Picky Eaters and the Green Eggs and Ham Moment

picky eaters green eggs and hamIf you have kids (or “nanny kids”), chances are you’ve read them the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham at least once or 18 times. When my now-10-year-old son was much younger, he was very picky about what he ate, and getting him to even try something new was a struggle that often wasn’t worth having.

One time I was discussing the moral of Green Eggs and Ham with him at dinner, because through his facial gesticulation he suggested the chicken I made for dinner that night was not up to his standard of quality. I told him I was sorry he didn’t like it (and to be honest I wasn’t thrilled with it either…a new recipe that was not a winner), but that I was very happy that he at least tried it. We talked about how it’s ok if he doesn’t like something, as long as he tries it. He somehow implied that he wouldn’t like anything that he had to be convinced to try, which is when the Seuss story came up.

“Remember when the guy kept saying he didn’t like green eggs and ham?”

“Yeah.”

“And then Sam finally gets him to try them?”

“Yeah.”

“Then what happened?”

“He LIKED it!!”

So it seemed, at least at the time, that he got the point of the story – it may have been the first time he’d connected a story’s message to a real-life experience.

I started thinking about my own “Green Eggs and Ham moment” – when you try something that you expect to dislike, and you end up loving it. The one that comes up in recent memory for me is fish (not shellfish – I’ve always liked that). I grew up having a variety of fish once a week – salmon, shark, turbot, orange roughy…and I never cared for any of it. Once I left home for college, I never ate fish at all. But a few years ago, my wife and I were out to dinner with my parents – the same parents who turned me off fish as a young boy. We were at a local restaurant and they ordered a sea bass dish. I summoned up some courage and asked myself, “What would I tell my son to do here?” So I decided to try it. And in my son’s words, “I LIKED it!!” I did like green eggs and…I mean, sea bass! Since then, I now eat fish about once a week.

My son is still not a great eater in terms of variety. But he usually is willing to at least try anything we ask him to, and I credit Green Eggs and Ham with some of that, planting the seed of encouragement at an early age. Ironically, I have made green eggs and ham for dinner a few times, and it didn’t go over well. But that may be more of a reflection on my cooking and the rather unappetizing look of eggs and ham colored with green food coloring.

How do you get your kids to try new things? Please tell us about your “Green Eggs and Ham moments!”

Nanny vs. Day Care: What’s the Right Option for Your Family?

nanny vs. day careAmong the multitude of decisions that parents have to make is, if necessary, what kind of child care they will need. Should they hire a nanny? Should they use a day care facility?

While it’s an important decision, it doesn’t have to be a stressful one if the parents understand the differences between using a nanny and enrolling in a day care. There are pros and cons to each, and all must be considered.

Here are the key differences between using a nanny and using a day care center.

Nannies

The Pros

When a family hires a nanny, they become the employer. They make the schedules, they decide on the duties that will be performed, and they provide specific instructions for the child’s care. They also negotiate the nanny’s salary and benefits, so they know the exact cost of using this kind of child care. Many families value having control over the situation; schedules can be changed as needed, and parents can ask the nanny to provide updates throughout the day.

Families with non-traditional schedules can hire a live-in nanny to care for a child in the evening and during the night. There are certain requirements a family must provide in this situation, such as a private place for the nanny to sleep with a bathroom. But for families that can accommodate one, a live-in nanny may be a good option.

Some families want their child to have one-on-one attention from a caregiver, which a nanny provides. The nanny can adjust their approach based on both your instructions and how the child reacts to different things throughout the day. There is no competition for attention; a child may form a real bond with their nanny, and some families consider that a key piece of the child care puzzle.

Having a nanny can mean less busy work for parents. Lunches and snacks don’t have to be packed in the morning; the nanny can handle getting a child dressed, something all parents know can be a laborious task. Winter weather can make it even more difficult to pack up and get a child out of the house; a nanny can handle that instead. Some families have their nanny do the kids’ laundry, light house cleaning, prepare dinner, or other simple but time-consuming jobs that a parent would be grateful to find done when they get home from work.

Families that hire a nanny through an agency have access to helpful child care resources, along with guidance and support from the agency, including back-up care should their regular nanny not be able to come to work.

