10 iPhone Applications Nannies Can Use to Track Hours

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, even a salaried nanny’s wages must translate to at least minimum wage, which makes tracking the hours a nanny has worked imperative. Private, in-home childcare providers that are paid an hourly wage have an even greater need to track their billable hours, in order to ensure that they are paid fairly for the time that they work each week. In today’s modern age, nannies and their employers are no longer forced to rely upon handwritten time sheets to calculate the number of hours worked each week; the incredibly popular Apple iPhone has several apps available in the App Store to keep such information at the tip of a nanny’s fingers.

  1. Easy TimeSheet – Easy TimeSheet is available in the App Store for $2.99, and allows users to track the hours of every work day, even while the application is closed. As an added bonus, users can email projects and time entries to any email address in .CSV format, making sharing billable hours information with your employer a breeze.
  2. iTimeSheet – Sold in the App Store for $5.99, iTimeSheet is a pricier option for tracking hours worked, allowing users to access archived information with a touch of the screen. There are several features that may be superfluous for nannies, however.
  3. WorkTimer – WorkTimer is a $0.99 app that allows a nanny to track the hours she’s worked as the application runs in the background, and also to adjust data in the event that she forgets to clock in or out. There’s also a back-up option that stores data in the cloud via Dropbox.
  4. Timely – In addition to tracking billable hours, this $0.99 app will allow nannies to see their wages adding up in real-time; this motivational feature can certainly come in handy on high-pressure, stressful days. You can also track overtime earnings and access archived data for reference.
  5. HoursTracker – Deemed the “Best Time Tracking App For iPhone” by Lifehacker, the $3.99 HoursTracker app is an intuitive, easy-to-use offering that continues to track hours even when your phone is powered down. With overtime and double-overtime support, HoursTracker is a great choice for tech-savvy nannies.
  6. Bill4Time Mobile – Bill4Time is a free app that acts as an add-on to the Bill4Time.com website; users of the web application can track hours through their iPhones with minimal effort. The web service does charge an operating fee, however.
  7. PunchClock – Available for $0.99 in the App Store, PunchClock makes tracking hours and sending .XML format reports to your employer the work of a moment. Very simple, with no bells and whistles, PunchClock does just what it’s intended to.
  8. TimeWerks – While the full version of TimeWerks is $2.99 in the App Store, there is a free offering called TimeWerks Lite that may suffice for nannies who don’t typically have a need to track hours for multiple clients. The app allows you to print or email data in .HTML or .PDF format, as well as track expenses.
  9. TimeCard Pro – Purchasing TimeCard Pro once allows you to use the app on your iPad as well as your iPhone, making it even easier to track the number of hours you’ve worked each day, week, and month. The “QuickContact” option also makes quick work of connecting with your employers via their contact information in your phone.
  10. TimeClock ST – TimeClock ST is the most expensive option on the list, and is a hefty $8.99 in the App Store. The app does allow multiple devices to access a single account, so your employers can also track your hours in real time. There are expansions available to increase the app’s functionality even further, but they’re probably unnecessary for nannies.

Regardless of what app you use to track your hours, it’s important for your own finances, and those of your employers, that you keep meticulous records each day; even if you’re a salaried employer, being able to access and accurately track your billable hours is essential. It’s also required by law that nanny employers keep accurate payroll records that include the hours that the nanny has worked. These iPhone apps make compliance to that law easy.

How to Keep Preschoolers Busy on a Road Trip Without Using a Screen

There’s little that causes more angst in parents than the thought of taking a road trip with a preschooler in tow. The never ending chorus of “Are we there yet?” coupled with nonstop requests to use the bathroom or stop for food is enough to make even the most joyful parent sing along to the blues.

While it can be tempting to put a DVD in and loop it continuously for the duration of the trip, or give your preschooler unlimited access to the iPad, using a screen to entertain your preschooler isn’t your only long-ride entertainment option.

Before pulling out the electronics, try these low-tech ways of engaging the kids.

Utilize a Magnet Board – A cookie sheet doubles as the perfect magnetic lap board for long car rides. Place an assortment of number, letter, shape, and animal magnets on the cookie sheet and let your child have fun. Magnets can also be used to hold paper in place on the cookie sheet for coloring and writing. If your child is into arts and crafts, consider purchasing a few simple craft projects at the local dollar store. A cookie sheet with a lip makes a great work surface and can help contain the mess.

