For a parent of a child with even a mild food allergy, it can be extremely daunting to leave your child with a new person, one who may slip and forget what snacks have hidden ingredients, or to double check with the kitchen staff at a new restaurant. For your peace of mind, here are some great tips to help ensure that you and your nanny are on the same page when it comes to how to feed your children.
Create a Work Agreement
Here at Kith & Kin, we're huge believers in work agreements! Putting details in writing allows both parents and nannies much greater peace of mind, so that uncertainties and misunderstandings don't arise down the road and all expectations are clear.
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, or if you just want to make sure your nanny is preparing a similar diet to what you already have in place for your child, putting the details in a contract can be extremely helpful. If there are certain food items or ingredients that your child must not eat, then lay those out in writing. If you only let your child have a sweet snack on certain special occasions, explain this in the contract.
While this might seem overbearing, remember that your nanny is not a mind-reader, and it always helps to have something to refer back to! Every family is a little different, and the way you approach your child's diet will not necessarily be the same as the family they have worked with before. Laying out all the specifics for your child's diet, will help avoid uncertainty for your nanny. Be sure to give your nanny a copy of the contract, and/or put it up somewhere in the kitchen where they can use it for reference if ever they have a question.
Give your Nanny a Sample Menu
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, you might have learned to prepare specific dishes in order to avoid certain ingredients. You also will be aware of which prepared foods have hidden ingredients that could be dangerous for your child's food allergy.
In order to ease your nanny into the food norms of your family, write out a sample menu for a week or two, and give it to them to refer or add to. Include the dishes that your child is used to, and you would normally prepare for them, along with ingredients and instructions for your nanny.
Providing a menu for the first few weeks will ease your nanny into your lifestyle and food preferences, and get them acquainted with the types of dishes and ingredients your child is used to. Eventually, these dishes and ingredients will become second nature to your nanny. Include suggestions for snacks and prepared foods that are OK with you. Also include a detailed list of foods and snacks that are not okay to feed your child with a food allergy.
Avoid Eating Out
The experience of eating a meal out a restaurant can be so stressful and tedious. Even the most well-meaning kitchen staff might not be aware of every ingredient in their dishes. While it can be easy for a nanny to grab a quick lunch in the middle of their day out with your child, if you are the parent of a child with a food allergy you know that sometimes it's best to avoid eating out all-together.
Explain this to your nanny, and make sure you always have meals or ingredients to prepare a quick and easy meal for your child on hand. If you know for certain of specific restaurants or dishes that are safe for your child to eat, write out a list of those and include it in your nanny's work agreement. After all, when it comes to having a child with a food allergy, you can't be too specific with your requests or requirements.
Post Emergency Information
Before the first day of work, make sure your child's nanny knows the specific protocol should they have an allergic reaction. Write down for your nanny the specific instructions that they should follow if your child shows signs of a reaction (and even talk about what those signs are).
If your child needs to be administered an epileptic-pen, make sure your nanny always carries one on their person and knows exactly how to use it - The Red Cross has special trainings for this, and it's prudent to pay for your nanny to attend.
Be sure to write down the contact information for which doctor to call, or which hospital to go to, in the case of an emergency, and have a copy of this in their diaper bag, backpack, and stored in a Note on your nanny's phone - anywhere that is easily accessible.
As with any case of a child with a special need or care, the most important piece of advice is to be, and constantly remain, as prepared as possible, while also preparing others in case Plan A falls through. By following these tips and strategies, your nanny will be ready and knowledgeable about what is safe and what is not. When in doubt, your nanny can pass on an item and substitute it for something else. If you have time to prepare your child's food, do. If not, provide your nanny with clear instructions on what to prepare for your child's meals. Leave many ready-to-go snacks for your nanny to give your child, if they're out for the day.
All of these tips will help set you up for success and ensure there are no misunderstandings or missteps in the event of an allergic reaction!
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, do you have any tips or advice of your own? Do you have any advice on how to get your new nanny on board with your family's dietary routine? Let us know in the comments section below!
