It’s the time of year we get calls from nanny employers and sometimes from nannies wondering what is “usual and standard” for holiday gifts or bonuses. This is a tricky question as there are no industry standards but typically families do a variety of things to show their appreciation at this holiday time for the service their nanny has provided to them. Many families choose to give a monetary gift which often is the equivalent of a week’s pay. They may also include a personal gift or gift card. Families may choose to have the children give a small item, which could be handmade, to their nanny as well. Much of this depends on how long the nanny has been with the family. Families who have employed their nanny less than a year might choose a modest personal gift to demonstrate their appreciation.
I love books! Maybe it started with our family tradition of getting a new book or two each Christmas. It was something I looked forward to with great anticipation. I have carried this love of books to all my interactions with children and particularly as a nanny. I recently came upon the website for the American Library Assocation and the page on 2011 Notable Children's Books. Here is a sample of their extensive list. You'll see the link to the site at the bottom of this posting, visit the site for their complete list. I'm excited to check these titles out for myself and, of course, share them with the children in my life.
Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. According to the Notables Criteria, "notable" is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children's books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways.
Could you or your children catch frostbite being active outside? It's possible, given the right conditions. However, with precautions - like proper layering - that can be avoided.
Outward Bound instructor, Kristen Laine, who writes the Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog for the Appalachian Mountain Club says that parents should watch out for conditions that are prime for hypothermia and frostbite. "It's really only when the thermometer heads below 5 degrees F and winds pick up that frostbite becomes a real concern. As the days get longer, getting wet and cold becomes a more serious concern than frostbite — warmer temperatures mean rain or mixed rain and snow; warmer snow means wetter boots and mittens and snow pants. Hypothermia, then, is the concern," says Laine.
She offered these tips for keeping children safe.
• It's useful to remember a 5-30-30 rule: 5 degrees Farenheit, 30 mile an hour winds, 30 minutes before exposed skin risks frostbite. Wind chill advisories and the science behind them are based on adult responses, so err on the side of caution with children. As the temperature drops below 0, only 10 mph winds risk frostbite after 30 minutes of exposure.
• Outdoor gear and clothing has come a long way since. Nowadays, if children are properly dressed in a warm hat, warm mittens, layered clothing, and dry boots, they really can stay outside quite a long time. (Unless it's very windy...)
• But pay attention to signs of cold: cold hands and feet are often the body's first sign that its core temperature is dropping. Uncontrollable shivering is one of the early warning signs of hypothermia.
• On windy days, slather Vasoline on the exposed parts of a child's face -- it's great protection against the wind.
Today I am sharing two recipes that my grandmother passed down to my mother, who has since passed them down to me. Every year they are requested by friends ... I can imagine my grandmother in her farmhouse making these for my dad. Enjoy!
Grandma Brun's Sugar Cookies
Cream: 1 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup butter or lard (if using lard, add 1/2 teaspoon salt)
Add: 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla (also 1/4 teaspoon almond extract if desired)
Then add: 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Refrigerate dough. Then roll out 1/4 inch or less thick. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes on greased pans. Frost.
Peanut Butter Krispie Balls
Bring to boil: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dark Karo syrup
Remove from heat and add: 2 cups peanut butter and 4 cups Rice Krispies
Mix well and form into small balls. Melt semi-swee ice cap coating chips, then dip balls. Cool on wax paper.
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 reading through them!
Touching base with your nanny throughout the day by phone call is a good idea. Some nannies may think of this as a “check up” call and fear that you don’t trust them. Explain to the nanny that the call will help you to feel in touch with your child, that you simply miss not being there yourself. I appreciated the phone check-in from my employer. It gave me a chance to share some of the highlights of the day and frankly, talk to another adult. I also appreciated knowing I could call them and talk or leave a message if I had any questions. When I started the mother or dad would call at least once a day just to see how it was going. As time went by those calls were more infrequent because we had built our relationship and trust with each other.
This is reposted from December 2009. Just a little reminder to parents and nannies alike during the stressful holiday season.
Those who live or work with young children know how physically and emotionally draining it can be at times. For many child-centered people, one aspect is neglected — themselves. Here are some ideas to help you take care of yourself so you can be the best possible caregiver for the children in your life.
Set aside time each day for yourself. When children are napping or in quiet time, resist the urge to catch up on dishes, do laundry, or pick up toys until you have had 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time for yourself. Remember, lunch hours are a standard in the business world!
Thousands of toys are on the market, each promising to educate or entertain our children. Unfortunately, not every toy is safe. Toy buyers can help protect children from injury by being careful, vigilant shoppers.