By Tom Breedlove, Director of Care.com HomePay
The Affordable Care Act has fundamentally changed the way most Americans obtain and pay for health insurance – and that is especially true for nannies and other household employees. Since there is an individual mandate for all citizens to have health insurance (or pay a hefty fine), Open Enrollment is now a big deal every year.
From November 1st through December 15th, nannies can purchase a health insurance policy on the California marketplace to ensure they’re covered beginning January 1, 2018. Nannies that earn less than $48,000 per year can potentially qualify for federal subsidies to lower the cost of their premiums – assuming of course their families are paying them legally.
The other way a nanny can have her health insurance costs lowered is for the family to chip in. Although they are not required to by law, contributing to a nanny’s health insurance premiums benefits both parties because any money paid by the family is considered non-taxable compensation. This means neither the nanny nor the family will have federal or state taxes associated with that portion of the nanny’s pay.
Note: Families that have 2 or more household employees must purchase a group policy through SHOP (at http://www.coveredca.com/forsmallbusiness) if they want their contributions to be non-taxable.
At HomePay, we’re set up to handle health insurance contributions as part of a nanny’s payroll. If you have questions about how this works, or anything else related to payroll or taxes, just reach out to us at (888) 273-3356. We’re happy to help!Read More
On a daily basis when we check the news or social media, we are bombarded with one devastating environmental disaster after another. It seems so consistent that it has us wondering what will happen next? When will “The Big One” strike? The single best thing we can do for our loved ones is to be educated and prepared for an emergency. Your list of loved ones does not just include yourself, your children and your immediate family; it also includes nannies and babysitters, extended family, friends and neighbors. Think about who to share your family plan with and your emergency contact.
Many people wonder what do we prepare for exactly? And how do we begin?
Know what to prepare for. Think about the most common emergencies and what might be unique to where you live. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, there are 13 federally identified threats to Los Angeles that include earthquakes and fires.
Plan for evacuations and locate meeting places. Your family may need to evacuate your home for a number of reasons. Make sure every family member knows where to go. This includes extended family, nannies and babysitters, neighbors and friends that may need to help. Depending on the emergency, your family will need to have multiple meeting places.
Inside the home: During an earthquake, be sure everyone knows to stay away from windows and light fixtures, book cases and any other furniture that can fall over. For children, the best way to prepare for an earthquake is to locate the best place to take cover in each room in the house. What if an earthquake strikes while they are eating dinner? Sleeping in their bedroom? Practice your emergency drill in each room of your home.
If there is a fire in your home, what is the quickest escape route? Show children where to go once they do escape outside.
In your neighborhood: Choose a place in your neighborhood that is easy for family members to meet in case you do need to evacuate your home. It could be a neighbor’s house, a mall parking lot, or by the big tree on the corner of the street.
Outside your neighborhood: What happens if an emergency happens and meeting in your home or your neighborhood meeting spot is not an option? Family members could be spread out at work and school. Choose a place where everyone can meet. This could be a friend’s house, your church or a library. Again, make sure nannies, babysitters and any other caregivers know these plans and where they are. Feel free to include a map along with your emergency phone numbers.
Be sure to have a meeting place outside of your city. You never know when danger can strike and you are far away from home. Do you have relatives or friends that live outside of Los Angeles? If not, then find a few hotels that are easily accessible and have their phone numbers and addresses written down so you do not have to do an internet search in the middle of an evacuation. If you have pets this is especially important. Find pet friendly hotels ahead of time so you will feel confident your whole family, pets included, can evacuate if need be.
If you know ahead of time that you and your family may need to evacuate, don’t wait! Evacuate early to give your family the best chance at staying safe. This also helps to keep roads clear for firefighters or police to move quickly to the hazard so they can do their jobs. If you need to evacuate quickly or at night, don’t be stuck running around looking for shoes, medicine or a flashlight. Have all the important things ready in a bag that is easy to grab.
The Los Angeles Fire Department recommends having the six “P’s” ready.
Also have first aid kits on hand, and consider having emergency grab bags for your office and/or car as well. Make sure that your nanny’s vehicle is also equipped with necessary items!
The American Red Cross has a great website where you can learn how to better prepare yourself depending on what threat or emergency you and your family may be at risk for.
Also be sure to check out the link provided on our Facebook page from The Nanny Doctor about how to speak with children about gun violence. The tips she provides are not just helpful for speaking about gun violence, but all disasters and scary things that children may be exposed to.
If you have any emergency tips, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.Read More
It’s time to celebrate your nanny! National Nanny Recognition Week is September 24-30. This is a special week set aside every year to honor your nanny and show her how much you appreciate everything she does for your family. It’s a time for your children to show gratitude to their nanny for being such a positive role model. Remembering to say “Thank you” to your nanny throughout the year is so important, and here are some ways to make her feel extra fabulous this week!
