Stop the Stock Up: Risks of Buying in Bulk

When you’re caring for a large family or living on a budget, buying in bulk may seem like the perfect solution to save a few bucks. But, the reality is that many common household items and foods to feed your family are not always the best to buy in bulk.

In fact, the appeal of buying in bulk can leave you strapped for cash with overloading pantries and cupboards of unneeded items. Learn how to save on your most-used items and get the best bang for your buck when shopping at bulk stores. You may even find yourself resisting the urge to “go bulk.”

How to Conquer the Bulk Buy Temptations

Although a month’s supply of toilet paper, chips or fruit juices may seem like a bargain, the urge to buy more than what you need in bulk can put a serious dent in your pocketbook. The temptation to fill your cart with unnecessary items can take over if you’re not careful.

Instead of splurging on those flashy items on display, stick to a strict list, suggests Kevin Gallegos, consumer finance expert at Freedom Financial Network in San Mateo, Calif. “Stick with frequent-purchase items and stay away from items you use infrequently,” says Gallegos. Although you may find a great deal on carpet shampoo or freezer bags in bulk, you may be tying up money that could be better spent on items you use on a daily basis.

Keep cash on hand to resist the temptation to overspend when frequenting warehouse and bulk stores, says Gallegos. “To get the most from bulk buying and not overspend, learn to create and use a simple budget that includes categories for basic areas of spending,” he suggests. “Before you shop, determine what your monthly allocation is for these categories, make a list and then go to the store.”

Take the determined amount of cash with you so you avoid overspending by purchasing a cart full of items you may not use. “With bulk buying, realize that you might spend two months worth of budget for some items,” says Gallegos. “Just make sure to allocate appropriately in your budget so you don’t overspend next month.”

Even though it may appear that bigger is better when walking into a bulk store, narrow down your potential buys by choosing a smaller cart. There are often sneaky ways stores can tempt you to buy more. If you are toting a small basket or mini cart, you will not be able to overdo it at the warehouse club.

Look Beyond Bulk Options

Savings come in many forms, so it’s best to do your research before heading to any store. For example, if you want the best buy on fresh fruits and vegetables, scope out the local farms and farmers’ markets to get the most bang for your buck. “Farmers and ranchers often will be able to offer excellent prices and savings on large quantities,” says Gallegos. “If you don’t need perfect-looking fruit, maybe for baking, cooking, canning or just eating, ask about ‘B’ fruit or bruised boxes. ‘B’ doesn’t mean sub-par in taste or vitamins – these ‘B’ or bruised fruits can be up to half off and taste just as good.”

Grocery stores can also offer items in bulk if you need to stock up on large quantities for your family. “Often, retailers of any kind will be able to provide bulk pricing upon request for certain items,” says Gallegos.

In addition, many grocery stores offer double or triple coupon days so you can maximize your savings. Sign up for e-coupons online or register for manufacturer coupons on items you use frequently. Coupons are definitely worth cutting, says Teri Gault, CEO and founder of The Grocery Game, an online grocery savings website.

“It’s all about timing with coupons,” says Gault. “People get discouraged with coupons, mostly because they don’t know when to use them. A lot of people cut a few coupons and go to the store, only to find out that it is cheaper to buy a different item without the coupon.”

The key to using coupons successfully is to stack the deals. The sale plus a manufacturer coupon plus a store coupon plus register rewards equate to great savings, says Gault. “That’s called stacking the deals, and most stores allow some sort of stacking, especially with a sale,” says Gault.

Check your weekly circular for the best buys on meat, produce and household items, too.

7 Habits of Successful Nannies

It’s hard to define exactly what traits a nanny should have because different caregivers work best in different situations. A proactive, take charge nanny may be perfect for Family A, but come off as bossy to Family B. A nanny who has a gentle discipline approach may be a wonderful compliment to Family A’s parenting approach, but be in direct opposition to Family B’s parenting approach. However, even though there isn’t a set list of personality traits that every great nanny has, there are certain habits that successful nannies share.

