In horror, we all watched the Amber alerts Christmas afternoon on freeway signs and on TV.
I recalled a conversation with one of our nannies earlier this month. She had been at a park with her charges along with several mothers and their children. She noticed a man who didn’t seem to have any child attached to him, talking with the five-year-old girl she cared for full time. She immediately called 911, and before the mothers realized what was happening, the police were escorting him out of the playground in handcuffs. “What just happened?” they asked her. He was a Level 2 registered sex offender.
We recently updated our Child Safety Quiz that every nanny takes when they come in for an interview to include questions about the dangers of internet safety and abduction. We invite our families to take advantage of several internet child safety quizzes designed for children, their families and caregivers.
Internet Safety Quiz: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=714
Abduction Safety: http://pediatrics.about.com/od/missingkids/Child_Abduction_and_Missing_Kids.htm
For the Children’s Sake,
The holidays can be more stressful than fun. On top of our regular schedules, we have to find gifts for everyone, send out cards and packages, bake cookies, attend parties and pack for trips. Even a recession-proof household can feel the pressure of all these extra activities. When our children see expensive gifts on TV, we wonder how we can squeeze one more to into their bulging closet.
Here are ten ways to use the holidays to develop new skills and values and have more fun year round.
Give to people who can’t give back.
We aren’t designed to be receptacles, but conduits of what we’re receiving. When we are giving, we feel like we’re really living. Look around you. Is there an elderly neighbor who lost her spouse this year? Invite her to your home for dinner. Holidays are a lonely time for many, and the gift of your time means more than you can imagine. Caring Nannies is collecting new children’s jackets for Neighborhood Ministries in South Phoenix, one of the four charities that we donate $25 of your Family Application to. You can drop off a jacket at our office or one of our staff will gladly pick it up from your home.
Involve the children in giving
Children are naturally self-focused. We have 12 + years to help them be other focused. Let them do extra chores, earn money, and shop a 99 cent store to pick out a gift for a needy child in the community or a sibling. The key is to have them pick out a gift they would like or that is similar to what they have. Make it a family event and go out for donuts afterwards. Have them make a gift for grandparents. Check out this website for some easy craft ideas.
The best way to build character in kids is to volunteer. It seems like an oxymoron to give more time when you’re feeling so stretched for time just for the basics, but it gives you such a good feeling and nurtures the soul. Your church or synagogue may be volunteering at a soup kitchen, or you can go with another family. This reality check will soak in as kids serve food.
Traditionally, Moms do most of the holiday preparation, so ask Dad to pick up gifts, and the kids to help with holiday baking, wrapping, and decorating.
Ask relatives to agree to cut back
Some families ask for a donation to a college fund or a donation to an organization in a developing nation in the child’s name. Kiva enables you to make a loan to an entrepreneur across the globe for as little as $25. H2OProject gives water to a village in a developing country–two other charities we sponsor. If you want to exchange gifts, consider scaling back by drawing names and exchanging gifts with only one family member. Give only one gift per person. Play the White Elephant Game, and give a gift you want to get rid of, or gifts set at an agreed on price.
Our family enjoyed making gifts each year. We put on children’s character building story tapes, set up an assembly line, and painted, glued and wrapped home made crafts. The children also made Coupon Books for a free shoeshine, backrub, making dinner, washing dishes, going on a walk, or washing the car. Make your own wrapping paper with sheets of newsprint and potato stamps dipped in tempera paint.Kids can decorate place cards for holiday dinners. Offer your child’s teacher an afternoon of your time, or donate school supplies. Using your creativity makes for a more meaningful and memorable gift.
Create important family traditions
It doesn’t matter what you do, but do some family activities every year where you really connect with those you love. I always made a special pastry for Christmas morning. Together you can sing Christmas carols at a nursing home, attend services together or peel grapes for the holiday ambrosia. Consistency is the key—do the same things every year! My grown children still want to go to Grandma’s house to frost her cut out cookies and decorate them with sprinkles. Watch them create similar rituals with their children!
Lower the bar
From our childhood, we all have glorified expectations of what the holidays should be like. It can feel overwhelming to live up to those expectations. What will they remember 20 years from now? Probably not what gifts they received, but the feeling of closeness and those family rituals. So drive them to see the holiday lights in the neighborhood instead of shopping at the Mall. Go ice skating or ice blocking together. String popcorn on the tree. It is those intimate, warm moments that will make holidays to remember.
Getting organized lowers holiday stress, and is a valuable life skill that can spread to other areas of your life. Start today and work at it consistently for 15 minutes per day. Then relax and enjoy the holidays.
