Becoming a grandparent is a special moment in a person’s life, and is an experience that brings with it a host of joys and excitement. After all, parenthood is spent trying to help children become independent, healthy and successful adults, which requires discipline and training along the way. Being a grandparent, however, is often seen as an excuse to lavish kids with a surfeit of indulgent affection and attention. When you’re a parent who’s struggling to raise a well-rounded child, the attentions of even a well-intentioned grandparent can seem like a burden that’s actively undermining your efforts. One weekend at Grandma’s can seem to undo months of encouragement and discipline, leaving you right back at square one with little to show for your attempts to raise a polite, well-behaved child. Before you ban overnight trips and decide to stick with carefully supervised visits to prevent grandparents from excessively spoiling your children, it’s important to realize that there are less drastic measures that can still be effective.
Take a Step Back from the Situation
When your child comes home from a visit with grandparents with new toys or you actively observe grandparents allowing kids to bend or even break the rules, it’s both understandable and natural to become upset. Before you fly off of the proverbial handle, though, it’s wise to take a step back from your feelings and consider the real impact such lenience is having on your child. If she’s still a courteous, obedient child and a bit of spoiling from Grandpa doesn’t seem to be having any detrimental effect, a potential dust-up over the situation may simply not be worth it. A bit of indulgence now and then isn’t likely to turn your little angel into an entitled problem child, and a confrontation can have unpleasant repercussions.
Present a United Front
After evaluating the effect that being spoiled by grandparents is having on your child, you may find that you simply can’t let the situation continue unchecked. If that’s the case, you’ll need to find ways of addressing the issue that will be effective without causing turmoil within your extended family. When you’re dealing with your own parents, you may be able to open a constructive dialogue with little fallout, but you may have a bit more difficulty with your in-laws. Whether you’re dealing with your parents or those of your partner, however, it’s important that you present a united front when you address the situation. Make sure your partner is on the same page, and that you approach the spoiling culprits together.
Be Honest and Open
No parent wants to admit that they’re having trouble managing a child’s behavior, even when they’re talking to their own parents or a set of in-laws. While it’s normal to feel uncomfortable during a conversation about the effect Grandma’s spoiling is having on your child, you should still avoid being vague or making unclear statements. Let your child’s grandparents know why you’re concerned about their lenience, and the effect that it’s having on the child they love so much. When you’re open and honest about your struggles and actively seek to enlist their help, you may have more success than if you simply make accusations and start making rules to govern their relationship with your child.
Talk to Your Kids
Very young children may not benefit much from a discussion about why it’s not acceptable to let their grandparents go overboard with gifts and special treatment, but it can have an effect on older kids. Rather than simply restricting relationships or making new rules with no explanation, take the time to talk to your child about why you’re concerned. Let your kids know that neither they nor their grandparents are in trouble, just that you’ve noticed an area in which a few changes are necessary. When your kids know what’s going on and you’ve talked to their grandparents, you’re able to start working on a collective solution, rather than pitting people against one another and sowing strife amongst your family members.
Limit Unsupervised Access as a Last Resort
It’s tempting to make sweeping proclamations regarding the amount of unfettered access your parents or in-laws will have to your children when being spoiled is having a negative effect on the kids in question, but such drastic measures can actually backfire. When you make an effort to limit the amount of unsupervised time grandparents can spend with your children, you’ll only create a situation where the grandparents look for ways to make up for lost time through even more gifts and lenience. Unless all other measures have failed and the situation is simply not improving, you may want to think twice before you start forbidding unsupervised quality time.
Moms are busy from sun up to sun down. From the time you wake up, you’re usually crossing one thing or another off your to-do list, waking up the kids and getting them fed and off to school. It doesn’t stop there, though. Once the kids are gone you have limited time to accomplish the things you need to, whether it’s work, errands or both. After school typically means helping with homework and shuttling the kids to after school activities, not to mention getting dinner on the table. Before you know it, it’s bath time and bed time for the kids, and your entire day has passed in the blink of an eye. This hectic schedule rarely leaves time for one of the most important things you can do during your day: recharging your own batteries. With the help of these 15 blogs, though, even a busy mom should be able to find a little time to relax.
In the Morning
If you are a morning person, getting up a little earlier in the morning might be the right option for you to find some time to relax and do something for yourself, even if it’s just quietly enjoying a cup of coffee or fitting in a quick workout. You might think that you don’t need to relax first thing in the morning, but taking some quiet moments for yourself to start your day can help prepare you for the busyness ahead of you. These five blog posts will give you some tips about how you can relax first thing in the morning.
- At Home Relaxation Techniques for Busy Moms Get up early to fit in some personal time before the chaos of the day ensues.