1. CREATIVE APPRECIATION
If your children are musical, have them sing a song (or write a poem) to thank your nanny. It will make her smile and it’s super creative for the kids to write their own lyrics.
2. DRAW A THANK YOU CARD
Are your children great artists? Have them create a special thank you card for your nanny.
3. PAMPER YOUR NANNY
Is your nanny working 10 hour days? Gift your nanny a relaxing day at the spa or treat her to a massage.
4. GIFT OF EDUCATION
Has your nanny always wanted to take a special class to add to her list of skills or learn another language? Sponsor her to attend the International Nanny Association conference, Save a Little Life CPR Class, take a cooking class, or attend a RIE class.
Tell your nanny how much you appreciate her, and then gift her a bonus or a health insurance stipend to contribute to her well-being.
6. WORDS OF KINDNESS
Simply say thank you and tell your nanny how wonderful she is. It feels good to be loved and hear positive things!
7. PAID DAY OFF
Treat your nanny to a paid day off. Many nannies work long hours, so they will really appreciate finding the time to visit the dentist, get a haircut, or treat them to a mani/pedi. Feeling polished is a win/win for everyone
8. THROW A NANNY PARTY
Decorate the house, make some cupcakes, put on your nannie’s favorite music, and celebrate her awesomeness!
9. DINNER AT A FAVORITE RESTAURANT
Many times nannies spend hours preparing meal plans for the week, grocery shopping, and cooking delicious meals. Treat your nanny to a night off from cooking and send her out to her favorite restaurant.
10. MAKE A DONATION
Do you already spoil your nanny and treat her like part of the family? Maybe there is a cause that is near and dear to your nanny’s heart? You and the kids could donate your time or make a kind donation? Get creative and think outside of the box!
HAVE A FABULOUS WEEK CELEBRATING YOUR EDUCATED NANNIES!Read More
Natalie Oman, LA based mom of two daughters and a yorkie, encourages moms to take 5 minutes (or less) to improve their lives at her Instagram @5minMommy.
Minimalism is all the rage- documentaries on Netflix, Tiny House plans, Facebook Groups and Meetups all dedicated to the practice of minimal living. BUT if you have children, this may seem like mission impossible.
Kids have an uncanny knack for picking up, receiving, holding onto, emotionally attaching to, being obsessed with THINGS. The amount of things my 3 year old encounters on a daily basis are mind boggling. I don’t even understand how 3 year olds didn’t die of boredom before toys. Just kidding. I know how they didn’t die- they developed attention span, relationships, and creativity to play with their environment not toys. It’s crazy though in this world to live like that, right?! I mean, we aren’t living in caves with only sticks and rocks. We want our kids to have the good stuff in life! We want them to enjoy life and not be disadvantaged compared to their peers. BUT do toys, clutter, and more STUFF accomplish those things?
Whelp let me tell you what has happened in our household… Like so many other new parents, we didn’t know what to buy, what we would need, how we would raise our first little girl. So we took the advice of others, received countless hand me downs, and filled up our house with toys and kids books and DVDs and parenting books and all the other things that young families NEED…or do they? I am so grateful for all the gifts lavished upon us when we were building our family. HOWEVER, I wish I had embraced a minimalistic and clutter free way of life before bringing kids into this world – kids who observe my every move. LITERALLY every move. When we moved (5 times in 4 years), I was stuck packing box after box after box of STUFF that I didn’t need, use, or even necessarily want. I remember parking my 18 month old baby girl in front of PBS kids so she wouldn’t need me to hold her every second so I could pack boxes. She wasn’t interested in TV at that point but she gained an interest because mommy was busy with stuff. She realized TV could entertain her and “hold her hand” when she was bored/lonely/etc. Now I’m all for teaching your kids to help, but at 18 months the desire to UNpack is greater than the desire to pack…
I wish I would have created a play space outside of the bedroom that my girls shared when we moved into our first house. Instead all the toys were kept in their room but when the littlest was sleeping, the oldest would watch TV because she didn’t have her own space to play. I wish I would have “thinned the herd” of toys BEFORE we moved. I wish I would have made donating toys a regular weekly/monthly habit, not a traumatic, once-in-a-great-while thing. I wish I would have had my girls practice making gifts/cards instead of buying our friends and family more toys/things.
So needless to say, I am on this journey with you. Starting is the hardest part. Here is what I have learned on the first part of my mission to live Minimalist with Kids.
Communicate Your Why
Children have an incredible capacity for memory. If you repeat your reasons, your positives, your mantras, kids will learn them. They are subconscious little sponges that soak up and apply everything they hear. As they are watching TV, attending school, and live in our consumer-obsessed culture, they are absorbing and implementing that culture in their own life. How much MORE do we need to refocus them on our new family practice of minimalism. Write notes on the mirror saying “people not stuff” or post in the kitchen “joy not clutter” or in the car say “contentment not consumerism”.
