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.


The Difference Between a Nanny and a Babysitter: 5 Myths Explained

By Ashley Brooks

Nannies are just glorified babysitters, right? Wrong! Nannies are hard-working child care professionals, yet they’re subject to a long list of stereotypes from people who don’t understand what the job really entails.

So what’s the difference between a nanny and a babysitter? A nanny’s duties go well beyond making mac 'n' cheese and popping in the latest Disney DVD. Nannies do everything from planning educational activities to providing discipline when necessary, according to the International Nanny Association (INA).

Don’t get caught believing the stereotypes! We enlisted a few seasoned nannies who are ready to set the record straight. You just might want to pursue this fulfilling career once you’ve heard their side of the story!

5 myths every nanny wants to debunk

 

1. Nannies are just babysitters who work longer hours

Any nanny will tell you there’s a world of difference between their job and babysitting. A babysitter’s main task is to supervise a family’s children for a short period of time. Their job is over after microwaving frozen corndogs and playing a few rounds of Monopoly®.*

Nannies, on the other hand, are actively involved with the children they care for day in and day out. “They’re responsible for the emotional, physical and intellectual growth of the child,” says Helen Adeosun, veteran nanny and founder of CareAcademy.

A good nanny will be attentive to what’s happening in a child’s development and will make adjustments based on the child’s needs. A nanny’s day might include inventing a game to help a toddler work on her gross-motor skills, teaching a preschooler to identify letters, or noticing that a baby is showing signs of readiness to start solid foods.

2. People become nannies because they couldn’t find a “real job”

“Our job is not taken seriously and it isn’t viewed as important,” says Melissa Martz, a full-time nanny with 18 years of experience. Adeosun agrees that people are often quick to assume nannying isn’t a legitimate job. Yet nannies spend their days doing hard work with specialized knowledge, often earning the benefits to prove it.

Many full-time nannies receive similar benefits to traditional employees working for a company, according to the INA. In addition to a salary that adheres to the Fair Labor Standard Act, nannies can expect to receive paid holidays, sick days and vacation, as well as a portion of their health insurance premium covered. Some families may award their nannies bonuses and reimburse them for professional conferences or training as well.

3. Anyone can be a nanny

Some people think that no special skills or training are necessary to care for children all day. Those people have obviously never spent eight hours with a two-year-old. In reality, many nannies are highly educated childcare workers who deserve respect for their specialized knowledge.

The INA has identified five educational competencies for nannies, including skills related to children’s developmental and physical needs. They also note the importance of a nanny’s ability to interact professionally with the employing family.

“Ongoing professional development legitimizes a very important job,” says Adeosun. She found it shocking that teachers were expected to engage in ongoing education but nannies weren’t offered the same type of training. It was that realization that led her to launch CareAcademy.

Some of the skills and certifications parents look for in a nanny include:

  • CPR and first-aid certification
  • Early childhood education or other teaching degree/experience
  • Child nutrition training
  • Sign language
  • Water-safety certification
  • Professional nanny certification

4. Nannies watch cartoons with the kids all day

It might be OK for a babysitter to plop the kids on the couch for a movie marathon, but nannies know their work involves much more than that. “As a nanny, I’m invested in the child’s upbringing, development and well-being,” says Martz.

That’s why she makes an effort to enroll the kids in her care in various community activities, from library programs to swimming lessons. Martz also makes sure to introduce early childhood learning concepts through finger plays, reading books and asking open-ended questions. That’s a far cry from sitting on the couch!

“Being engaged in the community and in community programs is what helps raise a well-rounded child,” says Martz. By keeping the kids in her care involved in these types of activities, she’s making sure their physical, physiological and social needs are met—something you can’t achieve by watching Frozen for the 100th time.  

5. Nannies don’t work hard

A nanny’s work may not involve sitting at a desk in a big corporation, but they exert a lot of energy to provide the best care possible for their kids. “You're planning, monitoring and interacting in a very close way with the child in your care. It’s amazing and can be profoundly hard work,” says Adeosun.

Nannies don’t get to run on auto-pilot if they’re tired or having a bad day. Any nanny can tell you there’s never a dull moment when they’re on duty. “A nanny is a critical thinker, a problem solver and someone who’s very anticipatory,” says Adeosun.

Nannies are experienced, trained professionals who use their skills to do everything from cooking a nutritious meal to mediating fights between siblings. Lazy folks should steer clear of a position that encompasses this much work!

The career behind the myths

Now you’re well aware of the difference between a nanny and a babysitter. There’s no question that being a nanny takes a lot more work, but our experts agree that it also reaps a much bigger reward. 

Investing your energy into nurturing one group of children and watching them grow and develop can be extremely satisfying. You essentially become a member of the family, making it feel less like work and more like home.


6 Workouts You Can Do During Every Stage of Pregnancy

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By Jenny Jin

If you need any motivation to get moving while pregnant, perhaps it’s this: According to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, exercising during pregnancy can help your body prepare for labor and recover more quickly after giving birth. Here, six workouts you can do throughout your pregnancy. (As always, just make sure to talk to your OB-GYN beforehand.)

PRENATAL YOGA

If you’ve never tried yoga before (or are still relatively new to it), find a trainer who can guide you through the moves and keep an eye on your form. This is especially important as your pregnancy progresses. By the second trimester, you should skip any positions that require you to lie flat on your back (it could place too much pressure on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood to your baby) and avoid any moves that really challenge your balance.

BARRE CLASSES

The low-impact, controlled nature of barre classes (think small, repetitive movements rather than big bursts or bouncing around) make them perfect for expecting moms. You should be OK to continue your regular regimen through the first trimester, then ask your instructor for modifications for any moves that require you to lie on your back, twist from the waist up or balance precariously on the barre itself.

SPINNING

Major plus: It’s the only workout that has a built-in seat waiting to support you when needed. The bike’s handlebars can also help stabilize you as your belly grows. Just make sure to stay hydrated throughout the class, keep an eye on your breathing (you shouldn’t be panting or gasping) and avoid bouncing and sit-stand routines in your third trimester. Finally—and we can’t stress this enough—go at your own pace. You can stop whenever you need.

SWIMMING 

Exercising in the water gives you a full range of motion without putting any pressure on your joints. (Plus, it’s the rare moment during pregnancy where you feel light and practically weightless.) Always enter the pool slowly and stick to a stroke that feels most comfortable to you. The breaststroke is a popular pick because it doesn’t require you to rotate your torso or belly to do it.

RUNNING

Yes, it may get increasingly difficult as you grow, but it’s still possible to run throughout most of your pregnancy. Just be mindful of your speed and distance—even if you are a seasoned runner. You’re carrying a lot of extra weight, so that ten-minute mile that used to be a breeze might feel a tad too challenging. Listen to your body and settle into a light jog (or a fast walk) if needed. (Another tip: Plan your runs so you always have a bathroom within close proximity. The jostling of running can push down on your bladder.)

WEIGHT TRAINING

Using heavy weights—particularly in the third trimester—is probably a bad idea, but body weight workouts (like squats or wall push-ups) can help you maintain strength throughout your pregnancy. Might we suggest some low-weight, high-rep arm exercises (like bicep curls using five-pound dumbbells) to help you build strength to carry your tot?


What to Register for Your Baby

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By Joanna Goddard

One of the most frequent questions we get from readers is how to prepare for a new baby — especially what to register for. It can be overwhelming! (I remember bursting into tears on the way to dinner when I was pregnant with Toby.) So, today I’ve updated my original post from six years ago with every single thing (big and small) we got for our newborn babies. Congratulations to all new parents! I hope it’s helpful, and I’d love to hear your suggestions…

WHERE TO REGISTER

When I was pregnant with Toby, I used MyRegistry.com, since it lets you register from all different stores. That way, you can bring together exactly what you’d like, instead of being limited to one store’s selection. Amazon also offers a registry, and you can install its Universal Registry button to your browser so you can add items from any other site online.

BOOKS

* The Happiest Baby on the Block (both the book and DVD) about how to calm a crying baby. Dr. Karp’s tips work like MAGIC.
* The Nursing Mother’s Companion, an amazing guide to breastfeeding, which made everything much easier. (I mentioned this book in this breastfeeding post, as well).
* The SleepEasy Solution about naps and nighttime sleep. Practical, gentle advice about how to teach your baby to get the sleep he needs. A friend recommended this to us, and I’m so glad she did. It saved us when Toby was four months old and suddenly decided he hated napping.
* And if you’re expecting your second child: Siblings Without Rivalry. When Anton arrived, Toby was less than enthused. This brilliant book shared wise advice and funny cartoons to ‘help your children live together so you can live, too.’ The book changed the way I spoke to our children about each other and helped our boys kickstart their friendship.

NURSERY

Crib — We really like Walmart’s cribs. We got the Olivia for Toby, but they’re all nice. (Here’s Toby’s old nursery.) For Anton, we were given the Oeuf Elephant crib as a gift, which is splurgier but beautiful. (Here’s Anton’s old nursery.) IKEA cribs are also lovely and always highly recommended. (Here’s my friend Lena’s IKEA crib in action.)

Mattress — We chose this natural soybean mattress. Experts say it’s best and safest to get a firm mattress for the crib. Also, says Cup of Jo editor Lexi: We’ve loved having a dual-sided mattress, which is firm on one side for babies and softer on the other side for toddlers, so you can use it for many years. We also used a NaturePedic organic mattress pad, which is waterproof.

Crib sheets — We’ve found that it’s helpful to have a few different sheets, so you’re not always running to the washing machine. There are so many cute ones — like from Winter Water Factory, Burt’s Bees and Target.

Sound machine — Many babies love white noise since it makes them feel cozy, like they’re in the womb. We have this white noise machine, and it’s awesome (I love that it has two different volume settings; and doesn’t have wave/forest/rainstorm sounds, which I find distracting; it’s just plain white noise similar to a fan). We still all sleep with these in our bedrooms!

Baby monitor — With our first child, we were OBSESSED with our video monitor. We could see Toby on the little screen, so we knew if he was asleep or playing in his crib. As a nervous new mom, I also constantly checked to see if he was breathing! But when Anton came along, we didn’t need the video monitor. We were happy and comfortable with a simpler audio monitor. A great thing about this one is that you can put it on vibrate, so if you’re watching TV or have friends over, you will be sure to hear it.

Storage bins — We have a few sweet baskets like these for rounding up toys and extra blankets in babies’ rooms. 

Nightlight — If their bedroom is dark at night, you might like a night light, which is handy during late feedings and diaper changes.

Pacifiers — Many of our friends swear by pacifiers for their newborns, since it helps them soothe themselves and stay calm during naps and outings. Our boys didn’t like pacifiers (Anton is more of a thumb guy:), but it might make sense to try one and see what your baby thinks. Here’s an ultra natural one beloved by many friends; and these gently glow in the dark, which helps little ones easily spot them in the middle of the night.

