British American Household Staffing and British American Yachts, the leading domestic staffing and yacht crew agency in the USA and UK as well as British American Newborn Care, which works with the best childcare professionals in the USA and UK. Most agencies have a roster of recurring staff in all the domestic staff categories. The earlier you start the hiring process the more likely you will secure the most qualified candidates. If you have very specific requirements and early start will help you find the ideal person for a potentially harder match to find.

A family looking for a live-in housekeeper-cook for their Hamptons home should look at contacting agencies in New York as well as the Hamptons, but nowhere too far for the housekeeper-cook to travel back and forth to on their days off (for instance New Jersey is too far from Easthampton, one full day off will be used for traveling). A live-in housekeeper-cook for the Hamptons will have to drive so this is a challenging order as many domestic candidates don’t want to live in and many housekeepers do not like to cook, especially cook the volume needed for the summer season, which is typically filled with parties and extra guests.

The best solution is to do the following: - Start the hiring process early - Contact high end agencies only, both local and non-local (as it is live in) - Set a salary range that is generous to allow you to find the best fit more easily - Make sure you have set an appealing schedule so you open-up the pool of qualified candidates. The schedule should always have 2 consecutive days off and usually a Sunday is given as a day off, in conjunction with Monday or Saturday - Phone screen the candidates first - Check their level of experience - Check they have been a flexible worker in the past.

One of the most common recurring issues for larger estates lies in the team of domestic staff. Staffing a larger home or estates is like running a small business in your home. The pyramid model works well for estate staffing. Start by hiring a house manager or a butler house manager. This person can then help you screen the rest of the staff, which helps them establish their authority with the staff you decide to hire for the summer that this house manager will be overseeing. This is the most important hire you will make over the summer, so screen this person for the following qualities:

- Ask their management style and ask for two or more references from staff they managed previously - Find out why they are looking for the summer only - Hire someone who has experience in the area they will be working - Ensure they have estate staff management experience - Once you hire them, hire the domestic staff with them and keep an open line of communication with the staff in case there are revolving door problems and it is the fault of the house manager - Make sure they have relationships with the top agencies in the area and ask who they liaise with at those agencies - Ensure they understand scheduling for staff - Pay them very well with the promise of a bonus at the end of the season In case you are doing the hiring alone or with a remote house manager, you will need to know how to attract the best staff (housekeepers, chefs and nannies) for your summer home Housekeepers: - Other than nannies, most high quality domestic are looking for a secure full-time job position, preferably with benefits. This is something every principle hiring only for the summer with deal with and lose staff too.

The best solution for this is to hire the best local candidates on a lower full time salary, offer benefits and give them a bonus at the end of the summer. This is the best solution for retaining top talent in a seasonal area such as the Hamptons - Housekeepers, more than any other domestic staff category, like a regular schedule with overtime, which is the law. A constant live in or Wednesday to Sunday schedule is always unpopular, but more-often-than-not needed for summer hires, especially in the Hamptons. Hire one more extra housekeeper than you need so each housekeeper gets one weekend of a month. This will attract the best talent - A standard and suggested formal housekeeper salary is $70,000 plus benefits and overtime.  A seasonal housekeeper is $35 to $40 an hour.

 

Chefs: -

Chefs often like a temporary position that helps them earn a solid income and allows them more freedom to freelance during the year, or travel etc. - Yacht chefs are some of the best chefs you can find and they are accustomed to short-term gigs, long schedules, catering to large formal parties in a small space and working 7 day or more stretches. I would recommend this direction if you can accommodate a live- in chef. - Use an agency that works with both yacht and domestic staff - Top chefs are often happy to do the Hamptons in between jobs. Again, starting this search early and constantly checking in is an excellent way of increasing your chances of securing the best private chef for the summer - Suggested salary for a summer chef is $8-12,000 a month.

