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During our search for our current nanny I used several well-known services in Houston. I found that Morningside Nannies had the highest- quality applicants in town.Dr. Katherine Tiwari
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
Morningside was by far the best as compared to the other services we used!Dr. Michael O'Reilly and Dr. Valerae Lewis
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
Morningside Nannies blew the others away!Myron Morris, O.R. Business Manager and Dr. Audrey Winer, Pediatrician
As a new mom I was nervous about hiring a nanny, but now I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve sung your praises to everyone I know.Tarala Rybacki
The first person you recommended met my needs perfectly.Carolyn Goodrich, 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
Compared to other agencies Morningside presented a higher caliber of candidate.Phyllis Epps, Law Professor
I described the person I wanted and that’s what you found for me. Thank you.Penny Featherston, NorAm Energy

The Official Blog of Morningside Nannies

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.

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10 Healthy Snack Ideas for On the Go

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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.

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Bringing Back Board Games

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Recently I had the opportunity to connect with Bill Ritchie, CEO of ThinkFun, to learn more about what makes a good board game, why we should be playing more board games and how playing board games can support learning. Here’s a little of what he had to say.

Why should parent and kids get excited about playing board games?


First of all board games are fun and fantastic. That’s reason number one. But you need to make a distinction between board games that are good and ones that are not so good. So let’s start with good board games. What are they capable of doing? They provide an opportunity for people to come together – nannies, parents and kids – in social ways where the games provide a construct for people to engage around a set of rules. You can test out feelings and emotions and go through a controlled and managed experience in the context of your family and play group, providing a great socializing opportunity. Good board games are socializing influence. Playing good board games is also a way of bringing people together in appropriate way that is rewarding and fun. They are physical and tactile. They require talking and looking into each other’s eyes and laughing and empathizing with each other. Playing games provide an emotional experience, as well. These social and emotional experiences are essential. Playing good board games really provide a masterful way and structured way to become more social and to learn to process your environment.

How can parents generate excitement when it comes to playing board games?


Number one, I think parents and nannies need to choose board games that they themselves won’t become bored with when playing with the kids. Of course you don’t want the kids to become bored either. You want to choose a board game that once you get into it, it continues to provide for a fun experience. The primary thing to remember is that good board games allow parents and nannies to have an engaging social experience with the kids. The real reason to get excited is that you get to engage and interact with the kids. Playing good board games together gives you a chance to have a wonderful, enriching and memorable time with the kids. That’s something to get excited about.

What do board games offer that electronics don’t?


Tablets and electronic games have many benefits, but they tend not to be socializing influences and tend not to allow for interpersonal interactions. They provide a different kind of experience where the tablet itself becomes the center of attention and draws the child through the experience that is programmed in it. Tablet games can provide for a fascinating experience and definitely draw children into them, but by and large they are not social.

What inspired you to create ThinkFun?


Andrea Barthello, my wife and ThinkFun’s co-founder and chief operating officer, and I started ThinkFun in 1985. Our first name was Binary Arts. We had that name until 2004. We’ve been around for a long time. My dad was a Bell Labs engineer. He followed really clever and smart people who were writing for Scientific America and other journals. So when I was growing up I was aware of this community of really super smart people- engineers and those figuring out how to make the modern world work. Some of them had really cool and creative ideas for puzzles and brain teasers. When I was young I used to think that everyone in the world was exposed to this type of stuff. Then I realized many people didn’t see the logic games and toys I was exposed to.

I also realized that these type of people aren’t really involved with toy companies as they view toys as fads. I met my wife and we really weren’t happy with where we are at in life, so we decided to make a left turn and create a company where we can take really smart people and translate what they are trying to say into things that kids can understand and play with. The idea was that if we put as much effort and work into designing a play experience that is rich and rewarding, both emotionally rewarding and with real brain building benefits, we’d have something special.

We believe working the brain can be fun so we strive to make games that really challenge you and make the rewards worth playing. This is really rewarding. There aren’t many companies that care about this. If you want to be super creative you go into apps, not board games. The toy industry is really traditional. We want to put out high quality toys and games so families have a better experience. Some board game are great, some are not so great. We feel it’s our responsibility to create really good games that really catch on in the marketplace. We are blessed to be in this position and to work with inventors and to invent our own games. We put lots of effort and energy into the details to provide the best game experience we can.

