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We’ve placed ads in newspapers on two occasions and have gone through an Au Pair program twice. This has been our best experience by far!James Wilt, Houston Symphony
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Morningside was by far the best as compared to the other services we used!Dr. Michael O'Reilly and Dr. Valerae Lewis
I trust Morningside Nannies & their research into their nannies more than any of the other seven agencies we talked with. The checks are reliable and the quality of nannies was superb. The process of finding a nanny was handled quite professionally.Dr. Kim Burgess, Pediatrician
Originally, I tried to find a nanny on my own and it took me much, much longer and only half of them spoke English. I had to do my own background checks. Morningside Nannies made it much easier, faster and more efficient.Holly Weinstock, Stay at home mom
Quality of applicants was way above what we had hoped for. Thoroughly enjoyed working with your agency – we will highly recommend you to friends.Kim McMillan
Morningside Nannies blew the others away!Myron Morris, O.R. Business Manager and Dr. Audrey Winer, Pediatrician
Morningside Nannies was far more professional and focused than the other agencies. They listened to my request and responded promptly. I feel very fortunate to have such superb childcare and appreciate the luxury of returning to work with-out worry. Many thanks go to Morningside Nannies for that.Jeremy and Lauren Blachman
Objective and professional with an obvious personal touch, small but important comments about each person.Dr. Shari Rochen
I liked the fact that you screened the candidates before sending them to us, rather than sending the candidate to me before I knew anything about them, like happened with (name withheld), your competition.Name Withheld

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5 Ways to Better Manage Your Nanny


By Megan Gilbreath

Nanny employers have a tricky task of balancing a personal and professional relationship with their nanny. But parents must have full confidence with this boundary, putting their working relationship first. And within this working relationship, it is of vital importance that parents actively manage their nannies, this way your nanny can be set up for success.

nanny management

 

1. Set Clear Expectations

When your nanny first starts out, make it very clear what is expected of her and what her duties will consist of. To make it concrete, have a detailed written work agreement. The agreement should have a complete job description, pay and raise agreements, and any other ground rules you wish to establish. Once your nanny begins, be sure to communicate exactly how you want things done, from how to fold the laundry to disciplining the kids. And if something isn’t to your liking, you must speak up.

2. Earn Each Other’s Trust.

Your nanny is taking care of your most precious beings, your children, so it is essential to trust her. Nanny cameras are often thought to be the solution to nurturing this trust (which can work, if it’s fitting for you) but it’s best to disclose if you are taping your nanny. Another idea is coming home unexpectedly, which can ensure that your nanny is properly caring for your children. Just as important, your nanny must be able to trust you. Be sure to keep your word and respect the time she offers for your family.

3. Strive for Open and Honest Communication.

Over time, your nanny will begin to take on her role as a parenting partner. To benefit the children, it is best to discuss all aspects of the parenting style you would like to adopt. Include your nanny in setting goals and be open to her suggestions and her feedback. You could even create a log book that can serve a communication journal and behavior and schedule tracker.

4. Keep Business, Business

Your nanny likely cares deeply about your children, but the bottom line is this is also her job. And with a job comes professionalism, needed from your nanny and from you. So be sure she gets paid legally and on time and come home when you agreed to. But if something happens and you can’t release your nanny from her shift on time, be sure she is compensated fairly and legally.

5. Invest in the Relationship

Just like an office job, have scheduled meetings and check-in times with your nanny. Depending on her experience and your comfort level, these meetings can be help anywhere from weekly to annually. Within these meetings discuss not only your children and your nanny’s performance, but also how she feels within her positon and any suggestions you have for moving forward. Acknowledge not only what your nanny can improve upon, but also acknowledge areas where she is thriving. Be sure to recognize work anniversaries and personal matters. Take an interest in your nanny’s personal life, but not too much.

Your nanny is one of the most important people in your life and she influences your children daily. Be sure she is managed well, so that she can best meet your caregiving expectations.
Megan Gilbreath is a California college student pursuing journalism and public relations. She is also a working nanny who spends her time caring for two toddlers who keep her busy and joyful as she navigates caretaking through their medical conditions of high functioning autism and developmental delay. Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganrgilbreath.
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Making Resolutions that Last


By Megan Gilbreath

With the end of another year, we all look back and laugh, wondering what happened to those New Year’s resolutions we made on January 1st.

Sale

There were plans to get thinner, healthier, and happier. Such great intentions! But with another new year, comes setting those new goals.