Pack Snacks – There’s something about a car ride that makes kids hungry. Packing an assortment of healthy and special treat snacks can serve as the perfect distraction for complaining preschoolers. Fresh fruits, homemade trail mix, bottled water, and 100% fruit juice are perfect for preschool hands. If your child has a favorite special treat snack, packing it for the ride may curb a pending meltdown. Ziploc bags, or their eco-friendly cloth counterparts, are great for portioning out snacks on the go.

Play Car Games – From iSpy to Name that Tune, there are plenty of family-friendly kids games preschoolers can get in on. Consider printing off a map of the United States and have your preschooler look for a license plate from each state. Have him color the states in as he finds matching license plates.

Have a Bag of Tricks Ready – Hit the local dollar store and purchase an assortment of small, gimmicky games for your preschooler to play with during the drive. Wrap each one individually and place them in a brown paper bag. During the trip, dole out the goodies as a means to reinforce good behavior.  Plastic rings that light up, small figures and action men, small books, kaleidoscopes, and stickers and sticker books are all great options for the preschool set.

Make Sculpture Art from Foil– Bring along a roll of aluminum foil and you’ll be surprised what comes next. Give your preschooler a large piece of foil and let him construct his own masterpiece. Turn this activity into a game by taking turns sculpting items and having the others guess what the sculpture is. The person who guesses correctly gets to be the next sculptor.

For car rides that are more than a few hours long, putting on a movie or playing around with iPod apps can certainly be a life saver, but it’s good to know there are other preschooler-approved ways to withstand a long car ride.

The next time you’re heading out of town, consider some low-tech entertainment options. Spending time together in close quarters provides an opportunity to rediscover each other’s likes, dislikes, and interests. Doing so can be a welcome break from the busyness of life and provide the perfect opportunity to reconnect.

 

6 Ways Your Nanny Can Help Your Child with the Back-to-School Transition

Ready or not, it’s back-to-school time. Summer fun is almost over and families are making the transition back into the school year routine. Nanny employers have some extra help making the school year transitions. Nannies can support both parents and children as they get ready to head into fall.

Streamline and practice the morning routine. Getting kids up, ready and out the door on time is one of the biggest challenges of the school week. Your nanny can create a routine that supports your child’s individual temperament and pace. Plus create fun prompts, like visual cues and get-you-going songs, to help him stay on track. Instead of being a chaotic and stressful time nannies can help make mornings stress free. Your nanny can gradually ease your child into the morning schedule and introduce new tasks at a comfortable pace. By the first day of school, your child will move through the morning like a pro.

Practice social skills. Often the most challenging parts of starting or returning to school isn’t the class schedule or the homework, it’s navigating the social scene. For a younger child, it may be learning how to introduce herself to new classmates or asking to play with a group of kids at lunchtime. For an older child, it may be learning how to start a conversation with a lab partner or asking a new friend if she wants to sit together at lunch. Your nanny can work with you to help your child talk through her feelings about going to school and help her role play some situations she’s worried or unsure about. Your nanny can also be a supportive ear when your child returns home in the afternoon.

Brush up on academic skills. Even children who do some academic work during the summer lose some academic ability and knowledge while out of school. Your nanny can offset summer brain drain by engaging your child in activities that challenge their reading, math, science and critical thinking skills. Your nanny can come up with fun ways to reintroduce important concepts and give your child the chance to dust off and practice the skills he hasn’t used in a few months. This will help your child quickly catch up once he’s back in the classroom.

Build friendships before the first day of school. If your child is new to the school or doesn’t know many of the children in his new class, the new school year can be daunting. Children gravitate to others they already know so new and shy children are often left struggling to connect and make friends. Your nanny can help your child form solid friendships before the school year begins. Hosting a play date or meeting a new classmate at the local park for the afternoon will give your child the opportunity to make friends in a relaxed, one-on-one situation. So when he walks in on the first day of school, he already has friends waiting for him.

Teach effective study skills. Many students will come home the very first day with homework. By the end of the first week, even kindergarteners will have homework. Establishing good habits from the beginning is key to your child’s success. Your nanny can work with your child to create a quiet, comfortable place to do his homework. She can experiment with different schedules to see what time your child is best able to concentrate and do his best work. She can offer support and guidance while challenging him to do his own work and correct his own mistakes. She can teach him how to break large projects into smaller, more manageable pieces and help him work through each piece in a logical way. Because she knows your child so well, she can find creative solutions to his particular struggles. All of these things will help your child develop effective study skills that will serve him for years to come.