TRAVEL AND GEAR

Infant car seat — Graco car seats are fantastic and very easy to use with young babies. (You can also get a frame to turn it into a stroller, which is great for everyday life, as well as traveling.)

Stroller — A stroller is a very personal choice, based on your town/lifestyle/budget/etc. We had two strollers for different reasons: First, the Graco stroller frame let us add wheels to the car seat, which turned it into a stroller. This was great when our boys were newborns, since they slept in it really well and we could take them on long walks/out to restaurants/etc.; and even when they were slightly bigger babies, we still used it when traveling (to easily transition between a stroller and a car seat).

For daily use, we love the Maclaren Triumph, which is for babies three months and older. It’s comfy, light and easy to fold (to stick in the trunk of a car). Toby happily rode in his for years, and now Anton has inherited it!

Stroller bag for winter — Bundle bags are AMAZING if you live in a place with cold winters. You can just pop your baby into one of these instead of having to dress him or her in giant jacket/pants/etc. A super cozy choice is the BundleMe stroller bag. (Another winter idea: I’ve spent the last six winters freezing my hands off while pushing strollers around New York City. But many friends SWEAR by these stroller hand muffs, which you just attach over handles. They’re a splurge, but so, so, so cozy and warm. Just a thought!)

Baby carrier — When they were smaller, I loved wearing Toby and Anton on walks around town. Using a carrier also let me have both hands free, and I could easily walk around crowded streets, grocery stores, etc. There are lots of great ones, but my favorites was the Ergo. Padded straps go over both shoulders and it sits on the hips, so the weight is distributed well; it’s comfy and cozy, and I carried the boys that way for years.

Travel crib — If you travel a lot, you might want to register for a travel crib. We did a bunch of research and, while there are cheaper options (Pack n’ Play, Phil & Ted), the crowd favorite BY FAR was the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light, so we decided on that and CANNOT SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS ABOUT IT. It packs up into a super light little suitcase for carrying through airports, etc., and it’s comfortable and amazingly easy to use. We’ve used it a million times.

DIAPERING

Daytime diapers — We used Honest diapers for the daytime, since they’re pure and chlorine free. Babies wear diapers 24/7 for years, so it was important to me that they be very pure and natural on their skin.

Nighttime diapers — When the boys were about five months old and started sleeping through the night (p.s. more on sleep here!), we got them Huggies Overnight Diapers. They’re so absorbent that the boys never woke up from a wet diaper, which was great for both them and us. smile

Diaper wipes — We like Honest wipes, since they’re natural and chlorine free.

Diaper pail — We got a Diaper Dekor to use as a diaper pail in the boys’ bedrooms; it worked well and kept the room smelling nice! It’s easy to use and, for us, was well worth the price (we would have had to buy a trash can for the room anyway), and I like that you can open it with your foot (versus your hand). Whether you need one of these might depend on what type of trash disposal you have (we can only take out our trash twice a week), and if you already have a good foot-pedal trash can. If you go this route you’ll need Diaper Dekor pail liners, too. 

Diaper cream — For diaper rash (which pops up now and again) or random irritation down there, we used the very gentle, all natural Honest cream, or A+D ointment.

Changing pad — We didn’t get a changing table, but instead just put this contoured changing pad on the top of a dresser. (We hooked it on with a strap and sticky pads for safety.) It worked well and also saved money. There are cute covers, too. A few of my friends with new babies swear by this changing pad, too. It doesn’t require sheets or pads and it’s easy to wipe down.

Cloth diapers — When the boys were babies, we used these for EVERYTHING and had one hanging over the arm of pretty much every chair in the house! Great for cleaning spit up, using as a burp cloth, shielding baby’s head from the sun when you’re walking around outside (they’re very light, thin and breathable). Also, you can wash and reuse them hundreds of times.

Diaper bag — I liked having a dedicated baby bag (when they were newborns, I carried diapers, wipes, a cloth diaper for burping, and a water bottle). The diaper bags in baby stores are fine but aren’t always that cute. I liked Moop’s market bag with Toby, and Storq’s backpack with Anton.

BATHS AND HEALTH

Saline spray — Pretty much all new babies have stuffy noses, and you can spray this fine mist (just salty water) into his or her nose to loosen up the mucus so he either sneezes it out or swallows it. We used it all the time. Great for when the baby has a cold, too. 

Nasal aspirator — Relatedly, a bulb syringe helps you remove snot from a baby’s nose. (P.S. Have you seen this?! I’ve never tried it, but people swear by it:)

Nail clippers — We got baby nail clippers for Toby, but for Anton, we just used our adult clippers and they worked fine!

Thermometer — We had a digital rectal thermometer on hand. (I heard a great tip: If you think your baby might have a fever, kiss his forehead to see if it feels warm; it’s an easier way to tell than using your hands.) You can also try a forehead thermometer, which lets a baby sleep through having their temperature taken. 

Baby acetaminophen — This medicine can be good to have in the house in case your baby gets a fever or is in pain for some reason. (FYI, our pediatrician said not to give a baby any medicine before he’s two months old, so you might check with yours.)

Bathtub — This simple moulded bathtub sits inside a regular bath and has two sides — one for a young infant and one for a older baby who can sit up. 

Towels — With our second child Anton, we just used regular adult towels, but with Toby, we had a duck hooded towel, which was so cute, it hurt. (Here’s Toby wearing it.)

Shampoo — We’ve always used Honest. But if your baby is prone to cradle cap or dry skin, friends swear by this gentle foam shampoo that somehow knocks out cradle cap within a few uses and makes baby hair even softer. (It also smells so good!) People call it a miracle product. Some parents I know are still using it every day on their kids who are five or even older.

BLANKETS

Swaddles — We LOVED swaddling!!! Both boys slept much, much better (and longer) when they were swaddled, since their wriggly arms didn’t startle them. We swaddled them for naps and nighttime until they were 3-4 months old. We tried a bunch of different kinds — velcro swaddles, the hospital blankets, Aden & Anais swaddling blankets… But our FAVORITE by far was the Miracle Blanket, which helped their little arms stay put (meaning: they didn’t bust out of it in the middle of the night). I would highly, highly recommend it; we loved it.

Blankets — People love giving blankets as gifts, so you might wait to buy these until right before your baby is born, since you’ll probably get them as a present. We used ours for floor time during the day, and also we put one in the diaper bag, so the boys could lie on a blanket if we went to the park. We also draped one over the stroller on sunny days. If you do buy blankets, I’d recommend the light and lovely Aden & Anais muslin blankets.

CLOTHES

Onesies — Both our boys have summer birthdays, so they didn’t wear many clothes as newborns — usually just a diaper or onesie. The tees and onesies from Gap, Gerber and Carters all fit well and are easy to snap.

Gentle laundry detergent — We like Honest Company detergent, which is easy on sensitive skin.

FEEDING

Of course, how and what to feed your child is a very personal decision, based on many factors. But here’s what we did, if it’s helpful!

A breast pump — We had the Ameda double pump, and I liked it. I didn’t have the easiest time pumping, and I wish there had been more options for pumps when I was a new mom. Do you have a pump you love? (P.S. Breast pumps look intimidating, but I was relieved to find that it didn’t hurt at all.)

Milk storage bags — You can keep your pumped breast milk in these bags and pop them into the fridge or freezer. Super easy to use!

Bottles — Babies seem to prefer certain bottles over others, so you may have to experiment to see what your baby likes. We liked BornFree bottles.

Breast pads — Your breasts might leak for the first few weeks/months (mine leaked like crazy!) so you can just pop these pads into your bra and they absorb the milk. Comfy and great. (FYI, I pretty much wore a nursing bra all the time — even to bed — along with these pads to absorb leaks.)

Nipple cream — To help soothe nipples when you’re first breastfeeding, try this cream. (Note: your baby can drink from your breast even if you have lanolin cream on your nipples; it’s natural and they don’t even notice it.)

Nursing bras — I liked the pretty lace ones by Elle MacPherson.

My Brest Friend Pillow — This initially seemed random and unnecessary to me, but I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED this pillow, which made breastfeeding soooooo much more comfortable. The pillow supports your lower back and helps position the baby at chest-level, so your back and arms don’t ache. (I used it many times a day until Toby and Anton got big enough to sit on my knee during feeds, probably around 4 months.)

Formula — We did a mix of formula and breastfeeding when Toby and Anton were babies. I liked this one.

High chair — When Toby was born, our apartment was tiny, so we got a highchair that clipped onto a table and was super small to store. For Anton, we had a little more space and got the Stokke, which we still use and adore.

Teethers — Every baby I’ve ever met loves Sophie the Giraffe — my boys spent many happy hours gnawing away. smile


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!


Tips for Traveling With Kids from Parents Who’ve Been on the Road for 1 1/2 Years

By Susan Johnston Taylor for Today

If you think packing up the minivan for a weekend at grandma’s is overwhelming, try prepping for 1 1/2 years on the road. Jessica and Garrett Gee have been traveling with their two kids, Dorothy, 4, and Manilla, 2, since August 2015.

After Garrett sold Scan Inc., an app he co-founded, to Snapchat for $54 million in 2014, he and wife Jessica decided to invest their earnings, sell most of their worldly possessions and travel the world using the money they made — roughly $45,000 — from their giant garage sale.

The family chronicles their adventures on the Bucket List Family blog, as well as on Instagram and YouTube, including diving with seals in Australia, swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas and surfing in Fiji.

The Gees are also committed to philanthropic work. Inspired by prayer flags in Nepal, they designed “adventure bands” that can be used as a scarf, headband or armband, and sell them through their website to raise money to build a school in the landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia. The first batch of bands sold out within three hours, raising $10,000.

In addition to supporting charities, they take nominations from their community and surprise other families with travel experiences. “We’ll be surprising a family to join us in Bali, where we’re volunteering at an orphanage,” Garrett, 28, said. “It’s this community effort to pick a family and send them somewhere incredible.”

Here’s a look at what they’ve learned and how they’ve handled the logistics of long-term travel with kids.

1. Kids don’t need that much stuff.

Jessica, 30, says she made the mistake early in their travels of packing everything they might need, including a double stroller and extra clothes and towels. They’ve since pared down. The family still carries a small travel stroller that folds down and fits in the overhead compartment, but for most other things they’ll buy or rent it once they get there. They don’t travel with a car seat, because island destinations don’t involve much driving. When they fly to Europe and rent a car, they’ll also rent a car seat. “Everything else, like diapers, we buy those wherever we go because people have kids everywhere,” Garrett said.

2. You don’t need a fancy cellphone plan.

When the Gees first hit the road, they agreed to a tight travel budget. They decided to stick to living off the proceeds from their big garage sale, and not touch their savings or the money earned from the sale of Garrett's company. If they ran out of money, the couple would stop their journey. But they now make enough money as a traveling family, working with brands and companies through their social media accounts, to extend their travels.