  • They have a genuine love and enjoyment of kids. Every nanny job, regardless of the specific job description, focuses on the child. For a nanny to be truly successful in her position, she has to love the core component of her work. She must get real enjoyment from spending her days with her charge and be able to make a deep and lasting connection with him. That relationship is what matters the most, it’s what gets her through the hard times and motivates her to do her best each and every day.
  • They understand and accept the unique aspects of working as a nanny. Working in a private home is different than being in a family care center or working in a daycare. There are challenges that a nanny faces that no other type of childcare provider does. The successful nanny accepts this as part of the job. She doesn’t spend time railing against the things she’s missing out on, like a regular, kid-free lunch break or a co-worker to share responsibilities with. She feels the unique benefits of the job far out way the unique difficulties.
  • They approach challenges with a positive attitude. Seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty is a key trait of a successful nanny. She’s able to take challenges with both her charge and her employers in stride and work towards finding solutions that work for everyone involved. She doesn’t get bogged down in the things that have or could go wrong. Instead, she focuses on what has and could go right.
  • They respect the parents’ rights and preferences. Part of being a nanny is bringing your expertise to the job. A quality caregiver can offer spot on advice and resources for behavior issues and ages and stages transitions. However, a successful nanny recognizes that although she’s a childcare professional with a lot to offer, ultimately the parents have the right to parent how they want. She fully supports their choices and preferences, even when they differ from her own. She offers her expertise with the expectation that the parents will take what’s useful to them and leave the rest. And she’s fine with that.
  • They’re natural problem solvers. Being a successful nanny is all about being able to deal effectively with the ongoing flow of problems you face throughout the day. How should you deal with a two year old who’s throwing a temper tantrum? Should you wash Bunny before naptime and deal with the backlash or try and sneak her out once your charge is asleep? What are you going to make for lunch now that Rover has stolen the last of the turkey off the counter? Successful nannies don’t get bogged down by the issues that pop up throughout the day. They simply find a workable solution and get back to the work of having fun.
  • They don’t take things personally. The nanny/family relationship is a tough one. There are many things employers do and say that, if taken personally, can leave their nanny feeling angry, frustrated, unappreciated or taken advantage of. A successful nanny recognizes that her employers’ slights are usually about something that’s happening with the employer rather than with the nanny. If Mom forgets to say thank you for running a last minute errand, the successful nanny assumes it’s because Mom has a lot on her mind and not because she’s unappreciative of the extra effort. If Dad comes home 10 minutes late, the successful nanny assumes traffic was heavy or the train was late rather than thinking Dad doesn’t value her time.
  • They communicate effectively with their employers. Good communication is the foundation of the nanny/parent relationship. A successful nanny is able to bring issues to her employer, clearly articulate what the problem is and how she feels about it, and actively problem solve with her employer. She doesn’t let things pile up. Instead, she’s proactive about working through problems as they arise.

How to Successfully Set Up a Nanny Share

A Brooklyn couple moved into a new building while awaiting the birth of their first child, only to bump into another couple two floors down with a due date just weeks away from their own. As the couples chatted, they commiserated over the difficulty of finding great nanny care without wiping out their finances. As the babies’ arrivals grew closer, one family mentioned hearing about a nanny share concept, where two families could split the cost of a single nanny. This arrangement offered a significant savings, even after bumping up the childcare rate to compensate for a second child. Soon, a plan was born, along with two bouncing baby boys.

Even though the two families had tons in common – similar jobs with similar hours, similar backgrounds, similar ages and even apartments with the same layout – there were many considerations to make when ironing out the logistics of the arrangement.

Here are a few things to think about when setting up a successful nanny share:

Location, Location, Location

One of the first considerations needs to be which family will host the nanny share arrangement. With babies and small children, routine is key. It makes little sense to go back and forth between homes – even if those homes happen to be in the same building. The host family will have a slightly greater responsibility in providing the space and ensuring it is always prepared for the nanny and children, though the other family will sacrifice their child staying on home turf and may need to purchase additional baby gear for convenience. If one family has pets or has someone in the house who smokes, this could also be a deciding factor.

Sick Days

A traditional one family nanny may often care for a sick child, but if there are health risks such as fever or potential infections and viruses, it isn’t fair to expose the healthy child. Who will receive the care in such situations and what the threshold for cancellation is needs to be worked out in advance so that the parents know who is responsible for finding backup care. A backup plan should also include protocol for if the child receiving care that day is not the hosting family’s child.