Using a nanny for child care means families may be eligible to claim the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) or Child and Dependent Care tax credit, which can help offset some of the cost of the nanny’s salary and benefits.

The Cons

If a nanny calls out sick one day, or needs several days off due to an unexpected emergency, families that hire on their own (not through an agency) will need to find a replacement or take time off of work to care for the child. This can be disruptive for the parents, but also for the child, especially if they have started to form a bond with their nanny. Being dependent on one person for child care can cause these inconveniences.

Many families find nannies through online job boards; these nannies are not required to have any specific education credentials or certifications (such as CPR or first aid). A family searching for a nanny with all the qualifications they require can be time-consuming, and performing background checks becomes the parents’ responsibility. While there are legal protections for nannies in many states, there is no regulation process for anyone who wants to be a nanny; all the hiring decisions are made by the family.

Any family that pays a nanny over $2,100 (2018) in a year must also pay employment taxes; families must file all applicable nanny tax forms, Social Security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurances, and income taxes. Some states also require that a household employer have a workers’ compensation policy in case a nanny is injured or becomes ill while on duty.

Hiring a nanny means a family is now running a business with one employee. They need to negotiate salary and benefits, such as vacation and sick time, health insurance, and even retirement benefits. Families are advised to create a job description, a work agreement, and must ensure they are complying with applicable discrimination and harassment laws. Figuring out all the obligations of being a household employer takes a lot of time and effort (but using a payroll service like our partners at GTM Payroll can take all that off your plate).

Day Care

Pros

Day cares provide socialization for children that many families find integral to their child’s development. Children in day care learn about sharing, playing with others, interactional behavior, and other social skills. They make friends and develop relationships with their peers.

Many day cares bring in special instructors for art, music, or dance, and day cares usually have far more toys, art supplies, and playground equipment than any one family. Children get to know many of the day care staff, not just the teachers in their room, so that when there are substitutions it’s not stressful for the kids.

Many day care teachers have educational backgrounds in childhood education and/or psychology, so they can form a curriculum based on the children’s ages and maturity levels. Children in day care often come home knowing their ABCs, numbers, colors, and shapes.

Day cares run on a set schedule, and many of them are open past 5:00pm to accommodate families getting off of work. Many also open early, around 7:00am, to assist families who need more time in the morning to get to their jobs.

Day care center employees have been background-checked and screened. Many require that their teachers have a degree in an appropriate field, along with CPR and first aid training. Parents may find peace of mind knowing that day cares are state-regulated and subject to laws regarding teacher-child ratios, safety, and cleanliness.

Many day cares provide snacks, and some also provide breakfast or lunch, which means families don’t have to spend as much time getting food together in the morning. Children are often exposed to new foods and learn to try new things at day care, something they may be much more reluctant to do at home.

Families can help offset the cost of day care through the DCAP; this plan allows individuals to qualify up to $ 5,000 of their annual salary federal and state income tax-free.

Cons

While some families value the set schedule a day care provides, it can become an inconvenience if a meeting is going late and a parent can’t get to the facility by closing time. Day cares charge extra for late pick-ups, so it may be a struggle to balance work responsibilities and the day care’s hours.

Some children may find the stimulation at day care overwhelming; new faces, lots of new experiences, and perhaps more noise than they are used to. While day cares emphasize socialization, it may not be the right environment for a child.

More kids mean more germs. Children are more likely to develop colds and viruses in a group environment, and then they bring those germs home, which mean parents and other family members may find themselves getting sick more often than usual. If a child has a fever or vomits, most centers will require the child stay home until for at least 24 hours (or as long as it takes for the fever to go away); that means arranging other child care or staying home from work until the child is healthy enough to return. Day cares charge their regular rate whether the child is there or not.

Along with being closed on major holidays, many day cares close on various days throughout the year for professional development and training, or for religious holidays. On those days, if the parents still have to work, other child care arrangements will need to be made.

Day care centers sometimes have high turnover rates, so if a child forms a bond with one or more of the staff, they may struggle if those staff members leave.

The Costs

For some families, after considering all the pros and cons listed above, their decision about child care may depend most heavily on the cost.