One expense that had to go? International cellphone plans. Instead, the Gees use their iPhones when they have access to Wi-Fi. The couple say this budget cut has had an unexpected benefit: feeling more balanced and present with the family. “When we were out of the house, we didn't ever use our phones because they didn't work,” said Jessica. “So we would spend the majority of the day disconnected from phones and enjoying our family adventures, conversations, and you know, old-fashioned good stuff.” When they’re on Wi-Fi at a hotel or temporary rental, they stay in touch with friends and family members using Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts.

3. Other countries have decent (and affordable) medical care.

The only recurring bill the Gees have is medical travel insurance in case someone gets sick or injured. They take care of routine doctor and dentist visits when they return to the U.S. at Christmastime, but both children have had emergency room visits for stitches on the road.

4. Kids are remarkably adaptable.

Garrett says their kids have enjoyed trying new foods and exploring new cultures. “One of my favorite things as a parent is to see this effect that traveling has had on our kids,” he said. “I think kids are just going to grow accustomed to their surroundings. If you let them be high maintenance, they’ll be high maintenance.”

Parenting Tips: Toys And Educational Tools For Children Aged 0-5

By Tom Willis via Lifehack

Young children grow up fast. The many stages of development they pass through from birth to early school years requires a lot of keeping up and finding new ways to stimulate their curiosity and satisfy their daily needs. As a parent, this duty is a tough but rewarding task. Your child will benefit greatly from the toys and tools within their immediate environment, which, in addition to your emotional support, will help shape their development. Here is a guide to go by for choosing play items that can have a positive effect on a child’s health and mental progress from 0 – 5 years of age.

Toys for Young Infants (0 – 6 Months)

  • Babies like to follow people with their eyes. Bright colours and faces capture attention at this age. Scientific reports on parenting tell us it is common for them to turn their head towards sound, and put things in their hands and mouth.
  • Good learning and development toys include:
  • Toys to reach for, hold on to, suck on, shake, make noise with: baby rattles, shakers, rubber-edged shapes and soft balls (of a size too big to swallow).
  • Sounds to listen to: books with nursery rhymes and lullabies that will also ease them into a healthy sleeping pattern.
  • Items to look at: crib mobiles or playful interactive mirrors that make sounds when pressed or squeezed.

Toys for Older Infants (7 – 12 Months)

Older babies embrace their new-found mobility and have license to bounce, crawl, pull themselves up, and stand. As they grow, they begin to understand their own names, other common words, and objects. These types of toys are beneficial for strengthening larger muscles and joints in the body.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys to play pretend with: baby dolls, puppets, plastic and wood vehicles, such as choo-choo trains and wagons.
  • Items to drop and remove: plastic bowls, large beads, and bouncy balls.
  • Toys to build with: large soft blocks and wooden cubes as part of a set.

Toys for 1-Year- Olds

At this age, a child can walk steadily and climb stairs. They take in stories and begin to say their first words between the ages of 12-24 months. Around this time they also like to experiment in their close environment.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Board books with simple illustrations.
  • Photographs of real objects.
  • Recordings with songs, rhymes, or simple stories.
  • Items to create with: washable markers, crayons, and paper.

Stimulating a child’s cognitive skills helps them to make sense of their surroundings.

Toys for 2-year- olds (toddlers)

An age for learning language and doing a lot of physical testing such as jumping from heights, climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, and rough-and-tumble play.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys for building: transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture kitchen sets, chairs, play food.
  • Items to create with: large paintbrushes and fingerpaint, chalkboard and large chalk, and musical instruments.
  • Pop-up books and picture books and with characters.

Encouraging a child to think for itself will increase mental agility and intuition.

Toys for 3- to 5-year- olds (preschool)

As a child’s attention span increases they start to talk more and ask questions. They begin to develop relationships with other children around them and can be held accountable for their actions.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys for solving problems: 20+ piece puzzles, blocks that snap together, and small sorting objects.
  • Toys for pretending: dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, and puppet theatres.
  • Items for kicking and throwing/catching.
  • Ride-on equipment including tricycle.

Toys that are collectables, particularly stuffed dolls and animal families, inspire children to take up entertaining and kickstart their imagination to invent scenarios and play environments in which they spend time with their favourite items. Such toys are beneficial for strengthening an emotional bond and bringing out character and personality in a child.

(source: http://bahs.com/login.php?/cp/content_publish/entry_form&channel_id=4) 


From Babies to Small Children: The Importance of Reading Exposure

(By Beth Hedrick, Source: Lifehack)

Children as young as 6 months old greatly benefit from being read to. You may not realize your baby is taking it all in as you talk about the pictures on each page, turn each page as they sit in your lap, and read the text to them, but they undeniably are soaking it all in. This is, in fact, a critical stage in your child’s reading development.

The Emergent Pre-Reading Stage

As the child is within the stage of emergent pre-reading (typically from ages 6 months to 6 years), he will listen intently to all of the multiple sounds you make, the words, descriptions of images, concepts of the book and print, and chatter from you. This is a highly critical stage, and more important than many parents of babies realize. Exposure to books and talking through the books effectively sets the stage for his future literacy. This can help your children develop the love for reading.

This is all that needs to be accomplished in this stage, as up to the ages of 4-5 years old, in many children, studies point to the fact that the teaching of actual reading is too early. Granted, there is a small percentage that may begin reading pre-kindergarten, but this is a very small percentage. Exposure is the key in this stage. With daily exposure to print and language from the parent or caregiver, the end of this time in the child’s life will consist of the child “pretend” reading, which is when a child looks at the pictures within a book and retells the story in his own words. He also may be able to answer questions about the book when read to, ask questions he is curious about, or even point to specific words in a book and know what they are. This is usually done with a book that they have been very much exposed to in repeated readings.

The Beginning Reader Stage

In this stage, patience is very essential. All children learn to read at very different rates. Although each stage is variably consistent within the age levels, it is important to understand that each child is unique and will learn at his own pace. Our society has put a lot of pressure on children learning to read very early, sometimes too early, when in fact, they may not be developmentally ready. You must understand different stages of development.

This stage is an amazing stage. Your child will amaze you with their growing knowledge of literacy. Exposing him to pictures and vocabulary will enrich his ability to connect spoken words to print.  In addition to pictures and vocabulary acquisition, teaching them how to listen for phonemes, or specific sounds in each word, is as significant as learning the alphabet. In addition to familiarizing him with the alphabet letters and sounds, simultaneously focusing on his listening of each distinct phoneme in words will aid him in putting it all together. For example, teaching him that the beginning sound in the word “dog” is not the letter “d”, but the sound that a “d” makes. The individual sound is just as important as identifying the letter.

Typically, children are taught to recognize the first sound they hear within words. The beginning sound is then followed by teaching them to listen for the ending sound of words. The medial vowel, or middle sound, is usually the last sound they really connect to a letter. This is why you see many very beginning writing by 5-year-olds with the beginning letter and ending letter, such as the word “dog” may be “spelled” d-g, leaving out the letter “o”.

Incorporating the meaning of stories as well as basic phonics, or appropriate letters of each word, is equally important in learning to read. In these beginning stages of literacy, building a strong foundation is directly related to successful literacy later on. With a strong foundation from the emergent and beginning stages of reading, the child will move forward in their literacy with the guidance of his parents, caregiver, and school teacher.

(http://www.lifehack.org/496742/from-babies-to-small-children-the-importance-of-reading-exposure)

 

#baby #babynurse #nanny #childhoodeducation #newyorkcity #nyc #nycnannies


The Surprising Link Between Spirituality & Fertility

By Dr Julie Von (source: MindBodyGreen http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-27255/the-surprising-link-between-spirituality-fertility.html)

After working with fertility clients for over a decade, I've learned that fertility depends on much more than age, hormone levels, or ovulation windows. Much of what is happening in conception is beyond our mental understanding and falls into the realm of the spirit. By using the tools of the spiritual, we can promote and nourish our fertility.

Spiritual techniques

There are a few simple spiritual techniques that help to balance the endocrine system and promote fertility. Meditation, visualization, and prayer have long been used for calling in a child's spirit. Some cultures use mantras or create songs and music that sweetly lull a spirit to earth from the heavens. These techniques bypass the rational mind and acknowledge that there are systems at work outside of one individual's experience. When the emphasis and focus is removed from a person's analytic mind, several things happen: The nervous system relaxes, stress hormones decrease, and positive feel-good neurotransmitters start to calm and regulate our minds and bodies.

Manifest and reproduce

Limiting belief systems can affect our capacity to manifest and reproduce. But how do you work with a force that hasn't occurred yet like pregnancy? In the current climate of the world, the keys to the sacred are not so obvious. They are hidden in the imaginative and the unseen, the spiritual, if you will. Its messages require developing a meditative and receptive space, so we can have the silence to hear and interpret.

In a recent conversation I had with a brilliant friend, she mentioned that until the mid-1960s, when you asked a women how many children she wanted to have, her answer would most likely be, "G-d knows." Ask the same question now, and most people have very specific numbers, sex and timing planned far in advance. Much of our modern society and culture is based on rational thought. It's not a bad thing, but sometimes it can limit our capacity to understand factors that are outside of our mental comprehension.

Delve deeper

I ask my clients to explore in mediation the person they feel they will be once they have a child. What will change in their life, relationship, and emotional state? Will they feel more complete? More fulfilled? Happy? We delve into these answers, unconscious and fear-based beliefs. We find a way to clear those thoughts and integrate their future self into their present self. It is literally magic! Once we identify the very thing we are externally looking for, we attract it into our life. And along the way, we create a better understanding of our desire and radiance.

Belief systems

Spiritual and meditative tools can also be defensive and protective of your fertility. The words and belief systems of those around us tend to affect us, especially when those words resonate with our deepest fears. Through mindfulness, we can cultivate an awareness of the people and energy in our lives that feel negative and make us doubt the intuitive knowledge of our body. When a person expresses a strong opinion about her experience within fertility that may be at odds with your current psycho/emotional state, step back, put that opinion in parentheses, and try to understand the context without making it your own.

Do not take it personally! Do not take it as law or fact no matter how much social authority they have. Observe the reaction it may elicit and put that into parentheses, too. Spiritual liberation often begins with liberation from language. This is a valuable skill to take into the terrain of fertility.

Using your toolbox

Sometimes the process of deciding to have a child, suffering from loss or infertility, or just preparing for pregnancy creates a feeling of isolation and confusion. It can be challenging to turn the experience into an empowered and healthy one. Using tools that help nourish and build receptive energy such as restorative yoga, meditation, and creativity connect you to the spiritual or unseen aspects of life.

Strengthening this connection provides guidance and clarity when you are faced with challenges. Every challenge we meet in life has the potential to help break us open and promote evolution. Creating a spiritual path within fertility balances the hormonal system and promotes healthy pregnancy.

