What Nannies Need to Know About Health Insurance

As a working nanny, staying healthy is crucial to doing a good job. The job is physically demanding, and over time that stress and wear can have a marked impact on your body, mood and behavior. Preventive healthcare is usually associated with medical insurance coverage, especially the kind provided by an employer, but there are a few things you need to know about health insurance before you accept your next nanny job.

Your Employer Doesn’t Have to Provide It

Each state has different rules for workers compensation coverage that must be provided by an employer, but that just deals with medical benefits and wage replacement in the event of a workplace accident (e.g., slipping and falling, or hurting yourself in a work activity). It’s not at all the same thing as health insurance, which deals with preventive care, medications and other procedures. Health insurance is a perk, not a right, and it’s offered at an employer’s discretion.

What that means for you: Health insurance should be a major part of your conversation with potential employers during the interview process. You don’t have to bring it up right away if you don’t want to; see if you and the employer are a good fit and then transition talks into benefits and other parts of the job. However, it’s vital to make sure you talk about this before accepting a position.

Employer Contributions to Your Premiums Aren’t Taxed

In other words, any money your employer puts toward the cost of your premium doesn’t count as your income (since, obviously, it’s skipping you and going right to the insurer), which means that they don’t have to pay the relevant 10% employment tax on those funds. What’s more, you don’t have to pay Social Security, Medicare or regular income tax on that amount, either, since it’s never marked as your income. Recent healthcare reforms also provide a tax credit to employers (e.g., at a salary of $25,000 per year for the nanny, employers get a tax credit for 35% of their contribution toward health insurance).

What that means for you: Paying money into a premium can be a nice incentive for employers to save on their tax bill. They’re already paying you a certain amount; by paying an additional amount toward a premium, they can reduce their tax burden.

It’s Unwise Not to Have Health Insurance

This is probably the biggest issue, and the one that will most likely be a deal breaker when you’re looking for a good nanny job that will provide you with the proper compensation and perks, as well as room to grow and succeed. Going without health insurance is just plain risky.

It’s estimated that 45 million Americans are uninsured, a number that takes a larger toll on lower-income workers than any other group. That means a huge number of people don’t have the coverage they need to stay healthy, which means they forego preventive medical care, regular check-ups and the kind of standard visits that those with proper coverage can take for granted.

Health insurance is what makes it affordable to get preventive treatment and deal with illnesses that crop up. If you aren’t getting regular preventive treatment and aren’t able to deal with sickness in due course, you won’t be able to do your job. Keeping up with kids and helping to run a household is a demanding role, and being unable to properly treat yourself will keep you from doing your job to the best of your abilities. Your work suffers, your employers’ routine suffers and the kids get caught in the middle. All because it’s hard for you to get to the doctor.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the International Nanny Association, 16% of full-time nannies said they had their health insurance premiums covered entirely by their employer, and 10% said they had half their costs covered. Those numbers can fluctuate by employer and location, and it’s also possible for employers to contribute different amounts. In other words, it’s an important thing for many nannies and employers. It keeps nannies healthy and stable in their jobs, and it lets employers rely on the nannies to be fit for work.

Do you have to have health insurance as a nanny? No. It’s still your call. However, given the downsides of not having it, you’d be taking a major risk to pass up those benefits. If you don’t have benefits, consider talking with your employer about adding them. If you’re looking for a nanny job, don’t be afraid to ask for health coverage. It’s a little expense that goes a long way.

Ways to Encourage Your Nanny to Stay Long Term

When most parents hire a nanny, they want her to stay for years to come. It’s one of the biggest advantages of having a nanny: having long term, consistent quality childcare. However, that long term relationship doesn’t just happen. Both the parents and the nanny have to be on the same page goal-wise and work together on making the relationship successful. Here are some tips for encouraging your nanny to stay long term.

