How Nannies Can Create a Learning Environment at Home

Creating a fun, engaging learning environment is part of a nanny’s daily job. However, you don’t have to turn your employer’s home into a mini preschool to create the kind of space that helps a child actively explore and learn about the world around him. The things you already do throughout the day offer lots of opportunities for teachable moments.

  1. Get kids involved in cooking. Kids love being able to help out in the kitchen. It makes them feel grown up and they love being able to “play” with things that are normally reserved for the adults of the house. Toddlers can help level off measuring cups, pour, stir and kneed. Preschoolers can grease backing pans, measure out ingredients and wash fruits and vegetables. Older kids can do simple food prep and take on the responsibility of reading the recipe and pulling all the ingredients together. Cooking teaches all kinds of skills including math, science, reading, following multi-part directions and fine motor skills. It also allows children to contribute in a real way to the family, which builds the feeling of being capable, instills confidence, and feeds their love of learning new things. Make sure that while you’re having fun in the kitchen, you’re taking all the necessary safety precautions. It’s no fun when someone gets hurt.
  2. Enlist help for everyday household chores. Although things like laundry, cleaning out the hall closet, and going through seasonal clothes may not be your favorite tasks, all of those things can be fun and educational for kids. Putting dirty laundry into piles by color or putting all the large building blocks into one bin are great sorting exercises. Putting socks in pairs and matching up clothes by size and season are great ways to practice color and size matching. Folding builds fine motor skills and spatial intelligence. Just about every task we do in our everyday lives can be a valuable learning opportunity for a child.
  3. Encourage early reading through organization. Labels are a great way to keep toys, clothes, art supplies, and just about everything else organized. Adding labels to the outside of drawers, closet doors, boxes, bins, baskets, and shelves with the help of the kids helps make the connection between objects and the words that represent them. Adding an identifying picture will help younger children get in on the fun. To keep the labels looking like new, cover them with a laminating sheet, clear page protector or clear packing tape. This is also an easy way to encourage children to put their clothes away, pick up their toys, and even help with household chores like putting dishes away. Kids love being able to figure out where things go all by themselves.
  4. Create a home library. Reading shouldn’t just happen at story time or as part of a bedtime routine. Encouraging kids to read at home during the day supports early literacy and fosters a love of learning.  One of the easiest ways to do this is by setting up a home library. Set up one or two shelves in an easily accessible location and designate it as the family library. Include favorite books from all family members. This is the perfect place for kids who need some quiet time, who need a way to transition out of a high energy activity, or who just want to be on their own for a while. Make sure you have a bean bag chair or floor pillows close by for snuggling up with a good book.
  5. Provide supplies that encourage pretend play. Children don’t need elaborate toys to have fun. With just a few basic supplies they can go on a safari trip, travel to far away universes, sail the high seas or go on countless other adventures. Pretend play does more than just provide a fun afternoon. It helps children develop social, emotional, language and critical thinking skills. Foster a child’s creative play by devoting a toy box to props you find throughout the house. Scarves, wrapping paper rolls, empty boxes, old linens, laundry baskets, and dollar store treasures all make for great playthings. Add some markers, paint, and duct tape and you’re on your way to making hundreds of unique treasures.
  6. Support child-directed play. It’s tempting as a nanny to fill the day with lots of planned outings, craft projects, science experiments and other things to foster learning. But one of the best things you can do is simply sit back and follow your charge’s lead. Children who are given the time and space to experiment with different things will automatically gravitate to things they enjoy and that fulfill their needs. Of course you want to be actively engaged with the children you care for, but also remember to give them lots of opportunities to show you what’s next on the daily schedule.

Creating a home learning environment is a fun and rewarding part of a nanny’s job. By providing the right opportunities, the children you care for will spend their days engaged in things they enjoy as they learn new and valuable skills.

30 Blogs With Eco-Friendly Parenting Tips

Parenting is all about teaching children the values and lessons they’ll need to grow into productive, responsible adults. The importance of instilling ecologically-responsible habits into youngsters has never before been emphasized like it is today, as the impact of climate change becomes more well-known. These 30 bloggers tackle the issue of parenting, eco-friendly style.

Green Parties and Gatherings

Kids love parties of any kind, especially when they’re the guest of honor. Unfortunately, the average child’s birthday party generates an incredible amount of waste in the form of disposable plates, cups and plastic cutlery. These five blogs offer great tips, hints and tricks for making sure that all of your kids’ parties are green and responsible.

Sustainable Eating

Teaching kids to eat healthily and make good dietary choices can be challenging. Explaining the importance of sustainable eating, however, will also be instilling the habit of eating well and choosing nutritious, low-footprint foods. Within these five blogs you’ll find ideas for sustainable kids’ cuisine and tips for helping your children make the right choices when it comes to food.


