Monthly Archives: November 2014

Kids And Dogs : Do They Mix ?

For dog lovers, it’s often the big question : Do dogs and kids mix ? The answer, well, there’s no clear one.

 

Different breeds do have different temperaments, and within that, dogs in the same breed may differ in nature too. As with all aspects of parenting, the key is to do your research, ask for professional advice where needed (preferably before letting them loose on each other!) and always use common sense.

 

The best breeds

There are a number of dog breeds that have a reputation as great family dogs, with Labradors, beagles, bulldogs, golden retrievers and pugs being some of the most popular.

 

Do bear in mind that you should also consider if the dog is suitable for your lifestyle. An active dog that needs regular exercise and a large yard is obviously not a great option if you’re in an apartment, even if they are the most child-friendly dog around.

 

Before deciding on any dog, think not just about if the dog will be good for your family, but if your home will be good for the dog.

 

Personality traits

Any dog, regardless of their breed, does need to be trained (at least to some extent). Most vets run puppy training schools which are great for newly arrived pups.

 

If you are looking to bring home an older dog (we love rescue dogs), do ask for their profile before you commit. You want to find out if they are trained and if they have any particular traits you need to know about. A dog that is needy for instance, may suddenly become a lot more demanding when a baby arrives and they don’t have your full attention.

 

When dog comes first

Of course, if you already have a dog before your children have arrived, don’t despair if they aren’t high up on the list of child-friendly options. There are plenty of dogs that are absolutely fine with kids, even if they still prefer to curl up next to you.

 

If you do have any concerns about your dog’s behaviour, pre or post-children, do speak to your vet, to see if there is anything that can be done to calm the dog if needed, or help make a better transition to a family household. And if they do show signs of aggressive behaviour, it’s essential to seek professional advice immediately.

 

Kids and dogs can be great together, and there are plenty of benefits of bringing a canine friend into the family. An active dog will help the family stay active; children can learn to care for animals, and the unbounded loyalty and affection of a dog will never go astray.

After School Care : Some Helpful Tips

So you’re ready to start the school years. While in some respects it promises to be easier than the early child care dilemmas you may have navigated, after school child care can also be a tricky area ( yep, not what you wanted to hear ! ).

 

Demand is high and places are limited. And that’s why many parents look to other options. To find great after school child care, why not think outside the square? A babysitter, nanny or even a shared arrangement with family members or friends might be just the solution you need.

 

Family and friends

Family and friends are often the first point of call when looking for after school child care. Ask around to see if there is anyone who might be interested. You might be surprised who responds.

 

Look to other parents

Once you have started school and have got to know the other parents, you might even suggest sharing the care. Perhaps you could look after a few kids one afternoon a week, with each parent having a dedicated day. It’s certainly an option when money is tight and one that many parents find easy and convenient.

 

Hire a babysitter – or two

For those without available friends or family members, a babysitter is often the first option for after school care, but if you’re having trouble finding someone who is regularly available on the days you need, why not split the job. You may have more luck finding two people who are available for a few shifts each, and as a bonus, there could be a backup should one of them ever be unavailable.

 

University students can sometimes be a good option here. Just be sure to check references, and outline the exact nature of the role. If you do need someone to pick up the kids after school for instance, you may need someone older who has their own car.

 

Get professional

For a more qualified level of child care, especially for multiple children, you may want to consider hiring a nanny. Just be aware that as soon as you hire anyone on a permanent basis (even if they are part-time) you are legally an employer, so you will need to deduct tax, and ideally have a contract.

 

Of course, whichever path you choose for after school child care, it’s worth keeping your options open, and remaining flexible. You might have thought you’d only ever be comfortable with grandparent support for instance, only to find a great nanny who is affordable, professional and an asset to the whole family.

Common Babysitter Problems And How To Avoid Them

Good communication is imperative when you hire someone to look after your children, be it a full-time nanny or occasional babysitter. You love your children, you know them better than anyone else, and you’re pretty darn sure you know what’s best for them, thank you very much!