Remind them of the joy of giving and donating. Travel and show them the poverty that surrounds them so they can be grateful with what they have. Watch documentaries or listen to podcasts about intentional living and minimalism. Make up songs, repeat catchy sayings, and fill your home with posts reminding your family of the WHY.
Teach By Example
Kids are pretty smart- when it comes to implementation, they can catch a hypocrite red-handed. Part of the reason to Communicate Your Why is to have them keep you accountable. Show them how you ENJOY purging, selectively buying, choosing your obligations, putting away your few possessions, decluttering, stressing less, and embracing minimalism in your own life. If you don’t ENJOY it, how can you expect them to want to do it too? When you purge the house of your own useless belongings, kids will notice a difference. Start with your own adult possessions, move onto office/kitchen/living rooms and let kids see how it affects your life and demeanor.
Also, decide how minimal you want yourself and family to be. Are you going to only have one chair in your living room and 3 t-shirts to wear? Are you going to have a limit on how much you store in the garage/basement/attic? Are you going to focus on the purging or the selective buying? One size does NOT fit all when it comes to Minimalism. Each family is different so you have to choose what works for you.
Make it FUN not a chore
“Fill this box with toys to get rid of” and “clean up these toys or I’m throwing them away!” and “I’m giving this away because you don’t like it” are all phrases that have come out of my mouth in the frustration of decluttering. Does that seem like a conscious choice for my kids or a dictator deciding for them? Would you want to declutter if your mom is a stressed out crazy person wielding the power of throwing away toys willie nillie??? As the previous steps explain, they need to understand the WHY and they need to see your EXAMPLE.
Try giving them a purpose for decluttering. We had a friend with a new baby that we were going to give some toys to. I showed my girls a picture of the little newborn baby and told them to fill up a small box of things that this new baby could use or like. It was amazing how fast they filled up the box. I’ve also asked for toys to be donated to school/church so that they can play with those toys when they go there. Much easier to get rid of a toy in their room if they can see it when they get to school/church.
Have a Plan
As with any new habit or lifestyle, you have to have a plan. It is fine to declutter at Spring Cleaning, but if you want to LIVE a LIFE of Minimalism, you need to have a plan on how to implement it on a daily basis. Cleaning up toys before dinner, weekly house decluttering, monthly donations, volunteering with the poor, traveling to see other standards of living, cultivating your lifestyle with like minded people. Figure out what you want to do when the kids receive gifts, gather nature items, get hand me downs, take home artwork, get party favors. Write a new list of gift ideas for birthdays and holidays that include more experiences, memberships, savings plans, clothes, and toys that will grow with them. Teach them how to save and buy something they really want- the patience and sacrifice required will teach him about the value of money and bring them more joy when obtained.
Embrace and enjoy a life of minimalism. Lead your kids with your own lifestyle and show them your own enjoyment and contentment. Minimalism with kids is a MISSION POSSIBLE but it will look different for every child/person/family.Read More
Ring, Ring! We are official Back to School! To set our families up for success, we’ve compiled some nanny tips and tricks for back to school. Nannies play an important role in transitioning from summer vacation to the school year. Summer vacation is highly anticipated, but the start of the school year might be partnered with some initial excitement and also some fears.
Drop-Offs and Pick-Ups: There is a YouTube video of a teacher from North Carolina, Mr. White, who greets his students with a unique handshake at the beginning of each day. The video shows him bringing joy to each student as he does individualized handshakes with each student. How fun would it be to create a handshake when you drop-off and/or pick-up the children in your care at school? Like Mr. White, you will connect with the child’s heart, bring a smile to their face, joy to their day, and memories to last a lifetime.
Lunch: To express your care throughout the day write a joke, riddle, or encouragement on a piece of paper and include it in their lunchbox. Does the child your caring for like puzzles or games? Put a puzzle piece in the child’s lunchbox each day and he will look forward to watching the picture come together as the days unfold.
Engaging After School. When you pick kids up from school you want to know about their day, but instead of asking a generic question like “How was school today?” which often elicits a one word response, try asking specific questions like, “Tell me about the student that sits next to you in school,” “Who is the funniest person in your class?” or “What was your favorite part of lunch?” Make a game and by writing questions down on paper, put them in a jar, and have the children pick a question out and answer it. This would also be a great time to follow up with the joke, riddle, or puzzle piece you put in their lunch as well.
After School Plans: The first couple of weeks of school are very exhausting, and children are buzzing from the new experiences, challenges, and routines. Plan the week so kids know what to expect but leave room to be spontaneous. Make sure to gauge their need for stimulation versus time to rest.