----

Babynurses.com #babynurse #newborn #fertility #newborncarespecialist #babynurse #children #newmother


Expecting Mothers Should Opt for Pregnancy Friendly Exercises

(Source: Women Health News http://www.medindia.net/healthnews/Women-Child-Health-News.asp)

Exercise during pregnancy has tremendous benefits for the mother-to-be. Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.

Yuvraj Randhawa, gym trainer and owner of Health Plus gym (H+), gives an insight on smart ways to exercise safely during pregnancy:  ‘Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.’

* Don't lie on your back: Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back, especially crunches after the first trimester. Lying on your back for an extended period could make you feel dizzy as this can decrease blood flow to you and to your baby. 

* Get maternity gear: Comfort and flexibility are must during workouts but the baby bump needs to be accommodated throughout your pregnancy. Look for workout wear that is specifically sized to your times, shoe and measurements. There should be nothing too constrictive, nor anything too loose. Make sure you don't get too warm, as over-heating can pose a threat to the baby. 

* Go for pregnancy friendly exercises: Walking briskly, swimming regularly and parental yoga are all very healthy and easy on baby. Remember that your joints become loose and your center of gravity shifts with pregnancy, so you cannot just scale down your usual routine. Seek out a moderate program that keeps you strong and fit in a relaxed and safe manner. 

* Get more rest than usual: Most expectant mothers need more sitting, napping and relaxing, but if you have got a healthy fitness routine going, you need even more time to recoup. Don't ever keep yourself in overdrive, no matter how much you have got going on or how great your love of working out may be. Keeping yourself fit during this time is a very healthy decision, but it also must be a wise one; listen to your body. 

* Be prepared to modify your routine: You may not be able to keep up that five mile run when you're pregnant, which is totally fine. Hormonal changes during pregnancy make you more flexible and your growing belly can throw off your center of balance, making your standby workouts more difficult. You may need to cut your workouts a bit short (take a 20 minute walk instead) or decrease your speed or resistance.

babynurse.com, #newborncare #babynurse #baby #newborncarespecialist #doula #prenatal #newmother


Common Sense C.P.R.

cpr_baby_2.jpg

British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 
You will learn:

Infant CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive Baby Safety Tips

Each student will have a mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies who have not yet started crawling are welcome. To sign up: https://birthdaypresence.com/shop/infant-cpr-and-safety-ages-0-1-soho-2/

British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.


Infant CPR

cpr_baby_2.jpg

British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 

You will learn:
Infant newborn CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby -infant is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive baby infant Safety Tips

Each student will have a baby infant mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies and infants who have not yet started crawling are welcome.

Baby nurses and newborn care specialists are trained and certified infant and newborn caretakers.  British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK. 

Click here to sign up.

*Use code bahscprmaysingle for $25 off to individuals* 

*Use code bahscprmaycouple for $50 off to couples*


New Services Offered at British American

2016 brings a specialized division of British American Household Staffing specifically related to high quality, trained and professional baby nurses and newborn care specialists.  British American Household Staffing has long wanted to provide for a much needed high quality channel for these services in the USA.  We are launching a website dedicated to these professionals and only a select few baby nurses and newborn care specialists will pass our rigorous interview and vetting processes. Baby nurses and newborn care specialists are trained and certified infant and newborn caretakers.  British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications, which can be rare to find, especially on the East Coast of the USA.  A top quality baby nurse will help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding and bring many other skills to the table.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications and all top quality professional baby nurses and newborn care specialists will be gentle, loving and a supportive presence in the home.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, latching and more.  Please contact enquiries@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.

The start of a new year brings exciting developments for the British American brand. 2016 will see the launch of two specialist services separate from staffing: Talent Management and Art Consultancy, based in NY, LA and London. More information on our Talent Management and Production branch can be found at www.bahs.com/talent and more information on our Art Consultancy branch can be found at www.bahs.com/art.

If you are an agent, producer or casting director email us at: talent@bahs.com.

If you are an artist wishing to submit your information, email us at submissions@bahs.com.  We specialize in British and foreign artists in addition to US residents and citizens. 

To arrange a consultation at British American for art collection or investment advice, please email info@bahs.com.  We specialize in fine and traditional art.  Our expertise and access spans from emerging and mid-career artists to old masters.


Italian Opera and Business

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British American Household Staffing's president, Anita Rogers performed Italian classical arias with Craig Ketter for the Italian Chamber of Commerce and the BAB (British American Business) on April 7th, 2015.  The event was a huge success with an audience of over 150 attendees.  Craig Ketter is a well-known pianist as well as one of the top vocal operatic coaches in the United States, specifically well-known in New York.  He often collaborates with the Metropolitan Opera and works with some of the best-known principal voices of today.  Anita sang Vaga Luna, Che Inargenti by Vincenzo Bellini and Io T’Abbraccio by G.F. Handel from the opera Rodelinda with Heidi Skok.  

Anita Rogers, a mezzo-soprano, had performed and trained classically in England, Italy and Ireland prior to coming to the United States twelve years ago where she has performed opera and lieder extensively, as well as more esoteric repertoire.  Heidi Skok has been singing at the Metropolitan Opera for twelve years and is now pursuing a solo career in opera as a mezzo-soprano.  Heidi has performed throughout the United States and is currently recording an album.  Craig Ketter is a well-known pianist as well as one of the top vocal coaches in the United States.  He often collaborates with the Metropolitan Opera and works with some of the best-known principal voices of today.  

The evening was a celebration of the arts through business, and British American Household Staffing, known for placing the best quality domestic staff in New York and California, is proud to continue the tradition of supporting the New York’s arts world.  The audience and artists enjoyed cocktails, networking, and a live opera recital as they met new contacts in the stylish setting of one of the largest luxury apparel showrooms in New York.


Burnished Heart | An Art Exhibition feat. The Rug Company

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On Tuesday evening, September 23rd, clients, friends, and BAHS employees alike gathered in the loft space at 77 Mercer Street to view artist Bryan Christie's exclusive show, "Burnished Heart." The show was crafted exclusively by Bryan for the event, and jointly sponsored by BAHS and local luxury business The Rug Company. Bryan's selected works comprised some of his finest and most thought provoking pieces, from larger silk on encaustic works to smaller works done on paper.

Potential buyers and art enthusiasts moved in and out of the space from 6:30 PM to late into the night, enjoying fine wines and cheeses sourced from local businesses and stimulating discussion on the nature of Bryan's work. The artist himself was in attendance, giving his unique artistic insight to all those interested parties.

The event was a great success thanks to The Rug Company's great eye for design combined with BAHS's beautiful SoHo loft space. BAHS looks forward to hosting more events of a similar nature in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about our events, please email us at events@bahs.com.


Art Exhibition: Cannon Hersey’s Silk Route

Anita_Artist_Reception.png

British American Household Staffing's first major art exhibition event was a great success, with over 50 potential buyers viewing Cannon Hersey's 22 moving pieces.

Starting at 6 PM, guests started arriving to view the art and mingle with fellow fans of the artist’s work.  Friends, family and British American Household Staffing clients alike gathered to see his new work and hear about the creation process and deeper meaning of all of his culturally provocative work.  7 PM marked the private tour that revealed a cohesive and provoking thought process behind all of his diverse body of work.  Wang Rouying was kind enough to play the piano for the event; at only 13 years old, she performed a complex Rachmaninoff piece. The remainder of the event consisted of some wonderful socialization and discussion about the pieces.

BAHS is planning upcoming events in this category. Details will be published here in the near future.

Please try selecting another category.

Parenting Tips: Toys And Educational Tools For Children Aged 0-5

By Tom Willis via Lifehack

Young children grow up fast. The many stages of development they pass through from birth to early school years requires a lot of keeping up and finding new ways to stimulate their curiosity and satisfy their daily needs. As a parent, this duty is a tough but rewarding task. Your child will benefit greatly from the toys and tools within their immediate environment, which, in addition to your emotional support, will help shape their development. Here is a guide to go by for choosing play items that can have a positive effect on a child’s health and mental progress from 0 – 5 years of age.

Toys for Young Infants (0 – 6 Months)

  • Babies like to follow people with their eyes. Bright colours and faces capture attention at this age. Scientific reports on parenting tell us it is common for them to turn their head towards sound, and put things in their hands and mouth.
  • Good learning and development toys include:
  • Toys to reach for, hold on to, suck on, shake, make noise with: baby rattles, shakers, rubber-edged shapes and soft balls (of a size too big to swallow).
  • Sounds to listen to: books with nursery rhymes and lullabies that will also ease them into a healthy sleeping pattern.
  • Items to look at: crib mobiles or playful interactive mirrors that make sounds when pressed or squeezed.

Toys for Older Infants (7 – 12 Months)

Older babies embrace their new-found mobility and have license to bounce, crawl, pull themselves up, and stand. As they grow, they begin to understand their own names, other common words, and objects. These types of toys are beneficial for strengthening larger muscles and joints in the body.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys to play pretend with: baby dolls, puppets, plastic and wood vehicles, such as choo-choo trains and wagons.
  • Items to drop and remove: plastic bowls, large beads, and bouncy balls.
  • Toys to build with: large soft blocks and wooden cubes as part of a set.

Toys for 1-Year- Olds

At this age, a child can walk steadily and climb stairs. They take in stories and begin to say their first words between the ages of 12-24 months. Around this time they also like to experiment in their close environment.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Board books with simple illustrations.
  • Photographs of real objects.
  • Recordings with songs, rhymes, or simple stories.
  • Items to create with: washable markers, crayons, and paper.

Stimulating a child’s cognitive skills helps them to make sense of their surroundings.

Toys for 2-year- olds (toddlers)

An age for learning language and doing a lot of physical testing such as jumping from heights, climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, and rough-and-tumble play.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys for building: transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture kitchen sets, chairs, play food.
  • Items to create with: large paintbrushes and fingerpaint, chalkboard and large chalk, and musical instruments.
  • Pop-up books and picture books and with characters.

Encouraging a child to think for itself will increase mental agility and intuition.

Toys for 3- to 5-year- olds (preschool)

As a child’s attention span increases they start to talk more and ask questions. They begin to develop relationships with other children around them and can be held accountable for their actions.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys for solving problems: 20+ piece puzzles, blocks that snap together, and small sorting objects.
  • Toys for pretending: dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, and puppet theatres.
  • Items for kicking and throwing/catching.
  • Ride-on equipment including tricycle.

Toys that are collectables, particularly stuffed dolls and animal families, inspire children to take up entertaining and kickstart their imagination to invent scenarios and play environments in which they spend time with their favourite items. Such toys are beneficial for strengthening an emotional bond and bringing out character and personality in a child.

(source: http://bahs.com/login.php?/cp/content_publish/entry_form&channel_id=4) 


From Babies to Small Children: The Importance of Reading Exposure

(By Beth Hedrick, Source: Lifehack)

Children as young as 6 months old greatly benefit from being read to. You may not realize your baby is taking it all in as you talk about the pictures on each page, turn each page as they sit in your lap, and read the text to them, but they undeniably are soaking it all in. This is, in fact, a critical stage in your child’s reading development.