Nannies

According to the International Nanny Association’s (INA) 2014 Salary and Benefits Survey, the national average hourly wage for nannies was $18.66, with some wages over $22 per hour. 62% of nannies surveyed received paid vacation time, and 12% received either full or partial health insurance.

If a family hires a nanny for 40 hours per week and pays the average of $18.66 per hour, the cost to the family would be $746.40 per week, or $38,812 a year. That does not take into account the costs involved with the hiring process; using an agency means paying a membership or placement fee, and hiring through an online job board means families will pay for background checks. Workers’ compensation and health insurance are additional expenses as well. If a family decides to use their accountant or a payroll service to handle the payroll and tax responsibilities, those are also additional costs to consider.

Day Care

The cost of using a day care center varies greatly from state to state, and changes based on the age of the children. In general, the older the child gets, the less day cares charge; some centers also give families a discount if they have more than one child enrolled.

For example, according to Child Care Aware of America, the average annual cost for infant day care in New York is $14,144; for an infant and a 4-year-old in day care, the average annual cost is $25,844. In Florida, infant care averages $8,694 annually, and $16,362 for an infant and a 4-year-old. In Illinois, the costs using the same examples are $12,964 and $22,531 respectively.

Additional costs need to be considered for using a nanny or babysitter when the day care center is closed or if the child is sick and can’t attend day care.

Ultimately parents know better than anyone else what is best for their family, both financially and emotionally. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, but having all the information and understanding the pros and cons to each option will make the decision a little easier.

New York Paid Family Leave Law Affects Household Employers

new york paid family leave household employersEarlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced the New York Paid Family Leave law, which is the nation’s longest and most comprehensive. This law impacts all private employers and employees in New York, regardless of size – including household employers and nannies.

How much does it cost employers and employees?

The family leave program will be funded by a payroll deduction of between 45₵ and $1 per week from each employee’s paycheck. It will become part of the deduction for New York State’s Temporary Disability Insurance, and it will not require a contribution from employers.

When will it take effect and how much are the benefits?

The paid family leave will be phased-in over a number of years. Beginning in 2018, paid leave benefits will be set at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped at 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. When fully implemented in 2021, the benefits will be set at 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped at 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.

When the plan is fully phased-in, employees who have worked for an employer for six consecutive months will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. Part-time employees become eligible on the 175th day of employment. Leading up to the full phase-in, employees will be eligible for 8 weeks in 2018, 10 weeks in 2019 and 2020, and 12 weeks starting in 2021. The leave is protected, meaning employees must be returned to their same job or a comparable position, with the same benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.

What can it be used for?

Employees may use this time to care for and bond with newborns or newly adopted children or foster children, to take care of themselves or a family member with a serious health condition, or to address certain legal, financial, and childcare issues that arise when a spouse is called to active military service.

Please note: this is not the same as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is unpaid leave and only applies to employers with at least 50 employees.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Another National Nanny Training Day Success!

We had another fantastic event this past Saturday for National Nanny Training Day! It was our highest-attended event yet.

Everyone enjoyed our speakers Michelle McNabb, Christina Nazarenus, and . Your presentations were very informative and engaging, thank you so much for coming!

Thanks as always to Nikki Sementa for performing the CPR training and certification for our nannies. We appreciate you helping us out year after year!

And special thanks to our friends at CAPCOM, The Children’s Museum of Saratoga, Bounce Around, Chuck E. Cheese, Miracles on Lice, and GTM Payroll Services for sponsoring our event.

And of course, thanks go out to all the nannies who attended! We love working with you and we’re so glad you could join us.

Here are some photos from Saturday. Thanks again to everyone involved in making the 2016 National Nanny Training Day a great success!

Christina demonstrates some housekeeping techniques.

Nikki giving CPR instruction.

 

national nanny training day 2016

Our awesome group!

Celebrating our 25th anniversary this year!

Great info on lice treatment and prevention from Miracles on Lice.

Nanny Jenifer and Michelle McNabb enjoying the day.

New York’s Minimum Wage Going Up to $15

new york's minimum wageGovernor Andrew Cuomo has signed a law permitting the New York minimum wage to increase to $15 per hour over the next several years. The timing for compliance with the new law is based on location within the state. Household employers need to begin preparing to accommodate these changes based on the timeline provided by www.governor.ny.gov:

  • For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage would rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2019.
  • For workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage would increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2021.
  • For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage would increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another .70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on 12/31/2020 – after which will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.