Let your nanny know how long you want her to stay for. Most parents say things like “Oh, we want you to stay until the kids go to college!” to their nannies. As nice as that is to hear, most nannies don’t take those comments as a real commitment or plan. If you truly want your nanny to stay long term, have a serious discussion about it. Let her know how long you plan on needing a nanny, how you think your needs will change as your children grow older and how you see her role changing along with your needs. Find out from her what her long term goals are and how she sees her role in your family for the years to come. No one can predict the future and the best laid plans can fall apart at the last minute. However, if you’re both on the same page from the beginning and you know each other’s wants and needs, chances are much better that things will work out as you want.

Talk about what will happen if your nanny has a child of her own. If you want to keep your nanny long term, chances are she may have kids of her own during that time. Think about how you want to handle the change in circumstance. Are you willing to bring in a long term temporary nanny if your nanny has to take an extended medical maternity leave? Are you comfortable with your nanny bringing her new baby to work with her? Are you hoping that the timing will work out so that she’ll be ready to go part-time as your kids enter school? While you can’t answer these questions in detail until you’re in the situation, you can have a frank conversation about the issue and make sure you’re on the same page in general. If you expect your nanny to take a three week maternity leave and then enroll her baby in day care, but she expects you to happily allow her to bring her baby to work with her, it’s better to know that now.

Provide a financial incentive. Money isn’t the reason a nanny takes a job or decides to stay in a job. However, money does matter. It’s one of the many factors she considers when making decisions about staying or leaving. Consider including a large bonus at the end of three, five or eight years. This will show the nanny that you’re serious about your long term commitment. It will also serve as an incentive for her to tough it out through the difficult times and keep other families form poaching her. While it won’t make her stay in a bad situation, it will encourage her to work hard to make the position work over the long haul.

Invest in the nanny/family relationship. The factor that most influences how long your nanny will stay is the health of your nanny/family relationship. Nannies rarely leave because of their relationship with the children. It’s almost always an issue with the parents that causes them to give notice or be fired. You can prevent this by investing the needed time and energy into the relationship. This is a great example of where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you tackle issues as them come up, keep the lines of communication open and are appreciative of all the great work she does, chances are your relationship will stay healthy and not fall victim to the normal nanny/parent pit falls.

Be a great employer. Your nanny will want to stay in your job if she’s treated well. Simple things can make a big difference in her job satisfaction. Say thank you for a job well done. Call if you’re going to be late and make sure she can stay. Support her discipline decisions. Don’t make her ask for her check; remember to write it out when it’s due. Keep her favorite snack stocked. Nannies notice these small acts and they count a great deal when she’s weighing the pros and cons of a job.

7 of the Best Parenting Tricks You Need to Know

Some of the best parenting tricks are tips you’ll never read in books.  They’re golden nuggets that have been picked up and passed along, making them some of the best kept secrets you’ll ever discover.

Childproof Sliding Closet Doors with Café Rods

Sick of the kids opening and closing the sliding closet doors? Pick up two adjustable café style curtain rods and place each between the inside of the door jamb and the side of the sliding closet door.  Be sure to place them near the top of the door so your little ones can’t remove them.

Kitchen Shears Make it Easy to Cut Food into Bite Sized Pieces

Forget using a fork and knife. Kitchen shears are for more than trimming the fat of off meat. They make cutting everything into small, uniform pieces easy. Since you can cut up the food before you serve it, you won’t have to worry about sharp knives floating around the dinner table.

Handheld Vacuums are the Best for Sucking Up Crumbs

Who says you need a dog to keep toddler meal time from getting messy? A handheld vac makes picking up the mess a cinch. Track sand in from the beach? A handheld vac can solve that problem too.   They are also great for picking up crumbs in the car and in your child’s car seat.

Chuck Pads Are Great for Furniture Proofing

Remember that thick waterproof pad the hospital put on your hospital bed? Did they send it home with you? If so, pull it out. If not, purchase one on online. These are great for putting on beds during potty training, tossing on the couch under a sick child and taking with you when you’re traveling and stuck putting your child in a guest bed you don’t want to ruin.

