Cold and flu season is here. From the sniffles and sneezes I hear around the office, I know the employees at Care.com are fighting some bugs. It makes me wonder: What is your sick day policy with your nanny?
I know some families don’t want a sick nanny to come to work – and then infect the kids. Other families say to stay home only if their nanny absolutely can’t come in. And I even know one family who provides vitamins for their nanny in an attempt to boost her immune system (feels a little intrusive, right?).
No matter what, you should really have a sick plan for the day your nanny needs to stay in bed – and you need to get to work. Here at Care.com, we recommend having a Back up Care Plan of sitters (including college sitters) in your neighborhood who could help you out at the last-minute. The trick however, is to interview them when everyone is healthy.
Tip: A back up plan comes in handy on snowy days too, when your nanny might get snowed in or school is cancelled – and you have to get some work done. But for this list, you’ll want to find people who could walk to your house, take public transportation or who don’t have a problem driving in the snow. (Get tips on creating a snow day care plan)
In the meantime, I wish you a happy and healthy winter. Do you have any tips on warding off viruses? I’m a believer in Good Belly probiotic juice drinks and gargling with salt water when I feel run down. I also practice deep breathing when I get stressed out. What are your cold and flu fighters?
January 30, 2012
Cold and flu season is here. From the sniffles and sneezes I hear around the office, I know the employees at Care.com are fighting some bugs. It makes me wonder: What is your sick day policy with your nanny?
January 16, 2012
The New Year brings a lot of changes – and evaluations. I like to clean out my closets. If I haven't worn something in over a year, I donate it. It's also the time our company does performance reviews to talk about strengths and challenges we want to work on in the next year.
I've also found that a lot of our members like to evaluate their care plan this time of year.
An employee here recently left work a little early on a nice day and popped in on her nanny and son at the playground. Her nanny was calmly sitting on the park bench. But her 3-year old son was playing "baseball" (no bats or balls, just running bases in some game he'd concocted like creative, wild 3-year olds can be!) with another nanny and 3-year old in the field. Everyone was fine, but Mom had a realization – her calm, pleasant, nurturing nanny couldn't match the energy level of her bouncing, sprinting, leaping 3-year old boy.
It was time for a new nanny.
If you were to do it over again, would you hire the same nanny for your child? What qualities have you found are most important in care providers?
Sometimes these changes can be made with a discussion, like with performance reviews. You could ask your nanny to sit down and discuss the year ahead. This is a great time to update your nanny contract as well. Or, you might feel you need a whole new personality who is a better fit for your evolving family. (One tip: If you decide it's time for a change, make sure you give your current nanny proper notice. We suggest 2 weeks.)
Tell us – what do you love most about your nanny – or what would you change?
Transitioning your child to a new nanny
Get tips for interviewing a nanny
How to Negotiate Salary
You're the Boss – Like it or Not
December 19, 2011
Many of us New Englanders would like to forget the record breaking snowfall last year, but with tomorrow being the first day of winter, the question on everyone's mind is, "Will it be another brutal winter?" Followed by, "Will I have enough vacation days to cover the snow days?" For kids it's just the opposite: "How many snow days will we get this year?!"
Most kids get excited for snow days, eagerly waiting to see the cancellation announcements and cheering when they come in. But it can leave many parents scrambling to find a last minute sitter so they can still go to work.
To help make sure your family's needs are covered through flurries, blizzards and the next snowpacalypse, we've compiled a list of steps you can take now to make snow days less stressful when they arrive.
Line-up care providers before the storm.
To blizzard-proof your child care, create a go to list of "favorite" backup caregivers before a single flake hits the ground. Take time now and interview top local babysitters who are interested in taking on occasional jobs – so local that they can walk to your house, despite snow drifts and unplowed roads. Create a plan with them to make sure they'd be willing to come on short notice.
Our Care-on-Call service gives you an additional way to communicate your needs. If all your backup sitters are unavailable, you can use Care-on-Call to quickly broadcast your needs to a list of local caregivers who are available and willing to provide backup care on short notice. Simply fill out a Care-on-Call request and Care.com will text messages and emails to local caregivers who have indicated a willingness to help on short notice.