What was your favorite childhood game? What’s your favorite ThinkFun game?


I loved to play Risk. I loved the crazy names of all of the locations. I love to travel. By age 21, I traveled to every state except Hawaii. Some of my desire to travel came from playing Risk. I was made aware of all these cool places around the world and wanted to see them.

What’s my favorite ThinkFun game? That’s a hard question. Today I am going to say Math Dice. It was actually invented by my older son, Sam, when he was in 6th grade. He is 27 now, so it has been around for a long time. It’s just five dice and you just play. It’s so simple and it’s so neat. My younger son, Mike, who was in 3rd grade at the time; I taught him how exponents work because I used them as a game rule. If he would want to beat me, he had to play by the rules.

For years I would carry a set of dice around with me. I’d show anyone who was interested how to play. Everyone knows the dread that comes with learning new math skills, but this is a game that makes you say “Hey! This is kind of fun.” It’s still such a surprise to me that something so simple really caught on. It’s like taking spinach and learning you can make it taste good. Math Dice is so closely associated with my kids and family, and I personally invested a whole lot into developing ideas for it so I am going to say it is my favorite.

Do you consider gender when making and marketing games?


Do we distinguish ourselves and our games through genders? By and large we don’t. With our Robot Turtles game for example, we started encouraging people to come up with adventure quests story and we asked ourselves do we want to write boy or girl themed stories. But what we’ve said and what we stick to is that our games are gender neutral but allow kids to imprint their own story on top of them to play however they want.

We also get asked fairly frequently by groups of families of children with special needs if we create games for specialized groups, like for children who are on the autism spectrum . We make our games as accessible and as true to themselves as possible. The kids will come and play and take what they can. With our games, each child will have his or her own experience and no one feels like they are being held back or not experiencing the game. You also get a different experience each time you play. We believe these things are what makes our games good.

When thinking about what games you’re going to take on, what things do you look for?


We make it really clear right up front that there are certain types of games we don’t want to look at. We consider ourselves curators, so when we see a range of games we choose games that fit our brand mission and that align with our vision.

I have this notion that games, if chosen right and done right, can help build thinking skills. To us that means you have to be able to look at one of our games and have to be able to develop a systematic way of thinking about it to be successful. There needs to be set patterns that start simple and build and lead you to a feeling of achievement. Some games are about number sense, some logical deduction, some spatial imagination and some word recognition, but they need to be challenging and fast paced.

We also look for things that are fresh and new. We encourage our team to look outside the box. For example, Robot Turtles was found on KickStarter. And Laser Maze. Who doesn’t want to bounce a laser off mirrors. You’re deeply studying and learning new things but you’re using a laser and having fun while doing it.

Another thing we look for is if a game teaches a new skill. Next year it is looking like we will put out a game to teach kids to create their own music. So that’s a new skill that can be taught through game play.

Can playing games reinforce back to school learning? How? What’s your best tips for parents on how they can use games to do this?


First of all, I think in some sense kids are being pushed too hard to grow up too fast. Everything doesn’t have to fit into a box and point towards sending a kid to Harvard. That said, I think people care about learning and I think kids care about learning too.

When you are taking about young kids, 4 to 6 year olds, the readiness a child has to have is not just an intellectual readiness, but an emotional readiness. Learning is interesting and fun when kids are emotionally ready to learn. So we need to find that zone between emotional and cognitive readiness to show kids how learning can be fun.

I also like to think about executive function. A good board game reinforces executive function. Robot Turtles, for example, is teaching coding skills to young kids, but in some ways learning coding skills for a preschooler is the same as building executive function. To play you have to focus yourself to understand goal and then break in into a series of steps to achieve it. You have to stay on task and look at the big picture and the details and then recalibrate when necessary. You have to focus on understanding the goal and being on task and moving between the big picture and small steps. These are huge skills that help with school success.

