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.

5 Trends for Teaching Kids Languages

One of the hottest parenting trends today is giving children language instruction beyond that of their primary, native tongue. Because speaking more than one language can be beneficial academically, can affect the college admissions process, and can help determine a child’s career trajectory upon reaching adulthood, parents are more determined than ever to help their kids reach bilingual goals. There are several methods for boosting kids’ linguistic aptitude; here are five of the most popular right now.

  1. Polyglotism – For some parents having a bilingual child isn’t enough; many modern parents are teaching their children to speak two or even three languages in addition to the child’s native tongue. Operating under the theory that childhood is the ideal time for instruction in multiple languages, these parents are invested in producing polyglot adults that speak effortlessly in several different tongues. While this approach can be very time consuming and difficult to follow through with, the benefits of speaking fluently in a variety of languages at a very early age are undeniable.
  2. Immersion – Immersion language instruction methods are mainly done in these two ways: they are either built around the premise of splitting instructional time evenly between a child’s native tongue and her second one for partial immersion, or they receive full-time second language instruction in classroom settings for full immersion. This method is accomplished often by parents whose children are too young for school or whose schools don’t offer second language courses by employing a nanny, Au pair, or other childcare provider that speaks only the second language to a child during her working hours. Parents then take responsibility for instructing their child in her primary language.
  3. Sign Language – Spoken languages aren’t the only thing at the top of parental to-do lists these days; sign language is all the rage for progressive parents. Whether intended as a method for communicating before a child becomes verbal, as a means of communicating with hearing-impaired friends and relatives, or simply to provide a child with the skill set necessary to speak conversationally with someone whose abilities are different from their own, sign language as a second language is a very popular parenting trend.
  4. One Parent, One Language – Children whose parents have different primary languages often learn to speak each language with equal fluency by learning via the “One Parent, One Language” method. Parents that adopt this method of language instruction speak to their children solely in their native language; as such, the child grows up absorbing the sentence structure, vocabulary, and pronunciation of each language as spoken by a native. This unbiased approach to language instruction can be very effective; while they may become verbal a bit later than their single-language peers, they can have a superior grasp of both languages when they do begin speaking.
  5. Accelerated Integrated Method – The Accelerated Integrated Method, also known as AIM, is a method of childhood language instruction that is built around the idea that kids learn and retain more of their second-language instruction when they connect physical actions with their words. For instance, a child learning to say “look” in her second language would then pantomime the action of holding binoculars to her eyes, thus connecting the word for “look” with the action of looking. AIM also integrates dance, theater, and music with language instruction, making it a perfect choice for kids that have a love of the arts. Some students respond so well to a few hours a week of AIM-based instruction that their fluency level rivals that of their peers in full-immersion programs; depending on a child’s individual learning style and temperament, it may be the ideal method of second-language instruction.

The most effective method of teaching a child to speak more than one language is the one that suits her individual needs; just as no two children are exactly alike, no two language instruction programs will have the same level of effectiveness. In today’s increasingly global economy and a “shrinking” world of connectivity with fellow humans around the globe, the ability to comfortably and confidently speak at least one language apart from English can give students and young adults a considerable competitive edge over her peers and, later, her coworkers. Whichever method that you choose, it’s important to be fully committed to helping your child master her second language, as she will require the support and assistance of her parents and caregivers in order to absorb and retain it.

10 Tips for Taking Your Charges Out to Eat


For many nannies, taking their charges out to eat is a welcomed change to the daily routine. But eating out with young children isn’t always fun and stress free. The good news is, with a little planning and preparation, dining out with your charges can be a great experience that provides opportunities to teach and reinforce acceptable mealtime and restaurant behavior.

Before heading out to eat with your charges, consider these 10 tips.

1. Do your research. Before heading out to eat, consider the restaurants in your area. Visit their websites or call ahead to confirm hours and the availability of a children’s menu. Have an idea of what you’re going to order for yourself and the kids prior to leaving the house.