- KITH & KIN
If you've ridden on the subway in recent weeks, you will have noticed numerous ads for the new raise in minimum wage here in NYC. As of December 31st, 2018, New York City employees will see the third raise in minimum wage since 2016. This newest increase is part of a law signed into action by Governor Cuomo, which promised a new minimum wage of $15/hour for all New York State employees by the end of 2019. This new minimum, however, is being enacted gradually and differentially - based on the employer's size and location. We'll break it down to what the new minimum wage in NYC might mean for you, the nannies of New York City!
If you work as a nanny here in NYC, chances are you are the sole employee for your nanny family, or one of a handful of domestic staff. The new minimum wage in NYC for employers with 10 or fewer employees is $13.50/hour. This rate will increase to $15/hr at the end of 2019. But, for now, if you are employed among less than 10 others you can expect to be making at minimum $13.50 an hour. If you are employed among more than 10 other employees, the new minimum wage is $15/hour.
What Does This Mean for NYC Nannies and Housekeepers?
Will Nannies Take a Minimum Wage?
It depends. While the new minimum wage for NYC employees is a commendable move in the right direction for workers' rights nationwide, the fact of the matter is that it is darn near impossible to survive here on $540/week, pre-tax, even with over time in place.
Qualified nanny professionals with experience, extra trainings, and credentials are often considering going the agency route when searching for new employment at a live-able salary, as referrals are often not at the level of professionalism they need, and the reputation of online sitter-services is poor, with the assertion from many being that these sites have normalized low hourly-rates, due to the amount of entry-level nannies using these services.
If you're an inexperienced sitter looking to break into the field and pick up some babysitting on the side, online sitter-services are often the route for you until you become more qualified. However, if you are a professional nanny, looking for a full-time role, then you do not need to compete with entry-level caretakers for cash-positions.
If you've been working as a nanny for at least two straight years, then you are no longer an entry-level employee. If you are CPR Certified, have education coursework, a background in teaching, experience with newborns, or any other marketable childcare assets, then you are well above minimum wage, in the $18-20/hr range.
Working with an agency ensures that your particular skillset and credentials will be highlighted to any potential employers. It also ensures that, at least through KITH & KIN, the families you're meeting will already have a standard of respect for their future employee, know their obligations on a living and viable "gross-pay" wage, guaranteed hours, sick and vacation time, and know from our first conversation that entry-level employees will not make it through our extensive nanny-vetting process. They also understand that they must be willing to give their nanny a certain standard of professional respect.
What if I Can't Afford to Pay a Nanny More than the New Minimum Wage in NYC?
For your job, either the job and experience expectations will need to decrease, or the childcare budget will have to rise. Unable to do one of those two things, some families have looked into nanny-shares, live-in au-pairs whom are younger and less experienced, or whole-group childcare centers. While each of those three options are not as convenient as an experienced career nanny, over the past few years without this rise, it has become, and will continue to become, harder to find qualified nannies whom are able to be vetted fully and still pay $15/hr.
We know first-hand the cost of living and childcare here in NYC is extremely high. This is the reason why so many families weigh their careers and relocation out of the city. It is a tough conversation to have!
If you are a family interested in hiring a nanny in NYC and the greater metro area, and are confused about rates and taxes, get in touch with us here. If you are a nanny with questions about your wages, we may be able to steer you to the right resource, so please get in touch here.
Have any additions questions about the new minimum wage in NYC? Ask us in the comments below!
- KITH & KIN
This year marks the 20th year of the nationally observed Nanny Recognition Week! Since 1998, National Nanny Recognition Week has been celebrated during the last week of September, as a time for families to celebrate the invaluable contributions made by their nannies. It is also an opportunity for nannies to reflect on the importance of the work they do, and celebrate the difference they make in the lives of the families they work for.
This year, National Nanny Recognition Week falls between September 23rd and 29th. If you have an amazing nanny, now is the time to show them how much they mean to you and your family! Below are some ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week!
