Friday, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let it Snow: Activities for Everyone

Since winter and snow are such a big part of living in Minnesota we embraced it with activities that kept us busy both outdoors and inside. Here are a few of my favorites. We'd love to hear from you - share your favorite snow related activities.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in our silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~ Bill Morgan, Jr.
Snow Scientist at Work
Science of Snow - Snow is fascinating!
 Take the opportunity to explore the properties and note the differences each snowfall. We had a couple of plastic tubs, magnifying glass, rulers, yard sticks, black felt and a journal book as part of our snow science kit. During or after a snowfall we'd be out gathering a nice sample of snow for examination. When the weather was cooperative we did our experimentation outdoors but sometime we just scooped up a nice tub of snow to bring indoors. Science experiments included observing differences in individual snow flakes using the magnifying glass and the black felt.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Day Pay

From our friends at Breedlove and Associates . . .

Snow Day Pay

This case puts the spotlight on a little-know aspect of employment law: how is a family supposed to handle a snow day?
The Situation
A family hired a full-time nanny and agreed to pay her a flat salary for 40 hours of work per week. They did not use a placement agency and there was no employment agreement in place.
About a month into the employment relationship, a severe winter storm closed much of the city. For two days, the nanny tried to get to work, but the road closures made it impossible. When payday came, the family paid her for 3 days of work instead of 5.
The nanny felt strongly that since they had agreed to a salary, she should be paid for the snow days. The family felt strongly that they shouldn't have to pay for work not performed - especially since they had to pay a neighbor to babysit those days.

Who's right?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


With the craziness of the holiday season don’t miss out on the best part of the season: spending time with your family and friends. The holidays are a great time spice up family traditions that you and your children will look forward to year after year. So here are some ideas to create memories and smiles for years to come.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Keeping Children Warm in Car Seats

I've seen a number of postings about children, winter coats and carseats. Here is an excellent posting from our friends at Regarding Nannies. Check out the video demonstrations which illustrate with issues and give alternative options.

I transport a 6 year old to or from school most days. Since he is an older guy we use a very nice booster seat but the issue of safety remains. That is why we buckle him in without his coat. He has told me it feels better. I make sure the temp in the van is warm and comfortable for all.

Consider the best safety options for the children you transport. Do a little research and see if you need to adjust your process.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Back to Basics, Embracing Simplified Learning

I really enjoyed this recent article in the Star Tribune 
When my daughters were young, they didn't have a lot of fancy toys but were very fortunate to have Ann, an extremely creative nanny, (which their mother is not). They built forts in the family room, log cabins out of sticks in the back yard, read tons of books and did lots of art projects with Ann and rarely watched a video or television show.  Many years later, they will still talk about the elaborate Barbie doll house and attached barn for the Barbie horses that they constructed out of cardboard during one winter break. The construction phase was more fun than actually using it once it was completed!

I encourage you to read this article and would love to get your feedback and comments.   Mary O'Connor

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Drop-Side Cribs Banned

The Consumer Product Saftey Commission has banned the sale and resale of drop-sided cribs. For more information here are two sources. The article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune is the announcement of the ban and the CBS News piece has a very visual explanation.;lst;1

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Projects - Part 3 "It's all about Pom Poms"

Oh for the love of Pom Poms! These little balls of fluff are so versatile and fun to create great projects for the holidays or any time. They are inexpensive and often come in a variety pack of sizes, colors and textures. I liked to them on hand in our art supplies. You never know when a pom pom will make just the right touch to children's projects. Here are three options that work well for the holiday season. Now that you are thinking "Pom Pom" I know you'll start seeking all kinds of ideas for creations!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Introducing Children to Volunteerism

We're posting this again as it's timely and appropriate during this season focused on giving.

By Colleen O'Connor

Community service is a wonderful way for children to learn ideals such as generosity, self-awareness, compassion, and appreciation for diversity. However, the lesson will be lost if volunteerism isn't introduced to children in the right way.