Expectations

There is a great deal of trust involved in choosing a nanny share option. Families need to be honest about their future plans and what their expectations are for how long the share should last. A nanny offering this type of arrangement might be doing so for the higher financial return, so if one family backs out the other might be left scrambling for a replacement or face losing the nanny (or paying the big bucks to keep her). Perhaps the plan is for the nanny to care for the infants until they reach preschool age. What happens if a new sibling enters the picture in one of the families? Upfront planning can ease the stress for everyone.

Money Matters

Nannies should be paid legally. It is the law, and both parties need to agree to this to avoid tax issues and liabilities in the event of injury on the job. Benefits and paid days off also need to be agreed to by all parties involved. Extraneous costs, such as petty cash for outings or unforeseen needs, should be worked out in advance so that one family doesn’t resent bearing all the responsibility. If a vehicle will be used, costs and insurances need to be discussed, as there may be tax breaks for the owner of the car. Families need to ensure no further licenses or oversight needs have to be addressed due to two unrelated children being cared for, since this might technically bump the home nanny into a group care category.

Values

As with any nanny relationship, families need to discuss how certain things will be handled according to their own values. The nanny share involves two families’ potentially disparate way of doing things, so discuss in advance things like eating habits, food allergies or restrictions, media use and napping to present the nanny with a unified plan of how to proceed. Discipline and rewards need to be consistent for the arrangement to be successful, particularly when the two children enter toddlerhood and the preschool years.

How to Deal With a Difficult Boss

In most cases, a nanny and her employer establish ground rules and expectations before they embark on a bonding relationship that is beneficial for the entire family. However, it is inevitable that you will encounter a difficult boss who is hard to please and even harder to work for on a daily basis from time to time.

The entire family suffers when working with parents who are inconsistent or unclear about expectations, and as a nanny, you are unable to create a loving home environment. Learn how to handle a difficult boss so you can focus on what’s most important – providing the best care for the children.

Clarify Parenting Strategies

When parents don’t have an intentional approach to their parenting and mutually agreed upon parenting strategies, it’s easy for them to flip-flop between a permissive and authoritarian parenting style, says Vicki Hoefle, Vermont-based parent educator and founder of Duct Tape Parenting, a proactive parenting strategy.

“When this happens, the nanny is left to guess which style the parent wants to be employed in any given situation,” she says. “As a result, the nanny may opt for lenience and give children what they want in order to make them happy, only to discover that is the moment the parent decides he or she wants to lay down the law.”

According to Hoefle, both the nanny and the children suffer when parents flip-flop and exercise inconsistency. As a result, your boss may become even more difficult to work with on the job.

The key to dealing with an inconsistent parent and boss is to identify the parent’s approach to parenting ahead of time. Discuss how the parents want to maintain and support their approach, recommends Hoefle.

Build Credibility

A difficult boss may also undermine the nanny’s authority, thus making the work environment challenging. “When parents let the nanny begin to handle a difficult situation with their children, but then step in and take all authority away from the nanny, the nanny loses all credibility with the children, allowing them to take advantage of the nanny, which only increases the power struggle between the two,” says Hoefle.

In order to satisfy both the parents and gain credibility with the children, Hoefle recommends that the nanny ask the parents to model how they would like her to handle difficult situations.

“The nanny can say ‘I will watch how you handle this situation, so that I can implement the same strategies next time.’ This will often get the parents to reconsider whether they really want to step in, especially if they know the nanny is watching in an attempt to learn how to parent the child correctly according to the parent’s wishes,” says Hoefle. “Often times, parents will relinquish control and return it to the nanny until they have had time to talk about it.”

When trouble or difficult situations arise with the children, Hoefle also recommends nannies ask parents about their goals in child rearing. Using phrases such as “Can you help me understand your goal in this situation?” prompt everyone to think. “This will help everyone refocus and may just point out to the difficult parents that they don’t know what their goal is,” says Hoefle. “This causes everyone to stop and think and allows the nanny and parents to work more cooperatively and collaboratively.”

Set Rules and Boundaries

When parents are not clear on boundaries and rules and leave the decision making up to the nanny, it can open a can of worms with a difficult boss. “It’s not unusual for the parents to later disagree with the nanny’s rules and begin to question them,” says Hoefle.

To avoid a difficult encounter with your boss, Hoefle recommends clarifying rules from the start and clarifying again if the parent decides to change them.

“The more specific the nanny can be in finding out what the boundaries and rules are in the beginning, the better luck he or she will have when establishing a respectful and consistent relationship,” says Hoefle.