Beginning in 2019, an annual analysis of the economy in each region will be conducted regarding the effect of the minimum wage increases statewide to determine whether any temporary suspension of the increases is necessary.

More than 2.3 million people are estimated to be affected by these minimum wage increases.

For more information on tax and labor laws for household employers, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Avoid Discrimination During Job Interviews

avoid discrimination during job interviewsHousehold employers sometimes struggle with their home being both a personal residence and a workplace for others. The U.S. government enforces many laws and regulations that protect workers against discrimination, so household employers must recognize that their home is their business location, and take the steps to become educated about preventing discrimination in the workplace, including how to avoid discrimination during interviews.

We have discussed previously the types of questions you can and cannot legally ask when interviewing a nanny or other employee, including not being allowed to ask about an applicant’s religion, sexual orientation, birthplace, etc. But what if the applicant reveals during an interview that they are part of a protected class?  If an applicant reveals protected information, your primarily responsibility is to make sure you do not allow this information to become a factor in determining whether to hire them.

If an applicant expresses concern as to whether their inclusion in a protected class will harm their chances of being hired, assure them it will not. We would recommend telling them that you will be making the decision solely on their ability to perform the essential functions of the job.

If there is a formal application that you have candidates fill out, you may want to include the following in that document (we also recommend this language if you are posting any job openings online or advertising in print):

“We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. Equal employment opportunity includes, but is not limited to, employment, training, promotion, demotion, transfer, leaves of absence, and termination. All applications will be considered only on the basis of the applicant’s knowledge, skills, and ability to perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation. It is our established policy to provide equal employment opportunities to all qualified persons without regard to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability, military or veteran status, genetic information, citizenship status, or any other protected classification, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws.”

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

How to Talk Taxes with Your Nanny

NannyYou’ve found the perfect nanny for your family. You’re now in the process of negotiating a salary and your nanny says she wants to be paid “off the books.” You know the importance of being compliant with payroll and taxes, but your nanny likes the additional money in her paycheck. However, for the small cost in taxes, your nanny gains important short-term and long-term advantages. Here are some topics to discuss when talking about taxes.

Verifiable Income
If your employee applies for a car loan, student loan, mortgage or even a credit card, they’ll need to show that they can pay monthly installments. Being paid legally provides that. If your employee’s pay is not documented, they have no way to show that they have income.

Legal Employment History
Getting paid “on the books” creates a work history. This is also important when your employee applies for a loan, credit or their next job.

Unemployment Benefits
Let’s say your nanny has worked for you for a few years. Your children are now school age and no longer need a full-time nanny. Unemployment benefits will partially replace your employee’s lost wages for a period of time while they look for a new job.

Social Security and Medicare Benefits
Money paid by you and your employee into Social Security and Medicare is set aside to help pay for living and medical expenses when your employee retires.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits
With a worker’s compensation policy in place, your employee will receive assistance with medical expenses and lost wages if they are injured or become ill on the job. Workers’ compensation is required for household employers in many states.

Health Care Subsidy
The Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have health insurance or pay a fine. A health insurance marketplace has also been created to help people find coverage. If your employee buys a policy through this marketplace, they could qualify for a subsidy and cut the costs of their insurance. Provided, of course, they are being paid legally.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Come See Us at the 2016 Kidz Expo!

2016 Kidz ExpoThe 2016 Hannaford Kidz Expo is this Saturday, March 5th from 10am-5pm at the Empire State Plaza concourse in Albany. We had such a great time last year that we’re going back this year!

Some highlights of this year’s event include:

  • The Berenstain Bears LIVE! in Family Matters, the Musical
  • Meet and greets with characters from Marvel
  • Garrison Excelsior 501st Legion of Imperial Stormtroopers (Star Wars Costuming Group)
  • The Theater Institute at Sage presenting The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • Performances by Dance Dimensions
  • Roaming Railroad presented by NYSUT
  • Reptile Adventures
  • Bounce rides, music, mini-golf, face painting and more!