- Relaxation Tips for Busy Moms: 8 Easy and Affordable Ways to De-Stress Now! Set aside some quiet time for yourself early in the morning to start your day on the right foot.
- 3 Relaxation Tips for Busy Moms Meditation can be a very powerful practice, and you need as little as five minutes a day and reap the benefits. Meditating in the morning before the kids get up can make it easier to handle life’s little surprises.
- Easy Relaxation Tips for Busy Women Getting up early can be hard, but taking that extra time to focus on you might make the different between a good day and a bad one.
- Easy Relaxation Tips for Busy Moms Take just a half hour a day to enjoy your cup of coffee, read a book or listen to music. This can make a big difference in how you look at the day ahead.
On the Go
Sometimes it seems like you are busy every minute of the day and you are being pulled in a million different directions. One trick that you need to master is finding snippets of time throughout your day that you can use to relax. Take a look at these blogs for tips on how you can relax when you only have few minutes.
- Relaxing Tips for Moms Take some time to listen to the radio in between running errands, and let the music soothe your frazzled nerves.
- 7 Summer Relaxation Kits for Busy Moms Create a relaxation kit to keep in your trunk that contains a blanket, a pillow, something to read, non-perishable snacks and other small items you can enjoy each time you have a few spare minutes.
- Relaxation Techniques for Stressed Moms in 15 Minutes or Less Keep a bottle of bubbles with you in the car. Break them out when you find you have a few spare minutes, and let yourself de-stress and be a kid again.
- A Real Mom’s Relaxation Tips Pay attention to signs of stress in yourself and try to focus on relaxing your shoulders and keeping them down.
- Mommy Tips—10 Things to Help Relax You, In Only 10 Minutes Whether it’s meditating in the car or writing in your journal, all you need is 10 minutes to help you relax.
Once you’ve put the kids to bed it can be tempting to knock a few extra things off your to-do list. Instead, use that time to relax your mind and body before hitting the sheets. Use some of the tips found in these blogs to clear your mind so that you can get a better night’s sleep.
- Bedtime Relaxation Tips for Busy Moms Try doing yoga an hour before bed to get your body ready for sleep.
- Relaxation Guide—9 Tips for Busy Moms Take time to breathe as you focus on something beautiful. Let your breath fill your lungs and then release all of the stress from the day. This only takes a few minutes, but the benefits are long-lasting.
- 5 Relaxing Tips for Moms Once the kids are in bed it’s important to take some time for you. Try soaking in a bubble bath while listening to soothing music. This process may help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
- Easy Relaxation Tips Spend 20 minutes exercising when you get home from work. Not only will you be doing something for your health, it will also help you relax.
- Today’s Me-Time Tip for Busy Moms Take time at least once a week to take a luxurious bath where you can un-plug and un-wind. Putting the kids to bed early will give you this much needed relaxation.
Kids are adorable sources of endless amusement, so much so that a long running television show chronicled the “darnedest things” they’re wont to say. They’re also, however, notorious for saying the most embarrassingly inappropriate things at just the right moment for peak mortification. These are some of the more common themes explored by kids at the top of their lungs, made all the more embarrassing by their penchant for discussing them in public.
- “That Man is Really Fat!” – Obesity is an increasingly common issue in America, and it’s one that carries a significant amount of stigma for those suffering from the disease. When your child comments out loud about the girth of a passerby, he probably doesn’t understand that what he’s saying is hurtful to the target and humiliating to you. The fact that he’s simply discussing what he observes doesn’t do much towards mitigating that embarrassment, though.
- “She’s So Old!” – To kids, anyone over the age of 20 seems incomprehensibly ancient. When someone actually is advanced in age, it seems like more than kids can do to keep their observations to themselves.
- “I Already Have That!” – When birthday or holiday gifts are opened in a public setting, you’re presenting your child with the opportunity to practice graceful gift receiving and the expression of gratitude. You’re also running the risk of an inadvertently rude dismissal of less exciting or duplicate gifts, which is hurtful to the giver and mortifying to you.
- “Mom Says You’re Stupid!” – There’s an old adage about little pitchers having big ears, and it seems to hold true whenever you’ve said something disparaging about another person. Your child won’t hesitate to point out your negative comments or appraisal of a person, leaving you to do damage control as the child looks on happily.
- “He Looks Funny!” – Whether it’s the result of a genetic disorder or personal taste, there are a wide range of reasons why kids can decide that another person looks “funny.” Being forced to explain why kids shouldn’t talk about others’ appearances while simultaneously apologizing for your progeny’s frank observations is no mean feat, either.