This year, how about putting a twist on traditional New Year’s resolutions and establish goals focusing on how you can better yourself, so you can better your kids. Here are five resolutions that you can set into motion, in order to cultivate admirable character in your children. Added bonus? When you hit these goals, they’ll last your child’s lifetime.

1. Workout and eat right.

Yes, we said no traditional New Year’s resolutions, but how else will you keep the kiddos in order without having enough energy to race after them? Trade the morning coffee for a morning run and not just your body will thank you, your kids will too. Before you know it, chase and tag will become a breeze.

2. Inspire, don’t demand.

We all want our kids to be the very best. We discipline for kindness, honesty, courage and so much more. But we must remember that there is a fine line between pushing our kids to be better and just pushing our kids. When you are trying to shape your child’s behavior, be sure to inspire your kids to be the best they can be, not just demand and bark orders.

3. Give your child more of you.

More often than not, a spike in tantrums or endless hours of whining aren’t just a phase, but your child’s way of sending you a message: I need more of you and more of your attention. Of course our to-do lists can run for miles, but be sure your children are at the top of the list. Putting your phone down and going on a tech-diet may not be a bad idea, helping you to be more present when you’re in your child’s company.

4. Listen with intention.

Kids have a funny way of getting excited over itty-bitty things, rambling and rambling over something so minute. Sometimes it can be the cutest thing in the world, and other days we just don’t have the time or the patience for engaging in childish conversations. But our mmhm’s and uh-huh’s may be short-handing the kiddos. It’s important that kids feel their thoughts and opinions matter. By putting more effort into silly kiddie conversations and spending time answering their never-ending questions—you’ll let your child know his thoughts and feelings matter to you.

5. Laugh more.

From dusk till dawn, mommies and nannies put full-effort into making sure everyone is taken care of and happy. Yet, some days don’t go as smoothly as we would have hoped. We get down on ourselves that there’s laundry still left to do, or frustrated that a fight between the kids got out of hand. But the reality is we must stop being so hard on ourselves. As long as you put your best efforts forward and have a great attitude, it’s alright if things don’t go perfectly every day.

As you tackle your New Year’s resolutions, keep the focus not on just bettering yourself, but bettering yourself for your kids. Remember, when you take care of yourself, you’re better able to take care of everyone else—especially those little ones who need you most.

Megan Gilbreath is a California college student pursuing journalism and public relations. She is also a working nanny who spends her time caring for two toddlers who keep her busy and joyful as she navigates caretaking through their medical conditions of high functioning autism and developmental delay. Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganrgilbreath.

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Book Review: The Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer

Secrets_of_the_Nanny_Whisperer

Recently I had the opportunity to review an advance copy of the new book, Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer by Tammy Gold.
Given the complexities of the nanny/family relationship and the practical aspects of employing a nanny, it’s always good to see new media that aims to address common dilemmas and guide parents in the right direction when it comes to all things nanny related. However, having been in the nanny industry more than half of my life, I always approach new media by unfamiliar sources with caution, given the nuances that exist in the nanny industry.

While the concept of Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer is a solid one and Ms. Gold shared many helpful points that would point the reader in the right direction, there were some glaring errors and missed opportunities in the text that left me feeling like an industry outsider wrote this book. The quality of resources and statistics were lacking in many places and statements that are presented as fact lack supporting sources and unfortunately often leave the reader completely misguided because the information provided is blatantly incorrect.

With a little more research, the author could have presented a more factual picture of the industry and provided resources that would further steer the reader to a better understanding of the nanny industry.

For example, when instructing readers how to determine average nanny wages, rather than direct the reader to a credible non-profit organization like the International Nanny Association that publishes annual nanny salary and benefits information, the reader was instructed to punch in a zip code on a nanny recruiting website.

On the topic of wages again, the author seems to fail to discuss that nannies are non-exempt employees and must be paid on an hourly basis at least minimum wage for all hours worked and in many cases overtime. Even if you’ve agreed to pay your nanny X dollars for 50 hours per week, live-out nannies and live-in nannies and some states must be paid overtime at the rate of 1.5 times their base hourly wage rate for all hours worked over 40 in a 7 day period. This is the law and is not negotiable. While you can set a weekly “salary” if the nanny works a set schedule and work backwards to determine base and overtime wage rates to be wage compliant, as long as you are sure to track the hours, this is not explained.