If your difficult boss begins to question the rules you are enforcing, remind him or her of the prior discussion you had and ask if they would like to change the rules formally to avoid any confusion.

Explain to your boss that it is important for you to establish consistency with the children in order to gain credibility and build a healthy, trusting relationship with them. “If the child learns to trust, then the nanny can weather future interruptions by the parents,” says Hoefle.

Encouraging Your Toddler’s Independence

As your toddler develops and begins to experience the freedom to walk, talk and play, the need to express his independence is natural. The word “no” is often a common occurrence because he sees that choices exist in his little world.

A toddler’s independence doesn’t have to result in a constant tug of war, though. Instead of getting frustrated over the tantrums and “mine” attitude, foster his independence by promoting it and encouraging him to complete tasks on his own.

The Toddler Transition

Children who are two years of age are learning for the first time that there are other people in the world, but they don’t quite see them as separate from themselves, says Dylan Glanzer, who is a mother of two, has her masters in early childhood education and owns Parties by Miss Dylan and Company.

“They are still quite egocentric, but at the same time, they are beginning to understand that they have their own will, hence the need to say ‘no’ or ‘mine’ to everything,” says Glanzer.

Toddlers often get frustrated because they want to make choices and do things on their own, but there are still many tasks they are unable to do at such a young age. “They need help and resent it, so adults need to understand and sympathize with their plight,” says Glanzer.

The Teaching Trick

To avoid frustration from your little one, empower him or her through teaching. “We need to teach them to do as many things for themselves as possible so they can experience the satisfaction of doing something on their own,” says Glanzer. “We can help them by not engaging in their struggle as a direct threat to our parental authority – it most certainly is not.”

Begin teaching your little one to embrace his independence by offering choices whenever possible. Instead of telling him to sit down for breakfast, involve him in the preparations. Using phrases such as “would you like to help me set the table or stir the pancake mix?” offers your toddler a choice while still reiterating that you expect him to help with household tasks.

Instead of picking out your toddler’s clothes for the day, help him set out a few options and avoid wincing as he mixes and matches a purple shirt with green pants. “This way, when there is a choice, it may be less of a battle,” says Glanzer.

Avoid battles when you are in a hurry to get out the door, too. Questions such as “Do you want to put your coat on first or your shoes?” indicate that both tasks must be completed while still giving your child the power to choose.

The key, though, is to offer only two options. “Too many or open-ended choices will add to the toddler’s confusion and overwhelm,” says Glanzer.

The Self-Care Movement

The best way to facilitate your toddler’s independence is by helping him develop his self-care skills.

Dr. Fran Walfish, California-based psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child, recommends encouraging your child to complete the following tasks on his own:

  • Dressing (Putting on shirts, socks, pants, shoes)
  • Brushing Teeth
  • Picking Up Toys
  • Feeding
  • Bathing and/or Wiping Down Body

Your child will most likely need your assistance at first to care for himself, but it’s important to allow him to try, stand by and only help when asked. If his shirt is on backwards, is it really the end of the world? Foster his independence by praising his efforts instead of fixing the shirt. Use this opportunity to teach your child about hygiene, personal care habits and health risks so he sees the value of taking care of himself.

The Independent Play Session

Many toddlers want to exhibit independence and even control when playing, but this can be a challenge when other children are expressing the same need. According to Glanzer, it’s important for parents, nannies and caretakers to show toddlers how to play with another person.

“I went to so many play dates with mommy groups when my kids were little and was a little surprised that the parents expected to be able to enjoy their time together and just let the kids play,” says Glanzer. “I was the only one on the floor with them trying to help them share or work out conflicts. This is why understanding child development is a huge help in raising children.”

To avoid disagreements during play sessions with others, Glanzer recommends putting away any of your child’s most favorite toys. “Tell your 2 year old that their friend won’t get to play with those toys, but the rest of the toys are for sharing,” she says. “They understand much more than they can ever communicate and good advice is worth repeating over and over to your little one.”

While your toddler is learning how to share and exhibit independent behavior, take the opportunity to show him the value of choices, consequences of behavior and the responsibility that accompanies independence.

“There are hundreds of opportunities for your toddler to practice independent play and activities throughout the day,” says Walfish. “The key is for mommy to catch those moments, reinforce them with praise and capitalize on them by expanding your child’s self-reliance.”

