Category: Parent Tips

Nanny vs. Family….it doesn’t have to be a struggle

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Oftentimes, parents and Nanny aren’t on the same page when it comes to the many issues associated with raising a child—not unlike how a mother and father may have differing opinions. It can often feel uncomfortable for a parent to tell the caretaker who looks after his or her child what to do—acting as her boss, when she really feels more like a member of the family. Here are four common miscommunications between parent and nanny, and how to resolve them:

1. The nanny is unclear of what her duties entail.
The best way to solve this issue is with a written Employer/Employee Contract. Neverland Nannies & Domestics can provide a template for a family and nanny that they can use to clearly outline duties and expectations. Although this may seem formal to some, the nanny/family dynamic is still an employer/employee relationship and should be treated as such. A contract is helpful because either party can refer back to it, and the nanny will feel comfortable knowing that her duties have been clearly outlined from the start. If the family would like to add chores to her list of duties, negotiations for additional pay can be discussed and the contract revised. It should be looked at as a living document that can and most likely will be altered as the nanny and family grow together in their relationship. Additionally, if possible, a parent should consider taking a couple of days off from work to train the nanny when she is first hired.

2. Miscommunication: small issues become big problems because they are not addressed immediately.
There are many variables that affect a family’s day-to-day life with their nanny. It can take a nanny several months to understand the ebbs and flows of the household and the specific characteristics of each family member, which can make these challenging times. Furthermore, it can feel uncomfortable for a parent to address an issue with someone who is so closely connected with his or her family. This is why it is important, right off the bat, to establish a weekly, or bimonthly meeting where the parents and nanny can address any issues he or she is having. These should just be casual conversations—just a chance to exchange thoughts and recommendations. This will allow everyone to “check-in” on a consistent basis and nobody will have to stress about the best time to bring up a sensitive issue. Nobody is a mind reader, so with this consistent communication, you are more likely to avoid resentment.

3. On-time arrivals
This section applies to both nanny and parent—and hey, we live in Southern California where traffic is as common as blue skies and 80-degree weather in February. So, to expect that a nanny will arrive exactly at 7:30am— every. single. day, will only lead to disappointment. However, that doesn’t mean that a nanny shouldn’t be held to the same standards as any other employee in the workforce. The nanny has a responsibility to be at her place of work at the expected time every day, even though it’s just at your home.
This standard also applies to the parent; coming home from work, a little later and later every evening can often lead to feelings of resentment by the nanny because she can feel as though you don’t value her time or she may begin to feel taken advantage of. Again, using the tips from #1 and creating a clear contract with expectations of start and end times will help in this situation, and so will #2. On the rare occasion a parent is going to be late coming home, it should be clearly communicated as early in the day as possible with the nanny. If it becomes the norm, the contract should be adjusted and the nanny should be fairly compensated for her extra time.

4. Payroll issues
This is a big one and is one of the most common questions we get from both parents and nannies at Neverland Nannies. Technically, a family cannot 1099 a full-time nanny who works in his or her home; the full-time nanny must be provided a W-2. These are employees who have the same rights to Social Security, Medicare and often need proof of employment in order to rent apartments, buy cars, and to establish credit. Many nannies feel uncomfortable asking their employer to put them on payroll, but it is an extremely important process and is the only legal way to compensate a full-time employee. At Neverland Nannies we always refer our clients to Breedlove and Associates for advice as well as to establish payroll with their domestic employees. Also, parents should always consult their CPAs regarding compensation for their nanny.

Common Question #1: What is the Difference Between A Postpartum Doula and A Newborn Care Specialist?

 

Newborn baby + Doula + Newborn Care Specialist + Baby Nurse

Here at Neverland Nannies, because we specialize in placing Newborn Care Specialists (NCSs), also known as “Baby Nurses,” we are often asked, “What is the difference between a Postpartum Doula and a Newborn Care Specialist?”

The first biggest difference between a NCS and a Postpartum Doula is that typically, a NCS will focus exclusively on the baby, meaning, she performs duties that relate only to the baby; whereas postpartum Doulas often will approach their services with more of a whole-home/whole-family approach. According to DONA International, “Unlike a baby nurse, a doula’s focus is not solely on the baby, but on fostering independence for the entire family. The doula is as available to the father and older children as to the mother and the baby. Treating the family as a unit….”

A very important factor to consider when conducting your research on NCSs and Postpartum Doulas is that a Postpartum Doula and “…Newborn Care Specialist’s work experience has greater importance than the level of her degree” (CPMC.org). This is why, at NN, we require a minimum of six years of in-home, professional experience for all our Newborn Care Specialist and Postpartum Doulas. This is to say that verifying multiple references over the course of six years is our number one priority when selecting a candidate for a family. However, many of our Newborn Care Specialists and Doulas have more than ten years of experience.