Gather a back-up care community group.
Care Groups are a great way to help form friendships – for parents and kids! They can also help you arrange backup care. You can create an online care group for free and invite parents from your neighborhood and school system to join.
With a care group, you can send messages to specific group member's inboxes or broadcast announcements such as, "Should school be delayed or cancelled tomorrow, would anyone be willing to split child care needs? I can watch your kids from 2-6p.m. if you watch mine from 9-1p.m."
Formalize a back-up care co-op.
More structured than the care groups, care co-ops provide a tracking system for swapping care with other parents. Instead of using money, parents exchange points. Last-minute snow-day care may mean forking over more points than an average date night, but if it means getting to work to meet a deadline, it's probably worth it.
Track the storm
Stay in touch with the forces of nature as soon as you hear a storm may be impending. Watch for school closings and keep on top of the television and radio reports. If forecasters are predicting snow into the night and next morning, then snow plows might not be able to catch up. Also, if you hear a lot of hype, schools may even close the night before.
Okay, you've been studying the weather, and you can feel it in your bones. A storm will arrive before the wee hours of the morning. It's time to initiate your care plan make the first contact with your list of back-up care providers or the other parents in your group or co-op.
With everyone poised and ready to take on the coming storm, you should be as close as possible to blizzard-proofing care for your family, no matter how frightful the weather.
Safe Snow Driving for You and Your Nanny
November 28, 2011
"Are my parents capable of taking care of themselves? Do they... need help?"
For adult children, these questions can trigger intense feelings of sadness and confusion – feelings I faced for the first time about 10 years ago, when my father suddenly needed quadruple by-pass surgery. While hazily trying to function within a cloud of stress and worry, I realized for the first time that my parents are not invincible. And at some point – either now or in the future – caregiving roles will shift. I may eventually be the one responsible for their care and well-being. While I truly believe it is an honor to be able to give back to my parents, it is not an easy mental transition to make.
As we celebrate the holiday season, we often spend more time with family and relatives than our usual schedules allow. Looking around the festive dinner table, many adult children suddenly recognize their loved one is growing more vulnerable with age and subtle signs lead to big questions. Spoiled food in the fridge. Lapses in short or long term memory. Hot burners left on.
"Is Dad showing signs of Alzheimer's?"
"Do I need to take the car keys away from Mom?
"Are these warning signs that my parent needs help?"
Since I know that many families will face these questions over the coming weeks, I wanted to share some tips from our senior care expert and licensed clinical social worker, Jody Gastfriend. Jody's own moment of sad recognition occurred 15 years ago, when her father simply wandered away from a holiday gathering and was eventually diagnosed with dementia. Inspired by her parents' strength and personal family caregiving experience, Jody offers the following tips from 25 years of working within the senior care field:
Tip #1: Communicate concerns with empathy and respect
It is important to balance your concerns with an appreciation of your parent's need for autonomy and control. Parents may feel overwhelmed from fears of losing independence and react negatively to concerns expressed by their children. Jody recommends starting the conversation by exploring your parent's perceptions and needs to gain a better understanding of what is most important to them, before introducing suggestions for long term care.
Tip #2: Join forces.
If possible, speak with your siblings before the visit with your parents. Have they noticed any changes, particularly those that reflect a shift in your parent's baseline level of functioning? Together, formulate a plan to move forward. When you do talk to your parents, Jody says it is important to communicate as a united front. Stay focused on your parent's wellbeing and avoid getting stirred up by unresolved family conflicts.
Tip #3: Do the research.
Now that you've formed a team, ask everyone to do a little investigating. What local resources are available? Find out the costs and types of care that may be the right fit for your parent.
Tip #4: Consult a professional.
After you've armed yourself with the knowledge of the local options, talk to an expert. A medical diagnosis is important. And, if you are afraid that a parent is showing signs of Alzheimer's, get him or her evaluated for Alzheimer's Disease or dementia. Likewise, if you are unsure whether your parent qualifies for Medicaid, talk to a elder law attorney in the same state as your parent. A geriatric care manager, such as a nurse or social worker, can help with many aspects of the caregiving process.