- “Is That a Boy or a Girl?” – Androgyny can be a conscious fashion choice or the work of nature, but kids have a need to label everything, and confusion regarding another’s gender is sure to pull some choice remarks from your child.
- “Eww, That Stinks!” – Kids are so comfortable discussing bodily functions and so fond of anything with a gross factor that it’s nothing to them to point out unpleasant smells. Still, it’s no fun to be the parent accused of smelling up a public place.
- “Why Does Her Hair Look Like That?” – Sometimes a haircut goes awry, and the victim is left to manage the awkward phase until their hair grows back. Sometimes a wild hairstyle is a personal choice. Either way, having the oddity pointed out by a loud and emphatic little one is no one’s idea of a good time.
- “Look, That Woman is Going to Have a Baby!” – It’s been said that the only safe time to ask a woman if she’s expecting is when she’s actively in labor. When kids learn to equate a sizable midsection with an impending birth, however, all bets are off in terms of social graces or delicacy. Be prepared for your child to make a comment about the prospective motherhood of a rotund passerby, and for the woman in question to be as hurt as you are humiliated.
- “My Daddy Says…” – Kids may say the darnedest things, but their true talent lies in parroting the least savory tidbits gleaned from overheard adult conversations. When your child lets the world know about Daddy’s weird ideas or Mommy’s faux pas, the only thing you can do is grin and bear it as humiliation runs amok.
The frenetic pace of today’s world can make it very difficult to remember everything life throws at you. Between appointments, entertainment recommendations and deadlines, it seems like there’s always something to add to your mental to-do list. Keeping those things from falling through the cracks of a fallible human memory is a challenge in itself, but thankfully there are offerings in Apple’s well-stocked App Store that rise to that challenge beautifully. These 10 apps can help you remember everything that’s important to you, cutting down on embarrassing moments or inconveniences borne of forgetfulness.
- Evernote – Sometimes you need an app-specific reminder, but other times a general note jotted down on the go will suffice. Rather than scrambling for a pen and a piece of easily lost scrap paper, why not turn to your iPhone and the free Evernote app instead? Winner of the New York Times “Top 10 Must-Have Apps” award, a Mashable award and a Webby, Evernote is one of the most popular and powerful productivity apps available for the iPhone.
- mTrainer Pro – A collection of games and puzzles designed to boost your memory and increase your brainpower, the $1.99 mTrainer Pro app is a great way to pass the time in waiting rooms or in long lines productively. You can play mindless games for pure entertainment, but why not challenge yourself and expand your mind while you wait?
- Flickd Movies with Netflix – How many times have you seen a trailer that looked promising, read a great review or received a recommendation from a friend for a new film, only to forget the title? This $1.99 app is designed specifically to eliminate those issues by reminding you when a new movie is released and maintaining a personal database of films you’d like to see.
- iCue Memory – The $2.99 iCue Memory app is the only memory training tool with an official USA Memory Championship endorsement, making it one of the more effective tools in the App Store for helping you remember all of life’s little details. When you feel that you’ve mastered the exercises, you can even compete with other players from around the world to earn a spot in the Global Memory Rankings!
- Alarmed ~ Reminders + Timers – If you need to set alarms for repeat events, one-time appointments or other urgent tasks, this free app might be just what you’re looking for. In addition to the pop-up reminders and timers with custom messages, Alarmed also offers the nifty Nag-Me feature for auto-repeating reminders about tasks you’ve been putting off.
- Lumosity Brain Trainer – One of the best-selling brain-training programs out there today, Lumosity has been lauded by such respected publications as the New York Times and Scientific American. The app itself is free, but access packages are offered on a one-year, six-month or three-month timetable.
- TellMeLater – Some reminders need to be precisely scheduled, while others have a bit of flexibility. For tasks that don’t have definitive deadlines, the $0.99 TellMeLater app is a simple and effective means of organizing and generating reminders. Alerts are sent to your iPhone, but email notifications and Twitter direct messages are also sent out to ensure that you never miss a reminder.
- Timeless Reminders – In addition to the tasks, to-do lists and appointments that must be remembered, life also comes with pressing issues that can be scheduled down to the second. Things like eating right, nurturing personal relationships, showing others how much you care, taking the time to laugh and making a concerted effort to reach your goals can’t be gracefully plotted on a planner, but they’re no less important than time-sensitive tasks. With this free app, you can remind yourself to take the necessary steps towards a happy, fulfilling future.
- Remember Me – If you want to memorize Bible verses, your favorite literary quotations or even a speech you’ve written yourself, this $2.99 app is the way to go. With flash cards, word puzzles and line-by-line practice features that will help you nail down those long monologues, Remember Me is a must-have for any public speaker.