The second biggest difference between NCSs and Postpartum Doulas is that because there is a licensing process for Doulas (Postpartum, Birthing, etc), this allows them to acquire insurance to cover their practice. Conversely, there is no licensing for NCSs, so, although they can be “certified” by any number of agencies, they will most likely not be carrying insurance.

Although different, there are also several similarities between NCSs and Postpartum Doulas. Firstly, unless the Newborn Care Specialist or Postpartum Doula is also a Registered Nurse or Nurse Practitioner, she will not perform medical procedures like checking glucose levels or taking blood pressure. Secondly, many NCSs and Postpartum Doulas hold the same certifications. Many of their similar certifications include, but are not limited to:

  • Postpartum Doula Training
  • Infant and Child CPR
  • Lactation Consultant Training
  • Sleep Training Courses
  • Childbirth Education Courses
  • Infant Massage Course
  • Umbilical Cord Care Training

Both a NCS and Postpartum Doula will handle nighttime feedings so the family can catch up on some much-needed sleep and will also help with light nursery cleaning and baby laundry.

Both are considered independent care workers who set their own rules, parameters and hours and typically work a maximum of 12 weeks, (sometimes referred to as the “fourth trimester”), at which point they will try to “wean” the family off of their services to help them transition into a more independent and self-sufficient role.

Although a referral is an acceptable way to find yourself a Postpartum Doula or NCS, the way to assure that you are inviting someone into your home to care for your most prized possession who is honest, reliable, trustworthy and knowledgeable is to use a reputable agency.

Great News for California ~The Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights is here!

California is officially one of 4 States to successfully pass the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights in the United States. With other largely populated states such as New York, Hawaii and now Massachusetts supporting the Domestic Worker’s Bill, perhaps now the almost 2 million nanny and domestic worker’s who make up the domestic industry will gain clarity on their rights and responsibilities as Household Employees. To us, this means that our Los Angeles based Nanny Agency, will also be able to help educate Household Employer’s as to what is and isn’t acceptable in the household workforce. While it may be somewhat of a transition for those families who are already employing nannies and other domestic worker’s, we must start somewhere, in order to create a more viable domestic workplace environment.

We truly owe a very special thanks to Executive Director, Ai-jen Poo, who has worked tirelessly with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance, to make this Domestic Worker’s dream into reality. Way to go Ai-jen! You too California!

A Day With Nanny–Fun Fall Crafts for Kids!

Although it doesn’t yet feel like it in Southern California, fall is, in fact, here. Even though the weather is still great for lots of outdoor play, with Halloween just around the corner, we thought some fun fall craft ideas would be a great change of pace for you nannies out there.

Our first craft, from marthastewart.com, uses items that may already be found in your home, however, it’s always fun to have an excuse to take a trip to Michael’s craft store, even though sometimes bringing the little ones along makes it a longer outing than you really want it to be!

Martha Stewart online is a great resource for kid (and adult!) crafts that are chic enough to display with your other fall decorations (side note: we love what Pottery Barn has to offer this year).

This Pumpkin Bird Feeder craft is simple and easy for little hands to help with:

Pumpkin Bird Feeder

Materials:
1, 3-5 pound pumpkin
4 or 5 small twigs about 1.5 cm in diameter (strong enough to hold a 2-3 ounce bird)
Small handful of pumpkin seeds
About 4 feet of twine
Wild bird seed
Large thumbtack or nail with large head

Step 1:
Cut pumpkin in half; scoop out meat, leaving a ½-inch thick wall.

Step 2:
Cut a ½-inch deep groove in the rim for pumpkin seeds. Push pumpkin seeds in groove all the way around the rim of pumpkin creating a “fence”.

Step 3:
For perches, poke holes with a large nail about halfway up side of pumpkin and insert twigs.

Step 4: To hang, knot four, 1-foot in length pieces of twine together at the top and bottom. Slide pumpkin inside the four pieces of twine and secure one knot at the bottom with a thumbtack or nail.

Step 5: Fill with birdseed and hang near a window. Enjoy bird-watching!

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Our next craft comes from craftymorning.com and is easy for even toddlers to do; this craft is great because it can be easily catered to a wide range of ages.

IndianCornCraft

Materials:
3 large Lego pieces
Brown, yellow, and orange washable paint
White and brown craft paper
Glue
Scissors

Step 1:
Put three globs of paint on a paper plate and let the kids dip their Legos in it.