Five Ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week:
Nannies really do help the world go round! National Nanny Recognition Week is an opportunity to celebrate the important role nannies play in the lives of the families they work for and the wonderful contribution they make in the lives of the children they care for. If you are a parent who employs a nanny, we encourage you to show a small gesture of appreciation to your nanny, to show how much you appreciate them and the contribution they make to your family - nothing fancy needed! These are some of our ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week!
1. Give your nanny a gift card to one of their favorite places!
Does your nanny arrive every morning with a Starbucks cup in hand? Why not give them a small gesture of thanks for their hard work, by gifting them with a small gift card to Starbucks or a local coffeeshop they love! Or maybe a bookstore, if they're a book-lover! National Nanny Appreciation Week is not about giving a holiday-sized bonus so much as showing your nanny that you appreciate them through a small gift or act of recognition.
2. Get the kids to make a special card or treat!
Have your kids put together a special, handmade card or treat to give your nanny
next week! Your nanny will love this
thoughtful gift, and will be touched that the children took the time to make it themselves.
3. Give your nanny an evening off
Why not plan on getting home an hour or two early one night next week, to give your nanny the paid evening off! Let them know in advance that you're planning to cut them loose a little early, as an act of your appreciation for how hard they work.
4. Gift your nanny and individual membership to the International Nanny Association
For a $45 membership contribution, your nanny can join the International Nanny Association, and have the resources and support of a professionally renowned organization. This non-profit educational & professional resource for nannies, serves as an umbrella association for in-home professionals.
5. Treat your nanny to a fun night out!
Brooklyn and NYC have so many
fun things for nannies to enjoy on
their night off, but it can be hard
for nannies to justify a night out if
they have a tight budget! Why not
treat your nanny to a gift card to
their favorite local restaurant, or to
ticket vouchers to their local
These are just a couple ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week! There's so many ways to show your nanny you appreciate them and all that they do. Share some of your own idea for National Nanny Recognition Week in the comments below!
Earlier this summer, New York Senator Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Steve Otis together announced a new piece of legislature which could have a profound effect on the childcare industry. The bill which they have proposed to Governor Cuomo essentially serves to criminalize the misrepresentation of a caregiver's qualifications or experience. If this bill is passed into law, not only will it provide much more concrete reassurance for parents who are seeking qualified childcare, it will also serve to legitimize the job market for nannies themselves who could have a greater precedent to demand better working rights as domestic employees.
This new passage of legislation will hold legally accountable anyone who is applying for an in-home childcare position, or providing a reference on behalf of the individual being considered. In either instance, an individual who is found to have provided a false written statement in support of oneself, or another person, for purposes of securing employment as a caregiver to children in the home, could now be found guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor and face up to 6 months imprisonment. The bill would target those who make false statements about the applicant’s background related to their ability to safely provide care.
To many, the introduction of such a bill might seem extraneous, something of a given. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. The supplying of false references, and mis-information by nanny candidates is rampant, common practice by applicants who lack actual experience or qualification in the field. For busy parents who do not have the time or resources to conduct thorough background checks and employment verification, these discrepancies fall quietly through the cracks. What is further, however, is that up until this point, there is no legal ramification holding nanny candidates, or fictitious references, accountable for providing false information in pursuit of employment.
Essentially, right now a nanny who you have hired based on false information, cannot be held accountable for misrepresenting their qualifications in a court of law. The consequences of these distortions of the truth become tragic when, as in the epithetic case of Lulu and Leo Krim, parents hire an unqualified and improperly vetted nanny based on false accounts of experience by the candidate and others. It is the Krim parents themselves who have worked tirelessly in the years since the deaths of their two young children to bring this new piece of legislation into reality. The 2012 murder of their children Lulu and Leo Krim at the hands of their caregiver who had no previous experience caring for children highlighted the need for greater scrutiny of those who seek these positions.
