World’s Best Caregiving Dad
My husband is a knight in shining armor when it comes to almost everything. But the way he cares for and understands our autistic son is amazing. My husband came on the scene when my son was six months old (biological dad skipped town during pregnancy), was a good friend for years, and moved across the country to help me. A year later, we were married (just celebrated our tenth anniversary in May!) and he has been "Daddy" ever since. Jason has read every book written about childhood disorders, he has attended parenting classes on how to be the best parent for a disabled child. He has been hit, kicked, and screamed at by our son when he was having terrible tantrums. He has been at bedside during hospital stays, he has gotten up in the middle of the night every single time my son has been ill or had a nightmare. He attends every therapy and doctor session possible. He has given up time with friends, date nights with me, etc. so that our son is taken care of in the best way. He has fought by my side when schools wouldn't listen. He is an advocate, a caregiver, a loving father, a strong support. Jason is Joshua's knight in shining armor and I am so blessed to have him in our lives.
Thank you Jason and thank you Care.com for allowing us to share this with you.
(Submitted by Brenda R.)
World’s Best Fixer-Upper
My father, Norman Moore, is the most amazing man. I think he could win every category but I will focus on being the best fixer-upper. He can fix just about anything. He always had a work bench in the basement or in the shed where he could tinker around and fix things. He fixed our toys, our cars, our fixtures. As we got older and moved into our own places, he would come there and do the same. He is aging now, and does not have quite the same strength and stamina that he used to, but when he comes to visit, I can still count on him to fix a broken door knob or to re-tool a cabinet if the fixtures are not just right.
He was an aircraft mechanic during most of my growing up years, a trade he learned from 22 years spent serving our country in the Army. While in the Army, he served in many capacities as a mechanic, and during wartime as a medic, fixing up bodies of wounded soldiers until he could get them to the medical tents where the trained doctors and nurses could take over.
After pondering this, I realize my dad was pretty good at fixing up broken hearts as well. He was there when I had my feelings hurt as a teenager by some silly childhood crush. He was there when our marriage had difficulties and rejoiced with us as we made it work. He was there to help be a fixer-up when we lost our babies. He is there fixing things up for my mom as she ages and faces the deterioration of her own health. He makes her meals and cares for her so lovingly and tenderly that it is hard to imagine him being the lean, strong mechanic I remember from my youth. I hope you will consider him for your contest.
What a great way to help us reflect upon what we love about our dads! Thanks!
(Submitted by Malia)
World’s Best-Cookin’ Dad
My dad is the best cook in the world. Me and my brother love his Super Duper Beeforonis. He says it's his original recipe. It's cheesy and beefy and always brings “yumm” sounds around the table. Dad would make things especially for mom, too. Like, every year for her birthday, he makes her curried crab legs and twice-baked potatoes. I think he just bakes them two times, but mom says they're special. Now that daddy doesn't live with us anymore, I missed his cooking for a while but I found out that he can still cook Super Duper Beeforonis even from his new place. And they still taste just as good. I love my daddy.
(Submitted by Darian P.)
World’s Best Recliner
My husband's step-dad, Frank is Mr. Recliner! He has been a master plumber for many years and just killed his knees, resulting in surgery last year. That means lots less activity, but no less fun! With a 13-year-old daughter still at home, he's a single dad with lots on his plate, so he deserves his down time. Now we spend our time together cheering on our favorite teams on the big screen or from the seats of Fenway Park, hot dogs in hands. We're huge Red Sox and Patriots fans, but now that we live miles apart, our trash talking is mostly texted!
Our lives wouldn't be half as fun, or as fulfilling, without these two fantastic guys!
(Submitted by Joanna)
PBS Parents asked me to be a guest blogger on their regular “Expert Q&A” column. So, last week, I wrote a post about finding summer child care, and then responded to readers’ questions and comments.
One 13-year-old wrote in asking how she could find a babysitting job. She’s too young to list herself on Care.com (for legal reasons, our minimum age is 17). Since she’s just in her early teens and new to babysitting, I suggested she check out her local American Red Cross chapter. They offer great First Aid/safety training classes for 11- to 15-year-old sitters who are just getting started.