 

So when a babysitter suddenly does something to disrupt your best-laid plans, it can be more than a little frustrating. Rather than fire them on the spot though, it’s better to stay calm – and communicate.

 

Here are the most common problems with some great advice on how to get through them.

 

Ignoring your preferences

One shining example is when a sitter ignores your preferences, such as with the discipline strategy.

 

The first step in avoiding this issue is to bring it up at interview stage. Ask the sitter how they discipline, share how you do it and see if they are happy to follow your lead. If you don’t discuss things properly first, there are bound to be issues. We are all different after all and have been raised in different ways!

 

If you seem to be on the same page but still find the sitter is doing things their way, sit down and ask them why. You might review your strategy for certain situations. Or if needed, run through some specific examples to show them exactly what you mean.

 

Scheduling tactics

We all know that a schedule is pretty much a parent’s best friend. You need to run through the schedule before the sitter starts work, to make sure they are clear on all details. It can be a good idea to write this down and leave a copy with them at all times.

 

If the sitter seems to be doing things that are disrupting your preferred schedule, you’ll need to sit down and have a chat. You may find they have a very good reason to do what they are doing. Re-evaluate the schedule and check that your expectations are fair and reasonable.

 

Money, money, money

Money can certainly be a tricky one. As before, setting out all aspects of the pay (including overtime and pay reviews) is essential before your sitter starts, and if they are going to be working permanently for you, a contract is a smart idea.

 

Calm and controlled

In dealing with your nanny or sitter, the most important thing is good communication from day one.

 

You have a lot riding on the success of this relationship, and when it’s about your children’s welfare, you are obviously emotionally involved. Good preparation and patience will help see you through and hopefully build a successful relationship for everyone.

How To Find The Perfect Nanny Job

Just as parents need to make some effort to find the perfect nanny, nannies who take the time to thoroughly prepare for the job search and interview process are going to be in a much better position to find that perfect nanny job.

 

Here are just a few tips to help you get to the interview stage for a nanny job, and beyond.

 

Decide on what you want

The first step is to be clear on what sort of job you want before you start applying. Write down a list that covers your available days and hours, your flexibility, suitable locations (or how far you are happy to travel), ideal wage bracket, preferred number and age of children.

 

Consider if you are flexible enough to adapt your nannying style to different households. And finally, write a list of things you definitely don’t want to do (cleaning for instance).

 

The job search

Once you have a clear focus, it’s time to start the job search. Narrow down job listings into those that best fit your criteria. Prepare yourself before making the call and always phone with a pen and paper next to you so that you can write down notes and confirm interview date, address and a contact number.

 

The first impression

First impressions count. As a nanny, you’ll be interacting with children, so you need clothes that fit the bill. Having said that, professionalism pays, so for the interview opt for something like smart pants and a nice shirt rather than anything too casual.

 

Always arrive a few minutes early, and if there is a completely unforeseen circumstance that means you’ll be late, phone ahead immediately.

 

Fully prepare

Before heading to the interview, read the advertisement again to be sure you are clear on the basic facts, and write down a list of questions. Asking questions will help clarify all aspects of the role, and show that you are interested and enthusiastic.

 

Practice makes perfect

During an interview you will be asked an assortment of questions, and it’s a good idea to have a think about possible answers beforehand. The following are just a few examples of the sorts of questions you might come across:

  • What do you like about being a nanny?
  • What sort of role are you after long-term?
  • Can you give me an example of a problem or emergency in a previous role, and how you handled it?
  • What do you think would be the best way to handle my child if they had a tantrum in the park?
  • Why did you leave your last position?

 

Interviews can be daunting, so breathe deeply and try and remain calm. When you are calm, it’s much easier to stay focused and answer questions easily, without being left blank due to nerves.

 

Just remember the people interviewing you for a nanny job are doing so because they want to get to know you – and not to terrify you ! Finally, always be friendly and polite; and a follow up call or email is always a good idea.