Friend or Foe: Activities for Nannies to Bond with Children

When you enter a new household, it’s common for children to be shy, resistant or even apprehensive to your presence. Finding ways to bond with the children is a key strategy to gaining trust and building a relationship with the little ones you will be caring for on a daily basis.

From games to interactive adventures, find the heart of each child through bonding activities that will leave an impression and have them begging for you to return the next day.

Working Through the Challenges

Before attempting to bond with the children in your care, it’s important to recognize the challenges you may face. “A child might try to see what he or she can get away with, which can be difficult for a nanny – especially a new nanny who is unfamiliar with the family’s routine,” says Robert Nickell, parenting expert and founder of Daddy & Co., a gift and apparel company dedicated to celebrating fatherhood.

A child might also be angry, disrespectful and unwilling to listen to you because he or she is upset by the new situation. Parents will need to provide the nanny with tips and suggestions to solve problems that may arise, build credibility and abide by the family’s parenting plan.

“Kids like to know their boundaries, so the nanny needs to be able to quickly instill the boundaries and at the same time engage the children in fun, inspirational and educational venues,” says Nickell.

Getting Active with the Children

Most importantly, nannies should engage the children by learning more about them and getting on their level right away. “Nannies should get on the floor, talk to the kids, see what they’re playing with, join in, ask questions and listen to responses,” says Nickell. “They should view whatever they are doing as the most important job of the day and immediately immerse themselves in the activity.”

Nannies can also come equipped with a binder full of creative ideas and activities. “Our nannies enjoy looking through the binder when they need a new activity or idea to keep our kids engaged,” says Nickell.

Get the kids active and away from technology periodically with exploration walks where the kids can count the number of bugs they see or collect rocks and leaves. Take a trip to the park so the children can release excess energy.

Make bonding an educational journey, too, with educational posters. “Our kids love to make posters with crayons, markers, glitter and glue,” says Nickell. “We like to make them educational by making posters of the alphabet or numbers.”

Nannies can bond with children by taking an interest in their favorite pastimes. Find out if the children enjoy dancing, sports or art and create activities that appeal to their interests. The key element is to engage in activities together so the children can get to know your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and especially your personality.

Encourage the children to join you in any of the following activities:

  • Clean out closets in search of clothes and toys to donate
  • Create an impromptu story as a group to foster creativity
  • Play word games or word searches together
  • Host a hula-hoop competition with prizes for the winners
  • Cook a meal together – chocolate chip pancakes are always a hit
  • Solve a puzzle with everyone contributing one piece at a time
  • Bake cookies or sweet treats for neighbors or classmates
  • Host a play with each child representing his or her favorite cartoon character
  • Record a music video, switching roles as on-camera talent and the producer
  • Play dress up and host a fashion show
  • Volunteer at a senior center and encourage the children to show off their talents with a music performance or magic show

“Learning a new game or sport is always entertaining and fun, too, as is planting flowers or drawing with chalk,” says Nickell. If your teenager is a baseball enthusiast, spend some one-on-one time with him tossing the ball around or attending a game at a local high school or professional sports arena. If your toddler loves blocks, construct a giant skyscraper together to see how high you can build it before it tumbles over. If your school-aged child is an artist at heart, foster this love by creating crafts and masterpieces together.

“The ideas and opportunities for fun are endless,” says Nickell.

Tips for Conducting Video Interviews

In an industry where worldwide or cross-country hiring is common, video interviews offer a viable way for families to get a feel for a prospective nanny and nannies to get a sense for their potential new employing family.

While a video interview is similar to a face-to-face interview, you should use these tips to ensure you are expressing your best self and appear ready to take on the job in a capable and confident manner:

Be Prepared

Rather than fumbling for information or rambling on for most of the time you could be personally connecting with your interviewer, email or fax over any pertinent background information or credentials for their perusal. It will show you are professional, proactive and organized – and allow them to ask any follow-up questions to clarify items of note and cut back on extra interviews or the need to touch base to double check things that could prolong the hiring process. Make sure your power source is secure and reliable; it looks unprofessional if you have to scramble for a cord mid-interview because you’re laptop is dying. You should also fully understand the technology you are using; you want to be able to relax and concentrate on the interview.

