6 Ways to Win Bedtime Battles

bedtime battles

After the end of a long day, the last thing any parent wants to do is fight with their child over bedtime. But for many families, bedtime is a daily source of stress and anxiety that climaxes with a full blown war. The parents want nothing more than their child to go to bed, and the child wants nothing more than to stay awake. While in many cases, the child wins and ends up falling asleep in his parents’ arms, in their bed, or even on the floor, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Consider these 6 ways parents can win the bedtime battle once and for all.

1. Have a consistent bedtime routine. Have you ever noticed that a young child loves to read the same books over and over again? Children love repetition and love anticipating what comes next. The same is true with bedtime. Kids find comfort in consistent routines. When a solid bedtime routine is established, it builds feelings of comfort, safety and security in the child.  Each evening, start your bedtime routine after dinner. Give your child a bath and follow it up with a quiet activity, like reading a book, together. When it’s time to put your child to bed, give him a hug and a kiss before tucking him in. The more consistent your bedtime routine is, the less pushback you’ll get from your child.

2. Set the mood of the room for sleep. Have you ever noticed that babies can be lulled to sleep by the sound of a vacuum cleaner? The white noise a vacuum creates is soothing and drowns out other sounds. Young children, especially babies, tend to sleep better with white noise in their midst. Whether it’s a fan or a white noise machine, having white background noise helps kids fall and stay asleep. Having the room dark and the temperature set between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit can also boost a child’s sleep quality and amount.

3. Establish healthy sleep habits. While it can be tempting to rock your baby to sleep, don’t. Instead, put your baby to sleep when she’s drowsy, eyelids heavy, but still awake. Doing so allows her to learn to fall asleep on her own. Many parents allow their older children to fall asleep watching television in bed. When kids watch television right before bed, they have a harder time falling and staying asleep. Helping your child establish healthy sleep habits will ensure he gets enough good, quality sleep.

4. Keep kids well rested during the day. Many parents stop allowing their children to nap because they believe that if they nap during the day, they won’t sleep at night. The reality is that overtired children are much harder to put to bed at night. Depriving your child of needed daytime sleep will typically make nighttime sleep worse, not better.

5.  Avoid stimulating activities before bed. After work, some parents enjoy nothing more than roughhousing and wrestling with their children. When active playtime happens right before bed, children can get wound up and calming them down becomes problematic. For nighttime family fun, consider playing a quiet board game or reading a book.

6. Be sure that everyone is on the page. Whether it’s mom, dad or the nanny putting the children to bed, everyone should follow the same routine. If mom’s ready to sleep train the baby and dad keeps going in the room and picking the baby up, the baby gets mixed messages.  Children put up less of a battle when the bedtime routine and expectations are kept consistent.

While bedtime is often stressful, it doesn’t have to be. Bedtime can be a calming experience, if it’s approached in a structured and consistent way.


10 Things to Consider Before Working for a Work from Home Parent

work from home

You’ve been presented with the perfect nanny position. It’s the next town over, you would be caring for a newborn, the parents seem super nice and the salary is within your range. Everything seems perfect, except one little thing: The mom works from home.

Working for a work from home parent can be challenging. The boundaries can be easily blurred, the parent and nanny relationship can be easily strained and the child can be easily confused over who is in charge and when.

While not all nanny positions for work from home parents will be problematic, if the duties and expectations of the nanny aren’t laid out clearly from the get-go, they are surely to be troubled.  If you are considering accepting employment for a work from home parents, here are 10 things you need to consider.

1. Are the expectations clear? Do you have a clear understanding of the role that the parent wants you to play and the duties and responsibilities that she wants you to take on? Have you determined if she wants you to be in charge all day or just when she’s “working?” Are you free to come and go with the child or do you need to check-in with the at home parent regularly throughout the day? Will you be working supervised or unsupervised? Understanding exactly what the work from home parents expects can help you made an educated and informed decision if working for a work from home parent is the right choice for you.

2. Will you have a clear handoff? Will the work from home parent be heading off to her workspace when you come into work? Will she clearly let you and her child know that you’re in charge? Will there be confusion over who is in charge when you are both present? When a work from home parent is willing to turn over the reins and communicate that the nanny is now the responsible adult, it avoids confusion for both the nanny and the child.  

3. Have you solidified the schedule? Will you be working a consistent schedule or you will have to work around the hours of the work from home parent? Are you able to commit to showing up on time, knowing the parent has no physical workplace outside of the home to go to? Does the work from home parent expect to have lunch with her child? Understanding how your schedule will work can help you determine if a work from home parent would be a good employer match for you.