Do you have your own tips and tricks? We invite you to post on Instagram and tag Educated Nannies. We want to hear from you!Read More
It’s no secret that physical activity can improve your health and is important at every age. If you’ve always exercised before you were pregnant, but now worry about how much to too much while your pregnant, 360 Fit Haus offers some terrific tips.
Did you know that Pilates is one of the best and safest forms of exercise both during pregnancy and afterwards? We have seen an increased number of pregnant women turning to Pilates to stay fit and healthy both during and after their pregnancies.
In pre-natal Pilates, we focus on building up deep abdominal strength to support the weight of the baby; strengthening the lower back and pelvic floor muscles that are used during labor and delivery; creating postural support as the weight of the growing baby continues to pull the spine out of alignment; and doing targeted stretches for the hips, buttocks, lower back, and any other areas of the body that experience pregnancy-related aches and pains. Because Pilates can be modified for anyone’s ability, it’s safe to undertake if you haven’t been extremely active leading up to your pregnancy; or, we can continue with more athletic workouts as appropriate for your current fitness level. Additionally, pre-natal Pilates helps you calm your mind and improve your mind-body connection, learn how to breathe deeply, and increase circulation to the fetus. These are skills that will be helpful during and after labor and delivery. If you have never done Pilates before, it will be important for you to find a pre-natal Pilates class or an instructor who can give you a lot of one on one attention. It is not recommended that you begin doing Pilates on your own if you haven’t already worked with the fundamentals. Most Pilates exercises can be modified as your body and abilities change, so be sure to communicate with your instructor if you feel tired, out of breath, dizzy, or otherwise unwell.
Engaging Transverse Abdominal Muscles & Pelvic Floor
The transverse abdominal muscles are the deepest layer of the abs, and are felt to be working at the belly button and below. These lower abdominal muscles are the ones you feel when you cough. It is very important for pre-natal moms to work on their TA muscles, especially if there is a risk of diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal wall). We like to use a ball between the inner thighs for these exercises to help engage the abdominal muscles along with the inner thighs and pelvic floor.
1. Using Breath to Activate Lower Abdominals
You should feel like your stomach muscles are pulling into the body, not pushing outward. Squeeze the ball so you can feel some inner thigh resistance, and take a long inhale through your nose for 5 counts. Exhale 5 short exhales strongly through your mouth. Aim for 5-10 sets of this breath work.
2. Finding and Strengthening The Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor muscles are the foundation for the core of the body. They both help stabilize the pelvis and support the organs of the lower abdominal cavity. This supportive hammock of muscles, tendons, and ligaments are at the base of the pelvic bowl. Despite being so important, the pelvic floor muscles can be hard to feel! While seated, think of pulling the two bones in the bottom of your bottom together and up, like you are drawing the energy from your inner thighs up through the center of your pelvis to your belly, and then out through the crown of the head. The muscles strengthen gradually, so try to contract 15-20 reps, 3-4 times each day.
3. Mini Roll-Back/Roll-Back with Twist
Squeeze the ball and press your feet firmly against the mat as you start to round out your lower back and curl back towards the mat on an exhale. Go back until you feel the abdominal muscles, inhale as you pause in that position, then exhale as you return to the upright seated position. 8-10 reps.
Add in a rotation to challenge the obliques, or the muscles you feel in the sides of the waistline. Rotate towards one side, then curl back towards the mat on an exhale. Pause in that position as you inhale, then exhale to sit back up. Alternate sides, 8-10 reps each side.
4. Side Lying Hip Work
Lie on your side with your head on your arm for support. Use a small rolled up towel or pillow under your head if you need better support for your neck. Bend the underneath leg for stability and place your hand on the ball in front of you to keep some challenge in the abdominals. Make sure your hips are facing the same direction, as the top hip in particular loves to roll back in this position! Lift your top leg until you feel the glute and inner thigh muscles working on an exhale, then hover it over the mat when you come back down on the inhale. 10-15 reps on each side.
Pilates is beneficial post-partum in terms of helping you recover from the physical and emotional demands of childbirth. Due to Pilates’ focus on pelvic stability and correct abdominal engagement, we can gently strengthen the pelvic floor and abdominal wall muscles that got stretched out during pregnancy. We can also work on re-engaging the deep abdominal muscles if you delivered by C-section. This focus on correct abdominal engagement and pelvic floor recruitment will contribute to a flatter stomach, a trimmer silhouette, and bladder control. We also work to quickly build up arm and upper back strength for bending, lifting, and carrying your baby. Post-natal Pilates will increase your athletic endurance, help you release stress and sleep better, and improve your overall emotional and mental state.
Start off on all fours. Line up the shoulders over the hands, and the hips over the knees. On an exhale, round the spine up towards the ceiling without moving the shoulders or hips. On an inhale, stretch the spine as if the chest is pulling towards the fingertips and the tailbone is reaching towards the ceiling. Repeat 5-6 times.