- Recall – Reminders for Recommendations – Recall does for books, music, television shows and other media what Flickd does for movies: reminds you to keep up with the recommendations you’ve received and things that you’re curious about. Set release-date reminders for upcoming events and maintain a list of things you’d like to check out for future reference.
Using your iPhone and these powerful apps to keep track of everything you have to remember is easy, but only if you actually utilize the apps! To make sure that you’re getting the most out of your reminder and brain-boosting apps, make a habit of instantly entering a new appointment the moment it’s made and working with brain-training exercises whenever you have a free moment. Once that habit is established, you’ll be well on your way to eliminating forgetfulness
It’s no secret that having children is expensive. From the cost of diapers to the expense of extracurricular activities as kids get older, it seems as if they’re always on some new path that costs money. Some of those kid-related expenses are completely unavoidable, but others can be circumvented with a bit of creative thinking and a determination to not waste money. Kids’ clothes can be a major drain on your budget, but there are ways to cut clothing costs down to a manageable level.
Be Reasonable About Babies
When you first learn that you’re expecting a brand new bundle of joy, especially as a first-time parent, every tiny shoe or ruffled onesie seems like a non-negotiable expense. Realistically, however, you won’t need to stock up on piles of high-end infant couture. In a matter of months or even weeks, infants and toddlers will outgrow their clothing. Furthermore, they’re still too young at that age to be consumed with the idea of fitting in with their fashionable peers. While there’s nothing wrong with a few indulgent special occasion purchases, you should keep in mind when you’re shopping for babies and toddlers that plain, durable and inexpensive items are much smarter purchases.
Hit the Sales Rack
When the new season’s shipments come in, most of a store’s stock goes to the sale rack. If you’re lucky, you can snap up a few items that are still serviceable for a while until the weather actually changes. Stocking up on essential items at deep discounts keeps your kids in clothing from the stores they love, without forcing you to pay the full ticket price.
When higher-end stores purchase too much, they generally dump the stock on outlet and discount stores like T.J. Maxx and Ross. Hitting those stores and others of their ilk can help you dress your kids to the proverbial nines without breaking the bank. Snapping up stylish clothes at bargain prices helps you save more money while satisfying tweens’ and teens’ need to stock up on items of recognizable branding.
While kids aren’t known for taking particularly good care of their clothing, you can score gently worn items at nicer consignment shops for a fraction of their original price. In some cases, you’ll even find items with the retailers’ tags still dangling, an indication of another mom whose enthusiasm for purchasing the best clothes outstripped her child’s ability to wear them all before going up a size or two. When you’re shopping consignment, be sure that you give any item you’re thinking of purchasing a thorough once-over before taking it to the register. If you miss a stain, tear or hole, you probably won’t be able to obtain a refund, as most consignment store purchases are final. By keeping an eye out for defects or signs of wear, you can walk out of a consignment store with a huge haul for pennies on the original-retail dollar.
Consider Purpose When You’re Checking for Quality
An item isn’t a bargain if it falls apart after one wear, even if it costs next to nothing. That being said, you should consider the purpose an article of clothing will serve when you’re checking the garment’s quality. Play clothes that you’ll send your little ones out to make mud pies in don’t have to stand up to the same scrutiny as a dress reserved for special occasions. If an item is cheaply priced and isn’t overly flimsy, it may still be a worthwhile purchase, especially if it’s only purpose is to keep your child from exposing himself as he climbs a tree or goes bananas with finger-paint. Play clothes don’t have to have a designer label, but they should be durable enough to withstand more than one trip to the playground.
Swap and Share
If you have friends and family members with children the same age or roughly the same size as your own, you can establish a system of swapping and sharing outgrown clothing that eliminates the need for some purchases. Saving money through these types of arrangements allows you to make the pricier purchases for special occasions without doing serious damage to your household budget.
In-Store Credit Cards
Most major retailers offer in-store credit cards that you can use for discounts on your purchases, ostensibly saving money on the clothing that you buy for your kids. Be aware, however, that all of those special-offer savings and customer loyalty discounts go out the window if you don’t pay the balance off before interest charges kick in. While it is a method of saving money on clothes, taking out store credit is something you should do sparingly and with caution.
While Valentine’s Day is easily one of the busiest days of the year for a florist, it’s certainly not the only reason people buy flowers. Whether it’s for a first date, to say you’re sorry or just to show someone you’re thinking of them, flowers are a great way to show someone you care. Different occasions call for different types of flowers, so how do you decide which flowers are best for the occasion you’re sending them? These questions and others are answered in the following 15 blog posts. Take the guesswork out of sending flowers and make sure the flowers you are sending are conveying the right message to the recipient.