According to the Real Diaper Association, it takes a disposable diaper anywhere from 200-500 years to completely decompose, and 92% of the 27.4 billion single-use diapers sold end up in a landfill. These five blog entries are dedicated to sustainable diapering practices, keeping your little one clean and dry without contributing to climate change.

Natural Toys

While the manufacturing practices of many major toy companies are questionable at best, producing toys that have been known to contain hazardous chemicals, there are ecologically-sound toys available on the market. Tracking down and making your own earth-friendly toys to keep your children entertained are the subject of these five blog posts.

Teaching Kids About the Environment

All of the most sustainable, earth-conscious parenting practices in the world won’t teach your child about the importance of preserving the environment if your reasons are never discussed. Teaching kids about the dangers of climate change can be tricky, as imaginative little minds envision global devastation on an immediate scale. These five blogs entries are filled with ideas for imparting environmental knowledge in an age-appropriate manner.

Keeping Chores Green

Teaching kids to keep track of and complete their chores can be an exercise in teaching responsibility, a precursor to money-management training, or simply an effort to include kids in the completion of household duties. Whatever the reasoning, these five blogs will help you make sure that those chores are part of an earth-conscious upbringing.

30 Blogs for Reducing Your Family’s Carbon Footprint

As information about climate change and the damage it could cause continues to be discovered, more and more families are realizing the importance of managing and minimizing their carbon footprint. Making a difference in the health of the planet by making a conscious effort to reduce the ecological impact that your household has is the socially responsible, ethical thing to do. These 30 blogs all feature posts underlining the importance of that task, and offer tips, hints and tricks for turning your family a bit greener.

Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

Not only will energy-efficient upgrades to your home help the planet, they’ll also save your wallet each month by translating into noticeable reductions in energy costs. These five blog entries detail some of the upgrades you can make to turn your home into one that has less of an ecological impact, and will also cost less to maintain.

Sustainable Dietary Habits

Making changes to your dietary habits is an effective way of reducing your carbon footprint while also enjoying healthier, more wholesome foods. These five blog posts detail not only the importance of sustainable eating, but also include tips for how to make the switch with your family.

Recycling and Repurposing

The environment created inside a landfill is one that’s typically anaerobic due to how tightly garbage is compacted. The lack of oxygen in this environment means that even biodegradable refuse may not break down properly, which is one of the reasons why recycling is so important. Repurposing items that you might ordinarily discard can also help you save money, and will keep them out of your local landfill.


Changing the way that your family commutes to work, school and activities is a small but significant step in the direction of ecological responsibility. Carpooling, participating in ride share programs, and utilizing mass transit are all viable alternatives to driving a car with one or two occupants, and these changes do make a difference. These five bloggers discuss their experiences and share their knowledge about earth-friendly transportation.

Reducing Waste

While keeping garbage out of landfills and managing your family’s carbon footprint is of vital importance, learning to manage and reduce your waste as a group is a great way to instill the importance of green living in children, teaching them responsible practices that they’ll remember in adulthood.

Teaching Kids Earth-Friendly Habits

It’s important for families to reduce their carbon footprints as a household, but it’s also important that kids learn the necessity of living an environmentally-responsible life as they grow up. Good habits start when children are still quite small, and these five bloggers tackle the issue of imparting green values to little ones.

5 Things That Kill the Nanny and Employer Relationship

You spend a lot of time and energy choosing the nanny employment situation that is right for you, but your efforts can’t stop there. Like any relationship, it takes conscious and continuous effort for the nanny/employer relationship to be maintained. While there are many things both parties can do right to keep the relationship sailing smoothly, there are also a few things that will either put the relationship at a dead stop or be the match that ignites its breakdown.

1. Breach of trust. The nanny and parent relationship is built on trust. Whether the nanny intentionally disobeys her employer’s directive or the employer snoops around the live-in nanny’s quarters, any breach of trust is a surefire way to damage the nanny/employer working relationship. Once trust is broken, it’s hard to repair it, and chances are the relationship will never be the same. While the working relationship may continue, it’s guaranteed to be a more distant and strained one.

2. Gossip. From the park bench to online message boards, there are plenty of temptations to vent about your nanny/employer relationship. Don’t. Whether one nanny overhears you badmouthing another, you’re unknowingly posting on the same nanny message board your employer reads, or you accidently send a seething email to an unintended recipient, somehow, someway, gossiping will end up biting you in the bum. While it’s unrealistic to think nannies and employers won’t occasionally experience frustrating moments in their relationship, save the conversations detailing them for when you’re having a chat with a trusted friend and confident over a latte.

