Holiday Bonus for your Nanny or Household Employee

We receive a lot of inquiries this time of year about holiday bonuses. The two most common questions we hear are: “What is the standard amount to give?” and “Is it taxable?”

To answer the first question, traditionally, holiday bonuses are between 1 to 2 weeks salary. If you can’t afford to provide 1-2 weeks salary, gifts such as a restaurant or spa gift card or a small token cash amount let your nanny know you appreciate her without breaking the bank. Additionally, since your relationship with your nanny is personal, the ultimate decision of what you give and how much you are comfortable giving is up to you.

For the second question, we turned to our friends at Breedlove & Associates, the industry leader in household employer taxes and payroll services. Breedlove advises that, “All bonuses and gifts are considered taxable compensation and by law must be handled like standard wages. Therefore, families should assume that their total cost of providing a bonus will be the bonus amount plus approximately 10%.  For example, a $500 bonus would result in a total employer cost of about $550.” If you have any further tax related questions on this topic, please feel free to contact Breedlove at 888-273-3356.

Do you give your nanny or household employeee a holiday bonus? Is it in addition to or in lieu of an actual gift? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


Schools Out–You’re Not. Benefits of Seasonal Nannies for Winter Break

With December upon us, things can start to get overwhelming –  holiday parties, Christmas shopping, holiday cooking, planning for special events, traveling and more. While children have the joy of looking forward to their winter break, working parents are faced with another task – finding seasonal childcare. To help kill two birds with one stone, savvy families are hiring full-time, seasonal Nannies.


Seasonal nannies are caregivers who take on short term positions for the holiday season. They can be college students or teachers who are looking to earn some money over their

winter break, or currently unemployed nannies that are happy to take on a short term assignment while they continue to look for something more long term. Either way, seasonal nannies can help alleviate many of the holiday stresses for parents. Not only do they offer a solution to childcare, but they can easily take on extra tasks like running errands, assisting with holiday shopping, helping prep or cook holiday meals, and more. Additionally, seasonal nannies often offer evening or off-hour babysitting, allowing parents to attend holiday parties, get some holiday shopping done, or just taking a much needed night off.

Post your Seasonal Nanny Job on
GoNannies has thousands of nannies from which to choose. To find a great nanny, be sure to post your job right away before the good nannies are all booked up. And remember, paid GoNannies members have free access to background checks and online references to help make your screening easier. Run a free SEARCH NOW to view the profiles of Nannies near you!

Do you have other great suggestions for families looking for temporary care? Please share 


New York Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

Today is a huge step and victory for nannies and other household employees in the State of New York. That’s because the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in New York takes effect today, November 29, 2010. Per the New York Department of Labor, among other benefits, the new law will entitle nannies and other domestic employees with the following rights:


  • The right to overtime pay at time-and-a-half after 40 hours of work in a week, or 44 hours for workers who live in their employer’s home;
  • A day of rest (24 hours) every seven days, or overtime pay if they agree to work on that day;
  • Three paid days of rest each year after one year of work for the same employer; and
  • Protection under New York State Human Rights Law, and the creation of a special cause of action for domestic workers who suffer sexual or racial harassment.

For full details on the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, please visit the website for the New York Dept. of Labor.

The State of New York is the first state to pass such a bill into law. Should other states follow in New York’s footsteps? What are your thoughts?


How to Find Holiday Sitters

We all get busier around the holidays, which is why the demand for babysitters is the highest around this time of year. Whether you’ll be attending holiday parties, need some extra time for holiday shopping or holiday cooking, or a much needed night out with your spouse, be sure to read our tips for finding a great sitter for the holidays.