As a professional volunteer coordinator, I often field inquries such as, "Where can my children and I volunteer together?" Here is some of my best advice for making community service an enriching experience for both your family and the organization you are serving.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Plymouth Magazine Photo

Nannies from the Heartland was featured in this month's Plymouth Magazine photo gallery. The link below will take you to their website. Scroll down and look for Nanny Love on the left side for a link to all the photos.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Projects - Part 2

As promised, part two of our Holiday Projects posting. Here are three more favorites of ours and I hope you enjoy them. Next week . . . you've got it, several more projects you can use!

Graham Cracker Houses and Villages

These holiday houses are decorations and treats all in one. You'll need a good quality graham cracker as your base. Some graham crackers are easily breakable and others are less so - you want the ones that are "sturdy." Each house requires at least 6 crackers. We made bottom bases out of foam core board so they could have a little landscaping space around the outside but you can also use another cracker for the base. The front and back need to be "trimmed" with by very carefully cutting the two corners to provide the pitch of the roof. This procedure takes patience and a plan, and a sharp knife. When the children were younger I did this part - not without a little frustration as some of the crackers just break. No problem though they became our snack. The sides of the house may need to be cut as well because you want the roof to pitch, so coordinate that with the amount you are taking off the front and back pieces. Perfect timing for a math lesson on angles - you can visualize the concept when you stand the front up and match it to the sides.
Assembly is easy with a good stiff frosting. We used both homemade frosting and those we purchased from the store. Both gave us good results. This is your glue!
Here's a quick recipe that is the right consistency - 3 egg whites, 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, 16 oz. package confectioners' powdered sugar. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer on high speed. Gradually add sugar and continue beating for 5-7 minutes until smooth and thick. Makes 3 cups. Store in a tight container (airtight). This should keep for a week.
Laying out all the "wall" pieces for assembly is helpful. If you need something to prop up your buildings you can use pint sized milk containers or the like. We just got used to getting all "hands on deck" as we put our buildings together, two of us would hold the building up encouraging cooperation. The frosting adheres quickly and will dry hard.
When constructing a town you can use varied sizes of buildings. For larger or longer structures "glue" several crackers together with frosting and a small piece of graham cracker as a brace on the back side. It will allow for a sturdy seam between crackers. To decorate use a variety of candies and "glue" on with more frosting. Here's where each child's creativity can flow! Group buildings together for a fun and festive holiday scene.

Puzzle Piece Projects

We all have them, puzzles with missing pieces or puzzles that no longer are a thrill to put together. Here are some creative ideas for those puzzles - recycle them into a holiday project.
Idea #1 - using spray paint or hand paint them with acrylics gather the pieces into a holiday shape to use as a tree ornament or even a holiday pin. Use craft glue to adhere all the pieces on to a cardboard base cut in the shape desired. Stack pieces until the cardboard is covered. Attach a ribbon so it can be hung as a decoration or glue on a pin back to make it a holiday pin. You can also add buttons, pom-poms, glitter and other items to give it more pizazz. Shapes that work well - trees, candy canes, snowflakes, snow people, stars, wreath. Let your imagination run!
Idea #2 - make a picture frame using puzzle pieces. They can be painted or left as they are, which can be really lovely when mixed together. You can use a cardboard frame base or just begin building around the size of the photo you'd like to use. We mounted the photo onto a cardboard or card stock base so there was a good base for the frame and photo.
After you start working with puzzle pieces you'll start coming up with all kinds of other ideas - go for it!