The Emergent Pre-Reading Stage

As the child is within the stage of emergent pre-reading (typically from ages 6 months to 6 years), he will listen intently to all of the multiple sounds you make, the words, descriptions of images, concepts of the book and print, and chatter from you. This is a highly critical stage, and more important than many parents of babies realize. Exposure to books and talking through the books effectively sets the stage for his future literacy. This can help your children develop the love for reading.

This is all that needs to be accomplished in this stage, as up to the ages of 4-5 years old, in many children, studies point to the fact that the teaching of actual reading is too early. Granted, there is a small percentage that may begin reading pre-kindergarten, but this is a very small percentage. Exposure is the key in this stage. With daily exposure to print and language from the parent or caregiver, the end of this time in the child’s life will consist of the child “pretend” reading, which is when a child looks at the pictures within a book and retells the story in his own words. He also may be able to answer questions about the book when read to, ask questions he is curious about, or even point to specific words in a book and know what they are. This is usually done with a book that they have been very much exposed to in repeated readings.

The Beginning Reader Stage

In this stage, patience is very essential. All children learn to read at very different rates. Although each stage is variably consistent within the age levels, it is important to understand that each child is unique and will learn at his own pace. Our society has put a lot of pressure on children learning to read very early, sometimes too early, when in fact, they may not be developmentally ready. You must understand different stages of development.

This stage is an amazing stage. Your child will amaze you with their growing knowledge of literacy. Exposing him to pictures and vocabulary will enrich his ability to connect spoken words to print.  In addition to pictures and vocabulary acquisition, teaching them how to listen for phonemes, or specific sounds in each word, is as significant as learning the alphabet. In addition to familiarizing him with the alphabet letters and sounds, simultaneously focusing on his listening of each distinct phoneme in words will aid him in putting it all together. For example, teaching him that the beginning sound in the word “dog” is not the letter “d”, but the sound that a “d” makes. The individual sound is just as important as identifying the letter.

Typically, children are taught to recognize the first sound they hear within words. The beginning sound is then followed by teaching them to listen for the ending sound of words. The medial vowel, or middle sound, is usually the last sound they really connect to a letter. This is why you see many very beginning writing by 5-year-olds with the beginning letter and ending letter, such as the word “dog” may be “spelled” d-g, leaving out the letter “o”.

Incorporating the meaning of stories as well as basic phonics, or appropriate letters of each word, is equally important in learning to read. In these beginning stages of literacy, building a strong foundation is directly related to successful literacy later on. With a strong foundation from the emergent and beginning stages of reading, the child will move forward in their literacy with the guidance of his parents, caregiver, and school teacher.

(http://www.lifehack.org/496742/from-babies-to-small-children-the-importance-of-reading-exposure)

 

#baby #babynurse #nanny #childhoodeducation #newyorkcity #nyc #nycnannies


The Surprising Link Between Spirituality & Fertility

By Dr Julie Von (source: MindBodyGreen http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-27255/the-surprising-link-between-spirituality-fertility.html)

After working with fertility clients for over a decade, I've learned that fertility depends on much more than age, hormone levels, or ovulation windows. Much of what is happening in conception is beyond our mental understanding and falls into the realm of the spirit. By using the tools of the spiritual, we can promote and nourish our fertility.

Spiritual techniques

There are a few simple spiritual techniques that help to balance the endocrine system and promote fertility. Meditation, visualization, and prayer have long been used for calling in a child's spirit. Some cultures use mantras or create songs and music that sweetly lull a spirit to earth from the heavens. These techniques bypass the rational mind and acknowledge that there are systems at work outside of one individual's experience. When the emphasis and focus is removed from a person's analytic mind, several things happen: The nervous system relaxes, stress hormones decrease, and positive feel-good neurotransmitters start to calm and regulate our minds and bodies.

Manifest and reproduce

Limiting belief systems can affect our capacity to manifest and reproduce. But how do you work with a force that hasn't occurred yet like pregnancy? In the current climate of the world, the keys to the sacred are not so obvious. They are hidden in the imaginative and the unseen, the spiritual, if you will. Its messages require developing a meditative and receptive space, so we can have the silence to hear and interpret.

In a recent conversation I had with a brilliant friend, she mentioned that until the mid-1960s, when you asked a women how many children she wanted to have, her answer would most likely be, "G-d knows." Ask the same question now, and most people have very specific numbers, sex and timing planned far in advance. Much of our modern society and culture is based on rational thought. It's not a bad thing, but sometimes it can limit our capacity to understand factors that are outside of our mental comprehension.

Delve deeper

I ask my clients to explore in mediation the person they feel they will be once they have a child. What will change in their life, relationship, and emotional state? Will they feel more complete? More fulfilled? Happy? We delve into these answers, unconscious and fear-based beliefs. We find a way to clear those thoughts and integrate their future self into their present self. It is literally magic! Once we identify the very thing we are externally looking for, we attract it into our life. And along the way, we create a better understanding of our desire and radiance.

Belief systems

Spiritual and meditative tools can also be defensive and protective of your fertility. The words and belief systems of those around us tend to affect us, especially when those words resonate with our deepest fears. Through mindfulness, we can cultivate an awareness of the people and energy in our lives that feel negative and make us doubt the intuitive knowledge of our body. When a person expresses a strong opinion about her experience within fertility that may be at odds with your current psycho/emotional state, step back, put that opinion in parentheses, and try to understand the context without making it your own.

Do not take it personally! Do not take it as law or fact no matter how much social authority they have. Observe the reaction it may elicit and put that into parentheses, too. Spiritual liberation often begins with liberation from language. This is a valuable skill to take into the terrain of fertility.

Using your toolbox

Sometimes the process of deciding to have a child, suffering from loss or infertility, or just preparing for pregnancy creates a feeling of isolation and confusion. It can be challenging to turn the experience into an empowered and healthy one. Using tools that help nourish and build receptive energy such as restorative yoga, meditation, and creativity connect you to the spiritual or unseen aspects of life.

Strengthening this connection provides guidance and clarity when you are faced with challenges. Every challenge we meet in life has the potential to help break us open and promote evolution. Creating a spiritual path within fertility balances the hormonal system and promotes healthy pregnancy.

----

Babynurses.com #babynurse #newborn #fertility #newborncarespecialist #babynurse #children #newmother


Expecting Mothers Should Opt for Pregnancy Friendly Exercises

(Source: Women Health News http://www.medindia.net/healthnews/Women-Child-Health-News.asp)

Exercise during pregnancy has tremendous benefits for the mother-to-be. Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.

Yuvraj Randhawa, gym trainer and owner of Health Plus gym (H+), gives an insight on smart ways to exercise safely during pregnancy:  ‘Expecting mothers should go for pregnancy friendly exercises and should get comfortable maternity gear for working out, suggests an expert.’

* Don't lie on your back: Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back, especially crunches after the first trimester. Lying on your back for an extended period could make you feel dizzy as this can decrease blood flow to you and to your baby. 

* Get maternity gear: Comfort and flexibility are must during workouts but the baby bump needs to be accommodated throughout your pregnancy. Look for workout wear that is specifically sized to your times, shoe and measurements. There should be nothing too constrictive, nor anything too loose. Make sure you don't get too warm, as over-heating can pose a threat to the baby. 

* Go for pregnancy friendly exercises: Walking briskly, swimming regularly and parental yoga are all very healthy and easy on baby. Remember that your joints become loose and your center of gravity shifts with pregnancy, so you cannot just scale down your usual routine. Seek out a moderate program that keeps you strong and fit in a relaxed and safe manner. 

* Get more rest than usual: Most expectant mothers need more sitting, napping and relaxing, but if you have got a healthy fitness routine going, you need even more time to recoup. Don't ever keep yourself in overdrive, no matter how much you have got going on or how great your love of working out may be. Keeping yourself fit during this time is a very healthy decision, but it also must be a wise one; listen to your body. 

* Be prepared to modify your routine: You may not be able to keep up that five mile run when you're pregnant, which is totally fine. Hormonal changes during pregnancy make you more flexible and your growing belly can throw off your center of balance, making your standby workouts more difficult. You may need to cut your workouts a bit short (take a 20 minute walk instead) or decrease your speed or resistance.

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You Can Be a Mother and Still Be a Successful Artist

Thanks to Marina Cashdan at Artsy for this piece. 

“There’s an old-fashioned myth that having a baby is going to make it impossible to work,” says painter Nikki Maloof. “I had just started gaining a lot of momentum in my career when I found out I was pregnant, so it was scary.” Maloof’s fear could apply to any number of career-oriented women across numerous industries. A little over a year ago, I became a mother. It was an unknown that, while mostly exciting, was also terrifying. As a career-focused individual with a job that I love, I feared losing a sense of self and motherhood setting me back from all the hard work I had done—especially considering that men still make up more than 85 percent of top leadership roles in the United States.

But then my son came and that worry dissolved, because motherhood did not change my identity or curtail my ambition—it only reinforced it. While it did, of course, create logistical obstacles to navigate, it also made me more efficient with my time, and more motivated. I wasn’t just working hard for myself anymore, but now for my son, too. By and large, other art-world mothers I spoke with over the past year, and many artists I interviewed for this story, feel that parenting becomes one more life challenge to grapple with, but a choice that ultimately has enriched their lives and careers, more than hindering them.

So why, then, would this myth—that having children ruins a female artist’s career—still linger? Marina Abramović recently made headlines by telling German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel: “In my opinion [having children is] the reason why women aren’t as successful as men in the art world. There are plenty of talented women. Why do men take over the important positions? It’s simple. Love, family, children—a woman doesn’t want to sacrifice all of that.” Her sentiments sparked anger and heated debate. (Lest not we forget, other women artists have spouted similar sentiments, including Tracey Emin).

“It’s a very Donald Trump-ish kind of statement,” says Laurie Simmons, who has two daughters, Lena and Grace, ages 30 and 24. “That a woman without children would be making judgments about women with children is really inappropriate. This idea that there is this very precious thing, artistically speaking, inside a woman that will be broken by having a child is so archaic, primitive, prehistoric. I’ve never heard a male artist discuss whether or not he should have children.”

What defines success in the art world isn’t black-and-white, points out Tara Donovan, who has six-year-old twin boys. “While I understand the pressures of the art world all too well, the notion that women must sacrifice the pleasures of motherhood for the sake of a ‘career’ reflects insidious double standards from a bygone era. I think Abramović has chosen to operate in an art world that reflects the values of this bygone era, where masculinist hierarchies determine what constitutes ‘value’ and ‘success.’ This is the same art world that privileges male artists at auction with exponentially higher prices than women.”