  • Start Early!!!
    Parents have already begun securing sitters for the holidays. In fact, most GoNannies families book their New Year’s Eve sitter over a month in advance! If you need a sitter, be sure to get started right away before the good sitters are all booked up.
  • Offer a Competitive Salary
    With sitters in high demand, make sure you’re offering a competitive salary. The average rate for a sitter is about $10-13/hour (sometimes higher in larger cities and for sitters with more experience). However, for nights like New Year’s Eve, which is the most difficult night of the year to find a sitter, families are sometimes willing to pay between $5-10/hour more than the average rate.
  • Post Your Babysitting Job on
    GoNannies has thousands of sitters to choose from. To find a great sitter, be sure to post your job right away. Also, be sure to list all the details about your position, including the dates and times you need a sitter, whether overnight stay is required, etc. And remember, paid GoNannies members have free access to background checks and online references to help make your screening easier! Run a free
    SEARCH NOW to view the profiles of sitters near you.

Do you find it tougher to find a sitter over the holidays? Share your experiences. 

Going Organic – Gradual Steps for Healthier Family Eating

Have you tried reading food ingredient labels lately? It can be like trying to read a foreign language. As parents, we strive to provide our children with a nutritious, balanced diet. However, as consumers we may unknowingly purchase a never ending list of products that that contain pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics, and other unwanted or even toxic chemicals. So lately, I read more labels and have found myself gradually purchasing more and more organic products. But where do we draw the line? Let’s face it…whether based on availability or sheer affordability, it’s a challenge to buy everything organic.

So that brings me to an old Earth Day episode of Oprah that aired recently. Among her featured guests was Sophie Uliano, author of the eco-conscious book “Gorgeously Green – 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life.” Sophie gave an excellent starting point for parents like me, who need some extra guidance on the whole organic movement.

Here are the common children’s food items Sophie recommends parents purchase organic whenever possible:

  • Baby Food.    Non-Organic Fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of pesticides and babies are extra vulnerable to pesticides. 
  • Animal Bi-products – Dairy, Meat, and Eggs.   Non-organic dairy, meat and egg products contain growth hormones and antibiotics given to animals. 
  • Apples, Grapes, Potatoes, Strawberries, Green Beans, Cucumber, Raisins, peaches, nectarines, pears, spinach, lettuce, bell peppers, and cherries.   These non-organic produce items have been found to contain the highest levels of pesticide residues. 
  • Peanut Butter.   Some non-organic peanut farms use fungicides or chemicals to treat mold. 
  • Rice (brown, white and wild).   Non-organic rice is grown in large amounts of pesticides. 
  • Corn, Wheat, Oats.   Non-organic corn, wheat and oat products contain organo phosphate pesticides and are found in many processed foods, like corn chips and popcorn that are common snacks for our children.

If you can’t buy organic produce, an important step you can also take to help reduce pesticide exposure from fruits and vegetables is to use a fruit and veggie cleaner. You can find them in your produce area at most grocery stores or use the easy to make recipe provided by Sophie Uliano.

Fruit/vegetable cleaner recipe:
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp baking soda
20 drops of grapefruit seed extract

Combine ingredients in bowl and transfer to spray bottle. Spray mixture onto produce and rinse after 5 minutes.

So while it is almost impossible to buy everything organic, there are certainly items we expose our children to more than others. Perhaps going organic on these products will be a good start to healthier food choices for our families. After all, every little change makes a big difference.

What are your thoughts on buying organic foods?

Should the Nanny Use the Family Vehicle or Her Own?

Families hiring a nanny have many things to consider, including whether or not their new nanny will use the family vehicle to transport their children or whether the nanny’s vehicle will be used. It’s important for families to discuss all driving-related issues with their nanny before offering a position. Below are the important issues to consider.

Nanny Driving Children

Reliability & Safety   There are certainly obvious benefits of allowing a nanny to use the family vehicle including that the family is able to control the reliability and safety of the vehicle. For example, the family can control whether the vehicle has adequate safety features and that it’s well-maintained. If the nanny’s vehicle will be used, inquire about the safety, maintenance and upkeep of her vehicle and also ask to view the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

Insurance    If a nanny will be live-in, then she is considered part of the household, and will definitely need to be added to the policy.  If she will be live-out, discuss your policy and how the nanny will be using the vehicle with your insurance company to see what they require.  Regardless, be sure to disclose the new driver to your insurance company BEFORE she drives the vehicle.