Christmas "Crackers"

This traditional holiday fun comes from the UK and includes a sweet treat, motto or joke or trivia and a small toy, and often a paper hat. There are many traditions connected with the cracker which could be fun to explore or to start one of your own. While you can buy commercial versions of the cracker (some that actually "crack" like a cap gun) we loved to make our own to share with family and friends. We liked to host a holiday party for neighborhood children or school friends during the winter break and our crackers were a hit for all. Because of the small size of items you'll need to be thoughtful about the ages participating or have accommodations for those younger ones.
Here's how to make your own. You'll need toilet paper tubes (they are a good size and easy for small hands to work with), tissue paper for wrapping, ribbon, options for decorating the outside of the cracker, and items to stuff inside (again those are usually candy or other treats, small toys, a joke or motto or trivia and a paper hat if you like). Starting with the empty tube stuff the inside with the items you want to include. We liked to make sure that our tubes were full of fun items. Because it can be hard for little hands to stuff the tubes and keep everything inside rather than pushing it all through, we would cover one end of the tube with tissue paper secured with tape. Once the tube is full, roll the it up in tissue paper and secure on ends with ribbon. We also needed a little bit of tape on the side to help it stay secure. Usually 1/2 sheet of tissue paper did the trick, but we also found out that not all tissue paper sheets were the same size so you may need to experiment. Then let the children decorate the outside of the cracker - stickers, holiday shapes, pom-poms, glitter, sequins, etc. You can substitute the tissue paper covering for other papers including wrapping paper if you wish.
While these crackers don't "crack" we liked to say "crack" or "pop" when we opened them. Two people will each pull on one end of the cracker to open it and reveal the contents. Each person will have their own cracker with all it's surprises. It's fun to then put on the paper hat (hats made from tissue or another light paper work best since they can be folded small enough to fit in the tube) and go around the group reading the motto or joke or trivia. Our aim was to have something funny or odd which got laughs, comments and even some discussions. Then everyone enjoyed a little treat and got to play with their toys. I liked to include a tiny game if possible or small action figures. It's surprising what you can fit inside! If you would like to include younger children or larger items you can find other sized cardboard tubes or using stiffer paper make a tube around the items and wrap as described above. Start your "cracker" tradition this holiday season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Full Disclosure: What does this mean?

by Mary O'Connor

Full Disclosure: What does this mean? Why is it important?

I recently did a Google search on this term and found many definitions:
• The need in business transactions to tell the “whole truth” about any matter which the other party should know in deciding to buy or contract
• The requirement to disclose all relevant or material facts to a transaction
• The need in certain situations for both parties to tell the whole truth about all information relevant to the transaction
• The act of providing all material information about an article or property intended or proposed to be transferred, which may influence the decision making of the buyer.
While some of these definitions are geared to certain business transactions, the principle of full disclosure is

Friday, December 3, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Positive Playdates: Building Social Skills

We ran this article a little over a year ago, but wanted to bring it back since we had a lot of interest on this topic. Enjoy!

Positive Playdates: Building Social Skills

Building social skills in children is always a key objective for both parents and nannies. Playdates can be positive experiences for building skills before those formal school years. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning playdate experiences.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cookies with Friends

by Kelly Miller

In 1997, I started a tradition with two of my college roommates.  I had just gotten married, and I wanted to bake Christmas cookies.  In past years my mom and I did this together, and I thought since I had no children, I would do this with girlfriends.  The first year was very time consuming:  we got together with cookbooks, chose recipes, went to the grocery store and started baking.  12 hours later, we were done.

Now it is 2010, and we have streamlined the process to make it efficient and quick.  We each come with three recipes

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kitchen Scientist

Recently, I saw a segment on early morning television news that I thought would be fun to share with you. It featured,  Liz Heinecke, the founder of the Kitchen Pantry Scientist, making Spy Juice from cranberries. Her website has many great child friendly science activities and experiments, complete with videos, using common household items and foods. It would have been great to have this resource when I was young and I’m sure my parents would have appreciated it. They gave me a chemistry set one year for Christmas, which I loved. However, I poured one of my botched experiments down the drain in our laundry tub; it hardened in the drain trap and resulted in a plumber bill which I’m sure they did not appreciate! So, check this site out for some safe and fun science activities! 
Mary O'Connor

Friday, November 19, 2010

Math for Preschoolers

Math is present in all parts of our daily lives, which makes teaching math to preschoolers a breeze. You don't need to look hard to find numbers, shapes and measurements right at home. Creativity and homemade games, allow you to teach preschoolers many basic math concepts and skills without investing in lots of commercial products or toys. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simple Games You Can Make

Stuffed Shelf of Traditional Games

While there are many wonderful games to purchase that are beneficial to young children, I always enjoyed making my own. It offered the opportunity to make them specific to a subject, theme, holiday, season, or another other topic of interest. I could also make different options such as having a simpler version for the youngest child while offering other challenge levels to the older ones.

