Tips from Those in the Know

USDAThe United States Department of Agriculture,USDA has an extensive site for parents of preschool and elementary school age children featuring comprehensive nutrition plans, daily meal and snack plans for parents to reference and games that children can play that stress good eating habits. Go to:


Got a picky eater? The USDA has extensive information that can help parents get the picky eater to eat food necessary for good nutrition at

Another great USDA site to visit for a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan, the  ability to track your foods and physical activities to see how they stack up and to get tips and support to help you make healthier choices and plan ahead is:



Misconceptions about Paying a Babysitter

The following guest post is from Paul Taylor.

babysitterAfter struggling to find a qualified babysitter for his young child so that he and his wife could attend a social event, it came to Paul that this process needed to to be easier.  He began searching for resources online to help parents and really didn’t find any great options so decided to create isn’t a job site per se but more of a resource to help parents and even babysitters to get information and to tap into all of the existing online babysitting sites like,, and several others offers an aggregated look at those sites to help families find sitters and to help sitters find families easier than ever.

10 Misconceptions About Paying Your Babysitter

Many parents, especially those that only hire a babysitter on an occasional basis, have an incorrect idea or two about the proper etiquette and guidelines surrounding how she should be paid.

In the interest of keeping both parties satisfied, here are ten of the most common myths surrounding babysitter wages.

  1. You Aren’t Required to Withhold Taxes – Most parents are under the impression that they’re not required to pay employment taxes on an occasional babysitter. In fact, any household employee that receives more than $600 in wages during a calendar year creates the need for families to obtain an employer identification number and file W-2 forms in order to be complaint with Federal tax laws.
  2. You Shouldn’t Pay Overtime – Because most babysitters are hired for one or two shifts a week at the very most, many parents don’t feel as if they should pay overtime. However, if you return home significantly later than the quoted time, it’s best to increase the hourly rate for each hour past the time your sitter expected you home. This is especially important for teenage sitters that may have curfews or schoolwork to attend to.
  3. You Don’t Have to Pay if You Cancel – Canceling your appointment with a babysitter at the last minute doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay, especially if she doesn’t find out until she arrives at your door. While it certainly isn’t expected that you pay her full rate for a canceled evening, etiquette dictates that she receive some compensation for her time and change of schedule.
  4. The “Going Rate” is All That Matters – Most parents ask around to determine the going rate for a babysitter in their area, and adhere to it religiously. There are, however, many factors that should influence the rate you pay a babysitter. These factors include but are not limited to: the ages and number of children, kids with special needs or behavioral problems and the sitter’s level of experience.
  5. It’s Not Okay to Dock Pay – Agreeing upon a flat rate for a shift doesn’t mean that parents can’t dock the pay of a babysitter that turns up late or doesn’t provide adequate service. While it’s a good idea to explain exactly why you’re reducing your sitter’s rate and only do so if the situation warrants it, you’re well within your rights under the appropriate circumstances.
  6. Rates Don’t Have to Be Competitive – Often, parents think that a teenage sitter should be grateful to get the opportunity to work. They don’t always realize how much competition there can be for the time of a truly exceptional sitter, and are often surprised to find that a favorite babysitter doesn’t accept invitations after a few shifts. Just like any other worker, babysitters will give priority to clients who pay well.
  7. Food Costs Should Be Deducted From Wages – Due to the likelihood of injury or accident when babysitters attempt to cook while keeping rambunctious kids in line, many parents opt to leave money for pizza or other delivery meals. It is not, however, good practice to deduct any food costs from her wages. Providing a meal and adequate compensation is part of the babysitting deal.
  8. Excellent Sitters and Lackluster Ones Command the Same Rate – As discussed above, great sitters are hard to come by and can command rates significantly higher than the area average. Similarly, less reliable and engaging sitters can usually be paid less, as they aren’t likely to be in very high demand. While it’s never a good idea to leave your children in the care of a babysitter who is dangerously negligent, one that’s simply more reserved might not be a neighborhood favorite and may accept a lower rate.
  9. Weekend and Weeknight Rates Are the Same – Be prepared to pay a higher rate on weekends than you would on weekdays, especially if you’re planning to stay out very late. Though almost all teenage sitters will have limitations on their weeknight availability, they’re not likely to expect quite as high a rate as they would for their valuable weekend time.
  10. Hourly is the Only Way to Pay – Paying sitters by the hour isn’t necessarily the only way to compensate them for their time, especially if you’re absolutely certain that you won’t be later than the quoted time and the sitter is amenable to a flat rate.