Where can Houston based nannies and parents find ThinkFun games?

Learning Express-Houston (Town & Country)

Town & Country Village
12850 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77024

Imagination Toys-Tx

6531 Woodway Dr.
Houston, TX 77057

Toys To Love

1715 Post Oak Blvd,
Houston, TX 77056

Adventure Play & Toy Company

2401 Rice Boulevard
Houston, TX 77005

Thank you to ThinkFun for providing review copies of some of their newer games for this piece.  

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10 Tips for Working with Morningside Nannies

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At Morningside Nannies, we strive to earn your trust and ensure that you are satisfied with our services during each and every interaction. With backgrounds as nannies, nanny employers, agency owners, nanny organization administrators and caseworkers for child protective services, our staff is passionate about quality in-home childcare and helping nannies and families find their right employment match. We’re often asked by nannies and families how they can best work with our agency, so we’ve put together our best advice for utilizing our services.

1. Be transparent.


The best nanny in the world isn’t the right nanny for every family. It’s our job to understand what each family’s and each nanny’s unique needs are so that we can match the right nannies to the right jobs with the right families. Being honest about your needs helps us to best meet them.

2. Give us feedback.


We depend on your feedback to make adjustments to your search. We want to hear what you really thought about a family or nanny so that we can adjust our search criteria to better close in on your match. We don’t disclose specific feedback to any candidate or family unless we are specifically asked to do so.

3. Respond to us as soon as you can.


Nannies are interviewing with several families and families are interviewing several nannies. Because our caregivers are the cream of the crop, they tend to get hired quickly. Because our families are motivated to hire, they want to interview qualified candidates right away. Substantial delays in response times can result in missed opportunities for both nannies and families.

4. Read the information we provide you.


We know searching for a nanny or work family can be overwhelming, that’s why we condense the information you need into one single document. For nannies it’s our Welcome Nanny Guide and for families it’s our Welcome Family Guide. These guides contain essential information that will help your search and employment relationship run smoothly.

5. Know where you can be flexible and where you cannot.


Nannies and families are only human. There is no perfect nanny or family; there is only the right nanny for the right family. With each candidate and each job opportunity comes strengths and weaknesses or pros and cons. Know what’s most important, what you’d consider an “added bonus,” and what things matter least to you when considering your search.

6. Understand our role.


When working with families seeking permanent nannies, it’s our role to present qualified candidates for hiring consideration. For nannies, it’s our role to represent qualified candidates by presenting them to families whose hiring criteria they meet and who we think they’ll be a good employment match for. We gather and provide as much information as we can so that we can make educated and informed decisions on which nannies we present to which families.

7. Understand your role.


Of course it’s our goal that by the time a nanny and family are in the interview phase the hiring decision really comes down to if the nanny and family “click,” but it’s important to remember that families and nannies always make the final decision on who they hire and who they work for. We never pressure a family to make a job offer or a nanny to accept a position. We believe it’s essential that both the family and nanny believe they’ve found their match.

8. Keep us informed.


During your search you can expect to hear from us often. We like to keep you informed of the status of your search and would love if you could keep us informed too. If your needs have changed and you are no longer searching, we’d love to know. If you’ve moved, you’ll be out of town or you won’t be accessible for a period of time during your search we’d love to know that too. Keeping our records current helps us better to help you in your search and in future searches.

9. Let us do the work.


Sometimes it may seem easier to deal directly with a nanny or family during your search rather than go through your placement specialist, but when we’re left out of the loop it can be difficult for us to manage your search. Keeping us in the loop helps to ensure that we can meet your needs most effectively and that our agency’s best practices are followed.

10. Understand our approach.


At our agency, we take an empowerment approach to helping nannies and families find the right match and maintain healthy working relationships. We believe in educating nannies and families about best practices, employer and employee responsibilities and local and national hiring trends. Whether it’s alerting you to potential obstacles in your search or providing you with a complimentary consultation to a tax and payroll specialist, we do so with your best interests in mind.

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The Top 10 Nanny Screening Mistakes Parents Make

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Hiring a nanny can be one of the best decisions your family makes, if you hire the right nanny for your family that is. If you’re thinking about going the nanny route, you’ll want to be sure to avoid these top 10 nanny screening mistakes parents make.