Nannies: -

Nannies fall into many different categories: 1. Career nannies 2. Mother’s helpers 3. Nanny/housekeepers 4. Second language nannies 5. Newborn Care Specialist nannies 6. Travel nannies Childcare is the most delicate of all domestic hires to make, as they need to be fully-qualified for your particular childcare situation. I recommend using an agency with a specialized childcare department. Screen the head of the department and make sure they are qualified in childhood education and development and hold the appropriate degrees (and newborn care specialist should be an expert in their field and should have experience training, screening and offering certificates to newborn care specialists). If your children are older (3 and up) a travel nanny or student nanny could be a great option. These nannies are often students, actresses, singers, writers or have another unrelated career during the year. They must be experienced nannies with your children’s age group and this should be screened by the agency childcare branch. This can be a good option if they are able to tutor and educate your children over the summer, or teach them a musical instrument etc. This is the more economical option, with a salary usually starting at $25 an hour plus overtime. Travel pay is not a legal prerequisite but overtime pay is. If you have an infant, or infant twins, a certified and educated newborn care specialist or baby nurse is the best option. A regular nanny (career nanny, nanny/housekeepers, second language nanny, mother’s helper or suchlike) will be looking for a permanent position, so they are harder to pin down for the summer. If you do, the career nannies will likely be expensive at $35-45 an hour. Some will accept a summer position in between jobs but this is rare. For all childcare positions we highly recommend going through the childcare division at a reputed agency. Again, screen the person who heads this branch.

 

Examples are British American Household Staffing (bahs.com) and British American Newborn Care (bababynurses.com). Ashley Mundt and Katie Morin are both childhood and infant development specialists and highly certified, their bios below. For more information on domestic staffing, temporary or permanent, feel free to reach out to me at: info@bahs.com

By Anita Rogers www.bahs.com www.babynurses.com

 

Childhood development specialist and nanny hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing

Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS Nanny Consultant Ashley is our child development expert and nanny specialist. She has a strong academic background and years of hands on experience working with children and families in private and group settings. She received both a B.A. in Sociology and Youth and Human Services from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt. Her training as a Certified Child Life Specialist enables her to support and guide children and families during medical interventions, chronic illness, and family/home crisis situations. Although she has worked in many different settings throughout her career (including homes, schools, camps, and hospitals), her passion, and bulk of experience, is working directly with families in private homes. Over the past 15 years, she has worked as a highly sought after nanny, childcare consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer. Ashley's background of extensive developmental education and hands on experience in luxury homes puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of families, caregivers, and (most importantly) children.

 

Infant development specialist and baby nurse and newborn care specialist hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing and Newborn Care Katie Morin, ACNCS, NCSE Newborn Care Consultant and Placement 

Katie began her career in childcare over 20 years ago. She has been extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing families along the way. One of her first and most memorable experiences with multiples (a set of newborn triplets) was 28 years ago. It was then that she realized her passion for working with children. It was then that she also realized her passion for caring for multiples. Katie has a degree in Child Development and Psychology and has countless certificates including being Advance Certified through the Newborn Care Specialist Association. Through the years, Katie has been a career nanny, a daycare owner, a preschool teacher and a Certified Newborn Care Specialist. She also has had great success in matching NCS candidates with amazing families worldwide. She does not consider these positions just a job, they are a passion and what she loves to do. It allows her to meet incredible people, all with different personalities and aspects of life. This experience gives her the ability to educate and assist new parents during the most amazing part of their life. To date she has worked with over 40 sets of twins, 9 sets of triplets and quadruplets. She has also worked with dozens of preemies (some born as early as 26 weeks) as well as newborns with special needs.   

 

www.bahs.com

www.bababynurses.com

www.bahsyachts.com


8 Ways to Have a Great Relationship with Your Nanny

Advice for talking to and interacting with nannies.

By Ellen Seidman

I have two loves of my life: My husband and my nanny. She's been with us since my son was born seven years ago, and I do everything I can to let her know how much I adore her. Take the other evening, when I went to an event thrown by a local mom's group. It was "spa night," and we were treated to manis, pedis and massages. We could also make our own bath salts, poured into a little glass jar and tied with a ribbon. I knew right away what I was going to do with mine: I came home and handed it to our nanny. "It's for you, so you can take a relaxing bath -- you deserve it," I said. 

