Tips for Reducing Post-Holiday Clutter

tips for reducing post-holiday clutterThe holiday season has officially come and gone, leaving us with an abundance of memories with friends and family, bellies full from homemade meals, and the delighted squeal of the children when they excited rip into brightly colored presents.  Something else the holidays have left behind?

Clutter…So. Much. Clutter.

While the process of organizing your home after the holidays may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be! With a quick call to the A New England Nanny team (518-348-0400), we can schedule a professional housekeeper or home-organizer to come to your residence, and we’ll help you cross that “Reduce Clutter” resolution off your list.

Eager to get started? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you with one of the most daunting parts of your house – the kids’ rooms.

Before you start this project, here are a few things you’ll need:

  • The name, address, and hours of operation for your local charity center or drop-off location of your choice. Please keep in mind that while donations are always appreciated, the items need to be in a good, clean, and useable condition. Many facilities do not take dirty, damaged, or extremely outdated items, while others do not take stuffed animals, undergarments, or board games. It is always a good practice to check their website or speak with a donations coordinator for a list of acceptable items.
  • Cardboard boxes or large, clear, garbage bags.
  • Packing tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Clear storage containers, preferably with latching lids
  • Paper and pen, to keep a list of your donations (if you are donating to a 501c3 and plan to write the donation off of your taxes).

A gentle reminder: what seems unimportant to you may be very important to your child. If your child is able to help clean their room, limit your expectations to their given attention span, and utilize their energy while you can. Ask them to pick out their 3 favorite stuffed animals and put them on the bed, or make a pile of books that they’d like to give to some new friends, etc.

If their room looks like the photo at the top when you start, take a deep breath and try not to get overwhelmed! According to Montessori Method of Children’s Education, children enjoy being able to find things quickly and easily, but it is necessary for them to be “meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.” While the worlds “meticulous” and “child’s room” don’t typically go together, it is possible to implement some of the strategies of the Montessori Method at home.

  1. Using masking tape and a permanent marker, label three large bags as follows:  Keep, Trash, and Donate. If your child is old enough to understand and make decisions, ask for their help! Broken toys, used-up art supplies, and books which are ripped apart/chewed on/missing pages should go right in the trash bag. Toys which are in “like new” condition, games with all of their pieces, and stuffed animals which need new loving homes, can be donated. Clothing that is still the correct size, toys that are played with often, and sentimental items, should be kept.
  2. Clothes should be sorted by size, and then by season. If possible, fold clothes that are out of season and pack them in the cardboard boxes (if they will still fit when that season comes around again). Be sure to label each box with “Size/Season” before putting them in storage. Clothes that no longer fit should be written down on your donation list and put into the “Donate” bag, or a cardboard box labeled “sizes x-z” with “DONATE” written on the box as well.
  3. Once you’ve separated the clutter into the three categories, remove the trash and bring the items to be donated to the donation center. The sooner these things are out of the house, the more room you will have, and the easier it will be to see the progress you’ve made.

reducing post-holiday clutterAfter the items that you aren’t keeping have left the room, take a moment to figure out what causes the most clutter in the area. Are there toys which have a lot of little pieces (foam darts, building blocks, doll accessories)?  If so, dedicate one of the clear storage containers with a latching lid to that specific purpose. You can apply a strip of clear moving tape to the front of the container and the top of the lid, then write the contents on that tape. This allows you to reuse the container by simply peeling off the tape at a later time. Having the smaller items in clear storage containers allows the child to see what they are looking for, without having to empty a solid colored box upside down (and creating a huge mess in the process). For younger children, this will also make clean-up a responsibility in which they can participate. They will be able to see what’s in the boxes, and group like items together.  (Remember to enthusiastically cheer when they do this – the bigger your reaction, the more likely they are to repeat the behavior!)

tips for reducing holiday clutterDoes your child play with and collect stuffed animals? Perhaps it’s time to invest in a stuffed animal hammock to hang diagonally in the corner of a room. Or if you’re up for a creative challenge, you can search for plenty of “D.I.Y Stuffed Animal Zoo” tutorials on Facebook (and while you’re there, be sure to “like” and “follow” A New England Nanny). While creating a stuffed animal zoo may seem like it would take up a lot of space, you have to determine which takes up more room and causes more of a mess – the zoo, which would store all of the stuffed animals, or the animals themselves when they are strewn over the room while your child digs for that one particular stuffie that they would like to sleep with on any given night.  With stretchy vertical ‘bars’, your child will be able to see which one they’d like, take it out, and put it back themselves.