1. Hiring based on someone else’s experience.


The best nanny in the world isn’t the right nanny for every family. Just because your friend or colleague had an amazing experience with a nanny doesn’t necessarily mean you will too. Each family, job and nanny is unique and the right nanny for one family may not be the right nanny for another.

2. Failing to gather enough information.


Don’t hire a nanny sight unseen. It’s not enough to accept the information a nanny provides you on face value. From verifying a candidates identity to reviewing her work history, you need to gather enough information so you can make an educated and informed hiring decision.

3. Asking the wrong questions.


Forget the yes or no and how would you handle x, y, z questions. If you want the nanny candidate to share real and detailed information with you, you need to give her the opportunity to do. Instead of yes and no questions, ask open ended questions that give her room to share. And who cares how she thinks she’ll handle a situation, like a temper tantrum in public. You want to know how she has handled the situation in the past, so rephrase “how would you handle” to “how have you handled” to get the information you are seeking.

4. Not doing a complete background screening.


Nationwide background checks are referred to as preliminary checks for a reason. To do a thorough screening, you need to check county court records where the candidate has lived for at least the last 7 years. A social security trace will lead you to addresses associated with that social security number and from there you can identify what court records should be checked. Remember, your background checks must be FCRA compliant, which in addition to many things, means you need the candidate’s permission to do the checks.

5. Getting a false sense of security from the results of a background check.


The results of the background check only provide information regarding records found (or not found) in the locations searched in the name that you provided. They do not provide a guarantee that your candidate has not or will not have committed a crime. Of course it’s important to take the results of a background check into consideration, but the background check should be viewed as one of the many tools in your screening arsenal, not the end all be all of nanny screening.

6. Trusting their gut too much.


It’s great that you have a really good feeling about a candidate. That’s what you’re going for. However, when hiring a nanny, more than your gut has to point you towards the right candidate. Use your intuition as a launching point to let the screening process verify that you intuition is spot on. Just remember to give what you learn as much credence as what you feel if something turns up.

7. Not trusting their gut enough.


While nanny screening is essential, don’t let any amount of research or data (or even a nanny agency) persuade you into hiring a candidate that you have a bad feeling about. When it comes to hiring a nanny, ultimate hiring decision is yours alone. If something doesn’t feel right about a candidate, just move on.

8. Not gathering the right information from references.


Screening references can be tricky. I mean think about it. When applying for a position yourself, don’t you only provide references who you are fairly certain are going to say good things about you? In addition to confirming the information the nanny provided with regards to the job facts, like when she started, how old the children were, what her duties were, etc., gauge her reliability by asking how often she called in sick or was late for work and her responsibility level by asking if the children experienced any injuries while in her care, if she relayed accurate messages from school to home or if her tasks were always completed. If a reference seems reluctant to open up, the best think you can say is “I am thinking of hiring this person to care for my children unsupervised, in my home. That’s a big job. Should I have any concerns about hiring this nanny for this role?”

9. Not considering a nanny’s childcare philosophy.


Children thrive when their caregivers are on the same page of the same parenting book. They don’t have to necessarily agree on every detail when it comes to raising the kids, but they do have to remember whose boss when it comes to calling the shots. When considering a nanny, you do want to be in alignment when it comes to discipline, how you approach sleeping and eating and how you approach your days. If you’re a tiger mom and hire a nanny who favors the attachment parenting approach, for example, there’s going to be trouble.

10. Underestimating the power of a personal connection.


The nanny and employer relationship is just that, a relationship. And since the workplace is in the employer’s home, it should be no surprise that the relationship is an intimate one. While you certainly need not be BFFs with your nanny, simply tolerating her is not enough. You, your children and your nanny are going to be spending a lot of time together. If you don’t want that time to be miserable, you’ll want to hire someone you genuinely like. Especially since it’s pretty likely your children are going to pick up some of her traits.