Granted, I sure could use a relaxing bath (or twenty) myself. But I'm always trying to make sure our nanny feels cared for. This is the woman who I trust to take care of my kids. She's my partner, my copilot, my wing-woman in parenting. I want to keep her happy -- and I want her to do good by my kids and me, too. And just like having a good relationship with my husband, that takes time and attention. Plenty of other moms I know feel the same -- and have their own smart strategies. Read for yourself about the ways they've built great relationships with their nannies.


1. Make Expectations Clear From Day One
"If you want your nanny to help with dinner or do laundry or light cleaning -- and she'll have the time free during the day to do them -- let her know from the start," says Betsy, a mom of one. "You don't just want to spring major new demands on a nanny, because then she'll feel taken advantage of." Some moms refuse to ask their nannies do housework, as tempting as it may be. As Judy, a mom of one, says, "Sure, I'd like some help, but I don't want to send the message that my baby isn't the top priority. She is."

 

2. Care -- Really Care -- About Your Nanny
"I care about my babysitter's mental and physical health as much as I care about my family's," says Denise, a mother of two. "I do it because she's part of my family, and I want her to feel that way. Also, the healthier she is, the better she'll be able to take care of my kids."

 

3. Pamper Her
"My babysitter has been with us since Brodie was 11 months old -- now he's five! -- and I try to help her enjoy herself. You know, like giving her job perks!" says Dani. "I'll tape some of her favorite shows on TiVo so she can watch them when Brodie's asleep, and make sure I have her favorite snacks around." Adds Betsy, "On my nanny's birthday, I give her a personal gift -- like a scarf -- and some cash in an envelope, and I'll have Melinda draw her a card. Really, she's like my child's other mother!" Hedy, a mother of two, goes even further: "I buy my nanny's two kids presents for the holidays. It makes her really happy, too."

 

4. Don't Get in Her Way
"My sitter has raised her own kids, so I generally give her a lot of autonomy," says Kara, a mother of two. "Even if she does some things differently than I do, I figure it worked for her, no harm done. And we always make sure that our kids, who are two and five, know that her word is final when we're not home. This has gotten important now that my oldest is playing more with kids in the neighborhood and asking them to go over, or to go to their house. Whatever Cynthia says goes! It conveys respect and also makes things run more smoothly."

 

5. Be Generous
Most moms give their nannies an end-of-year bonus (sometimes, as much as an extra week's salary), plus an annual pay raise. "I believe really strongly in not nickel-and-diming my sitter," notes Jessica, a mother of two. "If she works an extra half-hour, I'll round up to an hour. If she bought my kids a $6 lunch, I'll reimburse her $10. My friends think I'm crazy, but I see the payoff. She always comes when I need her, and more importantly, she's happy and cheerful and works hard to make our lives better in every way."

 

6. Pick Your Battles
"I avoid speaking up about minor stuff that bugs me," says Kara. "Like, my babysitter has a habit of opening the microwave without first pressing 'Stop.' I think it could screw it up and if my husband did it, you'd better believe I'd ask him to stop! But I've held back. My philosophy is that the less I critique and make requests, the more impact it will have when I have an important change I want her to make."

 

7. Speak Up About Big Issues
"If I have to talk with our nanny about something I'm not happy about, I try to get home from work early so we can talk before she leaves, or I'll ask her to come in a few minutes early in the morning," says Joanna, a mom of two. "Leaving notes about biggie things is not okay -- your nanny, and your children, deserve a discussion. If you leave a note, your nanny might feel attacked. It's so easy to read the wrong tone in a note."

 

8. Help Her Stay Organized
"I have a large calendar hanging on the kitchen corkboard where I write down the kids' activities and playdates," says Hedy, a mother of twins. "That way we can remember what's happening when. It keeps us both sane!" 


What To Expect When You Are Expecting

Via Ashley Ann Photography

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I scoured this book every night.

EVERY NIGHT.

How big is the baby now?

What is growing?

How are things changing?

What am I supposed to be feeling?

Is this normal?

What are the warning signs?

40 weeks…isn’t that 10 months not 9 months?

What is the earliest time the baby could safely arrive?