The key thing for younger babysitters is to try and receive training early on. That way, they’ll be better prepared for a caregiving role and have the know-how for handling emergency situations. The Red Cross courses are even great training exercises for your older children, if you sometimes leave them alone with their younger siblings, so you might want to look into them for your own family, too!
So, what do you think? Would you be interested in hiring a young sitter like Alysha who wrote into my post at PBS Parents? Or do you have a minimum age for babysitters? Let the Care.com community know with a comment!
As any parent knows, you don't have to leave home to have fun, and at Shoestring, we believe that every day is a new adventure in affordability.
Two weeks ago, we launched our first-ever "staycations" guide as part of our budget travel issue, capitalizing on the buzzword du jour for spending quality time at home without breaking your nest egg. Sure, through road trips, exploring your city like a tourist, and capitalizing on nature's summer bounty, we do regain a little financial security, but more importantly we foster a stimulating sense of youth, of simplicity, and of directly contributing to our local community -- friends and neighbors who are hurting in this economy, too.
Whether in lieu of a traditional family getaway or just to complement sending the kids to the babysitter instead of the camp counselor, plan valuable, educational, and memorable vacations closer to home with our Shoestring Staycations Survival Guide (plus some bonus tips below just for Care.com members!)
First and foremost: Just because you're staying at home doesn't mean that work, chores, or other daily obligations have a place in your list of activities. This is a vacation, after all! Turn off the cell phone and tidy up as a family before you embark on your staycation adventure.
Now, for the fun stuff…
PLAN A PARTY
Everyone loves a good theme party, but a good staycation party planned well can also become a great educational opportunity. Pick a place, either in a faraway country or a domestic city foreign to your family's experiences, and research the ins and outs of that culture to pick your décor, activities, attire, recipes, and the other elements that will contribute to an authentic experience. From something as simple as a "truck stop breakfast" to a full on British bash, you can have fun on a budget while still bringing out the curiosity and sense of wonder your family would find on a ‘normal’ vacation. Our tip: start in the international foods aisle of your local grocery store for inspiration. Depending on what your kids first gravitate towards, Vegemite or Pocky Sticks could be the inspiration for an Australian or a Japanese staycation party, complete with vocabulary lessons. Read our full interview with staycation party planner Jenn Sbranti on Shoestring for more planning advice.
FLY WITH FOREIGN CULTURES
Spin the party out into a full week of exploration. Pick a place and buy a guidebook just as you would for a far-flung vacation, but instead of booking reservations at international hotels, use Yelp.com or other city search resources to find restaurants near you cooking that culture’s cuisine and book a table. Call the local embassy of that country for their advice on what to do in your area or sign up for a class in tea ceremony or shiatsu massage. It’s amazing how quickly a whole week can fill up with local (and low-cost) activities, plus you’ll save a fortune in hotel and airfare expenses. Can’t find enough on a particular culture to fill up an entire week or weekend? Do an “Around The World” vacation where each day is based on a different destination.
GO CAMPING…IN THE BACKYARD
If you have all of the right equipment (or can reasonably rent or borrow it), there’s nothing more fun to an elementary age or preteen kid than camping out in the backyard – especially if they’ve never camped before. (Plus, it's close enough to the house not to ruin your trip if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, or they get scared of the elements.) Pitch a tent, plan a campfire menu of franks, beans, and s’mores, and play a little Kumbaya or flashlight tag. Learn how to tie Scout knots or study the plants, trees, flowers and bugs found around your property. If you live in the city, consider taking a trek up to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park – an affordable option that’s both campground and theme park, just an hour from New York City.