Once you’ve completed the steps outlined above, there should be less clutter, less mess, and less stress for you and your child. It is much less of a daunting task to repeat this process several times a year, or at the very least around the child’s birthday and again around the new year – both of which are typically periods of growth and incoming clutter (gifts) for your child to enjoy.

National Nanny Training Day 2018 – Save the Date!

national nanny training day 2018
(Click to enlarge)

December Nanny of the Month!

december nanny of the monthWe would like to congratulate our Nanny of the Month for December, Nanny Susan K.!

Nanny Susan became one of our caregivers way back in 2004, and has been an asset to our agency and clients ever since.

Communication is key with Nanny Susan – not only is she a caregiver, but she is also a Spanish tutor! She keeps in contact with the agency, updates her availability, and is always willing to help out however she can.

Nanny Susan is kind, caring, compassionate, and offers helpful and consistent feedback. She is a wonderful member of our team, and we are so glad to be able to work with her.

Congratulations, Nanny Susan – you are our December NOTM , and have been gifted a $50 gift card. Enjoy – you deserve it!

Retaining Your Nanny: an Infographic

Once you’ve found the perfect nanny for your family, you’ll want to do all that you can to retain your nanny. After putting a lot of time and effort into finding the right match, you’ll want to keep a good employee for as long as possible. Losing one employee and searching for a replacement is costly, time-consuming, and disruptive to your family, especially your children.

Based on recent surveys of household employers and nannies, our friends at GTM Payroll Services have created this infographic, which lays out the best practices for retaining your nanny. It includes what a nanny is looking for in a family, how to show appreciation for your nanny with bonuses and benefits, and why nannies want to be paid legally.

Establish your family as an employer nannies want to work for and improve their job satisfaction by following this data. A happier nanny leads to a more productive workplace – not to mention happier children! Click the image below for a larger version of the “Retaining Your Nanny” infographic.

retaining your nanny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact us for more information at (518) 348-0400.

2018 Tax and Wage Issues for Household Employers

2018 tax and wage issues for household employersWith a new year just around the corner, there are several tax and wage issues that will impact household employers, particularly those in New York, including changes to the minimum wage and mileage reimbursement rates.

Minimum Wage
On December 31, 2017, the minimum wage for employers in Upstate New York will rise to $10.40 per hour.

The wage for employers in New York City with 10 or fewer employees must pay $12.00 per hour. Employers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties must pay at least $11.00 per hour.

Mileage Rate
If you reimburse your nanny or other domestic worker for mileage, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (plus vans, pickups, and panel trucks) are increasing, effective January 1, 2018. The new rates will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (was 53.5 cents in 2017)
  • 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (was 17 cents in 2017)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (no change from 2017)

New York Paid Family Leave
Beginning January 1, 2018, just about every employer in New York State – including household employers – will need to comply with the New York Paid Family Leave (NY PFL) law. Any employer that has 1 or more employees is required to provide coverage unless they are a public employer or are an employer-only exempt employee.

Employees can use the benefit to:

  • Bond with a newborn, adopted or foster-care child during the first 12 months after birth or placement
  • Care for a seriously ill family member
  • Address important needs related to a family member’s military service

Learn more about what employers and nannies need to know about NY PFL.

Nanny Tax Planning for 2018

nanny tax planning for 2018Hard to believe 2018 is less than two weeks away! Now is a good time to ensure that everything is in order so there are no surprises when it comes time to pay your nanny taxes next year. Don’t put off or ignore your 2017 year-end tax planning; look at your finances and think about any changes you will be making for the rest of this year and into early 2018. Some things to consider include:

  • Adding/decreasing your employee’s hours during the holiday season
  • Awarding a year-end bonus
  • Adjusting salary for 2018
  • Making note of the new minimum wage in New York
  • Vacation pay for the holiday season

The domestic employee coverage threshold amount will rise to $2,100 for 2018; this means that you are required to pay taxes if you pay a nanny at least $2,100 for the year. Make sure you keep accurate records of any changes you make, along with any changes to any federal or state tax and wage laws.

Contact us at (518) 348-0400 if you have any questions or need more information.