And when discussing live-in nannies, the author insists live-in nannies offer 24/7 coverage in one place than says they’ll also want a set schedule. In addition to being contradictory, it seems in this section that the author fails to address the importance of legal payment of live-in nannies and the importance of having mutual and clear expectations with the nanny prior to hiring, not to mention the reality that most live-in nannies won’t work around the clock on an ongoing basis.

But one of the most disappointing statements, however came when the author suggested daycare or group care would be a better choice than a nanny who provides care at home. The author correlated stimulation against the provider/child ratio, but failed to discuss the benefits of having one on one care through the first years and ways which nannies actively socialize the children in their care.

That coupled with the statement that you should expect your nannies to be happy every day, really had me questioning the author’s industry experience. This is an unrealistic expectation for anyone in any job or arena. No one is happy every day.

And the mention of children not picking up their nanny’s accent or mannerisms is ludicrous. Children most certainly emulate those they around most often. When a nanny cares for children 40 to 60 hours per week you bet the children will start walking and talking like their nanny.

While the author refers to nannies as professionals and seems to advocate for their treatment as such, she doesn’t seem to expect them to have basic skills, like good language skills, driving abilities or the ability to stimulate children while home. And if they are professionals, as the other suggests, why isn’t there information on paying nannies legally and why isn’t the author advocating for benefits like contributions towards health insurance, not to mention any information about nanny training opportunities?

Other missed opportunities include referencing employee handbooks without the mention of GTM’s Household Employee Handbook or providing the Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies or the International Nanny Association’s best practices when discussing background checks. How can you have a conversation about the nanny industry without discussing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, Park Slope Parents, The International Nanny Association, the Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies, Domestic Workers United and household payroll experts like GTM Payroll Associates, Breedlove and Associates and HomeWork Solutions? These are driving forces in the nanny industry that would have had the data, resources and information needed to paint a truer picture of the nanny industry that needs to be shouted to all, not whispered to a few.

If you can get past the professional and business aspects of the nanny/family relationship that are lacking, some value in the book remains. The author does do a nice job at addressing some of the dynamics of the nanny/family working relationship, her voice is good, it’s an easy read and the call-outs, scenarios and appendix are all helpful.

Michelle LaRowe is the executive director of Morningside Nannies, the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year and author of Nanny to the Rescue! and Working Mom’s 411. She was provided a copy of this book at no cost for review. 

 

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Quick and Easy Placemat Craft


By Megan Gilbreath

Christmas may be over, but school vacation isn’t. With New Year’s around the corner, check out this easy to do craft to keep the kids busy and mealtimes less of a mess.

placemat

Supplies:
• Several colors of non-toxic paint and brushes
• Various markers
• Various stickers (minimal height, flat stickers work best)
• Colorful tape
• Laminating machine
• Large white construction paper (to fit the 11×17 black mat)
• 11×17 sturdy black plastic-type mat (Kinkos is best!)
This is the back-bone of the placemat, there to make it strong and durable. Try to find plastic-type paper that is designed for binding notebooks. If your local office supplies store doesn’t have this, look for any strong plastic-type backing that will make the placemats solid. If you want the placemat bigger or smaller, here is where you would alter the size.

How-to:
1. Cut the large white construction paper smaller than the 11×17 black mat, about a half inch smaller than the mat on all sides.placemat 2
2. Decorate! It’s best to be strategic when handing out the paint colors so you don’t end up with a big brown mess. Have him use markers, paint and stickers to create his masterpiece, but be sure to keep the project one dimensional so the laminating machine won’t get angry. Handprints turned reindeer or snowman are a fun winter-themed addition.
3. After the decorated paper is dry, center it on top of the sturdy black plastic-type mat. Use colorful tape to seal the decorated paper to the black mat (continuously flatten the two together to avoid air bubbles). The tape will also create an attractive border.
4. Laminate the final product. Stop by your local office supply store to laminate the final creation. This will ensure the placemats will be able to endure any foodie mess!

Megan Gilbreath is a California college student pursuing journalism and public relations. She is also a working nanny who spends her time caring for two toddlers who keep her busy and joyful as she navigates caretaking through their medical conditions of high functioning autism and developmental delay. Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganrgilbreath.

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Crafty DIY Kids Christmas Cards


By Megan Gilbreath

With Christmas around the corner, your to-do list may feel like it’s growing longer. How are you going to get all the family presents ready and keep the kids occupied over Christmas break? The answer is creating Christmas cards.