Start off on all fours. Line up the shoulders over the hands, and the hips over the knees. The spine and pelvis are in a neutral position, so the ribs and belly are lifting away from the floor, while the shoulders are pressing apart to engage the lat muscles under the armpits. Without moving the hips, ribs, or supporting thigh bone, slowly extend one leg out behind you on the exhale, letting the toes stay on the mat. Inhale to return to your starting position. Alternate 8-10 reps. This is a great exercise for learning how to stabilize the new shape of your hips, as well as strengthening the upper body to carry the baby. Modification: If your wrists are uncomfortable with the arms straight, drop down to your forearms.
A qualified Pilates instructor (look for someone with a Pilates Method Alliance-approved comprehensive teaching credential) can help you prepare your body for the changes it undergoes during the prenatal period, the rigors of childbirth, and the needed rehabilitation after your baby is here! Experience a fit and healthy pregnancy and beyond with Pilates for Moms at 360 Fit Haus. 1400 Colorado Blvd. Suite C Los Angeles, CA 90041. firstname.lastname@example.org / 323.474.6315
Dr. Agnes Scoville, MD, is a mom, a doctor, a veteran, and creator of Pacidose. Here is a guide to safely and accurately give your child medication
How to give Medicine to a baby
Giving liquid medicine to an infant can be very frustrating. If you are having difficulty with this, you are not alone! Many medical studies show that babies frequently get the wrong dose of medicine, in part because they spit it out. This article will give some helpful hints and other general information about medication safety and will show you that there’s a new way to get the medicine to go down, fuss free, with Pacidose.
What is the best way to measure the right dose of medicine for my child?
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) both recommend that liquid medicine for babies be given in milliliters only. Use a standard oral syringe to measure the medicine. Teaspoons and tablespoons are confusing and inaccurate. The syringe on Pacidose has one side for milliliters (mL) and the other side for teaspoons (tsp) because some doctors still use teaspoons.
Avoid transferring medicine between devices because some will be lost in the process. That’s why an oral syringe plugs directly into Pacidose—no transferring. Also, other standard syringes from pharmacies should fit in the same connector. The Pacidose syringe is 5 milliliters (5 mL). A 10 mL syringe will also fit, so if you have an older child that needs more than 5 mL in a single dose, you can ask for that in a pharmacy or from your doctor. You can also ask your doctor if the medication comes in a higher concentration so the volume you give is less.
Always measure twice. After you draw up the medicine, check the measurement again. Apply a piece of tape to the outside of the syringe to help you remember the exact dose. This makes measuring really easy in the middle of the night.
Now attach the oral syringe to Pacidose. You are ready to give medicine to your infant the easy way.
If you do not have Pacidose, you can try to put the medicine in the side of your baby’s mouth, but the taste will be strong and he or she might spit the medicine right back out.
How else can I get my baby to take the medicine without a fight?
Give the medication when your child is hungry. And remove any distractions from the room. Sit down in a chair and hold your baby so you can easily introduce Pacidose. If you are relaxed your baby will be relaxed.
What if my baby won’t use a Pacifier?
If your baby does not use a pacifier, introduce Pacidose by loading the syringe with something familiar to your baby first. Let him or her drink the familiar liquid first, and get used to it. When comfortable with that liquid then load Pacidose with the medicine. Pacidose is still easier than a hard syringe!
Why can’t I just put the medicine in my baby bottle?
Here’s the problem. What if your baby then doesn’t drink the whole bottle? Then you still have the same issue: you don’t know how much your baby got because it’s now diluted with other liquid.
What if I ask the pharmacist to flavor the medicine for my baby?
Flavors work for some babies, but not all. And, if you’ve ever tasted them, you’ll agree it’s still not easy to get it down. Also, some flavoring agents contain dyes and other chemical agents.
Are there other ways to disguise the taste of medicine for my child?
Sure, you can do a few other things. Give you baby a Popsicle before the medicine to numb the taste buds. The same goes for the medicine. Put the medication in the refrigerator. Cold liquids don’t taste as strong.
Pacidose bypasses most of the taste buds and places the medicine on the back of the tongue. So you can chill the meds, chill the mouth and use Pacidose for a triple whammy to minimize rejection.
What if my baby spits up even something easy like Tylenol?
Try all the techniques above. If your baby has actually swallowed the medicine and is vomiting it back up, it becomes a little trickier. Most liquid is absorbed from the stomach in about an hour. If that time has past your child likely retained the full dose. If less time has passed, call your doctor to determine a re-dosing schedule or ask for a suppository.
How to give medicine to a toddler?