Keep you connected to what’s happening at school. Your nanny can be a huge help to you during the school year too. She can sort and organize all the paperwork that’s sent home in the backpack to make sure you know all that’s going on and nothing falls between the cracks (or gets stuck at the bottom of the backpack!). She can fill out the endless order forms and permission slips so you can quickly review and sign them. That gives you a lot more time each evening to spend with your family.

Back-to-school time is really exciting. It can also be really stressful. If you’re lucky enough to have a great nanny working for your family, she can help ease your child into the transition and make starting school easier for everyone.

Kitchen Safety Tips for Nannies

Few areas in the home are as full of sharp objects, heat sources, slippery floors, and dangerous chemicals as the kitchen. Even kitchens that have childproofing measures installed can be very dangerous, and nannies should take special care to supervise their charges while in the kitchen and reduce the risk of injury to her charges or herself by taking the proper precautions.

  • Keep Surfaces and Utensils Clean – Food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli can be very serious, especially for young children. To prevent transmitting these diseases to your charges or yourself, be sure that you adhere to safe food handling practices and keep all of your surfaces and utensils clean. Uncooked meats and eggs are especially notorious for causing food-borne illness, so handle them with additional care.
  • Enforce Hand Washing Rules – It’s just as important to be sure that everyone washes their hands as it is keep surfaces and utensils clean; even small children that won’t be handling food should be instructed to wash their hands thoroughly, both as a preventative measure in case they do touch food items and to help them learn good kitchen hygiene early.
  • Turn Handles to the Back of the Stove – The handles of pots and pans should always be turned to the back of the stove to prevent them from being pulled from the scorching surface by small hands or from being accidentally spilled on your own part. Burns can be very serious, especially on the delicate skin of small children, so never leave handles turned in such a way that they can be grabbed by kids or jostled by your own arms and hands.
  • Supervise Kids Closely – Children love to help out in the kitchen, and they shouldn’t be left to bask in the glow of the television while you prepare meals. Instead of exiling children to the living room and leaving them to their own devices, invite them into the kitchen but be sure to supervise them very carefully.
  • Explain Tools and Their Purposes – Tools, implements, and utensils that kids aren’t allowed to examine take on a mysterious allure, so be sure to carefully explain what each item is, what it’s used for, and how it can be dangerous.
  • Get Kids Involved – When children are engaged in safe kitchen activities they’re less likely to be drawn to unsafe ones while you’re otherwise occupied. Let your charges complete small, safe food prep tasks as you cook; in addition to keeping them safely entertained, it also gives them a sense of accomplishment and teaches new skills.
  • Avoid Scalds – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents turn water heater temperatures to 120° or less to avoid accidental scalds, which are the most common type of burn seen in small children that visit emergency rooms. However, some parents may have missed the memo; to be safe, assume that your employers have not adjusted their water heaters and teach kids to be very, very careful with the sink.
  • Outlaw Running and Horseplay – Let it be known before you enter the kitchen together for the first time that horseplay, running, or roughhousing of any kind is strictly forbidden, and take a no-tolerance stance on the issue. There are too many potential hazards in the kitchen for kids to treat it like a playground.
  • Keep Small Appliances Clear of the Sink – Small appliances that can easily drop into a sink full of water should be handled carefully, and unplugged immediately after use to prevent electrocution.
  • No Climbing! – Kids are usually taught not to climb onto shelves or counters in order to reach items placed on high surfaces, so it’s important for you to model the same behavior. If climbing is unavoidable, be sure to use a designated step stool and do so safely, rather than clambering onto a kitchen chair or the countertop.
  • Keep Kids Clear of the Oven – Curiosity is a major motivator for kids, especially if there are tasty treats in the oven. Watching cookies go from gooey batter to delicious snacks is fascinating for little ones, who may want to peek into the oven from time to time. Be sure that they know not to ever open the oven themselves, and to stand well clear of the searing heat when you open it for them.

All of the safety precautions in the world can’t take the place of strict supervision, so do your best to maintain a close watch on your charges as they spend time with you in the kitchen. Also, ensure that there is a small fire extinguisher on hand before preparing a meal in your employers’ home, just to be on the safe side.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Philadelphia

With its impressive number of renowned museums, rich culture of historical significance and booming culinary scene, the City of Brotherly Love can be a surprisingly ideal destination for your family vacation. There are a wide variety of reasons why Philly deserves to be on your short list of vacation spots, but these ten are focused on all of the great things there are to see and do with your children.