Tip #5: Have a constructive, patient conversation.
Hold a family meeting or speak with your parent one-on-one, whichever is more feasible for your family. Open and ongoing communication is necessary to meet the changing needs of your loved ones as they age. Unless your parents are deemed mentally incompetent or a danger to others, it is their right to make their own decisions-even bad ones. The best approach is to practice understanding and compassion in getting your message across. Even humor can be effective at times.
Being proactive and communicating collaboratively with parents and siblings to create a plan will likely yield the best results in the long run.
Check out these articles for additional reading:
How to Talk to a Parent about Driving
Sibling Strife: How to Resolve the 3 Senior Care Issues Siblings Fight About Most
What You Don't Know about Elder Law Can Hurt You
If you are caring for an aging parent, when did you first realize that he or she needed care? How did you talk to your parent about your concerns? If you are currently worried that your parent may need care, check out our senior care counseling service to talk with licensed social workers about your family's specific needs.
November 14, 2011
Each year, during the weeks prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Care Team sees an increase in job postings for pet caregivers. We know that many of our members are going to have to spend the holidays separated from their furry or feathered loved ones. Stress levels are already maxed out as we make travel plans, prepare to visit relatives, and often struggle to meet the high expectations that come along with the turkey dinners and holiday parties. And when it comes to finding care for the furrier members of the family, it is more than just a To-Do on the checklist. As the anxiety levels rise, pet owners know that their little ones can sense that something is stirring, and even the most peaceful of animals may start to show signs of stress.
Since we have already seen the beginnings of one of 2011's peak pet care season, I wanted to share some tips on how to keep your pets calm through the whirlwind holiday season:
1. Control your own stress.
Some animals simply seem to have a super tuned-in sense when it comes to humans. With dogs, research has shown that they have evolved to read our facial expressions and body language with unparalleled skill – even when compared to primates. This ability has created an incredible bond, but it has also resulted in their keen capability to interpret a spectrum of human emotions, including stress. Ultimately, if you and your family exhibit signs of stress, your pets will likely pick up on your anxiety and mirror your emotions. Gnawing on furniture, becoming overly excited, whining, and other symptoms are all potential results. If you are struggling with stress, and think your pet may be picking up on it, check out this article for additional (human) de-stressing tips: 7 Common Stress Scenarios - Solved and another blog post on Beating Stress!
2. Walk, run, play.
Dog trainer, author, and Animal Planet host Andrea Arden points out that "many people slack off on their normal exercise routine during the busy holiday season, and as a result, they also fail to provide their pets with adequate exercise. An appropriate outlet for energy – both mental and physical – is vital for your pet to make it through the holidays in a manner that is as stress-free as possible." Even as you interview potential pet sitters and make travel plans, work with your family to make time for exercise with your pets. Taking walks is essential for dogs, and all pets will benefit from active playtime.
3. Keep up a steady routine.
As you lead up to the moment where you and your pet will need to part ways, keep up the normal routine as much as possible. Take walks at the same time every day. Ensure meals are consistent, and play with familiar toys. Write up a description for your pet sitter. Keeping a steady routine before and during the time you are away will better ensure a calm, happy pet.
4. Create happy memories with the new caregiver.
If your pets will be staying with a new caregiver, give them a trial run. Have playtime with the new pet sitter wherever your pet will be staying while you're away. Throw a ball in the new caregiver's backyard, and go for a walk around the new neighborhood. Not only will your pet build beneficial associations with his or her new surroundings, but you will find peace of mind by knowing your pet is happy and healthy while you are away.
5. Take familiar toys.
When you drop-off your pet, don't forget to supply the new caregiver with familiar and comforting old toys, towels, and treats. Andrea recommends a food stuffed chew toy, such as the Busy Buddy Twist n' Treat or the Molecuball. Both can help keep a stressed pet happily occupied – a good trick for caregivers and any owners looking for a little relief from pets who love to be constantly underfoot during the holiday bustle.