4. Will there be disruptions in your routine? Once you start your day will you be left alone to do your job? Will the parents come in and out through your work space without notice? Will they pop in to say hi, just because they can? Children thrive on routine and structure. While a parent may pop in just for a moment, for a child that brief visit requires several transitions – a transition from doing what they were doing to doing something with the parent, a transition from nanny to parent, a transition from parent back to nanny and a final transition to going back to what she was doing. Several such transitions can be a recipe for disaster. Are you willing to happily accept disruptions to your day?

4. How will you communicate? Will the work from home parent expect you to spend time talking extensively when you arrive, before you leave and during any of her downtime in between? Are you allowed to knock on the office door or does she prefer an email, phone call or text message? Understanding how, how much and how often you’ll be communicating with the work from home parent help you determine if the job is appealing to you.

6. Are you comfortable asking questions? Do you get the sense that it’s okay to ask questions? Are you willing to ask for guidance when you need it? If you are unsure of something, will you ask? Feeling out how receptive the parent is to helping you learn more about your job and her family can help you decide if the work situation would be a good one for you.

7. Are you both committed to having a unified front? Can you agree to praise in public and criticize in private? Are you willing to back each other’s choices and decisions in front of the kids? Do you feel like if you accepted the job you would be part of a team? Having an employer that backs you is essential to building your credibility and trust with the children.  An employer who won’t support you isn’t worth working for.

8. Can you be consistent? Since you’ll both be in the home and around, being consistent is essential. Can you agree to enforce the same rules and standards? Are you willing to parent the way the parents do? In a situation where a parent works from home, the nanny must work hard to maintain consistency. Are you okay with that?

9. Will the boundaries be defined? Is the child able to go see mom whenever he wishes? Is the office off limits? How will you know when it is okay and not okay to interrupt the working parent? Will she respect your time with the children? Having clear boundaries can prevent misunderstandings and promote mutual respect, which is vital in a nanny and employer relationship.

10. Can you commit to addressing issues as the come up? Are you willing to bring issues to the forefront as they arise? Are you committed to resolving disputes and letting the little things go? When your boss works in the next room, it’s a little harder to hide your irritation with her. When you work for a parent who is in the home, maintaining a stress free environment is important for both of you.

Working as a nanny for a work from home parent isn’t for everyone, but for those who can be flexible, are okay with going with the flow and are willing to work closely alongside their employer, a work from home parent could be a good employer match.


10 Reasons Why Au Pairs Differ From Nannies

au pair versus nannies


Au pairs are often marketed to parents as cheap alternatives to nanny care, however the reality could not be further from the truth. While in some situations, like when parents need an extra set of hands or when older children need afterschool supervision, an au pair may be an appropriate child care choice, if you are looking for a childcare specialist to provide full-time care for your young child, an au pair typically isn’t it.

Here are 10 reasons why au pairs are not nanny replacements:

1. Au pairs enter the United States through a cultural exchange program. The primary reason au pairs enter the United States is to experience American life. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Au Pair Exchange oversees the exchange program that provides J-1 visas to foreign nationals in exchange for providing child care for the children of host families.

2. Au pairs are foreign nationals who are between 18-26 years of age. Au pairs are young adults who may not have the life experience that a seasoned nanny may have.  When choosing an au pair, you have no option but to choose someone in this age range.

3. Au pairs can only stay a limited time with families. Unlike nannies, who may stay several years with the families that employ them, au pairs are only able to stay a maximum of two years. While they enter into the program for one year, they may extend their time in the U.S. for 6, 9 or 12 additional months.

4. Au pairs do not need to have significant child care experience. All au pairs must receive a minimum of 32 hours of training. Unlike with nannies, who often have extensive experience and/or training in early childhood development, these 32 hours could be the only child care related training or experience an au pair has ever had.

5. Au pairs can only work a maximum number of hours per week. Unlike nannies who can work as many hours as you agree to (although they must be compensated for each hour worked), au pairs can work a maximum of 10 hours per day and 45 hours per week.

6. Au pairs cannot provide unsupervised care for young babies. Au pairs are not placed in homes with babies 3 months of age or younger unless there is a parent or another responsible adult in the home supervising the au pair. Au pairs can, however, be placed with children aged 2 and under if they have200 hours of documented experience. In nanny experience, this would be equivalent to having only one month of child care experience.

7. Au pairs must enroll in academic programs (that you have to pay for). Not only must au pairs enroll in classes, as a host family you are responsible for paying up to $500 towards the fees of those classes. You must also ensure your au pair has the time off to attend the classes she enrolls in.