Keep Those Kids Active During Winter

keep those kids active during winterWe all know that winter causes us to want to hibernate, keep warm, and eat comfort foods. During this season, we eat more and move less, and this includes our children.

An estimated 9 million children in the U.S. are not just overweight; they are suffering from obesity. Researchers believe that kids burn only half as many calories in the winter as they do in the summer. What’s the best way to keep your kids moving during the winter? Move with them!  And more importantly, make the activities fun.  Here is a list of fun things to do during these cold months; many of them don’t cost any money!

  • Turn on your iPod or cable TV music channels and have a dance party!
  • Have your child help with housework; but make it fun, offer an incentive like money or a new book.
    • Did you know?  You can burn 105 calories doing dishes, and vacuuming for 30 minutes burns 90 calories!
  • Need to do some shopping? Casual mall walking can burn 215 calories an hour.
  • Snowball fights, sledding, and tubing are really fun, and they also burn calories.
  • Indoor water parks, bounce centers, family recreation centers, bowling, and ice skating are great ways to burn off energy while having a fun time.

During summer, it’s easy to just throw a blanket down at the park, read a book, or play some football or Frisbee; it may take more motivation to bundle up and head out the door during winter weather. But there are plenty of options to avoid being sedentary.  So get out from under your Snuggie, grab the kids, and get active.

Read more about finding things to do with kids during winter here.

Unique Holiday Gifts for Your Nanny

unique gifts for your nannyThis time of year we enjoy giving gifts to friends and family, but it’s also a time to show our appreciation for the caregivers who look after children on a daily basis. Nannies not only are in charge of the kids but often clean, cook, do laundry, and other chores. Many arrive before parents go to work and stay until mom and/or dad get home. They can be long days without a lot of interaction with other adults.

If you employ a nanny, here are some unique holiday gifts to show your nanny that you appreciate the work they do and what they mean for your family. Sharing any of these gifts with a note from your children makes the recognition even that more special.

Give a Holiday Bonus

Who doesn’t love extra cash? According to a recent survey of household employers and nannies by GTM Payroll Services, ninety-four percent of nannies receive a holiday gift.

Subscription to Nanny Magazine

Nanny Magazine features trusted tips, expert insights, and childcare advice that can help your nanny achieve “next-level nannying status” and feel connected to the “nanny world.” There are print and digital subscriptions available.

Membership in the International Nanny Association

Another career-boosting resource is membership in the International Nanny Association. This non-profit organization provides information, education, tools, and guidance for professional nannies. There are also opportunities to connect with other nannies and develop valuable relationships that can help them with their jobs.

Sign up for a Nanny Certificate Course through NannyTraining.com

Nannies can learn more about basic child safety, children’s health and nutrition, emergency readiness, and more through online courses at NannyTraining.com. The site also offers a 13-lesson, CACHE-endorsed learning program led by award-winning and industry expert Michelle LaRowe.

Provide a Gift Card to a Favorite Store, Salon, or Spa

Let your nanny pamper themselves.

Add an Extra Day of PTO

Give your nanny some time off.

Make a Donation

Is there a cause or charitable organization your nanny cares deeply about? Make a donation to that group in their name.

Got any more good ideas? Share them with us!

November Nanny of the Month!

november nanny of the monthWe would like to congratulate our recent nanny of the month, Nanny Jean W.!

Nanny Jean is incredibly willing to help out the A New England Nanny team, both with prescheduled shifts and also last minute Pinch Hitter shifts that come in for our corporate clients. She demonstrates this team spirit by updating her availability in her online portal (which is a great help to us), being quick to respond to texts or emails, and answering calls from the office when they come through to her phone.

Nanny Jean has been repeatedly requested by families, as well as the daycare programs that she has helped to staff. She has received wonderful feedback regarding her performance, and her love of children shines through.

Congratulations, Nanny Jean. We appreciate your “can-do” attitude and all that you do for our families. Please enjoy something special with your Nanny of the Month award!

Putting Your Teenager to Work

putting your teen to workDid you know that in New York, children can start working at the age of 14? With the school holiday break coming up, if you have a teenager who’d like to earn some extra money (or in the summertime as well), let’s take a look at New York’s child labor laws.

Work Permit
New York requires that employers obtain a work permit for minors.

Wages
Minors must be paid at least the state minimum wage.