These four games can take you a long way! Here's the basics you'll need to create your own games:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Self Care

Taking care of yourself it important! It enables you to do your best for the children in your care. Check out Regarding Nannies post for today which is a good reminder to us all about self care.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Safety Check

Are you wondering if the toys or products you purchase for your home and family are safe? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is on the job!

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

You can check out their website for more information -

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Easy Suncatchers for All Seasons!

Clear contact paper is the key to making suncatchers anytime!

We loved making suncatchers for all seasons - really anytime. Clear contact paper made it so easy. We would select what we were going to put onto the contact paper, decide on the shape we wanted the suncatcher to be, and how we wanted to place it in the window. Here are some simple steps to follow for your own suncatcher collection:
  1. Decide on what size and shape your finished project will be. You'll need to keep this in mind as you build the suncatcher as you need room to seal the edges and trim to the shape. You may want to have a shape template ready but this is not essential.
  2. Decide on the items you'd like in your suncatcher. Specialty papers, tissue paper, leaves, grasses, small light weight objects - having some items that are translucent and others that are opaque adds interest.
  3. Place items onto a sheet of contact paper sticky side up - keep in mind your final size and shape of the suncatcher.
  4. Press objects lightly onto paper.
  5. Place second sheet of contact paper over the first sealing in the objects. Now you can press more firmly and seal the edges well.
  6. Trim to desired shape and size.
  7. Hang you suncatcher - options include using clear tape and taping to window, using a punched hold and ribbon to hang it or using a window hook with a suction cup holder. We used these hangers because we liked to change out our suncatchers often. We also selected a window that had good light coming through and was an appropriate spot for these delightful creations!
Be creative - take this idea and springboard to another wonderful project! Have fun!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's Up To Us

Regarding Nannies is a blog that I follow with great information for nannies and families alike. One posting really struck me and I wanted to share it with all of our readers as well. The link is
It is up to us to promote our profession!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Challenging Times - Working Together through Divorce

Divorce is stressful, sad and confusing for everyone. No matter what age the child, they will feel uncertain about what is happening and may feel angry. Mom, Dad and Nanny can work together to ease fears and provide the stability children are seeking.

What to tell the children and when to tell them is often the first concern of parents. Your nanny can be helpful in supporting this process. Planning what you say and timing it makes this difficult time a little easier. Give an honest, child appropriate, explanation. Be truthful in answering “why” and keep it simple. Children don’t want or need long explanations. Emphasize your continued care and love. They may worry that this will change everything in their lives, including the care and love from their nanny. Assure them that their daily lives will stay consistent as much as possible.

Obviously, there will be changes in the family’s life and routine. Clarify those changes simply and to the point – they want to know how this decision will affect them. When Mom and Dad

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Handprint Turkey

by Kelly Miller

As the current nanny of a 7-month-old, I am having alot of fun introducing simple art projects.  Here is an idea that is appropriate for any age for Thanksgiving.

1.  Cover childs palm and thumb with brown tempera paint.
2.  Paint fingers each a different color ... orange, red, blue, green are a suggestion.
3.  Press childs hand down on white paper.
4.  Add googly eye and paint beek on thumb area.
5.  Paint legs and feet on bottom of palm area.
6.  When dry, add Happy Thanksgiving! and cover with contact paper.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers!