When it comes to screening nanny candidates, reputable nanny placement agencies are here to help. Morningside Nannies can significantly reduce the time you spend screening candidates by doing the leg work for you and presenting to you only those candidates who are qualified for your job and are a good match for your family.

Posted in Advice for Parents, Houston | Comments Off

Back to School Organization Tips

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Now that you’ve transitioned into the back to school routine, you’ve probably been faced with dealing with the enormous amount of stuff that comes home from school each day. From important papers that need to be returned to school, to your child’s latest art class masterpiece, sorting, organizing and displaying all that comes homes may prove to be a bit of challenge.

But fear not! The next time you empty out your child’s backpack, put these 5 tips to the test to make dealing with school stuff more manageable.

1. Give your child a home/school folder.

Pick up a two pocket folder or recycle one from your own office supplies. Plastic ones will work better than paper as they are more durable. Write your child’s name on the front. Label one inside pocket “home” and the other pocket “school.” Have your child put anything that comes home from school on the home side. Put anything that needs to go back on the school side. Keep this folder in your child’s backpack so it travels back and forth from home to school with him.

2. Put up some twine.

Take a piece of twine and hang it across a wall in the living room. Add clothes pins to the twine. As your child brings artwork home, proudly display it by hanging it up on the twine. As new pieces come in and you take older ones off, be choosey about the ones you opt to hold on to. Snap a photo with your digital camera of the rest, and at the end of the year compile and print out a photo book of your child’s artwork.

3. Hang some hooks.

No one wants to have a before school scavenger hunt. The entry way can be the perfect place to hang a few hooks to store jackets and backpacks. Be sure to have your child load up her backpack each evening once she is finished her homework with what is needed for the next day. Add a basket by the door to store shoes. Keeping everything together in a set place can make getting out the door in the morning a cinch.

4. Keep important things handy.

Your child’s school calendar. Emergency school contacts. Your child’s specials schedule that reminds you which day is gym. Laminate these and add them to a three ring binder that is easy to access. Take photos of these documents with your phone so they’re always handy.

5. Select your storage space.

Have a set place to keep your child’s lunch box, instrument and library books. Dedicate a storage spot to anything that comes home and goes back to school with your child so you’re not left searching for something as you’re heading out the door.

Taking a systematic approach to managing what comes home and goes back to school can help to keep clutter and disorganization at bay. Putting together a plan for organizing school stuff can help you to track what’s going on at school and ensure both you and the kids can find what you need when you need it most.

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BACK TO SCHOOL STATISTICS for 2014

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Ways to Stay Fit When Working in Houston

ways-to-stay-fit-when-working-in-houstonThere’s no shortage of ways to stay fit if you’re working in Houston. From running to CrossFit, and everything in between, there’s something for everyone who’s looking to break a sweat.

If you’re a runner, check out these trails:

  • Terry Hershey Park: Located just off of I10 and the Beltway, Terry Hershey Park boasts miles and miles of paved trails for runners to enjoy. The trails are tucked away in a serene setting filled with trees, wildlife and water – you won’t even realize you’re right next to two major freeways!
  • Memorial Park: At Memorial Park you’ll find an easy-to-follow a 2.88-mile dirt pathway that is always filled with runners. Because the path is a big loop, Memorial Park is an easy favorite for runners who want to run without worry of getting lost.
  • Hermann Park Trail: Runners will enjoy a variety of scenery and a dirt running trail that is easy on the joints. From the park’s website: “Joggers love following the 2-mile Marvin Taylor Exercise Trail around the golf course under the shade of the Park’s historic live oaks.”

If you do CrossFit, head to one of these boxes:

  • CrossFit EaDo: This box boasts that it’s the biggest CrossFit box in Texas, and has received rave reviews for not just the box itself, but also the coaches.
  • CrossFit H-Town: Named one of the top 15 CrossFit boxes in America, CrossFit H-Town is a celebrated box in downtown Houston that serious CrossFitters will love.
  • CrossFit Roughnecks: Located in the heart of Downtown Houston, CrossFitters who work in the city will love the ease of access to this box.