Do your pets seem to exhibit increasing signs of stress as the holidays approach? How do you help them relax? Do you find that exercise helps? Share your own tips.
October 31, 2011
When I had Ryan, my first child, my childcare plan of action involved me trying to juggle my return to school and a desire to find someplace – any place – that would take my infant son. I look back on those days as a catch-as-catch-can childcare plan. The challenges I faced in not understanding what my care options were or having a go-to resource that could explain how to actually find them, inspired me to start Care.com.
As more and more moms return to work – full or part-time – we at Care.com find moms in various states of their childcare plans, from pregnancy to a few weeks before their return to work. And regardless of where you are, and what state of mind, we know that you want to know all of your options, and be comfortable with your ultimate care solutions, before returning to work.
Setting up a support network is critical for both your sanity and your family’s well-being during this transition time. I spoke with Lynette Fraga, our Care.com expert on early childhood, and she had some great advice.
1. Validate Your Feelings.
Whether you’ve spent 8 weeks, 8 months, or 8 years with your child at home, you will likely experience a spectrum of emotions during this transition. You may look forward to some elements – adult conversation, finishing a cup of coffee without interruption, the return of a salary. But they can compete with the sadness of leaving your child, baby or not, and missing out on the little moments you experienced together. Then there's the anxiety of still being able to do what you did before you had a child. You've undergone a major life change since you left the workplace. Instead of letting feelings of panic paralyze you, concentrate on devising a smooth transition into working motherhood – and the entire family will benefit.
2. Give yourself a logistical headstart.
Try to get yourself into a similar routine to your work schedule – as much as you can – while balancing the eating and sleeping agenda that you've established at home. And if you haven't totally established a routine, a few weeks before your return is a great time to start. Whether it's practicing giving a bottle to your breastfed baby or simply stockpiling formula, frozen breast milk, and food, the act of physically preparing for a return can facilitate the mental preparation. Try to start the work routine a week or so early. If possible, take your child into work for a visit. It's an opportunity to show off your new baby to co-workers or to show your child where you will be spending your day.
3. Set up your childcare.
When planning to leave your child in someone else's care, you have to weigh the logistical with the emotional: daycare or babysitter; a center or home care. Whatever you choose, it must make the most sense for your child…and for you. You must consider your schedule; the best environment for you; and, of course, what you can afford. Plus, every mother wonders: will this person take as good care of my child as I do? Am I prepared for my child to connect with someone new? Even as the millions of uncertainties run through your head, start the process of hiring a caregiver. Interview candidates at your local coffee shop. Check references and run background checks. But what tips the scales? A certain feeling in your gut that simply says, yes, I trust this person. Most of all, realize that you are starting a new relationship – the one with your care provider. The mother-caregiver relationship is a partnership that requires communication, comfort and a shared commitment to raising your child together.
4. Set reasonable expectations.
The return to work is an ideal time to set new rules and expectations from the beginning. The more up front and firm you are about your work and home wishes, the smoother the transition will be. No one can anticipate everything, but it's important to be realistic and flexible with your co-workers, your care provider and your spouse during this transitional time.
5. Request back up before an emergency.
While you may have a primary caregiver who comes to your home daily, line up several back up babysitters for sick days and even those luxurious date nights.
Babies are constantly picking up on cues from Mom. When Mom is happy and comfortable, so is Baby. Make sure to talk to other moms at work or within your local community. Check out our working moms group find other moms who have all made the transition back to work. And, finally, reward yourself with a pedicure or a massage. Let someone take care of you for a bit.
Check out these articles for additional tips:
Are you going to be transitioning back to work? What are you struggling with the most? Have you made the transition post-baby in the past? Share your own strategies for success.
October 24, 2011
A 2011 Care.com Guest Writer Contest, hosted on my blog, asked all promising scribes to tell us about themselves and their families. Selecting this winner proved to be an incredibly difficult process – there are so many parents with such moving and inspirational stories! Our panel of judges finally narrowed the selection down to two mothers, Kelsey and Valerie. Both told their life stories with intense passion and heart wrenching honesty. Both are potentially facing the greatest challenges of their lives. And we had no choice but to choose both as the winners of our contest.