Posters
Employers must make a schedule for all minors and post it where workers can see it. The schedule shows the hours minors start and end work and time allotted for meals.

Hours of Work
Minors age 16 or 17 have the following restrictions on the hours they may work:

  • May not work during school hours
  • Can work no more than 4 hours on school nights
  • Can work no more than 8 hours on non-school nights
  • Can work no more than 6 days a week
  • Can work no more than 28 hours a week when school is in session
  • Can work no more than 48 hours a week when school is not in session
  • Can only work between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when school is in session and between 6 a.m. and 12 midnight when school is not in session

Certain exceptions may apply to these restrictions.

Minors age 14 and 15 who are covered by the FLSA (almost all of them):

  • May not work during school hours
  • Can work no more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week when school is not in session
  • Can work no more than 3 hours in a day or 18 hours in a week when school is in session
  • Can work only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year. However, between June 1 and Labor Day, they may work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Prohibited Work for All Minors
Minors may not be employed in any of the following types of establishments or positions:

  • In construction, including painting or cleaning a building from an elevated surface
  • Where they are exposed to silica or other harmful dust
  • In connection with a quarry
  • Packing paints, dry colors, or red or white leads
  • Using any dangerous or poisonous acids
  • Taking care of having custody of prisoners or inmates
  • Working in or about plants or establishments manufacturing or storing explosives
  • Driving a motor vehicle or riding along the outside of a vehicle, with limited exceptions
  • Coal or other mining
  • Logging and sawmill operations, forest fire fighting and forest fire prevention operations, and timber tract and forestry service occupations
  • Work involving exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations
  • Wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations
  • *Slaughtering or meat packing, processing, or rendering
  • Manufacturing brick, tile, or similar products
  • *Operating most heavy machinery and power tools
  • *Roofing operations and work on or about a roof
  • *Excavating operations

*In these occupations, a minor who is 16 or 17 may be employed as an apprentice or student learner.

An apprentice is defined as someone who is employed in a recognized apprenticeable trade; whose work is incidental to training; whose work is intermittent, short, and under close journeyman supervision; and whose work is registered or executed under a written agreement about work standards.

student learner is defined as someone who is enrolled in an authorized cooperative vocational training program with a written agreement; whose work is incidental to training; whose work is intermittent, short, and under close supervision; who receives safety instructions from a school and employer; and who follows a schedule of organized and progressive work.

Allowed Work for Minors Age 14 or 15

  • Retail occupations
  • Office or clerical work
  • Intellectual or creative work, such as computer programming, teaching, tutoring, singing, acting, or playing an instrument
  • Errands or delivery work by foot, bicycle, or public transportation
  • Clean-up and yard work that does not including using power-driven mowers, cutters, trimmers, edgers, or similar equipment.
  • Work involving cars or trucks, such as dispensing gasoline or oil or washing or hand polishing
  • Certain kitchen and food service work, including reheating food, washing dishes, cleaning equipment, and limited cooking
  • Cleaning vegetables and fruits, wrapping, sealing, and labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking items when performed outside a freezer or meat cooler
  • Loading or unloading objects for use at a worksite, including rakes, handheld clippers, and shovels
  • Certain tasks in sawmills and woodshops if the minor meets specific requirements
  • 15 year olds can work as a lifeguard if they meet specific requirements

If an occupation is not specifically listed as permitted, then it is prohibited.

Prohibited Work for Minors Age 14 or 15
State and federal law also lists activities that are specifically prohibited for minors who are 14 or 15 years old. Minors may not work in the following establishments or positions, even if they appear to be included in the Allowed Work list above.

  • Most factory work
  • Any institution in the Department of Mental Health
  • As a rope or wire walker or gymnast, unless they have certain safety devices or protective equipment
  • Dangerous farm jobs
  • Peddling, drug trafficking, or any practice, exhibition, or place dangerous to a minor’s life, limb, or morals
  • Baking and cooking, with some exceptions
  • Machinery
  • Manufacturing or processing
  • Warehousing or storage
  • Other prohibited occupations as noted on the Federal Child Labor Laws page

Minors Under 14
Minors under 14 are not allowed to work, with limited exceptions, such as acting or performing, delivering newspapers, or working in agriculture.

Additionally, the City of Albany has a Youth and Workforce Services program for minors looking to help out in the community.