Also, keep in mind that if the nanny is under the age of 25 or does not have a clean driving record, your rates may increase as a result.  If so, consider adding the nanny as a driver ONLY on the vehicle she will be using to transport the children. Factor any rate increases into your cost of hiring the nanny.

Be sure to also discuss how costs will be handled if the nanny is involved in an accident in the family vehicle or if there are damages to the vehicle. For example, if the nanny is at fault for an accident or for damages to the family vehicle, will she be expected to cover insurance deductible costs.

If the nanny will be using her own vehicle to transport the children, be sure to verify that she is fully insured, and insist on seeing a copy of the policy and verifying it’s activeness.

Mileage Reimbursement   Another benefit of the nanny using the family vehicle is it means the family provides gas for the vehicle and will not have to deal with reimbursing their nanny for mileage.  When a nanny does use her own vehicle on the job, be sure to reimburse her at the IRS mileage allowance rate. The 2010 IRS Vehicle Mileage reimbursement rate is $ 0.50 per mile. Families can track their nanny’s mileage with the Nanny Vehicle Mileage Expense Report.

When will the vehicle be used    It’s important to discuss when a family vehicle will be allowed to be used, particularly if you have a live-in nanny. Decide whether the vehicle is only to be used for job related purposes, or if the nanny is allowed to use the vehicle for personal use, as well. If the family will allow the vehicle for personal use, discuss whether the usage will be offered as a job perk or whether any financial responsibilities will be required in return, such as fueling up after use.

Run a Drivers Record Check   Regardless of whether the family’s or the nanny’s vehicle is being used, families should be sure to include a thorough Driving Record Check in their screening process to verify their nanny has a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record.

Document the details    With all the items that need to be discussed related to using the family’s vehicle or nanny’s vehicle, including the details in a Nanny-Family Work Agreement can help insure that all information is agreed upon, reducing the risk of any problems arising in the future.

Nanny Housekeepers – The Hybrid Nanny

It’s becoming increasingly popular to need more from a Nanny than just childcare. Although it’s common for a nanny to provide some light housekeeping, like tidying up and cleaning dishes after a meal or cleaning up after the children, when the housekeeping needs extend beyond cleaning up after themselves and the children or become more extensive and time consuming, it starts to become clear that a family needs to hire a Nanny Housekeeper.

It’s important for a family to be realistic and recognize there will be a little give and take when it comes to splitting a caregiver’s time between childcare and housekeeping. Since the caregiver’s priority is always the children, it’s important that a family doesn’t overload the person with more housekeeping duties than they may be realistically able to perform in order to provide quality childcare.

Finding a Nanny Housekeeper is becoming easier also. Since more and more caregivers are offering these combined services, there are more caregivers from which to choose.  We’ve found that many professional nannies may not be interested in the housekeeper portion of these positions. One recommendation we give to families searching for nannies willing to do EXTENSIVE housekeeping, is to seek out “Housekeepers/Maids” who also have childcare experience, as they may be more willing to take on childcare duties than a Nanny would be willing to take on extensive housekeeping duties.

To find the right balance between housekeeping and childcare, it’s important to look at your situation and your caregiver’s workload and schedule. For example, if your children are in school or napping for a significant portion of the day, then they can easily perform the extensive housekeeping duties during that down time, allowing them to focus on the children during childcare time. However, if the children are home all day, limit the housekeeping duties to light, manageable tasks such as laundry, vacuuming, making beds or changing bed linens, and loading and unloading the dishwasher, etc. as most can easily perform these duties while still providing quality care for the children.

In order to make a successful match when hiring a Nanny Housekeeper, it’s important to be extremely forthcoming and detailed about the position requirements and responsibilities from the start. Adding responsibilities after the Nanny Housekeeper has started is awkward, unfair and can cause resentment and a bad nanny-family match. To best communicate this information, families should create a Nanny Contract that thoroughly details all of the duties and responsibilities. The contract avoids any confusion and establishes a strong foundation based on communication.