2. Choose a kid-friendly restaurant. There’s nothing more stressful than being in a place where you know kids aren’t welcome. Restaurants with booths and bright lighting and those that advertise themselves as family-friendly typically are prepared to warmly welcome children. Kid-friendly restaurants will have things for the children to do while they wait for their food and will have a separate children’s menu. Once you’ve mastered eating out at casual restaurants, work your way up to fine dining establishments

3.  Plan to go before hunger strikes. If you know the kids are typically ready for dinner at 5 o’clock, be seated by 4:30 so that their food arrives by 5. If you wait until the kids vocalize that they are hungry before heading out they likely won’t have the patience to wait for their food.

4.  Pack snacks. For babies and young toddlers, packing puff like snacks, dry cereal, or oyster crackers can keep them occupied and provide them with something to munch on should they get hungry before their food comes.

5. Pack small items to keep the kids occupied. Depending on the child’s age rattles, crayons and paper, magnetic drawing boards, travel games, or brain teaser puzzle books can offer a distraction while waiting for dinner to arrive.

6. Plan for an hour. At kid-friendly restaurants, you should be able to be seated, order, and eat within an hour. Anything longer than that and the children will become antsy and be ready to move on.

7. Leave before the crowd. Timing your restaurant visit to end before the crowd comes in can ensure you get quick service. Getting the attention of your waitress when she has just your table is much easier than trying to flag her down when her section is full.

8. Have active time first. If you know that you’ll be heading out to eat, give young children an opportunity to run and play prior to visiting the restaurant. If they have a chance to burn some energy before heading out to eat they may be more likely to stay seated while dining out.

9. Bring a backup. Most family-friendly restaurant staff realizes that kids can be finicky eaters. Packing a backup of diced string cheese and berries can ensure your charge eats something should he refuse to eat what’s prepared at the restaurant.

10. Use natural learning moments. When dining out there are lots of opportunity to teach and reinforce good manners and social skills. Be a solid role model and teach your charges how to enjoy a restaurant meal and behave when dining with others. Look for opportunities to praise good behavior. Saying things like “Wow, I really like how you asked me to give you a napkin rather than reaching across the table for one” will reaffirm the importance of conducting yourself appropriately and making good choices when dining out.

Depending on your nanny position, you may or may not eat out regularly with the children. Since many parents are concerned about their children’s dietary needs and habits, you’ll want to be sure to ask permission before taking your charges out to eat.

Potty Training Tips and Tools for Parents and Nannies

potty training tips

Learning to use the potty is a big step for kids. Potty training naturally comes at a time when a child’s independence is burgeoning and she’s ready to tackle new challenges. Here are some tips for knowing when to start toilet training and how to make it a successful and stress-free endeavor.

Kids need to be ready. Children need to be ready both physically and emotionally to successfully potty train. If you try to train before that, it will be a frustrating process for both you and your child and may cause problems over the long haul. Most children are ready between 2 ½ and 3 years of age, but remember every child is different so there’s no “right” age to beginning the process. 

Watch for physical signs of readiness. If the child is aware that she needs to go the bathroom, urinates a lot at one time rather than a little throughout the day, has the ability to stay dry for two or more hours, has fairly predictable bowel movements, and has the coordination to pull her pants up and down, she may be ready to use the potty.

Also watch for emotional signs of readiness. If the child is able to sit and engage in an activity for several minutes without becoming fidgety or irritated, she’s interested in your potty habits (e.g. she wants to follow you to the bathroom), doesn’t like being in a wet or dirty diaper, and is excited about the milestone (e.g. she wants big girl underwear), she may be ready to use the potty.

You don’t have to wait for all of these signs to be present before tackling potty training, but waiting until your child shows a majority of the signs will ensure you are successful.

Communicate with your nanny. As in all things child-related, consistency is key. Getting on the same page with your nanny, and making sure what’s happening during the week is also what’s happening on the weekends, will make the process go faster and smoother.

Your nanny may have past experience with potty training and be a wealth of information about what works, what doesn’t work, and what to try if you get stuck. While every child and situation is different, experienced nannies often have a bag of tricks that work in a variety of situations.

Have reasonable expectations. Potty training can be really frustrating for adults. Do yourself a favor and embrace the idea that training will take as long as it takes, there will be good days and bad days, it might be messy, and you can’t control the process. Kids sense when the adults around them are tense so if you’re feeling really frustrated about potty training, it will impact the way your child feels about the whole process.