3. Lack of communication. Unlike with other jobs, nannies and parents have no middle man. Parents serve as both boss and human resources director and nannies serve as the employee representative. For the nanny/employer relationship to succeed there has to be open and honest communication. Nannies and employers must feel comfortable communicating, or at least be willing to do so despite their discomfort. From concerns about the children to workday schedule changes, keeping the lines of communication open and addressing issues as they arise is essential to avoiding frustration buildup and ensuring the longevity of the relationship.

4. Mid-game changes. Changes in expectations, duties and responsibilities, commonly called job creep, is one of the biggest reasons nanny and employer relationships fail. Having a solid written work agreement helps to prevent cases where the nanny goes above and beyond, like doing the family’s laundry because it was left out, from becoming the norm. But mid-game changes from the nanny can also be detrimental to the employment relationship. When a nanny who was typically super flexible suddenly becomes quite rigid, shockwaves will hit the relationship. Having monthly meetings and renegotiating the nanny/family contract annually can help to ensure that the job duties, expectations and responsibilities are completely clear.

5. Lack of respect. When it comes to the nanny/employer relationship, mutual respect is required. A successful nanny/employer relationship is professional, yet friendly. It’s familial, but not.  From showing up (or coming home) late, to not backing each other up in front of the children, to not issuing prompt payment for all hours worked, there are daily opportunities to chip away at the mutual respect required for a nanny/employer relationship to be successful. Once respect is dissolved, the relationship will soon follow.

By its very nature, the nanny/employer relationship is a volatile one. Based on the love triangle of a nanny, child and his parents, how can there not be bumps along the relationship road? Committing to working through the ups and downs and avoiding the major relationship kills will help ensure longevity and success in the nanny/employer working relationship.

10 Tips for Successful Nanny Sharing

For families who want all the benefits of a nanny at half the cost, a nanny share may be a good child care option.

When two families who live close to each other have similar parenting styles and philosophies and work similar schedules, hiring a nanny to share can be a viable childcare choice. But for this arrangement to succeed, the framework for success must be laid first.

If you’re considering a nanny share, be sure to follow these tips for success:

Tip 1: Find the family before the nanny.

While it may be tempting to find a nanny before finding a family to share her with, the best approach is to find the family first. When the nanny is found first, the second family often feels like they’re coming into an already established relationship with its own set of rules and dynamics. When the family is found first, both families can work together and play an active role in the advertising, interview and screening process, as well set the tone of the relationship from the start.

Tip 2: Create the nanny’s job description together.

When looking for a nanny share, it’s essential that both families work together to outline the nanny’s duties and responsibilities. Both families must have a clear understanding of what they expect from the nanny and must be able to articulate their expectations during the nanny search. If the nanny will be caring for the children at both homes, the schedule of where she’ll be working should be presented. If transportation of the children is required, it should be made clear whose vehicle will be used and who will be paying for additional automobile insurance, if required.

Tip 3: Define the logistics.

Will there be supplies kept at both houses or will the parents pack what they need each day? Will the nanny need a double stroller? What about car seats? Who does the nanny check-in with each day? What if a child is sick? What benefits will you offer your nanny? What if one family needs the nanny to work overtime? How the nanny’s vacation time will be coordinated and how sick time will be handled should also be hammered out.  Thinking through the logistics and possible complications upfront can help keep the nanny share arrangement on track should a bump in the road occur.

Tip 4: Outline the salary responsibilities.

In a nanny share arrangement, the Internal Revenue Service views both families as separate employers. This means that each family must secure state and federal employer identification numbers, file new hire reports, withhold the appropriate taxes, prepare and file the proper tax forms, file the necessary paperwork with the Social Security Administration and provide the nanny with a W-2. Clearly outlining the nanny’s hourly rate, overtime rate, method of pay and frequency of pay will help to clarify any concerns over payroll.

Tip 4: Develop the exit strategy.

Since the families depend on each other for the relationship to work as much as they do on the nanny, it’s imperative that the families develop a clear plan for exiting the arrangement. The plan should include how much notice they’re required to give, how much they’ll pay in lieu of notice and how long they agree to commit to the nanny share arrangement. Putting the plan into a written agreement can ensure both families understand what they are agreeing to.

Tip 5: Search for a nanny.

Once both families have a clear understanding of what they’re getting into, they can embark on their search. There are many ways to look for a nanny, including using a nanny placement agency, an online nanny site and by word of mouth. However you find your nanny candidates, both families should agree on the minimum requirements they must meet and the intensity of the background screening they’ll do. Be sure to clarify who will be doing what screening tasks so nothing gets overlooked. Once you’ve found a nanny candidate you’d both like to hire, present a written offer. Having a written offer will ensure that all three parties start out on the same page.