20 Fun and Free Summer Activities for your Children

Summer has just begun and parents and caregivers everywhere are already looking for activities to keep the kids occupied and happy without breaking the bank. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of our 20 favorite FUN, CREATIVE, and FREE activities to do this summer.


    1. Have fun bowling this summer with Kids Bowl Free. Children can enjoy 2 free games of bowling everyday. For details and participating centers in your area, visit

    2. Attend a free Build and Grow Clinic at your local Lowe’s Store. Your child will receive a free wooden project, apron, goggles, project themed patch, and a certification of merit. Free clinics are held every Saturday at 10 a.m. Details at

    3. Attend a free Kids WorkShop at your local Home Depot store. Children participate in a free project, and receive a free kid-sized apron, and achievement pin.


    1. Plan a trip to the Children’s Museum in your city. The Children’s Museum has partnered with Target to offer Target Free Tuesday every month for children. Check with your local Children’s Museum for times and details.

    2. If you’re a Bank of America cardholder (ATM, Credit or Debit), take advantage of their Museums on US program, offering free general admission to museums, botanical centers, zoos, science centers, and more on the first full weekend of every month. Visit for participating museums and program details.

    3. Visit your local farmer’s market.

    4. Earn free books by participating in the Barnes & Noble free Summer Reading Program. Details at:

    5. Visit your local Barnes & Noble Store for free story time and costume character visits (e.g. Clifford, Winnie the Pooh, Curious George, Peter Rabbit and more). Visit to view upcoming events at your nearest Barnes & Noble location.

    6. Feed the ducks or go fishing at your local pond.

    7. Sign your child up for a free Apple Store iMovie Camp to learn the ins and outs of film making. Details and sign up at

    8. Enjoy the playground at your local park

    9. AMC Summer Movie Camp is offering nearly-free, $1 movies every Tuesday at 10 a.m. all summer long. Most importantly, all admission and concession stand proceeds will benefit The Children’s Charity and the Will Rogers Institute. See a list of participating theatres and movie selections at

    10. Visit your local library. Not only can you can check out books or movies for free, but you can also attend free story times and events.

    11. Take advantage of the free trial classes offered in your community for popular activities such as swimming, tumbling/gymnastics, dance, golf, karate, music and art.

    12. Get wet in the backyard! Take advantage of your pool (if you have one), water balloons, squirt guns, running through the sprinklers or playing in the kiddie pool.

    13. Have a craft day with the kids. You can find lots of free craft ideas and printable worksheets and activities online.

    14. Volunteer. Let the kid’s pick out a worthy non-profit cause and make a commitment to donate your time to help others this summer.

    15. Go on a nature walk or enjoy a day at the beach or lake.

    16. If you’re going to be eating meals on the go, be sure to check your community restaurants and compile a list (or obtain one online) of all the Kids Eat Free days and locations near you.

    17. Lastly, make sure to search online for your local free attractions. Most cities will publish a list of free activities and events in your area.

Do you know of other great and FREE summer activities?  Comment and share!

Congratulations to INA Nanny of the Year, Greta Schraer

Congratulations to Greta Schraer of Batavia, OH, recipient of the 2010 INA Nanny of the year award. 

Greta has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Theology. She began her nanny career in 1992, working as a full time, part time, temporary and summer nanny over those years. As a nanny in the Cincinnati area, Greta found that there was a need for the nannies in the area to feel connected and so she began CincyNanny, a website and blog giving the local nannies their own community and families resources they can use.

Greta’s current position is as the full time nanny of triplet boys. Jessica Shelly said, “She makes it a priority to see that not just the boys are taken care of, but that our family unit is supported and encouraged.” Their family has an inside joke – when a challenging situation arises they think WWGD? or What Would Greta Do?