The Toddler Zone is also back again this year. This is an area for the smaller kids to run around and play in a contained environment. We will have an information table set up in the Toddler Zone, and some of our caregivers will be on  hand to provide supervision for the kids.

So come meet us, come meet our child care professionals, and make it a fun day in downtown Albany with the kids! For more information about the event, click here. Hope to see you there!

New York’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

new york's domestic workers' bill of rightsOver the past six years, we have seen states and cities enacting labor laws to protect domestic workers’ rights. These workers include nannies, housekeepers, drivers, personal assistants, and more.

On Nov. 29, 2010, New York State became the first state in the nation to extend workers’ rights and protections to people working in the household help industry, mandating that domestic workers be:

  • paid time and a half over their basic hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours per week. (Live-in household help working more than 44 hours per week are entitled to overtime.);
  • provided one day off for every seven days worked, or overtime pay if the workers agree to work on their day of rest;
  • paid at least three rest days each year after working for the same employer for one year;
  • paid weekly; and,
  • protected against harassment under the New York State Human Rights Law.

New York’s law mandates employers:

  • pay an eight hour work day at the minimum wage of at least $8.75 per hour (with a credit toward the minimum wage if the employer provides meals and/or lodging to the employee);
  • provide written notice about sick leave, vacation, personal leave, holidays and work hours;
  • keep detailed payroll and time records of the hours the employee worked, wages paid and deductions;
  • pay taxes for unemployment insurance if the household employee is paid $500 or more in cash wages; and,
  • obtain workers’ compensation insurance (to cover work-related injury or sickness) for an employee working at least 40 hours per week, and disability benefits (for when an employee cannot work because of injury or sickness (including pregnancy) from an event occurring outside work).

California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Oregon now have similar Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights laws, and other states, including Illinois, Ohio, and Texas, are working to offer comparable protections.

Why did these laws come about?

Employers—from household employers to large corporations—regularly fail to pay overtime or fail to pay for all hours worked. Termed “wage theft,” this practice amounts to an estimated $105 billion per year in stolen wages, according to the national report Home Economics: The Invisible & Unregulated World of a Domestic Worker. This report, issued by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and DataCenter, found:

  • $10/hour is the median hourly wage for the domestic workers surveyed;
  • nearly a quarter (23 percent) of survey respondents are paid less than their state’s minimum wage;
  • slightly more than half (56 percent) of the survey respondents worked more than 40 hours per week for their primary employer;
  • many domestic workers are paid a flat rate that does not fluctuate based on hours worked;
  • widespread substandard working conditions, which go unreported largely due to domestic workers’ isolation in the workplaces; and,
  • domestic work, though conducted in private homes, contributes substantially to the public good. Household labor is a linchpin connecting the economics of the home and the workplace.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

National Nanny Training Day 2016

National Nanny Training Day is an initiative to promote awareness of the important connection between nanny training and quality of care. On Saturday, April 16th, over 1,000 nannies in more than 30 cities across the country will gather in their local communities at training events designed to meet their unique needs. A New England Nanny is inviting nannies from across the Capital Region to attend our very special, FREE event!

national nanny training day 2016

First-aid training from NNTD 2015

The goals of NNTD are to:

  • Promote awareness of the importance of training for nannies. Training and education of caregivers is one of the most important factors associated with the quality of the child care they provide.
  • Encourage nanny-related businesses and organizations to become actively involved in providing and/or promoting quality nanny training in their local communities.
  • Provide accessible and affordable quality training opportunities to nannies throughout the country.
  • Raise the overall quality of nanny care through a well-trained nanny workforce.

Our event will feature:

  • A career nanny discussing maintaining professional standards
  • Lice – recognizing symptoms, treatment, and prevention
  • How to increase your income by easily adding housekeeping to your resume
  • CPR certification class
  • More to be announced soon

A nice lunch is also provided!

What: National Nanny Training Day 2016

When: Saturday, April 16th; 9am – 4pm

Where: Comfort Inn; 981 New Loudon Road, Latham

Who: Part-time and full-time nannies from the Capital Region

Cost: Free!

Space is limited, so please click the button below to reserve your spot for this fun and educational event! And did we mention it was FREE to attend? Please contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information. Hope to see you there!

Eventbrite - National Nanny Training Day 2016