The best way to determine a fair but reasonable babysitter rate is to take the going rate in your area, the factors that make your family’s needs unique and the expected length of each shift into account. After determining what you feel is acceptable, have a conversation with your babysitter before you leave to be sure that you’re both in agreement.


A Nanny’s Perspective on Managing Preschooler Behavior

In the following post, Roxanne Porter, a freelancer and a regular contributor to shares her perspectives on managing preschooler behavior. Roxanne provides knowledge about nanny services and enjoys writing on nanny related articles.  You can be in touch with her at “”.

behaviorWorking with children for many years, puts a person in the unique position of having witnessed many different types of behavior. One of the most challenging periods in a child’s life for parents is the preschool years. Between the mixture of a desire for independence and the developing sense of self-knowledge, it can be hard for a child of this age to express themselves in an appropriate manner when they are experiencing a strong emotion. Additionally, many children between the ages of three and five years old reach a developmental stage in which they prefer to do things that may be beyond their capabilities.

The following suggestions about managing behavior are provided to help parents of preschoolers take advantage of the knowledge that nannies have gained from years of experience in working with children.

1. Set defined limits-Children of any age need to know what is expected on them. However, too many or overly complicated rules can be confusing. At the preschool level, it is best to stick to a rule for each year of a child’s age. A rule that they should help to clean up after playing is a good one to begin with at first.

2. Use frequent reminders-Young children are only beginning to learn to follow rules. Therefore, it is important for a parent to remember that they may need to hear the same rule over and over again until they learn.

3. Model good behavior-Children are always observing. In order to get a child to perform a desired behavior, such as sharing or cleaning up, a parent should first perform the act in front of the child. This will give them a visual understanding of what good behavior looks like. In many instances, a preschooler will immediately mimic this behavior.

4. Prevent tantrums-Public tantrums are one of the more challenging behaviors that a child can present. Many times, a tantrum occurs when a child becomes overly tired, hungry or bored. Before going out in public, a parent should always make sure that their child’s needs are met. This will help to prevent the frustration that often builds before a tantrum occurs out of a need for release.

5. Make it fun-Many positive behaviors can be taught by parents who use innovative and engaging games. For example, clean-up time can be made fun when a parent plays music or sets a timer. Additionally, a child is more likely to eat their food when they help to prepare parts of it themselves.

Preschool behavior may be uncharted territory for many parents who are surprised by their child’s sudden need for independence. However, by setting clear rules and helping their child to learn them by using fun and soothing techniques, a parent can easily help their child to learn to regulate their behavior so that they can enjoy their experiences together.





30 Blogs for Preschool Activity Ideas

Paul Taylor, provider of the following guest post, is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Paul regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to nanny service by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at

preschoolEager to learn and filled with curiosity, preschool children can present quite a challenge when it comes to keeping them entertained and out of trouble.

During this stage of their life, children are still learning about the world around them through play and structured activities, and having a variety of activities to keep them engaged and entertained is a must; through the virtual village that is the blogosphere, parents and childcare providers have access to a wealth of educational and entertaining activity ideas. The following 30 blogs prominently feature entries covering such subjects, making them a valuable resource for the adults charged with caring for preschoolers.

Indoor Play

Inclement weather and lack of access to safe and open outdoor play space can leave parents and caregivers scrambling for ways to keep housebound kids from going stir crazy. These activities are all structured around the idea of keeping kids engaged indoors, for times when outdoor play simply isn’t feasible.