Unique Ways to Give Flowers
Anyone can walk in and hand someone flowers from the grocery store, but what about those times when you wanted to go above and beyond or do something different? From sprinkling rose petals from the door to the bedroom to having a beautiful bouquet of Gerber daises waiting on the kitchen table, there are plenty of unique ways to give flowers. The more ingenious you are with the delivery, the more memorable it will be for the recipient. These five blog entries will give you some ideas to get started.
- Romantic Ways to Give Flowers to that Special Someone – This blogs details several different ways to memorably give flowers to someone you care about.
- 3 Unique Ways to Give Someone Flowers – This post is chock full of fantastic ideas on how to be a little different when giving flowers. One idea that is given is to give one flower at a time tied to an old photo so that you and your significant other can take a walk down memory lane as the bouquet builds.
- Have Flowers Delivered in Unique Ways – Figure out ways to tie in your loved ones interests at the same time you give her flowers.
- How to Give Flowers Like a Victorian Gentleman – This blogger tells you how to bring back the romance in your relationship by giving flowers to your loved one in an old fashioned way.
- Alternative Ways to Give, Carry and Display Flowers – Ever thought about putting flowers into a waffle cone? How about in a coffee carryout box? These and other ideas are offered up on this blog.
The Meaning behind Flowers
Back in Victorian times every flower had a specific meaning, and when a gentleman would give a lady a flower she would know exactly how he felt about her based on the type of flower he chose. If you want your flowers to accurately convey your emotions, check out these five blog posts that go into depth about what different flowers signify.
- Valentine Flowers and the Meaning of Color in Roses – You can stick with red flowers for the person you love, but you can also send mixed messages by including white with the red to mean unity. This blog explains much more about what messages you can send with flowers.
- The Meaning of Flowers – You can get a detailed look at floriography and a comprehensive list on what each type of flower means by reading this blog post. This is an exhaustive list, so this may be a source you’d like to bookmark for future reference.
- The Hidden Meaning of Flowers – Learn a bit of history about flowers by reading this blog, which gives an interesting explanation for how coded messages were sent using flowers and other objects.
- Is There Anything as Enchanting as the Meaning of Flowers? – Many flowers and their meaning are explained on this post, allowing you to pick the appropriate flowers to share your feelings.
- Flower Dictionary with Flower Meanings and Flower Pictures – This guide is geared toward weddings and can give couples an idea of what they want the flowers at their wedding to say. You wouldn’t want to use a flower that says grief at a wedding for instance. This is a good resource for future brides.
Etiquette to Sending Flowers
When should you send flowers and to whom? Should you send white roses to an Asian woman? You can find out different rules regarding sending flowers in these five blogs, such as if you should send flowers to a business or not. There are more rules to sending flowers than you might have previously thought, so make sure you’re following the etiquette of flower sending before purchasing your next bouquet.
- The Etiquette of Sending Flowers – As the population becomes more diverse you must keep in mind what the culture or the religion is of the person to who you are sending flowers. For example, Jewish people do not have flowers at a funeral, so you would need to send the flowers to their home instead. This blog is filled with important facts about flower giving.
- Proper Flower Etiquette – This blogger has defined some common flowers, the occasions you might send them and to whom you might send them. For example, you probably don’t want to send red roses to your secretary for secretary’s day, for fear of sending the wrong message!
- Flower Etiquette: What Bouquet Advance at Work? – An interesting breakdown of what flowers to give to someone at work and what the flowers can do for or against the way you look.
- Funeral Flowers Etiquette – Find a list of what types of flowers and arrangements should be sent if you are part of the immediate family, extended family or are a business associate of the deceased. These guidelines will help you send the appropriate arrangement.
- Modern Etiquette in Flower Giving – These tips can really help you if you are trying to figure out what kind of flowers you should send someone to say, “Get Well” or “Congratulations.” Dating has changed and so has flower giving according to this blogger.
For many families, childcare expenses are among the largest drains on the family budget. Whether you’re considering public, center-based care or private, in-home care, either option will require that you pay a considerable amount in fees or salaries and taxes. For this reason, it’s important that you and your partner make a concerted effort to weigh the merits and drawbacks of each childcare method available to you and their potential impact on your finances. These 30 blogs offer a variety of creative ways to save money and budget for childcare, and may prove to be valuable sources of information for working parents.
Private Care vs. Public Care
Before you begin your search for affordable care, you’ll need to decide which route you’d ideally like to take. There are benefits to both public and private care, as well as areas in which they both have failings. Comparing those benefits and failings to determine what’s best for your child and your family is the first step to building your childcare budget.