Independent. Strong-willed. Fierce. Kelsey, currently living in Iowa, is a college student, future lawyer, and single mom to baby Isaac. In less than a year, Kelsey’s life was transformed. From a typical college student, she became a single mother, fighting her way towards a law degree – six hundred miles away from family and friends. To understand her daily battle to build a successful future for herself and Isaac, the Care Team and I asked her to share some insights into what it means to be on your own and doing-it-all:
Who are your role models?
Immediately upon the discovery of two pink lines on a little white stick, I resented the ironic timing. The previous year, I had five friends become pregnant at the same time. Their situations ranged from married college students to potentially questionable paternities and just about everything in between. But none of them were planned and all of them handled their pregnancies and motherhood with grace. So, Erika, Ashley, Lindsay, Mackenzie, and Miranda were all role models of mine in terms of young mothers, single and otherwise.
My parents got married at the ages of 18 and 19, and they are celebrating their 29th anniversary this year. They didn't go to college, but they worked very hard and struggled with monetary issues – the same issues that I now face – before and after the births of their four children. They've always inspired me to defy popular gossip and expectations and to never lose faith. They're the reason I know it's not love or faith or trust that breaks people, but it's people that break these ideals.
How do you hope your son will describe you when he’s older?
I want him to have intense respect for women in order to help prevent what I went through with his father from happening to anyone else. To that end, I hope that he will remember my strong moments and hopefully never have to see me when I break. When he becomes an adult, I want him to look back at my accomplishments in the same way I look back at my parents’. I hope he will say that I always did what I thought was best for him, for us.
Why have you chosen not to lean on your parents for support?
They've worked hard their entire adult lives for everything they have. They shouldn't have to sacrifice the lifestyle they've spent decades creating for me since nobody did so for them. Like I said, they struggled as much as I did. The only difference is they always had each other to lean on. They do help Isaac and me when they can.
How difficult was it for you to find a trustworthy sitter or nanny?
It was exhausting. I met with a few younger college women, who were too expensive and had crazy-strange availability (of course). Finally, I met the one! I trusted her almost immediately. It's always scary leaving my baby with someone new, but my sitter gives me text message updates, so it's getting better all the time.
What do you look for when hiring a caregiver for your son?
I love to see how they interact with Isaac and their own children. Due to her car breaking down, the women I hired most recently had to bring her family when we met. It meant I got to meet the whole gang. Her entire clan sat at another table, and being able to see how she interacted with her family at a stressful time, while fielding my questions, made me quite confident in her child care expertise. Anyone can have experience on paper and find one or two people to give them tons of praise. Real human empathy, sympathy, and the ability to connect with and truly care for children add up to something special. Something you can sense is being faked.
What is the most supportive thing anyone has ever done for you?
There was a woman I met with from Care.com about watching Isaac. My entire life is constantly in limbo, so I couldn't nail down the exact times I would need her. I told her what I was trying to do. I wanted to finish school. No, no family here. No, his father is not going to move here. It's just me and I-Z. It was a few weeks before I followed up with her, and when I called, she told me she was still interested. She would watch him anytime and wouldn't accept any other jobs because she wanted to help me get through school. I never expected to hear that.
What is one misconception of single moms you want to set straight?
Just because a woman is a single mother, she is a slut. Nobody thinks that about single fathers. What's more, it's usually other women that make such comments. When I was pregnant and chose to break up with the father of my future child because he had committed what I considered an unforgivable offense against our family, I was told more than once, “Well, I want to be married when I have kids.” It hurt so much more than anyone could imagine. Yes, clearly I wanted to get pregnant half-way through my bachelor's degree by a man who had told me for years he wanted to marry me and have my children – and then watch it all go up in smoke at the beginning of my third trimester. Six hundred miles from home. The weekend before finals. Followed by the very distinct pleasure of finishing college and law school while raising a baby by myself.
What is the most annoying thing people say when they find out that you are a single mom?