Tip 6: Draft a work agreement.

If your nanny has accepted the position, you’ll want to draft a detailed nanny/family agreement that outlines the role, duties and responsibilities of your nanny. It should also include your nanny’s schedule, where she’ll be working, salary and payment arrangements, tax responsibilities and anything else that can help to clarify the expectations you have for your nanny.

For families that want the personalized, customized and convenient care that a nanny offers but can’t really afford to swing a nanny’s salary on their own, sharing a nanny with a compatible family can be an ideal solution.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Situated on the Atlantic at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach boasts more inhabitants than any other city in the state of Virginia. Primarily a resort city, there’s a plethora of options for travelers from all walks of life to be found in the area. However, parents may be surprised to learn how many kid-friendly attractions there are in Virginia Beach, a respectable selection of which are relatively free from the more commercial trappings in comparable resort cities across the country. If you’re considering Virginia Beach as a possibility for your next family vacation destination, here are ten of the attractions that your kids are sure to love.

  1. Back Bay Restoration Foundation Tram Tours (Virginia Beach, VA 23451) – About an hour after boarding the tram at Little Island City Park, you’ll alight in False Cape. Along the way, you’ll pass through a refuge that’s home to a wide variety of animals and wildlife, including great blue herons, ospreys, foxes and turtles. Visitors are alloted two hours in which to hike, enjoy a picnic and explore the area before heading back. Don’t miss the rangers and volunteers on site, who will gladly point out sites of interest and nearby animals.
  2. Beach Eco Tours (Virginia Beach, VA 23451) – Even if no one in your family has experience with stand-up paddleboarding, Beach Eco Tours assures that you’ll all be able to navigate well enough to enjoy the scenery while honing your skills. There’s even the possibility of dolphin-spotting, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.
  3. Boardwalk (Virginia Beach, VA 23451) – Beaches along the East Coast are dotted with boardwalks, but the three-mile stretch of cafes, stores, entertainment options and even live performances offered along Virginia Beach is among the best. Renovations have been completed, offering an updated version of this timeless classic.
  4. Capt. Jack’s Pirate Ship Adventures (Virginia Beach, VA 23451) – Few things are as universally adored by children as pirates, which is why this themed adventure in Virginia Beach is sure to please. Water cannons, Spanish galleons and Blackbeard are all part of the fun, with free admission and plenty of excitement on hand.
  5. Carolanne Farms Park (Virginia Beach, VA 23451) – Whether your brood is made up of naturally outdoorsy types or you’re determined to instill a love of nature in them, the kayaking facility at Carolanne Farms Park is a great launch site. Keep in mind, however, that there is no outfitter on premises, so you will need to secure your own equipment and any necessary instruction.
  6. American Indoor Go-Karting (Virginia Beach, VA 23452) – Satisfy that need for speed that so many kids seem to have at American Indoor Go-Karting, which offers a discounted rate for customers that pre-purchase their tickets by calling ahead. If you have a particularly large family in tow, they also offer private event accommodations.
  7. Chesapean Outdoors (Virginia Beach, VA 23451) – The chance to surf or kayak with the dolphins doesn’t come very often in a lifetime, but it’s all part of the fun at Chesapean Outdoors. Instructors provide visitors with plenty of direction and “learner” boards designed for beginners. Confirmed land-lubbers can also get in on the fun, with guided bicycle tour of the oceanfront and surrounding historical wilderness. You and your family can also hike along the same paths once taken by the first explorers!
  8. First Landing State Park (Virginia Beach, VA 23451) – Rare plants, graceful cypress trees and lagoons are just a few of the examples of breathtaking natural beauty that you’ll find at First Landing State Park, which boasts more than nineteen miles of hiking trails, guided tours and even camping in climate-controlled cabins.
  9. Hunt Club Farm – Petting Farm (Virginia Beach, VA 23456) – City-dwelling kids may not get the opportunity to personally interact with farm animals very often, but there are plenty of domestic creatures at Hunt Club Farm. Feed the goats, meet the donkeys and watch pot-bellied pigs cavorting before embarking on a pony ride, a sure-fire way to help your kids learn more about farm animals in a controlled environment.
  10. Mount Trashmore Park (Virginia Beach, VA 23462) – More than one-hundred and sixty-five acres of man-made mountains, lakes, playgrounds and skate parks sprawl across Mount Trashmore Park, a former land fill that was reclaimed using largely eco-friendly practices. If you have the proper license, you can even fish in the lakes!

While there are so many exciting entertainment options in Virginia Beach, it’s a good idea to remember the distinction for which it’s named, which has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest pleasure beach in the world. Slather on some sunscreen and hit the beach for a bit of lighthearted fun!