- Childcare Options: Pros, Cons and Costs
- 11 Reasons that Daycare is Awesome
- Daycare vs. Nanny: Finding the Right Child Care
- Child Care Choices: Au Pair, Daycare, or Nanny?
- Comparing Child Care: Live-in Nanny versus Daycare
If you’re fortunate enough to have relatives and extended family living in close proximity, family-based care may be a viable option for you. Many parents prefer to have their children cared for by a member of the family, and it may be a more economical option in many cases. However, there are some things you should consider before making the leap to family-based care, as outlined by these five blog entries.
- Family Members as Caregivers: Pros and Cons, Rights and Reimbursements
- 10 Reasons to Hire a Relative as Your Nanny
- 10 Reasons Not to Hire a Relative as Your Nanny
- Childcare – Relatives and Friends
- The Pros and Cons of Choosing Family Members as Daycare Providers
Saving Money on Childcare
These five bloggers offer valuable and practical advice for saving money on childcare in a variety of ways, some of which may or may not be applicable to you or be a feasible option for your family. Taking the time to peruse and consider these bits of advice may lead to significant savings for your family, which will in turn free up a bit more breathing room in the household budget.
- How to Save Money on Childcare
- 14 Ways to Save Money on Childcare
- How to Save Money on Childcare
- Tips for Saving Money on Childcare
- Childcare Costs and Tips
Most Economical Childcare Options
While every parent wants what’s best for their children, there are times when you simply have to make some budget cuts. These five bloggers discuss the most affordable, no-frills childcare options, which may help you find a solution during tough economic times.
- Free-to-Cheap Childcare Options
- Affordable Child Care in Tough Times
- Affordable Child Care Options for the Stay at Home Business Parent
- 8 Ways to Find Affordable Child Care
- How to Find Affordable Child Care
Building a Family Budget
While you’re comparing methods of childcare, evaluating home-based versus center-based care, and taking a look at the best ways to save money on childcare costs, it’s important to know exactly how much your family can afford to pay each month. This requires you to already have a thoroughly-planned and accurate budget in place, a task that these five bloggers offer their advice and hints to help you accomplish.
- Your Family Budget: Step by Step
- How do I Create a Monthly Household Budget?
- How do You Cut Costs in Your Household Budget?
- 10 Money-Saving Tips for Family Budgets
- Building A More Realistic Household Budget
While navigating the world of state and federal tax codes can feel overwhelmingly complicated, there are a few money-saving options and tax credits available to working parents that are forced to pay for childcare. These five bloggers explain the finer points of tax credits and deductions for childcare in language that even laymen can understand.
Because your nanny cares for your children, has an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of your household, and may even live in your home, it’s easy for personal and professional lines to blur. Oftentimes, nannies become more like friends or treasured members of the family than employees. There are, however, a few boundaries that are wise to keep in place. Specifically, parents should avoid viewing their nanny as a confidante. There are several reasons why there needs to remain a professional distance in the nanny/employer relationship, as well as many instances in which viewing your nanny as a confidante could prove to cause regret in the future, but these are 10 of the most serious.
- Leverage – The vast majority of nannies are certainly not interested in blackmailing their employers, but there are those that could seek to level the playing field by holding information you’ve shared with them in confidence over your head in the heat of the moment. Keeping your personal details and secrets to yourself is the single most effective way of preventing this.
- Resentment –Hearing you vent about your finances or struggle to maintain your lifestyle may make your nanny wonder about her job security or avoid asking for reimbursements, which could lead to resentment.
- Gossip – Many parents dream of engaging a nanny that stays with them from the moment they’re hired until the youngest child goes off to college, but the truth of the matter is that those arrangements are rare. Chances are, your nanny will go on to work for another family at some point, perhaps even one in your neighborhood or social circle. If there’s any bitterness at all in your parting, the temptation to dish may be too strong for her to resist.
- Tension – Knowing that you suspect your spouse of having an affair or having intimate knowledge of foibles and quirks that are off-putting may create a tense environment whenever your nanny has to interact with them, leaving everyone uncomfortable and your spouse baffled.
- Awkwardness – In an employer/employee relationship, you will inevitably have to address behavior or habits that you find unacceptable. Approaching your nanny with a reprimand after you’ve bared the contents of your soul to her, however, is almost certain to be both uncomfortable and less than effective.
- Pressure – If your nanny knows that you’re facing a particularly difficult situation and the two of you have a good relationship, she may feel as if she needs to offer her assistance in ways that are utterly unrelated to childcare. Even if she doesn’t feel that compulsion, the pressure of juggling her job responsibilities and your personal problems can become almost unbearable. Burn out is a very real concern for nannies that aren’t doing dual duty as a lay therapist or marriage counselor; shouldering your burdens and her own is a recipe for disaster.