Dress the Part

Just because you’re connecting online doesn’t mean you should be any less professional. Skip the pajama pants you’re sure won’t even show (imagine if the smoke alarm goes off or you suffer a sudden coughing fit and need to hop up for a moment) and take a few minutes to dress the part. Not only will you appear more professional, you’ll also be in a more professional mode during the conversation. (Additionally, be aware of the angle of the camera in case your top appears to be more revealing than it otherwise would.)

Do a Background Check

This doesn’t mean run your own background check or even one for your potential employers. Just turn around and take an objective look at what the interviewer will be seeing behind you. If it’s a cluttered mess, facing the bathroom or the wall features a poster from your visit to the Guinness Brewery, you might not make an ideal first impression. Clear any personal items and set yourself up in a well lit area with a plain, uncluttered background. Use a picture-in-picture option so you can see how you look to the viewer.

Make Eye Contact

Although it might seem slightly awkward, be aware of where the camera is and make eye contact with the lens when responding to questions. You can then glance down slightly at the screen to the viewer’s face as they respond or follow up with further queries. You are trying to create an atmosphere of transparency and trust as you connect for a potential relationship that will involve sharing their children’s lives, and making eye contact exudes confidence and can make everyone feel more comfortable.

Keep Down Ambient Noise

You are trying to convince prospective families that you are capable, confident and a person of authority who can handle the job. The camera’s audio will pick up every little noise in the background, so if you are nervously tapping your pen, kicking your chair or rustling papers, you may come across as nervous or less trustworthy. (Obviously, ensure you won’t have televisions or music from another room invading your interview – or pets or small children distracting you or the interviewer.)

Be Yourself

Part of the unique nature of a nanny-family relationship is that it is both personal and professional. Don’t be so buttoned up that you are afraid to crack a smile or show your personality. While your background and skills are certainly important, it’s also important that you are a good fit for the family and vice versa. If you have a funny, appropriate story that demonstrates your love for kids or enjoyment of being a nanny, feel free to share that or other common interests that may help you connect to the parents or the kids and up your chances of making the top of their list.

Splish and Splash: Infant Bath Tips

Bath time can be one of the most precious bonding moments with your infant. As she splishes and splashes in the water and smiles up at you, it’s a moment to remember. However, not all babies and toddlers are eager to get in the tub. If you find that your infant is resistant to bath time, it may be time to get creative with games and soothing techniques to keep her calm and clean.

Schedule a Routine

Just as it’s important to prepare your child to wind down for bed time, it is also important to prepare her for a nightly bath. Show your little one bath props well before it is time to jump in the tub. Lay out a towel, wash cloth, baby soap, lotion and any bath toys, such as a rubber duck, to indicate that bath time is nearing.

According to Salley Schmid, mother of twin daughters, family therapist and positive discipline parent educator at Enrichment Training and Counseling Solutions, bath time should never be hurried. “Bath time was built into the routine chart, which enabled them to be empowered about it when it happened,” she says. “They helped me make the chart, they read the chart (picture based at first) and named what came next as we progressed through the routine.”

Make Bath Time Fun

Although the purpose of a bath is to clean your child, it is possible to make this experience fun for your little one. Begin with silly stories to keep him or her engaged. “Use bath wall stickers or bath toy animals or characters to animate a story,” suggests Meg Akabas, author of 52 Weeks of Parenting Wisdom: Effective Strategies for Raising Happy, Responsible Kids and founder of New York City-based Parenting Solutions consulting firm. As you create the story, encourage your child’s participation by asking “where is the elephant?” and “what sound does a cow make?” Mix bath time with an educational lesson, even at an early age.

Get your little one active by creating wild hairstyles with shampoo and water. Your child will not whine or cry about getting his hair washed when he can shape his hair into a Mohawk. “Help your child create silly hairstyles with the shampoo suds in his hair or play beauty parlor,” suggests Amanda Mathews, pediatric occupational therapist. “Bring a mirror for him to look in to check out all of the different crazy styles.”

If your child is apprehensive about swimming in the summertime, you can help ease her fears by creating a pool party in the bathtub. Have siblings put on swimsuits and join your baby in the tub for a beach time pool party, suggests Mathews. “Bring a beach ball or beach toys, such as a bucket or watering can, into the bathtub to help promote splashing and pouring water,” she says. This way, your child can see that water is not scary and pools and tubs can offer a fun and wet experience.