Make it a shame-free process. Your child is learning a new skill. One that is exciting to her but can also be scary, overwhelming, and difficult to master. It’s important that you genuinely support your child through both her successes and failures and see mistakes as simply part of the learning process. 

Stay regular. Having your child sit on the potty at regular intervals during the day is essential to potty training. There will be many times when nothing happens, but when she does go it helps her make the connection between the potty and what’s happening with her body. It’s often hard to remember to ask your child to use the potty throughout the day. A great tool that is fun for kids is the Potty Watch. It reminds kids to visit the potty with blinking lights and a song.

Have fun with charts. Kids (and most nannies!) love charts. They’re a tangible way for children to see what their goal is and to track the progress that they’re making. The website Potty Training Concepts has an amazing array of downloadable potty training charts including ones with children’s favorite characters from Disney and Nick, Jr. Add some favorite stickers and you have a great tool to motivate your child.

Get creative with incentives. Even for parents who don’t normally use incentives, potty training can be one of those times when they can be used to celebrate your child’s potty training victories and motivate her to keep up the good work. These small rewards can be anything you want: a small toy, a special treat, or an outing to a favorite place. Use something your child can get excited about and that still fits into your overall parenting philosophy.

Use books to make it easier. There are lots of tools that can help your child master potty training. Books are a great way to introduce the idea of the potty and start a conversation about exactly what happens in the bathroom. Everyone Poops reassures kids that what’s happening with their body is something that every creature, human and otherwise, experiences too. Once Upon a Potty, available in a boy and girl version, explains in kid-friendly terms how the body actually works.

Potty training doesn’t have to be a stressful time for you or your child. With a positive attitude and a lot of patience, your toddler will be diaper free in no time. 

10 Common Childhood Rashes

childhood rashes

What’s that rash?  You are caring for a child, and you notice her itching what looks to be a rash.  For the most part, rashes are very common in children and are usually nothing to be too concerned about.  Rashes can be caused by a number of different reasons.  Check out 10 common childhood rashes so that you can be informed the next time you notice a rash.


  1. Diaper rash is very common in infants.  Every child will probably experience diaper rash at some point before he is out of diapers.  The rash can be caused by chafing, contact with urine or stool for an extended period of time, and sometimes the material the diaper is made out of.  Treatment should be to change the baby as soon as you can after they have a bowel movement or urinate.  Gently clean the infected area and apply a thick coating of diaper cream, which will protect the skin in the future. Soaking the area can also help.  Try to get as much air to the area as possible.  This rash will only appear in the diaper area.
  2. Heat rashes are common ailments for children.  Heat rash is most often caused by the skin getting too warm.  The sweat gets trapped under the skin and causes irritation, which is why the skin turns red and itchy bumps occur in the area of irritation.  These areas are usually where the skin is the warmest and typically include the under arms, inner thighs, back, and arm pits.  The rash will usually go away once the skin has cooled down.  Cooling the skin with a cold shower and staying in an air conditioned environment for a day or two should clear up the condition.
  3. Hives are a common allergic reaction in children and also appear as a rash.  Hives are red bumps or welts on the skin that are very itchy.  This rash is caused by a reaction to a certain medicine, food, or insect bite.  If your child gets hives make sure there is no swelling of the face area.  If there is you need to seek medical attention. Hives is the most common rash where medical attention is necessary to figure out the cause and determine a course of action for a cure.
  4. Pityriasis Rosea is common in young adults.  This rash starts out with a small pink rash on the chest or back that is ¾ of an inch to 2 inches wide.  The experts call this a “herald patch” because it warns you of what is to come.  In the next week or two the child will break out in hundreds of small pink rashes all over the arms, legs and body, but rarely on the face.  The sores will be shaped kind of like a Christmas tree.  This rash will run its course in 3 to 9 weeks and leave no scarring on the skin.  Exposure to the sun could speed up the healing.
  5. Warts are considered to be a rash as well.  Surprisingly warts are considered a type of rash because children can get groups or clumps of them.  They usually appear on their feet and hands, and they can be contagious if touched, but are not contagious any other way.  Most doctors won’t remove lots of warts off of children.  According to Dr. Sheila Friedlander, a leading dermatologist, children can be treated at home by using a pumice stone to rough up the warts after a bath and then applying an over-the-counter wart remedy.  She also suggests trying freezing treatments, which can now be purchased over-the-counter and can be helpful in getting rid of the warts.
  6. Urushiol or poison ivy is a common rash in children.  This rash will have red, itchy bumps and blisters.  Treat with cool compresses and calamine lotion.  If the case appears to be very severe you may need to seek medical attention for a prescription antihistamine.  Poison ivy is a plant with three shiny reddish green leaves.  If the child has been in the woods a day or two prior to the rash developing it could be poison ivy.
  7. Irritant contact dermatitis can be red, swollen, or itchy.  These kinds of rashes usually develop when the skin comes into contact with an allergen like a new detergent or soap.   Avoid the irritant in the future.  If a severe reaction occurs, or if big blisters are present, seek medical attention.
  8. Eczema is usually located behind the knees and elbows.  Infants as young as 1 month old can have eczema, and in addition to the knees and elbows the rash can also appear on the face.  This condition is often itchy and can make an infant very cranky.  For treatment use an over-the-counter cream that’s recommended by your physician. 
  9. Phytophotodermatitis is a rash that has often been confused with child abuse.  This rash usually occurs in the summer and is caused by a chemical reaction to certain enzymes that are found in citrus fruits or vegetables such as parsnips.  The rash is caused when an infant or child gets the juice on their skin and is then exposed to the sun.  For example, mom is squeezing limes into a drink while on the beach and the child goes running by and she grabs him.  Now the lime juice is on the child’s skin and he’s at the beach exposed to the sun.  The rash often appears in the shape of a hand print because of this transfer method, which is why it is often confused with child abuse.
  10. Roseola is probably the most common childhood rash.   Roseola is a type of viral infection, and will cause children to have a sudden high fever lasting 3 to 7 days.  When the fever goes away a red rash will develop starting on the tummy and then spreading to the rest of the body.  Children get this from being exposed to another child that has it.  Most kids contract this prior to entering kindergarten.  Room temperature sponge baths and mild fever reducing medicine should be all the treatment that is needed. 