Outdoor Play

Research conducted by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington indicates that many preschool children have few opportunities to engage in supervised outdoor play, which can support creativity, prevent obesity by discouraging sedentary habits, and strengthen developing motor skills. The benefits of getting young children off the couch and into the great outdoors are numerous; here are five blogs with ideas for active and stimulating outdoor play.

Educational Play

Almost any play that a preschooler engages in provides them with hands-on, real-life learning experiences; however, there are some activities that help kids learn important concepts. Bloggers share their ideas for educational activities in the following five links.

Group Play

While keeping a group of preschoolers entertained and getting along can be a struggle, side-by-side and group play are essential for helping kids learn the socializing skills that they’ll carry with them as they get older. Parents and caregivers can keep tantrums and feuds to a minimum by encouraging structured activity during play dates, making the information included in the following five blog entries quite valuable.

Safe Play

During the preschool years, kids are learning safety skills on a large scale, like fire or water safety, and also the basics of safe play in general. Helping pint-sized daredevils learn to play it safe and passing along the basic rules of safety in general can be done through active play, as detailed in these five posts.

Preschool Prep

If your little one is on the verge of beginning a structured preschool program, it’s likely that quite a bit of your energy is dedicated to helping him prepare for this major milestone. From knowing what to expect to perfecting potty training, these five blog entries can help parents and caregivers get a child on the right track and ready for school.

There are a staggering number of blogs on the Internet with a focus on preschool activities and other relevant topics, so don’t stop here! Check the links section in a favorite blog’s sidebar for others that may be similar.


Many Preschoolers are not Getting Daily Outdoor Activities

outdoorFindings from a recent study, available on line in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, point out that nearly half of our preschool children are not getting enough daily outdoor play.

Researchers conducted a study that analyzed data previously collected in a long-term U.S. study that highlights something already know from other studies-girls have fewer opportunities for outdoor play than boys.

The research team looked at statistics on the outdoor-activity routines of 8,950 children born in 2001 who were tracked through enrollment in kindergarten. The data were deemed to be nationally representative, reflecting the behavior of an estimated 4 million kids.

Researchers interviewed each child’s mother on the frequency and kind of outdoor play experience her child had at 9 months, 2 years and 4 years, and then again once enrolled in kindergarten.

Researchers found that 51 percent of the kids had a daily routine of parent-supervised outdoor play. Girls got less daily outdoor exercise.

According to findings, race was a factor. Children from white families got substantially more outdoor play than children with Asian, black or Hispanic mothers. Asian mothers were 49 percent less likely to take their children outdoors for play, black mothers were 41 percent less likely and Hispanic mothers were 20 percent less likely.

TV viewing habits of children, mothers’ marital status, neighborhood safety issues, or family income levels did not affect findings.

The study authors report that the American Academy of Pediatrics asks doctors take a proactive role in encouraging routine physical activity among kids, particularly outdoor activity, which can be critical to helping children develop motor skills, as well as promoting vision and mental acuity.

“I want to encourage parents to talk to all their child’s caregivers, and to ask about their outdoor playtime experience in the same way they would normally ask about how much their child ate that day and what they learned,” said Pooja Tandon, M.D., M.P.H., pediatrician and researcher, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and acting assistant professor, department of pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, the lead researcher of the study.

Rahil Briggs, a child psychologist with Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, in New York City, agreed that “There’s a very real need for growing children to have outdoor play.”

“Unfortunately, I’m not too surprised with these findings, because of what we already know about the obesity epidemic in this country and all the sedentary activities our children are partaking in with the use of video games, TV, the iPad and all of that,” she said.

“Parents need to change their thinking about outdoor play as a luxury that they can get in for their kids on a Saturday, to something along the lines of a necessity. Many preschoolers are not getting daily outdoor activities,” Briggs said. “We need to know that it has an important impact on our children’s physical health and also on their behavioral development.”

(SOURCES: Pooja Tandon, M.D., M.P.H., pediatrician and researcher, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and acting assistant professor, department of pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle; Rahil Briggs, Psy.D., child psychologist, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, New York City; April 2, 2012, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine online)



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