When I would tell people about my future plans, they would say, “Wow, you know that's going to be hard, right?”
Do you find celebrity single moms like Madonna, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, and Katie Couric inspirational? Or does it feel like their star status can set unreasonable expectations for single mothers?
I feel disconnected from them. I believe they're “doing-it-all,” and I'd never discredit that. However, “doing-it-all” on a dangerously small income, is a completely different planet of motherhood. At least, I feel like I'm on a different planet.
Why do you want to be a lawyer?
I actually wanted to be a lawyer when I was very young. My mom was a big “Ally McBeal” fan, but I like to think it was just the budding feminist in me wanting to put on a modern woman's suit and put people in their place. Sometime while growing up, I doubted my ability to defend people I knew to be guilty and prosecute people I knew to be innocent, and the dream lay abandoned. However, when I found out I was pregnant, my new maternal instincts revived the desire to fight. I've found something worth fighting any battle for.
Read more about Kelsey’s story:
September 19, 2011
You’re already 10 minutes behind and have been a few minutes late for work every day this week. You suddenly notice that your child looks a little wan as you rush out of the house. Who wouldn’t be tempted to grab that bottle of Motrin from the cupboard? The truth is that many, many parents have committed the act of sending a sick child to school. In a survey by the Today Show and Parenting.com, nearly half of moms confessed to sending a sick kid to school or daycare.
Prior to the swine flu outbreak in 2009, I think many of us parents simply did the best we could in a difficult situation. We had to go to work. So, we’d grab the Tylenol. We’d cross our fingers. And then we’d try to get to work on time.
I think most parents would think this was a relatively harmless crime, but then the swine flu hit and all bets were off the table. Honestly, I welcomed the crackdown initiated by Adam’s school. A few of the schools even closed temporarily in our town. It was a frightening time.
And now we are headed into flu season once again.
So what’s behind this? It’s not that we don’t worry about our children – the issue may be more a symptom of the tremendous pressure working parents feel to be present and accounted for, no matter what’s happening at home. Ultimately, we are sending our sick kids to school for the same reason that we don’t stay home ourselves. The reality is that, until workplace culture gives us the tools to stay away when we’re sick – and we parents actually force ourselves to stay home – it is very likely that our offices and our schools will continue to be petri dishes for germs and viruses. As a CEO, this is something I struggle with, both on an organizational level and a personal level. I am a repeat offender – not only do I have critical meetings at the office, but I am also traveling around the world. I don’t have time to get sick. I know that our Care Team feels the same way – we all have packed schedules with no time allocated for chicken soup and resting on the couch. So we push through it.
We’ve tried to come up with alternatives to the medicate-and-go method. We’ve developed Care on Call, which takes only seconds to broadcast a message to caregivers in the local area. By checking references and doing an online background check, parents can find a sitter to interview within minutes. I know that this feature has saved the day for our team on more than one occasion. We are also working with companies and organizations to offer Care.com memberships to their employees through our Corporate Employer Program.
Have you ever sent your child to school, despite a sneaking suspicion he or she might be getting a cold or flu? Did you stop doing this when the swine flu hit? How are you planning to handle sick days for this flu season? Does your workplace put pressure on you to be in the office even when you’re sick?
September 05, 2011
Right now, you and your child are most likely experiencing the effects of that potent back-to-school elixir: two parts stress, three parts excitement, one part high expectations, and a generous dash of chaos. It is a universal American experience that we – both kids and parents – feel an incredible sense of potential at the start of each school year. And, to enhance the excitement around this new beginning, we parents do everything we can. We buy fun new clothes and shiny school supplies. We help our kids to create the perfect study space at home. And, at the end of the day, we encourage our kids to share their new experiences around the dinner table. Or we do as many of these things as possible!
The truth is that we are hoping that the excitement of each of these steps will help propel our kids through the challenges that the new school year presents. Kids have to transition from summer mode to school mode and adjust to a more rigorous set of expectations from teachers and parents. New classes come with more complex social structures, increased responsibility and, of course, homework. Once you find yourselves deep into November, it can be easy to wonder, where did all that back-to-school enthusiasm go?