Older kids can sometimes be harder to medicate than infants because they are stronger and want more control. A toddler who refuses medicine can be a real challenge.
You can do three things. First, tell them the truth: they need the medicine if they want to feel better. And it may not taste good, but they need to take it. Once a child is about 3, he or she can understand logic so this sometimes works. You can also play the grown up card. “Being a grown up boy or girl means you have to do things sometimes that are hard.” Third, give a little control. Your toddler can choose when to take it, (before or after bath time) or choose which liquid to drink after the dose. You can offer milk or juice in Pacidose or from a cup as a chaser. Or a palate cleanser, as I liked to call it.
Are there any other tricks to help my older child take medicine?
Don’t forget the Oscar awards. Your child can play the doctor and give a stuffed animal the “medicine” (water). You can help your child draw up the liquid and give it to a stuffed animal. Miraculously the stuffed animal will dance around with joyful health.
What about over the counter medicine for cold and flu to my baby?
Avoid over the counter medicines for your young child. Many studies show that cold medications for kids under 6 are not helpful and may be harmful. You should check with your doctor for any medications that are not specifically recommended. A better way to treat runny nose, cough, and congestion is lots of TLC, fluids, rest and room humidifiers.
Lastly, it goes without saying, but I will say it. Keep all medicines and nonfood items out of reach of your kids. Be smart with you little ones.
A guest post by Betsy Smith
Betsy blogs about respectful parenting and homeschooling her two children (ages 2.5 and 4) at www.bugandbabygirl.com and chronicles some of their many adventures on Instagram at @bug.and.babygirl
No one told me to expect a baby who was so decidedly his own person. But, from the day he was born, it was undeniable that my son had his own ideas and preferences, his own likes and dislikes… which, as a scared and exhausted first time mom, seemed to boil down to disliking everything and liking to cry any time he was awake! But the more I paid attention, the more I noticed he was consistently calmed by being laid down on his back to wiggle and look around, by being spoken to conversationally about what we were doing, and simply by being outside. He didn’t want to sit in a swing. He didn’t want gadgets, gizmos, and entertainment; he wanted connection, respect, and freedom.
He wanted this crazy, new world to slow down long enough for him to take it all in. He wanted me to stop worrying about what I was supposed to do with a baby all day and just put him on a blanket beneath a tree so he could gnaw on his hands and watch the light peeking through the leaves.
It went against everything I had been taught about parenting, but I started to listen. I started to do less and trust more. I started to follow rather than blindly lead.
When I discovered RIE, shortly before my son’s first birthday, I wanted to exclaim, “This is it!! This is what you’ve been trying to tell me!” It was so affirming to find an entire philosophy that supported the choices that he had pointed me toward. And the discovery couldn’t have come at a better time: right at the onset of the toddler stage, when the RIE emphasis on consistent, respectful limit setting has transformed a notoriously “terrible” phase of development into one that I absolutely delight in, and in advance of the arrival of my second, allowing me to implement the fundamentals of RIE from birth with her.
There are plenty of sources for a more informed and articulate overview of the principles of RIE than I could provide, so rather than fumble through an amateur answer to the question, “What is RIE?,” I would rather tell you why RIE; what about this style resonated with me as a first — and then a second — time mom and why it has worked so well for our family.
1. The notion that babies are whole people
I once had a woman, toting an infant carseat, chase me down in the parking lot of Target and say, “I just wanted to tell you that I love how you talk to your kids like people.” I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but the frequency with which strangers feel compelled to comment on how I speak to my children “like people” makes me want to ask, “How else I would talk to them?!”
It has made me realize how countercultural this perspective I’ve come to take for granted – that babies are people – truly is. In the mainstream parenting world, we refer to our babies as “blobs.” We give them kisses that they pull away from. We swoop in and pick them up when they are intently focused on something, without a word and without the slightest reservation about what we might be interrupting. We talk about them (and even about older children) in front of them as if they aren’t there. We dismiss their feelings and their ideas. In those, and countless other ways, we treat babies like we would never treat other people. Certainly not people we respect or care for.
2. The belief that children – even babies – deserve respect
At my baby shower, I was given a pacifier that said NO WHINING. The uproar of laughter it elicited from the group made me uncomfortable in a way that I wasn’t yet able to put my finger on.
That feeling was my gateway to RIE; that nagging sense that this baby deserved more respect than our culture had tried to make me believe.
I do my damnedest to treat everyone I encounter with respect. Why wouldn’t I treat my own child that way?
It isn’t as if it’s terribly radical. It simply means that I speak to and with my children rather than at and about them. I acknowledge their feelings and preferences (even when I can’t or won’t accommodate them). I do my best leave them undisturbed when they are focused on an activity. I say “please” and “thank you.” I give them the benefit of the doubt. And, in general, I treat them how I would like to be treated.