by Mary O'Connor

Nannies from the Heartland is celebrating our 20th year of excellent service to families and nannies. Why is this important? It means than we’re very experienced at we do and we are experts in the in-home childcare industry. We can offer a variety of child care services, long term and temporary, to meet your needs. Since 1990, we have placed 1718 nannies in long term positions with families seeking quality care for their children. We also do 1000+ temporary placements per year. Collectively, our staff has more than 62 years experience in the child care field. We have a great reputation and name recognition in the Twin Cities. This translates into a large network of excellent nannies seeking jobs and clients referring their friends, family and colleagues to us. There have been 32 nanny placement agencies open and close their doors since 1990. We’re here to stay and just as we have been for these past 20 years, we’ll be here when you need us.
At Nannies from the Heartland we are proud of the profile of the nannies we represent and the duration of their placements with our client families. Nannies who are placed with families through our service are average 41.5 years old. Over 50% of the nannies we place with families have a 2 or 4 year college degree related to working with children and 87% have some type of child care related training. The average longevity of placements through our service is just over 3 years. Why is this important? As parents, you know your children will be cared for by an experienced educated nanny. Both nannies and parents can expect stability in employment.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Something for All

Here are some great magazines and websites that are family friendly. I can recommend them from personal experience. You can find many of these titles at your local library as well. Many of these publications have age specific levels. Several also have websites that feature many of the articles and activities from their magazine or have supplemental information to go with the magazine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Something for Boys

The boy I nannied for really liked Boys Life magazine. It is the official magazine of the Boy Scouts but you don't have to be a Boy Scout to subscribe. It's full of stories about real people doing amazing things. There are features on sports, science, careers, along with fun activities. Some of the content is about scouting but any boy can relate.
Check it out at


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something for Girls

Both the girls that I've nannied for really enjoy New Moon magazine. There is also an online New Moon connection for girls. Typically 8 years old and up. They outgrew the magazine as they started high school but up until that point it was something to look forward to. They were also very involved in Girl Scouts. New Moon was another "girl power" experience for them. If you have girls you may enjoy exploring the website and maybe subscribing to this magazine for them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Legislative News

Regarding Nannies Blog posted this information about current legislation that is very informative and nanny industry related. To view the post use this link

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TCPN Conference Saturday - Registration Deadline Extended

TCPN's Nanny Conference Day has extended it's registration deadline to Thursday, October 21! Don't miss this opportunity to join other nannies and child care providers in a day of professional development.
9th Annual Nanny Development Conference and Member Meeting!
Saturday, October 23
8:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Breakfast Goodies and Lunch Included in Registration

Twin Cities Professional Nannies, a nonprofit organization, presents a day of professional and personal growth. This is an open event – great for parents, nannies and other childcare professionals alike. Inviteyour friends, family, and nanny peers. The day will include Amazing Speakers, Roundtables,Member Meeting, Networking, Door Prizes and More!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Local Resource

     I attended meeting at the Behavioral Institute for Children and Adolescents in Roseville recently. I was interested to see a very extensive library of resource information focused on helping professionals and parents who work with children with emotional and behavioral challenges. The topics were wide ranging and impressive in depth which included ADHD, autism, sensory processing issues, self-esteem, postitive behavior, early intervention and cultural awareness. 
     The BICA also has a very nice book shop. Many books are written specifically for children of all ages dealing with a variety of topics including grief, loss, divorce, agression and bullying. They also have games and other multimedia materials.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How Do You Partner with Your Child's Teacher?

It's Parent Teacher Conference time and it got me thinking about how we partner with schools and teachers. I love to check out other blogs and online sites. This posting came up and you may also find it interesting. As a nanny I was also part of the teacher-parent partnership - volunteering in the classroom, going on field trips, supporting the child with their homework were just some of the ways I was involved. This article is just one parent's perspective.

How Do You Partner with Your Child’s Teacher?

From Blogger Jolene

I’m a big believer in my kids’ education, and I’m also a big advocate of partnering with my kids’ teachers. Sometimes, however, it’s a challenge to partner with a teacher.

Fortunately, I have a lot of friends who happen to be teachers. I have a sister who is a teacher, and my mother and grandmother are retired teachers, so I feel lucky to have inside information about what teachers say about working with parents. When I hear their stories, I then understand why it’s sometimes hard to partner with a teacher.