Assemblyman Otis, stated, "With this legislation, New York law will be clear that misrepresentation of qualifications for caregivers for children is against the law. With accurate information, the safety of families and children will be safeguarded.” Future parents can rest a little easier, when leaving their child in the hands of a hired caretaker, that the individual is who they say they are, and actually has the experience stated on their resume.
Additionally, this new bill provides that “caregiver” be defined as someone hired to provide fifteen or more hours of care per week in the home of such children or in the home of the caregiver, with the exception of those entities licensed under the social services law. For nannies, the definitional provisions of this new bill could actually be a professional asset. By giving a clear and explicit interpretation to the definition of domestic work, this law could lay a foundation for future legislation regarding caregiver and other in-home roles. Until 2010, when New York became the first state to enact a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, domestic workers existed largely starved of any state-sanctioned workers rights. Even now, the rights for in-home employees are much less comprehensive than for workers of most other sectors. While Lulu and Leo's Law, on the one hand, aims to increase accountability by domestic workers by obliging them to provide factual resumes and references, this increased legitimacy for domestic workers will, in turn, give a greater precedent for these workers to demand certain legal rights from their employers and from the law. Every step to legitimize the scope of domestic work, is a step in the right direction!
Unfamiliar with Lulu and Leo's story? Read up on their organization here.
Are you a nanny here in NYC and wondering how the enactment of Lulu and Leo's law will affect you? Get in touch with us and ask us any questions and we're happy to try and answer them!
Are you ready to redo your professional nanny resume, and make sure its up to par? Check out our previous blog-post on How to Write a Nanny Resume Like a Champ
Last month, our founder, Christa, sat down for a conversation with the founder of the Prenatal Yoga Center, Deb Flashenberg, on her podcast Yoga | Birth | Babies. The episode is called NANNY 101. Shared within it are tips and tricks for hiring and employing a nanny or babysitter, whether temporarily or long-term. It's completely appropriate and helpful for nannies, too!
Have a listen here and catch some helpful gems!
Are you overwhelmed by the thought of how to hire a nanny in NYC?
Have you started the nanny search on your own, but need to run a nanny background check?
We are here to help you.
Send us an email and tell us about your family's needs - we'd love to help you hire a nanny in NYC, or help you vet your own candidates properly!
This is the time of year where nannies are booked frequently for date-night sittings: lots of holiday parties, in-laws in town, and nights out for busy parents! I'd like to share a cautionary tale I read recently, and give you some tips based off of this situation, as well as others we have personally encountered.
Recently in a nanny support group I am apart of, a caregiver had been booked on a popular app by a family to babysit for their family in hotel, as they were coming into New York for the weekend. She offered to talk to them on the phone beforehand to give a mini interview, but they declined and said it was fine - they would provide details when she showed up. She had great reviews, so she assumed they were just trusting the references, which is why the reviews exist in the first place. Exercising safety when babysitting is not just for the parents but for the nannies, too!
When she showed up to the hotel on the evening of the sit, she received a text message that said they were running an hour late. After she waited over an hour, sent a check-in text and gave a phone call, both of which went unanswered. At this point, she checked with the front desk attendants just to make sure they actually had a reservation, but in doing so, she learned that there was no one staying there by the name that was given on the booking. This isn't totally unheard of - some people want their privacy - so she didn't think much of it. However, there other signs that gave her pause, and she ultimately left the hotel after fearing for her safety. These warning signs were what inspired this blog.
Here are our best tips on how to keep safety when babysitting in the forefront of your mind when you've been booked through a babysitting app, instead of a mutual connection or agency.
1. Make verbal contact with the parents before you meet, if possible.
Trust me, I don't like talking on the phone as much as the next person, but sometimes just hearing their voice, their tone and cadence, will reassure you this is a parent and not a creep. Ask them a couple questions about their kids, and ask them if there is any specialized care for their child for which you would be responsible.