How close are we to the end?

EVERY NIGHT I read that crazy book. I read the chapter that dealt with where I was at in my pregnancy, but also the next chapter. It was like I’d read one night and then hope that when I read it the next night I was somehow so much closer to the Bringing Baby Home chapter. I could tell you exactly how many weeks and days I was pregnant. I could tell you if the baby was the size of a pear or a melon…and exactly which kind of melon.

I think I picked it up once during my second pregnancy and then never again.

Now I have a new version that is getting a lot of use these days:

We are finishing up a couple of things for our dossier (the big packet of everything that goes to our agency and then to China). We’ve been in the busy stages of gathering and compiling all kinds of things. Now we are just waiting on things. Waiting for a fingerprint appointment. Then we’ll wait for approval of those fingerprints. Then we mail off our dossier and really begin the long months of waiting.

I’m just as emotional this round as I was with our other four kids. There is a commercial of a mom giving a baby boy a bath. She says something about how her type is the chubby bald kind (referring to the baby). I used to cry when I saw that commercial because I understood that feeling of giving a tiny little guy a bath and being overcome with love. Now I cry…thinking of all the baths I am missing. There is a lot of grieving that takes place with adoption – I am only beginning to understand this.

There are so many uncertainties. So many question marks. One thing we don’t question…don’t waver on….we have a little one in China. God clearly, so very clearly to us, marked this path. THIS SPECIFIC PATH. OUR CHILD. And right now I may not have a name or face, but I’d move heaven and earth to get my little one home.

So in the wait, we’ll keep talking about our little one across the ocean. I’ll probably keep checking my timelines. And one day, I’ll stop checking those timelines. Just like I stopped reading that pregnancy book. I’ll be at the Bringing Baby Home chapter…..

My 2 & 3 year old were playing. He said, “Let’s pretend it’s our baby in China and I go get the baby and I give the baby to you. You can be the mommy.” Of all our kids, he talks about his sibling in China the most. Several times a day.  If he understood timelines, he’d probably be reading them with me tonight….


10 Parenting Tips For Raising Unspoiled, Thankful Kids

In my private practice I often see affluent families struggling with wanting to raise "grateful and unspoiled children" despite being wealthy, going on lavish vacations, having beautiful homes and owning the latest gadgets, toys and luxury cars. They ask me if it is really possible and my answer is "Yes, but you are going to have to work hard at it." I call it intentional parenting and it takes a lot of discipline to pull it off.

So, here is my list of the top 10 things around which you and your support group need to have clarity and consistent follow through in order to raise unspoiled children.

And at the end of the day, if you have a spoiled child—one who relentlessly nags, cries and throws a huge fit when they do not get what they want—you only have yourself to blame! Stop giving in and start applying most if not all of these values and approaches. Start being a great example. You will have greater enjoyment in being a parent, your child will be happier and better adjusted and there will be greater peace and love in your home. And that is something money cannot buy.

1. Say no...often. 

Practice delayed gratification and simply not always giving your children what they want, even if you can easily afford it.

2. Expect gratitude.

Go beyond teaching your child to say please and thank you. Also teach them eye contact, a proper hand shake, affection and appreciation for the kind and generous things that are said and given to them. If this does not happen, have them return the gift (either to the person or to you for safe keeping) and explain that they aren't yet ready to receive such a gift.

3. Practice altruism yourself.

Donate clothes and toys to those in need (not just to your neighbors when it's easy and they have younger children!) and have your kids be a part of that process. Do this regularly as a family and sort through, package and deliver the goods together so the kids really see where their things are going. Do this often and not just around the holidays.

4. Be mindful of the company you keep. 

If you only hang around other affluent families who are not raising their kids with intention, you may be surrounding yourself with those who will not help out with what you are trying to accomplish. Be sure family or friends you are spending significant time with have similar values to yours, otherwise you are going to feel defeated after a while.

5. Write thank you cards. 

Yes, handwritten on paper with a pen! Kids these days generally have shorter attention spans, are easily distracted and aren't taught to take careful time and attention to express their appreciation. This simple yet important act can go a long way as a skill to teach expression of feelings and thoughtfulness.