3. The reminder to trust
This is a scary one… or at least it can be for me! Parenting has become as competitive as anything else in our culture and it is hard to ignore the “earlier is better” messages that we are bombarded with at every turn, to let go of the temptation to compare our babies to others, and, instead, just trust. Trust that they are capable; that they know themselves; and that they will walk, talk, and learn their ABCs when they are ready.
We have convinced ourselves that our babies can learn only what we teach, ignoring completely the curiosity, ability, and drive to make sense of the world that they all come to us with. Trust asks us to give that back to them, to let go of the race to be first, to take a backseat and wait for them to show us what they are working on and what, if any, support they need.
4. The view of children as capable
At our old house, we had a steep driveway that my son would run up and down nearly as soon as he could walk. Neighbors used to marvel at his balance and coordination, asking how I taught him to navigate the incline.
I didn’t teach him, I told them. I just let him do it.
We do our children a disservice when we default to assuming they can’t do things, or that they can only do them with our help. Children are capable of so much when they’re given opportunities to try…and opportunities to try again when they don’t get it “right” the first time!
My children are confident that they have the ability to master new skills because their experience and my attitude have affirmed that. They are also extraordinary helpers because I’ve never questioned whether they are capable of putting their own clothes in the hamper, cleaning up toys, carrying in groceries, or wiping up spills!
5. The role of limit setting
There is a common misconception that respectful parenting is permissive. It isn’t. I would go as far as to argue that permissive parenting is disrespectful because it ignores a child’s desire (or, frankly, his need) to make sense of the world around him, something that becomes nearly impossible without predictability and limits.
The way this looks different in RIE than it does in mainstream parenting is that I don’t just set limits and expect my children to follow them. I set limits and I take on the responsibility of enforcing them. This allows me to hold limits from a place or guidance rather than one of judgment, frustration, or anger. This also means that, when a limit isn’t followed, I don’t heap blame on my child; I examine what I could be doing differently to better support and set him up for success.
It means, instead of saying, “Don’t you dare throw that ball in the house,” and then doling out a punishment when my toddler can’t stop himself, saying, “I can’t let you throw the ball inside,” then actually not letting him by calmly taking the ball and, whenever possible, honoring the impulse with, “Let’s go play ball in the yard.”
6. The value placed on observation
There seems to be this expectation that mothers will instantly “know” our children when they are born; who they are, what they need, and how best to love them. That is a charming idea, I suppose, except that I don’t think I truly know anything that I haven’t taken the time to study. When I care about something, I want to learn everything I can. And that doesn’t happen by magic; it happens by asking questions, listening, and observing.
Sure, there are plenty of resources out there that tell us what most babies are like. But I’m not the mother of most babies. I am the mother of two. And the only way to learn who these two people are is to go to the source.
7. The space for natural gross motor development
Demanding ownership of his gross motor development by refusing to be propped, sat, and walked is probably the way that my son most clearly pointed me to RIE.
Even at five and six months, when so many babies love being propped up to sit, he would immediately throw himself back down and get up on his hands and knees. He had been “ahead” on every other milestone and (what felt like) the whole world seemed worried that he wasn’t sitting. Our pediatrician was adamant that I “teach” him but, even before discovering RIE, I didn’t feel right putting him in a position he so forcefully rejected, so I shrugged my shoulders and told her he seemed more interested in figuring out how to crawl.
And, sure enough, he sat up completely on his own within days of crawling…just like his baby sister did a year and a half later.
Once he could stand and cruise, well-meaning family and friends tried to take him by the hands and walk him but, every time, my RIE-hearted baby withdrew his hands. When they persisted, he sat, insisting in the only way he knew how that he would do it himself when he was ready…which, of course, he did.
After having that experience with my son and after trusting my second, from birth, to own her gross motor development, nothing seems more natural. Why on earth wouldn’t we trust our babies to know what their bodies are ready to do? Why wouldn’t we give them the confidence that comes from discovering, not only that they can sit, crawl, stand, and walk, but that they can do it on their own?
8. The importance of independent play
This can be a particularly difficult idea for parents to wrap their heads around. We are told that we have to entertain our babies, that we have to stimulate their brains at all times, that boredom is a danger and stillness is the enemy of development. The notion that you would just lay a baby down on a blanket with one or two simple toys and say, “I’ll be right in the kitchen if you need me,” feels tantamount to saying, “I don’t care about my child’s development.”
But it simply isn’t the case!
I have been amazed at how they will entertain themselves, and would even as babies. Allowing them to play independently isn’t just not neglecting them; it’s actually serving them in so many ways. It communicates that their ideas and their pursuits are important and worthy if time. It allows them to focus on a task without distractions. It affirms that I see them as capable individuals.