Because of budget cuts,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gender Characteristics and Research

When I taught in a lab school child care center for infant through pre-kindergarteners it was emphasized that we “maintain a gender neutral classroom at all times.” So toys, activities, curriculum, room d├ęcor, color choices, etc. were all scrutinized to maintain the gender neutral directive. The concept was that if offered the same choices and activities children would not show gender preferences. Research was pointing that gender choices started early and were due mostly to expectations of parents, teachers and the child’s environment.

Now the research is pointing to many gender differences being hardwired and evident from birth. Researchers followed newborns through to the preschool years, observing behavior under a variety of circumstances. This is just a few of some of their recent findings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Criss Cross Applesauce

It's here - my favorite season of the year - Fall! I love the crisp days, getting out to pick apples or heading to the pumpkin patch or corn maze. So many fun activities to do with children during the fall. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Stamping - A fun simple activity with lots of options. You'll need paint (I prefer tempera with a little liquid dish soap added - helps with clean up), shallow container for paint and your paper (you could also use a gift bag, lunch bag or large craft paper which makes wonderful gift wrap too, use your imagination). Cut the apple in half. Cutting across the will give you the seed zone looking like a star while cutting along the stem line will give you a traditional apple profile. Dip apple into the paint and stamp onto the paper. Let dry. Children can add details to create their own apple masterpieces.
  • Homemade Applesauce

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nanny Conference Day - October 23


9th Annual Nanny Development Conference and Member Meeting!

Saturday, October 23
8:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Breakfast Goodies and Lunch Included in Registration

Twin Cities Professional Nannies, a nonprofit organization, presents a day of professional
and personal growth. This is an open event – great for parents, nannies and other childcare professionals alike. Inviteyour friends, family, and nanny peers. The day will include Amazing Speakers, Roundtables,Member Meeting, Networking, Door Prizes and More!
Register now and join us for:
"Sweeter Rewards"


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Celebrating 20 Years of Excellence

Celebrating 20 Years

Nannies from the Heartland celebrated 20 years of excellence with a gathering on Saturday, September 11 at Bryant Lake Regional Park in Eden Prairie. Since 1990, Nannies from the Heartland has been providing personal service to families and nannies in the Twin Cities metropolitan area with a staff of industry leaders and experts. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

12 Baby Websites for Every Parent

From brainy blogs to coupon offers, these sites are worth bookmarking.

Jennifer Frazier from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram presents a list that parents and nannies will appreciate. Follow this link to find out more:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Breaking News

By Mary O'Connor
Founder/President, Nannies from the Heartland

          I was extremely dismayed to hear this morning on local television news and read on a local online newspaper a story headlined, “Prison for Nanny/Bookkeeper.” The media stories report about a woman recently sentenced in St. Paul federal court for embezzling over $700,000 from her employer. The news states she was hired as a nanny and household helper and her duties included bookkeeping. This mix of duties is certainly not typical for a professional nanny. It was in her capacity as a bookkeeper that she committed the crime for which she was sentenced.
          The fact that news media are describing her first as a nanny and then as bookkeeper is misleading and smacks of

Employment Agreements

By Colleen O'Connor

Recently we asked nannies on our Facebook page what advice they wish they had gotten as a new nanny. Their responses were overwhelmingly about pay, benefits, and the “rules of the game.” All of the challenges the nannies mentioned would have been prevented if both parties had written and followed an employment agreement.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


We have a very special event planned to celebrate 20 years of excellence! Nannies from the Heartland is sponsoring a community service event in partnership with Twin Cities Professional Nannies (TCPN) and featuring Cheerful Givers. We will be filling birthday gift bags for children of families living in poverty.
Everyone is welcome, particularly families with children of all ages. We will have children's activities as well as light refreshments. All you need to do is call or email us (see below) to let us know you'll be attending.