- Discomfort – There’s such a thing as too much information, and almost any personal information falls under that heading for your nanny. More often than not, your nanny simply does not want to know about the things that go on between you and your spouse, you and your own employer or any disputes with your extended family; experienced professionals also know the inherent risk of blurring that line, leaving them even less receptive.
- Marital Discord – Airing your complaints about the behavior of your spouse to your nanny can cause very serious problems in your marriage, should your griping be discovered. The shame and humiliation of knowing that your nanny is privy to details that should be held sacred can spur your spouse to become angry at you, and resentful of the nanny.
- Distraction – By letting your nanny in on difficulties in your marriage or worries about the security of your job, you’re effectively creating a situation in which she’s concerned about her own employment by extension. Furthermore, thinking about the troubles you’ve unloaded on her presents a distraction, which is the last thing you want to happen to the person charged with caring for and ensuring the safety of your children.
- Confusion – If your nanny has recently relocated from another country, there’s a strong chance that at least a bit of cultural confusion exists. Regions of the world in which the employer/employee relationship is very clearly defined generally are not home to employers that treat their nannies as confessors, so putting a foreign-born nanny in that position could result in some very serious befuddlement. Keeping your relationship on a friendly but professional level eliminates the possibility of her feeling even more disoriented.
Maintaining a professional relationship with your nanny doesn’t mean that the two of you can’t get along, or even become good friends down the road. However, building the foundation for a relationship that has room for deep, personal conversations takes years. Welcoming a nanny into your home and treating her like your long lost best friend before the ink is dry on her contract is a surefire way to make her feel uncomfortable and introduce an element of strain from the outset. You don’t have to be chilly or aloof to establish the necessary boundaries, however. It’s entirely possible to do so while maintaining a warm, friendly demeanor.
Establishing a nanny share relationship can allow two families who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford private childcare to split the costs of her salary and the requisite employment taxes in order to provide their children with in-home care. These arrangements are also effective ways of allowing only children to socialize with a peer or small group of peers on a regular basis, learning important social skills along the way. Whatever your motivation for considering a nanny share, here are the steps that you should take to establish such an arrangement.
- Find a Family Whose Philosophy Compliments Your Own – It’s important that the other parents in your nanny share agreement have a similar parenting and child-rearing philosophy to your own to avoid disputes or confusion regarding disciplinary methods. It’s also wise that any dietary restrictions be shared to prevent mealtime mishaps.
- Choose a Space – While it may seem like a relatively unimportant aspect of your arrangement in the beginning, it will quickly become apparent how essential careful consideration of which family should host a nanny share is. Be sure that non-hosting parents are aware of their responsibility regarding the provision of diapers, wipes, snacks and other supplies to prevent the hosting family from shouldering that burden alone and growing resentful.
- Draw Up a Contract Between Nanny-Sharing Parties – Just as a traditional nanny/employer relationship should be governed by a written work agreement, families sharing the services of a private childcare provider should have their own separate contract in place, detailing the specifics of the arrangements, along with the rights and responsibilities of each party.
- Work Out an Overtime Plan – There may be times over the course of your nanny share arrangement when the nanny is forced to work overtime as a result of one parent’s late night at their own place of employment. If that parent is not hosting, plans for the nanny and the child remaining under her care should be put into place so that a hosting parent isn’t left with an extra child and a superfluous nanny.
- Put a “Sick Child” Policy in Place – One of the most attractive reasons for seeking out private childcare is to reduce kids’ exposure to illness in center-based daycare. To prevent one child from transmitting a bacterial or viral illness to the others in the nanny share group, parents should have a “sick child” policy in place in order to be prepared for then inevitability of one child coming down with an unexpected, minor childhood illness.
- Determine Pay Rate for Individual Hours – Some parents may work longer hours than others, causing them to require more of a nanny’s time. To avoid disputes regarding overtime pay for the nanny between sharing parties, an individual hourly pay rate and a method for tracking those hours should be discussed.
- Start Your Nanny Search – Both families involved in a nanny share arrangement should participate equally in the selection process, either by placing ads and answering inquiries as a group or splitting the effort in a pre-determined manner.
- Interview Nannies Together – When a nanny’s resume is agreeable to both families and an interview is scheduled, it’s important that all parents be present for the interview. Each family will have their own set of questions and concerns, all of which should be addressed at that time.