FREE FAMILY FUN
We're all so mind-numbingly busy these days that we don't even get a chance to really enjoy or explore own cities and towns -- not to mention take advantage of all the fun and free activities for families. Have the kids help -- maybe even keep the family hound in mind -- when researching your itinerary for the week or weekend, and start with the free local events: fairs and festivals; book readings and story hours; outdoor films and plays in the park. Check out this Care.com article for Fun Things for City Kidsto do in metro areas all over the US. (Fun fact: I wrote it when I used to work for Sheila as Care.com's editorial director. : )
TINY TRIPS & SCENIC DRIVES
We all have the stories to prove it: family road trips are fun and fabulous in theory, but frustrating (or worse) in reality. You know your own kids best, however, and gauging their excitement level and their age, tiny trips and scenic drives (with a big reward at the end) can be totally doable -- usually on a dime. Open up your atlas or Google Maps and plot a reasonable drive of a certain radius in miles from home. Then, look up fun and off-the-beaten-path things to do for the whole family that don’t cost a whole lot of dough. Our favorites (since we’re based in New England) are a trip to the century-old Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire for its wooden roller coasters and lakeside paddle boating or a trip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont for all the ice cream cones you can carry. Check out more of our budget-friendly road trip ideas on ShoestringMag.com, as well as our top 10 tips for road-tripping with your pets.
Does your family have a favorite "staycation" idea or tradition? Share it with us and the Care.com community by leaving a comment below!
Founder, Editor in Chief
Safety for our loved ones is a huge priority at Care.com, and for parents everywhere.
But don't take it from me! Dee Z., our director of product management, wanted to share her tips for finding a babysitter with you -- because she's not only a Care.com staffer, but also a client.
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When my daughter was a baby, my nickname was "Safety Dee." I was the one who sent in the product registration cards, put up the safety gates at three months, never left the baby on the bed, and pored over recall notices. It's been about five years now since someone called me Safety Dee, but I like to think I've hung on to some of those good habits and let go of those slightly compulsive ones. With a reputation like that, many of my friends still can't believe that I use an internet service to find child care. But, for me, finding good child care anywhere (online or otherwise) is all about the vetting process.
Sure, I work at Care.com, but I'm writing to share my experience as a Care.com member and a mom -- not as an employee. Since joining Care.com, I've found four great babysitters in the past 18 months: a wonderful exchange student, who moved home to Germany; a fantastic occasional sitter on her way to med school; an afterschool sitter about to become a mom herself; and, my latest babysitter, a college freshman about to spend her whole summer entertaining my kids and keeping them safe.
I think one reason Care.com has worked so well for my family is that I have an extensive vetting process. It looks something like this:
1. Look for the right match
First, I post a job and then review applications and profiles with a few key things in mind. I know my kids are high energy and love sports, so I usually look for a student who is energetic and plays sports. Everyone is looking for something slightly different, and the key is not to compromise your priorities. Once I've sent some messages and narrowed the list down to two or three people, I move on to the next step.
2. Run a preliminary background check.
No, they don't catch absolutely everything, but they're included for free with the service and do provide some good initial insight and details. The second sitter I hired actually failed her background check, but thankfully I was able to look at the details right on the site and found out it was for a speeding ticket when she was 18 years old. Not a showstopper for me.
Check available references and ask a bunch of questions. I always ask the reference why that sitter doesn't work for them anymore. I also ask if this was their "best" sitter ever, and about how the sitter handled changes of plan, bad behavior, emergencies, etc.
4. Quality time!
The final thing I do is spend time with the sitter. In addition to our initial meeting, I try to schedule at least 8 to 10 hours of sitting when I will be around. (Ok, so maybe there is still a bit of over-the-top behavior in my parenting… “Safety Dee” isn't completely gone. :) I try to work from home or plan to organize, clean, cook, and do other random things around the house. This gives me the opportunity to watch the kids and the sitter interact and it gives the sitter a chance to see how I behave around the kids as well.
As I wrote this note, I'm back at the office and my new sitter is with my daughter for their first day out alone together. So far, I've only called once and sent two text messages -- not bad! By next week, I'll have full confidence in her ability to handle any situation that may arise. Care.com did a great job of connecting us and giving me to the tools to get through the first few steps in my process, but the key for me is really getting to know someone so I can feel comfortable and secure in the fact my kids are safe and having a good time.
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