WHEN: Saturday, September 11, 2010
TIME: 10 AM to Noon
WHO: Families and Nannies
WHERE: Bryant Lake Regional Park Pavilion, Eden Prairie  
RSVP: Call 763-550-0219 or email
Both TCPN and Cheerful Givers are non-profit organizations

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tax Break Reminder

From Breedlove and Associates -

As we enter the busy fall season, we wanted to remind everyone about significant savings for families with childcare expenses: the Dependent Care Account (a.k.a. "Flexible Spending Account"). Companies that offer this tax-saving benefit to their employees typically conduct their "open enrollment" period during the final 2-3 months of the year - although often times it is not well publicized within the company. During this time, families can elect to have up to $5,000 of their 2011 childcare-related

Monday, August 30, 2010

Favorite Outings!

These are four of our favorite places that we returned to again and again over the years. They were great outings when the children were toddler and preschool age continuing through into their high school years. If you haven't checked these places out, you may enjoy exploring all they have to offer. Many provide special events, classes or activities for children of all stages of development. They also have events or activities that are great for families and nannies.

Bakken Museum
Walker Art Center
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Science Museum of Minnesota

Thursday, August 26, 2010

From The Heart - Tip #4


How can I know how my children are doing during their day with the nanny?

Having your nanny keep a journal about each day's activities, the foods eaten, child's mood and other important information is a great idea. I had a journal for each child in my care. When they were young - infant through early preschool age - I wrote in it each day. As they got older the journal became less formal. The children actually used their journal in a school project at one time or another - they loved going reading through them!

Touching base with your nanny throughout the day by phone call is good idea. Some nannies may think

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scratch Art Project

Scratch art projects have been a huge hit for the children I've worked with over the years. Recently, at our annual nanny-child picnic, we did a scratch art bookmark project. All ages loved creating this project. I know you'll love it too. Here are two techniques for making your own scratch art. You can find scratch art paper and projects at craft stores or through online craft suppliers. However, I think making your own scratch art paper is easy, economical and a creative outlet for children.

I like to use a nice quality paper as a base. If the project is to be something that will last over time I prefer a card stock weight. For best results

Friday, August 20, 2010

Challenging Times - Working Together

Everyone faces challenges from time to time. Most challenges are minor but there can be those that are life changing. How can nannies and parents support and encourage each other through tough times?

The nanny-family connection is very unique. It is more intimate than other work relationships. Nannies and parents team together to work toward the best interests of the children, while also having an employee-employer relationship. So when a challenging situation or crisis arises they are not always sure how to help each other. A lot depends on the situation but if it could affect the children in any way, then parents and nanny need to work together. They need to reach out to each other.

While essential every day, communication is vital during tough times.

Monday, August 16, 2010

From The Heart Tip #3

Another question in our From the Heart series

We’ve had challenges keeping a nanny long term with our family. What are we doing wrong?

The nanny employment relationship is very unique. For one thing it is very personal and intimate. This makes for a great foundation for caring for children and working with parents in a partnership. It also increases sensitivity about the daily issues that can come up and can make dealing with concerns challenging for everyone. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Crafts

You asked for more craft and art resources, so here are my favorite website links. These six sites have a variety of activities to choose from. Most can be modified to accommodate a variety of ages and abilities. If you have younger children you may need to simplify or do some additional preparation. Also, don't forget you can take one of these ideas to use as a springboard for something new.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Performance Review Tips

Performance reviews shouldn’t be feared. Instead it should be viewed as an opportunity to gain shared understanding. Think of a review as a feedback session. Although yearly reviews are typical, I recommend more frequent meetings to set goals, evaluate progress, identify strengths and challenges. The goals set with caring for an infant aren’t the same as those you’d set in caring for a toddler or preschooler. So checking in frequently is important.
Performance appraisals are a two way street. Listening is critical. Employers need to hear the employee’s views, suggestions or comments. The nanny family relationship and employment situation is unique; the best interests of children bring both the nanny and family into a special partnership and require teamwork. Thus the performance review is an opportunity for everyone to share and set mutual goals, as well as individual ones.

There are four main focus points during a performance review.