Kara Walker also opted for both motherhood and an ambitious career as an artist. “Having children isn’t for everyone, but offering up old school sexism isn’t useful to anyone,” she says, pointing out that she had her daughter Octavia, now 18, in the same year that she received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. “My daughter is now in college and someone there is teaching about my work. What can I say, I wanted a child and a career and I didn’t feel one took energy from the other.”

Most would consider Simmons, Donovan, and Walker successful artists: All are represented by important galleries (Salon 94, Pace, and Victoria Miro/Sikkema Jenkins & Co., respectively); all three have had exhibitions at major museums; and they all make a good living on their art alone. In fact, many of the world’s highest-grossing women artists are mothers, including Julie Mehretu, Marlene Dumas, Cecily Brown, and Chen Peiqiu. And the list of successful artists who are mothers continues, including Sarah Sze, Teresita Fernández, Wangechi Mutu, Phyllida Barlow, Cornelia Parker, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and many more.

According to Abramović, would these women have been more successful had they abandoned family life and focused only on their careers? Or does this thinking hold women back and perpetuate another fantastical myth of the artist as loner, one who suffers for creativity? And yet while male artists can uphold this illusion of the creative loner while also being partners and parents—Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei, John Currin, Olafur Eliasson, Chris Ofili, Alex Katz, and many more are fathers—female artists are expected to forgo children in order to meet the same standard. “I’ve spent my life rebelling against these identities that people foisted on me,” says Simmons. “And then when I understood that the art world includes gatekeepers—guys who didn’t think it was appropriate for women artists to have babies—I thought, ‘Fuck you! Not going to happen.’” 

In a recent interview about her work, Diana Al-Hadid, who gave birth to a son less than a year ago, was asked whether becoming a mother had changed her work. “I said, ‘No, my work hasn’t changed, and you wouldn’t ask a man that question,’” she says. “No one presumes it’s going to change [a man’s] work—their work is their work and their private life is their private life.” The double standard has certainly been salient over the course of art history, but the question of how much progress has been made today is debatable.

“There is a bias but I wasn’t too hung up on it,” says Al-Hadid. “It might just be the fact that I know that other moms ahead of me in the art world have done it, and I know that women around the world do it under much more difficult circumstances than I have. But I figure, ‘Screw ’em.’ You have to break that bias somehow and you do that by setting an example.” Al-Hadid points out that not only did her dealer (Marianne Boesky) have a child, but that many friends around her and artists before her had children with no negative impact on their careers. Maloof also felt supported by her dealer (Jack Hanley) and her peers, and believes the taboo has dissipated. “I don’t feel like anyone would discriminate against a woman who is having a baby.”

But artist Lenka Clayton disagrees. “In my experience,” she says, “it’s still a choice that people feel they have to make, the choice of: Can you continue to be taken seriously as an artist and be a mother? That’s not a foregone conclusion in any way.” Moving to the U.S. from the U.K. with her partner in 2009, Clayton found herself feeling not only unsupported by the U.S. system (a topic explored in many recent debates on health benefits, parental leave, and childcare), but also isolated as the primary caregiver after her first child was born. “Being exhausted, having no time, no space—there are shared experiences when you’re a new parent—and so I was really trying to find a way to help myself feel differently about it,” says Clayton.

In 2012, the artist created her work An Artist Residency in Motherhood in response to the experience of motherhood. “I went back to things that helped with my practice,” she says, “such as being an artist in residence where there’s a specific period of time and you work with a new material—everything feels so new and unusual.” Clayton undertook the project for three years, through the birth of her second child. Last spring, she opened up the residency as a public project with a dedicated website where artists can download a “residency kit,” complete with an official letter of invitation, amendable manifesto, and planning tools to help artists structure their residency. “It came out of this feeling of trying to do two things at the same time that didn’t feel like they could fit,” she says. “It’s come to completion for me, now that it’s something that anyone can take part in.”

Both Simmons and Clayton point out that biases still prevail in some quarters of the art world, propagated by antiquated statements like that of Abramović. “Recently two young women came to me who had great trepidations and lots of fears,” recalls Simmons, “and both of them had heard very critical things from their art dealers about having children and how it would impact their careers. They were criticized by the very people who represented them and are responsible for selling their work.”

What is arguably the most positive change to have taken place over the last 30 years is the increase in role models for female artists working today. “At a certain point, I felt like I had a responsibility to answer questions because I didn’t want younger women artists to be frightened,” says Simmons, whose prosperous career and two very talented daughters qualify her as an excellent role model. “I thought if I spoke out about it, it could make someone who was on the fence not seem so frightened about how their life or their work would change.” Other than Elizabeth Murray, Simmons didn’t have many artists to look to who were openly embracing motherhood when she herself was considering it. And building a strong support structure is, of course, key to all new parents, including artists—a partner who shoulders 50 percent of the parenting, a dealer who is supportive of his or her artist’s choice to raise children, and a studio setup that is flexible enough for the initial disruption of a new baby and the transition into a new schedule.

No one can pretend that having a child is easy; it is not. It can require a major shift in lifestyle, as well as being financially demanding, especially in the U.S., where there is no government-supported universal childcare system. This is especially challenging for artists. “I know that it’s hard for artist friends who don’t have a child to live in New York, so one can imagine with kids, it’s even more difficult,” says Maloof, who considers herself in a fortunate position, living in New York and receiving health-care benefits through her partner’s employment. “There’s never a great time but you make it work. That’s been my mentality.”

Al-Hadid has not slowed down her busy show season with the arrival of her son. “You adapt, and babies adapt,” she says; her son has been on over a dozen flights since his birth. “I’m still very focused on my career and work—it’s just about a different relationship to your work. And that changes whether you have a child or not. That might change depending on your financial situation, that might change depending on where you’re living at the moment, that might change if you have a death in the family. Your relationship to your work is amorphous.”

Simmons and her husband, the painter Carroll Dunham, shared the responsibility of taking care of their children—a pioneering attitude at the time, Simmons reminds me. She remembers that Dunham would bring their daughter Lena to the studio and wear her in a sling while he was painting. “We entered into a very equal partnership,” she says. “I don’t think it’s an accident that I found the appropriate partner—someone who I knew was going to support me as an artist and do anything to make sure I remained an artist.”

At an art fair, just after I returned to work from maternity leave, I noticed a dealer with his new baby strapped to him while he was dealing art in his booth, a curator and museum director couple pushing their infant through the fair, and young children perusing the aisles with their collector parents. The scene felt natural and accepted in this greater art-world setting. “I feel like when I go to a museum dinner and I’m seated next to a titan of industry and the next thing I know he’s pulling out his phone to show me pictures of his grandchildren, something is changing,” says Simmons. “But while there’s a softening, I still feel there’s a prejudice against women artists with children.”

My first year as a mother has been one of continuous transition—not to mention limited sleep, little personal time, and the anxieties that come with the responsibility of being a new parent. But the indescribable intensity of love and experience watching a human being grow exponentially in such a short period of time has impacted me, and my work, in a profoundly positive way. Every artist I spoke with for this story felt similarly—that having children benefited their work rather than detracted from it. “My children are a source of love and satisfaction that I consider to be one of the only true markers of ‘success,’” says Donovan. “I guess I have chosen to privilege my personal agenda over any agendas dictated by others, which I believe is a choice all successful people need to make.”

All women have the right to choose to have children, or to choose not to have children. And like their male counterparts, women artists who choose to have children need not feel they have to sacrifice their careers to do so.


A Love Letter To Nannies: Thank You For Loving Our Kids

Thanks to Sarah Tucker at Mom.me for this poignant piece on the impact that nannies can have on the families they work with. As the kids get ready to go back to school, there is no better time to enlist the help of an experienced and professional nanny. British American will help find the perfect fit for your family.

 

"We don't have to hire someone tomorrow," said my husband, gesturing at the local parents website with posts for available nannies on his computer, "But we do have to start looking."

I hugged our three-month-old daughter a little bit more tightly as I nodded at him, miserably. I was in one of the emotional black holes of new motherhood, which I'm pretty sure never ends: guilt vs. exhaustion. A huge part of me ached at the idea of being separated from our baby and leaving her with someone who wasn't a family member—so basically a total stranger! And yet, another small but undeniable part was yearning to return to my work as a writer, if only for a few days a week.

The idea of another person caring for my child, comforting her when she cried, learning her rhythms, being there to witness the new personality and skills she was acquiring every day, while I was absent and missing out, sent a knife-like guilt and pain shooting through my chest. But I knew I had to find a way to recharge my own batteries, to reconnect with my career path, and to bring in the extra income that was important to my family.

I knew my position was exceptionally privileged. The lack of legal and social support for parents in the US, including maternity/paternity leave policies, means that millions of women are forced to return to full-time work to support their families, often only a few weeks after giving birth.

Many others enjoy going back to fulfilling work and relish the socializing benefits that daycare and other childcare options provide for their babies. But I was looking for some kind of middle ground. While I was deeply grateful to have been able to spend the first few months of my daughter's life with her and wanted to continue as her primary caregiver, being a stay-at-home-mom full-time was not an option for me both financially and personally. And unfortunately, my husband and I didn't have a single family member within 2,500 miles who might have been able to help out.

Still, I stalled and hesitated for as long as possible. I was filled with fears about two equally awful fantasy scenarios. 1) That my daughter would hate the nanny, and I would never feel comfortable leaving them alone. Not helpful. 2) That my daughter would love the nanny and end up essentially preferring her to me. Not cool at all!

Nannies also seemed slightly mysterious to me. The playground across the street from our house was filled with nannies, skillfully caring for one, two, even three children at a time. They all seemed to know each other, and they settled in packs at the sand box or by the swings, gathering on blankets for group snack picnics.

In the beginning, I had made a few overtures, saying hello when I arrived with my stroller, attempting to chat with whoever was watching the toddlers who came over to investigate my daughter. But I was generally met with a wall of silence. It was like they were some kind of nanny mafia, and I was invading their territory. Or maybe that nannies and parents were on opposing teams, and I was sitting in the wrong section. I hadn't felt so excluded since a rough month in the sixth grade.

When finally, I couldn't avoid the issue any longer, we started interviewing. There was the nanny who wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding, and insisted that she couldn't care for a baby without being able to use a bottle. We parted ways. There was the one who was in school full-time and could only offer us a few hours a week in between classes. There were highly experienced nannies whose rates were beyond our means, and nannies without much experience who made me a little nervous. And then there was Jacinta. And from the moment she walked in and picked up my daughter, I was pretty sure we were going to be okay.

A mom friend who was searching for a nanny recently asked me what makes Jacinta so amazing, and I tried very hard to come up with a concrete list of reasons:

She is responsible, reliable, and incredibly smart—a natural problem solver.

She is deeply loving and sweet with our daughter without ever making us feel replaced or superfluous as parents.

She is very knowledgeable about babies, having worked with many families over a decade of nannying. (This means that when I completely freak out about something my daughter is doing, she is calm and has seen it all before.)