6. Don't catch every fall.

Practice natural consequences from an early age — share some of your own experiences and teach them lessons such as "life is not fair." In addition, don't over-protect them from disappointments. You have to really understand and believe that failing and falling is a part successful childhood development.

7. Resist the urge to buy multiples of things.

Just because you can doesn't mean that you should! Don't buy four American Girl Dolls—buy just one and have your child love and appreciate what they have.

8. Talk to their grandparents and explain your intentions to them.

Share with them your desires to have respectful, appreciative, kind and responsible children and the ways in which you are going to achieve that goal. You will need their help in doing this if they are like most grandparents who want to spoil their grandkids! Ask them to spoil them with love, time, affection and attention—not toys, treats and money.

9. Teach them the value of money.

Have your child manage their money through saving, giving to charity/others and then spending.  If you do this from an early age you are truly setting a foundation of responsible wealth management.

10. Share your story.

Last but not least, you should tell your kids the legacy of your family's fortune. When I say wealth or fortune, that is all relative. If you come from significant wealth tell the story of how that was earned and created. If you are self-made, tell that story too—just don't forget that "giving your kids everything that you didn't have" is not always a good thing. There is probably a lot that you learned along the way by stumbling to make you the person you are today.

 

By Sheryl Ziegler


Choosing the Right Child Care After Baby Number 2

Thanks to WhatToExpect.Com

Child care may not be on the long list of things you’re thinking about now that you’re pregnant with baby number 2 — after all, you nailed that down the first time around, right? But sometimes the option you chose back when your first child was born is no longer the best one for you. It all depends on your needs, your preferences and your budget.

And even if you decide not to change your approach, it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your child care provider about your expectations when their responsibilities have increased after your second baby comes along. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you mull over your child care options.

DAY CARE CENTER

The cost: 

A day care center can be expensive. In fact, the annual average cost of day care for an infant is higher in many states than a year’s tuition at a four-year public college.

And while day care is generally less costly than a sitter, if you have two children enrolled, the savings are not as great. There are sometimes price breaks for siblings — find out if one is offered at the center you currently use or any you are considering — but they they tend to hover around just 10 percent.

In the beginning, expect to pay anywhere from just under $4,000 a year to just under $23,000 a year on your infant’s day care. Costs vary wildly depending on where you live and whether your day care is home- or center-based.

And remember that with two kids, the chances that one will be sick at any given time are relatively high, so you’ll need to plan for a reliable backup if you decide to go with day care.

Other things to consider:

Getting your infant and older child up, dressed, fed and out the door every day can be twice as crazy-making as it is with one. If baby number 1 is starting to age out of a day care facility and will need someone to take him or her back and forth to school soon, a nanny may be a better bet.

But don’t discount the benefits of built-in socialization and education that come along with day care centers. Some even offer a preschool curriculum, so your older child could stay at the same location once he or she is ready to learn the ABCs.

The bottom line:

Day care for two might not be the bargain that it was for one. But if you do your homework, you have a good shot at winding up with an option that's safe, dependable — and still cheaper than a full-time nanny.

HOME OR FAMILY DAY CARE

The cost:

Home-based day care is generally less expensive than a nanny or a child care center— around 25 percent cheaper than the latter, whether you have one kid or two. So if you're looking for ways to cut costs now that you have a pair of little ones, this might be a good option, particularly if the facility offers a sibling discount.

Other things to consider:

Many states don't require a family day care to be licensed unless it takes on a certain number of children, so background checks are crucial. Perform them on the owner and the owner’s employees just as you would with a sitter.

You'll also want to make sure the facility is safe and thoroughly child-proofed, and find out about its policy for those times when an employee is sick. Some don’t have the same kinds of reliable back-ups that day care centers do.

And you'll want to look into what kinds of activities and learning exercises the home child care you're considering provides. They're often not as extensive as what you’d find at a center, which may or may not work for you and your children.

The bottom line:

A family day care can offer a homey, personal setting for a lower cost than a day care center or a nanny — and with more flexibility when it comes to how many days a week you use it.