  1. The Mud Room (Ardmore, PA 19003) – A ceramics and craft studio that stocks clay mugs, plates, figurines and pots, The Mud Room is a great place to let kids relax and unwind from the pressure of a packed itinerary on a whirlwind vacation. Their works of art will not only allow them to exercise their creative sides, but also provide a built-in souvenir of their time in Philadelphia.
  2. American Helicopter Museum & Education Center (West Chester, PA 19380) – Kids who are fascinated with air travel will love the American Helicopter Museum & Education center, which allows kids to interact with and even climb inside some of the aircraft. There’s also a toddler learning area for kids under the age of six, filled with plenty of proverbial bells and whistles to keep little hands busy.
  3. New Hope and Ivyland Railroad (New Hope, PA 18938) – Roll through the hills of Bucks County on a restored 1920′s passenger train, a historic diesel train or an authentic steam locomotive on the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad. Kids with a fondness for trains will be enraptured, but even kids without a particular fixation on them will enjoy the novelty of this attraction. There’s also a gift shop, and an arcade for kids to browse and play in while waiting for the next train.
  4. National Constitution Center (Philadelphia, PA 19106) – Featuring interactive exhibits showcasing key moments in American history, politics and the key document governing the United States’ democratic system, the National Constitution Center is a can’t-miss offering on your trip to Philadelphia. Instilling a sense of civil responsibility and an understanding of the events that led to the establishment of the American political structure in kids while presenting the information in an absorbing, engaging way, the National Constitution Center hosts a variety of events and limited-time exhibits.
  5. The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia PA 19103) – Named after the great scientist, inventor and political figure Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Institute is not only one of the oldest centers for science education and research in the country, but also a great destination for kids. There’s even a special program in place directed solely at homeschooled kids, which provides additional opportunities and special experiments to further their education.
  6. Betsy Ross House (Philadelphia, PA 19106) – The image of the American flag is an iconic one, the original creation of which is attributed to the national treasure Betsy Ross. Kids can tour the house, interact with an actor in period costume and watch demonstrations of life in colonial America. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the Betsy Ross house and Historic Philadelphia also offer a variety of specialty programs and exhibits.
  7. Abe’s Buggy Rides (Bird in Hand, PA 17505) – Learning about other cultures is both fun and engaging for kids, which is why Abe’s Buggy Rides can be such a big hit with the smaller set. Rolling through the Lancaster County countryside in a horse-drawn Amish buggy is a great way to let kids observe Amish farms, a schoolhouse and other sights while enjoying the novelty of riding in a buggy with real horse-power.
  8. Please Touch Museum (Philadelphia, PA 19131) – All too often, kids are instructed not to touch anything in museums. The Please Touch Museum turns the concept of looking-but-not-touching on its ear, with fully interactive and hands-on exhibits that teach kids about a variety of subject through play and experimentation.
  9. Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse (Philadelphia, PA 19121) – With a 24,000 square foot, three floor playhouse and extensive outdoor playgrounds, the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is an ideal place to let the kids burn some energy in a beautiful, kid-friendly setting. The playhouse includes bikes and cars for kids to ride in a miniature town, complete with a stop light, parking meters and a gas station, along with a staggering array of additional toys on the upper levels.
  10. The Crayola Factory (Easton, PA 18042) – While the Crayola Factory is a bit of a drive from the metropolitan Philadelphia area, the interactive exhibits and projects make the trek well worth it. While The Crayola Factory is a factory in name only, there is a section that helps kids see and understand a bit about the manufacturing process of their beloved crayons.

Because of Philadelphia’s historical significance and a city-wide dedication to preserving it, the city is a great choice for parents in search of a vacation destination that offers the opportunity for learning alongside carefree fun. Visiting Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the same streets that Benjamin Franklin walked all provide your family with great fun that also presents the opportunity to learn about the history of this great country.

30 Blogs Parents Need for Payroll Advice

Most nanny employers have heard about the “nanny tax” from friends and colleagues who’ve hired a nanny. Unfortunately the information is usually vague and doesn’t give employers any real help in understanding or dealing with their nanny taxes. Check out these sites for the information you need to get through the maze of nanny taxes.

What Is The Nanny Tax?