Here are two helpful websites:
Flylady’s Holiday Control Journal
Christmas Countdown: Six Weeks to an Organized Christmas
The Recession is a boon for our families! We are able to offer the cream of the crop right now. Many nannies are eager to take on positions that they may have previously declined because the position was part time, or involved housework or was temporary.
Many of our nannies have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. There are fewer positions, more available nannies, and the result is that qualifications for candidates have greatly increased! One of the last nannies we placed had her Master’s degree in education, taught two years, and nannied for four years! So now is the time to call to secure a trusted, dedicated nanny or home manager who can bring calm to your busy household. You can come home at day’s end to enjoy your family, knowing that the biggest challenges of the day have been covered, and that your children have been nurtured and loved.
Many families have found that they do need to cut their nanny’s hours, work from home part time, share a nanny with another family, or cut another staff member and ask their nanny to take on additional duties, but we have been surprised at how many families are still using nannies! I interviewed a dedicated nanny this morning, who wants to play with children, clean house, cook gourmet meals, and teach your children three languages!
Beth Weise, CEO and Founder, Caring Nannies
Many Families Feel that Reporting Partial Wages can be a good way to reduce the Tax Burden. See what happened to a California Family in this Report.
How can we resist the consumerism that encroaches on our children during the holidays and even turn it around to help them learn the true meaning of Christmas? New research shows that helping others is a major key to happiness, and when we are helping or giving to someone it helps us to feel satisfied, more self-assured and uplifted. We actually benefit more than the person we are helping. The best way to develop character in children is to get them involved in helping others less fortunate. This holiday season provides the perfect venue for instilling a focus on others, developing family team-building, and letting them experience firsthand that they can bring joy to others. The key is to plan and start early. Old toys can be sorted through and taken to a shelter before the holidays rather than after. Children can work to use their own money to buy gifts at the dollar store for teachers or siblings. Angel trees can be found in malls and the pre-requested gifts go to the children of prisoners who would be unable to provide for their families. When my children were young, we filled shoeboxes for children in developing nations with essential items like toothbrushes, pencils, soap and small toys. Our staff family is helping with a Christmas Fiesta at Neighborhood Ministries, a holistic Christian outreach to low-income families and at-risk children in the Phoenix inner-city. Parent volunteers come to the two acre campus to work for parent volunteer hours, which earn them “parent bucks”, to redeem at the Christmas Parent Store. We will be helping to set up the store on December 5th.
Old-Fashioned Family Games for Summer
Remember the fun games you played in summer growing up? Try some family games this summer?
There is Ante Over, where one team is stationed in the front yard, and half in the back, and you shout “Ante Over” to warn the other team to be on the lookout for the ball. They try to catch it. If the ball is not caught, any member of the team may pick it up and throw it back, calling “Ante Over!” as the throw is made. If the ball is caught, the person making the catch runs around to the other side and tries to hit some player of the other team with the ball. If a player is hit he joins the other team, till one team has all the players.
How about freeze tag, red rover, hide and seek? Or a family game of Marco Polo? When I was young, my siblings and I built tents in the family room with sheets and played Monopoly that lasted two days. Mom let us eat lunch in the tent.
When Erika, Jamie and Jeremy were small, we loved to play “Murder in the Dark”. It is like hide n’ seek, but everyone hides inside the house with all the lights out. My favorite hiding place was on the top of the refrigerator!
After months of preparation, the staff at Caring Nannies has launched Nanny Boot Camp, a four hour training session designed to give nannies the tools they need to find the right job, truly enhance a child’s life, help a family function smoothly, and stay long term. For the past five months, we have been interviewing experts in the field, studying textbooks, researching the internet, and listening to our nannies and clients, evaluating our own progress in the art of making expert matches. We are very excited about the potential of this additional step in the screening process you deserve. One of the biggest benefits is that we really get to know these wonderful ladies on a deeper level. As thorough as it is, an interview cannot provide that depth. The nanny career is unlike any other childcare career, in that there is unprecedented opportunity for professional and personal growth.
It is also different in that the nanny is in an intimate relationship, a part of the family, in a way that no one else is. Our clients feel that their home is their castle, and the nanny is privy into the family. The position demands clear communication of what is expected, comprehensive discussions from the start, and written guidelines to give the relationship a framework.
We were made for relationships, yet communication is the most difficult part of those relationships. It takes courage to care more for the relationship than we care about protecting our image. It is important to be willing to share how we are feeling when something is bothering us. Otherwise, we can become disgruntled and resentful, the relationship is damaged, and we experience burnout. We explore in class how we can use our positions as nannies as a springboard to develop personally in many important areas so that the nanny benefits as much as the children and family. This augments our mission of treasuring children and strengthening families by developing the professionalism and longevity of our nannies. Press release.