These toddler friendly activities will keep the kids entertained and will make great personalized gifts. Here’s how to make three DIY kids Christmas cards your family can use to spread holiday cheer.


Hand-printed Christmas Tree

handprint

Supplies:
• Green, red and gold glittered non-toxic paint
• Brown paint/marker
• Star sticker (or yellow paint/marker)
• Various markers
• Various stickers

How-to:
1. Cut construction paper to fit the shape and size you want your card to be, then fold the paper in half to create the card.
2. Paint the child’s hand green, this will be the Christmas tree image. Position the child’s hand so that his fingers are at the bottom of the card and his thumb is closest to the fold in the card. Press down to make the print.
3. Once the tree is dry, have the child use his index finger to add red dots. These will symbolize red ornaments.
4. Once the ornaments are dry, add the gold garland. To do this, drag the child’s finger across the tree with the gold glitter paint. Voila!
5. Next, draw or paint the brown Christmas tree trunk beneath the hand printed tree.
6. Place the star sticker (or draw the star) at the top of the finished Christmas tree.
7. Lastly, open the card up and decorate the inside. Have the child dazzle the card with stickers or by drawing a picture. Don’t forget to include a Merry Christmas message and to have the child sign his name.

(Credited: Fun Handprint Art)

Thumb-printed Candy Cane

kid craft
Supplies:
• Red and white non-toxic paint
• Silver sharpie/marker/ non-toxic paint
• Various markers
• Various stickers

How-to:
1. Cut construction paper to fit the shape and size you want your card to be, then fold the paper in half to create the card.
2. Dip the child’s thumb into the red paint and have him press down firmly on the front of the card. Create a pattern of thumb prints to resemble the shape of a candy cane. Be sure to leave enough space between the red prints so that you can add white prints afterwards. The pattern should alternate continuously from red to white.
3. Draw or paint a silver bow on the middle of the candy cane for a nice finishing touch.
4. Lastly, open the card up and decorate the inside. Have the child dazzle the card with stickers or draw a pretty picture. Don’t forget to include a Merry Christmas message and to have the child sign his name.

(Credited: Leapfrog & Ladybugs)

String of Light Bulbs

lights
Supplies:
• Red and green Do-A-Dot paint markers (or non-toxic paint)
• Various markers (be sure to have black)
• Various stickers

How-to:
1. Cut construction paper to fit the shape and size you want your card to be, then fold the paper in half to create the card.
2. With the black marker, draw a squiggly line from the top left corner of the card to the bottom right corner of the card.
3. Keep using the black marker to create the bottom of the bulbs. You want the width to be skinny but the height tall. Be sure the bottom of the bulbs are positioned a decent distance apart from each other, not too cramped but not too spacious either.
4. Push the Do-A-Dot paint markers (alternating red and green) on top of the drawn bottom of the bulb. (If you don’t have the Do-A-Dot paint markers, use the child’s thumb by dipping it in red and green paint).
5. Lastly, open the card up and decorate the inside. Have the child dazzle the card with stickers or draw a pretty picture. Don’t forget to include a Merry Christmas message and to have the child sign his name.

(Credited: Meet the Dubiens)

Megan Gilbreath is a California college student pursuing journalism and public relations. She is also a working nanny who spends her time caring for two toddlers who keep her busy and joyful as she navigates caretaking through their medical conditions of high functioning autism and developmental delay. Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganrgilbreath.

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5 Reasons Being a Nanny is the Best Job for College Students


By Megan Gilbreath

Every college student needs to earn a living, but with a class schedule that fluctuates from semester to semester and the blocks of time needed for homework and preparing for exams, how can a college student effectively earn decent wages without compromising their college career?

By putting past childcare experience to work, that’s how.
If you’re looking for a good paying job that fits your crazy busy college schedule, here’s five reasons why working as a nanny may be the end of Nannyyour financial blues.

 

1. Earn Great Pay

Whether you will nanny full-time or part-time, you’re taking care of the parents’ most loved beings — their children. The parents will reward you for your efforts if you perform well and the children are thriving in your care.

And for many parents, finding a college-educated childcare provider who can assist with homework is an answer to prayer. If you can double as a caregiver/tutor, an increase in your earning potential will be reflected. In the Houston market, Morningside Nannies regularly places nannies in positions where starting pay is $14 to $18 or more per hour. That sure beats tidying up fitting rooms or seating guests at your local restaurant!