8. Au pairs must live with their host family. While parents have the option to hire a live-in or live-out nanny, au pairs must reside in the homes of their host families. The host families must provide a suitable room plus three meals per day for their au pair.

9. Au pairs must have one complete weekend off each month. While you can ask your nanny to work every weekend as part of her agreement, when it comes to au pairs, you can’t. The program requirements state that au pairs must have one weekend, from Friday evening until Monday morning, off each month.

10. Au pairs must be included in family life. Since au pairs are in the United States to experience American life, their host families are expected to include them in meals, in holiday celebrations and in family outings. While your nanny will have her own life, your au pair may depend on you to create her life for her.

If you are looking for a mother’s helper or gap coverage for your child between the time when he gets home from school and you get home from work, an au pair could be a viable option for your family. However if you are looking for a childcare specialist with extensive experience to help you raise your children for the long haul, you’ll really need to consider hiring a nanny.


10 Things to Do With Kids in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The largest city in the five Plains States, which includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, Oklahoma City is also the state capital and the third largest city in the country in land area. The state capitol building also has the distinction of being the only one in the world sitting directly atop an oil well. If you’re considering a Oklahoma City for your next family vacation destination, here are ten of the best kid-friendly attractions in the area.

  1. Oklahoma City Zoo (Oklahoma City, OK 73111) – It’s hard to go wrong with a zoo, and the Oklahoma City Zoo is ranked among the nation’s best. An accredited living museum and a botanical garden, there are a staggering number of exhibits and attractions within the Zoo, including a Butterfly Garden, Cat Forest and a variety of rides and shows.
  2. Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, OK 73106) – Learning about the rich history of Oklahoma is as simple as showing up at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, which celebrates both famous Oklahomans and everyday Joes alike. You can also share your own story at the ONEOK Tell Your Story exhibit, emailing a copy to yourself as a memento of this particular leg of your family vacation.
  3. Oklahoma History Center (Oklahoma City, OK 73105) – With Smithsonian-quality exhibits and interpretive programs, the Oklahoma History Center tells the story of Oklahoma’s past in rich detail. With a Learning Center that boasts 215,000 square feet, over 200 interactive computer, audio and video activities and art galleries, be prepared to spend the better part of a day exploring the OHC.
  4. Science Museum Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK 73111) – Oklahoma’s premier destination for scientific exploration and education, the Science Museum Oklahoma is home to cultural galleries, a planetarium, interactive exhibits and a two-story tree house that boasts the tallest spiral slide in the United States.
  5. Frontier City Theme Park (Oklahoma City, OK 73131) – If you’re looking for a carefree way to spend an afternoon, Oklahoma’s largest theme park may be just the thing. Sprawling over 40 acres with more than 50 rides, daily live shows and free concerts, Frontier City is also a smoke-free complex.
  6. Harn Homestead Museum (Oklahoma City, OK 73105) – An original 1904 Queen Anne-style Victorian home, a dairy barn, one-room school house and two other historic homes make up the Harn Homestead Museum, which offers hands-on whitewashing, wood chopping and tub laundry activities for kids during the summer season. You can also opt for a self-guided tour, if your family prefers to move at their own pace.
  7. International Gymnastics Hall of Fame (Oklahoma City, OK 73111) – Kids with a fondness for tumbling will flip for the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, which features photographs, artwork and video displays depicting some of the world’s greatest gymnasts. There’s also a gift shop, library and collection of awards and medals.
  8. Myriad Botanical Gardens (Oklahoma City, OK 73102) – The 17 acres surrounding the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory are known as the Myriad Botanical Gardens, meticulously landscaped and overflowing with beautiful plant life. Homeschoolers can also take advantage of specialized programs on-site.
  9. Chesapeake Boathouse (Oklahoma City, OK 73129) – On the banks of the Oklahoma River lies the Chesapeake Boathouse, which offers free tours of the district, summer adventure camps for kids and a full fitness center. Provided that everyone in your family is over the age of eight, you can also take advantage of kayaking activities.
  10. Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum (Oklahoma City, OK 73136) – Boasting the largest collection of fire department patches in the world, a selection of artifacts from the Ben Franklin collection and antique fire equipment dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum is sure to excite any kid with a fondness for firefighters.

Don’t let the “Plains State” designation fool you into thinking that the geography of Oklahoma City is treeless and flat like the true high plains; in fact, the area is liberally dotted with low trees and shrubs across gently rolling hills. The Stockyards district is also one of the largest cattle markets in the world, with a variety of merchants in the area peddling their Western-themed wares. If you do decide to visit the Stockyards on Monday morning, during the weekly cattle sales, be prepared to spot the occasional PETA activist protesting nearby, which can make for an awkward conversation or two with young children.