So what exactly is the nanny tax? It’s important to understand your responsibilities as a nanny employer and have a clear picture of the taxes you are required to pay by law.

Do You Owe Nanny Taxes?

Not all parents that employ a nanny have to pay the nanny tax. There are limitations that exclude some caregivers. Knowing the limitations before you hire your nanny will help you start off on the right foot from day one.

Misclassification of Workers

Is your nanny an employee or an independent contractor? This is one of the most common questions nanny employers have. The IRS is stepping up enforcement on misclassification of workers so it’s essential you’re clear about what role your nanny fills.

Understanding Nanny Rights  

All nannies have certain rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is a federal law. Many nannies have additional rights under state laws. Take the time to understand what your nanny is entitled to so that you ensure you’re offering a legal wage and work environment.

The Paperwork Nanny Employers Need to Complete

No one likes doing paperwork, especially the tax kind. Unfortunately nanny employers have a fair amount of paperwork to keep up with when it comes to filing their nanny taxes properly. Remember there are forms that need to be filed with the federal government, your state, and possibly your local government too.

The Dangers of Not Paying the Nanny Tax

Thinking it’s all too complicated for you to bother with? There are many dangers that come with not paying your nanny taxes. With the recent rise in Domestic Workers Rights bills being introduced in several states, there’s more scrutiny on nanny employers by caregivers and government agencies.

Nanny taxes can be a hassle, but they’re a necessary part of being a nanny employer. Paying your taxes will not only help your nanny be more financially secure, it will keep you out of hot water with the IRS.

How to Show Your Nanny Appreciation Without Spending a Dime

Many nanny employers deeply appreciate the commitment and dedication that their nanny gives to their family, and would love to dish out lavish bonuses and expensive gifts as a token of their appreciation, but simply don’t have a budget to allow for that after paying their nanny.

The good news is that it doesn’t take an additional financial investment to show you’re nanny that you truly appreciate her. A few kind words, a moment of your time, or a handmade gift will go a long way in showing your nanny that you genuinely care for and appreciate her.

When considering how to show your nanny you appreciate her, first evaluate how the kids can help.  Whether it’s posing for a photo, stamping their footprints on a card or having the children help to prepare her a special meal, children of any age can help to show their nanny that she is loved.  The children’s age and skill level will determine what role they can play in doing something special for their nanny. Older kids may choose to write a poem or give an independent gift while younger children may prefer to do something together.

Second, choose a budget friendly project.  Handmade scrapbooks with photos of the nanny and children together are grand tokens of appreciation. Older children can make or decorate frames that can hold a favorite photo. They can also write letters to their nanny to thank her for helping to care for them. Families can bake cookies or make a meal together to express their appreciation. The project you decide on can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. A tech-savvy dad may enjoy putting together a slideshow made from photos of the children and the nanny. A mom who enjoys knitting may have the children help pick out yarn for a scarf she’ll then knit.

If you don’t have time to tackle a huge project, consider doing a thank you jar. Take a clear jar and put a slit in the cover. Each time you think of something your nanny has done that you appreciate, write it on a slip of paper and put it in the jar.  Once the jar is filled up, give her your collection of thanks. Children can also add contributions and help to decorate the jar with paint or stickers.

Lastly, after you’ve chosen a project, prepare to give it to her. If the children are old enough, they’ll likely want to enjoy giving their nanny a gift. If you’re hosting a dinner for her, have them make invitations and help to set the table. If you’re giving a card, leave it somewhere where she’ll discover it, such as on top of the children’s dresser or in her nanny log book. The unexpected thank you is what makes giving the token of appreciation special.

If a project seems like too much work, simply writing a handmade thank you card for no specific reason or having the children greet the nanny at the door and then sing her a favorite song she taught them will be cherished expressions of gratitude.

When nannies feel like their work is appreciated, they become more vested in their position. Since nannies work independently, there’s typically no employer around to give daily feedback or to notice the level of care she puts into completing even the most mundane job tasks, like loading the dishwasher or folding the kids laundry.

While it would be normal to show your nanny appreciation for something she’s done above and beyond the call of duty, showing appreciation just because you are grateful of the role she plays in your family will go a long way to boost confidence, morale, job commitment, and performance.