Step 2:
Tell them to press hard against the white paper to make a print. They should cover the whole paper or at least a good portion of it.

indian-corn-craft-using-legos

Step 3:
Once paint is completely dry, cut out two corn shapes from the paper. Use brown construction paper and cut six leaf-looking shapes.

Step 4: Fold leaves into accordions and then unfold, so they have a 3D look to them. Use three leaves for each piece of corn and glue them to the back of the tops of the corn. Voilà!

How Domestic Workers’ Rights Affect Us All

As a growing industry, domestic work has become exceedingly important as the “traditional family” structure is replaced by a more unconventional one. What once was the typical family setting—mother stays home with the children and father goes to work, has now been replaced with single parents and situations where both parents go to work everyday.

This article by @SethFW on NBC.com highlights the work that Ai-jen Poo, domestic worker advocate and winner of The Macarthur Foundation’s “Genius” Award has done for this cause. Perhaps now, because of Ai-jen Poo’s work, the #nanny and #domestic industry will gain some clarity as to Domestic Worker’s Rights.

If you employ a domestic worker or ARE a domestic worker, this is a must-read: “Macarthur ‘Genius’ Ai-jen Poo: Organizing America’s Domestic Workers.

For more information on domestic workers’ rights in California and nationally, visit http://www.domesticworkers.org.

Ai-jen Poo

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine

 

How to pay your Baby Nurse

 

Baby Nurse: Household Employee or Independent Contractor?

Baby Nurse: Household Employee or Independent Contractor?

Once we’ve found the perfect Newborn Care Specialist (also known as Baby Nurse or Newborn Specialist) for our client’s newborn, the next question is often- “How do I pay our Newborn Care Specialist?” Although employee pay and the negotiations of the matter are between the household Employer and Employee (not Neverland Nannies), we are often asked for our guidance on this issue.  It can be difficult to figure out whether or not the Newborn Care Specialist should be put on a payroll and given a W-2 or paid as an Independent Contractor.  Many families don’t want to go through the hassle of obtaining a Federal Tax I.D. number and then going through the issues of Federal Withholdings, etc.   To clear all this up once and for all we spoke with a tax expert, Tom Breedlove of Breedlove and Associates, (breedlove.com) whom we always direct our clients to for tax and payroll-related issues, and this is what he had to say:

“We believe that a family could successfully argue that a Baby Nurse should be classified as an independent contractor rather than as an employee.  Our logic is that Baby Nurses:

  • Have a specialized expertise and do not take direction from the family on how to perform their duty;
  • Bring their own tools and equipment;
  • Offer their services to the general public;
  • Work for a finite period of time (i.e. 2-12 weeks).”

As long as all four of these conditions are met and the Baby Nurse pays her portion of the payroll taxes, Breedlove believes the IRS won’t pursue any action against the employer.  If, however, the Newborn Care Specialist does not pay her share of Social Security and Medicare to the IRS, they may come to the family (employer) first.  It will be up to the family to make the argument stated above.  According to Breedlove:

This is a complex and, frankly, outdated part of the tax code.  The statutes were created in the 1930’s, long before anyone had ever heard of a Baby Nurse and there has not been any case law to establish precedent.”

Another factor to consider is that most of the time, a Newborn Care Specialist will work more than 40-hours per week, so if the family is treating the Newborn Care Specialist as an independent contractor, overtime will not be a factor and the Newborn Care Specialist will just bill the employer for the number of hours of work.

Ultimately, the employer should always consult his/her own tax preparer or attorney to be sure that all tax codes are being followed.  Neverland Nannies will always be here to guide you through the process of finding and hiring a Newborn Care Specialist; we make it a pleasant and effortless process!

 

Nanny Tax Amnesty : What Is It, and How It Can Help You.

nanny tax amnestyCurrently, about 5% of all households that have household workers such as nannies are reporting payments for wages to the Internal Revenue Service. Some households have paid workers “under the table” or provided a 1099 tax form that identifies workers as “independent contractors.” Most have done this as a way to keep expenses down and reduce paperwork.

The Wall Street Journal reported on this issue on March 8, 2013. It described how the IRS has offered an amnesty program to families that reclassify nannies and other household workers. This allows families to avoid paying a penalty or interest for wages that have gone unreported. This program is designed to collect tax revenue due to the Internal Revenue Service but also to assist families in becoming current with tax requirements. Another part of the issue is that people that ignore this amnesty program may be more likely to be audited in the future.

Anyone that has been paying nannies or other household workers such as cooks, maids, gardeners or others in cash or has been giving the employees a 1099 contractor’s form at the end of the year will want to take advantage of this amnesty program. The cutoff date is June 30, 2013.