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.


Second Hand Stores: 10 Ways to Make Hand Me Downs More Acceptable

saturdays childLots of families are looking for more ways to save and earn money these days and one of the mainstays of saving money is the tradition of hand me down clothes (passing clothes from an older child to a younger childor clothes from other relatives, friends, and neighbors). The concept is so popular it has become a complete industry with second hand clothing and consignment shops popping up in strip malls and retail centers across the U.S.  The concept just flat out makes a ton of sense.  Why not take a look to see if you can pick up some great clothes that were only worn a few times for a fraction of the price of new clothes?  Whether you have some old clothes you or your family no longer need, or you are looking for some here are ten ways to make hand me downs more acceptable:

1. Make sure they are cleaned and pressed – Presentation is everything. Used clothing doesn’t necessarily need to look used, especially when it is kept in good shape. A good washing and ironing may be all a piece of clothing needs to look almost new.

2. Clean smelling clothes make a difference – Sometimes hand me downs are in tip-top shape, but they’ve been stored for a while and can smell musty or old. Sprucing up the clothing so everything smells nice and fresh can make a huge difference for the recipient  (fortunately there are tons of products that make this super easy nowadays).

3. Make necessary repairs before giving – Have you ever received something from someone who said, “All this needs is a new zipper,” or some other small repair? Some people may feel like they are being considered a charity case when they are given hand me downs that “just need a little fixing!” If you are handing something down, see that it is in good repair before offering it to the recipient.

4. It’s vintage! – Fortunately, vintage is in. This by itself makes some hand me downs more than acceptable, especially for the younger crowd. Young people are raiding attics and basements everywhere trying to find old clothes that are “vintage”. Now is the time to take advantage of this trend.

5. Stress sentimental value – Sometimes a hand me down will be acceptable and take on special meaning if it has some kind of sentimental value. If you know there is a possibility of this, then capitalize on it.

6. Make alterations – Occasionally an alteration or two is all that is needed to make the item a perfect fit. When a garment looks good and fits well, the fact that it is a hand me down won’t even figure into the equation.