Show off your vocal talents while bathing your child to help eliminate his resistance to bath time. Make up songs that include words about scrubbing your arms, washing your hair and rinsing off so your child is soothed by your voice and knows when to expect water to be poured over his body. If your baby is resistant to water being poured over his head, break out a headband, visor or goggles as dress up toys to help him get ready for the waterfall. If necessary, Mathews recommends having your child hold a washcloth over his eyes to prevent soap or water from getting into them. This is also an ideal opportunity to play peek-a-boo with your little one.

Break out the Toys

A tub filled with toys will help your little one adjust to the dreaded bath time each night. Toys can be comforting for your baby, so invest in water-friendly squirt toys that will aid in the cleaning process. “Have your child get his own hair wet using squirt toys,” suggests Mathews. “Squirt toys allow for a small stream of water to come out, rather than dumping a lot of water all at once. Squirt toys also allow your child more control over the situation, which can help him to feel more comfortable.” If you go this route, be sure to wash or replace those toys often though, as they’ve been found to be breeding grounds for mold and mildew. A detachable showerhead on a gentle stream can also be used as a fun bath time toy. Cups that can be thrown into the dishwasher after playtime make for great bath toys, too.

When Sally Schmid, family therapist, got her children ready for a nightly bath, she made sure bath time was a fun experience with lots of toys in the tub. “Bath time was always fun when my kids were small,” she says. “The bath tub looked like a picture out of a ‘Where’s Waldo’ book. There was a lot of splashing in my house and they also helped clean up the water that ended up outside of the tub.”

Seeing Green: What to Do if You’re Jealous of Your Nanny

Even though you likely appreciate that your children adore their nanny and are in the best of care, it’s natural to feel a little ping of jealousy when they run into his or her arms instead of yours at times. It is not unusual, though, for a mom to feel jealous of the bond a nanny has with her child or children, says Dr. Fran Walfish, California-based psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child.

“If the mother works full-time, for instance, and employs the nanny to provide quality care for her children while she is away during the days, this mom understands that it is healthy for her child to be warmly attached to a loving, nurturing, responsive nanny,” says Walfish. “Without this, the child is likely to miss mommy even more. Still, it can be very painful to any mom if or when her child reaches first for the nanny and then toward mommy.”

Recognize the Cause of Jealousy

If you are feeling jealous of the nanny, it could be based in guilt, says Christina Steinorth, California-based psychotherapist and author of Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships.

“No mom ever wants to leave her child and go to work and moms usually feel guilty when they do,” says Steinorth. “A mom feels that she’s the one who planned to have her child and took the necessary steps to provide a stable life for her child and then there’s another woman who – even when it’s a mom’s choice – comes in and in essence gets to ‘do all the fun things.’”

The jealousy could stem from feeling as if you are missing out on special moments while away from your child. “Being a working mom is tough – there are many emotions we go through when we need to be apart from our children,” says Steinorth. “Jealousy is a very normal emotion to have toward someone who gets to do the things you want to be doing.”

How to Cope With Jealousy

You can cope with the jealous feelings by recognizing that you indeed do feel jealous, says Walfish. “You are less likely to act your hostilities if you are aware of your feelings.”

When you identify and acknowledge your feelings, you’ll also be better able to cope with the feelings because you will be able to manage them, says Steinorth. “Many times feelings of anger, resentment or sadness cover up feelings of jealousy because sometimes we feel it is safer to feel angry, for instance, instead of jealous,” she says. “Know that it is okay to feel jealous and quite normal.”

It may also help to make a list of why you have hired a nanny. “Sometimes seeing the reasons we make a decision helps remind us why our decision is a good one,” says Steinorth. “If you see that your child has a good relationship with his or her nanny, give yourself a pat on the back for raising a child who is well socialized and doesn’t have attachment issues – that’s a good thing.”

Parents may also want to find ways to feel closer to the children to help them cope with feelings of jealousy. “Do one special thing with your child every day,” suggests Steinorth. Read a favorite bedtime story, sing a song together, or if your child is older, do an activity, a simple craft or even cook dinner together.

“Do something your nanny wouldn’t typically do with your child to help foster the special bond that you share as parent and child,” says Steinorth.

If you are struggling to find time for one-on-one moments with your child, ask your nanny to help out more with housework and chores so you can have more one-on-one time with your child when you get home from work.