Please review the Internal Revenue Service webpage about the program for more details.

Nanny and Baby Nurse Interview Tips

Hey Parents!

So you’ve finally taken the dive and decided to have a nanny be a part of your child’s life.  One of the most important aspects in securing a successful nanny is the dynamic between the nanny and your family.

The initial interview you hold with the candidate is massively important. With a good interview you can gain a strong understanding of not only the nanny’s abilities, but also of their philosophy and characteristics, which will have a significant influence in your home. To guide you through the interview, we have prepared some sample questions and tips for you to help make the best interview process possible.

When interviewing prospective nannies, be sure to try and make them feel as comfortable as possible from the start of the interview. Perhaps offer them a drink or glass of water, showing a certain level of warmth your family holds. By doing this, you allow the nanny to be in a relaxed state, which will inevitably allow their “true colors (both good and bad)” to shine through from the get-go.

Questions to Ask the Nanny

1. Start with confirming the requirements of the job. Make sure she is available for the hours you need. If you need someone who drives, make sure he/she can. Other areas to consider are his/her level of comfort with meal preparation, active involvement such as swimming or playing sports, homework assistance, etc.)

2. Make a point of listening to how she speaks. Can you hear her or is she so soft spoken you have to struggle to make out what she’s saying? Does she speak English well enough that you can understand her? How is her grammar, her manners? Remember, this person is going to have a huge impact on your child’s development, not to mention you will want to ensure she’s able to capable of understanding what your needs are (she may even need to administer medicine, occasionally, etc.)

3. Ask what experience he/she has in caring for children?  If you are looking for someone with specific childcare experience, such as newborn care, make sure he/she has worked with babies.

4. How long do you think you would be willing to stay in this position? When can you start?  What do you plan to do when this contract is completed? If a long term commitment is what you’re after, make sure they aren’t leaving for college in 6 months. Does he/she have any prior commitments that will not allow her to work during that time?

5. What kinds of activities would you do with a (insert ages of your child(ren)) year old?

6. Can you give me some examples of problems you have had with kids and how you handled them?

7. What would you say is your discipline style? Can you give me some examples of when you would need to use discipline with a (insert age) year old child?

8. What do you consider to be your most important responsibility as a nanny?

9. At what point would you call a pediatrician or 911? Have you ever had to handle an emergency? How did you handle it?

10. Do you have any health-related problems that would prevent you from doing this job?

11. Are you open to cooking? light housekeeping? driving? swimming? Occasional overnight stays and travel? Can you work occasional weekends? etc.

12. (If driving is required) Do you have a clean driving record?

13. Will you be able to adjust your schedule if we need to go out of town or stay late at work from time to time? [Note: Make sure she knows that this would be overtime and she would be compensated with additional pay].

14. What is the longest position you have had with one family as their nanny?

15. Are you currently employed? If yes, Why are you seeking a new opportunity?

16. What was your last childcare experience? Why did it end? What were the ages of the children you cared for?

17. What do you think a typical day is like with a (insert the age of your child i.e., infant, toddler, 5 year old, 10 year old.)?

18. How do you feel about furthering your training by attending child development classes or seminars?

Considering a Live-in Nanny?

If you’re thinking about having your nanny be live-in, some additional questions will probably give some important insights into your candidate. When interviewing for a live-in nanny position, be sure to outline your household rules, so the nanny can determine if he/she is comfortable with them.

1. Why are you looking to be a live-in nanny? Have you ever been a live-in in the past?

2. Do you have any worries or apprehensions about living with a family?  What are they?  It’s best to get these out in the open now so you can try to alleviate them.

3. Are you looking for a 5 day or 7 day live-in opportunity?

4. Did you run into any problems with your last live-in arrangement?  What were they?

Some Last Tips

•    Depending on your “wish list” of requirements, you may find that it is difficult to find a nanny who is open and/or experienced in all areas of your liking, and sometimes that’s OK. Afterall, nobody is perfect. In such cases, try to focus on what is most important to you (the “must haves”) in having a nanny, and allow that to help guide you in making a decision.

•    It’s absolutely important that the nanny connects not only with your child, but with everyone in the household. If you find someone you feel could be a great potential fit for your family, offer them a trial period of at least one week, prior to offering them the position. ALWAYS do a trial period as this is time time for all parties involved to determine if they feel good about the opportunity.

Hiring a nanny can often feel overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is to never rush into hiring someone for any reason. When in doubt, always trust your gut! Taking your time to do things right in the beginning can (and almost always will) eliminate potential issues which may arise down the road as a result of hiring someone too quickly. Remember, this is a nanny for your child – it’s likely one of the most important decisions you’ll ever have to make.

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