30 Blogs Full of Kid-Friendly Crock-Pot Recipes

The Crock-pot is a lifesaver for parents who want to get a good meal on the table but just don’t have the time to prepare one after work. You can’t go wrong with the simplicity of adding everything to the Crock-pot before you run off to work and being able to return home after to the delicious smell of a home cooked meal and dinner that’s ready to be served.  These 30 blogs have the working family in mind and have tons of kid-friendly Crock-pot recipes for you to choose from.

  1. Freebies 2 Deals You can find more than kid-friendly Crock-pot recipes on this blog. You’ll also learn a method to freeze the meals ahead of time so that all you have to do is get up in the morning and dump a bag into the Crock-pot before leaving for work.
  2. Justfindit4u This blog posts new kid-friendly Crock-pot recipes every Wednesday.
  3. Crockpot 365 Blogger Stephanie is cooking in her Crock-pot every day for a year.  There are tons of recipes on this blog that appeal to families who have kids to please when it comes to meal time.  She has 3 kids and will tell you what her kids thought of each recipe and you can choose which ones to try from there.
  4. Cookingwithmykid Great recipes abound on this site, not all for the Crock-pot, but still well worth a look.
  5. Mommyskitchen An awesome blog written by a mom who uses her Crock-pot a lot in summer and winter alike.  Check out the many recipes found on this blog and get some ideas from her month of menus.
  6. Just a pinch There are tons of recipes on this blog, and it’s got a great search feature on the side that allows you to search for kid-friendly recipes, Crock-pot recipes, chicken recipes and more.
  7. Semi Homemade Mom Taking a little help from the store while still using her Crock-pot, this blogger has tons of great recipes with the family in mind.
  8. The Farm Girl Great recipes and stories from this Idaho mom of 4.  She has lots of Crock-pot recipes – just do a search for them on her blog.
  9. A Busy Mom’s Slow Cooker Adventures This working mom found that she didn’t have time to get dinner on the table with all of the things she was involved in.  So she turned to her Crock-pot for the answer and she is blogging about it.
  10. Living a Changed Life  You can eat healthy while cooking meals in the Crock-pot.  Check out this blog from a lady who lost 90 pounds!
  11. Ring Around the Rosies From the freezer to the Crock-pot, this blogger shows you how to make up 12 meals for the freezer during only a 2 hour naptime.  Lots of ideas to save you time and money making healthy meals for your family.
  12. Get off Your Butt and Bake Tons of recipes for the Crock-pot, just do a Crock-pot search to pull them up.  Lots of other yummy recipes as well.
  13. Get Crocked Did you think that Crock-pots were just for cooking dinner?  Here is a blogger that not only has lots of dinner recipes, but she has lots of breakfast Crock-pot recipes too.  How about Crock-pot cinnamon rolls?  Mmmmm.
  14. Moms with Crock-pots Find a recipe for green eggs and ham for the Crock-pot on this blog.  Plus tons of cheesy Crock-pot potato recipes, as well as many others.
  15. Family Fresh Meals Crock-pot recipes for everything from vegetarian stuffed peppers to Mexican Lasagna on this blog.
  16. Crockin Girls These bloggers have even written and published their own cookbook!  The blog is great because you can find recipes by main ingredient.  If you’ve got some chicken you need to use up just click on chicken to pull up those recipes.
  17. Six Sisters Stuff Just as you’d expect, there are 6 sisters writing this blog, and together they share Crock-pot recipes, kid’s crafts, and much more.
  18. Crock-a-doodle-do This working mom with two kids tells other working moms how she gets dinner on the table every night using her Crock-pot.  You can serve up dinner each night too with her help.
  19. Chef in Training There are many interesting recipes on this blog, starting with soup and ending with Honey Sesame Chicken.  Give them all a try.
  20. Plain Chicken Not all of the recipes on this blog are Crock-pot recipes, but quite a few are, and the others are pretty delicious looking too.  It’s worth a gander.
  21. Weight Watchers Crock-pot Recipes Trying to get back your girlish figure after having kids?  These recipes offer the perfect combination of both delicious and nutritious.  And as an added bonus, they’re all simple to make too.
  22. Tasty Planner This is a great place not only to find Crock-pot recipes, but also to put together menus and create grocery lists.
  23. The Lady 8 Home An insightful blog about home life, chores, and Crock-pot recipes.
  24. Practical-stewardship This blogger has a slow cooker Saturday routine so there are plenty of recipes to choose from on this site.  There’s also little bits of other interesting stuff too.
  25. Crystal and Co. The mommy resource is what this blogger claims to be.  She has a killer recipe for Crock-pot mac and cheese that the kids will love, plus many others you can try.
  26. The Mom Initiative 10 Sanity Saving Crock-pot recipes on this blog.  Many other mom tips are here as well.
  27. Blessed Beyond a Doubt This site has several Crock-pot recipes posted by this homeschooling mom.  All recipes have been taste-tested by her kids and were favorites.
  28. Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures Lynn shares recipes for Crock-pots meals that her family loves.  She also has an allergy section if you need help with cooking for people with allergies.
  29. Jamie Cooks it Up This blogger has posted more than a dozen different family-friendly Crock-pot recipes as well as other healthy recipes.
  30. Crock-pot Ladies This isn’t just any site about Crock-pot recipes.  There’s a recipe for making sweet tomato butter in the Crock-pot, Peach vanilla butter, blueberry angel food cake and many other sweet treats.  If you are looking for unique recipes for your Crock-pot, this is the place to go.