7. Add embellishments – Every now and then, a garment could use a little sprucing up by adding a little lace or changing out the buttons. The right kind of embellishments can make something old seem new again.

8. High end items – When you have designer fashions to hand down, you will probably meet with little resistance, as long as the items are still in fashion and appropriate for their next owner.

9. One-of-a-kind items – Some unique items are especially treasured. Hand crafted items that are in good condition can make wonderful hand me downs when given to someone who appreciates the work that went into making the garment.

10. Altered clothing – Some very creative souls will take hand me downs and completely change them so that they become a brand new piece of clothing. There are several books and magazines out now that show how to make altered garments. Many of these projects turn out to be wearable works of art.

Hand me downs don’t have to be the pile of cast offs that many people think of when they hear that term. It doesn’t take much effort to make a good used item look appealing, or at the very least, acceptable. In fact, with a little creativity and imagination, some hand me down clothing can really add to your wardrobe.  So don’t just throw out those old clothes, prep them and then make a trip to your local second hand store.

Creative Summer Child Care Options

So summer’s almost here and you’re not sure exactly what to do with your children. Many parents simply throw their hands up at the thought of having to coordinate a summer full of care yet again.

To help you sift through some of the more creative (and often better) options, here are some ideas that are available in most cities: 

  • Summer School.  Many schools offer a summer program that includes educational, fun-filled activities to keep students engaged, having fun, and academically-stimulated while you’re away earning the dough. Check with the communications office of your local school district to inquire about any programs in the district.
  • Summer Day Camps/Recreational Programs.  Summer day camps and recreational programs vary in the type, length, and frequency. Whether it’s a Cooking Camp, Nature Explorations Camp, or Mad Scientist Camp, kids usually experience hands-on fun and learning. And don’t forget your local YMCA or Community Center–they typically offer fun, affordable programs to keep your camper well-inspired.  To find a listing of summer camps in your area, go to your favorite search engine and type in “summer camps” along with the name of your city/area.

  • Local Stay-at-Home Mom.  Is there someone you know and trust who’s a stay-at-home Mom who may be interested in earning extra money for the summer? Think about neighbors and friends who might enjoy an opportunity like this one and afford you the peace of mind of knowing your child is safe and happy.
  • In Home Childcare (e.g., licensed in-home childcare).  Many in-home childcare providers have numerous vacancies during the summer due to families taking children on vacation, school teacher Moms being home for the summer, etc.) Enrollment for these providers can typically drop more than half! Call your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any caregivers listed. Many churches may also be able to put you in contact with an in-home childcare provider.

  • Hire a Summer Nanny.  Caregivers are often looking for summer work while off from college, teachers off for the summer, or other seasonal reasons. Take advantage of the large pool of summer job seekers to help keep your kids active, engaged, and cared for. Find caregivers seeking summer work by running a search and setting your search criteria for those who have selected “Summer” availability.

Whatever option(s) you pursue, remember to lock in your plans EARLY. Everyone is feeling the same burn, so options can start to become unavailable super fast.

Creative Spring Break “Stay-cation” Ideas

With more and more families recognizing the value and fun that can be had by sticking close to home for spring break, we wanted to pass on some of our favorite “stay-cation” ideas! They’re ideal for sparing the pocketbook as well as allowing parents who still need to go to work to do so!

  • Plan an in-home or at-the-theater Movie Marathon.
  • Find local behind the scenes tours.
  • Throw a block party.
  • “Vacation” at a local resort.
  • Host a luau.
  • Have a field day, complete with outdoor activities, races, etc.
  • Go on a themed shopping tour. Research, shop and EAT all things chocolate, for example. Or all things related to bread making or ice cream! Or all things related to baseball caps! Whatever your passion is.
  • Become a tourist in your own town. Research and visit places you haven’t been or don’t know about.
  • Find a scenic train ride.
  • Go camping! KOAhas campgrounds nationwide and will usually offer facilities for the outdoorsy type as well as those that enjoy their indoor comforts.
  • Family fun centers.  Most offer several activities to keep you busy for at least half a day (e.g., go karts, bowling, mini. golf, etc.)
  • Mini lake cruises (often offered with dinner).
  • Go to the theater or a play.

Have a great spring break!