9. The ability to be an ally
This is not strictly one of the tenets of RIE, but has been a byproduct of the philosophy for our family. Instead of feeling like I am at odds with my children, with our desires or agendas in opposition, the foundation of trust and respect that our relationship is built upon allows me to be on their team even when we disagree. It allows me to discipline from a place of compassion and connection. I take seriously my responsibility to guide and teach my children, and RIE has made it possible for me to do those things as their ally rather than their adversary.
RIE has been a gift to our family in so many way, but this one is, perhaps, the greatest.Read More
With Father’s Day around the corner we asked one of our dad friends to share what Father’s Day means to him. Our guest, Cole Johnson is a father of seven sweet children and husband to his high school sweetheart, Daisha, whom he has been married to for 15 years. Cole loves playing ukulele with his eldest daughter, coaching his son’s football team and taking his youngest on walks to find bugs. Here are his thoughts on the meaning of Father’s Day!
Father’s Day was never a big deal to me and I never really appreciated it until one stressful weekend when I was traveling and couldn’t be with my family. My wife and kids had never done much for me on Father’s Day – a finger-painting of me, a cheap tie, maybe some pancakes and a card – so I didn’t think I would miss it much. But when the day came and went without any new socks, a homemade oven mitt, or even a quick and sticky hug from one of my littles… I about died from loneliness.
As I sat lumped upon the hotel bed watching an infomercial and thinking about my wife and kids a profound gloominess began to overtake me. At that point I recognized Father’s Day for what it was. A day I was thanked, a day to be seen, a day to be filled up. As a self-proclaimed emotionally unflappable man I recognized that I wasn’t immune to the severe need to be loved and appreciated or to have a special day set apart just for me. Like my wife and children I wanted – nay, REQUIRED – an occasional reminder that I’m missed, respected, and even adored. The love I’d felt on previous Father’s Days was the oil that kept my Dad-mobile running smoothly. A vehicle that requires very little maintenance and runs on just a few drops of gratitude and affection.
For dads, the little things ARE the big things. There may not be any ‘big things’ for fathers; kids can’t further their dad’s career, make the car payment, or even fix the dishwasher. But, on Father’s Day, our children have the perfect opportunity to thank us for what we do and love us for how we do them. Those homemade clay mugs and handprint collages may be the only tokens of the ‘what’, the ‘how’, and the ‘why’ we work so hard in our career, make the car payment, and fiddle with the appliances.
For Father’s Day this year I couldn’t be more excited to eat an over-cooked omelet, or try to decipher a messy crayon drawing, and maybe get a some snuggles from a quiver of stinky kids. Not because those things are a big deal but because these tiny acts are the ONLY deal. Father’s Day is my kids’ day once a year to thank me, fill my tank, and keep me going for 364 more. I learned my lesson and will never be away from my family again on Father’s Day weekend!
Happy Father’s Day to all of the very special dads who make life a little sweeter.Read More
Summer is coming up fast which mean families will be traveling with their nanny on vacation. Confusion may arise on how to properly pay the nanny for her time and accommodations. Here are 5 tips for paying a nanny when she travels with a family.
Talk about expectations before the trip. The nanny is going with the family for a reason – to watch their kids. A vacation probably throws her normal schedule off quite a bit. It’s important that both parties go over the itinerary of the trip in advance. She needs to know what times of the day she’ll likely work, any activities that are planned for the kids, and when she can expect to have free time of her own.
Airfare, meals and hotel are paid by the family. A nanny is a household employee. If she’s required to travel with the family, they must pay for her airfare, food and hotel accommodations. It’s essentially the same thing as a business trip.
Know when she’s on and off the clock. This can be confusing for some families because the worksite isn’t their home. The nanny is on the clock for the time she is traveling and any other time she is not able to come and go as she pleases. This even includes time spent sitting on a lounge chair by the pool watching the kids with a lemonade in her hand.
Don’t forget about overtime. While the family is on vacation, it’s important to keep track of the nanny’s hours in case overtime needs to be accounted for. Nannies are paid overtime for all hours worked over 9 in a day and/or 40 in a week. Also, a nanny’s hours can’t roll over to the next week to avoid overtime. That’s a violation of federal labor law and can get the family in trouble.
Make sure the nanny has some time off. This is vacation for the family, but it isn’t for the nanny. She’s still working and needs a break every now and then. Families should plan to let their nanny be on her own for a few hours and take their kids on several family-only activities. This will this give the nanny some time to recharge her batteries and do something that interests her.
We know that keeping track of hours and remembering some of these labor laws may be difficult while trying to focus on having fun on vacation. If you need a timesheet, help with determining on-the-clock versus off-the-clock hours, or getting an idea of what your nanny’s pay may be during an upcoming vacation, HomePay is here to help! Just reach out to us at (888) 273-3356 or visit us online at www.myhomepay.com.Read More