For the sitter above who was booked, she thought it was odd that when she would call that day, and over the previous five days before the scheduled day, no one would answer, nor return her call, and there was no formal voicemail. The "family" would only follow up via text. This may not have been a big deal, as she had reviews, and this is common for families to book with minimal effort. Lack of verbal contact before isn't a deal breaker, however coupled with the things below, you can quickly see where there was a problem.
2. Always tell someone close to you before meeting a family for the first time!
Let a friend or family member know the address where you plan to meet and the time you plan to leave by. Keep in touch via text once you arrive to say all is well, and if you are going to be late. Do this even when you are leaving the job to return to your house. Safety when babysitting mostly comes down to covering your bases, and keeping others informed.
3. Look up the names of the parents on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google.
Most parents will have family photos or telltale signs that they are who they say they are. Make sure the story adds up!
The sitter above was caught off guard when no one was reserved in the hotel under the name on her booking. The lack of a voicemail was strike two. They also gave her very common names, so it was impossible to verify who they were via Google.
A way to combat this is to search for them on Google using their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Something is bound to come up to proves they're a real person.
4. Ask one of the parents to come meet you at the door, or in the lobby.
If you are working at a hotel, ask that they come and meet you, if you have any doubts that they are real people in need of babysitting.
If you are working at an apartment in a building with a door attendant, ask the person if the family has children. They may be taken a back by it, but you can explain it is your first time meeting them. If it is a private house and with no door attendant, what do you hear when you come up to the house? Is there laughter? Are there shoes, scooters, or bikes visible outdoors? Is there a large vehicle in the driveway, or a friendly welcome mat?
You can always insist that they meet you halfway in your requests for a personal escort before entering their home - say its a tip for your safety when babysitting that you picked up - no parent will argue with that, and if they are the type to get annoyed or give an attitude, you don't have to work with them again! Your safety when babysitting is just as important as theirs and their children's.
5. Be aware of your surroundings - where are the children?
When you show up, do you hear children laughing, talking, yelling, etc. outside of the room in the hallway, or out in the street? And if not, when the parent opens the door and there are no children present, is there evidence of children in the room, such as children's cups, clothing, shoes, stroller, and toys? If not, do not enter.
Feel no need to be overly polite in this situation - even if your hesitations are wrong and there really is a family (maybe they just checked in and the kids are in the pool), they will absolutely respect you more for being so safety conscious - which will likely lead to you having a better review! Simply say, "I'm sorry, I was told this booking was for x# of children, but I don't see them... Oh, they are downstairs? No problem! I can meet them down there, or just wait out here in the hall or lobby. I insist."
The sitter in the story above was incredibly forward thinking to think about her personal safety when babysitting. The third strike that ultimately lead to her leaving (quickly!) was when she was alert for the entire two hours waiting for them in the lobby to show up (after they kept texting, "10 more minutes"), she noticed no children walking through the lobby and up to the elevator. That, coupled with their unwillingness to escort her up, led her to walk right out. She made the right decision when considering her own safety when babysitting for this new family.
So by now you may be wondering how did the family receive the news that their sitter played hardball and left after they would not call back or come and get her from the lobby... Well, after she texted and explained why she would wait 10 more minutes and if she didn't hear back, she would be leaving after waiting nearly 2.5 hours, they never wrote back to confirm, criticize, or say they understood and respected her reasons.
Had she listened and just went upstairs as they insisted, I'm not sure what, if anything, would have happened to her, though given the high possibility this was not a family, she absolutely did the right thing.
Very few of these tips above are "Deal-breakers," however when they are all coupled together, it can spell trouble. Be aware, and keep yourself safe.
If you have any other safety tips to add below, please do! We can all protect each other.
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Copyright 2020. Kith and Kin is a division of Adventure Nannies. Kith and Kin does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, age, height, weight, physical disabilities, veteran status, and marital status. We place nannies, newborn care specialists (formerly called baby nurses) and private educators throughout the New York metro area. You may contact us at 917-310-2300 or at hello@KITHandKINnyc.com