2. Secure Flexible Hours

Each family has different needs, so regardless of if you have morning classes, night classes, or are only available specific days of the week, there’s likely a family out there who needs care when you can provide it. While parents of babies and infants tend to need full-time care, many families are also seeking part-time assistance for preschool arrangements and after-school nannies.

Even if you have a jumbled schedule, you can work as a temporary or back-up care provider. Morningside Nannies regularly places qualified caregivers in positions that last as little as four hours to setting a full-time schedule for up to 90 days. Once you establish your availability, you can find a family who is looking for care when you’re able to provide it.

3. Increase Your Skill Set

Nannies acquire better caretaking skills while on the job. Children go through different phases and have different needs throughout various stages. And since every child is unique and each nanny job is unique, you’re provided with an ongoing opportunity to hone your skills. Try working with infants, preschoolers and school aged children. This way you’re ready for any future nanny job, since your skill set will grow to accommodate bottle feeding, potty training and even offering social advice.

Some families also need a nanny who can take on household management type tasks. Supervising repair workers and organizing family schedules could become part of your daily routine. This hands-on approach would provide you basic management skills that can be applied to many other future careers.

4. Do Something that is Memorable and Enjoyable

There’s more to being a nanny than changing diapers and driving children to and from activities. From taking a trip to the zoo to pushing a child on the swing at the park, nannies and children get to experience life and make memories together.

In many positions, nannies have the freedom to craft how they spend their time with the children, which means you can make your day as fun and memorable as you wish. As with any job, there will of course be ups and downs, but when it comes to caretaking, the good days almost always outnumber the bad.

5. Build Relationships

Once you began to get comfortable with the children, they will likely see you as a respected confidant or even as an extended member of the family. Giving and getting affection will become regular and the end of your work day may not even be something you look forward to.

When you work as a nanny, you become part of the children’s life as you watching them grow and discover their personalities. The relationships you create with the family will likely become relationships you treasure forever. Visit www.MorningsideNannies.com/jobs to view families seeking nannies in your area or call (713) 526-3989 to speak to a nanny coordinator today.

Megan Gilbreath is a California college student pursuing journalism and public relations. She is also a working nanny who spends her time caring for two toddlers who keep her busy and joyful as she navigates caretaking through their medical conditions of high functioning autism and developmental delay. Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganrgilbreath.

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5 Tips for Teaching Gratefulness this Thanksgiving


By Megan Gilbreath

With Thanksgiving around the corner, your children are likely hearing a lot about this upcoming5 Tips for Teaching Thanfulness celebration. But how can we be sure that kids know there’s more behind the holiday than classroom crafts and grocery store runs?

What does Thanksgiving mean anyways? According to Merriam-Webster, thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks.

But in the crazy, consumer me-me-me society we live in, how can parents and nannies teach children to take a moment to stop and express thanks?

To be sure you don’t get stuck in the holiday gobble, gobble, here’s five ways you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude in young kids.

1. Say “Thank you.”

It’s as simple as that! Whether your child gets a new gift, a compliment or is the recipient of another act of kindness, “thank you” should immediately follow. We often forget that these two simple words can go such a long way in making someone feel special and appreciated. When “thank you” is instilled in a child’s vocabulary at a young age, offering up thanks will become a lifelong habit.

2. Lead by Example.

When you stop and think about it, it really is mind boggling how well little eyes and little ears can see and hear. Children are learning machines, growing in knowledge every day. But learning goes deeper than gaining knowledge. Children pick up the behaviors and characteristics of those around them, shaping them into who they later become. Be sure to let your children hear you give thanks and offer praise when someone shows you kindness. And of course, don’t forget to tell your children why you’re thankful for them.

3. Turn negatives into positives.

Regardless of age, at some time or another, most people struggle with turning lemons into lemonade. Wouldn’t it be so rewarding to help a child learn to see the silver linings, rather than leaving him to focus on life’s frustration and disappointments? The next time your child complains he can’t go to the park because it’s raining, find a creative way to make staying inside seem just as fun.

4. Take a look around.

Go for a nature walk with your child. Have her point out a few beautiful items that catch her eye. Maybe she noticed how big and bright the sun is or how bright the wings of a cardinal really are. Help your child see and appreciate the beauty in the world around her.