To keep the momentum going throughout the year, concentrate on these three strategies:
Keep talking. “How was school today?” At some point, your innocent question will engender a sullen, “Fine.” Sure, it could be because you took away TV privileges until certain vegetables were consumed, but it also could be that something happened at school. Instead of asking such a general question, keep tabs on ongoing projects or relationships. Was your friend, Emily, bossy again today? Did you play tag at recess? Don’t forget to incorporate your nanny into the conversation. Your caregiver can be a valuable barometer of your child’s mood and activities. Together, you can get the temperature on whether your child’s enthusiasm for school is waning.
Don’t fall behind. When you begin to suspect that your child could be headed for a downward spiral with homework, for example, don’t wait to act. It can be tempting to hang back and see how things pan out, but when it comes to schoolwork, if your child seems to be on the verge of struggling, take action. Check in with the teacher. Ask yourself, does my child need a tutor? Even if it is for only one day a week, a tutor can give you child that special attention that he or she may not be getting at school. Work with the teacher to get the most of the experience.
Spread the enthusiasm. If you’re excited, they’re excited. While we all have different relationships with learning, there have to be some elements of your child’s schoolwork that you can get excited about. If he or she is just learning to read, get them some fun books to read together at home. Talk about the books that your parents shared with you. Incorporate school themes into home life. Are they learning about addition and subtraction? Have them help you double a recipe for homemade pancakes. Ultimately, if you are excited about learning at home, you can help everyone preserve that back-to-school energy throughout the year.
Have you found that the shiny veneer of new school year excitement goes away a little too fast? How do you help your little ones stay focused?
August 15, 2011
This year, on top of the usual life stressors, going back to school seems to be extra-charged with parental fears: cyber-bullying, school social life, finding child care, academics and generally keeping our kids safe and happy. If you have a new caregiver starting in the fall, it can feel like just more work to get her up-to-speed. Instead of scrambling to get everything done by the first day of school deadline, spend about 15 minutes each on these 5 Back-to-School Basics:
#1. Do Your Homework
It’s worth doing a little work now to ensure both you and your caregiver feel comfortable throughout the school year. Create or update the Emergency Child Care Checklists that live in your home. Walk through the list with your caregiver and make sure he is confident in following your instructions. Just to start, provide your nanny or caregiver with a written description of the daily routine. Include meal times, activities, and errands. Ask your caregiver to take notes while you’re away or use a Child Care Checklist to track the events of the day.
#2. Tackle Their Homework – With the Nanny
When’s the last time you used the quadratic equation? Calculated the diameter of a circle? If your child is facing math that you haven’t touched in years, it’s possible that your nanny may more easily recall that pi equals 3.14. Either way, talk about helping with homework and set expectations. If you are still looking for a caregiver for your school-age kids, take the helping with homework factor into the hiring equation – don’t hesitate to ask about it in the interview. For truly tough homework struggles, a tutor might be the best solution.
#3. Be Strategic
Get organized, and create a couple of systems that will guide you through any future frantic moments. Don’t build complicated schemes that are overly demanding. If you know laundry just isn’t going to get done every night, plan outfits on the weekends for you and the little ones. Freeze a few homemade meals now for those future nights when a healthy dinner just isn’t going to make itself. Check out our Back to School Cheat Sheet for tips on ultra-organization. And if your world seems to be spiraling out of control, read these Secrets of an Organized Person.
#4. Be Safe
If you have any specific concerns about your child, social life at school, cyber bullying or anything, talk to your caregiver. Share your concerns. Talk about things to watch out for and behavior to monitor. Don’t forget to take our Bullying Survey.
#5. Lay Down the Ground Rules
Be clear about TV/screen time vs. homework time. And if your child disobeys? Talk to your nanny about discipline and how you handle these difficult situations in your home. Make sure everyone knows what the consequences are for bad behavior, and check out our Discipline Survey.
Have you talked to your caregiver or nanny about discipline or bullying concerns? How about homework? Does she help with your child’s homework?