Just be sure to carefully investigate the home-based facilities you're considering and realize that they may not have as many bells and whistles as a center does. Read our tips on how to choose a day care center or home day care if you need more help.

NANNY

The cost:

This tends to be the most expensive child care option: A full-time nanny will cost on average $705 a week, or $36,660 a year, but it can be more or less depending on where you live, his or her level of experience and other factors.

The upside? The price per child drops by the time your nanny starts looking after two. Unlike a day care center, where the cost for two children can be twice what it is for one, you generally only pay a nanny a few dollars more per day to take care of a new baby in addition to your older child.

Other things to consider:

Whatever price you negotiate for your duo, you’re paying for convenience, flexibility and extra help with the kids (and even chores) that other child care arrangements don't provide.

A nanny can get an older child to school while caring for a younger one. And a nanny offers one-on-one (or in this case, one-on-two!) attention. Maybe yours will even be willing to do the laundry and some light housework while the kids are napping or in school.

Just keep in mind that nannies get sick and take vacations, too, so you’ll need a back-up plan. And you will, of course, want to perform due diligence: Get plenty of recommendations on all your candidates and check their backgrounds thoroughly.  

If it’s relevant to the age of your older child, make sure the sitter you hire or are thinking of hiring is as good at going over homework as he or she is at rocking the baby to sleep.

The bottom line:

If you already have a nanny taking care of one child, then you won’t have to pay much more to keep the same arrangement for both your kids — while still getting the perks you’ve come to depend on. The issue is ensuring that your nanny has the skills and energy to handle two little ones at different developmental stages. If you need more help, try some of these tips on how to find a nanny.

RELATIVE CARE  

The cost:

Usually, this one’s free! Whether you have one child or two, Grandma probably won’t be charging you anything to look after them. Beyond your undying gratitude, the only thing you might have to give her is a car seat for her car.

If you're lucky enough to have a relative nearby who’s willing and able to care for your kids for nothing, then cost isn’t really an issue unless you decide to offer a small weekly stipend, which some parents do. Regardless of the deal you work out, you’ll want to be clear from the start about pay (if any), hours and duties.

Other things to consider:

Before you ask your mom or mother-in-law to step in as a full-time sitter or step up her duties from caring for one to caring for two, ask yourself if she can really handle both children — especially if one is an energetic toddler who loves to run, climb and throw things into the toilet.  

Have a frank talk with any relative who currently watches your kids — or might call in the future —and don’t be shy about asking if she might see two as more of a burden than she bargained for. Still stumped? Tap into this guide to vetting relatives as sitters.

The bottom line:

The benefits of having a sitter you trust implicitly who charges nothing are obvious. But doing business with family can be fraught with challenges you may not anticipate, so keep the lines of communication open on both sides and realize that sometimes it’s best to make this a temporary solution.

A MIX-AND-MATCH CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENT

Many parents, especially those with more than one child, cobble together a few of these options — a part-time nanny plus day care a few days a week, for instance.  Maybe your mom or dad can look after the kids for half the week but would prefer not to do more than that. Or maybe your budget allows for a part-time nanny and day care to supplement the days he or she isn't working. Sometimes combining different options is a good way to save a little money on child care and get the best of both worlds.

Check to see how flexible your current provider is about part-time care and then figure out whether a mix of child care choices might work well once you're a mom of two.

SETTING EXPECTATIONS

No matter what kind of child care you settle on after baby number 2 comes along— the same as you used with your first child or something completely new — now is a good time to review those added responsibilities, revised expectations and issues that have cropped up with your current situation. 

Is your older child anxious about the new arrival? Let your day care director and teachers know. Perhaps you want your nanny to schedule fewer playdates in those first weeks that she’s bonding with the new baby and trying to pay attention to both kids. Maybe you're worried that you'll be so frazzled after a long day back at work that you’d love it if she could start dinner for you before you get home.

Having those discussions early on to address your needs and concerns will go a long way in helping prevent problems down the line. No matter what, you'll figure out the best child care solution for you and your two (!) little ones and with time and patience, you'll all adjust to and feel comfortable with whatever choices you make for your family.

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