5. Give thanks together each day.

Oftentimes we get caught up in our busy lives and forget what’s truly important. Make a habit out of sharing what you’re grateful for each day while you’re sitting around the dinner table. A simple family activity like this can go a long way in helping children to appreciate the people, places and things around them.

By putting some of these strategies into place, you can cultivate thankful hearts that will continue to be grateful long past the holiday season.

Megan Gilbreath is a California college student pursuing journalism and public relations. She is also a working nanny who spends her time caring for two toddlers who keep her busy and joyful as she navigates caretaking through their medical conditions of high functioning autism and developmental delay. Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganrgilbreath.

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Average Nanny Wages in Houston

Nanny Wages


When parents and caregivers contact Morningside Nannies, one of the first things they ask is “What is the going rate for a nanny?”

Fortunately, our staff is well-equipped to answer.

Nannies in the Houston area placed through our agency typically earn $14 to $16 per hour in full-time positions and $15 to $17 in part-time positions.

How are those numbers determined?

We know from the International Nanny Association’s Annual Salary and Benefits Survey that the national average hourly wage rate for nannies in 2013 was $17.44 with the median rate being $16 per hour.

We also know from our placement experience that the Houston average is slightly lower than the national average and the majority of our positions place in the $14 to $17 per hour range.

While each nanny sets her own wage requirements and each family sets their own childcare budget, we have found that that $14 to $17 per hour is the range where most nannies will accept a position at and the range where most families are offering their position at.

But, like any other industry, there are factors that drive a nanny’s wages up. Nannies who have a college degree, teaching certifications, a specialized skill set or extensive experience can command a higher wage rate than those who don’t. Families who require the nanny to take on non-childcare related household responsibilities or a flexible schedule will have to pay a higher wage rate to attract and retain a quality provider than those who don’t.

Also, nannies can’t be paid a “salary.” As non-exempt employees, they are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act and are required to be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked and live-out nannies in Houston are required to be paid time and a half for all hours worked over 40 in a 7-day period.

While parents can certainly work backwards from their weekly childcare budget to determine a compliant base and overtime wage rate to come up with a weekly “salary” based on a set schedule where working hours are tracked week to week, if they require their nanny to work more than 40 hours per week and that base number gets too low, many nannies won’t consider the position.

It’s also important to remember that these numbers are provided in gross terms and that the nanny will take home less than these averages due to tax withholdings and that parents will have employer tax responsibilities as well, which can be estimated at 10 to 12% of the nanny’s gross annual wage. Fortunately, there are tax credits that can offset this amount.

The cost of employing or being a nanny is different from the going rate for a hiring a nanny. Our staff can walk you through the difference and ensure that you have a clear understanding of the financial considerations when hiring and working as a nanny.

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Top 5 Nanny Job Search Mistakes


Are you currently seeking your next nanny position? If so, be sure to avoid these top 5 mistakes nannies make when job searching.job search

1. Not being able to back-up your desired wages.

As a placement specialist, I’m more that glad to present families a $18, $20 or $25 an hour (or more) nanny for hiring consideration if I think they’re the right fit for the job and family, provided that they can articulate why the wages they are commanding are higher than Houston market averages. When a family asks “Why are her wage requirements outside of the norm?” I need to provide a convincing answer. In addition to having loads of extensive experience and outstanding references, nannies who earn outside of market averages typically have an area they specialize in, like caring for twins or newborns, a college degree in early childhood or a related field, or a specialized skill set. Like with any business, if you’re asking for over and above what others being considered for the same position have, you need to be able to articulate why you’re worth it.

2. Forgetting that all that glitters isn’t gold.

I once heard a preacher say that “even poison ivy glitters in the morning sun.” Every career nanny would tell you that you’re better off making a dollar or two less per hour than being in a toxic position. Sure, anyone can work 24/7 for a short period of time or deal with a family who has difficult moments, but if those things are the norm, it’s a problem. If a family is offering a huge salary and has gone through a string of nannies, there is typically a reason for it. Reputable agencies can piece together these reasons and present a fair assessment of the job to nannies who are considering applying. If you’re considering a job where the salary seems too good to be true, be sure to ask to speak to previous nannies to help you better understand the pros and cons of the job.