- Create a Nanny Contract – A written work agreement may be even more important in situations where one nanny works for several employers than it is in a traditional nanny/employer relationship, due simply to the fact that more can go wrong. You, your partners and your new nanny should all draft and sign the agreement governing your working arrangement together.
- Keep Lines of Communication Open – After a nanny share relationship has been established, it’s important that everyone involved maintain open lines of communication to prevent and misunderstandings or misconceptions that lead to disputes. A periodic meeting with parents and their nanny is an effective way of ensuring that communication breakdowns are rare.
Remember that compliance with tax laws is still your legal responsibility, regardless of how much your portion of the nanny’s salary contribution may be. Each family is legally viewed as a separate employee and must follow compliance guidelines as such.
When your child acts out in front of his friends or classmates, figuring out the best way to discipline him without humiliating him in the presence of others or damaging his self-esteem isn’t always easy. These delicate situations demand careful handling to ensure that your child understands what he’s done wrong and that there will be consequences for his actions, all without incurring the teasing wrath of onlooking peers.
Privately Acknowledge His Behavior
If you’re unable to send your child the message that his behavior is unacceptable without garnering the attention of his friends, it’s best to pull him aside briefly to acknowledge it in the most private manner possible. Separating your child from the situation allows you to discuss the matter without the added pressure of observing eyes, and is far more effective than harshly scolding him in front of other children his age. Sometimes simply pointing out that the behavior he’s exhibiting isn’t appropriate is enough to remind a child that he’s allowing himself to get carried away, which is something that’s easy for youngsters to do when they’re part of a crowd.
Let Him Know – Quietly – That You’ll Be Discussing the Matter Later
There may be times when your child is misbehaving in a crowd, but pulling him aside to reprimand him isn’t feasible. Rather than resorting to public shaming, let him know that the two of you will be having a conversation later about how he’s acting and that there are consequences from his choice to comport himself in such a manner. In addition to preventing a public confrontation that has the potential to be deeply embarrassing for both of you, this method will also give your child a chance to consider his misbehavior and give you the opportunity to regain your composure. Angry discussions are rarely productive ones when it comes to correcting kids’ behavior, and the forced cooling-down period can benefit you both tremendously.
Be Calm and Respectful of His Feelings
Maintaining a firm grip on your temper isn’t always easy when your child is acting out in front of other people, but it’s important to remember that allowing yourself to lose control will only make the situation worse for both of you. Shouting at your child in a group setting will not only leave his friends and their parents with a less than favorable opinion of your parenting tactics, but it will attract more attention to the behavior in question than is warranted. Being publicly berated by a parent or caregiver is also a very belittling experience for a child, which can cause him to lash out in an attempt to regain some of his pride. Expressing disapproval regarding your child’s behavior can be done respectfully and is the best way to approach the situation when you’re in public or at home.
Don’t Threaten or Criticize
Threats of serious consequences for misbehaving in the presence of his friends, even empty ones made in a fit of anger, will cause your child to feel shame and embarrassment, and can also cause any onlooking parents to become concerned about the disciplinary tactics you resort to privately. Openly criticizing your child’s behavior or personality will almost certainly damage his self-esteem and make him feel badly about himself any time, but making these cruel observations in front of his friends will only amplify that pain. Carefully consider your phrasing and tone before taking any corrective action, especially when you’re in public and your child’s sense of pride hangs in the balance.
Keep Accusations and Comments About His Friends to Yourself
There will be times when you’re certain that your child’s misbehavior is the result of a friend’s negative influence, but it’s never a good idea to broach the subject in front of the group. Even if you’re sure that a particular event is the result of a friend encouraging your child to behave badly or break the rules, it’s not your job to parent someone else’s child or make any comments about their behavior publicly. If you feel that acknowledging a bad influence needs to be part of your private conversation with your child later, avoid the temptation to emphasize his friend’s responsibility. In the end, teaching your child the importance of making the right choices, even when everyone around him is doing the opposite, is essential as he gets older. Learning to resist peer pressure at an early age will benefit your little one greatly when he becomes a teenager and is faced with more difficult and dangerous choices.
Wait Until You’re at Home to Discuss the Matter, and Keep it Brief
When your child misbehaves publicly it can be an understandably embarrassing experience for you. However, it’s important that you maintain your composure until you’re safely at home, resisting the urge to immediately begin an anger-fueled lecture the moment the two of you get into the car. In addition to posing a significant distraction risk while you’re on the road, tackling the subject while it still stings can easily cause you to say things in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret later. Take the chance to collect yourself and get your temper under control while you’re on the road so that you can have a more productive conversation when you’re calmer. Keep in mind that even the most remorseful child is likely to become bored and frustrated with a long-winded lecture, and keep your conversation short, direct and to the point.
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