Joining a support group of other working parents can also help you find strategies to cope with jealousy. “There is comfort in hearing that other moms feel the same way you do about their nanny,” says Steinorth. “When we hear others share similar feelings to us it helps because it normalizes our feelings and we stop feeling we ‘shouldn’t feel the way we do,’ which leads us to greater feelings of acceptance.”

How to Keep Your Nanny

Finding a great family-nanny match can be a stressful endeavor, but it’s one that pays off in spades when you’ve found that perfect addition to your household and your children’s lives. Once you’ve found your ideal caretaker and the children have started to bond with their new nanny, it’s important to keep the employee/employer relationship strong to ensure a long and harmonious alliance.

Here are some tips to keeping your nanny happy:

Don’t be a Creep(er)

Upon hiring your nanny, you should devise a written work agreement that details duties, hours and expectations. If you don’t execute a formal contract, at least have a conversation to discuss what duties she is responsible for and the hours she’s expected keep. Then stick to the plan. Don’t be tempted to slide in what you see as minor favors without providing proper compensation. Respect her off hours and days and don’t infringe on them with your needs. And don’t assume she’ll be fine covering you for an extra 20 minutes at the end of the day – she might have her own plans or other obligations.

If you find you need an extra hand with household cleaning or running errands as time goes on, discuss if she’d like to take on those extra responsibilities and what a satisfactory raise might be to cover her time and energy– but make it clear it is just an offer, not a demand. If she feels bait-and-switched or pressured into doing things she’d rather not, you could end up with her frustrated and leaving the position altogether. If she hesitates, just opt for another solution. (It is far cheaper and less disruptive to bring in a maid service once a week than to lose your nanny.)

Be Thoughtful

Be a great example to your kids by taking the extra time to be thoughtful to your nanny and show her she’s not just an employee but also an appreciated member of your household. Check her application for her birthday and celebrate it. If giving her the day off doesn’t work for your schedule, buy a nice gift and have the kids make a personal card. The cost will be minimal compared to the impact it will have.

If she goes above and beyond on the job, note it and thank her. A small gift card for a coffee or a movie is a nice touch, but if you’re leery of creating expectations simply express your heartfelt gratitude and make her feel valued.

Benefits

Factor in the cost of a nanny search in terms of time, angst and money and you might find it a smart move to extend some benefits to your caretaker to ward off potential poachers or dissatisfaction that could make her consider leaving. You should already be paying mileage if she uses her own vehicle for transporting the kids, but it might make financial sense to acquire a vehicle for her to use while on duty so she is covered under the family automobile insurance policy. Some healthcare, parking and other benefits can be tax deductible or count as non-taxable income. Add on extra personal days or increase vacation days annually to inspire loyalty.

Perks

If you’d like to offer impressive benefits but the budget just isn’t there or you are already financially overextended in order to meet your nanny’s salary needs, there are other ways to add perks to the position that are easier on the wallet. Check with your existing family memberships to see if the nanny can be added with little or no fee. Gyms, state parks, museums, swimming pools, beach clubs, and media memberships like Netflix or Hulu might add up to a great benefits package without you taking a serious financial hit. Some urban transportation cards can be transferable, so handing it off with the child could work for every day travel. If that seems too complicated, hand it off for the weekend for her to enjoy her time when you don’t have commuting needs.

If you have a family vacation home, consider lending it to a responsible nanny for her off week or a long weekend. Use your air miles to cover an annual flight home, or offer to allow her to bring a friend or family member she can hang out with during her free time on your vacations when suitable.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

It should go without saying, but maintaining a high level of respect in how you approach your nanny about potential conflicts or even just in every day guidance about how you’d prefer things done in your absence is crucial. Yes, you are the employer and a nanny is a professional job, but it is also a very personal position, so a more sensitive approach is called for to avoid hurt feelings that could sour the relationship.

Come from a place of teamwork. For instance, you might say “Joey loves your baked treats and lemonade, but I think the extra sugar is making it a little tougher for him to find room for his veggies at dinner and to wind down at night. How can we make sure he eats healthier?” Find a moment to chat when the kids are not present so as not to endanger the nanny’s place of authority in their eyes. Avoid discussing the nanny in front of the kids or where they might overhear. Kids are notorious for repeating embarrassing comments that may be taken out of context, and if they pick up on a less than united front you will be making life harder on the nanny and the kids (and eventually you!).