If you’re a yogi, find your inner peace at one of these studios:

  • YogaOne: YogaOne has five different locations around the Houston area and offers Hot Yoga, Forrest Yoga and Vinyasa Flow classes. These studios are a favorite among Houstonians.
  • Republic Yoga Studios: Classes at Republic Yoga Studios are capped at 14 students so that each student gets the personalized attention they need and deserve. Students will find this unique setting a breath of fresh air from bigger studios where it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
  • Jennyoga: Jennyoga describes their studio as, “an open and supportive community committed to the study and celebration of yoga.” The studio specializes in Hatha yoga forms, offering classes for everyone from beginners to the more advanced student.

If you’re looking for cycling classes, head to one of these spin studios:

  • My Indoor Cycle: Small classes, upbeat instructors and top of the line spin bikes make My Indoor Cycle one of the best spin studios in Houston. Spin enthusiasts also enjoy no contracts and low drop-in rates.
  • Define Body and Mind: Define Revolution promises to combine “principles of isometrics with cardio-blasting, high intensity fun”. But don’t just stop at the spin classes; Define offers several other types of group classes as well, allowing you to explore all areas of fitness.
  • Revolution: Everyone is welcome at Revolution Studio, no matter what your fitness level or spin experience. From the website: “In each class, your instructor will lead the way, suggesting target resistance levels and movements but YOU decide what is right for you with individual resistance knobs located on each bike.”

These classes only scratch the surface of the options available for fitness enthusiasts in Houston. Whatever your preferred method for getting fit, Houston is sure to have it!

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Creating a Nanny Log Book

creating-a-nanny-log-bookHaving a nanny to care for your child when you can’t is a great asset and one way to make your relationship even better is through a Nanny Log Book. A Nanny Log Books allows you and your nanny to communicate easily and effectively every day. It allows you to see what your child is eating and doing during the day and keep on top of any problems as they arise. Here are some tips to create a Nanny Log Book:

1. Emergency Contacts

One of the first sections of a Nanny Log Book should be a list of emergency contacts. If something should happen when your nanny is home alone with your child and can’t reach you, they should be able to call many other numbers to get help. Phone numbers for friends, relatives or even neighbors should be easy to find in case of emergency.

2. Local Help

Along with personal contacts, your Nanny Log Books should also contain local help. The fire department, police department and other local numbers should be listed. A neighbor that can help is great, but professional help is sometimes needed. The number and address for the local hospital and your child’s pediatrician should also be included.

3. Eating Habits

– Now we can move on to things the nanny needs to include in the Log Book. One suggestion is to include eating habits. With infants, she should log times fed and burped. With older kids, she should note what they ate, how much, and at what times. Not only will this help you to make sure your kids have a balanced and healthy diet, but you can also note any allergic reactions they might have and keep their eating on schedule on the days you have them to yourself.

4. Sleeping Habits

Nap time, bed time and getting up in the morning should always be noted for your child. This can help set up a routine to make sleeping easier and ensure your child stays well rested.

5. Diaper Changes

Another important thing to include in the Nanny Log Book is diaper changes or potty times. Potty training is an important part of a child’s life and having a consistent schedule between you and the nanny is vital. Notations of color or consistency can also help to make sure that the child is digesting food properly.

6. Issues or Problems

As the day goes on, problems from the morning may slip a nanny’s mind. Or you might come in tired and too exhausted to have a long conversation. Having a Log Book where the nanny can note problems or issues with your child throughout the day can be a simple way to see patterns of behavior and work with your nanny to correct them.

7. Milestones and Activities

Another great thing to log is milestones. The baby rolling over, the young child reciting his ABC’s, an older child doing the dishes, and so on can be shared with you through a Nanny Log Book. Even photos or recordings of the event can be shared if your Nanny Log Book is on a computer.

8. Medications

If your child is ill or takes medications regularly, it is important to keep track of doses and times. Having a Log Book can help keep your child well and on schedule and help to ensure that your child isn’t over or under medicated.

Creating a Nanny Log Book can give insight into your child’s day. From meal time to nap time, sharing information is vital to making sure your child gets the care he deserves and that you stay in the loop.