How to Stop Siblings From Fighting

Sibling fighting, while inevitable, can turn your household into what feels like a war zone. Your children bickering, teasing, poking, and all around annoying each other can seem like an endless stress cycle. There are, however, some ways that you can lessen sibling fighting and create a more peaceful, cooperative environment.

Set strong, clear boundaries for acceptable behavior and stick to them. Sibling fighting is one of those challenging behaviors that can quickly wear you down, so it’s hard to stick to your guns about what behavior is okay and what is not. But when it comes to getting to better behavior, consistency is the key.

A family meeting is the perfect opportunity to get everyone together and set the ground rules for how family members should treat each other. Everyone, both children and adults, should have a say in the rules. When your children are part of creating the rules they’re much more likely to follow them. Talk about what respectful language looks like, what type of touching is welcomed (e.g. hugging, tickling) and what type is not allowed (e.g. hitting, poking), and how they’re going to solve disputes. When the rules have been agreed on by everyone, outline what will happen if those rules aren’t followed. Then write them down and include visual cues to help kids remember.

Teach your children problem solving skills. Giving your kids the tools they need to solve their own problems will really pay off in the home environment. Children fight most often when they don’t feel they have better options. They get angry, frustrated, impatient, or hurt and they lash out. When you give your children the tools to talk about how they feel, to think about how others think and feel about a situation, and to come up with solutions that work for everyone involved, you’re giving them the power to stop fighting and start cooperating.

Help your children understand the different perspectives of their siblings. Children think everyone sees things the same way they do. They need help understanding that others often see and feel things very differently. What’s funny to one child may feel like hurtful bullying to his brother. What’s no big deal to one child may be a huge deal to his sister. What seems like a logical solution to one child may seem completely unfair to her sister. Help children express how they feel to their siblings in respectful language (e.g. “It hurts my feelings when you say I’m a klutz”, “I don’t want to share my new game with you because it’s my favorite toy and I’m afraid you’ll break it”). Help children process what’s been shared with them and encourage them to try and see things from the other perspective (e.g. “Can you think of a time when someone called you a name and, instead of it being funny, it hurt your feelings?”, “Can you imagine how hard it would be for you to share your favorite game if you were afraid it would get broken and you wouldn’t be able to play with it anymore?”). Seeing things through another person’s eyes builds empathy and increases sensitivity to what others feel and need. That’s a great way to help siblings stop fighting and start supporting each other.

Don’t take sides. Finding ways to solve the problem, not assigning blame, is the best way to move past an issue. When you try and figure out who did what and who did it first you get stuck in the past. When you start from where you are and work on ways to move forward, you take charge of the future. You rarely have all of the information to know who’s really at fault anyway. You may see your middle child push your older child as they walk into the room but it may be in response to something the older child did in the other room. Only they know the full story and they each see it through their own eyes.

Focus on what you want them to do instead of what you don’t want them to do. It’s easy to talk about what you don’t want: don’t hit, don’t push, don’t hog the TV, don’t grab his toys, don’t tease. It’s harder, but so much more productive, to talk about what you do want: use your words instead of your hands, decide together on a TV program, ask when you want a turn with a toy, talk respectfully. Not only does positive language change the overall tone of a situation, it teaches children to focus on what they’re doing right instead of what they’re doing wrong. Kids who feel good about themselves are much more likely to follow rules and treat others kindly and fairly.

Sibling fighting is typical and can’t be avoided completely. However you can get to a place where your children get along more often than they fight, and where they truly enjoy being around each other.