Hull Strawberries Easily Using a Straw

Never waste fruit again! Poke a plastic straw through the bottom of a strawberry straight to the top. The top will pop off and you’ll be left with a perfectly hulled strawberry. The hollowed out area is perfect for filling with chocolate for a special treat.

Frozen Water Bottles Are the Perfect Ice Packs

Is your child heading on a field trip? Are you taking a family trip to the beach? Instead of loading the cooler up with reusable ice packs, freeze a couple of bottles of water.  They’ll not only keep your food cold, as they naturally defrost throughout the day you’ll be left with a cold beverage to enjoy.

The Corner of a Credit Card is Great for Removing Splinters

Worrying that your child will freak out if you reach for the tweezers? Remove a splinter by placing the corner of the credit card against the skin above the base of a splinter. Slide the card up to gently push the splinter out of the skin.

As you forge ahead on your parenting journey, you are bound to discover some sanity saving tricks of your own.  When you do, be sure to share them with your friends. They’ll be eternally grateful.

How to Move from Nanny to Family Manager

The tough reality is that as kids grow up, their nanny often ages out of the job. When kids head off to school, many parents no longer need a full-time nanny devoted to hands-on childcare. When this time comes, the nanny must decide if she wants to move onto a different job or if she wants to change the definition of her current position. It’s becoming more common for nannies to shift into more of a family manager position than to leave their post in search of a new nanny job. But how do you make that transition? Here are some tips for getting started.

Evaluate your love for the job. To be a really good family manager, you have to really love the job. But not all nannies do. It takes a different skill set to be an effective family manager than it does to be an effective nanny. Before you decide to make the move, honestly look at where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Do you have the skills and the interest to do well in the job? Or does your heart still lie with being a full-time nanny? This is an area where following your instincts will serve you well.

Detail your transferable skills. Although the nanny and family manager jobs require different skill sets, there will be plenty of transferable skills from your nanny work that you can use in your new position. Make a list of all the skills you use as a nanny that will continue to serve you as a family manager. Your list might include effective communication with parents, household organization or time and task management. Let your list sit for a while and return to it to review and add additional things as you think of them. You’ll probably be surprised as to how qualified you are already for the new role.

Decide on the skills you want to focus on. It’s impossible for any one person to be skilled at all the things that could possibly go into a family manager’s job. Yes, you want to have a core knowledge of the many tasks needed, but you also want to have specialized skills in certain areas. You may want to specialize in garden to table cooking, household organization or event planning. Choose things that you enjoy doing the most, that you have the greatest aptitude for and that are in most demand with the type of families that you want to work for. Having specialized skills is one of the fastest ways to jump ahead of the pack on the family manager job search.

Take on some of the tasks in your current job. The best way to learn how to do a job is to actually do it. Since you’re already working in the right environment as a nanny, a private home, it’s an easy jump into doing some of the tasks. Look at your current work environment and see what your family needs. Do those tasks align with the skills you need to develop as a family manager? If so, volunteer to do them. Even if you’re not getting paid extra for the work, the experience will be invaluable.

Use volunteer work to gain experience. For every skill that you need to develop, there’s a volunteer position in your community that can help you. If you need to learn how to use the Microsoft Office Suite, volunteer for an office position in an organization that uses that software. They’ll often provide you with the training you need to do the job and then you can use your new know how in a family manager position. If you want to learn the art of event planning, volunteer to assist an experienced event planner for a non-profit gala and learn all the tricks of the trade from an expert. Not only will you be helping your local community when you volunteer, but you’ll be helping yourself get the skills and experience you need to be successful in a family manager position.

Take a training course. There are training courses specifically geared towards the family manager/household manager role. These courses will give you the information you need to be successful in your new position. They will provide you with the resources you need to organize a home, manage the family members, deal with vendors and handle other common tasks. These training sessions are also the best place to get your specific questions answered by experts in the field. You’ll also meet others who work in similar positions and those connections can be the beginning of your new professional network.