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8 NAEYC Accredited Preschools in Houston

8-NAEYC-Accredited-Preschools-in-HoustonSafe and educational childcare is a priority for all parents. But how do you determine which preschools offer the services you want for your child? Accreditation is a great way to make sure that your preschool offers the opportunities you want for your child. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) “has set 10 standards for early childhood programs that can help families make the right choice when they are looking for a child care center, preschool, or kindergarten. The standards and criteria are also the foundation of the NAEYC Accreditation system for early childhood programs. To earn accreditation, programs must meet all 10 standards. Based on research on the development and education of young children, the standards were created with input from experts and educators from around the country. The standards define what NAEYC—the world’s largest organization of early childhood professionals—believes all early childhood programs should provide.” Here are some Houston area preschools that are accredited by NAEYC:

1. Poe Cooperative Nursery School

“In April, 1991 Poe-Co became the first parent cooperative preschool to achieve N.A.E.Y.C. accreditation.” As a co-op, Poe believes in involving parents in the education of their children. Parents volunteer to help out in the classroom and the whole family is involved in the education of the children. Not only does Poe help preschool students succeed, but they are affiliated with Poe Elementary School, allowing the children to have a seamless transition from preschool to grade school.

2. Sherwood Forest Montessori School

Another great preschool choice with a focus on education is Sherwood Forest Montessori School. A Montessori school might not be the right fit for all children, but it does offer a unique learning experience. The school enrolls children from 18 months through the sixth grade. “Founded in 1977, Sherwood Forest Montessori School is an independent learning environment specifically designed for young children and their individual needs.”

3. First Wings Learning Center

“Established in 1994, First Wings Learning Center originally opened to serve children of the Houston Air Traffic Control Center (ZHU) and then at a later date services were extended to the general public.” A different take on preschool, this airplane themed atmosphere could be the perfect choice for those who live close to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Believing in active and fun activities as a way of learning, the school promotes singing, storytelling and game play.

4. The Rise School

A special school for special students, The Rise School is “dedicated to educating young children born with Down syndrome and developmental disabilities alongside their traditional-learning peers.” But even if your child does not have a disability, The Rise School may still be a good choice. “Every year Rise enrolls traditional learners that make up 30% of the student body. For a traditional learner, Rise exceeds a typical preschool environment with small student to teacher ratios, one on one learning plans, master’s level teachers and an inclusive environment not found anywhere else in Houston.”

5. Beehive Coop

Another cooperative preschool program, Beehive stresses parental involvement. “The program is designed to foster positive feelings towards school so that children will leave the program eager to continue learning in both formal and informal settings. Because parents attend Beehive with their children, parents demonstrate to their children the value they place on education and encourage a lifelong habit of learning.” For some parents, Beehive may be a great way to introduce your child to a traditional learning environment while still remaining highly involved in their education.

6. The Walden School

Located in Sugar Land, just south of Houston, the Walden School offers education for children 6 weeks of age through 12 years. Parental involvement is also stressed at this school, as is a focus on self-esteem. “Open communication with staff and directors is encouraged, and a variety of activities are planned especially to involve parents in special events in their child’s school activities.”

7. Creative Minds Child Development Center

Also located in Sugar Land, Creative Minds has the goal of creating lifelong learners. “We help children become independent, self-confident, inquisitive learners by providing an environment that allows children to learn by doing. Our curriculum encourages children to be active and creative explorers. We teach kids how to learn, not just in preschool, but all through their lives.” Active outdoor time and learning fun factor heavily into the curriculum.

8. Pines Montessori School

Located in Kingwood near the Creekwood Nature Reserve, north of Houston, Pines has been an educational anchor since 1977. They “are the largest Montessori school in the area and serve the widest range of ages, from 6 weeks through 15 years (8th grade).” In order to help children learn real life skills, they “offer a challenging, lively curriculum that emphasizes the fundamentals of learning and encourages young scholars to communicate, reason, and think. We regard proficiency in reading and mathematics to be essential, not as ends in themselves, but because these basics are the keys to life-long success.”

There are more accredited preschools in and near Houston, including many religiously affiliated ones. Find the right preschool for your child and check accreditation to make sure they meet your expectations.

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