3. Not waiting for the right match.

Job searching can be stressful, especially if you can’t afford to go without work, but finding the right job with the right family is essential. Fortunately, many agencies have temporary and babysitting positions you can take on while searching for the right job with the right family. Jumping into a position that you know isn’t the right fit can have serious and lasting implications. Besides causing you misery, since most agencies require you to honor your initial commitment with a family, taking the wrong job, with the wrong family can leave you without agency support, should you opt to leave the job simply because you’ve found something better or you’ve had a change of heart. And given that having stellar references is essential, having a bad reference or having to explain a gap in employment should you not wish to use that family as a reference, can hamper your next job search, leaving you back at square one or worse.

4. Leading families on.

Time and time again I’ve seen nannies have two or three job offers only to walk away jobless. Why? Because they’ll keep putting the family off until they can get a better offer from the next family. Sure, take 24 hours to consider a job offer; that’s the smart thing to do. But if that 24 turns into 48 turns into 72 because you’re fishing for higher offers from other families, generally the family is going to get cold feet and feel slighted. And while being transparent is important, if there is a family you really want to work for, pushing them to match an offer that they really can’t, from your second or third choice family, can cause them to think you won’t be happy with what they can provide and they’ll move on to another candidate. If a family that you really want to work for makes an offer that is within the range of what you’ve told them you’re required, think twice before passing their offer up.

5. Not knowing your bottom line.

Just like no nanny is perfect, no nanny job is perfect. When you’re job searching, you need to know what your negotiables and your non negotiables are. These will change from nanny to nanny and even can change over the course of your career. When job searching, you need to ask yourself right here, right now, what is essential and what is non essential when it comes to your next position. For some nannies, non negotiables may include being able to take the kids on outings or having an employer provided vehicle for work use. For others, it may include having contributions towards health insurance and eligibility for a year-end bonus. Ask yourself if you were offered the right job, with the right family, what would you need to feel good about accepting the position. That’s your bottom line.

Recently I heard from a nanny we placed several months ago. She wanted me to know that last week her charge had told her she was the most awesome nanny ever and that this was the position that she had to wait for. In this industry, the right match is essential. If you’re only chasing dollar signs, you will learn quickly that working in the right job with the right family is what’s priceless.

Posted in Advice for Nannies | Comments Off

10 Healthy Snack Ideas for On the Go

Healthy-Snack-Ideas-for-On-the-Go


Don’t let the “I’m hungries” ruin your day. Well-fed rested and well-fed kids are better behaved kids. Having a variety of healthy snacks available that can be eaten anytime, anywhere will help to ensure your little one has the energy she needs to make it through the day.

1. Keep it fresh

Sounds simple because it is! Having an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies on hand makes grabbing a snack to go easy. Hit the local farmer’s market and encourage the kids to choose a rainbow of fruits and veggies to eat through.

2. It’s a wrap

Spread some hummus on a tortilla, roll it up, wrap it up and voila! A one handed snack that can be eaten on the go.

3. Get nutty

Barring no allergies, an assortment of bagged nuts can be the perfect on the go snack for older kids whose eating them doesn’t pose a choking hazard. Introduce the kids to a variety of nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts and see which they like best.

4. Cheese, please

Individual portions of all sorts of cheeses are readily available at the grocer. You can find string cheese or cheese rounds that are perfect for on the go snacking. For younger children, consider bagging bite-sized pieces of cheese to reduce the choking hazard.

5. Hit the trail

Add a little of this and a little of that for a healthy and tasty snack bag. In snack sized bags or containers add a few of each of your child’s favorite dried fruits, cereals, nuts, pretzels and even a few chocolate chips to create an option your kid will love.

6. Go green

Sprinkle some olive oil and sea salt on fresh kale leaves and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to make clean up a breeze. Once cooled, package in snack sized portions for easy to grab snacking.

7. Eggcellent idea

Cook up a batch of hard boiled eggs on Sunday night and you’ll have a healthy grab and go snack option all week. Once boiled, store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator to maximize shelf life.

8. Get Corny

Bag up freshly popped corn for an easy to grab snack. Instead of adding salt, try adding grated parmesan cheese for a tasty alternative.

9. Carry on

The prepackaged tubes and pouches of yogurt are certainly easy to carry anywhere, but they are often loaded with sugar. Instead try adding plain or Greek yogurt and fresh fruit to a reusable pouch for a healthier option.

10. Smooth operator

Experiment by adding some berries or bananas, yogurt and orange juice to your blender and seeing which tastes your little ones love. Try adding some honey to sweeten it up.

Posted in Advice for Nannies, Advice for Parents | Comments Off
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