However, she believes every baby is different and really took the time to get to know our daughter's personality and our parenting style without imposing any ideas.

And then I ran out of reasons, because the rest is just a gut feeling. I trust Jacinta absolutely. She's an ally, a friend, a support, a parenting partner. Living so far away from my husband's family and my own, she has become a part of our little family. We are so grateful to have her in our lives.

With Jacinta's stamp of approval, the nanny mafia has gradually come to accept my presence. A few of them even smile and say hello when I show up at the playground, although they refuse to say my name and always refer to me as "Isabel's Mom." When I asked Jacinta about this, she tried to explain.

"They're afraid," she said. "They think you might report them for doing something wrong." I was stunned.

"Report them?! I don't even know any of those families. And it's none of my business. And they all seem so good at this. I have no idea how they handle all those kids."

Jacinta smiled. "That's what I told them. Don't worry, they'll come around."

"Do you talk to other parents in the playground?" I asked.

"Of course," she said. "I talk to everyone. How else can I make sure that person should really be there?"

Last month, one of the little girls from the playground moved with her family to another state. Her nanny Elena was one of the friendlier ones, who always talked to my daughter and invited her to play with them. A week later, I noticed Elena sitting on a bench, surrounded by her friends. She was in tears. I timidly approached the group and asked if she was okay.

"I miss Nora so much," Elena choked out. "I've been with her since she was a week old. I can't believe I won't see her anymore." She sobbed with grief.

"This is what it's like," another nanny said with sympathy. "We love them. And then they go."

All I can say is thank you to all the loving, dedicated nannies out there. Thank you for giving our kids so much of yourselves, knowing that someday, sooner or later, they won't need you anymore, and they will go. Thank you for being friends and heroes to so many moms who feel lost, confused and alone. Thank you.


Why Prenatal Yoga is Amazing for You and Your Baby

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Many thanks go out to Carriage House Birth and Neelu Shruti, a prenatal/ postnatal yoga teacher, birth doula and breastfeeding counselor based in New York City, for this introduction to the many benefits of prenatal yoga.

The benefits of yoga are far-reaching. In an hour of downward facing dogs, sun salutations, and other poses, we can find ways to build strength and flexibility while releasing stress and becoming more mindful. While we can all find benefits in the practice of yoga, there are exceptional benefits to the practice for pregnant women. The prenatal yoga sequence is modified to be safe, and designed to help a woman in all stages of her pregnancy, give her tools to aid in labor and delivery, and continue to be valuable to her after the birth of her child and throughout her recovery.

The benefits of prenatal yoga are too numerous to list, but to name a few, you’ll:

Get a good workout: Exercise is great for you and your baby! Whether you’re a regular runner, spin cyclist, or yogi, keeping up your active lifestyle can be more challenging when you’re pregnant. For starters, your tendons and ligaments become a lot more flexible during pregnancy due to the influx of relaxin in your body, and you’ll want to build muscular strength to prevent injuries. Prenatal yoga offers all of the benefits of maintaining your exercise routine (including helping to reduce stress, control weight, improve health and well-being, maintain a positive mood, boost energy, and get better sleep) while being safe for you and your baby. And if you’re not an exercise junkie, or have let your routine slip a little, now is a great time to start because the healthier you are and the better shape you’re in, the better it is for your baby! There’s even evidence, according to recent studies (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/mothers-exercise-may-boost-babys-brain/), that exercising regularly when you’re pregnant can boost your baby’s brain function and make your baby smarter!

Strengthen your abdominal pushing muscles and learn to relax your pelvic floor: Another incredible benefit to prenatal yoga is that incorporated into the sequence are targeted exercises to help strengthen, and improve flexibility in key muscle groups. Doing crunches and plank is neither very comfortable, nor recommended when you’re pregnant, and prenatal yoga offers an excellent alternatives to tone your transverse abs (your deep corset pushing muscles) in a safe manner. Additionally, prenatal yoga targets the key muscle group known as the pelvic floor. The importance of both strength and flexibility in the muscles of the pelvic floor cannot be overstated. The pelvic floor muscles are hammock shaped muscles in the bowl of your pelvis. It is essential that they are strong enough to allow the baby’s head to rotate when descending to push out (like through a turtle neck sweater), and to prevent pelvic organ prolapse, but also that they are flexible enough to open and release to allow the baby through. Labor involves the unique combination of flexing and pushing with your abs while RELAXING your pelvis which can be tricky, and prenatal yoga incorporates ab work, Kegels, and breathing exercises, all of which can help accomplish this challenging balance during delivery. Not only are you learning how to target those areas, you’re learning how to synchronize them, while building strength and flexibility where you’ll need them most.

Learn to deal with discomfort: The therapeutic benefits of yoga are far-reaching. Prenatal yoga can help address common issues such a lumbar lordosis (lower back pain), sacro-iliac pain, sciatica and piriformis pain. The poses can also create space in the torso for better breathing, and include movements that can help to alleviate carpel tunnel syndrome and charley horses, as well as demonstrate positions for better sleep. By working through discomfort with breathing techniques and a focus on mindfulness, you are able to alleviate discomfort, and the practice of challenging yourself and building muscle strength builds your tolerance to pain. In prenatal yoga, the poses are designed to challenge, but not strain your body. Learning to breathe and maintain calm in an intense stretch teaches your body how to react to and manage a stress, so you’ll be better-equipped to handle stressful situations during your pregnancy, and of course, more prepared for labor.

Get your baby in the optimal position: Compared to the benefits of other forms of exercise, the really exceptional benefit of prenatal yoga, is that poses like down dog, cat/cow, and puppy pose gently guide your baby’s head down. That’s right, the more down dogs you do, the more you’re encouraging your baby’s head down toward optimal fetal position. Prenatal yoga counteracts the long periods of hanging out on your couch—which have the exact opposite effect and can encourage breech or posterior (sunny-side-up babies) and result in longer births times and sometimes lead to medical interventions—and helps have you and your baby exactly where you need to be when the time comes.

Learn to breathe: Often, we don’t pay attention to our breath which tends to be shallow as we go about our day-to-day activities. In yoga, we begin to pay attention to our breath, and to teach ourselves to focus on maintaining deep, full breathing. The benefit of the yogic breath is that we become aware of our diaphragm’s movements and begin to use our lungs to a greater extent, engaging their full capacity and allowing a larger intake of oxygen. This focused method of deep breathing calms our mind and allows us to relax and use our muscles more efficiently.

Bond with your baby: Recent studies have shown that the practice of mindfulness allows a mom to recognize, appreciate, and connect with her baby. Embracing a few minutes of quiet time where the distractions of the day fade away allows a mom to focus all of her attention inward and on the baby, and can help her to zoom out, see the big picture, and be less bogged down by the day-to-day frustrations. It also allows her to notice changes in the growing baby and in her own body. The practice of mindfulness builds bond and can even reduce post-partum depression.

Build confidence in your body: When dealing with a growing belly, hormonal changes, back pain, swollen feet, and constantly having to pee, it’s easy to get frustrated with the constant physical changes in your body. It’s important to remember that your body (even with all the discomfort you feel) is strong, healthy, and capable. Practicing yoga—whether it’s finishing your regular sequence, or doing a particularly challenging pose when you’re pregnant—can give you great feeling of accomplishment, and build your confidence and trust in your body and its innate ability to labor and give birth.

Be part of a community: The first few minutes of a prenatal class usually consist of introductions where you’ll be able to discuss issues, discomforts, and concerns with other expecting moms. As the conversation goes around the room, you’ll hear how other moms are dealing with the same issues that you’re facing. This creates a space for sharing and learning from each other, and also allows the instructor to customize each class to fit your needs. Most of all, you’ll meet other moms who are experiencing the same challenging, wonderful changes as you, while pursuing a practice that helps ensure the safest, healthiest, and most joyful outcome for you and your baby.

For more information on prenatal yoga classes, our friends at Love Child Yoga offer classes and workshops for new & expecting mothers.


Family Living Aboard

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Thanks to Brooke Morton at Yachting Magazine for this piece on the art of rearing kids on the water. 

 

Brittany and Scott Meyer were docked at Grenada when they learned she was pregnant. The pair, 36 and 38, had met while racing sailboats across Lake Michigan, so they didn’t blink at the prospect of raising a family aboard their Brewer 44 Asante. They became parents first with Isla, now almost 4, and later with twins Haven and Mira, now 2. With their handmade halyard swing and the unending sandbox that is the British Virgin Islands, the couple sees their decision to bring up all three babies aboard as the ultimate adventurous-life head start.

When did you decide to pull anchor from mainstream life? We knew before we married. Instead of registering for china and Egyptian cotton, we registered for winches and a windlass.

How did your cruising plans change after you had children? Long-distance sailing with three young children is not something we’re interested in. With Isla, we did a five-day sail from Florida to the Bahamas, and that was absolutely doable. But with three kids under 5, rough passages and overnights are really challenging.

Did you undertake any refits to accommodate the kids? We didn’t make permanent changes, but we added a few things, starting with netting around the boat’s perimeter. In the V-berth, we have a giant net made out of Phifertex mesh, the same material patio furniture is made of. The material is waterproof but breathable, and the net makes that space more contained than a crib. We’ve had 6-foot seas bashing into us and the babies sleeping soundly in there.

What’s the response been to your parenting choice? Some people think it’s amazing. Some say it’s selfish.

Selfish? Oh gosh, yes. Because of Brittany’s blog, Windtraveler, we get a ton of email. One lady asked how dare we glamorize boating with children and said we should add a safety disclaimer. She also criticized us for placing the kids on tethers. And Brittany wondered, Don’t most moms use car seats? Some people think we are at sea endlessly, and that is not the case. We spend a great deal of time at the dock at Tortola’s Nanny Cay marina.

What is a typical day like? Most days, the wind is blowing 20 knots. During the evenings, we come back from the beach, hose the kids off and eat dinner. Whatever the girls don’t finish on their plate, they throw overboard to the remoras — they’re squealing as they toss mac and cheese to fish that are going nuts. Then the sun starts to set and the kids wave goodbye. That’s one of the beautiful parts of life on a boat: You rarely miss a sunset. We always say to the sun, “Thanks for another great day.”

Baby Boating Gear: The Fisher-Price Booster Seat is great for keeping little ones restrained while we’re setting anchor. The West Marine infant harness and tether keep us from worrying about a baby going overboard. And Brittany is a big fan of baby wearing. The Ergo Performance baby carrier makes it easy to tote two — one on her front and one on her back — to the dinghy, dock and beyond.

Must-Have Toys: Everything has to pull double duty, like the girls’ wagon also carries boat stuff. As for toys, it’s all about size. Most need to be really compact. Legos are good. We love Magna-Tiles, a magnetic building set that stows flat. And books are crucial. We always make room for more books.


Packing Kids For A Trip: Tips & Tricks

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Special thanks to Eva Amurri Martino at Happily Eva After for this perfect piece that will help you be more than prepared for your last family trip before fall hits.

Last week, while packing Marlowe for our annual family getaway to Maine, I was reflecting upon all the lessons I’ve learned in the last year from packing and unpacking our daughter countless times.  We really do “get up and go” A LOT as a family– having a Daddy who’s gone half the week will do that to you! I’ve noticed that as long as you take your packing mistakes in stride and learn from them, you really can cut down on your stress level and pack the perfect suitcase for your little one fairly easily.  And, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: being prepared in advance makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying an experience.  You want a vacation to really feel like one! Today I’m sharing my Tips & Tricks for packing your child’s suitcase– and divulging some of my worst experiences!

I’ve outlined my personal packing list below.  This is what I pack Marlowe for a week long Summer trip! Read through for my favorite items,  my organization tips, little anecdotes, and a easy shopping widget to pick up some of our family faves:

CLOTHING
For a week, I pack Marlowe 9 outfits, 4 sets of Pajamas, and 3 Bathing Suits. This is considering the fact that we will have access to a laundry machine.  The times that we do not have access to a laundry machine, I pack two outfits per day that we are gone, plus 1 basic Tshirt and 1 basic pair of leggings that can pair with anything, in addition to the pajamas and bathing suits.

MAMA TIP:  Fold each outfit, and roll it up together.  Tie with a piece of ribbon, and clip any matching hair accessories on to the cloth.  This will enable you to pack them more easily, and find a clean outfit without rummaging through your child’s suitcase.

OUTERWEAR
In the Summer months, I pack Marlowe 1 light jacket and 1 cardigan.  Usually I bring her cardigan on the plane with us in case the air conditioning is too chilly.

SHOES
Normally, I pack Marlowe 4 pairs of shoes total: 1 pair of comfy sneakers, 1 pair of cute sandals, 1 pair of Mary Janes, and 1 Water Shoe for the beach or lake.  I usually have her travel in the bulkiest pair of shoes (sneakers) for the plane flights.

DIAPERING & BATHING
I pack 1 package of diapers, 1 package of swim diapers, and 1 package of wipes.  I purchase anything additional that I need while on the road.  I pack a toiletries bag just for Marlowe that has diaper ointment, a soap/shampoo, a body lotion, her hairbrush, her toothbrush + toothpaste, hair ties, and a bottle of children’s sunblock

LOVEYS
I always, always, always pack at least 3 Loveys.  One with us on the plane (this becomes the “street Lovey” and is the one that gets dragged around during the day, and at least two additional.  One for night time that remains in her travel crib (and stays clean), and one backup. I learned this the hard way…

NIGHTMARE TALE: Not too long ago, Marlowe got a violent stomach bug while on a trip to visit her grandparents in South Carolina.  She puked all over both of her Loveys within half an hour, and was absolutely inconsolable and miserable while the Loveys went through the washer and dryer for the next 90 minutes.  It took years off of my life.  Now I always pack at least three in case of emergency!

TOYS
When we travel, I always pack 5-7 Toys and 5 books.  The toys include a stuffed animal, a doll, a car or truck, and several plastic animal figurines.  I like these types of toys because they inspire creative play and can be used in different games for hours on end.  I can’t even tell you how many times Marlowe and I have built forts and homes in Hotel Rooms for her animal friends!

MAMA TIP:  Try to select toys and books that your child hasn’t played with or seen in a while.  It’s amazing how absence really does make the heart grow fonder when it comes to toys!

FIRST AID
I’ve learned to pack a little first aid kit when we travel with Marlowe.   You really never know when something will come up and you won’t have access to a medicine or product you need to help your child be more comfortable! Why do the worst fevers and illnesses always strike at night?! I put the kit in a ziploc bag so I can see all of the items well and access them easily.  Here’s what I keep in our Travel First Aid Kit: The NoseFrida, Infant Tylenol, Infant Benadryl, Homeopathic Cold Remedy, Saline Drops, Band aids, Neosporin, Lavender Essential Oil, On Guard Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential oil, Thermometer.

NIGHTMARE TALE: When Marlowe was only a year and a half, we were traveling with Kyle on the road in the middle of winter, and she came down with croup.  Not only did we not know any doctors in the town, but it was the middle of the night and we were staying at a hotel in a snowstorm.  We ended up having to take an Uber at midnight to a 24 hour CVS very far away to find medicine to make her more comfortable until the morning when we were able to get to urgent care.  Now I travel with the essentials!

ZIPLOCK BAGS
I always pack 3 or 4 gallon sized Ziplock bags when we travel.  You never know what they’ll come in handy for, and are great for wet or dirty clothes that you need to bring home.  Kids always love taking that extra dip in the Hotel pool right before you pack up to leave…

BED TIME GEAR
The bed time routine is definitely the most important in our house.  It’s what keeps Lowie sleeping well, keeps her parents sane, and keeps our trips and vacations feeling “vacation-y”.  I ALWAYS make sure we have everything we need to recreate her normal nighttime experience while on the road.  Do it or suffer the consequences! Ha! For Marlowe’s bed time routine, I pack:

1 Travel Crib (she isn’t allowed to sleep in bed with us ever), 1 Sound Machine, 2 Sleep Sacks (one backup), 1 Mermaid Doll, 1 Baby Monitor, 1 Bottle. We use the baby monitor if we are at a house or someplace where her sleeping area is out of earshot.  It makes me able to relax more knowing I can hear her if she needs me, even if I’m in a different part of the house. We bring the bottle because Marlowe still has warm milk in a bottle at night before bed.  I’m planning on transitioning out of this when she turns two…which should be interesting… (YIKES)

NIGHTMARE TALE: We were traveling six or seven months ago, and I forgot to pack a bottle.  Cut to 9pm, my kid is still not asleep and freaking out because she didn’t have her bottle before bed.  The next day I set out to try to find a bottle but the only ones available had the infant flow nipples and frustrated her even more.  All in all a really terrible few nights of sleep for all of us! Yahtzee!

STOW ESSENTIALS IN A CARRY-ON
I have also learned this the hard way when our suitcase has gotten lost with all of my child’s perfectly packed and organized belongings.  Many thanks to Target for saving the day that day (about a thousand dollars later…) Now I bring a carry-on on the plane with us that has 24 hours worth of essentials.
1 swimsuit
1 change of clothes
1 set of pajamas
1 sleepsack
1 lovey
cribsheet
1 bottle
6 extra diapers

Of course I always remember to pack my adorable toddler as well.  She’s a little bulky and rambunctious, but she really does make our trips that much more enjoyable…most of the time.


8 Reasons You Need a Housekeeper

Thanks to Ilene Jacobs at Care.com for this piece:

If you've ever debated hiring a housekeeper, you might have come up with a list of reasons why you shouldn't: it's a luxury you can't afford or it's a sign of laziness. But have you ever thought about why you should?

Outsourcing your house cleaning is a way to manage your time more efficiently and it can be affordable, even for those on a tight budget.

Whether you're busy with a family and career, or just want some occasional help around the house, getting a cleaning service is not only practical, it be a lifesaver. Here are some valid reasons you may need to hire some help.

You Work Full Time 
After a busy 9-5, using your time off from work to clean the house depletes your energy and limits your availability to enjoy other activities. You might not need a daily housekeeper, but having someone clean once or twice a month will give you more time to do the things you enjoy or need get done.

Jennifer Thomas, a clinical psychologist and single mom from Minneapolis, Minn. says that without the help of her housekeeper, she would get less done and get much less sleep: "I have a housekeeper to free up my limited time to do important activities with my son and also take care of myself: doing yoga, walking outside, reading and spending time with friends and family."

You Have a Busy Family Life 
It's hard to find time or energy for family outings and date nights when you spend your time cleaning, cooking and taking care of your children. If your schedule is already overwhelming, keeping the house in order becomes a daunting task that can take a toll on your marriage, as well as your health.

Author Melanie Bowden from Davis, Calif., has her hands full between writing, teaching and being a mother of two. Housework was the main issue she and her husband fought over. "I felt very frazzled when I had to keep up with all of the cleaning without outside help and I grew resentful toward my husband that he wasn't doing more," she says. Hiring a housekeeper not only lowered her stress level, but also kept her marriage intact. "I just love coming home to a clean house on those days -- particularly when the bed sheets have been changed -- that's my favorite part," she adds. According to Bowden, having a housekeeper is a valuable time-management tool that everyone should consider.

You Enjoy Entertaining 
Whether you're putting on a large event or just having company over, you don't need to add cleaning to your to-do list. Save your time -- and your energy -- for the party by hiring someone to clean your home before and after the event. Even if you're just having people over for dinner or to spend the weekend, knowing your housecleaning is taken care of takes the load off of you, and leaves you time to prepare for their arrival and enjoy the visit.

You Don't Know How to Clean 
Remember all those times your mom tried to teach you how to clean? Good. Now, do you remember anything she actually said? We didn't think so. Cleaning isn't as easy as just turning on a vacuum. There are tips and tricks you learn with time or experience. Don't know how to clean your home? Hire a housekeeper to show you. She can clean it a few times and demonstrate the best methods. But be careful; you may like just having her do it -- and that's okay too!

You Don't Like Cleaning 
Who does? But some people are better at it than others. Just because cleaning isn't your forte, doesn't mean you're lazy. Why waste your time and efforts doing something you're not good at, when you can have someone else do it? If cleaning takes you hours and you hate every minute of it, hire a housekeeper and devote that time to something more productive. If hiring someone to clean weekly strains your budget, find someone to deep clean once a month. That way, you'll be better equipped to keep the house tidy the rest of the time on your own.

You Have Elderly Family 
You might not want or need someone to clean your own home, but your aging parents or other relatives might need help. As people get older, it becomes harder to take care of daily chores and housekeeping tasks. A disorderly home is a health hazard for the elderly. A cluttered floor can cause them to fall and eating from dirty dishes can make them ill.

Barbara Berta of Colorado Springs, Colo., hired a housekeeper to tidy her father's apartment once a week. "My dad had diabetes, so between his illness and his age, it was hard for him to keep his home as clean as he would have liked," she says. "I already had my hands full with chores around my own home, so the housekeeper was a huge help when it came to making sure my dad had a comfortable and clean living space."

If your aging parents need more help than just cleaning, hire a senior care aide who can care for them, run errands and provide light cleaning around the home.

You Have a New Baby 
A new baby in the house means lots of extra cleaning and laundry -- more than exhausted new parents may be able to handle. A housekeeper can help pick up the slack while you get used to your new routine. Family or friends want to pitch in and get you a gift? Instead of flowers, suggest they chip in for a housekeeper to help you out for a few weeks.

You Deserve a Treat 
Sometimes you just need a break. Manicures and massages are great, but you can also pamper yourself by hiring someone to clean every once in a while. It's a nice luxury that will give you some extra time to yourself. Go ahead, you've earned it!

Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas. 

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